Cloris Leachman

youngfrankenstein-commentary1

Later this year, Mel Brooks’ brilliant homage to the Universal monster movies Young Frankenstein turns 40. Having spawned a successful Broadway musical and inspired countless other spoofs, this send-up of the original Frankenstein films remains the gold standard against which many comedies are judged. Rightfully so. If only Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer paid more attention to what makes it good, we wouldn’t be plagued by so many terrible spoofs out there now. The Blu-ray of Young Frankenstein features Brooks’ frank commentary of the film, examining the contributions of co-writer Gene Wilder as well as many fond memories of the cast – most of whom are no longer with us. Brooks may have changed direction from filmmaking to work on the Broadway stage in recent years, but his expertise at making a timeless comedy is detailed here.

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The Croods

With a monkey slapping a man, a young girl going crazy for shoes, and a cranky grandma, The Croods isn’t straying too far from the formula for harmless family comedy. It just happens to feature the world’s first family. Nic Cage voices Grug, the pater familias of the pre-historic crew that includes his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), daughter Eep (Emma Stone), son Thunk (Clark Duke) and mother Gran (Cloris Leachman). Everything is safe and isolated in their cave until an earthquake forces them on an adventure into beautiful, lush new territory where they meet a citizen of the brave new world voiced by Ryan Reynolds. The new trailer is fun in a sweet way, selling a movie about taking risks by playing it as safe as possible. Still, Dreamworks may have a new winner on their hands:

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Editor’s Note: Max Allan Collins has written over 50 novels and 17 movie tie-in books. He’s also the author of the Road to Perdition graphic novel, off which the film was based. With his new Mickey Spillane collaboration “Lady, Go Die” in great bookstores everywhere, we thought it would be fun to ask him for his ten best films noir. In true noir fashion, we bit off more than we could handle… We have to begin with a definition of noir, which is tricky, because nobody agrees on one. The historical roots are in French film criticism, borrowing the term noir (black) from the black-covered paperbacks in publisher Gallimard’s Serie Noire, which in 1945 began reprinting American crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Horace McCoy, Jim Thompson, Mickey Spillane, W.R. Burnett and many others. The films the term was first applied to were low-budget American crime thrillers made during the war and not seen in France till after it. The expressionistic lighting techniques of those films had as much to do with hiding low production values as setting mood. In publishing circles, the term has come to replace “hardboiled” because it sounds hipper and not old-fashioned. I tend to look at dark themes and expressionistic cinematography when I’m making such lists, which usually means black-and-white only; but three color films are represented below, all beyond the unofficial cut-off of the first noir cycle (Kiss Me Deadly, 1955). Mystery genre expert Otto Penzler has […]

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The legendary Cloris Leachman is a salty woman with brass buttons. Her latest conquest is the suspense thriller – working alongside, seriously, Tara Reid in The Fields. Kevin Carr sits down the Oscar winner to discuss what scares her, her work with Mel Brooks and why she owns a porn shop in an upcoming movie. Plus, Eric D. Snider and Rob Hunter go head to head Movie News Pop Quiz-style, and the discussion turns to spoiler sensitivity. Download Episode #130

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Culture Warrior

Episodes and seasons and weeks after its inspiration and its humor have peaked, I still continue to watch new episodes of The Office week in and week out. I don’t know why – I never do this with dramatic shows, only with comedies – but I tend to stick with comedy shows whose legacy I appreciate even if their time has passed, either out of respect, blind hope, or simply the desire to have some noise in the room while I take a break to eat a meal or fold laundry. While The Office certainly isn’t what it used to be, even before Steve Carell left, it’s still an inoffensive and enjoyable way to pass some time. I can’t deny that the affinity I developed for the show’s characters early on in the series has carried me through a lot of its creative droughts (in other words, I hardly watch it only for its comedy) even as more recent network sitcoms like Modern Family, Community, and (especially) Parks and Recreation have made me LOL significantly more often. But in the bizarre cameos leading up to a strange and dry seventh season finale, The Office seems to have encountered much greater problems than a rudimentary lack of inspiration typical for the (possibly cyclical) lifespan of a long-running television show. The Office seems to have rejected the defining characteristics that made it unique in the first place.

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Like most films, The Home has had a rocky road to getting made, but it looks like the sailing through Cthulu-infested waters will be smoother now that Dimension Films has agreed to release the film. As reported before, the film puts Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Brian Cox, Fionnula Flanagan, Louise Fletcher and Louis Gossett, Jr (and whatever young leads are announced) into an old folks home and tortures them with KNB-designed practical monsters until their screams and uneaten no-sugar-added apple sauce cups are used for the building’s fuel. Calls to filmmaker Kristoffer Aaron Morgan went unanswered, which I’ll assume means, “we want to have the film done by Fantastic Fest.” Morgan most recently had his short, yet hilariously nutritious, take on zombies hit said fest as one of the infamous bumpers. You can watch it after the jump.

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Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a film that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of a rough private investigator who’s more unethical than the scum he tracks down, the mystery woman he picks up on the side of the road, and the explosive ending that had to have inspired Raiders of the Lost Ark. Plus, it’s a perfect film to check out during Noir-vember.

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We’ve reported on The Home before because of the shiver-inducing concept art created by WETA, and it looks like the show might finally be on the road to getting off the road at a secure location where they can start filming frightening things attacking senior citizens. The list of senior citizens now includes Oscar winner (and film nerd favorite) Louise Fletcher, Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr, Ed Asner, and Fionnula Flanagan (a veteran of stage, screen, and the creepiest character on Lost). Plus, the production is in talks to secure both Brian Cox and Cloris Leachman.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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