We have some favourite movies in our house that get hauled out before and especially after Christmas. Familiarity doesn't breed contempt; with a few of them, it's hard to even count how many times they've been seen.
This is (evidently) some unearthed outtakes from the production of Star Wars in 1976; not the funniest, but it is amusing nonetheless, if only because the scenes are all so familiar. There is no sound in the opening sequence.
Kyle Lambert, a Manchester-based visual artist, creates some wildly inspired things, including Toy Shining, which takes Toy Story characters and inserts them into Stanley Kubrick's imaging of the The Shining. Click here to see more.
My wife and I got such a kick out of Despicable Me and its minions that we went to see the sequel on our own, our now-teenage son developing a serious case of eyeroll and "you've got to be kidding" disease. (His loss. We laughed.)
The above image was the announcement Ellen DeGeneres made (obviousy with Disney's blessing) this week about the coming sequel to Finding Nemo. Finding Dory will pick up the story of the blue fish with the terrible memory, and evidently will be centered on the waters off California.
Finding Nemo is a movie I've seen countless times. We took our son to it when he was a preschooler, and the subsequent DVD played well over once or twice. The themes of parenting must have resonated too. Plus, those seagulls!
I'm not at all surprised that Pixar is reaching into libraries for sequels (Monsters U. is up next), but the one I want to see the most remains nothing more than good wishes.
The Incredibles, from 2004, is the Pixar movie that really knocked my socks off. I loved the story, I liked seeing how the movie dealt with the contentious themes of encouraging kids to excel rather than merely participate, I loved how it made a meal out of the imagery and ideas of the Silver Age of comics, and I thought so much of Michael Giacchino's score that I bought the soundtrack.
The writer and director, Brad Bird, has mused about putting together a sequel, but nothing has happened yet. Bird has been preoccupied with other things, like the last Mission: Impossible movie and the forthcoming sci-fi movie Tomorrowland, which may or may not have a lot to do with the Disney theme park of the same name, but which will be shooting in Vancouver later this year with the likes of George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.
So, no Dash, Violet or Jack-Jack (the baby who, a subsequent short later showed, has firemonster powers) for the time being. Fingers, though, remain crossed.
"Thank you," it opened, as he thanked his readers for what they gave him over the years.
I came to know Roger Ebert and his thumb-giving colleague Gene Siskel through the PBS show Sneak Previews, which was such an eye-opener to the teenage movie buff that I was in the late Seventies. I devoured magazine reviews of movies (anything I could find at home or at the library by Judith Crist or Richard Corliss and later Pauline Kael), but I loved watching Ebert and later reading his books and columns. He had popular tastes, but he had a wonderful way of shining a light on movies that needed the boost. No doubt many of the obituaries to be written in the next few hours will focus on the profound influence he had on independent and foreign titles, some being able to find distributors and audiences because of his words. That was one mighty thumb.
My teenage son and I watched Pulp Fiction last weekend (Martha, who is not that much of a fan, was at a social gathering). I hadn't seen the movie in years, and Nick had been wanting to see it, if only to place various parodies, including those on the Simpsons and Community, into context. There were definitely as many swear words as I remembered, but oddly not as much violence. The movie, I guess, had become more brutal in filtered recollection as the years went by. Still just as funny, though.
Here's a chart from Laughing Squid, showing the evidently very careful research that someone did on the body count of one of the most violence-approving directors of them all.
Olly Moss created this remarkable poster that says something, often subtly, about each of the Best Picture winners so far. The Artist, for instance, is in black and white. Some were probably obvious (Hannibal Lecter's straitjacket, Lawrence of Arabia's robes), although I was stumped for a second as to why the one for 2001 appeared to be missing ... until I remembered that A Beautiful Mind won for that year.
Largely because it's set at Christmas, and mostly because it's fun, we watch Richard Curtis's Love Actually every year in December. This year, Nick sat with us on the couch and saw it on the first time; as expected, Rowan Atkinson's super-fussy sales clerk was a favourite.
Here's a diagram that maps out how the characters in the overlapping storylines are connected to each other. As seen here, on I Love Charts.
We were engaging in one of those meaningless but always enjoyable conversational riffs: which James Bond movies do you enjoy the most. Mine vary from time to time, but include On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice (each considered, on release at least, to be something of a box office disappointment) not to mention all-out blockbusters like Thunderball and Goldfinger.
"Ahh," said our son, "you go for the early ones."
Well, yes, I guess I do.
I think I'll be revising my proverbial list (I always do, anyway); on Friday night, we braved the mall - it was MIdnight Madness, the weekend when the stores stay open late and they bring in security to conduct the traffic - to see Skyfall on its opening night. Yep, we're that kind of James Bond family.
It turns out the generous reviews have been on target. Skyfall really is that good. I put a lot of the credit with director Sam Mendes, who emphasizes story and character as much as spectacle and dazzling visuals ... and the latter are there, too. The investment of the reboot of Casino Royale six years ago pays off splendidly here, and the franchise brings back several key elements, chief among them the Bond sense of humour. There's actually a whole theme of what the movie calls the old ways: key characters are reintroduced, and not just Q (I'll leave the other as the surprise that the movie earns) but ongoing riffs and nods. See above for the return of the Aston Martin, whose ejector seat makes for a one-liner.
There's more: the gadgets are back, with a knowing reference and a scaled-down appreciation. With Javier Bardem's Silva, a villain worth putting up against Goldfinger himself. The globe-hobbing locales. And, yep, the guitar riff of the theme. (Not to mention a theme song that will probably get Adele an Oscar nomination, if not a win.)
Speaking of Oscars, the calibre of the cast is something else. Mendes, a winner himself, brought back not only Craig and Judi Dench, but adds Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Bardem to the screen. The Bond pattern was usually to get curiosities and character actors to round out the parts. Consequently, with a decent script (cowriter John Logan is arguably one of the best currently in the business, in any genre) and a confident director, the cast make for a Bond movie that has something new: genuine depth. Go figure.
I'm game to see it again: not to revel in the performances, mind you, but to absorb the whole spectacle again, and, yes, enjoy the jokes. As a Bond movie, Skyfall really works on that level, too.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.