Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Favorite Non-Blockbuster Movies Edition

A few weeks ago, I had mentioned something about doing a blog about some of my favorite movies that are smaller movies. Sure, I love the great blockbuster. Who doesn't like a movie where the hero must protect the world from blowing up and does it with just .001 seconds left on a timer? I know I do. But I also like the smaller movies. They never seem to get the press of the bigger movies, but doesn't make them any less enjoyable. So I thought I would show you, my loyal readers, a few of my smaller favorite movies. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Starting with the movie Beautiful Girls. It's a comedy drama about a bunch of friends who get together for their ten year high school reunion. The more things change, the more they stay the same for these friends. The cast includes Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillion, Rosie O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Lauren Holly, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino and a very young Natalie Portman.

Another movie about a reunion of sorts that I love is called Indian Summer. This time instead of a high school reunion, former campers return to their favorite summer camp for a week but this time as adults. Again, the campers fall into the same patterns they did as children. The cast includes Alan Arkin, Diane Lane, Bill Paxton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Kevin Pollack, Elizabeth Perkins, and believe it or not director Sam Raimi.

The Tag line drew me in at first. "The only thing more frightening then murder... high school". The movie is called Hiding Out. Jon Cryer plays a stock broker who is called to testify against a mob boss for insider trading. The mob boss sends a hit man after him. While attempting to flee the mob boss, he is mistaken for a high school student in his cousin's school. Part action, part drama, part fish out of water movie. It co-stars Keith Coogan and Annabeth Gish. This movie is pure 1980's!

Even though the leading lady was nominated for an Oscar, I don't think that Almost Famous ever got the respect it deserved. A fifteen year old boy pretends to be a reporter for Rolling Stone in an attempt to interview a band on the road gets more then he expected on his trip. Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Zooey Deschanel, and Anna Paquin fill out the cast of this amazing movie written and directed by Cameron Crowe.

So there you have it. Four of my favorite under appreciated movies of all time. I hope they will bring you as much joy and pleasure as they have brought me over the years. Check them out and let me know what you think of them!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Hypocritical Edition

I know this is normally an entertainment blog, but something that happened recently has kind of gotten my attention and I wanted a chance to speak about it. By now everyone knows what happened during the Boston Marathon last week. This isn't going to be about that, though I do have a lot to say about that as well. An entire city was locked down because of the attack for a few days. When the city basically reopened, there was a pre-game event at the Boston Red Sox game. During that event, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz dropped an F bomb on National Television. I understand he was speaking from the heart and that's why the FCC didn't fine NESN for it. Now, let's say that you finally landed your dream job (or at least something that will allow you to possibly land your dream job) and you are nervous on your first day. That sounds pretty reasonable, right? I think we have all been guilty of this, right? Well, A.J. Clemente was a news anchor who finally got a chance to be on air. And what better way to start your new job then to drop an F Bomb on live TV. Not surprisingly, he was fired for it. Isn't this rather hypocritical though? I would like to hear your thoughts on this please?

Another RIP to throw out there, unfortunately. Comedian Jonathan Winters recently died. He was 87 years old. Not everyone knows the name, which is a shame. He was a very funny man that helped influence a lot of comedians in the last thirty years. He was a great improv comedian. My first memories of him was hosting a TV show about football bloopers. He was dressed as a referee. But to most people, he will be remembered as Robin Williams' son in the show Mork and Mindy.

While doing an interview for his new movie "Pain and Gain" Director Michael Bay was quoted for apologizing for his 1998 movie Armageddon. He isn't the only person I have heard apologize for the movie, or at least regret the movie. Billy Bob Thornton had said of all this movie roles, this is the one he regrets the most. He admitted to only making the movie for the paycheck. Michael Bay has now come forward to say that the quote was taken out of context and he regrets only how the movie came out because it was rushed at the end. I have heard a lot of people who trash this movie and I just don't get it. I freely admit to really enjoying this movie. Is it a perfect movie? No, not at all. But let's face it, there are a lot of movies that are not perfect. It is a great popcorn movie, regardless of the plausibility of it. Most movies are not based on anything that remotely can happen. In fact one of the reasons we go to the movies is to suspend reality. Does it make sense to send drillers to an asteroid to put a bomb it? No. But then again, a rich man dressing as a flying rodent to stop a man talking through a weird voice changer doesn't make sense either. But that didn't stop people from flocking to see Dark Knight Rises. There is no reason for a director to ever apologize for a movie.

Monday, April 8, 2013

RIP Icons Edition

They say that celebrities die in threes. Unfortunately in the last four days, they were right.

Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died this past week after a long battle with cancer. With his partner Gene Siskel and later on Richard Roeper, Ebert was by far the most famous film critic in the world. He started reviewing movies back in 1967 for the Chicago Sun-Times and has been reviewing movies ever since. There are few people in this world that loved movies as much as Roger Ebert.  He has also appeared in several movies and television shows, most times as himself. He, along with his two thumbs up, will be missed.  Here is a review he made just last year. He was 70 years old. Because he was a huge fan of the restaurant Steak N Shake, my fiancee and I ate that yesterday in honor of him.

Today we lost Annette Funicello. Along with Frankie Avalon, they were two of the original Mouseketeers. Long before there was Justin and Brtitney, there was Frankie and Annette.She was a child actress and singer.  Annette was discovered by Walt Disney himself in 1955. They continued to be partners for years, making several movies together as well. I first learned of her in a movie called Back To The Beach, also starring Avalon. She was also 70 years old.

Normally, I am only an entertainment blogger.  But there are people that just transcend certain labels. So it is my responsibility to mention that former Prime Minster of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher has also passed away today. She inspired a movie two years ago starring Meryl Streep. She was 87 years old at the time of her passing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Sequel Edition

How Many times do you hear that there is nothing new in Hollywood? "There are no original ideas" "There are too many sequels" "Everything is based on a book or just a pointless sequel"

I hate to be the one who breaks this to you. Sequels are nothing new. They aren't going to go away anytime soon. They are a fixture in the movie industry. And every single genre has had its big hits and terrible misses by tapping into a well that has been successful.

A perfect example is the horror genre. No one film genre has used the sequel more than the horror genre. Don't believe me? How many times can Freddy Krueger be destroyed and still come back? Apparently the number is 6. That doesn't include the spin-off Freddy vs Jason or the remake. And speaking of Jason, we have seen eight different Friday the 13th movies for him. But that's not all. What about Michael Myers? He is tied with Jason for appearances. And that's just from the original series, not including the sequel to a remake. But it's not just old horror movies that keep finding their way to the theaters. Jigsaw and his partners at Saw had seven different movies. In fact, the slogan for the movie was once something along the lines of "If it is October, it must be Saw". Paranormal Activity has only had four movies, but I am sure there will be a fifth one coming this October.

Then the other side of the spectrum from horror is the kiddie cartoons. Sequels have only been more noticeable in the last few years when it comes to cartoons, but they were always around. Think about how many Disney movie sequels went straight to VHS or DVD. But with Ice Age and Madagascar and now all the Pixar sequels that we have seen recently, you can see animators are hard at work to catch up to their live action counterparts. But then again, you have a movie like the Land Before Time which has an amazing thirteen movies in its series!

Action movies are anything but immune from the sequel treatment. They don't tend to have as many sequels, but again it depends on the series. After all John McClaine has been dying hard for five movies now. Axel Foley has been a cop in both Detroit and Los Angeles three times. Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte made 2 48 Hours movies (96 hours?). You would think Murtagh would have retired after the first Lethal Weapon movie, he was too old for that (stuff) even back then, but we saw three more movies after that! And now the big IT action series is Fast and The Furious. Pre-production for Number 7 has all ready begun.

Again, with comedies we have seen several successful franchises recently. Whether it be the Hangover movies or American Pies. But there are not nearly as many comedy franchises as all the other genres we talked about.

The Godfather is one of the most popular movies of all time. It was made back in 1972. And just two years later, there was a sequel. Then sixteen years later, it became a trilogy. I mean, seriously Hollywood? Isn't it time to revive it? And for the record, I am just kidding!

All this talk about sequels, I decided to do a little research. I started back from 1990 and moved up to 2012. I counted how many movies ended the year in the top ten that were sequels. So out of the 220 movies, 71 of them were sequels of some sorts. I'm honestly surprised that it's less than that. 1/3 of the most successful movies in the last 22 years are sequels. Only four years in that time didn't have any sequels in the top ten of that year. And I have a feeling we will see more of that with so many other sequels coming in the next five years or so!