Even though the essential nature of film-making is that actors will team up with a variety of different co-stars, it can still be surprising sometimes to see certain actors working together. That Dana Carvey would be in a film with fellow Saturday Night Live alum Jon Lovitz is no surprise. That the two would be the supporting actors in a trio isn’t much of a surprise either. That the lead role in that trio would be Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, is just a tad more unexpected. But that is what George Gallo’s 1994 film Trapped in Paradise gives us.
Cage, Carvey, and Lovitz play the Firpo brothers — Bill, Alvin, and Dave, respectively — who live in New York with their mother. Well, eldest son Bill does anyway. Cage is, as might be expected, playing the straight man in this trio, with Bill being a broke restaurant manager who struggles with being responsible and not giving into temptation to take advantage of people. His brothers aren’t living with him and mother Edna (Florence Stanley, in an amusingly overbearing role) because they gave into that temptation and are in prison. Until, of course, they get early parole and Bill has to take them in. Continue reading →
It’s Friday, and it’s once again time for the News Bites. Running a bit late again this week, for which I apologize, but I’m sure you all know this can be a busy time of year. I haven’t even had time to create Christmas-themed graphics for this column yet; hopefully by next week. At any rate, there may not be a huge amount of news this week, but what there is has generally been pretty big, especially for fans of superhero movies. So before I go out into the wild white yonder and take a crowbar to the horses’ water troughs (again), here’s what’s new this week. Continue reading →
We’re currently marching our way through the month of December, and as with years past, I’m trying to maintain a festive air around the blog by including a fair number of Christmas movies in my reviews. But just what makes a movie a Christmas movie? Surely Christmas Vacation is a Christmas movie, but is Lethal Weapon? How much Christmas does a movie have to contain to be a Christmas movie?
This question was on my mind the other night as I attempted to dig up some Christmas movies to schedule for the next few weeks — it’s harder than one might think, at least if one wants to avoid the Hallmark/ABC Family schlock. I see little point in watching something called A Girlfriend For Christmas when I know it’s just going to be terrible. But back to the main topic, when I got to looking at IMDb’s “Christmas” tag and Wikipedia’s list of movies with Christmas elements, I saw that there was often a very broad interpretation at work. So I thought I might say a few words about the differences as I see them. Continue reading →
As I won this film in a contest (thanks to Will at Silver Emulsion), it might be a little gauche to review it. Gift horses and mouths, after all. But I’m hardly going to watch a movie and not say what I think about it, so before 2013 comes to a close, here are my thoughts on director Henry Saine’s Bounty Killer.
As the title implies, it’s a violent film — in fact, it has a distinct “Grindhouse” movie aesthetic to it. The DVD cover (the film was released direct to video this past September) compares it to Mad Max and Kill Bill, and while those films may be a bit more memorable than this one, there’s little doubt that the description is accurate as far as what Bounty Killer is trying to emulate. The movie is apparently based on a comic book from Kickstart Comics; I am unfamiliar with either the book or the company, but the graphic novel origin is also readily apparent, as transitions from one location to the next often involve an interlude with comic-like drawings. Continue reading →
Released appropriately late in 2011, Arthur Christmas (directed by Sarah Smith and Barry Cook) is an Aardman animation production distributed through Sony. Unlike some other notable Aardman films, such as The Pirates or Wallace and Gromit, Arthur Christmas is not done with clay animation; rather, it’s done with computer-rendered graphics, as has become the norm for animated features. This does mean that it perhaps doesn’t stand out in terms of visual style the way its fellow Aardman productions do, but it’s hard to hold this against it so long as the quality of the animation is kept to a high standard, and that is certainly the case with Arthur Christmas. Characters move fluidly, and their personalities are shown right in their visual design. And the scenery is always detailed — unless it’s meant not to be, such as austere mission control rooms or large snow banks. When the animators choose to “wow” the audience, they succeed easily. Continue reading →
Before I review Gremlins, let me explain how it came about that I’ve waited this long — nearly 30 years — to see such an iconic film of the 1980s, especially considering how that’s my decade of choice. In the mid-80s, I was a young kid in grade school. My brother was in middle school, and if I recall the VHS release date correctly, my sister was not yet attending school. At any rate, my brother was home sick one day, and I was not. My mother decided to rent a movie to entertain my siblings, and Gremlins was the choice. No doubt Mom thought it would be a cutesy little film; you can see Gizmo peeking out of the box on that poster, after all. The gremlins proved to be a bit scarier than Mom anticipated, leading her to cover my sister’s head in a blanket — my sister says it was an afghan and thus not terribly effective for this purpose. At any rate, with one small child already nightmare bound, Mom wasn’t going to replay the video for me, nor rent it again at a later date. So I had a Gremlins-free childhood, and with one thing and another, there were always other films to grab as an adult.
I was talking with my siblings about this on Thanksgiving, and later that evening after everyone had gone home, I found myself perusing the movie channels. Looking ahead on the schedule, I found that Sundance was just about to air Gremlins. Well, I can take a hint. Continue reading →
Well, it’s December 1st, time to get started with the end of the year plans. I’m running just a bit behind this year, largely due to my unplanned intermission in November. I had meant to review more of 2013′s films during that period, and did not get around to them. I had also meant to create this year’s Christmas blog banner before now. Hasn’t quite happened yet; hopefully soon.
At any rate, you know more-or-less what to expect for the month. Non-news days will mostly be filled with reviews of either Christmas movies, or movies from 2013 as I try to bolster up my possible choices for my “Best of the Year” pick. I’ve yet to give a film from 2013 five stars, so here’s hoping I come up with something soon — though unfortunately I’m not sure I’ll get to any of the four that I want to see that’ll be in theatres this month (Thor 2, Hobbit 2, Catching Fire and Frozen). But we’ll see what transpires.
I still need to check exactly what will be available to me as far as Christmas movies go, but I think there’s a good chance I won’t have to go off-plan on any days by picking a non-new non-Christmas movie. Well, except for two days that are already accounted for due to a different calendarial concern.
Anyways, the first Christmas review of the year should be up tomorrow, with a film I’ve waited a very long time to see. Decorating the blog for the season hopefully should follow soon after.
And here we are at last, the final part of Mettel Ray’s “Breaking Emotions” blogathon. For the finale, Mettel has chosen those emotions that the ones mentioned before, and all the others besides, add up to: Hate and Love. But not scenes about hate or love, necessarily. Rather, those scenes that make us hate or love the film itself.
As might be expected, there’s a surfeit of options for both. But here are my three picks for each. Continue reading →
Released in 1924, just shortly after Sherlock Jr., The Navigator stars Buster Keaton as Rollo Treadway, a hapless heir to a family fortune who one day takes it into his head to marry his girlfriend (Kathryn McGuire). He makes all the arrangements for their honeymoon trip, booking a berth on a ship bound for Hawaii. Unfortunately, he does this before the rather critical step of asking the girl…. A few mishaps and a misread dock number later, and the two of them independently find themselves trapped on the same boat, unmanned and set adrift. Continue reading →
Good afternoon, it’s Friday, and it’s time for the News Bites. Now, I know normally this is a morning post, but it’s going up just a bit late today thanks to taking yesterday off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Blame it on an overdose of L-tryptophan. But even though it’s a bit of a light week for news, Hollywood never seems to completely shut down the hype machine, so there’s still a few bites of news to report in between bites of leftover turkey.
Before that, though, a bit of news from the movie blogging community. Dan Fogarty, of Fogs Movie Reviews, has sadly decided to shut down operations on his site due to time commitments at work. Fogs’ site was one of the biggest in our movie blogging community, and he helped me get started here with my own writing. Between his weekly “Movies That Everyone Should See” and “Tossin’ It Out There” straw polls, plus his regular reviews — which were always written to be entertaining and easy to read — I probably spent more time reading and commenting on his site than on my own, even before he asked me to write my “Catching the Classics” column for his site. Fogs, thanks for the laughs and all the great discussions, and thanks for letting me be a part of it.
And now, if you can pry yourself away from elbowing little old ladies in the guts to score an X-Box, here’s what’s been happening in Hollywood this week. Continue reading →