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Category Archives: Entertainment

State of Cinema

Can you recall any picture in the last 3 years that was wildly popular that didn’t include things getting smashed or blown to bits?

Have you gone to a movie or rented one that featured clever or charming dialog, let’s say in the past 24 months?

It’s OK, I can wait for your answer . . .

NO?

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Click for video

Surprise, I can think of one! La La Land which did – Worldwide: $439,020,154 (£424.7m)

That’s nothing compared to the Faster & the Even More Furious, OK, real title – The Fate of the Furious. Worldwide: $532,481,640 That’s just in the first (opening) weekend. It broke the previous record of $529m (£421.8m) taken in by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

That kind of money gets attention, which means the type of films I might find more interesting, or have longevity, are not likely to be made in the foreseeable future. That’s kind of shame, because the independent films are constantly trying to break into a market that is walled off from the public.

Why is the Fast & Furious franchise so popular?

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BBC Entertainment & Arts

That’s a question which seems easy to answer, at least on the surface. Some may say it has universal appeal to young & old, because people like to see escape fantasies of things destroyed. The protagonists and antagonists are people over the top, escaping doom or creating disasters on a grand scale with seemingly little consequence.  Have you ever picked up a sledge-hammer to help demolish a car for charity? Imagine 100’s of times greater smash, with none of the work but all of the fun.

There are other reason(s), I believe which increase its appeal. The actors in the film, identify well with an audience. Paul Walker was one of those people who seemed universally liked. Actors, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Vin Diesel and Ludacris, all have large followings. Dwayne Johnson has starred in four of this franchise movies, and he’s brought new energy to it. Still, they’re not adverse to bringing in other major names, and stirring the pot.

Kurt Russel has been a big action adventure star for years. This time he even has a name that most of us can relate to…  Mr. Nobody.

The Fate of the Furious won’t be a movie I will pay to see, but the next film Kurt Russell will be in, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, is going to be at the top of my screening list. If I’m not there opening day, I will be soon thereafter. The last Guardians of the Galaxy anticipated their audience, adding humor to an imaginative story that grabbed a lot of eyes. This one looks to be every bit the right follow on, in one I’m least familiar as a published graphics novel.


 

Resistance is Futile

A young Bela Lugosi photo

Bela Lugosi – Dracula

The OSCARS may be the buzz that Hollywood would like us to focus on, but only momentarily. They really want us to take them seriously. There will be many brows furrowed, scoldings issued, and appeals made.

This means we’re likely going to hear more speeches on, Donald Trump outrage, immigration, civil rights, racismhuman created environmental changes (our shame – not theirs). We may be hoping to see which cinematography, musical score, writers, actors, graphics, scripts, receive awards, but rest assured, that’s not all they have planned for us.

In many ways, they’ve become an interest group concerned with moral causes and how they continue to portray themselves as super citizens.

comedy - dramaThere are changes in the making. I’m not talking about the continuing inflation of egos, rather many ‘stars’ are getting older, their expenses are going up while box office receipts are going down. Their demands for increased salaries may actually set them back.

=-=- Biggest World Wide Box Office Releases Not From Hollywood -=-=

The news for Hollywood, just like American manufacturing, it can be done elsewhere, and often for less cost with greater profits. China & Japan are having a good year for film making and box office revenue.

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Joan Fontaine & Cary Grant

La La Land is a one of the movies nominated for awards, but the title and the ending suggests a bit more reality than many might immediately recognize about the traditional film industry.

A couple of last-minute notes… Greg P. Russell had his Oscar nomination rescinded on Saturday, for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

Bill Paxton has died from complications from heart surgery. He was 61.

 
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Posted by on 26/02/2017 in Academy Awards, Actors, Attitude, Awards, Box Office, Entertainment, Finance, Hollywood, Movies, Popular Culture

 

The Oscars Are Coming!

Oscar_statue_smlLet’s hope that’s all there is…

We know tonight is the night for Hollywood to go all in on celebrating…

Themselves.

The most anxious moments?

Will they get it right?

You decide as we have hours of congratulatory speeches, humor, music, dance, awards, and pontification.

  . . .  And the nominees are . . .

 
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Posted by on 26/02/2017 in Academy Awards, Awards, Choice, Entertainment, Hollywood, Movies

 

New Film in the Works

Set in a world so dark even villains can be heroes . . 

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Black Russian is a film set to begin in the summer of 2017

The latest film project announced by Chris Barfoot, Black Russian launched on February 18, 2017.

Incarcerated for fifteen years- Frank leaves prison to discover that his boss Marco is no longer cock of the walk. He must infiltrate the new Russian mob and steal the largest natural diamond in the world
‘The Black Russian’…

This is a stylish and gritty British crime thriller. It is a contemporary tale of love, deception, murder and retribution- set against a universe so dark- that ‘even villains can be heroes…’

East meets West… in this clash of the gangsters!

[Click on the image above to find out more]

 
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Posted by on 19/02/2017 in Action, Director, Entertainment, Movies, Plot

 

Loss For Thoughtful Music

The news announced November 10, 2016, the passing of another musical entertainment icon, Leonard Cohen. He had a public life in phases. There were the early years, perhaps overlaid by other well-known artists such as Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell or the myriad of other folk / rock crossovers. Later, a new resurgence of popularity came into view. His poetic, contemplative, sometimes darker interpretation, yet romantic music was the backdrop and cover for newer audiences. Over 90 movies featured his songs, such as, Natural Born Killers, Bird On a Wire, Shrek, & Watchmen.

He became known early on for Suzanne, covered by several artists, but one that has been covered by perhaps too many, Hallelujah, which other artists, have become better known. His earlier romantic relationships, including break ups, were often the source of good material.

His own perspective reveals his candid observation of love, living and dying.
I never had the sense that there was an end,” he said in 1992. “That there was a retirement or that there was a jackpot.”

Cohen, in October 2016, in Los Angeles, “I said I was ready to die recently and I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatization. I intend to live forever.”

Later that evening, he said “I hope we can do this again. I intend to stick around until 120.”

His time was shorter than the century mark. Seldom do we get to hear and are moved by someone with the passion, melody, and prose of a Leonard Cohen. Their music lives on, well past their time.

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Images from BBC


More of Leonard Cohen

—-

 
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Posted by on 11/11/2016 in Entertainment, Music, Romance, Sound Tracks, Writing

 

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The News Isn’t Good…

silver-streakThere’s a lot of communication on the InterWebs today about the passing of Gene Wilder. We lose good people all the time, but this is one that strikes me.

When I think of these movies;

  • The Producers
  • Willy Wonka
  • Young Frankenstein
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Silver Streak
  • Stir Crazy

I smile and think of how entertaining these movies were, because he was in them. His used car salesman face, while saying an outrageously humorous line, combined with his curly wild hair, added to his comedic delivery. When he starred in a Mel Brooks movie, you knew it was going to be memorable. The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, come to mind.

If you’ve seen any of his 4 movies with Richard Pryor, you watched one of the great movie comedy pairings. Even when there were serious moments, it was movie magic, with them in it.

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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory – Variety Online

For more information, click on this image ->

RIP Jerome Silberman / Gene Wilder
June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016

 


 
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Posted by on 29/08/2016 in Actors, Comedy, Deaths, Entertainment, Movies, Popular Culture

 

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It’s About Time

A movie made thirty-six years ago, still captures the hearts of romantics to this day. A small, independent film was released in 1980, Somewhere In Time.

(Christopher Reeve), as Richard Collier, is a successful playwright who has recently broken up with his girl friend. Now suffering with writer’s block, he decides to take a break. He travels to an isolated getaway, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. While walking the halls he notices a photograph of a young woman, that reminds him of a strange incident eight years prior. Richard Collier, a college theatre student in May of 1972, is celebrating the debut of a play he has written. During the celebration, he is approached by an elderly woman (Susan French) who places a pocket watch in his hand and pleads, “Come back to me.” Richard does not recognize the woman, who returns to her own residence and dies soon afterward.

Prompted by yearnings he doesn’t understand, Collier seeks out the assistance of Arthur Biehl (Bill Erwin), an aging bellhop who played in the lobby of the hotel as a boy, while his father worked there in 1910. Richard learns from him, the woman is Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), a famous early 20th century stage actress. Collier finds out more about her by visiting the home and talking to her housekeeper. He discovers later pictures of her life and that she was the aged woman who gave him the pocket watch eight years earlier.

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Click to hear the Theme

Determined to realize the wishes of this mysterious woman, and finding an author who describes traveling back in time using self-hypnosis, he convinces himself that he’s back in the year 1912. There he seeks to find love with actress Elise McKenna (portrayed by Jane Seymour).This relationship is tenuous, as the two of them realize; Elise’s manager, William Fawcett Robinson (portrayed by Christopher Plummer), wants to put an end to it, because he’s concerned about her career.

There are a few twists and turns in the movie, but it’s really about two people falling in love, under conditions of secrecy, and as we later learn, the difficulty in maintaining control of the illusion when Richard discovers a modern coin in his pocket, thereby yanking him back to present time.

Perhaps the most popular part of the movie was the music. The theme was written by John Barry, a friend of Seymour’s, who wisely took his compensation on soundtrack sales. This was a windfall, as it became one of the most popular soundtracks from the 1980’s. Backing his original score was Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini“.

The critics whizzed all over this film, however Universal sold the rights to Cable TV and video tape distribution. That created a strong fan following, and to this day, The Grand Hotel holds annual showings of the movie, which sometimes brings back cast and crew that worked on it. Sadly, Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in an accident in 1995 and passed away in 2004.

I found the film one of my favorite romantic films, second only to the Franco Zeffirelli’s emotionally stirring, Romeo and Juliet (1968). I admit to weeping at the end of both films. The theme to “Somewhere in Time” is as moving as “A Time for Us (Love Theme)” from ‘Romeo and Juliet (1968). This definitely helps set the mood of the film.

The original story encompasses two books, “Somewhere in Time” gives writing credit to Richard Matheson, “Bid Time Return”. Another novel, “Time and Again”, written five years earlier by Jack Finney, uses self-hypnosis as a means to travel back in time but isn’t about romance.

According to Matheson, his story was inspired from a visit to an old opera house where he sees a photo of Maude Adams, an American actress, (November 1, 1872 – July 17, 1953). She achieved her greatest success as the character, Peter Pan. She first played the role in 1905 on the Broadway production of Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Adams became the most successful and highest-paid performer of her day, with a yearly income of more than one million dollars during her peak.

Hollywood likes to do remakes, and this is one I wish would be carefully and lovingly redone. I have a preference for the part of Elise McKenna. I believe that role would best be served by Stana Katic. I find her one of the under-rated talents in recent years. She has an ability to bring the audience into any role she plays. Throughout her work in Castle and a short independent black and white film, “For Lovers Only,” shot on a shoe string, she is the essence of romance., Her screen presence is captivating, and from what I read about Maude Adams, a similar facility. As can be seen from these two images over 100 years difference in time, Stana resembles Maude Adams.

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Stana Katic

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Maude Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

A bit of movie trivia, William H. Macy and George Wendt have their debut in this film, although I understand Wendt’s moment got lost on the cutting room floor.

 
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Posted by on 19/08/2016 in Entertainment, Fantasy, Movies, Science Fiction, Writing

 

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