Figuring out some of the more obscure references in an episode of MST3k is a labor of love for some devoted fans. The folks over at The Annotated MST3k (previously) have been at it for eleven years now and have 113 episodes completely annotated. But for those who prefer their annotations in real time, you're in luck. The official YouTube channel for the show has posted two completely annotated episodes (Mitchell and Manos - The Hands of Fate) for your viewing pleasure.
In 2001, long before he helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut, Jon Favreau could reasonably be described as “that guy in Swingers”. But sometime between Swingers and Iron Man, Favreau used some of his clout to create and host a new show for the Independent Film Channel. It was called "Dinner for Five". [more inside]
On the fiftieth anniversary of its theatrical release, Slate is taking a look back at the Cold War thriller Fail Safe (trailer), which stars Henry Fonda as a U.S. President who has to deal with a computational accident that risks nuclear war. The film was preceded at the box office by Dr. Strangelove, a film very similar in plot but drastically different in tone. Fail Safe bombed as a result of the comparison with Kubrick's masterpiece, but the story itself would have a second chance at reaching audiences come the year 2000. [more inside]
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau speaking at UCLA 12/1/1971 (audio with rotating pictures, 45 min 25 sec) [SLYT]
Scarecrow Video (previously), also known as "the largest independent video store in the world", announced back in August that they were closing its doors. But Wait! There's More! Scarecrow also announced their plans to soon after re-open as a non-profit. And after a successful Kickstarter effort that ended two weeks ago, they have now launched the first phase of The Scarecrow Project with the "singular purpose of protecting the invaluable collection of Scarecrow Video under a four-pillared mission of preservation, access, education and community".
What's that you say? You like to read movie and music related lists on the Internet? Well here you go: The Movies' 50 Greatest Pop Music Moments from the folks at The Dissolve.
The final film in the Atlas Shrugged trilogy (previously) is now in theaters and the reaction has been a stupendous... meh. [more inside]
In 2004 Joseph Kahn directed the hyper-kinetic, poorly reviewed motorcycle action movie Torque. It was Kahn's directorial debut, and though he was tapped for (one of many) failed Neuromancer adaptations, he devoted the next six years to a largely self financed project: the horror-comedy farce Detention. Noted cultural critic Steven Shaviro discusses in this essay why Detention, despite also being reviewed negatively, is one of his favorite movies of the decade. Shaviro's review contains major spoilers for the plot, and it's probably best to go into the movie blind. A brief non-spoiler synopsis is available below the jump. [more inside]
No, the above quote is not the answer to “How many total episodes are there of the various “Law & Order” franchises?”. In actuality, those nine words conclude one of the most exciting films of the 1940’s (and the direct ancestor of Dick Wolf’s prolific franchise). Welcome to “The Naked City”. [more inside]
ROYGBIV (Single Link Vimeo, 1:28)
Known to one generation as Bartlett in The Great Escape and to another generation as John Hammond in Jurassic Park (plus many roles in between), actor Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90.
For over 25 years, film critic Leonard Maltin (along with a team of contributors and editors) have produced what has been the Bible of movie geeks everywhere in his annual movie guide. The 2015 edition that will be released next month will be his last. The Dissolve has offered their own eulogy. (The folks at MST3k were also fans, as evidenced to three memorable moments that pay tribute to the man, the book and his not entirely accurate rating system.)
Tony Zhou (previously) has created another great video essay on filmmaking techniques: "A brief look at texting and the internet in film" (also previously).
Menahem Golan has died at the age of 85. The name may mean very little to you at first glance, but for those of us who lived through the 1980's, he was a very big part of it. Here's an interview with the late producer and a bit more about his legacy.
The School for Postmen is a 16 minute short film from 1947 by French director and physical comedian Jacques Tati. It's being shown on The Guardian's website and is introduced by their film critic Peter Bradshaw. The film is about a postman in rural southern France trying to finish his round on time.
"DISCLAIMER TIME! 50 is a very small number. I make no claims to any of these lists being either comprehensive or some sort of objective analysis of the 'best' films directed by women. I make selections based on on what I've seen, what I like, and the position of the stars. One film per director. Ready? Let's go." [more inside]
After over a decade in development hell, George Miller's return to the Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, has emerged at San Diego Comic-Con with a teaser trailer. [more inside]
Jason Blum—producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, The Purge, The Bay, and Oculus—participated in an interesting interview at SXSW Film 2014 about his model of producing high-quality low-budget horror films for wide release. The video is almost an hour long, but worth watching if you're interested in contemporary mainstream horror.
James Garner, star of two classic television shows ("Maverick" and "The Rockford Files") and a wide slate of films including "The Great Escape", "The Americanization of Emily" and "Victor/Victoria", has died at the age of 86.
Back in March, the AV Club premiered a new feature called Iconography, which is an illustrated column by Nick Wanserski examining "pop culture's most fascinating objects". Though the updates have been very sporadic since then, here are the first three entries for your enjoyment: The golden idol from "Raiders of the Lost Ark", The spinning top from "Inception", and Link's floppy hat from "The Legend of Zelda".
We have previously discussed "Starcrash" (trailer) here on the Blue, but we have only scratched the surface. After all, we're talking about nothing less than Roger Corman's answer to "Star Wars", and even that description does not do the film justice. [more inside]
In the spirit of movie geekery as well as "if you're gonna do something, do it right", may I present The HAL Project: A fiver year project (and counting!) to faithfully recreate the computer displays in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as a screensaver.
On May 13th, the film world was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, who had won an Oscar just last year for the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man". In the month that has passed since then, more details have emerged of the months and days that led up to his suicide. The Hollywood Reporter profiles the life and death of Bendjelloul and takes a look at how sudden success can bring about even more sudden depression.
Den of Geek provides a brief survey of rotating sets in film as far back as Royal Wedding in 1951 all the way up to Inception in 2010. In the world of music video, Metallica did their own interesting... ahem, spin on it for "The Memory Remains". The television show "Glee" paid tribute to Royal Wedding with their own rotating room song and dance number. Finally, the Den of Geek article states that such effects require, "intense planning, expensive materials and an army of builders". Nonsense.
"It’s most logical to conceive of Billy Jack as a dream-movie accidentally created by a spiritually confused, LSD-addled 19-year-old who fell asleep in the early 1970s while watching a weird, humorless movie about a half-Native American/half-Caucasian warrior who does not want to fight, because he’s too good—both in the sense of being a singularly skilled one-man killing machine, and in subscribing to a higher moral and ideological cause than his bloodthirsty brothers-in-arms And yet he’s pushed by circumstances into dramatically kicking ass, over and over." Nathan Rabin takes a long look at the bizarre pair of blockbusters Billy Jack and The Trial of Billy Jack. [more inside]
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is currently presenting the first part of a near-complete retrospective of the films of the great German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, featuring 17(!) films he made between 1969 and 1974. (Part 2, featuring the films made between 1975 and his death in 1982, will take place in November 2014.) Collected below are some recent writings on RWF and these early films, posted by the Film Society and elsewhere online. [more inside]
Kyle Kallgren finishes "Shakespeare Month" on his art house movie review series "Brows Held High" (previously) with a smashing take down of Roland Emmerich's 2011 Shakespeare-was-a-fraud conspiracy thriller "Anonymous". [more inside]
Huge collection of (and commentary on) matte art from classic films that has been rescanned for HD releases. Much more on the process of creating and filming this type of setup at last month's post. (previously)
Feel as if you've watched everything on Netflix? You might find something new at Summary Bug, where a text-display glitch generates whimsical cinematic possibilities.
"I've watched a lot of terrible films over the years... And even by these standards, Driscoll's output is atrocious. But whereas directors like [German] Uwe Boll will happily revel in a 'worst film director ever' title, Richard has absolutely no sense of humour about it. He genuinely thinks he’s creating art." --- This is the story of British actor/director Richard Driscoll, his 2012 film "Eldorado" and how it all landed him in jail.
Back in 1995, Wayne Wang directed a film called "Smoke", which starred Harvey Keitel and William Hurt and whose story largely centered on a Brooklyn Cigar shop on the corner of 16th Street and Prospect Park West. The movie was very well received by critics and stands as one of the great films of the 1990's... but that's not the whole story. [more inside]
Because the Coens have tried their hand at numerous genres, from noir to screwball to outright surrealism, it wasn’t immediately apparent that they were making the same basic movie over and over. After 30 years and 16 features, however, it’s now hard not to notice that prototypical Coen protagonists are hapless, well-meaning schlemiels upon whom life exacts a toll that’s much worse than they deserve. In the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, it’s a hard world for little things (and everyone else)
Chess has been played in a lot of movies. I mean, a lot. Some of the more notable matches include Ron Weasley kicking ass, HAL stealing from Schlage, a Bond villain stealing from Spassky, and Death just screwing with the audience. Then there is Thomas Crown, who might just have been named for a promising young British player who tragically died at the age of eighteen.
Hal Douglas, who for many of us was THE voice of movie trailers in the 1990's, has passed away at age 89. The Guardian pays tribute with a half dozen of his best trailers. And then, of course, there's the legendary trailer for "Comedian".
With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, it's a great opportunity to have a look at "Danny Boy". [more inside]
Joel Silver: Terry Gilliam would have radically changed the ending to Watchmen. Zack Snyder: "I made (Watchmen) to save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world."
"All studios have their main logo that appears at the beginning of a film, but some occasionally use custom logos that reflect the theme of the movie. When I noticed that Warner Bros. does this a lot I wanted to find out how often this happened and what these logos looked like. I couldn’t find a good overview with all logos gathered in one place, so I started to collect them myself, in 2009. Now, five years later, I think I have enough to paint a picture of Warner Bros logo design evolution. "
Assembling a Film's Billing Block. The blurb at the bottom of a movie poster is called the "billing block." And while it might look like a bar code of haphazardly packed type, it is in fact the product of detailed legal agreements and intense contract negotiation. Below is the the billing block for a fictional film and an explanation of how it was constructed. (via kottke.org.)
The broken-down grace of Bill Murray: The Dissolve takes a look at the career of Bill Murray and reviews his films. All of them.
The movie itself is a classic, and that greatness is evident right off the bat with one of the best opening scenes in film history. [more inside]
Here is a 1981 Pulitzer Prize winning article about the death of Playboy Playmate and rising star Dorothy Stratten.
As a thank you gift for his work on "Star Wars", George Lucas gave art director Roger Christian 25,000 pounds in 1979 to make a short film. Christian used the money to shoot a 25 minute medieval fantasy titled "Black Angel". Lucas liked the film so much that he had it precede theatrical showings of "Empire Strikes Back" in the UK, Australia and Scandinavia. In the intervening years, the film was thought lost until a negative was discovered at Universal Studios in 2011. The film was restored and given a premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in Marin County last October. It will be shown again later this month at the Glasgow Film Festival and will eventually find its way to a streaming services like Netflix later this year. The BBC recently talked to Christian about the film and its rediscovery.
In 2013, the Onomo International hotel group asked photographers Omar Victor Diop and Antoine Tempé (nsfw) to create a series of photographs set in the group’s hotels as part of an advertising campaign. Fans of Hollywood, the pair created ONOMOllywood, an exhibition images from iconic films featuring African models in previously white roles. [more inside]
Blood Brother (2013) focuses on an American man who, after initially visiting as a tourist, moved to India to volunteer at the Arias Home of HOPE, a home for HIV-positive children in Acharapakkam, near Chennai. He eventually became an Indian citizen by marriage. [more inside]
Paramount has ceased releasing films on 35mm film and will go forward distributing movies exclusively in digital formats. The LA Times' sources said that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the last Paramount movie with a celluloid release, and Wolf of Wall Street was the first major motion picture to be distributed entirely digitally.