Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kill Bill does just that.

I've been thinking about movie titles a lot recently and I've decided that there exists about 3 categories every film can fall into:

1. The Cop Outs
2. The Cryptic/Clever Riddles
3 .The Truth in Advertisings

(Disclaimer- none of the following films are being either hated on or endorsed. I both like and dislike a lot of them, but that's not the point)

The Cop Outs are the easiest to detect. Any film named after the lead character that ISN'T called Forrest Gump (Erin Brockovich, Jackie Brown, Dave, Carrie, etc...)

Exceptions: Any movie named after the lead character in which said character is NOT human is okay though. E.T., Jaws, Piranha, Edward Scissorhands (this exists primarily is sci-fi as it turns out) (And movies about dogs called Old Yellar)

Other exception: When the name is only part of the title. Leon the Professional is not a cop out. Good Will Hunting is not a cop out. Goodbye Solo, also good.

Another good indicator of cop out titles is whether its based on the book. I get that the politics or marketing/hype involved with adapting a book into a film generally requires for the same title to be used, but despite the tradition, its still an easy out.

The Cryptic/Clever Riddles Ok not real riddles, but sometimes I finish watching a movie (good or bad) and then wonder where the title came from. Dog Day Afternoon, Winter's Bone, The Hurt Locker, The Breakfast Club, Breakfast at Tiffany's. All of these titles perfectly suit the films they serve, but they dont really explain why. What does the breakfast club have to do with breakfast? The dont eat it, they dont mention it. Despite being thrown together they're certainly not a real club. And yet we believe it. I like that.

Then there's the clever riddles. The ones that make some sort of play on themes, characters, feelings etc, without giving away too much. The Sound of Music is a great title. It's a musical, so the word music is relevant. But its about how music transforms, comforts, and enriches the lives of the Von Trapps, so The Sound of Music kind of nicely encapsulates that. But it doesn't spoil the plot in any way. Its great. Legally Blonde is another great title in that regard. All The Presidents Men another.

Truth in Advertisings This category is probably the easiest and most fun to detect. Titles of movies that deliver exactly what they promise. Snakes on a Plane. Kill Bill. 12 Angry Men. The Virgin Suicides (I know its named after a book). Hobo With a Shotgun. Three Men and a Baby. Ernest Goes to School/Jail/Hawaii/Wherever.

Generally movies with these kinds of titles are either amazing or terrible. The ones I just listed are all great for the record. They're also the most fun- frequently ones you see in theatres, or in groups.

Hurray titles! Im sure there's several more ways to categorize titles.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Epic and Ridiculous Things

I had a great conversation with a colleague tonight about what bands exist on people's radar, but never actually as anyones favourite. You know like Tonic and Len and stuff. Anyways I started thinking about movies that couldnt possibly exist in any reasonable person's TOP 10 and the first movie that sprung to mind was The Duplex starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore. A simple facebook search uncovered a group called "Duplex is the greatest movie ever". So apparently a whopping 19 people (out of 500 million) are complete morons. And probably all friends.

For my own entertainment I've made a list of 3 films I would also categorize as awful and am going to categorize their online followings. I have no qualms or illusions about the fact that this is totally irrelevant, but as Fran Lebowitz has taught me, self-esteem has been taken far too seriously and everyone on the planet thinks the world is just dying to know their take on things. (At the very least we could call this research based) (Right?)

1. Ghosts of Mars - Despite Pam Grier, this movie has an IMDB rating of 4.8. That's actually not terrible overall. I'd estimate its pretty average for a bad movie, and really the only way you can really get under 2 or 3 is to feature Paris Hilton on the cover. 2,408 people "like" this movie on facebook. That seems about right, I mean between Ice Cube, Clea Duvall, and Carpenter you've basically covered enough demographics to acquire 2400 or so fans.

2. Gigli- I dont think any individual component of this film is laughable, but there's just something about the combination of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck and low-ranking mobsters that just didnt spell "legit". Gigli boasts 4,964 facebook fans, just slightly shy of beating out onion rings at 5,044.

3. Baby Geniuses - I would actually retract this from the list based solely on the fact that the little boy on the cover looks EXACTLY like my brother Max and that's just too damn adorable. We'll let the IMDB 2.2 rating (that's bottom 100- sans an Hilton affiliations) speak for itself.

I was going to do 10 and then 5 and I'm going to wrap it up at 3. I spend way more time thinking about movies I like than movies I dont.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hi Sally!

Sad news broke earlier this week of the sudden passing of Sally Menke. This is a huge loss to the film community as Sally had made such a wonderful contribution to the film world, particularly with director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino has referred to Sally as his one true collaborator.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Top 50 Movie Related Things I Love/Hate

1. Soft focus lighting as the open transition to scenes
2. Paul Thomas Anderson
3. Philip Glass soundtracks
4. Vintage movie posters. Even when the movies aren't actually that old.
5. Robert Richardson
6. Jansuz Kaminski
7. Robert Elswit
8. Dylan Tischenor ACE
9. Scorsese
10. Cool end credits.
11. Roger Ebert Reviews/Tweets
12. Reading screenplays/shooting scripts online
13. Billy Wilder
14. Steve Buscemi
15. HBO Shows that feel like movies.
16. Eating popcorn with that cheddar powder while watching movies.
17. Talking about my favorite scenes repeatedly...often to the same people.
18. Kids movies that never stop being great (The Sandlot, Mrs.Doubtfire..)
19. Director commentaries
20. Director of photography commentaries
21. Stylish dutch tilts
22. The occasional use of the wilhelm scream
23. Ensemble casts that include Philip Baker Hall, Julianne Moore, and William H Macy
24. Catching things I missed the first time. Or the first 50 times.
25. Roger Deakins and the Coen Brothers working together
26. Sydney Lumet
27. Writing
28. Previews before theatrical releases (the first time)
29. John C Reilly
30. Criterion collection films.

Not so much love going to...

31. Commercials before theatrical releases.
32. Remakes
33. Sequels...I mean really?
34. People whose favorite movie of all time is any of the following: Ghosts of Mars, The Duplex, or Gigli.
35. Michael Bay.
36. Really great trailers with really bad movies...bummer!
37. French titles right under the English titles on DVD spines. UGLY!
38. E.T. being re-released with all this fancy CGI stuff all these year later.
39. Blu Ray
40. Ensemble casts that include the Wayans Brothers, Natasha Lyons, and Amy Sedaris
41. People who talk in movie theatres. Especially the ones who make YOU feel like the jerks for "shushing" them.
42. Overused corporate dutch tilts

But a little more love to:

43. Happy endings
44. Unhappy, but realist endings (Marty)
45. Good biopics
46. The anticipation of a favorite directors upcoming release!
47. Alan Ball
48. Charlie Kaufman
49. Seeing through the influences of your favorite filmmakers
50. Being able to recite word for word my top films of all times because Ive seen them so many times. Ahhhhhh films....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Light up your light!

I just watched American Beauty with the commentary by Alan Ball and Sam Mendes and basically the whole thing was a tribute to Conrad Hall's incredible lighting throughout the whole film. If you have the DVD I would highly recommend watching it. It's no secret that its a beautifully shot movie, but I was just blown away by some of the detail. The scene where Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is being interviewed for the job at Mr.Smileys was shot night for day and its unbelievable.
Speaking of amazing lighting, let me just unload about Kaminski's work on Catch Me If You Can. If I can give you a fair estimate as to how many times I've watched it, I'd probably say 18-20. It's a good, fun movie, good story, good performances, blah blah blah. But one of my favorite things about it is the scene where Frank comes home and finds his mother having an affair and sits down on the couch. He's in the foreground, she's in the background in the kitchen, and the daylight is blasting through a kitchen window being beautifully highlighted by a fogged room. LOVE IT. It's just a static wide shot for the whole last half of the scene, and its amazing. I tried to find a still from this scene online with no luck, but just watch the movie. Really.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Super keen on/amped up for PTA!

Ok. The blog hibernation is over. I don't have much to say today except that Paul Thomas Anderson is in the middle of casting his next film and that's pretty much the most exciting thing ever. He's making a movie about scientology. I'm already stoked. If its half as good as his worst film it will be great. If its his best film I'll probably cry and hug strangers. Who am I kidding? I'll hug strangers anyhow!

Let's just recap shall we? Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood. I feel badass even typing all those together, and this is one person's resume?? Right on. Coming 2011.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kathryn Bigelow. Fact.

This is the post where I talk about my excitement over what just happened at the Oscars. K.Big is the first woman to ever win the Oscar for Best Director. This was the highlight of 2010 for me so far. The presenter of this award is usually a bit of a giveaway (anyone remember Scorsese's win? Who else would Spielberg, Coppola, and Lucas all stand up for!) When Babs Streisand walked on stage I lost it. In a good way.
It made me feel so inspired and able and I hope I never forget how I felt in that moment. It's not just a big deal because Im a woman filmmaker, it's a big deal for anyone involved in film. You think Avatar was progressive? In 82 years and 410 nominees only 4 women have been nominated. I realize the ratio of woman directors to man directors is a rather large gap, but those numbers are powerful. This little girl in New Brunswick, Canada feels like anything is possible right now.

I said K.Big or go home last night, and I shall drink to that!