Saturday, May 31, 2014

TONIGHT CINESPIA PRESENTS ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S REAR WINDOW



 I'm so excited for cinespia's outdoor screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in L.A. tonight! One of Hitchcock's best, this thriller starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly is one of my all-time favorites from "The Master of Suspense". It's going to be a great night for a picnic under the stars and one of the silver screens great mysteries. If you're going to be attending as well, I'll see you there!

Doors open at 6:30 PM and the movie starts at 8:30 PM.

For more information on upcoming screenings check out www.cinespia.org



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HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLINT EASTWOOD

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ACTOR, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR, STAR & ICON
CLINT EASTWOOD!

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!



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Friday, May 30, 2014

SPOILER ALERT! R.I.P. MR. BELDING (A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST)

SPOILER ALERT!

If you haven't seen Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West yet, or you are still planning on seeing it in theaters this weekend, READ NO FURTHER!

Still with me? OK, so after seeing the film this morning the one thing that kept going through my brain was this... how the hell did Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell end up in the Wild West? Then it hit me, he must have come back with Doc Brown in his DeLorean time machine at some point in the future! When it looked like all was lost and there was no hope to return back to the future, instead of just offing himself and ending it all right then and there he made the conscious decision to make the best of his new-found place in time and history and become a snake oil salesman. Sadly, as he found out in such a gruesome manner, there are indeed a million ways to die in the West. One such way is to be fatally gored by a raging, charging bull.

He will be missed.

R.I.P. RICHARD BELDING (1950-2014)


A Million Ways to Die in the West in in theaters NOW! For more information on the film, check out the official website at www.amillionways.com 

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

PIXAR BY THE NUMBERS (ROTTEN TOMATOES & BOX OFFICE MOJO)



MEGA BLOCKBUSTERS
(80%-100% on Rotten Tomatoes, $375+ Million Adjusted Box Office)
TOY STORY 2 (1999) 100% Rotten Tomatoes, $381 Million Adjusted Box Office
TOY STORY 3 (2010) 99% Rotten Tomatoes, $416 Million Adjusted Box Office
FINDING NEMO (2003) 99% Rotten Tomatoes, $448 Million Adjusted Box Office


HUGE HITS
(80%-100% on Rotten Tomatoes, $300-$375 Million Adjusted Box Office)
UP (2009) 98% Rotten Tomatoes, $313 Million Adjusted Box Office
THE INCREDIBLES (2004) 97% Rotten Tomatoes, $335 Million Adjusted Box Office
TOY STORY (1995) 100% Rotten Tomatoes, $349 Million Adjusted Box Office
MONSTERS, INC. (2001) 96% Rotten Tomatoes, $359 Million Adjusted Box Office


CRITICAL DARLINGS
(80%-100% on Rotten Tomatoes, $225-$300 Million Adjusted Box Office)
RATATOUILLE (2007) 96% Rotten Tomatoes, $239 Million Adjusted Box Office
WALL-E (2008) 96% Rotten Tomatoes, $248 Million Adjusted Box Office
A BUG'S LIFE (1998) 92% Rotten Tomatoes, $272 Million Adjusted Box Office


UNDER PERFORMERS
(60%-80% on Rotten Tomatoes, $225-$300 Million Adjusted Box Office)
BRAVE (2012) 78% Rotten Tomatoes, $239 Million Adjusted Box Office
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013) 78% Rotten Tomatoes, $264 Million Adjusted Box Office
CARS (2006) 74% Rotten Tomatoes, $297 Million Adjusted Box Office


MISSED MARK
(20%-40% on Rotten Tomatoes, $150-$225 Million Adjusted Box Office)
CARS 2 (2011) 39% Rotten Tomatoes, $190 Million Adjusted Box Office



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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

SUPERMAN LIVES (AND THEN DIES) STARRING NICOLAS CAGE, DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON, WATCHED BY NO ONE

Back in the 1990's Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage started pre-production on what was supposed to be a re-boot of the Superman franchise, entitled Superman Lives. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the project was dead on arrival. While we never got to see Cage square off against Lex Luthor, at least we have these sweet test pics of him in his Super Suit (abs and all) to remember the failed project by.

Take a look...


Is that you, Loki?


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Monday, May 26, 2014

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY

WHERE WERE YOU IN '82? MEMORIAL DAY AT THE BOX OFFICE, 1982-2013


Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means the Summer blockbuster movie season is officially here. I thought I'd take a quick look back at the top movies from every Memorial Day weekend of my lifetime (numbers found on BoxOfficeMojo.com). Below is the full list of the #1 Movies from 1982-2013.


 Indiana Jones shows up three times, but the king of Memorial Day weekend has to be Sylvester Stallone, with four different films topping the Box Office over a twelve year period. Looking at the full list, Cliffhanger is the first film from this list that I distinctly remember seeing in theaters. THAT OPENING SCENE!

There have been some great films to start off the Summer, and some real duds too. What's your favorite flick on this list?



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Saturday, May 24, 2014

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS ANNOUNCED


Short Film Special Mention = Aissa, Clément Trehin-Lalanne; Ja Vielske, Hallvar Witzo

Best Short Film = Leidi, Simón Mesa Soto

Camera d'Or = Party Girl, Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis


Best Actor = Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Best Actress = Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Best Screenplay = Andrei Zvyagintsev, Leviathan
Prix du Jury (TIED) = Xavier Dolan, Mommy"; Jean-Luc Godard, "Goodbye to Language


Best Director = Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Grand Prix du Jury = The Wonders, Alice Rohrwacher
Palme d'Or = Winter Sleep, Nuri Bilge Ceylan


Friday, May 23, 2014

IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO TODAY... PULP FICTION AND THE CANNES PALME D'OR



It was twenty years ago today that a Clint Eastwood-led jury named a little film called Pulp Fiction the Palme d'Or winner at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Seeing that this is the most prestigious prize there is on the film festival circuit, and second only to the Academy Awards in all of filmdom, this was a pretty big deal. With a budget of only eight million dollars, the film would become a sensation at the box-office, grossing over one-hundred million dollars at the domestic box-office, and another hundred-plus million oversees. In today's dollars, you're talking around four-hundred million dollars worldwide! The film would land seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and would win Quentin Tarantino his first Oscar for Best Screenplay. The "independent film" movement, which had it's unofficial start five years earlier when Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies and videotape (1989) also won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, now had it's crowning achievement.

Not bad for a film with a non-linear plot, a boatload of f-bombs and n-words, a robbery, a mob execution, a mysteriously glowing briefcase that may or may not contain Marsellus Wallace's soul, a drug deal, a drug overdose, an adrenaline shot to the heart with a huge hypodermic needle, a story about a bunch of guys shoving a watch up their ass, a story about a potbelly, Bruce Willis trashing a motel room, a guy getting blown away by a machine gun, a guy getting run over by a car, "The Gimp", a guy getting raped by two guys named Zed and Maynard, a guy getting killed with a samurai sword, a miracle by divine intervention, a guy getting shot in the face with his head exploding all over the inside of a car, "the Bonnie situation", Quentin Tarantino in a robe saying the n-word a bunch of times, "The Wolf", John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in shorts, Ezekiel 25:17, and "the tyranny of evil men".


So yeah, not your typical, run-of-the-mill blockbuster. Tarantino had made a splash a couple years earlier with 1992's Reservoir Dogs, a similarly atypical, ultra-violent masterpiece, but winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes really announced to the world that there was a fresh, new voice in cinema. Everyone and their mother flocked to film school to become the next Tarantino, and every movie studio attempted to "go indie" like Fiction's distributor Miramax, to try to cash in on the craze set off by the film. Siskel and Ebert even devoted an entire half-hour special to "The Tarantino Generation", comparing Tarantino to Alfred Hitchcock in regards to his personal fame and omnipresence in pop culture at the time.

Instead of this plethora of game changing films inspired by Tarantino's work though, we mostly ended up with a bunch of movies like Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead (1995) and 2 Days In The Valley (1996). There were some decent knock-off's, like Get Shorty (1995) and Go (1999), and some great ones like 1998's Out of Sight and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. but only Tarantino himself really ever lived up to the hype of "The Tarantino Generation", writing and directing a series of remarkable films including Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004), Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012). 


For me personally, I will always have a soft spot for Pulp Fiction. I get it, that sounds weird. As I've written previously here though, I was thirteen years old in 1994 when my Grandmother brought me to see Pulp Fiction when it was in theaters. She loved John Travolta, I mean LOVED John Travolta, and all she knew was that Pulp Fiction was some new movie he was starring in. The movie blew my little thirteen year old mind! While obviously there were elements of the film I probably shouldn't have been exposed to at only thirteen, my Grandmother was not mortified at her decision to bring me to the film.

After all, this was the woman who had moved in with us after my Grandfather had passed away and proceeded to invite me to start watching the highly publicized and scandalous first season of N.Y.P.D. Blue with her the previous fall, a show that was known for pushing the limits of what could be shown on broadcast television. I guess it's because she never treated me like a child, even though technically I was one at the time. She understood that I understood that all of this was purely fiction, and not reality. She let me make up my own mind about what I was seeing, and never judged the material itself. She understood that if you didn't like a movie, you didn't have to go see it, and if you didn't like a Television program, you could change the channel.

She passed away last March. I miss her very much still, but I know that each and every time someone mentions the movie Pulp Fiction I will smile and think of her. Thanks Grandma.


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BEST OF THE WEB: How Pulp Fiction Should Have Ended



Found on the "How It Should Have Ended" YouTube channel.

BEST OF THE WEB: CineFix's 9 Pulp Fiction Facts For Die-Hard Tarantino Fans



Found on the "CineFix" YouTube channel.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

STAR WARS: FORCE FOR CHANGE... YOUR CHANCE TO BE IN STAR WARS: EPISODE VII



Today Director J.J. Abrams announced a cool new Star Wars contest and fundraiser from the set of Star Wars: Episode VII in Abu Dhabi. It's called "Force For Change", and it's raising money for UNICEF Innovation Labs and Programs. The less than two minute clip also presumably gave us our first look at a new alien creature from the film. That was cool enough, but the real buzz came from the announcement that the winner of the contest would have the chance to appear in the new Star Wars movie. It almost sounds too good to be true, right?


Remember the contest from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where if you found a golden ticket hidden inside the wrapper of Wonka Chocolate Bar you would win the chance to visit Wonka's magical chocolate factory, and meet the mysterious Willy Wonka himself, and hear the Oompa Loompas sing their creepy songs, and almost die in all kinds of disturbing ways, like falling into and almost drowning in a giant chocolate river, or turning into a giant blueberry and being rolled away to the juicing room, all the while being verbally abused by Wonka under his breath?

Well this is sort of like that, except the exact opposite. You and a friend get to fly to London's famous Pinewood Studios where they are filming most of the movie and meet the cast of the new Star Wars film, get a behind the scenes tour of the set, and best of all you get to live out your wildest ComicCon Cosplay fantasy as you'll be dressed up in Star Wars costumes and makeup and actually get to film a scene that will appear in Star Wars: Episode VII!

Way better, right?!

Go to omaze.com/starwars to donate and enter for your chance to win the Grand Prize. The more you donate, the more entries to the contest you get. Even if you don't win the Grand Prize, each donation level has a prize or multiple prizes associated with it. You can get a Force For Change Poster or T-Shirt, or if you are like Veruca Salt you can have your Daddy drop 10, 25 or 50 THOUSAND Dollars to land yourself a J.J. Abrams signed script, or a private advanced screening of the film at LucasFilm or near your hometown! I WANT IT NOW!

And remember, this whole thing is a fundraiser, so to learn more about where all the money is going to, go to unicefinnovation.org

Here's the full Star Wars: Force For Change breakdown...








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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JIMMY STEWART


Born on this day back in 1908 was one of the cinema's most unlikely leading men, James Stewart. Tall and skinny, and not "traditionally" handsome, Jimmy Stewart would go on to one of the longest and most prestigious careers in Hollywood history, starring in nearly 100 motion pictures in seven different decades. He won lifetime achievement awards from the Academy, The Golden Globes, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, The National Board of Review, The Screen Actors Guild and the American Film Institute.
A versatile actor, starring in everything from screwball comedies to murder mysteries, he was nominated for FIVE Academy Awards, winning Best Actor for his hilarious and heartfelt performance in 1940's The Philadelphia Story. Less than a decade into his career and right as he was rising to super-stardom World War Two broke out. Having learned to fly a few years earlier, he was drafted into the Army in 1940, first serving at home and then later flying combat missions in Europe. He ascended to the rank of colonel during the War, and eventually retired from the reserves in 1959 as a brigadier general.

In his acting career he worked with some of the top directors of his day, and he made some of his best work with frequent collaborator Frank Capra, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life. The characters he portrayed in those films, "Jefferson Smith" and "George Bailey" would define the type of moral, incorruptible persona that Stewart would become known for. In his later years he would play muse to another iconic director, Alfred Hitchcock, starring in such classic thrillers as Rear Window and Vertigo for Hitch. 
It's easy to say that if there was a Mount Rushmore for actors carved into the Hollywood Hills, his face would surely be on it. Thanks for the memories Jimmy!


Selected Filmography:
After the Thin Man (1936)
You Can't Take It With You (1938)
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)
Destry Rides Again (1939)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Rope (1948)
The Stratton Story (1949)
Winchester '73 (1950)
Harvey (1950)
The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)
The Glenn Miller Story (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
Vertigo (1958)
Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
The FBI Story (1959)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
How the West Was Won (1962)
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
The Shootist (1976)
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)


What's your favorite Jimmy Stewart role? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks

Monday, May 19, 2014

R.I.P. GORDON WILLIS, "THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS"


Yesterday the film world lost one of the supreme masters of the craft of cinematography, Gordon Willis. You can't tell the history of cinema without spending an extended time discussing the 1970's, and you can't discuss the cinema of the seventies without paying homage to the skill and artistry of "The Prince of Darkness" Gordon Willis. Most of the key films in the careers of Francis Ford Coppola, Wood Allen and Alan J. Pakula were all shot by Willis, including three (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Annie Hall) Best Picture Oscar winners over six years, from 1972-1977.

Amazingly enough Willis himself never won a competitive Academy Award, and wasn't even nominated for ANY of his work in the seventies. He was nominated only twice, the first coming for his work on Woody Allen's Zelig in 1983, and once again in 1990 for Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part III. Finally in 2009 the Academy righted their wrong and gave Willis an honorary Oscar for his "unsurpassed mastery of light, shadow, color and motion".


Below is but a small sample of his brilliant work...


MoviesInColor.com has a nice breakdown of the color palette used in some of Willis' singular shots. Above, the wonderful browns and yellows from the "I know it was you, Fredo" scene in 1974's The Godfather Part II. Below, a beautiful black and white shot of New York City at night from Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979).



Here's a dozen more great shots from "The Prince of Darkness"...



Klute (1971)


The Godfather (1972)



The Paper Chase (1973)


The Parallax View (1974)


The Godfather Part II (1974)




All the President's Men (1976)




Annie Hall (1977)




Manhattan (1979)




Zelig (1983)




The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)




Bright Lights, Big City (1988)



The Godfather Part III (1990)
___________________________________________

I thought the best way to end this was with Gordon Willis' own words, from his 2009 Oscar acceptance speech...

"My life in this business has been a series of, sort of great encounters, and they have been an embarrassment of riches as they say. I've always had an opportunity to do what I want, and the way I want, and I've always worked with the people that have given me that opportunity. In retrospect, I think probably every good thing that's ever happened to me happened because of another person. And fifty-four years ago, I met this darling girl and married her, had three kids, now five grandchildren, and along the way I met this remarkable group of directors, producers, very fine actors, and very fine technicians who extended themselves for me. And I can never really give them back what they gave to me; I had the best of it.

To the Academy, thank you very much. I really appreciate this. And a remark on a lighter vein. All the beautiful women that I worked with in this business that were terrified of looking like Marlon Brando; it's okay, it's over now. You're safe. And to all of you, do your best, take care of your kids. Thank you very much."

No Gordon, THANK YOU.


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