Features

Aladdin

One of Robin Williams’ most iconic roles was as the Genie in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin. For being a supporting role, he certainly commanding more than his fair share of attention (which got the Mouse House into some trouble when the character’s overt presence in advertising violated his original agreement to do the film for scale). Since the release of Aladdin, Williams became a Disney legend and lent his voice to the character later for the direct-to-video sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Of course, Aladdin represents more than an iconic role for Williams. It was riding the wave of Disney’s second golden age of animation, followed by the record-breaking film The Lion King. For the DVD release in 2004, co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements sat down with co-producer Amy Pell to record a commentary of the film. So much has changed in the last ten years since this was recorded, though it is still a worthwhile listen for fans of Disney animation.

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Robin Williams Hook

We wanted to discuss magic, laughter and the difficult stuff that lies in between on this week’s show because Robin Williams was so much more than a comedian. One of the very best, to be sure, but he was like a Guinness World Record holder who somehow found time for a dozen other hobbies. Which he then mastered. So what was supposed to be a normal-length segment ballooned into a winding conversation about  a tireless artist’s power to find a human connection in everything he did. We talk funny stuff, dark stuff, and Geoff explains how Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire made him understand his own dad. Plus, we speak with To Be Takei director Jennifer M. Kroot about chronicling Sulu in his natural habitat (and a little on how to hide in plain sight with a massive camera on your shoulder). You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #69 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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The-Interview-Skylark-Tonight-MTV-Special-Iggy-Azalea

Remember the movie Rubin and Ed? If not, maybe you at least remember when Crispin Glover appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in character as his role as Rubin. That was the time the actor nearly kicked the talk show host in the face. The problem there was partly that Letterman didn’t know what was going on. Also, neither Rubin and Ed nor Glover were familiar enough to warrant such a stunt or for that sort of promotion to work in their favor. Years later, Joaquin Phoenix drew comparisons to Glover when he appeared on Letterman’s Late Show acting strangely. It turned out he was also in character, albeit for a project then still in the works rather than as a promotional stunt. Well, actually it sort of worked as that, too, but either way it wasn’t helpful in wooing audiences to the movie involved, I’m Still Here. Both that and Rubin and Ed were box office failures. As was The Love Guru, which stars Mike Myers as a goofy spiritual guide. He tried to boost interest in the comedy by appearing on American Idol as the character, Maurice Pitka. Such a gimmick is also harmful to the integrity of the show that allows it — particularly if it’s a show that’s not interview or otherwise publicity based — but it can be especially damaging to the movie being promoted. Usually it’s a case of the stunt falling flat rather than the conception of the stunt itself, and the Pitka character was […]

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Marvel Universe Live!

The first explosion makes me scream like a small child (fortunately enough, I am surrounded by small children, so no one really notices, even the family next to me who seem freaked out that a full-grown woman is sitting next to them, alone, sipping a beer and scribbling madly in a notebook). The second — and then the third, the fourth, the fifth and so on — makes me laugh hysterically. It’s the first night of Marvel Universe Live! (exclamation mark totally, totally theirs) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, and the circus atmosphere is infectious. And no, it’s not just the beer. Marvel Universe Live! (yes, we will always use that exclamation mark) is a live stage show about, well, the Marvel universe, one that’s heavy on the stunts and light on on the story. It’s sort of like the Ice Capades without the ice. The show features all the usual suspects — the Avengers, Spider-Man and various foes, a handful of X-Men — all joined together in service to adventure and justice, an all-star occasion that will never be replicated on the big screen (rights issues and all that). As if seeing Wolverine fight alongside Captain America and Black Cat isn’t thrilling enough (and it really is, in a very weird way), the show also boasts a ton of pyrotechnics, some straight up fire and a motorcycle chase involving Cap and the Red Skull. It’s little wonder that everyone in the audience is totally enthralled by the spectacle, even if (especially if?) it’s […]

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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Hi there, my name is Asher Cantrell. I’m an average 30-year-old male, at least upon first glance. I’m married, have a day job and am fairly nerdy in that dull, normal way that everyone is nerdy in 2014. But I also hold a deep secret. One that shocks my colleagues, friends and family. I have never seen a single Indiana Jones movie. I don’t know how it happened. In fact, I haven’t seen many, many “classic” films of my generation. Let’s tick off some common ones. The Back to the Future trilogy? Nope. The Goonies? Nah. The Die Hard series? Nuh-uh. Robocop, E.T., Gremlins, Jaws, The Dark Crystal, Animal House, Tron? Nada. I have seen Star Wars. I’m not a total monster. But when I admit any of these to people, either acquaintances or people I’ve known for years, I get the same reaction. Jaw hanging open. Eyes widening. They start to form those oh-so-familiar words. “How… how have you not seen… I can’t… Are you some religious weirdo or something?” I am not.

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To Have and To Have Not

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Impersonating a Cop in Termiantor 2

Let’s be cops! Well, not real cops, because despite what Police Academy teaches us, not everyone is cut out to wear a badge and uniform. No force is so desperate for recruits that they’re going to let such incompetent people off the street enroll in their training program. Being a cop is really hard. And dangerous. And takes a certain amount of intelligence and skill and tact. Of course, the real world is currently (continually) proving that there are bad cops all around, almost to the point that the latest buddy cop comedy, Let’s Be Cops, seems ill-timed. But this isn’t a movie about real officers of the law. It’s about two guys impersonating police officers, complete with seemingly authentic costumes and seemingly authentic LAPD cruiser. Somehow they’re not spotted as frauds immediately and thrown into prison. I don’t know the genuine amount of time one could get away with pretending to be a cop, but this isn’t the first movie to make us think you could impersonate a police officer for a long while. Even if you’re committing crimes the entire time. Check out the guide below to see what we’ve learned from the movies as to how to go about “being a cop.” 

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Ben Affleck Batman

Warners has hired competing screenwriters for their post-Dawn of Justice Aquaman movie. That’s super crappy for the writers (and really all writers), but it’s also another sign that the studio hasn’t planned out their break-neck push into connected superhero universes beyond cameo (and subplot) introductions for a shotgun blast of potential Justice League members in a movie supposedly focused on Batman and Superman. Drew McWeeny compared the process to a reality show (picture an anthropomorphic script doing a rose-less walk of shame), and I agree 100%. While far from conclusive, the method points to another shaky element of Warners’ planning. Specifically, that they have no firm planning. Meanwhile, they’re pointing their bat to the bleachers.

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Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

The sudden and tragic passing of Robin Williams has had an affect on all of us, it would seem. Even tech giant Apple paid tribute to him on the homepage of Apple.com, an honor previously only bestowed upon Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and board member Jerry York. That’s the kind of company Williams was in — he was a significant talent whose comedy and passion touched multiple generations. Whether you grew up watching him on Mork & Mindy or you were born later and didn’t catch on until his Mrs. Doubtfire era of silver screen success. Or even if you knew him through his more serious work, the kind that ended with him accepting an Oscar. Somewhere along the line, we all have our great Robin Williams memories. He was an epic talent. And we’d like to remember him as such, through the best moments of his career. Personally, I’ve always remembered Mrs. Doubtfire. Not because it was a particularly great movie, but because it’s the last time I remember my entire family going out and seeing a movie together before my parents divorced. It was a hot, crowded theater on Christmas Day and we sat in the fourth row. That evening, Robin Williams was to my 10-year old eyes a giant silly man. Yet he made silly so easy to enjoy. He made the kind of movies, at least during that period of his career, that made you feel better about the darker moments of childhood such as divorce […]

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Rosemarys Baby John Cassavetes

The 1980s proved a difficult time for many notable American directors of the 1960s and 70s. Sure, filmmakers like Altman and Coppola came out on the other side of the decade with renewed vigor, and at least one – Scorsese – even managed to arguably realize some of the most interesting work of his career. But for others, the 1980s were a lost and endless horizon of work that was hard to come by compounded by life circumstances that were even harder to endure. Difficult men who lived hard and felt deeply now found themselves confronted with their most profound personal and professional limitations. After trying to reform himself in the wake of drug addiction and a damaged reputation, Hal Ashby died of pancreatic cancer in December 1988. Just over a month later, renowned independent filmmaker, theater director, writer, and actor John Cassavetes passed away of cirrhosis of the liver. Cassavetes was supposed to die five years earlier, when he received a prognosis that he had only six months to live. Faced with almost certain death, Cassavetes composed a wrenching, beautiful and deeply personal swan song titled Love Streams about an aging alcoholic socialite reconnecting with his estranged sister, played by his wife Gena Rowlands. The dramatist would produce another film (Big Trouble, which he disowned) and stage a play after outlasting his doctor’s prediction, but Love Streams remains Cassavetes’ decisive magnum opus, both a thematic summation of his career in film and an indication of how his lifelong approach to filmmaking […]

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The last time we covered the apparently-always-gestating big screen version of Seth Grahame-Smith‘s send-up of the classic Jane Austen novel of (kind of ) the same name, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” it was to include it in a list of eight promised films that still have not been made. The timing was especially compelling, as the January post arrived just one month before the five-year anniversary of the film’s first announcement. Five years. During those five years, the film has been through a number of incarnations, be it in the form of new directors or new cast members, and we’d long accepted (and, in my case, rejoiced) in the fact that it seemed like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was never going to be made. We were wrong. The film has recently ensnared an entirely new cast — hey, and a director, too! — and looks to finally be on the way to the big screen. It’s the feature that just won’t die, the zombie of the Jane Austen world (a world where, let’s be honest, monsters of this sort just plain don’t belong), lurching ever onward. But how did we get here?

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One Hour Photo

After playing the sweetly fearsome film tech in One Hour Photo, Robin Williams talked about his character in both humane and expansive terms, explaining that “the things [Sy] says are painfully true–like, my favorite line is… ‘photographs are your own personal stand against time. That someone cared enough about me to take my picture means that I existed.’ I was at an old flea market the other day and looked at this box of old photographs, and you realize that most of these people are dead. There’s a moment in time that you really get to see someone.” Sy the Photo Guy is also rummaging through old pictures when he says those words, and shortly afterward he daydreams about being a welcomed fixture in the home of the family whose blissful images he’s become attached to. It’s a deeply intimate yet one-sided relationship that exposes a simple, desperate need for connection. For someone to think he’s worth enough to make temporarily immortal. Sy is a paparazzo who doesn’t need to take his own pictures; the neighborhood celebrities he worships freely give their personal moments over to him to manipulate. Williams’ portrayal and the understanding he displayed in that quote are what gave breath to a character who could have otherwise been labeled a flat villain, a shifty-eyed presence meant solely to unsettle. Instead, he played an insecure stalker with a touch of childlike frailty. This is the same man who squeezed into tights as a middle aged Peter Pan doing his best rooster impression, the […]

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Kino Classics

Most home video releases are mass produced and marketed by faceless conglomerates interested only in separating you from your hard-earned cash. If you look closely though you’ll find smaller labels who love movies as much as you do and show it by delivering quality Blu-rays and DVDs of beloved films and cult classics, often loaded with special features, new transfers, and more. But yes, they still want your cash, too. Several labels go after obvious past classics, but some have made a habit of delivering films most of us have never heard of before. Kino Classics and Cohen Film Collection release their share of recognizable titles — Metropolis and Intolerance for example — but they don’t shy away from lesser known films choosing instead to champion them and prevent them from fading into oblivion. Both labels reached into French cinema’s past this week to find two very different movies. Keep reading for a look at Kino Classics’ release of We Won’t Grow Old Together and Cohen Film Collection’s new Blu-ray of Favorites of the Moon.

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The Fisher King

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Wizard of Oz color intro

When I was a kid, I thought The Wizard of Oz introduced color cinema to the world. Wouldn’t that have been amazing? Dorothy wakes up in her black-and-white (or sepia) house after it’s been deposited by the tornado and she walks out and — bam — moviegoers get their first ever look at a polychromatic shot. But that was not the case. Rudimentary color cinematography is nearly as old as cinematography itself, and even the three-strip Technicolor process used for the 1939 classic was hardly brand new. It was relatively rare, especially for as much footage as The Wizard of Oz has, but it wasn’t unknown to audiences. Still, it arrived at a significant time for color films. The Academy Awards had included special achievement Oscars for color cinematography beginning with the ceremony honoring works from 1936. Three years later, there were actual nominees for the distinction. The Wizard of Oz was among the six titles up for the award, the only contender that wasn’t fully shot in Technicolor, but it lost to Gone With the Wind (which also became the first color film to win Best Picture). Other hybrids were also still hot at the time, including another MGM feature released just a few weeks after The Wizard of Oz: The Women, which contained a single color fashion show sequence within the primarily black-and-white film.

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Ben Affleck Batman

On the surface, this may sound like the most throwaway news in the entire world – Ben Affleck is 41, whatever, you guys, even Wikipedia knows that – but the reveal of just how old Affleck’s character will be in his highly anticipated Batman debut signals one major plus for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: no more origin stories, we’re done with that stuff now. One of the superhero film’s producers, Michael Uslan, recently spoke to the Asbury Park Press (via Comic Book Movie and /Film) and let slip the following: “So, [the Batman universe casting backlash] has happened time and again, and it happened with Affleck. To go back to the original thought of Bruce Wayne in his mid-40s, I think he’s going to be extraordinary.” Nice job slipping that little tidbit in there, Uslan. Of course, the news that Batman will be older than we’re used to seeing on the big screen isn’t really news, at least rationally speaking. At forty-one, Affleck is the oldest actor to play the role in a cinematic capacity (Christian Bale was thirty-one when Batman Begins debuted, George Clooney was thirty-six when Batman & Robin hit the screen, Val Kilmer was thirty-five in Batman Forever, and Michael Keaton was thirty-seven when he began his Batman run), but this is confirmation that the character itself will be older than we’ve previously experienced on the big screen. What’s most surprising about this news, however, is how it impacts another facet of Batman’s life: how long he’s actually been Batman.

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Transformers Age of Extinction

So far, 2014’s highest grossing “summer movie” (in what now seems like a four-and-a-half-month “summer”) was Captain America: The Winter Soldier with about $260m. That’s the lowest domestic gross for the summer’s biggest hit since Mission: Impossible II in 2000, and it was reached with the addition of inflation, 3D and IMAX. I’m not about to make a sky-is-falling claim here; there were a lot of factors and coincidences that went into having a crop of blockbusters that didn’t reach the heights of any of the past 13 years. But when the equation used to be $300 – 400m = blockbuster franchise, it’s worth stopping to ponder what these shifting numbers mean for the future of the biggest of Hollywood business. The endless franchises are running thin, not imploding. Last summer, every film nerd with an IP address was reposting Spielberg’s comments about the inevitable demise of Hollywood’s current mega-budget system. All fingers pointed to The Lone Ranger as the most obvious canary in the projection booth. But as Scott Beggs pointed out, the reality is that every trend in film, and even the most standard modes of productions, eventually change. This summer, we got a sense of what that shift might actually look like. As opposed to bomb after bomb, we saw slowly declining receipts, making for the lowest domestic grosses for Spider-Man and Transformers movies to date. Despite the critical raves for X-Men: Days of Future Past and Hugh Jackman’s boasts about how much it cost, it couldn’t even reach the heights […]

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A24 Films

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Locke Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has just made a decision that will affect the rest of his life. The fact that he made it moments after hopping into his car after work means he long drive ahead of him will be spent dealing with the fallout, both expected and unexpected, and the entirety of it occurs without leaving the car. He takes calls from home and work, talks to himself as he works through his problems and mile by mile grows closer to his final destination. So simple yet so mesmerizing. Tom Hardy in a car for eighty minutes probably shouldn’t be this engaging, but his performance as an ordinary guy facing the life-altering fallout from one bad decision is powerful affecting. He feels real — his dilemmas, frustrations, actions — and we can’t help but relate to the grounded drama and emotion. Suspense builds through conversations and Hardy’s acting, all without leaving the car. And not for nothing, but this is one incredibly (and unexpectedly) gorgeous film too. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, commentary]

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Buckaroo Banzai

Having emerged from our Summer vacation, Cargill and I hit the ground running so fast that you’d think we had oscillation overthrusters strapped to our backs. In honor of my overwhelming crush on all that is Guardians of the Galaxy, we have curated our first ever ongoing series here at JFC. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be examining our favorite sci-fi comedies from years past. First up, we go gallivanting into the 8th dimension with the likes of none other than Buckaroo Banzai himself. What is it about this weird cinematic goulash that has remained so indelible to cult audiences for decades? What behind-the-scenes circumstances may have affected the film’s acceptance by the mainstream? Where the hell is our sequel already?! You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm) and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #19 Directly

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TMNT Elevator

When was the last time a movie as bad as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a great sequel? There have been plenty of other comic book movie franchises where the second installment was a huge improvement over the first (X2: X-Men United; Spider-Man 2; Hellboy II: The Golden Army; The Dark Knight), but none of them started off nearly as terribly as this one. Although the TMNT reboot was a success at the box office over the weekend, and general audiences apparently liked it (as per Cinemascore and the Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings), it still doesn’t seem like a movie that people loved. Just how many of the front-loading fans enjoyed it enough to return for another is a key question to consider. Paramount isn’t likely to worry about that when making the sequel, which was confirmed yesterday, because a $65m opening is enough to convince them that they did something right and shouldn’t change the formula. But even if it weren’t dumb of studios to believe their product is good just because people paid ahead for it, they should always be striving for better with their series anyway. What they qualify as “better” is another question. With franchises like this, the synonyms for the definition tend to be “bigger” and “more.” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will look and feel the same for the most part, but you can bet there will be a lot of new characters added. Which characters, though, could be a very big deal as far as getting the fans back in […]

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