Tag Archives: Movies

The TinTin of My Youth

TinTinThe highly anticipated release of the Spielberg/Jackson adaptation of The Adventures of TinTin released last week to dazzle audiences everywhere.

I was talking to some friends yesterday and discovered not everyone is familiar with TinTin. That’s like saying you’ve never heard of Abraham Lincoln or The Beatles. I just couldn’t fathom that someone had never heard of TinTin. It turns out that’s pretty common.

Not for me. As a child I would slip away to the library and bury my face in the TinTin books for hours. I was absolutely fascinated with the boy from Belgium.

As a child seeking escape the library was sanctuary. TinTin provided the adventure.

Tin Tin - The Secret of the UnicornIn this motion-capture animation treatment of Hergé’s TinTin, Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) bring the young Belgium reporter and his dog companion Snowy to life in ways impossible just a few years back.

For the story they selected The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and added in components of The Crab With the Golden Claws (1941) and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944) to come up with their movie.

We saw it last night and I can say most enthusiastically it lived up to all the post premier hype. I am a TinTin fan from way back and was awed by the quality of the animation and the strength of story. I believe we are entering into a new age of cinema where the actor is such a small part of the production. Cinematography and effects are king.

Jackson and Spielberg will co-direct the second movie of the trilogy, an adaptation of The Seven Crystal Balls (1948) and Prisoners of the Sun (1949).

“I am having a blast, Tintin is not work, it is just fun”,
—  Peter Jackson interview in Le Monde

TinTinTinTin

Falling Skies

One of my favorite things in cinema/books/TV is Science Fiction. I mean, come on, who didn’t like “Lost in Space” with Doctor Smith and that freaking robot… “Danger, Will Robinson!”

I recently watched a couple of episodes and discovered it was a whole lot more benign than I thought it was. I’m more of the “Aliens” alien type. The bigger, the badder, the better. Alien vs. Predator was like Sci-Fi overdrive on steroids. You just didn’t know who to pull for. They were both bad to the Borg.

In one week a new prime-time Sci-Fi series will premier on TNT. Falling Skies (Sunday, Jun 19 – 9/8C time) is somewhat of a War of the Worlds reboot without Tom Cruise and the screaming little girl.

Main character, Tom Mason, (Noah Wylie – Dr. John Carter on ER) is a history professor in Boston who becomes the leader of soldiers and civilians who line up to battle an invading alien force. (I like it already) The Boston resistance is called the “2nd Mass” (likely after the 2nd Massachusetts who fought at Antietam). They are a rag-tag group of civilian fighters, out-raygunned from day one. They plan to take back Earth one bloody bag of Aliens at a time.

This Spielberg produced epic has potential. Let’s hope it doesn’t have the cheesy aliens we’ve seen in past alien invasions such as “V” and Mars Attacks. That was some stinky cheese.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP7vrlvu9qk]

Epic Dream Sequences

I was watching House last week, a brilliant episode I might add, and it occurred to me I should take a look back at epic dream sequences in movie and television across the years. What started this whole thought process was House and Cuddy  in a very visual spoof of Judy Garland’s “Come on Get Happy.” Some of the imagery was just off the charts.

So I stated digging back in the vault to see what other shows/movies had dream sequences worthy of mention.

Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore

The first one that came to mind was The Big Lebowski and the Viking Woman/Bowler dream. You want to talk about epic! Jeff Bridges as the Dude and Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski play together in a bowling alley themed dream with viking overtures guaranteed to work your grin muscles.

This movie introduced me to the off-beat brilliance of the Coen Brothers whose work remains among my favorite with Fargo, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and their recent, True Grit. “The Dude” is one of my favorite movie characters of all time. He’s like the neighbor from hell.

Capt Picard: Star Trek: First Contact

For you Star Trek fans, there was the dream sequence to open, Star Trek: First Contact, where Picard’s hatred of the Borg was played out in dreams. This was actually a dream sequence inside a dream sequence where Picard finds himself in a Borg Cube being assimalted by his nemises. Just as a drill bit lowers towards his eyeball, the Captain wakes up in his cabin aboard the Enterprise.  He goes to wash his face and seconds later Borg mechanisms jump out of his face — and he wakes up again. This time for real. It takes directorial talent to embed a dream sequence into another dream sequence.

Speaking of directorial talent and dreams within dreams….

Leonardo DiCaprio: Inception

If you haven’t seen last years Leonardo DiCaprio movie, Inception, you have missed what may be the biggest/best movie about dream sequences ever. There were a few times in that movie I just sort of cocked my head to the side and asked, “How in the world did they do that?”

DiCaprio is stellar as dream traveler “Cobb” who is the best in the business – the business of stealing your dreams and in the process your mind.  There were moments I was not exactly sure whether I was watching a dream sequence or reality, the movement between the two was so seamless. Director Christopher Nolan, who brought us Memento and The Dark Knight, pulls off some amazing film trickery making Inception the must-see movie of 2010.

The real surprise of this movie was actress Ellen Page (Juno), as fellow dream surfer Ariadne. Brilliant performance.

Dallas Shocker: Bobby Lives

There is no way you could have a discussion about dream sequences and not talk about Bobby Ewing on the hit show Dallas. Only in Hollywood…

As the story goes, Patrick Duffy, actor portraying Bobby Ewing, wanted to leave the show. Producers obliged and at the end of season 8, killed off Bobby Ewing by having his sister-in-law run him down with her car… “SQUISH!”

With Dallas ratings plummeting through the next season, Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing) convinced Duffy to return to the show. (Dilemma… Isn’t the character dead?)  No problem for the writers.

Dallas fans watched the cliff-hanger episode as Pam (Bobby’s widow) awoke from her wedding night – she had just married long time suitor Mark Graison- to find her new husband gone.

Pam hears the shower running in the bathroom. She slides back the shower door and there is Duffy (Bobby Ewing in his nude-not dead costume) lathering up in his birthday suit. “Good morning” he says as the credits roll. (May 1986)

So let me get this straight. As the tenth season opens, Pamela Ewing is describing for Bobby her “Dream.” It turns out that all of season nine happened in Pam’s head as she slept. Every storyline, every punch, every crooked deal, and every corny line of season nine never happened. I repeat…. Only in Hollywood!

To round out my epic dream sequences I have to add Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Judge Reinhold/Phoebe Cates day-dream scene.  (Although not officially a dream sequence I was compelled to include it.) In the family friendly atmosphere of my blog I can’t really include pictures, but I think it safe to say that Judge Reinhold is not the only teenager to spank the monkey to Phoebe Cates.

Which brings us full circle. What about this Hugh Laurie, House, dream sequence that sent me down this path?  Check it out…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8k0vnm-aKQ]

Here are a few honorable mentions for cinematic dreams.

    • Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
    • Carrie
    • Papillon
    • Nightmare on Elm Street
    • Rosemary’s Baby

Can you think of any I missed?  Send me the missing “Dream Sequence” in the comment section below.

Oscar week

Oscar Wilde circa 1890

No – not that Oscar.

I’m talking about that little gold-plated statuette that Hollywood’s elite, and not so elite, want to wrap their tinsletown paws around in recognition of film triumph.

I’ll admit it publicly. The Academy Awards are a guilty pleasure and have been for quite some time.

There always seems to be some kind of controversy at the awards, whether it was Bard Renfro’s absence from the “Memorial” at the 80th awards, or question of ownership for Heath Ledger’s statue at the 81st, or back in 1972 when heavily favored Marlon Brando won for The Godfather. Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather, an actress pretending to be Apache, in his place to accept the award. She told the attendees that Brando refused to accept his Oscar because of the poor treatment of American Indians by the film industry. Her short speech garnered a round of boos from the Hollywood crowd.

The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the “Best Picture” award.  Last year the field of nominees was expanded from five to ten films.  Nominations for this years best picture are:

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

Best Picture will either be King’s Speech, Facebook, or Rooster Cogburn. (I like True Grit to win, as a late fan favorite.) James Franco and Anne Hathaway will co-host Sunday night’s ABC broadcast of the 83rd Academy awards which begins at 8 ET/5 PT.

 



“My friend James Cameron and I made three films together – True Lies, The Terminator and Terminator 2. Of course, that was during his early, low-budget, art-house period.” ~Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1998 Academy Awards

Movies

I love movies. Actually a better way to say that is I love GOOD movies. I even love the occasional BAD movie, if it has a brilliant cast or achieves CULT status (U Turn and Napoleon Dynamite come to mind)

It’s that time of the year where the best of the best is selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures to receive the Oscar statue. This year the best picture field has been widened from five to ten.

Here are the nominations for Best Picture:
Avatar – Like that’s any real surprise
Up – Best animation in ages
The Blind Side – Bullock as a Blond… hubba-hubba
Inglourious Basterds – Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarentino
District 9 – Aliens living in South Africa
Up in the Air – Clooney being Clooney
Precious – Urban social disaster meets Mariah Carey
The Hurt Locker – The Bomb Squad goes Boom
A Serious Man – The Coen Bros… serious? really??
An Education – Low budget, high brow

This is the first year the Academy has offered up ten nominations for best picture. Let’s call it the “Dark Night” factor, since the Heath Ledger/Joker portrayal last year was passed up in favor of movies that hardly anyone saw, or cared about.

The only movie I have seen on this list is “UP,” which is my new favorite animation, displacing The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and rent/buy it.  It’s got more poignant moments per film time than any previous work, including Beauty and the Beast.  Hell, even the Beast would tear up over this one.

I may be the last man in America to have not seen AVATAR, but I am going to remedy that tonight.  It’s a must see in digital 3D, which means if I don’t drag my happy-ass to the theater soon, I might miss it, and James Cameron would not like that.

This is not a venue for me to pick winners or losers, considering I haven’t seen most of the selections.  I’m sure the Academy will pick the best… or the one that made the most money… or the one that most people have seen… or the one that nobody has seen.  And if anyone on the Academy happens to be reading this, consider it my resume for membership.  I can pick movies I haven’t seen as much as the next guy.


Arnold Schwarzenegger at the 1998 Academy Awards
My friend James Cameron and I made three films together – True Lies, The Terminator and Terminator 2. Of course, that was during his early, low-budget, art-house period.