Posts Tagged ‘movies



26
Aug
09

Remake Radar: Poltergeist

poltergeist

 

 

Welcome to Remake Radar, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

“Poltergeist” (1982)

Stars Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Heather O’Rourke.

Director: Tobe Hooper

Story: Steven Freeling (Nelson) is a rest estate agent who moves his family into newly designed suburban housing. When strange things begin to occur and his daughter Carol Anne (O’Rourke) sits and points at the TV showing static and saying, “They’re here!” he decides to get to the bottom of the matter. His boss tells him that his house rests on an ancient Indian burial ground. Great. Matter are further complicated when Carol Anne is taken hostage by the malevolent spirits and thrown into another dimension. Steven calls on parapsychologists who are immediately humbled and bring in a small medium for their large request: bring back their kid from the other side, and get rid of the ghosts.

What do we know now? When there’s a remake / in MGM’s neighborhood. Who did they call? / Vadim Perelman! In a case nearly unprecedented by surely the way the Studios are going MGM greenlit a remake of the movie, picked a release date of November 24, 2010, then picked a director (Perelman) and screenwriters Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. Perelman directed “House of Sand and Fog.” Snowden and White co-wrote “Knowing” and “Boogeyman.”

19
Jun
09

Movie News and Views June 19, 2009 Poster Edition

spiderman 4

 

All the Hollywood news fit to blog!

– Kevin Williamson is currently hard at work on “Scream 4.” His work just got harder because star Neve Campbell isn’t interested in coming back.

– Shia LeBeouf and Frank Marshall have confirmed “Indiana Jones 5” is in pre-production stage which (hopefully) means that hopefully it’ll get done before the ill-fated “Raiders of the Lost 401k” becomes a reality.

– M. Night Shamma-lamma-ding-dong is currently proposing a 2nd “Unbreakable” movie. I hate to say it but the title “Intolerable Cruelty” has already been used.

– There is current controversy in regards to Christopher Nolan returning to the “Batman” franchise. Purportedly he’s going to finish his current film “Inception” before deciding to do anything. If Nolan does not return to the “Bats,” there is a possibility that Christian Bale won’t, either. I can see Joel Schumacher waiting in the wings…

– “Teen Wolf” to be remade. yay.

– “Bride of Frankenstein” is being remade.

– Rumor-mill: Michael Sheen as “Blofeld” in “James Bond 23?”

– Sean Penn leaves “The Three Stooges” production.

– Roy Rogers will be riding back on to the silver screen, at least in franchise form.

– The live-action “Akira” movie is dead.

– Ron Howard has signed on to direct the “Stretch Armstrong” movie slated for release April 15, 2011. I got nothin’…

– Hugo Weaving will return as Elrond for “The Hobbit.”

– Mickey Rourke will play “Whiplash” in “Iron Man 2.”

– Joe Carnahan (“Narc,” “Smokin’ Aces”) will be directing the new “A-Team” movie and Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper are in negotiations for it.

– “Monsters, Inc.” will get a sequel.

– John Stamos is working on developing a “Full House” movie. I’m guessing a “Family Matters” movie is next?

– “Predator,” “Total Recall,” and “Commando” are slated for remakes. Is anyone interested in remaking the “also starring Ahnuld” movie “Junior?”

– And a “Short Circuit” remake is “Johnny-Five alive.”

– “Heathcliff” will coming to the big screen.

– Dreamworls Animation schedule:

How to Train Your Dragon (March 26th, 2010): Directed by Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch) and Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch), and will star Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig and TJ Miller. Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, the story centers around a teenager who lives on the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. But when he encounters – and ultimately befriends – an injured dragon, his world is turned upside down.

Shrek Forever After (May 21st, 2010): Directed by Mike Mitchell and will feature the original all-star cast, including Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.

Oobermind (November 5th, 2010): Formerly titled “Master Mind.” Directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar) and will star Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey. When super villain Oobermind defeats his archrival Metro Man, the world should be his oyster. But instead, Oobermind falls into total despair. It turns out that life without a rival is life without a point for him. So he creates a new superhero rival. Unfortunately, the new hero wants to be a super villain too.

Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom (June 3rd, 2011): The next chapter of the 2008 blockbuster is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and will feature the return of the original all-star cast, including Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross. A new villain has emerged with a mysterious weapon so powerful it threatens the very existence of kung fu. It is up to Po and the Furious Five to protect all that they know. But first, Po must confront his long lost past.

The Guardians (November 4th, 2011): Directed by Jeff Lynch. The world’s five unlikeliest heroes – Jack Frost, North (aka Santa), Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), and Sandy (the Sandman) – must band together to stop an ancient spirit called Pitch (the Boogeyman) from plunging the world into eternal darkness.

Puss in Boots (March 30th, 2012): Directed by Chris Miller and will star Antonio Banderas as Puss In Boots and Salma Hayek as Kitty, Puss’ love interest. Swords will cross and hearts will be broken in this adventure starring one of the most beloved characters of the Shrek universe – Puss In Boots. It’s a swashbuckling ride through Puss’s early years as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and the street-savvy Kitty to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

Madagascar 3 (May 25th, 2012): Directed by Eric Darnell (Madagascar). Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo, and Melman the Giraffe are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple; King Julien, Maurice and the Penguins are along for the adventure. This time the road takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent Madagascar style!

– Guy Ritchie to remake “Guys and Dolls.”

– Fox remaking “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” I wanna puke.

– “Anchorman 2” is green for go.

And that’s all the news I got, people. Thanks to WorstPreviews.com and JoBlo.com for the info!

 

cold_soulsfinaldestination4goods_live_hard_sell_hardiron man 2nineoobermindother_man_perfect_getawayOneSheet (Page 1)shrek 4AM:TP final

23
Feb
09

A Superhero, a Gay Activist, and a “Slumdog”: Recapping the 2009 Oscars

oscar1For those who didn’t watch yes, “Slumdog” majorly won the Academy Awards.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look back at what just happened, shall we?

For the first time in “I don’t know how many” years, a foreign actor hosted the Oscars. Hugh Jackman, the Australian actor known mainly for playing “Wolverine” in the “X-Men” franchise hosted for the first time. Maybe he was selected because he was listed as a “Sexiest Man of the Year.” Maybe it’s because people love “Wolverine.” Either way he did okay, as in “passable.” Instead of inserting himself into the ceremony or making quips, as so many others have done in the past, he got that business out of the way in the opening segment. His joke about “Kate Winslet, a British actress playing a German, Robert Downey, Jr, an American actor playing an Australian actor playing an African-American, and me, an Australian actor playing in Australian in a movie called, ‘Australia’” was inciteful, but that was about it. Jackman ducked-out to let the other presenters hold the stage more than he, and maybe that was the safest route to go. I’m not quite sure that he’ll be asked back or if he would even come back if asked.

There were several themes to this year’s Oscars. The first was to give the audience at home a “stripped down” feeling as to how movies are made. This worked somewhat in the beginning when Jackman was doing a musical number that critiqued the Academy on how they made their decisions while he danced around cardboard set pieces. As the show went on this theme was reiterated but given up by the last hour.

Another theme: the Academy doesn’t like action or superhero films. Nothing is more blatant than when a $1 billion money-making movie’s nominations are centered around film editing, visual effects, and sound. If that wasn’t enough action star Will Smith hosted a segment around this fact even stating that while action movies don’t get the Academy’s attention, they do get the fans.

What’s the deal with musicals? I’ve never been a big fan of them, but apparently Hugh Jackman is. Not only did he do an opening musical number (as mentioned above) but he did another that montaged so many previous movie musicals together. Helping in the song and dance were Vanessa Hudgens, Beyonce Knowles, and members of “High School Musical 3.” After everything was said and done Hugh Jackman thanked everyone on stage. The camera quickly cut to Penelope Cruz who didn’t appear amused one bit. It then cut back to Jackman who proudly proclaimed, “This was created by Baz Luhrmann.” The camera quickly cuts to Baz who’s sitting in his chair with a look on his face that said, “Now I know what it’s like to sell my soul for a paycheck.”

One of the cool things the awards ceremony did was to present the awards for Best and Supporting Actors and Actresses by having five former Best Supporting Actors and Actresses walk onto the stage, each actor or actress lauding a specified nominee. Good job.

I was conflicted on some of the montage segments, especially with the camera zooming in on one moment, then zooming out as if we were watching a TV screen, then finding another screen and zooming in on that scene, then zooming out… etc. It worked for the animation segment, and kudos to Pixar for allowing characters from other animation studios to share space with “Wall*E.” That was cool. However the Judd Apatow Comedy montage segment was not save for Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski joining in with James Franco and Seth Rogen (“Sorry, Mr. Spielberg, business is slow.”)

One other positive note: Steve Martin and Tina Fey announcing the awards for Screenwriting. They were a great duo and one of the better pairs for the awards show.

As for the winners, losers, and upsets, let’s get this out of the way: almost everyone knew “Slumdog Millionaire” would take Best Picture (and then some) and that Heath Ledger would have a posthumous Oscar for “The Dark Knight.” Aside from that, most of the other categories people felt ambivalent about. Kate Winslet won for “The Reader,” which most critics claimed wasn’t as good as her work in “Revolutionary Road.” Whether there was any additional sympathy for “The Dark Knight” is questionable, but Batman did take home Best Sound Editing among its nominations but was upset by “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which took home Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects. “Milk” won Best Original Screenplay and caused an upset for Mickey Rourke and “The Wrestler,” when Sean Penn took Best Actor instead.

And now, the winners:

Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn, “Milk”

Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Directing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Foreign Language Film: “Departures”

Music (Song): “Jai Ho,” “Slumdog Millionaire”

Music (Score): “Slumdog Millionaire”

Film Editing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Sound Mixing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Sound Editing: “The Dark Knight”

Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Documentary Short: “Smile Pinki”

Documentary Feature: “Man on a Wire”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

Actress in a Supporting Role: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Cinematography: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Costume Design: “The Duchess”

Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Short Film (Live Action): Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Short Film (Animated): “La Maison En Petites Cubes”

Animated Feature Film: “Wall*E”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): “Slumdog Millionaire”

Writing (Original Screenplay): “Milk”

Source: www.oscars.com

11
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: To Catch a Thief

to_catch_a_thief2

A fun little movie.

Stars Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Based on the novel by David Dodge.

Taking place in the late 40’s/early 50’s, Cary Grant plays wandering American John “The Cat” Robie who went to Europe, got captured by the Germans and released by the French Underground after which he became a jewel thief. Now he lives in a chateau overlooking the countryside, far removed from his previous life of crime. When a series of thefts in Nice mimic “The Cat” he pleads that he hasn’t committed a crime in 15 years. Teaming up with H.H. Hughson (John Williams, the actor not composer), a jewel insurer, Robie obtains a list of those with jewels to insure so he can beat the copycat burglar to their own game. This leads him to meet Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), a woman who came into oil money just as her husband died and her daughter, Frances (Kelly). Frances falls in love with Robie (who is posing as a lumber professional) but is unsure if he’s really committing the robberies. And Robie is unsure who the actual burglar is: is it her? Or someone from his past?

While the first 45 minutes of this movie dragged a little, not even a second after the movie kicks into high gear and becomes a fun ride. Hitchcock delivered on the suspense, tension, mystery, and intrigue, as well as being able to shoot in and around Nice. Grant is great and Kelly is incredibly beautiful. Interesting story with a good payoff ending.

Does this movie still hold up to today? Yes and no. Yes for everything after Grace Kelly appears on the screen, no because most people would be lost on the French Resistance and some other events of Word War II.

Watch for Hitch when Grant gets on a bus, sitting to the left (viewer right) of a woman with birds in a cage.

The copy I watched has the Theatrical Trailer, Photo and Poster Gallery, as well as Writing and Casting TCAT, The Making of TCAT, Alfred Hitchcock and TCAT: An Appreciation, and a tribute to Edith Head.

My grade: B+

15
Jan
09

2009 Movie Release Schedule: Jul-Sep

2009posters3The following are movie release schedules with their current projected release dates as of 1/2009. These dates may change as the year progresses. Enjoy, and see you at the movies.

 

July Releases

 

“Public Enemies” – Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger in this biopic on the gangster. Directed by Michael Mann, also starring Christian Bale. Opens July 1, 2009

 

“2012” – It’s not the year 2525, but it’s just as disastrous… Roland Emmerich is behind this apocalyptic movie staring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, and Oliver Platt. Opens July 10, 2009

 

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – No summary; I’ve not bothered watching any of these movies. Opens July 17, 2009

 

“G-Force” – A group of guinea pigs are recruited for covert government ops. Features the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Nic Cage, and Penelope Cruz. Opens July 24, 2009

 

“The Taking of Pelham 123” – Remake of the film about armed men hijacking a New York subway. Opens July 24, 2009

 

“Bandslam” – A high school outcast and the popular girl help form a band to win a high school “Battle of the Bands” contest. Stars Lisa Kudrow and Vanessa Hudgens. Opens July 31, 2009

 

“Funny People” – Judd Apatow movie with Adam Sandler as a comedian who has a terminal illness and who takes Seth Rogen under his wing. Opens July 31, 2009

 

 

August Releases

 

“G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” – Stephen Sommers directs this adaptation of the TV cartoon series. Opens August 7, 2009

 

“Julie and Julia” – Based on, “My Life in France,” the memoir of Julia and Paul Child. Opens August 7, 2009

 

“Orphan” – A husband and wife lose their nine-year-old and adopt a not-so-innocent girl. Stars Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard. Opens August 7, 2009

 

“Shorts” – A mysterious, rainbow-colored rock grants wishes for anyone who holds it, and EVERYONE wants to have it. Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Opens August 7, 2009

 

“District 9” – Extraterrestrials become refugees in South Africa. Opens August 14, 2009

 

“Final Destination: Death Trip 3D” – The newest installment of the franchise, in 3D. Opens August 21, 2009

 

“The Goods: The Don Ready Story” – Jeremy Piven is the titular character- a used-car liquidator hired by an auto dealer to make their 4th of July sale profitable. Opens August 21, 2009

 

 

September Releases

 

“9” – In a post-apocalyptic world a being with the name “9” wakes up. Upon looking around he finds others like him and that it’s up to him to save what’s left of the world from the Machines. Stars the voices of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau and Christopher Plummer. Opens September 9, 2009

 

“Whiteout” – Kate Beckinsale is a U.S. Marshall in Antarctica who must find the killer before the sun disappears for 6 months. Opens September 11, 2009

 

“Armored” – An armored car driver is coerced by coworkers to steal an armored car worth $10 million. Stars Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, and Skeetb Ulrich. Opens September 18, 2009

 

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” – A scientist plans to conquer global famine in gigantic proportions. With the voices of Anna Farris, James Caan, Bruce Campbell, and Mr. T. Opens September 18, 2009

 

“The Informant” – Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a vie president-turned-informant on the dealings of agri-business. Based on the true story. Opens September 18, 2009

 

“Surrogates” – Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell are FBI agents investigating a murder regarding a man who creates robotic replicas of people. Opens September 25, 2009

 

 

 

 

06
Jan
09

Ten Faves from ’08

I don’t know about you, but I was disappointed.

 

If the question is, “What did I expect from the films of 2008?” my answer would be, “A better film year than 2007.” Not to say that 2007 was bad; the tail-end of it made up for most of that year. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of 2008.

 

“Indiana Jones 4” (aka “Indy Gets an X-File”) was ludicrous if not insulting. And speaking of “X-Files” the return of Mulder and Scully to the screen was warranted, but the story wasn’t. “Speed Racer” could’ve been more fun, “Prince Caspian” could’ve used more characterization and plot. “Untraceable” was among those movies that couldn’t have been saved, period.

 

However, it wasn’t all bad. “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” proved that superheroes can rule the day, if not the box office (although “Hellboy 2” was underrated). Pixar pixel pixies made mechanics emotional with “Wall*E.” Robert Downey, Jr. didn’t just make “Iron Man,” he made “Tropic Thunder” as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method-actor who undergoes pigmentation-surgery to portray a black Sergeant in Vietnam. And “City of Ember” was the best and most-overlooked kids’ movie.

 

In alphabetical order, here are my Ten Faves from ’08.

 

bank_job1“The Bank Job” – I caught this one on DVD. After I finished watching it, I kicked myself. This movie was interesting, fun, and a great throwback to the Seventies.

 

 

 

 

city_of_ember“City of Ember” – Thoughtful, well-made post-apocalyptic kids’ movie. I was surprised.

 

 

 

 

 

dark_knight“The Dark Knight” – This movie is entirely on a different plain of filmmaking. Kudos to Christopher Nolan on doing such a great job and to Heath Ledger, who gave one of his best performances ever (and his last).

 

 

 

 

hellboy_two“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” – Fun fantasy film from Guillermo del Toro. I really enjoyed this one. “Hellboy” is beginning to grow on me.

 

 

 

 

iron_man“Iron Man” – A great popcorn blockbuster movie to begin the summer with. Robert Downey Jr. was nothing less than perfectly casted. Jeff Bridges had fun being the bad guy.

 

 

 

 

leatherheads“Leatherheads” – Another overlooked movie. George Clooney spent years trying to bring this one to light. It’s funny, quirky, zany, screwball… and made football interesting.

 

 

 

 

son_of_rambow“Son of Rambow” – British indie about kids who learn to make film, not war. Great fun and a tribute to filmmaking (moreso than “Zack and Miri”).

 

 

 

 

transsiberian“Transsiberian” – Emily Mortimer steals this movie from Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley. A great follow-up to “Session 9” and “The Machinist,” also directed by Brad Anderson.

 

 

 

 

tropic_thunder“Tropic Thunder” – I initially thought this was shallow at first, but repeated viewings on DVD make this one even better.”I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!”

 

 

 

 

wall_e“Wall*E” – Wall*E is the story of the little robot that fell in love. Environmental and biological themes abound but don’t get too preachy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all, folks. See ya at the movies in 2009!

-Chas

30
Dec
08

In Passing… Looking Back at 2008

rip

 

 

 

These are a few of the talented and influential artists that have passed away this year…

 

 

Forest J. Ackerman

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/in-passing-forest-j-ackerman-1916-2008/

 

Sam Bottoms

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/in-passing%e2%80%a6-sam-bottoms-1955-2008/

 

George Carlin

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/in-passing-george-carlin-1937-2008/

 

Michael Crichton

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/in-passing-michael-crichton-1942-2008/

 

Don S. Davis

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/in-passing-don-s-davis-1942-2008/

 

Estelle Getty

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/in-passing-estelle-getty-1923-2008/

 

Isaac Hayes

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/in-passing%e2%80%a6-isaac-hayes-1942-2008/

 

Van Johnson                                                            

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/in-passing-van-johnson-1916-2008/

 

Eartha Kitt

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/in-passing-eartha-kitt-1927-2008/

 

Harvey Korman

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/in-passing-harvey-korman-1927-2008/

 

Don LaFontaine

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/in-passing-don-lafontaine-1940-2008/

 

Bernie Mac

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/in-passing%e2%80%a6-bernie-mac-1957-2008/

 

Robert Mulligan

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/in-passing-robert-mulligan-1925-2008/

 

Paul Newman

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/in-passing-paul-newman-1925-2008/

Bettie Page

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/in-passing-bettie-page-1923-2008/

 

Sydney Pollack

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/in-passing%e2%80%a6-sydney-pollack-1934-2008/

 

Jerry Reed

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/in-passing-jerry-reed-1937-2008/

 

Majel Barrett Roddenberry

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/in-passing%e2%80%a6-majel-barrett-roddenberry-1932-2008/

 

Stan Winston

https://chasness.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/in-passing-stan-winston-1946-2008/

18
Dec
08

In Passing… Van Johnson (1916-2008)

vanjohnson

 

 

 

American film and television actor Van Johnson passed away on Dec. 12. Born Charles Van Johnson in Rhode Island, he grew up and became interested in entertainment, moving up to New York to try his luck. He gained a few parts on Broadway and was noticed by Warner Bros. in “Pal Joey” in 1940, whereby they offered him a six-month contract. After WB let him go, friend Lucille Ball got him noticed by MGM where his career really took off. After a nearly-fatal accident left him with a metal plate in his head, he was disqualified for war service but did his part by playing in war films such as “A Guy Named Joe,” and “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo.” Additionally he was in comedies, musicals, and dramas such as “The Caine Mutiny.”  His film career tapered-off in the 50s and 60s and he returned to stage in such productions as “The Music Man,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” His last film was in 1992.

 

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

 

For more information, check out his IMDB page at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004496/

16
Dec
08

Oh, the Dickens: Favorite Christmas Movies

“Christmas, Christmas time is here

Time for joy and time for cheer…”

Hills of snow. The jingling of sleigh bells. Fireplaces with stockings hanging from them. Whether or not you get the Norman Rockwell/ Courier and Ives Christmas so lauded in songs and movies, I do wish you the best and present to you

TEN FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

charliebrownchristmas1A Charlie Brown Christmas” – The Peanuts Gang sing Christmas carols while Charlie Brown, distraught with all the commercialism, tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. One of the best Charlie Brown TV specials and it endures to this day. Also, I think I grew up having the exact same tree Charlie Brown had for Christmas.

rudolphdvdRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Narrated by Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives), this is the story of how a misfit reindeer and his friends Hermey and Yukon Cornelius brave the snow and the Abominable Snowman in order to make it to the North Pole, where it’s fogged-in until Santa finds a use for Rudolph.

miracle_on_34th_streetMiracle on 34th Street” – No offense to Richard Attenborrough, but I prefer the original 1947 version. When a man takes over being a store Santa he’s a hit but when the store manager (Maureen O’Hara) finds that he BELIEVES he’s Kris Kringle, she has him committed. It’s up to a young lawyer (John Payne) to prove he’s the real thing.

its_a_wonderful_lifeIt’s a Wonderful Life” – George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a bank manager a heartbeat away from losing the bank his father helped found. Contemplating suicide, Bailey is visited by an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) who shows him what the world would be like if he didn’t exist. “Look Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!”

thegrinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas” – Directed by Chuck Jones (the “Bugs Bunny” guy) and Bob Ogle, this is another TV staple that has stood the test of time. Based on the Dr. Seuss book, a grumpy recluse plans to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch. You really are a heel…”

christmas-carolA Christmas Carol” – There are a few film adaptations of the Charles Dickens book as well as numerous TV versions. Choose whatever version you can find but I suggest the 1984 TV version with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. For those who don’t know, this is the story of an elderly miser who is visited by ghosts from the past, present, and future who warn him what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. “God bless us, each and every one.”

muppet_christmas_carolThe Muppet Christmas Carol” – Mickey Mouse, the Flintstones, and Barbie have all done their version of the story, so why not the Muppets? The first Muppet movie following the passing of creator Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog (voiced by Steve Whitmire) plays Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge. Trivia fact: Caine claims that this was one of his most memorable roles.

scroogedScrooged” – Bill Murray takes on the “Ebenezer Scrooge” role this time playing Frank Cross, a TV exec who doesn’t care about Christmas until he has to produce a TV version AND met by the ghosts of Christmas past (David Johansen) and Christmas Present (Carol Kane). Great movie. Lee Majors is hilarious in the trailer “The Day the Reindeer Died.”

christmas_vacation2National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – The third of the Griswold vacation movies finds the family planning for Christmas, which leads to disastrous, yet funny, results. Inviting both sets of parents to the home Clark (Chevy Chase) becomes consumed with creating the perfect Christmas. Joining in the mayhem is his cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family. Favorite scene: Clark “slicking up” the sled with some potent stuff before going bobsledding. Classic.

frostyfinal1Frosty the Snowman” – Jimmy Durante narrates this tale of a snowman who comes to life. Frosty (voiced by Jackie Vernon) is brought to life but must make his way to the North Pole before he melts. Following close behind is a magician who wants his hat back. This was the last movie for Jimmy Durante.


Honorable mentions:

christmas_storyA Christmas Story” – “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” All Ralphie wants for Christmas is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Great movie, but after the 100th time it gets a little old. If you have NEVER seen, it, rent it immediately. Or, wait for TBS to show it for 24 hours straight.

nightmare_before_christmas“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – Tim Burton animated movie about Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who decides to kidnap Santa Claus and bring his version of “Christmas” to everyone, with comical/horrifying results.

prancer“Prancer” – A little girl named Jessica (Rebecca Harrell) finds a reindeer with a broken leg and believes that it’s one missing from Santa’s sleigh. Her father, an impoverished apple farmer, has other plans. For the record, my mom likes this one.

die_hard“Die Hard” – John McClane (Bruce Willis) is in Los Angeles to visit his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). Problem is she’s at an office Christmas party taken over by terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). McClane must battle them, and the police who believe he’s a lone vigilante, in order to save his wife and the others in the complex. It takes place during Christmas so it’s a Christmas movie, right?

Enjoy the Holidays, and see you at the movies.

-Chas

This was first published in Wiregrass Parenting magazine. Check it out at: www.wiregrassparenting.com

21
Nov
08

Will Digital Kill the Video Disc?

As I walk into my garage where I can pop the 8-track into my quadraphonic stereo and mellow out to the Mamas and Papas, I say to myself, “I love the digital age.”

 

No, wait.

 

Skip forward to the cassette and then to the CD to the MP3 player, or maybe from the VHS to the DVD to the digital download. Thanks to leaps in technology, and in no small part to the Internet, we can now download movies or watch them streaming from a site online. While the music counterpart was quick to ban against MP3 technology, and then eventually let it in, the Hollywood system has been cautious, nay leery, of digital technology.

 

Why this is no one can say for sure. Part of it could be the fight between the RIAA and peer-to-peer sites over copyright infringement, which has led to the creation of bit torrent sites for downloading. Part of it could be that downloading hurts any current contracts with DVD distribution companies. And part of it could be mankind’s caution with technology. No one of these reasons is greater than the others.

 

With the proliferation of the peer-to-peer and bit torrent sites, Hollywood was more than compelled to begin offering movies for downloading. Sites such as CinemaNow, Movielink, and Vongo have sprung up offering users up to 4,000 video/movie titles as well as hundreds of TV show episodes. iTunes has also joined the market, extending their interests from just music to TV, movies, and music videos.

 

Back to the question: will digital downloading kill DVD/Blu-ray discs?

 

“Yes” because:

         Society has become “instant gratification,” and with faster Internet ability and movies being able to be compressed to the size of 1gb, they will become easier to download. And when someone’s finished with the movie and no longer wants to keep it on their harddrive, they can just delete it.

         Downloading will kill the “need” for packaging. Like the example above, there will be no need to deal with scratched discs or misplaced ones, or creating shelf space to house your collection when you can keep it on a computer.

         Downloading will put the current video retailers (Blockbuster, Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video) out of business by offering “what’s new” to users online instead of making users wait in line at a checkout or brave “weather elements” as they stand outside a video cube.

 

“No” because:

         Currently, we do not have the electronic infrastructure for it. This means that if EVERY person in the U.S. logged on to download a movie, the Internet would HALT. While this is a worst-case scenario, it brings out the point that in order to offer more movies to more people, networks have to be changed/ rearranged, and we’re not currently seeing that happening.

         It would be nearly impossible (at least from the current standpoint) to offer the more than 21,000 films that have been made online. Each week several movies are available on disc, with only a fraction available online. We would first have to offer everything current before tackling the insurmountable-looking back catalog.

         Believe it or not, some people want the ability to hold a video in their hands, packaging and all. They don’t care about shelf space or depreciating value; it’s the ability to look for it (like a book) and pop it into the DVD player when they want, instead of having to navigate through a computer that they don’t like having.

         There is no clear platform for downloaded movies. Some of the services use a browser, while others use the application created by the company.

         Digital rights management. The above mentioned download sites have their “special” ways of displaying the movie you downloaded. Eventually, movie downloading and watching will have to go cross-platform, which means the above companies will have to agree on one format to use in order to show the films. That will also make the movies “easier” to pirate and transport.

         With all the viruses running around, as well as “inclement weather,” what happens when your computer DIES? The motherboard fries, the harddrive locks up, etc. If your collection isn’t burned onto disc, you’re in trouble…

 

In closing, my belief is that digital downloading, while it is an interesting addition to movie watching, has a ways to go before it will get to the point it needs to be. That and with the fact that computers aren’t 100% reliable, I do not believe that video discs are leaving all that soon.

 

For more info on movie site downloading, check out the following link:

http://www.bigpicturebigsound.com/movie-download-websites-903.shtml