Quote #59 – February 28th, 2013:

“There can’t be any doubt in marriage. The whole thing is built on faith. If you’ve lost that, you’ve lost everything.”

– Cary Grant, “The Awful Truth”

Published in: on February 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #58 – February 27th, 2013:

Little known fact today involves posthumously winning an Academy Award. This means someone wins after their death. This has happened twice.

The first was in 1976 when Peter Finch won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his lead role in the movie “Network”. He died after suffering a heart attack in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 14th, 1977 and the Academy Awards ceremony happened less than a month after. The second time was in 2008 by Heath Ledger for the film “The Dark Knight” as his role as “The Joker” for which he was honored with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He had suffered an accidental drug overdose January 22nd, 2008 which was six months before the film was released.

Though they may have died tragically they indeed went out with a bang. When someone leaves this world we can either weep for them or remember what made them great. I choose to do the latter. We can’t change what happened but we can take pride knowing those people were here and that they will not be forgotten.

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 11:56 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #58 – February 27th, 2013:

“I have to wonder if you people realize the level of responsibility you carry. From my way of thinking, motion pictures are potentially the most influential form of communication ever invented. And there’s no control over it. Your message reaches everyone, everywhere.”

– Kevin Dunn, “Chaplin”

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 11:10 AM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #57 – February 26th, 2013:

So in honor of Sean Astin’s birthday here is a little info on his first theatrically released film that he did at the age of 13. It is none than the classic “The Goonies”. So here is how it’s production went.

Principal photography on The Goonies began on October 22, 1984 and lasted five months. There was also an additional six weeks of ADR recording. The original shooting script was lengthy, over 120 pages, and several sequences were eventually cut from the final theatrical version. The usual way of a script is each page is a minute long as film. Anyway, during the film’s denouement, apparently mention is made of an octopus which seems like an exaggeration of the actual events but actually refers to a scene that was excised from the final cut. Still the real fun was the director having to work with basically an all child cast.

Director Richard Donner notes the difficulties and pleasures of working with so many child actors. He praises them for their energy and excitement, but says that they were a handful when brought together. He coached the young actors and used several techniques to get realistic performances. One of these tricks involved One-Eyed Willie’s ship, which was actually an impressive full-sized mock-up of a pirate ship created under the direction of production designer J. Michael Riva. Donner kept the child actors from seeing the ship until they filmed the scene where it is revealed to their characters. Thus the characters’ first glimpse of the ship was thus also the actors’ first view of it, bringing about a more realistic performance. Funny little note however, Corey Feldman admits to having seen it beforehand with another co-star he did not name. Sadly the impressive set was destroyed after shooting because they could not find anyone who wanted it. Still didn’t change how brilliant the film would last and the team behind it. Although the team was a little confusing.

In his book There and Back Again, Sean Astin, who played the main character Michael “Mikey” Walsh, claims that Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg were like co-directors This is strange as Donner was the director and Spielberg simply wrote the story. He is Spielberg though and by this time he probably was used to directing he couldn’t help making sure his story was done well which it was…in Oregon.

Some of the on-location filming was done in Astoria, Oregon while the interior and exterior of the old Clatsop County Jail served as the holding place of Jake Fratelli (Played by Robert Davi) at the start of the film. This building was later converted into the Oregon Film Museum, which opened on the 25th anniversary of The Goonies with memorabilia from this and other local films. The museum where Mikey’s father works is, in reality, the Captain George Flavel House Museum. The Walsh family home is a real home at 368 38th Street. The scenes along the coast were filmed in Oregon as well but were a considerable distance from Astoria. The underground scenes were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, including the cavernous set where the Goonies find One-Eyed Willie’s ship. The ship was built in Stage 16 which is one of the largest sound stages in America.

A simple film “The Goonies” was, composed of a fun adventure and a heartwarming core. Happy Birthday to Mr. Astin who went on from this film to succeed in multiple movies such as “Rudy” as the titular character and the “Lord of the Rings” series as Samwise Gamgee. But it all started with this film about a boy looking for a treasure and adventure. Again a simple tale, but one we would watch again and again.

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #57 – February 26th, 2013:

“I see that I’m a little piece of a big big universe and that makes things right.”

– Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 2:22 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #56 – February 25th, 2013:

You know even though Pixar’s “Brave” was the winner for Best Animated Film at the Oscars this year, I was hugely enthralled by the film “Wreck-It-Ralph”. Not that “Brave” wasn’t good but growing up on old school 2D video games made me nostalgic while watching “Wreck-It-Ralph”. So let’s how it was brought about.

The concept of Wreck-It Ralph was first developed at Disney in the late 1980s, under the working title “High Score”. Since then, it was redeveloped and reconsidered several times going under the working title “Joe Jump” in the late 1990’s and then in the mid-2000’s as “Reboot Ralph”. Obviously once the idea actually went into pre-production they wanted, in a manner similar to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the “Toy Story” films, the creators sought to feature cameo appearances by a number of licensed video-game characters. This includes one scene from the film showing Ralph attending a support group for the arcade’s various villain characters such as Clyde from Pac-Man, Doctor Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog, and Bowser from Super Mario Bros. This was done because, according to the film’s director Rich Moore, it had been determined that for a film about a video-game world to feel authentic there  had to be real characters from real games in it. Moore aimed to add licensed characters in the story in a manner similar to cultural references in “Looney Tunes” shorts. However the creative team also considered  that they had to have the right balance so a portion of the audience didn’t feel they were being neglected or talked down to.  Still Moore avoided creating the movie around existing characters feeling, and I quote, “there’s so much mythology and baggage attached to pre-existing titles that I feel someone would be disappointed.” Moore believed this to be a reason why movies based on video game franchises typically don’t do well. The development of new characters representative of the 8-bit video game allowed them freedom to take these characters in new directions. So before production, the existing characters were added to the story either in places they would make sense to appear or as cameos from a list of characters suggested by the film’s creative team, without consideration if they would legally be able to use the characters. The company then sought out the copyright holders’ permissions to use the characters, as well as working with these companies to assure their characters were being represented authentically. With characters from Nintendo, the writers had early on envisioned the Bad-anon meeting with Bowser as a major character within the scene and Nintendo was very positive towards this idea, stating in Moore’s own words, “If there is a group that is dedicated to helping the bad guy characters in video games then Bowser must be in that group!”However, Nintendo had asked that the producers try to devise a scene that would be similarly appropriate for Mario for his inclusion in the film, but the producers could not find an appropriate scene that would let Mario be a significant character or take away the spotlight on the main story which is why character was not included. On a side note, a rumor went around that Mario and his brother character Luigi were not included in the movie due to Nintendo requesting too high a licensing fee, but it was stated that the rumor grew out of a joke John C. Reilly made at Comic-Con. Anyway, Dr. Wily from Mega Man was going to appear, but was cut from the final version of the film. There are about 188 individual character models in the movie as a result of these cameo inclusions. And these amount of cameos almost changed the story all together.

In an earlier draft of the screenplay the characters of Ralph (Voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Voiced by Sarah Silverman) spent time in the story going around the game world to collect the pieces for her kart for the Sugar Rush race and at times included Fix-It Felix Jr. (Voiced by Jack McBrayer) traveling with the pair. During these scenes, Ralph would have lied to Felix regarding his budding relationship with Calhoun (Voiced by Jane Lynch) which would eventually lead to Ralph becoming depressed and abandoning his quest to get his medal back. At this point, a fourth game world, Extreme Easy Living 2, would have been introduced and was considered a “hedonistic place” between the social nature of The Sims and the open-world objective-less aspects of Grand Theft Auto according to Moore. Ralph would go there to and wallow in his depression, but would find happiness there by gaining “Like It” buttons for doing acceptable actions in the party-like nature of the place. However, Moore stated that while it was difficult to consider dropping this new game world, they found that it would be too difficult a concept for the viewer to come to grasp by introducing the world in the second half of the film. The problem they further had trouble working out was how a social nature game would be part of an arcade although they considered having the game running on the laptop of the arcade owner (Voiced by Ed O’Neill). Still it was found too convoluted to take Ralph there. Line art sketches and voice-over readings of the scene were included on the home media release of the film. Of course for a computer animated film it takes good technology to make it work.

Disney’s new bidirectional reflectance distribution functions were introduced in the film which gave more realistic reflections on surfaces. A new virtual cinematography Camera Capture system which makes it possible to go through the scenes in real-time was also used. To research the Sugar Rush segment of the film, the visual development group traveled to trade fair ISM Cologne, a See’s Candy factory, and other manufacturing facilities. The group also brought in food photographers for them to demonstrate techniques to make food appear appealing. This allowed special effects in this world, including from “smoke or dust,” to look distinct in each of the segments.

A nostalgic concept, a clever story, and a wonderful message of being proud of who you are with your purpose in life makes ‘Wreck-It-Ralph” my choice for Best Animated Film of the Year. And best part, by bringing this story to theaters, in a way, Ralph did anything but wreck the film. In fact he made it quite brilliant by being an imperfect character seeking to be better.

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 9:31 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #56 – February 25th, 2013:

“There’s right and there’s wrong. You got to do one or the other. You do the one and you’re living. You do the other and you may be walking around, but you’re dead as a beaver hat.”

– John Wayne, “The Alamo”

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #55 – February 24th, 2013:

Instead of a movie fact here are the winners of the 85th Academy Awards. Some I agree with, some I don’t but here they are for they are now a fact of movies:

2013 Oscar Winners

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Michael Haneke, Amour
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Denzel Washington, Flight
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Alan Arkin, Argo
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Amy Adams, The Master

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

A Royal Affair
War Witch

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
The Invisible War
How To Survive A Plague
Searching for Sugar Man

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi

Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi

Anna Karenina
Life of Pi

“Before My Time,” Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend,” Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby,” Life of Pi
“Skyfall,” Skyfall
“Suddenly,” Les Miserables

Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty(Tie)

Les Miserables
Life of Pi

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”

Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow

Kings Point
Open Heart
Mondays at Racine

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 11:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #55 – February 24th, 2013:

“I used to be somebody. Now I’m somebody else.”

– Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #54 – February 23rd, 2013:

You know I have a few heroes in Hollywood who have inspired me to be a filmmaker. But there are one or two who are just flat out inspiring. For me the biggest one is Sylvester Stallone who was both an underdog off camera and on camera when his career began. People laugh at his speech slur and call his acting poor. Listen to what I have to say and you’ll see he has more heart and knows more about life than most you know.

Sly was broke when he wrote the Rocky story. He was so broke he slept three weeks at a bus terminal in New Jersey and sold his dog for $25 bucks to a stranger. His biggest problem was having the lower left side of his face paralyzed which made it hard for him to be an actor. He had to teach himself how to talk with that disability. People laugh at the way he talks but let’s see them do that or what came next.

After getting to see a fight where a third rate boxer knocked Muhammad Ali off his feet during a round Stallone was inspired to write “Rocky” about an underdog fighter getting a shot at the title. He wrote it over a weekend with no sleep and when it was finished he went out to sell it. The producers, after three weeks, offered him over $300,000 for the script and he turned it down because he wanted to be an actor as well. They agreed but paid only $35,000 for it. He took $15,000 of it to find his dog again. The movie, made on a budget of less than one million dollars, went on to gross $220 million at the box office and won three Oscars including Best Picture.

For thirty years Stallone has served as an example of the power of the human spirit and will to defy the odds. So next time you judge this guy remember what he endured and dare to think: Could you have done what he did? Or better yet: What have you done to say anything?

Published in: on February 23, 2013 at 10:17 PM  Leave a Comment