Analysis: Into the Woods – Why do people not understand musicals?

Into the Woods - "On the Steps of the Palace"

I rarely pay much attention to those around me in a movie theater.  We all have experienced a myriad of awful behavior from both adults and children, and it’s driven some people to stay home and simply watch movies on Netflix (or pirate them), but I’ve mostly learned to tune them out.  There are exceptions, when I want to see how people react to a particular moment in a film I’ve seen before, but mostly I ignore people rudely talking or checking their cell phones and such.  However, I started to notice an interesting trend during Into the Woods that brought a lot of questions to my mind, particularly as it pertains to the state of musical films in today’s pop culture landscape.  And it all made me wonder whether movie musicals will ever be popular enough again to have a regular place at the table of major film genres, and why, exactly, people stopped loving musicals.

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What if there was a Best Voice Performance Oscar? – 2005

(Note: This is a fictional creative thinking exercise, inspired by hours of contemplation of which animated performances have been most worthy of attention over the years.  This feature imagines that a Best Voice Performance category was added to the Oscars following Beauty and the Beast’s nomination for Best Picture at the 64th Academy Awards.  Each week I’ll cover the hypothetical nominees and winner from one year of animated performances.)

The Best Voice Performance category at the 77th Academy Awards was considered something of a letdown.  All five nominees came from only two films, and the winner was neither unexpected nor particularly exciting.  However, 2005 proved to be a much more diverse year for voice performances.  Pixar wouldn’t be releasing a new film, but both Dreamworks and Disney both had new movies to contribute.  One film in particular, Madagascar, seemed to be gunning for nominations by recruiting a high profile cast of comedians of who featured prominently in its advertising campaign even before the film was released.  However, no one could have predicted the variety and quality of the performances that would eventually earn nominations.

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Jurassic World director responds to spoilers in an interesting way

Spoilers have become an increasingly big problem for filmmakers, and most tend to overcompensate for them in one way or another.  Movie shoots are often incredibly secretive places, with scripts numbered and collected at the end of the day and excessive at filming locations.  This makes some sense, as any set photo or leaked plot details might affect the public’s desire to see a film.  Of course, leaks are bound to happen and there are a variety of ways to respond to them.  You can completely ignore them, which is the most common tactic.  You can take the J.J. Abrams route and deny them even though Benedict Cumberbatch is obviously playing Khan.  You can simply shut down your movie before it ever gets started, like Quentin Tarantino did after the entire script for his film The Hateful Eight leaked earlier this year.  Or, you can do what Colin Trevorrow, the director of Jurassic World, the upcoming fourth entry in the Jurassic Park series, did when the general plot of his film leaked.  He confirmed the rumors about his film, while taking time to lament the era of the spoiler.

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What it means to have a gay character in How to Train Your Dragon 2

For those who haven’t seen the news, it’s been revealed that How to Train Your Dragon 2 will feature one of the characters from the first film coming out as gay.  In an interview with E! Online, the film’s director, Dean DeBlois, explained that one character will be coming out and told the interviewer which character that was.  (I’m not going to spoil that here, but if you want to read the interview which does spoil it, you can find it here.)  The moment comes as an offhand comment, ad-libbed by the character’s voice actor, and was not a part of DeBlois’ original script, however the openly gay DeBlois said, “I think that’s a really fun [and] daring move to put in.”

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Star Wars Episode VII Cast Announced!

The news that many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived: the cast for the new Star Wars movie has been announced!  And while at this point there wasn’t a lot of doubt that some of the cast from the original trilogy would return, it’s still fantastic to see it confirmed, especially when accompanied by this awesome photo from what appears to be a script reading.  So lets get the big news out of the way first.  Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) will all be reprising their roles in at least the first film of the new trilogy!

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Is Agents of SHIELD about to become The A-Team?

Obviously, there are spoilers for Captian America: The Winter Soldier ahead, so wait to read this until after you’ve seen the movie if you don’t want it ruined for you.

Agents of SHIELD has recently been calling itself Agents of SHIELD: Uprising, along with momentarily replacing the SHIELD logo with Captain America’s shield, and the events of the last episode led up to the events of the film.  Clearly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will have a big impact on the show going forward, not to mention the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I have some quick thoughts about what this might mean for Coulson and his crew going forward. Continue reading

Some Advice About Digital Copies

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably bought many DVDs and Blu-rays over the years that have come with “digital copies,” which you proceeded to ignore.  Until recently, I had no interest in digital versions of my movie collection.  I had no interest in watching movies on my computer when my TV is just one room away, I didn’t want my hard drive filled up with movies I would never watch, and I didn’t own a portable device capable of playing a digital copy.  However, for the past couple weeks I’ve been in the process of going through my many boxes of empty DVD cases (I keep all of my DVDs in sleeves/booklets) and while removing the paperwork from the cases I ended up with a stack of redemption codes for digital movies.  When I combined that stack with a newly purchased computer and my iPhone, I started to reconsider digital copies.  In the process of sorting through these movies and codes I learned a few things that might be of interest to anyone else out there like me, who has these codes but doesn’t know what’s involved in obtaining a digital copy or why such a thing would be appealing.  I would imagine at this point most average consumers still don’t care much about owning digital copies of movies  (and this is without getting into the whole Digital Rights Management debate, which is a topic for another time), and are content with their physical copies or streaming services like Netflix.  However, I would bet the average movie watcher owns at least a few “combo packs” that came with a digital copy, and might be curious about it.  So here are some things that you might find it useful to know. Continue reading

Review/Analysis: After the Dark (aka The Philosophers)

I had come to believe that I’d never get to see The PhilosophersThe trailer came out almost a year ago and I quickly became obsessed with it, but it seemed like the film itself would never materialize.  It made the film festival rounds in 2013 but after that I heard no more about it.  On a whim last week I decided to dig through the internet to see if there was any news about the movie and discovered two surprising pieces of information.  First, The Philosophers had received a new name and was now called After the Dark.  Second, After the Dark had actually received a limited release in theaters last month and was right this second available on demand on my TV.  Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to watch the film that had hung steadily at the back of my mind for a year, like an itch I couldn’t scratch, and what I found was something unique and beautiful, that both lived up to my every expectation while subverting them at the same time.

After the Dark tells the story of a philosophy class at an international school in Jakarta, on the seniors’ last day before heading to college.  Continue reading

Guess the Movie!

I’m going to try something a little different today.  I’ve always liked movies that appear to fit into a particular genre on the surface but in reality the stories are actually from a completely different genre.  Sometimes this is intentional, as one setting can be used as an allegory for another, but sometimes it’s just that the trappings of a film hide the fact that the movie isn’t actually about what you think it’s about.  One of my favorite films in particular seems to fit this mold, in that it’s nominally about one thing and fits in one particular drama, but the story we’re watching is actually about something completely different that would fit into a different genre.  So in the spirit of that idea, I’ve rewritten the story for a particular film in the genre and setting in which I feel it best fits, and your challenge is to guess the movie!  I’ve changed the character names and some genders, as well as deleting some subplots or details that would have too easily have given it away.  Hopefully this will make you look at the movie (and others if this proves popular) in a different way.  So see if you can figure it out:

No, it’s not Dragonslayer… the whole point is that this is a different setting and genre than the film is actually in.

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My Top 10 (and Bottom 3) at the Movies in 2013

Now that 2014 is well under way it’s a good time to look back at the movies of 2013.  I went to the movies 40 times in 2013, a pretty low number for me, seeing 32 new films (the other 8 were either movies I saw more than once or classics I got the chance to see on the big screen).  Through a variety of reasons, I’ve managed to miss most of the big awards contenders including 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Her, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street, unlike last year when I had seen most of them.  Instead of simply ranking my favorite films from the past year, however, I prefer to highlight my top 10 (and bottom 3) movie-related things from 2013.  Some of these will be particular movies or performances, some will be scenes or aspects of production, and some are bits of news or interpretations.  I hope you enjoy it, and remember to let me know your favorite (or least favorite) film-related things from 2013! Continue reading