In Memoriam: Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton in Twister

Bill Paxton is probably on your TV right now. The chances are that somewhere among the hundreds of cable and satellite channels you receive, Bill Paxton’s familiar face is grinning back at you. Throughout his career he chose roles in just the kind of popular movies that have become ubiquitous on television. Think about it. You wouldn’t be at all surprised while channel surfing to come across Apollo 13, Titanic, Aliens, Tombstone, Edge of Tomorrow, True Lies, Twister, or one of the countless other films perfectly suited to be filled with commercials and stretched to four hours so as to take up your entire weekend afternoon. And the odds are if you did stumble across one of those movies you’d stop to watch it for a bit, even if you’ve seen it a million times. And while Bill Paxton may not have been your reason for stopping, he just might be the reason you continued to watch long after you would otherwise have moved on.

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Review: Into the Storm

It’s inevitable, if unfair, that Into the Storm is doomed to be compared to TwisterTwister, despite having its fair share of detractors, has become the default tornado movie, so well and widely known that almost everyone is familiar with it, perhaps because it is shown with surprising regularity on various cable channels.  It’s also a film that I deeply love and I think is an unappreciated masterpiece, none of which could bode well for Into the Storm.  But I’ve long believed that familiar stories are worth retelling, and a new take on something old can still have value, so I went into the movie somewhat dubious, but hopeful that it might hold its own.  Unfortunately, the only conclusion I could draw by the end also happens to be an unfortunate and overused pun that I nevertheless feel compelled to make: it sucked.

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Trailer Saturday: Into the Storm (with bonus Twister)

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.

Here on the Ship’s Log I usually feature trailers that strike my interest in some way, either by promoting a film that looks exciting to me or by using an interesting technique within the trailer itself.  Sometimes, however, a trailer will leave me shaking my head, rolling my eyes, or snorting with derisive laughter.  Take a look at this:

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In Memoriam: Philip Seymour Hoffman

When a well-known actor dies, our minds tend to immediately jump to one particular film from their career.  Sometimes it’s their most lauded and famous role, like when my mind immediately jumped to Lawrence of Arabia when I heard that Peter O’Toole had died.  Other times the mind leaps to something more personal.  When I heard that Philip Seymour Hoffman had died yesterday at the age of 46, from an apparent drug overdose, my mind instantly went to Twister.  It’s not a role that won him any awards or critical acclaim, nor is it a film that’s particularly well thought of, despite its frequent showings on cable.  However, it is one of my favorite films (for many reasons, which I won’t go into here), and it will always be the film I associate with him.

Other pieces will focus on his Academy Award-winning role as Truman Capote in Capote, and rightly so.  Continue reading

Why is it so hard to make a good soundtrack album?

The third CD that I ever bought was a film soundtrack (the first two were Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” and Garth Brooks’ “Greatest Hits”).  It was the soundtrack to Independence Day, and I actually bought it in the hopes of it having R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” which for some reason I really wanted on CD.  I was disappointed when the song was missing from the soundtrack album, but after listening to the CD I realized how much I enjoyed the score, composed by David Arnold.  Thus began my obsession with film scores, and my collection of albums showcasing them.

I’ve been listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack for the past week or so on my commute to work, and I’ve realized that there are several very big problems with the film score album as a whole in the industry.  I don’t know why it’s so damn hard to put together a decent album from a film score, but I’ve come up with a list of several of the problems: Continue reading