One year ago, the Saturday Night Live family lost one of its greatest talents when Jan Hooks passed away at the age of 57. Though there are many SNL players that fade into obscurity once their term at Rockefeller Center is up, most people are surprised that, aside from a recurring role on 30 Rock, Jan Hooks had pretty much disappeared since the turn of the 21st century. Grantland provides a bittersweet look back into her history and into what happened during those years.
The recent reboot "Vacation" is packed with call backs to the original 1983 film, but one thing that is conspicuously missing is the name "National Lampoon" preceding the title. Vulture recently published a short history of the National Lampoon and how it has gone from it's peak in the 70's and 80's way down to the unfortunate straight-to-DVD output of the last fifteen years. Bonus: The trailer for the upcoming documentary: "Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon".
Initially panned by critics and a failure at the box office, Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead has found a second life as a cult favorite.
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]
Will The Real Mr Sellers Please Stand Up - a rare ~50min film narrated by Spike Milligan and made during the filming of 'The Magic Christian'*via Cinephilia and Beyond. [NSFW - some nudity] [more inside]
Raising Arizona is notable among the Coen Brothers’ filmography for seamlessly fusing the ravishing grimness of their drama with the slapstick antics of their comedy. ... [It] is an intensely bittersweet film. That it is admittedly hilarious distracts from this sorrow, but it doesn’t dampen it. If not the absolute best by the Coens, it’s certainly their most charming. - Michael Nordine [more inside]
Between Peter Jackson’s penchant for cartoonish unserious gore and Bob McCarron’s off-screen makeup effects manipulations, Braindead achieves something that approaches inspired genius in the heretofore unknown artform of human carnage. The film is filled with moments of joyous slapstick tableaux... And then there is that moment where Braindead finally breaks through to achieve a transcendentally surreal glory of excess where Tim Balme wades into battle against the zombies armed with a lawnmower, drenching an entire room in showers of blood. (Braindead holds the record for the greatest amount of artificial blood ever used in a film). The film is a work of perverse genius. - Richard Scheib
Return of the Living Dead (NSFW) is one of the greatest zombie movies ever made. Not only does it have loads of great looking zombies in it, it's one of the few zombie movies, besides its sequel, that has a perfect blend of humor and horror.
Louis C.K. on eating pressure and providing an alternative to The Man - "I ask him to think about what he really needs; when he tells me, I give him a little more. It buys me goodwill with this person; I feel good about what I'm paying them. I like to give people a little more than they want, and I like to ask people for a little less than they're willing to give." [more inside]
What you see here is a prime example of what happens to film that is neglected and improperly stored. This is an original reel from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World that is now untouchable. The film has turned acidic, sporting the strongest and most foul vinegar-like odor I have ever smelled. In fact, Robert Harris told me a story of how his contact lenses were singed by the fumes the film produced, causing temporary retinal damage to his eye. [more inside]
The concept of Used Cars originated with writer-director-producer John Milius, who pitched the idea to scribes Zemeckis and Gale while they were still hard at work on what would become 1941. ... Zemeckis shot Cars in a breakneck 28 days at a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Mesa, Ariz. ... Despite its low profile, the film received a great deal of critical acclaim, including the notoriously finicky Pauline Kael…who described Cars as “a classic screwball fantasy — a neglected modern comedy that’s like a more restless and visually high-spirited version of the W.C. Fields pictures.”
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SI has written an oral history about the making of the movie "Major League". Charlie Sheen was also interviewed for this piece.
"Beat the Devil" went straight from box office flop to cult classic and has been called the first camp movie, although Bogart, who sank his own money into it, said, "Only phonies like it." It's a movie that was made up on the spot; Huston tore up the original screenplay on the first day of filming, flew the young Truman Capote to Ravallo, Italy, to crank out new scenes against a daily deadline and allowed his supporting stars, especially Robert Morley and Peter Lorre, to create dialogue for their own characters. (Capote spoke daily by telephone with his pet raven, and one day when the raven refused to answer he flew to Rome to console it, further delaying the production.) - Roger Ebert's Great Movies
Building on the popularity of their previous "Harry S Plinkett" movie reviews, Red Letter Media's Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman have been working on a second line of film mockery: Half In The Bag [more inside]
Harpo's Place A tribute to Harpo Marx, by his son Bill.
Brüno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt
Trailer for Brüno, the upcoming film by Sacha Baron Cohen, formerly known for his characters Ali G and Borat.
"I would like to do better, to be better than I am". He's the French New Wave maverick and Academy Award winner (at 26, for his first short) who, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz -- with considerable personal pain and the admission that "no description, no picture can reveal the true dimension" of what happened in the camps -- made what François Truffaut called "the greatest film ever made", duly censored by French authorities. Four years later he baffled audiences with "the first modern film of sound cinema", shattering the rules of chronology to describe the “anguish of the future”: even if all he ever wanted was "to stop death in its tracks" (French language link), only for one minute. But he is also the unabashed lover of la bande dessinée who learnt English by reading comic books and in the Seventies dreamed (French language link) of making "Spider-Man" into a movie (the Hollywood studios were not convinced), the MGM old-school musical and operetta nut so in love with design that "half of the fashion photography of the past 40 years owes a debt" to him. Now, Alain Resnais' new work, just shown at the Venice Film Festival where his buddy David Lynch was awarded a lifetime achievement Golden Lion, is a French film inspired by an English play with 54 short scenes, music by the X-Files's Mark Snow. (more inside)
The Room: The Movie. Triple-threat (actor/writer/director) Tommy Wiseau made his cinematic debut in 2003 with the The Room (see trailer and various scenes), "a blend between a softcore porn flick and a Tennessee Williams stageplay." Wiseau ("who's not just one of the most unusual looking and sounding-with an unidentifiable Eastern European accent-leading men ever to grace the screen, but a narcissist nonpareil whose movie makes Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" seem the apotheosis of cinematic self-restraint...may be something of a first: A movie that prompts most of its viewers to ask for their money back-before even 30 minutes have passed." - Variety), allegedly raised $6 million outside Hollywood to cover production and marketing costs of the self-described "black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies" (see various rough dress rehersals). Audience members, including comedian David Cross, have been "marveling at the bizarre editing, bad bluescreen, uncomfortably explicit sex scenes and, of course, the enigma of Wiseau himself" as the film played monthly for years in Los Angeles. Available on DVD, diehard "roomies" swear by the theatrical experience, shout out their own commentary, hurl spoons at the screen and singalong to the soundtrack. Some call it "The Rocky Horror of the New Millenium" and stage "Room" parties. If you look at the marketing campaign or survived a screening you might see The Room as "a seminar on how NOT to make a movie." [Inspired by Boing Boing]
Never ever borrow a friend's mobile, trust hitch hikers or strangers in furry costumes, never get distracted, worry about the first time or about your young son not being manly enough, and most of all never, ever forget stuff. Also, remember to always be nice to your enemies, your granny and policemen, but don't be too nice to your neighbours, and don't forget to get the car washed. Lots more brilliant short films viewable online from UK's Channel 4 Film (Real/WM streams).
Jerry Lewis at 80 (more inside)