Don’t You Recognize Me: Andrew Lincoln

Don’t You Recognize Me? will be a sporadically posted theme wherein I briefly highlight an early role of a now well-known actor. Typically, it will be one where I didn’t immediately make the connection, hence the title.

This one wasn’t a realization I came upon unassisted, thanks to a tweet by Richard Roeper for that assist, but first a little back story.

As of this writing, I have now read, through trades, the equivalent of the first 102 issues of The Walking Dead in comic book form. When I do read it, it’s been in binge mode. So I held off on starting the TV series until this year. I started watching the series in early January and am now current.

With such a heavy watching schedule, I didn’t look everyone up on the IMDb, but Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, did seem to have a familiar face.

Love, Actually (2003, Universal)

Then late the other night Richard Roeper tweeted a reference to where I knew him from. He was the guy desperately in love with Keira Knightley in Love Actually. Funny thing is now that I did check his IMDb, I see why I missed the connection.

It was literally the last thing I saw him in. Since then there were a few movies I knew of, but didn’t see, and many TV series that are unfamiliar to me. Love Actually was one of my favorite films in 2003 and one I viewed repeatedly, but it’s one film I had to reacquire as it seems to have vanished from my collection. I’ve not revisited it in some time so, in the haze of memory and all the other faces in that film I already knew, he got lost in the shuffle.

So the next time I pop in Love Actually, probably around Christmas, the “Where are they now?” game will be quite the interesting sidebar: Knightley, Nighy, Firth and Rickman have since won BAMs for other works; Thomas Sangster, believe it or not is the voice of Ferb on Phineas and Ferb, Liam Neeson has since developed his badass persona, and of course, Lincoln is on The Walking Dead just to name a few.

It was quite the sudden realization because as soon as I read the tweet I knew the scene in Love Actually referenced and I could see his face, and it crystallized. In the end, the interpretation of Rick on the show is a different one both physically and in some other small aspects. They’re not identical by any means, but they’re both Rick Grimes, which is a testament to both series staying true to their form.

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2013 BAM Award Considerations – February

Last year I had one massive running list and it became very cumbersome to add to, and to read I’m sure. By creating a new post monthly, and creating massive combo files offline, it should make the process easier for me and more user-friendly for you, the esteemed reader. Enjoy.

Eligible Titles

Warm Bodies
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Night Across the Street
Be My Valentine
A Good Day to Die Hard
Escape From Planet Earth
Arcadia
Nicky’s Family
Identity Thief
Dark Skies

Best Picture

Warm Bodies

Best Foreign Film

Night Across the Street

Most Overlooked Film

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

Night Across the Street
Nicky’s Family
Escape From Planet Earth

Best Director

Jonathan Levine Warm Bodies
Nicky’s Family

Best Actress

Teresa Palmer Warm Bodies
Natalie Brown Be My Valentine
Ryan Simpkins Arcadia
Melissa McCarthy Identity Thief
Kerri Russell Dark Skies

Best Actor

Nicholas Hoult Warm Bodies
Sergio Hernandez Night Across the Street
John Hawkes Arcadia
Jason Bateman Identity Thief
Josh Hamilton Dark Skies

Best Supporting Actress

Analeigh Tipton Warm Bodies
Valentina Vargas Night Across the Street

Best Supporting Actor

Rob Corddry Warm Bodies
Christian Martyn Be My Valentine
Ty Simpkins Arcadia
J.K. Simmons Dark Skies
Robert Patrick Identity Thief

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Ryan Simpkins Arcadia

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Ty Simpkins Arcadia

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Leah McPherson Be My Valentine
Alea Sophia Boudodimos Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Annie Thurman Dark Skies

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Martyn Be My Valentine
Siam Yu Be My Valentine
Alec Bourgeois Warm Bodies
Zavier Vaillancourt Warm Bodies
Cedric Eich Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Ty Simpkins Arcadia
Dakota Goyo Dark Skies
Kaden Rockett Dark Skies
LJ Bennett Dark Skies

Best Cast

Warm Bodies
Be My Valentine
Arcadia
Dark Skies

Best Youth Ensemble

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Be My Valentine
Arcadia
Dark Skies

Best Original Screenplay

Dark Skies

Best Adapted Screenplay

Warm Bodies

Best Score

Warm Bodies
Night Across the Street

Best Editing

Warm Bodies
Night Across the Street
Nicky’s Family
Dark Skies

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Warm Bodies
A Good Day to Die Hard
Dark Skies

Best Cinematography

Warm Bodies
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Night Across the Street
Dark Skies

Best Art Direction

Warm Bodies
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Night Across the Street
Identity Thief

Best Costume Design

Warm Bodies
Night Across the Street

Best Makeup

Warm Bodies
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Night Across the Street
Identity Thief

Best Visual Effects

Warm Bodies
Night Across the Street
Dark Skies

Best (Original) Song

Wiegala Nicky’s Family
A Song from Nicholas Winton Nicky’s Family
“Shine Supernova” Cody SimpsonEscape from Planet Earth
“Doom and Gloom” The Rolling Stones A Good Day to Die Hard

What Should You Want a Franchise to Do Next?

I cannot say I’m a die hard Die Hard fan, not just because that’s a pun, but also because it’s true. However, what the chatter about the latest Die Hard did reveal to me is that even in disappointment, which is the fairly universal reaction to the latest installment, there are different grades of frustration. Furthermore, differing thoughts on what the future of the franchise should be by those who hold it dear.

Essentially, what struck me as most interesting to write about was examining the logic of differing plans through the spectrum of my feelings on other series’.

One of the first I heard can be succinctly described as “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” In other words, “Why end the series on a sour note?” However, if I were to apply that to a series I truly liked there would need to be something that I wanted to see salvaged. Because on the surface it can seem a contrarian statement to say “Man, that wasn’t very good, they’ve got to make another one.” However, I do get the sentiment. I think a series in my mind that has gone off course but can still be righted is say the Final Destination films. So far as Die Hard goes, I don’t think a third generation is an eventual solution or becoming further spy-oriented. Again, not a die hard, so I won’t over-speculate.

Hellraiser (1987, New World Pictures)

As opposed to continuing and just fixing the story, another reaction that’s possible it to want to go back to square one. I doubt this would be satisfactory to Die Hard fans. I know it’s a course of action I would accept as a fan of the Hellraiser concept and works wherein Barker was involved, that series is so far from healthy, restarting is the only way to come close to his intention for the character. Especially when the last film prompted Barker to respond that this particular plot it didn’t even come from his a-hole much less his mind, one wonders how worried about being true-to-form Dimension really are. In Die Hard terms, I find it hard to believe an attempt that doesn’t involve Bruce Willis would be made any time soon. The reboot option may only come when he’s really, really old and plays a humorous cameo wherein my generation and those above can tell the youngins that he made the first one and it was better.

So righting the ship and a reboot are options, but not viable ones in this series. The other two options that are theoretically possible would be a prequel, which also doesn’t makes sense here, and just ending it. These two seem to be the two hardest options to accept when your the fan of a franchise. Usually my litmus test about a prequel, or a tale in the same realm being told, is involvement of the originator of the series, like if Rowling pursued other wizarding stories or pursued a new strand of tales with her triad.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001, Warner Bros.)

Another determining factor is: is there room for narrative growth? Lucas had plans for more Star Wars, so now that the decision about proceeding on a new installment belongs to someone else; it’s happening and that’s fine by me. The reported stand-alones are too. The differentiation between the Star Wars and Harry Potter properties is one of time and ownership. So far as we know, lest we get new indications otherwise, Rowling’s world-building is complete. Lucas’ plan was always longer.

Few franchises have a grand design, and that prompts many follow-ups to come about due to responding to questions such as “Well, why not?” or “Well, what now?” Those with a grand design seem to have more staying power, and those who are consistently trying to re-invent the wheel are gambling more.

In the end, I believe “The Ain’t Going Out Like That” school should be the one we feel a film falls into least. A desired abandonment, as nihilistic as it may sound, could be the preferred reaction to most disappointing late-franchise sequels. The cessation of installments ends the false hope, that no matter if we know better, that part of us always holds onto believing that an intangible piece of the first film’s magic will come along into the second, third, fourth and fifth. So perhaps rather than wanting it to be fixed perhaps a franchise we feel is broken should be left alone until it heals or dies.

Film Activism

The term arcmchair activism has recently come into being and while it may sound like it has a negative connotation, it can get things done. Online petitions and chatter have brought about small changes in reaction to public relations disasters. The only downside I’ve seen of this activism is that for the most part it seems to be extremely reactionary. What I’ll propose in this post, or these posts as the case may be, is more of a proactive approach.

There are good causes in the film world where your support is easy to show and it could make a difference. So here are the three that came to mind for this first post.

Greed on DVD

Greed (1924, Metro-Goldwyn Pictures)

I’ll readily admit that what prompts me to think of this right now is my heinous mismanagement of my DVR, wherein I lost my unwatched copy of Greed from when it aired on TCM last year.

Any film, not on DVD, has a vote prompt on TCM. The votes tally up and a rank is presented. It’s concrete data, though a small sampling, that shows an interest in the film exists. Film, like most everything, is a demand economy. Go here and vote for a Greed DVD release. Or better yet, search your favorite currently undistributed or under-distributed older film and vote for it in its stead.

“Save” films on Netflix

In the Family (2011, In the Family)

Even before Netflix was facing stiff competition from other streaming sources, its policies about acquiring and distributing indie films shifted. They have been more inclined to stream them but in general terms it does take into account how often you save to your queue before deciding whether it’ll pick a film up. I save many films to my queue just to get it out there at times.

One of my favorite films from last year, In the Family, which has been traveling North America for the better part of two years will finally hit home video in May, so it needs this support. If the story appeals to you please do save it and help this great story be seen by a wider audience. As with above, if this title doesn’t work for you consider this method with another film.

Bakshi Kickstarter

Last Days of Coney Island (2013, Ralph Bakshi)

Ralph Bakshi is a renowned and respected animator. I’ll admit not knowing him by name until recently. I haven’t seen many of his films, but I think many saw his animated Lord of the Rings. The character design of the Hobbits irrationally freaked me out when I was very young. I know some of his other titles and have had them on my nearly-infinite watchlist for some time. I’ve always known, even if not knowing him by name, that he was on the forefront with regards to rounding out animation proving it to be a medium rather than a genre; meaning it’s not just for kids.

He is also one of the more renowned artists I know of who is using Kickstarter to fund a project. It becoming a more popular avenue. It’s not a free option, but if you know a deserving artist this is a good way to go.

So there are the first three concrete and easy ways I found to be a film activist. There will likely be others, seek them out, find something you’re passionate about and support it. The interwebs is great for that too!

Hero Whipped: Richie Rich

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Hero Whipped piece and I was considering this idea and several others to liven things up. If you’ve not read one of these posts before. Since the introduction the focus has been on one character, one who appears in comics but usually in many kinds of media, including films, of course.

With regards to Richie Rich there are really quite a few avenues of my return to comics, not to mention that but also the relationship between comics and film, which I can touch upon here. Before getting to a specific case study, which is where this post will differentiate itself. I’ll go through a bit of character history, as well as personal history with the character.

Histories

Richie Rich (Classic Media)

Richie Rich is one of the characters I grew up with when I was first reading comics before I abandoned them. The fate of his character and Harvey Comics was one of the hard truths I had to come to terms with upon returning to enjoying the medium after about a decade and a half hiatus.

Now, he and other Harvey creations aren’t exactly dead in the water. Harvey Comics met its demise not too long after the release of the Richie Rich film. It was second major film project based on their characters and ironically, the single-issue adaptation of the film’s story was actually released by Marvel, and that’s where the case study will come in.

Since Harvey went under the characters of their universe have undergone quite a journey. They were reprinted in a series of collections, most of which are now hard-to-find, by Dark Horse Comics.

Richie Rich: Rich Rescue (Ape Entertainment)

However, that didn’t last long, but Richie Rich has been revitalized through Ape Entertainment’s Kidzoic label. What Ape, with aid of the old hands that are still with us, have managed to do is that they’ve modernized the character in appearance, behavior and plot, but kept Richie’s essence the same. Through Rich Rescue he still gets into capers but the tales are more formalized and less random. He rings a bit more true but is still essentially a good kid, and not the spoiled silver spoon baby one would expect. Reggie, his antagonistic cousin, is a bit more rounded. The art is also more malleable inasmuch as there are reprints/recolorings of old tales as well as new stories with classical design of the characters.

Richie Rich (Classic Media)

Then last year, Classic Media, which is the company that took control of the intellectual property of Harvey and a couple of other companies was purchased by DreamWorks. This development is great for the future of these characters. Firstly, it doesn’t seem like right now it’ll endanger rekindled comic adaptations (while Star Wars comics will migrate to Marvel, comics based on Disney’s characters remain entrenched at Boom Studios, and Disney has never really had a proprietary brand) I don’t foresee DreamWorks or Classic Media entering the fray either, but do believe Spielberg/DreamWorks will try and build upon his investment, and considering he was executive producer on the first Casper cinematic incarnation, other films may be in the offing.

The Harvey Universe would be a prime candidate (and this could be a list at some point) for a motion capture treatment in the future.

Which brings me to the specific.

Case Study

Richie Rich (Warner Bros./Marvel)

Before I revisited, and read Richie Rich more voraciously than I ever had before my departure from comics, I hovered around what was in part wrong with the film version. I think if I saw the film again, I’d still like it but there’d be similar issues for me.

Culkin (and here may be another list ranking his films) was not necessarily the wrong choice for the part, but the part was written more to suit him than the character, there’s the occasional precociousness and snark that’s really not Richie. There’s that origin of meeting his friends where the trite envy is built in where the greedy adult world is really what’s supposed to be the enemy. Richie, his father and mother are fictitious, altruistic billionaires that are all childlike counter-capitalists in their desire to always do right over what’s profitable, yet, due to their virtue always come out swimming in money. This nuanced tonality, even with some similar dialogue and plot points comes through a lot better in a comic version of the film tale because the performances are my interpretations through reading rather than being presented a concrete interpretation onscreen.

Richie Rich (1994, Warner Bros.)

Granted some of this commentary runs counter to some of my fanboy advice, but it’s a lot easier to avoid these pitfalls when there are multiple cinematic versions to fall back on. With Richie Rich there’s just this one major film and the TV show. It’s still a better more complete film than the latter TV project Richie Rich’s Christmas with David Gallagher, but a more creative dynamic with thew friends and perhaps someone like Elijah Wood in the lead would’ve worked better.

With recent sociopolitical developments the atmosphere’s right for a new, more mature, dare I even say deep, handling of this character. The time has definitely come I think for a screen return of some kind and a continued proliferation in comics for Richie Rich.

The 85th Academy Awards

So to spare my friends And followers on social media I’ll be live blogging the Oscars here.

Thoughts may be more sporadic this year.

Red Carpet/Pre-Show

George Clooney is just naturally funny. Great stuff.

Audio issues. Yikes.

Once I heard Anne’s guess (about the mystery item) I knew she was right. That’s the first time she’ll win tonight.

Not sure it’s a gimmick that should stay, but an interesting wrinkle for this year.

Watched the countdown clock more than ever. That was an ordeal.

I wonder if Hugh Jackman gets tired of being referred to as Wolverine. He’s not actually Wolverine. He just plays him in the movies.

Didn’t see enough red carpet to pick a best dressed.

The Show

Love the profit joke and the Ben Affleck obviously.

Shatner!

Well, I expected sporadic updates just because I wanted to watch but that opening was spectacular!

Excellent speech by Waltz.

Got the first shot of Jack and the mandatory playing of the E.T.
theme in segment one.

Animated short was no surprise. I had a feeling it’d be nominated since I saw it.

Brave winning actually did surprise me. It was rather divisive and I was lukewarm on it. Animated films are deep right now, there were other viable winners, and better ones in my estimation.

Well, I expected those two to go to Pi. Miranda’s speech was memorable. The Rhythm and Hues comments by the VFX team had to come earlier. I expected them. Using the Jaws theme to play them off was just too funny.

Hair and Costume winners are always tough to figure. Very pleased with the results. Glad to see Anna Karenina get some love.

“Goldfinger” sounded amazing!

So the shorts just got announced. I didn’t see the short subject docs, but it was a good opportunity for an apropos stump speech.

As per usual, it would seem, my favorite live action short didn’t get the win. It makes Death of a Shadow even more marked in my mind. It’s a short I’ll remember.

Didn’t see any of the Feature Documentaries. Based on buzz I was expecting Sugar Man.

I know Affleck tried to pass it off as a joke, but he sounded kinda ticked off by the stupid Kardashian joke. I mean, I laughed, but I agree with MacFarlane, likely should’ve been dropped.

Had to wait 2 segments to update.

Thankfully, they had three musicals to draw upon for the past decade tribute. Musical theme plus Seth MacFarlane makes perfect sense, but musicals aren’t as prominent as they once were, clearly. They can still clearly work the Tatum-Theron dance was great at the start.

Obviously Les Mis would bring the house down. When you record live those songs live with you forever.

I don’t know the last time, if there ever was a tie, but that’s surely a historic moment. Glad that Skyfall, an action film took one of them. It’s a really well done work.

Argo owes much of its success to the edit. It moves along brilliantly. It’s not just about shot selection and cuts, but also pace. It’s a thriller at its core for all its other fenestrations, and it needed that edit to succeed.

Glad to hear “Skyfall” during the broadcast. Performing all the songs got too routine, but combining a Bond theme and allowing the song to be in the broadcast is definitely a highlight.

The Governors Award winners for this year is a varied field and a good one. Most notably to me is George Stevens, Jr. I was unaware he founded AFI. I staunchly support any organization that promotes and preserves film.

I was pulling for Anna Karenina again, but Lincoln winning the newly re-named Production Design is fine with me. Lots of great sets throughout bring that world to life.

The In Memoriam was well-handled. I hadn’t thought ahead to it. Amazing surprise having Streisand come out and sing in honor of Hamlisch.

So I was off and they added one more performance, the Norah Jones song in Ted</em that I'd forgotten about. A little awkward to go from saying you saw two, here's video of two more and another live. I thought it a toss-up between Skyfall and Les Mis. Glad Skyfall took it though. It’s an intrinsic and quintessential Bond song.

Best Original Score not my favorite choice of the night. Coul’ve picked any of the other four in that one and I’d be happy.

I was pulling for Lincoln but fully expected Argo.

However, the highlight of the screenwriting tandem was Quentin getting it. Right before it was announced I pleaded “Come on, this is the one other thing it can get!” It was likely my favorite win tonight because I shouted with glee. I didn’t expect it to happen.

OK, weird footnote: Ang Lee has now won Best Director twice. Will he have that distinction with no Best Picture wins? Life of Pi won in categories I expected it to until recently. Is it a fourth front-running candidate for Best Picture?

Very cool that Jack came out for Best Picture. And as for Michelle Obama announcing and speaking via satellite, great message.

So it turns out that quirky footnote happened. Argo won as the tea leaves have been showing.

I think the closing song would’ve worked better if both were former nominees who didn’t win.

Conclusion

I expected many of the awards but it was a greatly entertaining show. Unlike last year where I gave it a pass, I was biased here, being a MacFarlane fan and he delivered. He even got to get his favorite Sound of Music gag in, which I think is great. Basically, the new paradigm should be, regardless of sensibility, treat it like it’s your only shot to host. He and the writers knowledgeably poked fun at Oscar trends and patterns and occasionally ruffled feathers. It was great fun, especially as the musical theme gave it that air of gaiety and celebration.

Once Upon a Time in the 80s: The Directors (Part 8 of 17)

This is a recapitulation of a paper I did in college. This is part eight in the series to read other parts go here.

When discussing the 1980s no director stands out more prominently than does Steven Spielberg. Just looking at his repertoire of films from the decade and we can see his artistry was ever-expanding. He had blockbusters in the Indiana Jones trilogy and also with the incredibly sensitive and heart-felt E.T. He also started to venture into uncharted territory. I truly admire directors who are always looking to change to make a departure so to speak, and Spielberg was always willing to do that. Even while E.T. was a success he had Poltergeist in general release, which was a supernatural horror film. It was E.T. that did it for him. It was his biggest hit to date and it allowed him to create his own production company, Amblin Entertainment.


After his second Indy film he started work on his first drama and it’s one of his better efforts called The Color Purple. There was much critical uproar over Spielberg handling a story about African-Americans. Regardless of that it’s a great film that works beautifully and like most of his films has a triumphant theme. His next film was also a drama but here we saw World War II from a difficult angle. In Empire of the Sun Spielberg beautifully documents the travails of a lost British child. This is Spielberg’s first wartime opus and the war is less involved in the events of this film than in other films and it works fantastically. The film received much critical praise including in the international media, which called this his most European film. After the third and final Indy film, for the time being, he did a remake called Always. Spielberg would continue to change from film to film doing whatever he wanted. He then went on to the much maligned but absolutely magical Hook in ’91. Then came Jurassic Park, which was in all likelihood what helped him start up DreamWorks.


Steven Spielberg was the ideal director for the 1980s. Most of the films I’ve talked about were Amblin Productions. Spielberg was producer of Young Sherlock Holmes, The Money Pit, An American Tail, Harry and the Hendersons, Innerspace, *batteries not included and Back to the Future Part II amongst others. All of these films are adventurous, family-oriented and fantastical in some way or another. Steven Spielberg’s worked has only improved and multiplied in the 90s. He was also the standard setter in the 80s whereas everyone was trying to emulate his style but none really could.

Beetlejuice (1988, Warner Bros.)

Lucas’ impact has already been noted with the Star Wars films and co-authoring the Indiana Jones series but stylistically few directors were more noticeable than Tim Burton. His first break into the big time was directing Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, a quirky film about a child-like adult’s search for his lost bike. The film surprised everyone and spawned a Saturday morning program. Burton’s flair for the quirky and unusual and his visual sensitivity got even more free-range in his next project, Beetlejuice. Not only is this one of the most original films I’ve seen but the cinematography, particularly in the after-world sequences with the sandworms, is fantastic. In Beetlejuice we follow the tale of a couple that has recently died and they try to scare the new residents of their house out. Michael Keaton delivers one of his best performances as the gross and irreverent title character and this film too was spun-off into a cartoon.

Wall Street (1987, Columbia/Tri Star)

Oliver Stone is one of the best directors out there right now [as of this writing]. He’s very different from most directors at any point in time because he’s more willing to be political than most American directors. The film that put him on the map was Salvador, which deals with Panama at a time when Reagan looked upon all of South and Central America as his toys. He then had his two anti-Vietnam films being Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, which are powerful and stirring accounts. I do believe that every good director has a bit of good fortune in their timing every once in a while. Spielberg released Minority Report when privacy and surveillance are big issues, and Oliver Stone came out with Wall Street a year after Ivan Boesky and Dennis Levine plead guilty of insider trading and just a few months after the stock market crash of 1987. Daryl Hannah’s pathetic performance aside, this one of his best films and it’s the most emblematic of the 80s, in a negative Oliver Stone-like way. Money leads to these characters downfall and it practically tears a family apart. We get Michael Douglas playing one of his most memorable characters, Gordon Gekko, delivering that fabulous speech, which Stone seems to know how to write, starting off “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Gordon Gekko is the 80s captain of industry. Combine him and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl and you have the ultimate cold-hearted capitalist.


The 1980s was more a decade of individual films than of directors. There weren’t a bunch of auteurs walking around but there were plenty of movies coming from all over the place. There were but a handful of powerful filmmakers, these were the foremost.

Work Cited and Footnotes: Otavio Frias Filho “Spielberg” pp. 214-220. Folha Conta 100 Anos de Cinema. Ed. Amir Labaki. Imago Editora: Rio de Janeiro, 1995.

-“Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” had probably the best set design I’ve seen on television.

-Despite the quality of the film, Beetlejuice, the cartoon series is one of the worst piece of junk I ever saw all the jokes were in pun form, who wrote that?

Tarzan Thursday: Tarzan The Ape Man (1932)

Last year the character of Tarzan celebrated his 100th year in print. A serialized version of the story first appeared in 1912. A hardcover collection of Tarzan of the Apes first appeared in 1914. Being in the middle of the Tarzan centennial period it’s an opportune time to (re)visit many of the screen renditions of the character.

If there’s one thing that’s beneficial about viewing, and in many cases revisiting, installments in the Tarzan film adaptations it’s that by viewing the Weissmuller-starring MGM-produced versions I now get a sense for that series. Before, having skipped certain installments and gone out of order, some patterns harder to pick up on, yet some traits were easy to pick up, like the sudden vanishing of Jane’s presence as a forward-thinking character when Maureen O’Sullivan was replaced.

Now, at long last, I viewed Tarzan The Ape Man and began the series properly. I must say that I am most impressed with how this series starts off. Everything that had been intimated about Jane in sequel shorthand is firmly entrenched here. Furthermore, the commitment to building character is so strong that Tarzan, the titular character, is absent from the entire first act. His signature call is heard a few times off-screen, disembodied and creates a chilling effect for an audience that does not know the story that will unfold after his introduction.

My feelings about O’Sullivan, the writing she seemingly demanded, and the performances she gives, was solidified by seeing this entry now. Tarzan’s progression towards “Noble Savage” is very slight in this film. Jane really is the conduit to the audience’s understanding about this character’s nature. We must see and feel through her eyes and that link is so well-forged and so strong in this film that it makes for a rather engaging and emotional experience.

Perhaps what’s the biggest pleasant surprise of the film is that Tarzan, and the nature of his character, becomes the focus of the story and the MacGuffin, the mission that the hunters and/or other white men embark upon truly takes a backseat. As seen through the spectrum of this film, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the films play out, if any differently.

Film Thought: What’s Your Favorite Film?

After having updated this year’s 31 Days of Oscar, someone commented, after seeing my reaction to Imitation of Life “That’s my all time favorite movie.” The conversation that ensued essentially came to this conclusion: “What are the odds?”

The conclusion I drew separately was “Hmm. Well, what if I hadn’t said anything, and I never knew?” Even film buffs who watch bajillions of things have one favorite that they can point to. The difficulty usually becomes trying to pick a top 5 or 10 say – definitely in going beyond that.

Even I, who am usually extraordinarily reticent to proclaim the best film ever made, have my answer: which would be A.I., however, every time I see Citizen Kane I think it kind of sits above being ranked. In doing my recent Spielberg list I was reminded that he supplanted himself as having made my favorite film of all-time when he made A.I. The film I’d last thought that of was Jurassic Park, and before that My Girl for very personal, and probably not so cinematic reasons. My point is a favorite film is a part of you for a number or reasons, it marks you and you it, whether for all time or at the very least in a time and place in your life.

What I came away from that conversation most curious about was “What’s your favorite film?” The general your, meaning almost anyone I talk to. I want to hear them, and see them if I haven’t. And a friendly note: if you ask someone their favorite film, and you set out to see it, do not expect it to be yours too, please just take it for what it is.

So there’s the question, I’m curious to know, if you can name just one favorite what would it be?