Friday, February 27, 2015

"Twilight Zone" The movie

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Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge


#1,655. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Posted: 27 Feb 2015 05:48 AM PST


Directed By: John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, George Miller

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow


Tag line: "You're traveling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind..."

Trivia: John Landis's segments were the first to be filmed, and Steven Spielberg considered canceling the entire project after the deadly helicopter crash






Twilight Zone: The Movie, a 1983 anthology based on the popular television series from the '50s and '60s, will forever be marred by the tragedy that occurred during its production. On July 23, 1982, while shooting the John Landis-directed segment Time Out, actor Vic Morrow and two children were killed when a helicopter lost control (Morrow and one of the kids were decapitated by the rotor blade, while the second child was crushed to death by the falling copter). It was a disaster that should never have happened (in violation of child labor laws, the scene was being shot at 2:30 in the morning), and regardless of how many times I see it, I can't watch the film without thinking of this terrible accident.

Following a brief prologue (starring Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd), Twilight Zone: The Movie presents four tales of mystery and suspense, starting with the above-mentioned Time Out, in which Morrow plays William Conner, a Vietnam vet and unapologetic bigot who, while sitting with some co-workers in a bar after work, loudly complains about minorities, shouting a few racial slurs in the process. But before the night is out, the "Zone" will show Mr. Conner the error of his ways. The next segment, titled Kick the Can, was directed by Steven Spielberg, and concerns the residents of a retirement community who, following the arrival of newbie Mr. Bloom (Scatman Crothers), are reminded how it feels to be young. Joe Dante's It's a Good Life sees teacher Helen Foley (Kathleen Quinlan) make a trip to the home of young Anthony (Jeremy Licht), who, thanks to his special powers, always gets his way. Rounding out the group is George Miller's Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, about an airline passenger (John Lithgow) whose fear of flying is taken to a whole new level.

Each segment has its strengths, starting with the prologue, an often-funny opening scene (thanks to Brooks' and Aykroyd's snappy dialogue) with an unforgettable ending. Along with its message of tolerance, Time Out reminds us just how good Vic Morrow was at being bad. Having made a career out of playing bastards in movies like Blackboard Jungle, The Bad News Bears, and Humanoids from the Deep, Morrow continues his streak by portraying an extreme racist, one who gets his comeuppance when forced to experience life in both Nazi Germany (as a Jew) and the rural south (as a black man). Kick the Can is the film's most light-hearted tale (you can't help but like it), shining a light on the elderly, and how, more often than not, they're overlooked by the younger generations. It's a Good Life is the visually vibrant story of a boy who can make things happen just by thinking about them, an ability that scares the hell out of his relatives (Kevin McCarthy, of Invasion of the Body Snatchers fame, plays Anthony's subservient Uncle Walt). It's a creepy segment that, at times, gets under your skin, but when it comes to sheer terror, nothing can top Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. John Lithgow delivers a manic performance as the frightened passenger who, because of his hysteria, can't convince anyone that there's something sinister walking around on the plane's wings. A taut, edgy tale about paranoia, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet will have you squirming on the edge of your seat.

While it's impossible to forget the tragedy that haunts the film to this day, there's no denying that Twilight Zone: The Movie is a whole lot of fun to watch, with a quartet of tales that ultimately offer something for everyone.







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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fwd: Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge




Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge


#1,653. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Posted: 24 Feb 2015 09:18 PM PST


Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy

Starring: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon



Tag line: "The Biggest Show On Earth!"

Trivia: One of the neon-outlined violins used in the Shadow Waltz number is on display in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC






42nd Street may be the best of Busby Berkeley's musicals, but my favorite will always be Gold Diggers of 1933. With its intricate dance routines and some truly funny moments, Gold Diggers of 1933 is fun with a capital "F".

When his latest show is shut down by the creditors, Broadway director Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) heads back to the drawing board and before long dreams up a production he's convinced will run for years. The problem is: he needs money to put it on. Enter songwriter Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), who, along with being hired by Hopkins to write the show's music, coughs up the cash to produce it, on the condition that his girlfriend Polly Parker (Ruby Keeler) is cast as the lead. Hopkins quickly agrees, and also signs up Polly's roommates Carol (Joan Blondell) and Trixie (Aline MacMahon), as well as plenty of other hopefuls who badly need the work. A talented singer, Brad is courted by Hopkins to play one of the lead roles, but says he's unable to do so. At first, he doesn't say why he can't perform, but soon his reasons are revealed: his name is actually Robert Bradford, of the Boston Bradfords, a wealthy family that would surely not approve of his being mixed up in show business. It turns out Brad was right; when his older brother Lawrence (Warren William) catches wind of his involvement in Hopkins' latest venture, he travels to New York with Fanuel Peabody (Guy Kibbee), the Bradford's family lawyer, to talk Brad into dropping out. What's more, they object to his being romantically linked to a common showgirl, and decide to offer Polly a large sum of money to break things off with Brad. But when they mistake Carol for Polly, it leads to a series of mishaps that will ultimately teach both Lawrence and Peabody a thing or two about Broadway girls.

Gold Diggers of 1933 starts off strong with a rousing rendition of "We're in the Money", performed by Fay Fortune (Ginger Rogers), who even sings one verse in Pig Latin! It's an elaborate production number, but is nowhere near as extravagant as "Pettin' in the Park", which features everything from policemen on roller skates to pretty girls walking in the rain. Towards the end of the film, we're treated to "The Shadow Waltz" (the highlight of which is a sequence involving dozens of violins that glow in the dark), as well as "Remember My Forgotten Man", a melancholy ditty set against the backdrop of the Great Depression. As good as the first three tunes are, "Remember My Forgotten Man" is hands down the movie's best musical number.

Its songs aside, Gold Diggers of 1933 is also a very funny movie. Believing Carol is Polly, Lawrence Bradford wines and dines her, hoping to make her fall in love with him so that she'll leave Brad alone. Aided by Trixie, who sets to work seducing the lawyer Fanuel Peabody (she gives him the nickname "Fanny"), Carol goes on pretending that she's Polly, and forces Lawrence to spend big bucks on her (a sequence set in the girl's apartment, where they convince both Lawrence and Peabody to buy them expensive new hats, is pretty damn hilarious). It isn't long before the two stuffed shirts fall for the girls' charms, and watching them get raked over the coals by the conniving ladies is a definite highpoint of what I believe is Busby Berkeley's shining cinematic accomplishment. Unlike most musicals of this era, Gold Diggers of 1933 is every bit as entertaining without the music as it is with it.







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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life Itself (2014)

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Dave's 2,500 Movies Challenge


#1,652. Life Itself (2014)

Posted: 23 Feb 2015 06:24 PM PST


Directed By: Steve James

Starring: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel




Tag line: "The only thing Roger loved more than movies"

Trivia: Voice actor Stephen Stanton provides the voice of Roger Ebert during his various narrations







It was an overcast day in April of 2013 when I first learned of Roger Ebert's death. I was on break at work, and was heading out to my car to check my cell phone (unlike most people, I don't have a smart phone, so I don't feel the need to have it on me at all times). It was then that I saw the text message from my friend John: the film critic who had changed my life was dead.

One of the unwritten rules I laid down for myself when I started this 2,500 movie challenge of mine was that I would avoid referencing current events, which, as everyone knows, aren't "current" for very long. It was my hope that, in doing so, my reviews would remain "timeless", meaning people would read them and have no idea when they were written; the glowing praise I heaped on Local Hero five years ago could have just as easily been penned this morning. On April 6, 2013, I decided to temporarily toss that rule out the window. To ignore the demise of one of the all-time great film critics was unthinkable to me, so I reviewed 1984's Angel (to understand why I chose this movie, you'll have to click the link) and in so doing said goodbye to a man who'd turned me on to some of the best motion pictures ever produced.

That was my tribute, meager though it may be; the 2014 documentary Life Itself was director Steve James' homage to this exceptional man. Narrated at times by Ebert impersonator Stephen Stanton, the movie covers every aspect of Roger Ebert's life, from what was common knowledge (his often-turbulent partnership with Gene Siskel and their hugely popular television show; his career with the Chicago Sun-Times; the screenplay he wrote for Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; and his drawn-out battle against cancer) to those things very few people knew about him (his childhood in Urbana, Illinois; the time he spent as editor of his college newspaper; his bout with alcoholism; and his loving relationship with his wife Chaz and their grandchildren). In addition to presenting his past, James and his camera were at Ebert's side right up to the end, when, surrounded by those who loved him, he realized he could fight no longer.

Featuring interviews with some of the cinema's true visionaries (Martin Scorsese, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog) as well as its up-and-coming stars (at one point, Ramin Bahrani, director of 2005's Man Push Cart, receives a gift from Ebert that immediately makes him the envy of every film fan on earth), the movie also utilizes archival footage to paint as complete a picture of its subject as it possibly can, up to and including candid images of his final days. More than a documentary, Life Itself is joy and heartbreak wrapped up in a very engaging two-hour package, and I, for one, am glad it was made.







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Monday, February 23, 2015

Relive Your Favorite Oscar(R) Moments, Red Carpet Fashion & More!

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Whistleblowers Win At The Academy Awards

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Brave New Films
Dear Terry,

Breaking News: Citizenfour, a documentary about whistleblower Edward Snowden by filmmaker Laura Poitras, has won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

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Because of thousands of donations, we were able to update our own documentary about whistleblowers. You can now watch the updated War on Whistleblowers that includes an exclusive interview with Edward Snowden for free.


Of course, if you would like to donate whatever you can, we certainly won't stop you. Donate here.

Our democracy will crumble without whistleblowers like Edward Snowden keeping the government in check. Watch this updated film and subscribe to our Youtube for the latest stories.

Thanks for all that you do,

Jim Miller and the whole Brave New Films team

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8 Oscar-Winning Titles In 1 Awesome Watchlist

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