Archive for July, 2008



24
Jul
08

Scully, looks like an X-Phile: Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes (15-11)

Another fun day here at Chasfilm/ Film Guys Online Office of Television Research and Observance. In honor of the upcoming ‘X-Files’ movie, “I Want to Believe,” I present to you our

 

Top Fifteen X-Files Episodes

 

In three parts, nonetheless. Here we go:

 

15. “Hollywood A.D.” (Air date: April 30, 2000) – Agents Mulder and Scully investigate a bombing at a Christ Church and Scully finds a bowl that, after being acoustically analyzed, has an unearthly sound to it. Is it the sound of Jesus’ voice or really an incantation to raise the dead? Meanwhile, Skinner is talking with a Hollywood friend. It seems that a movie is being based on the ‘X-Files’ and Scully will be played by Tea Leoni, Mulder will be played by Garry Shandling, and Skinner will be played by Richard Gere.

Trivia: David Duchovny wrote and directed this episode as a “thank you” to the cast and crew of the show.

 

14. “X-Cops” (Air date: February 20, 2000) – Agents Mulder and Scully are investigating a monster that feeds on fear while an episode of “COPS” is being filmed. Mulder eats up the spotlight while Scully cringes from it.

Trivia: This episode was shot by the same cameraman from the “COPS” TV series.

 

 

 

 

13. “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (Air date: December 12, 1998 ) – Mulder convinces Scully to investigate a supposed “haunted house” on Christmas Eve where a couple (played by Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin) made a lovers suicide pact years previous. What follows is trickery by the ghosts themselves.

Trivia: The role played by Ed Asner was originally written for Bob Newhart, who turned it down.

 

 

 

12. “Gender Bender” (Air date: January 21, 1994) – Mulder and Scully investigate a series of murders which are identical and sexually-motivated. The killers appear to be male and female. They are led to the small town of Stevenston, Massachusetts where an Amish-like group called The Kindred whose members have the ability to change sex.

Trivia: Nicholas Lea plays a hospitalized victim in this episode. Producers and fans liked him so much that he would later return as Agent Alex Krycek.

 

 

 

 

11. “Beyond the Sea” (Air date: January 7, 1994) – Scully’s father (played by the late Don S. Davis) passes away. While Mulder interrogates prisoner Luther Boggs (Brad Dourif), Boggs displays a psychic connection to Scully’s father. Mulder is skeptical and believes Boggs is just buying time.

Trivia: This was the first episode in which Mulder was shot.

 

Tomorrow: 10-6!

22
Jul
08

In Passing… Estelle Getty (1923-2008)

Actress Estelle Getty passed away this morning at the age of 84. Getty began her career with the movie “Team-Mates” (1978) but was soon in other films such as “Tootsie,” “Mask,” “Mannequin,” and “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.” Her real acclaim arrived when she played Sophia Petrillo in the hit TV show, “The Golden Girls,” along with Betty White, Beatrice Arthur, and Rue McClanahan. She retired in 2000, citing health problems.

 

Best wishes for her friends and family.

 

For more information, check out her page on IMDB at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001268/

21
Jul
08

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

This one’s in a world all its own.

 

Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman. Directed by Christopher Nolan

 

The story: some time has passed in Gotham City since “Batman Begins.” Rachel Dawes (now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is working with and dating head D.A. Harvey Dent (Eckhart). “The Batman” has been cleaning up the streets of Gotham, inspiring copycat fanboy crimefighters. The police (except for Gordon) aren’t sure what to make of Batman. The city’s crime bosses are dwindling block-by-block and are propositioned by a Hong Kong national named Lou to hold their money since the police are catching them one-by-one using irradiated money. Batman/Bruce Wayne is dealing with the copycats, Rachel being with Dent, and his internal struggle of being the “hero of Gotham City,” and the police.

 

Entering the scene is The Joker (Ledger in his final performance). Maniacal and scheming, he (in the words of Michael Caine) “just wants to watch the world burn.” Whatever he plans on doing the only person who knows the plan is him, and he’s not letting anyone in on it. Anyone.

 

That’s as much as I’m going to tell you about the story. There is so much going on in this film that to tell you anything else you may want to see it more or may want to see it less when this is the type of film that can’t entirely be presented on paper; it is truly an experience. The Nolan Brothers (Chris and Johnathan) have a nearly perfect script. The theme of “what is a hero?” resonates so much between Dent and Wayne; the “White Knight” and the “Dark Knight” of Gotham.

 

And everyone does as well as they had in “Batman Begins.” Gyllenhaal did a good job as Rachel Dawes. Some may prefer her to Katie Holmes but when it comes down to the line, the character is so small it doesn’t make a lot of difference who plays her.

 

And you, dear reader, are wanting to know my thoughts on Heath Ledger’s performance. I’ll be the first to say that I have never really followed him in too many movies; I’ve seen him do a part here or there, but that was about it. Saying that, the Joker that Ledger portrays is something else entirely. Any time he’s on the screen, the film’s tone suddenly shifts. If you didn’t know Ledger was playing the character, you wouldn’t have known it was Ledger.

 

As for Bale, this time around Batman is more menacing; lower, more whispering/gravelly voice and hatred in his eyes. “Batman Begins” was apparently a warm-up.

 

I’ll take a moment to talk about the Bat Pod (Bat Cycle). Before I saw “Batman Begins” I saw the “Tumbler”/Batmobile. I thought the design sucked. Watching it in “Batman Begins,” I was like, “Dude, where do I sign up for one of those?” Same thing applies to the Bat Pod. Once you see it on screen it’s way cooler.

 

I do have one complaint on the movie: The Scarecrow. So much time was spent in the first movie building up this villain who used a hallucinogenic compound to incite his terror. He gets a small scene in the beginning of the film where he gets captured along with a gang and Batman wannabes. A cameo for the sake of a cameo? I thought Nolan was above that.

 

Should you see this? It’s dark, brooding, but with clever action sequences. This movie is on a plane of existence of its own. Should you watch this just for Heath Ledger? Only if you get nothing from watching a Batman movie. Is this better than “Batman Begins?” It’s just as good. Who’s my favorite actor to play “The Joker?” No comment.

 

My grade: A

21
Jul
08

Movie Review: Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

 

Not what I expected.

 

Starring Morgan Spurlock. Directed by Morgan Spurlock.

 

I remember back a few years ago when a documentary called “Super Size Me” was released. In it a guy from New York City (Morgan Spurlock) wanted to see what would happen if he ate McDonald’s fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a period of 30 days. Contrived, true, but never before had a documentary shown as what we do to ourselves. Following that FX network gave him a show and he produced “30 Days,” where various people did things for 30 days to see what would happen to them: one mom did binge drinking to show her newly college-attending daughter would would happen, a guy became Muslim, and even Morgan and his wife decided to see if they could live on minimum wage (both him and his wife ended up in the hospital). When he announced he was going after Public Enemy #1, Osama Bin Laden, I had high hopes for what he would find, if anything.

 

“Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden,” falls short of expectations. Spurlock, expecting a baby within a few months, decided that he could try making the world safer for his kid if he could hunt down and bring to justice OBL. Whether you believe in his reasoning or not (a little past contrived if you ask me) you’re in for a trip to countries that hate us, or rather the American government (a resentment felt even inside the U.S.)

 

From New York to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Tora Bora, Tel Aviv, and back Spurlock finds what citizens in other countries really think about us: they hate the American government, not so much the people. Through animated sequences an explanation is given as to who the U.S. Sided with and why, which leads to understanding why others can be so pissed at us. And with the fact that the American people are shielded from this information (or blissfully ignorant) we have a deeper look into ourselves.

 

My complaints about this movie: the beginning starts with immature computer animation. In it a CG Spurlock does battle with a CG Bin Laden “Mortal Kombat”-style, using everything from “Redneck Power” to a “power mustache.” This would have worked better if it had been restructured to the end of the film; it was amusing, but not needed.

 

Once you get past that Spurlock goes on the hunt for OBL but twenty minutes it becomes “I’m an expecting father. What advice to do you have for me? By the way, what do you have against America?”  The actual “hunt” seems to be derailed by constant worry about becoming a dad and missing his wife’s delivery which brings me to ask, why did he leave so close to the end of his wife’s pregnancy?

 

What did impress me about the film is the fact that rich people not caring about the lower levels/citizenry is a concept not confined to the U.S; the Middle East has malls as well as shantytowns. Then again, they also have villages wiped out by tanks and artillery. If Spurlock wants to visit places that have that “third world feel,” he should do more traveling across the States.

 

I’ll recommend this film for people who want to see what other cultures think of us. For those who already know here’s another factoid for ya: they love wrestling. Who knew?

 

Does he find the Notorious OBL? His “journey” ends in Pakistan where all “intelligence” points to (except the Pakistanis, who say he’s in Afghanistan). Looking at a giant metal sign that says “Attention Foreigners: No trespassing beyond this point…” Spurlock stops and turns around. “I’ve got a kid coming. It’s not worth it.”

 

My grade: C+/B-

18
Jul
08

Movie News and Views July 18, 2008 Poster Edition

 

 

Hey everybody! I’m in the middle of working on a video project and have lagged behind on entertainment news. I know, shame on me. Anyways, here’s the rundown ‘til I can catch up next week:

 

         A live-action movie is being made based on the comic book and video game property, “Turok.”

         A new “Three Musketeers” movie. Yay.

         Now on the “TV-to-Movie” block: “I Dream of Jeannie.”

         Billy Bob Thornton to play a manure salesman in a comedy set in the 1960’s.

         Now on the “Anime-to-Hollywood-Movie” block: “Robotech.”

         Werner Herzog has caught the “remake” fever as well, deciding to remake “Bad Lieutenant,” with Eva Mendes and Nicolas Cage.

         Warner Bros. is still trying to produce a “Justice League” movie.

         Another “Video Game-to-Movie”: “Gears of War”

         Timur Bekmambetov, director of “Night Watch,” “Day Watch,” and the current “Wanted,” says he has no plans on making “Dusk Watch” (the third in the series). WTF? Dude, I LOVED “Night Watch.”

         Sam Raimi will be doing a movie adaptation of “The Given Day,” a novel by author Dennis Lahane (“Gone Baby Gone,” “Mystic River”)

         Speaking of Bekmambetov and “Wanted,” yes, a sequel is already in the works…

         JJ Abrams was bought the rights to make a movie about an apartment that has secrets and codes to find, discover, and decrypt.

         Quentin Tarantino has been shopping his “Inglorious Bastards” script around Hollywood. He hopes to direct it and have a premiere at Cannes Film Festival.

         A “Donnie Darko” sequel is in the works, this time focusing on Donnie’s sister.

         “Hostel III” in the works, but without Eli Roth.

         “Bourne 4” will begin filming next summer.

         And a “Kung Fu Panda” sequel…

         And a “Cloverfield” sequel…

         And a “300” prequel…

         “King Lear” has signed Naomi Watts and Anthony Hopkins.

         Eddie Murphy is probably retiring after he does “Beverly Hills Cop 4.”

         The TV show “Friends” is set to come to a theatre near you.

         A Tale of Two Sherlocks: Sacha Baron Cohen will play Sherlock Holmes in a comedy by Judd Apatow, and Robert Downey Jr. will play Holmes in a movie directed by Guy Ritchie.

 

More to come! Check out the posters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16
Jul
08

Top Five Hackman Movies

Seguing from “hacking” movies here at the Film Guys Online / Chasfilm Productions Office of Cinematic Research we bring to you:

 

TOP FIVE HACKMAN MOVIES

 

Yes, we are celebrating the acting career and catalog of esteemed thespian Gene Hackman. Due to the vast amount of movies he’s been in, and the roles, it was difficult to bring it down to just five (much less ten or twenty). For you’re reading pleasure, here we go:

 

5. Superman (1978) – While Jack Nicholson and Gene Wilder were considered Hackman was the one to fill the role of Supe’s nemesis, the criminal mastermind Lex Luthor. Luthor’s plan: buy up worthless desert land and launch nuclear missiles at the San Andreas fault line, making Luthor’s land the New West Coast. On his side are girlfriend Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine), bumbling sidekick Otis (Ned Beatty), and not just a pocket but a box full of Kryptonite. Trivia: Hackman refused to wear a “bald” skull cap, just increasing laughable wigs. He relented in the end and wore one for Luthor’s final scene.

 

 

 

4. Unforgiven (1992) – Hackman plays Little Bill Daggett, former gunfighter and current sheriff of the town of Big Whiskey. After a prostitute has her face cut-up and he fines the cowboy who did it seven horses (payable to the saloon owner/pimp), the other prostitutes in town gather together and look for someone who can come in and deliver justice. This comes in the form of William Munny (Clint Eastwood), former thief and murderer now reformed. Munny, his friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and wannabe desperado The Schofield Kid (James Woolvett) head off to Big Whiskey for the reward and to find out what happened. Hackman delivers one of the film’s best lines: “I don’t deserve this… to die like this,” in which Munny replies, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” Trivia: The script for “Unforgiven” had been floating around Hollywood for two decades. Hackman had already read it and passed on it. Eastwood coaxed him into being in it.

 

3. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Hackman makes an appearance in this Wes Anderson movie about estranged patriarch Royal Tenenbaum who is trying to spend time with his family (former child prodigies) because he has a terminal illness. This movie was fun to watch because it appeared that Hackman himself was having fun. With a cast of Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwenyth Paltrow, Luke and Owen Wilson, how could it not be? This is one of the best Wes Anderson movies (next to “Life Aquatic”). Trivia: Wes Anderson wrote the part of Royal Tenenbaum with Hackman in mind.

 

2. The French Connection (1971) – In my Top Ten Favorite Movies of All Time, Hackman plays Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle. Along with partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) they make the biggest drug bust in NYC history -$32 million in heroin (a HUGE deal in the 1960’s). I can’t praise this movie enough. Whether it’s Hackman’s delivery of “Did you stop to pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?” or his “car vs. train chase,” you can’t miss this movie. Trivia: The real ‘Popeye’ Doyle was on the set and would often antagonize Hackman.

 

1. Crimson Tide (1995) – Hackman plays Captain Frank Ramsey of the USS Alabama (“Go Bama!”) who takes on new XO, Lt. Com. Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington). When the nuclear sub is called into deep waters it does a dance with a Russian Akula-class sub. Conflicted messages are obtained as to whether or not the sub should fire its nuclear missiles. Based on the film, “Run Silent Run Deep,” “Crimson Tide” is, in my opinion, a much better version of the story. I honestly thought there would’ve been a moment in the film where Hackman and Washington got into a fight. Trivia: Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, and Tommy Lee Jones all turned down the part Hackman played.

15
Jul
08

Top Five Hacking Movies

Another fun day here at the Film Guys Online / Chasfilm Productions Office of Cinematic Research. Since last week we tackled evil computers, this week we profile the other side of computer “evil”: hackers.

 

TOP FIVE COMPUTER HACKER MOVIES

 

Please note that this is just a list. Feel free to throw in comments on your faves, or the ones I may have overlooked.

 

5. Hackers (1995) – Why not begin with a movie simply called “Hackers?” Johnny Lee Miller is Dade Murphy, a kid caught hacking, sentenced to not being able to touch a computer until his 18th birthday. With newfound friends Kate Libby (Angelina Jolie) and Emmanuel Goldstein (Matthew Lillard) they come upon a plot to unleash a computer virus orchestrated by Eugene Belford (Fisher Stevens). They must evade the Secret Service and stop Belford from releasing the deadly virus. Overall, not too bad of a movie.

 

4. Sneakers (1992) – Robert Redford is Martin Bishop, a man with a hidden past who is now working as a “security specialist.” With help from his team of Dan Akyroyd, Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, and David Straithairn, they recover a black box that has the possibility of decrypting every known code to man. On their trail are NSA agents led by James Earl Jones. With a top-notch cast, this “heist meets hacking” movie is worth checking out. (Watch for the scene where the guy sits on an actual Cray supercomputer.)

 

3. Enemy of the State (1998) – Will Smith is Robert Dean, a lawyer who accidentally receives evidence of a political assassination. On the run, he’s unmercifully being tracked by Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) and his team of NSA agents that include Jack Black and Jamie Kennedy. His survival comes from teaming up with Bill (Gene Hackman), a guy who lives “off-the-radar” by being paranoid enough to cover his tracks. Mixing action, adventure, spying, espionage, paranoia, conspiracies, and computer hacking, Tony Scott delivers in this thriller. (Note: The film was “inspired” by the Hackman movie, “The Conversation.”)

 

2. Tron (1982) – A hacker (Jeff Bridges) is sucked into a video game world where the computer’s Master Control Program rules. He must fight to survive the sadistic games created by the MCP so he can get back to “reality” and stop the MCP from taking over the real world. Along the way he aids Tron (Bruce Boxleitner), a security program whose goal it is to stop the games and vanquish the MCP. Although a little dated for now, “Tron” was ahead of its time for computer graphics in 1982. And c’mon, the Light Cycles were cool.

 

1. WarGames (1983) – I can’t even begin to calculate how many times I’ve watched this movie. If you haven’t seen it, “WarGames,” is about David Lightman (Matthew Broderick), a kid who hacks into computers for fun (and to change the occasional bad grade). When he finds a “back door” into a military computer, he activates a program called Joshua which begins simulating World War III. Taking Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy) along for the ride he hunts down Joshua’s creator, reclusive scientist Stephen Falken (John Wood) in order to stop nuclear war with the Russians. Fun movie. Watch for Michael Madsen in the opening scene. Directed by John Badham, who also directed “Saturday Night Fever.”