Harold Ramis

Ghostbusters

Some movies, no matter how old they are, never age a day. Their situations and themes remain as relevant now as when they were first released. Watching them today, they reflect and comment on our present in ways they couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Every month we’re going to pick a movie from the past that does just that, and explore what it has to say about the here and now. Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters – now celebrating its 30th anniversary — might seem an unlikely candidate to include in this column. After all, there’s not a (sane) person on earth who would watch this movie and say “Maaannnn, is this thing dated.” The filmmaking nor the humor has aged a day, and even the special effects make you appreciatively nostalgic more than critical. Still, there are several elements of the story, characters and location that surprisingly evoke the specifics of our present more than one might think. Here are five ways Ghostbusters crosses the time stream from 1984 to 2014.

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Oliver Platt in X-Men First Class

It’s a scientific fact that if you add Oliver Platt to anything it gets 34% better. There are numerous examples of Platt elevating films even with his smallest of appearances. However, this week he took off his actor’s hat and served as a narrative feature juror member for SXSW. He also has a role as a food critic in Jon Favreau‘s Chef, which premiered at the festival, but Platt was in attendance to be a part of the festival, not to promote a film. And yet, he made the time to speak with us. Platt was my final interview of the festival, and it couldn’t have been a better note to end on. Interviews can be tough during SXSW. Sometimes you’re lucky to have more than 10 minutes with whomever you’re interviewing. In many cases, it’s never done in a helpful setting, either. Too often you’re in a small room or restaurant packed with people speaking at an excessively high volume. Or, in one instance, you’re on a stage under a spotlight in some darkly lit bar being watched by 15 strangers. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with Platt. At the last minute, an interview slot opened up and we met him in his hotel lobby the following day for a lengthy conversation. It was an all around ideal situation, and we used it to explore the overriding theme of the festival.

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Ursula in The Little Mermaid

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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Ghostbusters

Remembering Harold Ramis, we take some time this week to recognize his legacy of sophisticated humor and geek prowess. Plus, we’ll chat with House of Cards‘ Rachel Brosnahan and indie writer/director Ari Aster about their new short film Basically, and then Brian Salisbury and C. Robert Cargill join us to cheerlead for underappreciated genre movies and announce an exciting, fattening new podcasting venture. You should follow Brian (@briguysalisbury), Cargill (@massawyrm), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #50 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Bill Murray in GROUNDHOG DAY

I made plans late last week to feature Groundhog Day as my next Commentary Commentary title, and immediately discovered that I didn’t own a copy of the film. A quick trip to a nearby video store graced me with a used Blu-ray which I brought home, watched, and fell in love with all over again. It’s that rare, near-perfect movie where everything seems to fall beautifully in place, a film that never weakens on repeat viewings, and one that says more about humanity than many examples of far more serious cinema. Harold Ramis died this past Monday, and while it’s a tragedy for his wife, children, and friends, it also leaves a void for the millions of fans who’ve loved much of his work over the years. Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Back to School, Groundhog Day, The Ice Harvest… all fantastically fun films that wouldn’t have been the same without his involvement as writer and/or director. Keep reading to see what I heard on Harold Ramis’ commentary for Groundhog Day.

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Harold Ramis

Of course it happened in February. Yesterday, Harold Ramis passed away from complications resulting from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare blood disease. He is survived by his spouse, Erica Mann, as well as his three children and two grandchildren. He is also survived, for those of us who knew the man’s work but never met him personally, by some of the most influential and game-changing comedies of the past forty years. It’s difficult to know what the careers of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and John Belushi would look like without him. If there had been no Harold Ramis, there would be no Caddyshack, no Vacation, no Groundhog Day. If Ghostbusters could ever have existed sans Ramis in some other form, it’s impossible to imagine quite what that would be. He was, by all measures, a consequential figure in American comedy.

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Harold Ramis Memorial

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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Holiday rooooooooooad. Come on. You know the words. It’s that time of year when the weather is starting to heat up, families are planning their yearly excursions to the greater parts of the world, and the highways of this great nation of ours are going to be filled with Family Trucksters. What better time than to visit the original cross-country, family quest for fun? That’s right. We’re talking about National Lampoon’s Vacation. Not only was I shocked to find there was a commentary track on this 20th Anniversary Special Edition, but it contains director Harold Ramis, producer Matty Simmons, and most of the Griswold clan, Cousin Eddie included. Sadly Beverly D’Angelo didn’t make this trip, but our hearts and prayers are with her. As for the rest of the tribe, they give us more than our fair share of Vacation trivia, insight into the filming, and overall good times that are had by all. As Clark W. Griswold once told his son, Rusty, getting there is half the fun, so let’s get there already, shall we? Praise Marty Moose.

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, the weekly analysis of our favorite films and what the filmmakers have to say about them. This week we’re calling someone. Not sure who. It’s almost like there should be a classic line to fit in here, but right now it’s escaping me. In addition to being a modern classic, Ghostbusters is also arguably the best comedy of the last 30 years. Plus, it features Reginal Veljohnson and William Atherton, two co-stars of Die Hard, so that’s something to note, right? The two also co-starred in Die Hard 2. We’ll have to cover Renny Harlin’s commentary on that classic some day. While you’re holding your breath for that, though, we’re in the mood to laugh, get slimed, and laugh heartily some more. So take a ghostly gander – yeah, I said it – at what we learned from the Ghostbusters commentary right here.

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After their university’s dean forces them out of their cushy jobs in the world of academia, parapsychologists Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), go into business for themselves. They eradicate specters aka bust ghosts throughout New York City. Along the way, they’re hired by Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), a woman whose apartment is haunted by a demonic, ancient Sumerian demigod—an entity that is far more powerful and destructive than anything the ragtag Ghostbusters have ever faced.

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A major comedic writer might be lending his talents to shape a story about time-traveling, ghost busting heroes from SNL funnyman Dan Ackroyd.

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VacationSequelQuestion

Sometimes I feel like I’m just getting back from Wally World. I’m tired, irritable, and there’s an unseasonably high urine count in my sandwiches.  But with the news that Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are teaming up for a Superbowl commercial, I have to wonder if we should really be saving up for a real family vacation. Don’t get me wrong. I love Superbowl commercials because 1) they are a colossal let down and 2) I’m usually watching the Puppy Bowl instead (after the NFC championship, don’t we sort of already know who’s going to win the Superbowl?), but I would much rather see that dynamic duo hit the big screen again. I know I’m usually pretty negative toward the lack of creativity that this decade will be marred by, but if we’re in for a penny, why not be in for a pound? Let’s just sequelize everything. All of it. Some possible downsides to a National Lampoon’s Vacation sequel in the here and now: National Lampoon, like the magazine that spawned it, has become one of the least funny producers of The Funny around. With John Hughes gone, who could possibly write it? Year One Some urine-soaked food for thought. What do you think?

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year_one_jack_black

With two leads that never mix well together using solid supporting talent as a crutch, this film hobbles along to become one of the more average comedies of all time.

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews this week’s new movies: The Proposal and Year One.

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mwl-groundhogday

Fall in love with Groundhog Day all over again and again and again and again and again.

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ghostbusters-art

Everyone from Judd Apatow to Jason Reitman to Steve Carrell to Bill Murray have been dancing around the issue of a third Ghostbusters movie for some time now. And now, finally someone asked Harold Ramis. Turns out he’s got some answers. Maybe.

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2009preview-header

I know that I just said this morning that we wouldn’t be posting anything else until tomorrow, as we were taking New Year’s Day off, but this was just too good to pass up.

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Every Sunday afternoon we will post one movie that is available for free online and ask our readers (all of you) to give us your review in the comment section below. This week’s film: the 1984 Ivan Reitman directed Ghostbusters.

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Anyone who follows me on Twitter can easily see that I am a mega-huge fan of Ghostbusters. And this new Ghostbusters video game has got me excited in ways that I never knew were possible.

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oliviawilde01.jpg

People just aren’t talking enough about this movie…

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