Chris Spicer, Fanbase Press Contributor

Chris Spicer, Fanbase Press Contributor

 

FrankenweenieMaybe it was just me, but I was kind of getting tired of Tim Burton.


For the past 10 or 15 years, it seemed he was just making the same movie over and over again.  He kept regurgitating the same Burtonesque tropes to lesser positive effect.  Before you saw a single frame of a new Burton movie, there were a boatload of things of which you could be absolutely sure: the lead characters would be in silent movie makeup, the color scheme would be either totally desaturated or completely blown up like 1930s Technicolor, a bland version of suburbia might pop up, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter would show up and give performances that seemed increasingly undirected and detached from any recognizable human behavior, and Danny Elfman would provide a percussive musical score that sounded largely cribbed from every other score he’d written for Burton.  It was all very tired and predictable.  

 

HHN 2012A friend on Twitter tweeted out on Monday that the last three months of the calendar year are also the best three months of the calendar year.  I’m inclined to agree with him.  I’m a big fan of fall.  I love the weather, although as a Southern California resident, we don’t exactly have a change of seasons.  I like fall fashions.  I’m an avid fan of both college football and the NFL.  And, my favorite holidays come during the last quarter of the year.


I love Halloween.  I have since I was a kid.  I also love theme parks.  I have since I was a kid.  Universal Studios does me a solid by combining both of these loves into one irresistible event.  

 

ArgoIn notes he was compiling while writing his final novel, The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.”  I’m pretty sure Ben Affleck would disagree with him on that point.

 

7 PsychopathsEach year, approximately 100,000 people of all ages move to Los Angeles to try and break into acting.  Every single one of them, regardless of gender, should aspire to being as great at their craft as Sam Rockwell is.


Sadly, the majority of the aspiring “actors” are as delusional as Tobias Funke, their patron saint  Their real goal is fame and not art, and I would gladly wager most of them have no idea who Sam Rockwell even is.  Irony is such a b---h sometimes.

 

Pitch PerfectRemember that scene in Good Will Hunting?  The one where Robin Williams tells Matt Damon all about how Williams met his wife?  He was with his buddies about to attend the sixth game of the 1975 World Series and became smitten with a girl in a bar.  He gives away his ticket and says, “Sorry, guys. I gotta see about a girl.”


I had a similar movie going experience tonight.  I went to see a film for which I am decidedly not the target demographic.  But, I went because I wanted to see about a girl.

 

LooperHow do you feel about spoilers?


Personally, I try to avoid them like the plague.  I like to be surprised by stories, and it bugs me to no end when I accidentally stumble across something I didn’t want to know.  You can’t unread those things.  At the same time, I know people who will actively try to seek out spoilers.  They’ll try to find shooting scripts online, so they can read them before they see the final movie.  To each their own I suppose, but that to me is just nuts.


For instance, what if you could have been among the first audiences to see Psycho in 1960 and to have no idea where the movie was going?  It’s a film that starts out as one thing and then (Spoiler Alert for people living under rocks!) proceeds to whack the leading lady in one of the most famous scenes in movie history.  Most audiences know that scene is coming.  Imagine its impact if you had no idea what Hitchcock had in store for Janet Leigh.  Or, for that matter, what Hitchcock had in mind for Norman Bates’ mother.

 

The Book of MormonAt this stage, I am continually astonished by people who seem genuinely amazed when something Trey Parker and Matt Stone created turns out to be really good.  Do these people live in caves or something?  I was once one of them, but that was many, many eons ago . . .


Back in the 1990s, I was making my living as a high school English teacher.  Some of my students brought to my attention the existence of a new animated series on Comedy Central.  It was called South Park, and the kids loved it for two reasons:

Open Your Eyes

 

Breaking Bad*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.


Breaking Bad's midseason finale reminds us to be active viewers.”


I had the opportunity recently to see the revival of the Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles, which was at least partially the source material for the Robin Williams film The Birdcage.  Set in a notorious drag club in the South of France, the show presents us with many things that are not as they appear on the surface.  As he show opens, Georges, the club’s owner, implores the audience to pay close attention to what we’re seeing.


“I beg you,” Georges says, “open your eyes.”


That, ladies and gentlemen, is brilliant advice, as we navigate life.  Pay attention.  Be alert.  See what’s hidden beneath the surface.

'The Master:' A Film Review

 

The MasterI have to confess that I don’t know very much about Scientology.  I know Tom Cruise practices it, as do a handful of other high profile celebrities.  Without them, we might not have ever heard of it.  I know it’s a religion founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.  I know they own a crazy amount of high-end Hollywood real estate.  I know you can’t walk down Hollywood Boulevard without having somebody ask you if you want to take a stress test.  And, I know that a lot of people look on Scientology as an organization with sinister motives or intents.

 

Trouble with the CurveAll right, first, let me get this out of the way:  No, no one talks to any furniture in this movie.  Moving on . . .


One of the more fascinating things I’ve had the privilege to study in my school days was human psychology.  For a time, I coached high school sports, and in that time I taught a class on sport psychology.  I find the work that B.F. Skinner did on positive and negative reinforcement to be particularly interesting, and yes, it may seem like common sense today.  Nevertheless, I love how we can use positive energy to change human behavior.  It can be something as simple as praising a job well done or giving a tiny token of appreciation.  Positive reinforcement is far more effective at creating behavioral change than punishing negative behavior.

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