Chris Spicer, Fanbase Press Contributor

Chris Spicer, Fanbase Press Contributor

Last year, Warner Bros. released 42, a sturdy and workman-like biopic of baseball great Jackie Robinson.  It’s a perfectly fine movie, handsomely crafted, but also kind of hollow.  At the time I saw it, I thought it would be a great movie for middle school Social Studies classes.  My 13-year-old nephew saw it at school and loved it.  It covers the segregation prior to the Civil Rights era, but it does it in really broad and simplistic strokes.  The film never really gives us any insight into the man Jackie Robinson was or what made him tick.  He’s just presented as a stoic hero.  He’s a bronze statue in his own movie.

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

While taking a film class in college, I got to see Singin’ in the Rain for the first time, and, ever since, I’ve been a huge Gene Kelly fan. On Broadway, they still talk about an actor being a triple threat, and Kelly most definitely was. He could act, sing, and dance, and he made it look both joyous and effortless. He had an innate athleticism and masculinity as a dancer that made him popular with both male and female audiences. He was also a choreographer and director. I recently stumbled across a clip of him on YouTube. It’s from a movie called It’s Always Fair Weather. In the clip, Kelly tap dances while wearing roller skates. I was pretty impressed, but I was also convinced that some clever editing was making it seem more complicated than it was. I figured there was no way he was actually tap dancing on rolling wheels; they had to be welded in place. Like most of the great Hollywood musicals, the sequence was filmed in wide, unedited shots. Soon, Kelly was tap dancing on roller skates and then skating around, all in the same take. It’s an amazing bit of style and athleticism to watch. I couldn’t skate across the room without seriously injuring myself. What Gene Kelly was doing (in one of his lesser-known pictures) was just amazing to me.

Reporting from 2014 AFI Fest presented by Audi

When I first moved to Los Angeles eight years ago, my roommate was a girl, so, as such, there were quite a few movies I watched that I would normally not have seen.  One was The Devil Wear Prada, in which Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci put on a clinic about great acting elevating shoddy material.  I saw The Devil Wears Prada many, many times.  Another was a little opus called Step UpStep Up is a dance movie, which means the dance sequences are lively and creatively staged, while the rest of the film that connects them together is pretty lousy.  An actor named Channing Tatum got his big break in that movie, and it’s a pretty marginal performance; he more or less stands around and waits until it’s his turn to talk.  There’s no emotional engagement other than that.  He’s a blank slate, albeit a very pretty blank slate.


Lots of good movies have been made about unintelligent characters. This year is the 20th anniversary of Forrest Gump, and no matter how you might feel about that movie now, it’s still a largely beloved Oscar winner about a man with a low IQ. The great Peter Sellers’ last film was Being There, a film about a simple man who could only relate to the world through what he’d seen on television. Mike Judge’s brutal satire, Idiocracy, has been almost prophetic in its depiction of the dumbing down of American society. Good movies, intelligent movies about stupid people can and have been made.

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

“Someone’s poisoned the waterhole!”

Perhaps you heard it yesterday, the collective, guttural cry in the dark of the internet geek community?  It happened again, a digital moan sent up when something that should be greeted as good news is met by the usual, arbitrary geek rage when things don’t go exactly the way we think it should.  


I think the idea had people geeking out when Disney bought Marvel Comics four years ago. How cool would it be for Pixar to get their hands on the Marvel library? So far, that hasn’t happened, but the next best thing may have. Filmmakers Don Hall and Chris Williams (most recently they directed Disney’s new Winnie the Pooh) began looking through the deep Marvel catalog for ideas and inspiration. They hit upon an obscure book called Big Hero 6 as a jumping-off point for the next story they wanted to tell. I’ve never read any of those comics, so someone else will have a better idea of how far from the source they’ve traveled, but I’m under the impression they’ve made quite a lot of wholesale changes. And, while this isn’t a Marvel Studios production per se, it still has many of the now familiar tropes, a really fun Stan Lee cameo, and a post-credits sequence that blows Howard the Duck out of the water. Despite the Marvel jumping-off point, it’s still got many of the traditional hallmarks we associate with classic Disney. It’s definitely a hybrid, Disney’s first superhero movie.

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

I’ve started to become a big believer in value for the money. Let me give an example of what I mean. Last week, I went to dinner with my friend, Nestor. We ended up at California Pizza Kitchen (It’s very middle of the road, and we often wind up there when we can’t agree on a place to go.) which is a perfectly serviceable place. You’d never think of CPK as extravagant, but by the time they brought the bill, we’d somehow run up a $50 tab before leaving a tip. I waited tables for years, so that makes me at the very least a knee-jerk 20% minimum tipper, so add at least another $10 to the total. Just looking at it from a value perspective, I just don’t think the meal we got was anywhere approaching something worth $50 (plus tip).

I never got around to writing a review of the Veronica Mars movie, but it’s good. I was a pretty big fan of the show, and I thought the Kickstarter campaign to fund the movie was pretty ingenious. But, I caught the movie at home on VOD (It’s currently on rotation on HBO, if you’ve still missed it.), and I thought a belated review would be of little consequence, as most fans would have already seen the movie. I was several days late and even more dollars short.

This is what the marketing people call “counter programming.”

We are nearing the end of the summer film season, and the studios will sometimes counter program movies to contrast with all the big-budget, effects-driven blockbusters that have been dominating the landscape since the first of May.  In some ways it’s a sound marketing strategy.  I’m not sure why there isn’t an annual romantic comedy slated for summer release any more, as they used to serve as good date movies.  There used to be.  When Harry Met Sally was a hit summer movie.  Sleepless in Seattle was a hit summer movie.

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

This may or may not be true. I read it on the internet, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt, as it could be total hogwash. It’s been reported that Bill Murray is so disinterested in appearing in a new Ghostbusters movie that when Dan Aykroyd sent Murray the most recent version of the script, Murray ran the script through a paper shredder and then sent the pieces back to Aykroyd. Murray attached a note that said, “Nobody wants to see old, fat guys chasing ghosts.” Like I said, it might not be true, but that response is so funny I want it to be true. In similar news, Ivan Reitman, the director of the original films and the default director of the third, has announced he doesn’t want to direct a third movie now that Harold Ramis has passed away.

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