It feels like several years have passed since Christopher Nolan released ‘Interstellar,’ but that’s just because I’m still stuck on that tidal-wave planet where time dilates and stuff. In reality, it’s only been a couple months since Nolan’s latest epic sci-fi film, which opened to positive reviews and, despite its heady subject matter, went on to earn more than $660 million worldwide. Love it or hate it, you have to at least respect the fact that Nolan’s still making huge blockbusters based on original ideas and deeply personal subject matter—as opposed to board games or toys or something.
‘American Sniper’ had a record-shattering weekend at the box office, grossing an astounding $105 million from Friday to Monday. It’s already the second biggest earner of Clint Eastwood’s entire career after ‘Gran Torino,’ and with six Academy Award nominations (and great word-of-mouth) behind it, it’s posed to become his biggest hit ever.
It’s been one heck of a journey for Richard Linklater and his movie ‘Boyhood.’ Shooting on the film began over a dozen years ago; each and every year since, he and his cast and crew would reunited to add a new chapter to the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family. Imagine the kind of dedication and commitment that sort of project takes. I had a hard time focusing for the 30 straight minutes it took to write this blog post.
“Nothing is over!” These are the words of Col. John J Rambo, the hero of ‘First Blood’ (better known as ‘Rambo’) and then ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ and then ‘Rambo III’ (the only one people call by its actual title and then ‘Rambo’ (better known as ‘Old Rambo’). After what basically amounts to a movie-long chase, ‘First Blood’ concludes with a heartfelt speech from star Sylvester Stallone, explaining how nothing (meaning the Vietnam War) is over for him; that his mind is too scarred from his brutal deeds and by the cruel treatment he’s received on the homefront. It’s a powerful (if occasionally incomprehensible) scene.
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.
In the fall of 2013, APCO Worldside surveyed 70,000 people about the world’s biggest brands. They measured their responses in eight different ways—“understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride.” The number one most loved company out of 600 choices: Disney.
I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
J.J. Abrams is famous for keeping secrets. His whole schtick as a director is the “mystery box”—finding pleasure in the unknown, and in the tease of that uncertainty. He didn’t show the monster in the trailer for ‘Cloverfield’; hell he didn’t even show the title of the movie in the trailer for ‘Cloverfield.’ If J.J. Abrams could release a movie without telling you anything about it, he probably would.
James Cameron doesn’t lack for confidence. And why should he? This is the guy who made the biggest movie in the history of the universe, and then he topped himself and made the biggest movie in the history of the universe a second time. If there is anything in the world of movies James Cameron can’t do, he hasn’t found it yet.
A sequel to Ben Stiller’s ‘Zoolander’ has been a long time coming. The original movie, which followed the hilariously dumb misadventures of a male model named Derek Zoolander (Stiller), opened in the fall of 2001. 13 years later, work is finally starting to ramp up on the follow-up. Actor and writer Justin Theroux will direct ‘Zoolander 2’ (which should be called ‘2lander,’ for obvious reasons), and Stiller will reprise his role as Zoolander, along with Owen Wilson as his model buddy Hansel and Will Ferrell as the world’s most evil fashion designer Mugatu. Deadline says that the returning cast now has its first new addition in the form of the lovely Penelope Cruz.
I watch a lot of 'Project Runway.' My wife likes it -- and, yeah, I like it too. A show dedicated to fashion design that features creative and powerful women is a weird thing to think about while watching a Michael Bay movie but that's exactly what I did during 'Pain and Gain.' Bay could learn a thing or two from that show about editing. Not in the cinematic, cutting shots together sense; that he's got. This is a different kind of editing.
It's the kind that is often called out by the 'Runway' judges when they tell the contestants (I'm paraphrasing), "This is too busy. You need to edit. That blue fuzzy hat that looks like a tribble distracts from the gorgeous, ornately sequined dress. The dress is enough. You don't need the tribble hat. Edit."
A Michael Bay movie -- particularly 'Pain & Gain' -- is a sequined dress with a blue tribble hat.
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