Nostalgia

TMNT Leo

By the second time Groot said his famous line in Guardians of the Galaxy, the little girl with the red-faced mother behind me in the theater had cracked the code. From then on, every time a character tossed a question or confused glance toward the arboreal humanoid, she’d yell “I Am Groot!” in unison with Vin Diesel. When Groot shoved a limb through a dozen henchmen and slammed them Hulk-style against a wall for good measure, she shouted out his catchphrase, and when he produced only a sheepishly demonic grin in return, she lost it. When he wrapped his limbs around the other guardians as they plunged from the sky, I could hear her whisper “Groot?” like an ad for Kleenex over my left shoulder. When he danced inside a flower pot, she danced too. She was probably about the same age I was when I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1990, so I imagine the memory will stick with her. She might dress up as Groot for Halloween, play with his action figure, eat sugar cereal with his face on it (that’s still a thing, right?) like I did with the talking turtles. After this weekend, there’s also a new generation of kids who will become Michelangelo on Halloween night as well as a group my age, shaking our oatmeal fists while ineffectually saying, “This is what the real Turtles was like.” As you could have guessed, the new incarnation of TMNT was big enough to launch a sequel, and it’ll be another adventure with […]

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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves VHS

The best thing that Santa Claus ever brought me was a VHS copy of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I remember ripping off the wrapping and yelling out in excitement, pausing just long enough to let my mother snap a quick picture. Robin Hood was simply the coolest. The movie had lots of really neat sword fights, and every now and again, Kevin Costner would shoot an arrow at someone. I had spent years watching “grown-up” movies in my grandparents’ basement while the adults chatted upstairs and now, due to the magic of VHS, I finally had a “grown-up” movie of my very own. Life was pretty damn good for an eight-year-old boy. Needless to say, I was a pretty stupid kid.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel hinges on three tiers of nostalgia that match its division of time periods and aspect ratios. On one tier is The Author (Tom Wilkinson and Jude Law), who in 1985 publishes his memories of staying at the dwindling (yet grand) Budapest and meeting its enigmatic owner. On that second tier is said owner, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham and Tony Revolori), who in 1968 reminisces on his bittersweet years at the hotel between the wars, during his tutelage under M. Gustave H. (Ralph Feinnes). The final tier of nostalgia is Gustave’s, who carefully maintains the hotel strictly in line with a vision of an old Europe that is starting to crumble at the promise of yet another brutal global conflict. Unlike these prior two tiers, Gustave’s nostalgia is never granted the concrete benefit of its own flashback. His desperate hold on the facade is only alluded to, and finally acknowledged in one brief part of a voiceover during the film’s final moments. Gustave, has, in a way, made the Grand Budapest into a fantasy that hardly corresponds to (and is frequently threatened by) the dark and foreboding reality existing outside its walls. Useful comparisons have been made alleging that Gustave is a stand-in for Anderson himself, who similarly constructs intricately detailed, strictly realized, and intoxicating worlds that are also palpably anachronistic. Yet if we look at Anderson’s filmography more broadly, we can see that Grand Budapest is yet another shift in Anderson’s ongoing obsession not […]

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Moviefone

“See ya later, and thanks for calling Moviefone!” That’s the closing salutation of a call placed to 777-FILM, the home of Mr. Moviefone for 25 years. Sometime in the “near future,” he’ll say his goodbyes one more time and ride off into the sunset, as the Moviefone call-in line is being shut down once and for all.

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Jurassic Park

After building a theme park populated by dinosaurs, eccentric old billionaire John Hammond invites two top dino-scientists, a rock star chaos theory expert, and his grandchildren to come check it out. Fortunately for everyone involved, a horrible security breach unleashes the dinosaurs, and their lives are all terribly threatened.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? In 2007, Kate Hudson made her first movie as a director (complete with a Humble Pie reference), and the free spirit of youth and antique love is on full display. Kristen Stewart‘s best work might also be on display. She and Dakota Fanning play young girls discovering true desire, but instead of dumb boys, they’re swooning over a classic car and a sweet guitar. Virginia Madsen and Kurt Russell play a father and mother (each responding to their offspring’s Must Have Mentality), and the whole simple story plays out with the tension that comes naturally from needing something badly without knowing if you’ll get it. It’s something anyone who has ever had to haggle over the price of something they’re pretending not to care about knows. Hudson and company capture the sentiment well – the heart of it residing in Stewart’s eyes as she first spots a shiny Cutlass with a price tag on it and the sun rays flood in. Nostalgia and bad ass chicks. Nothing wrong with either. What will it cost? Only 13 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? One by one, this clever short film parades familiar video game faces as they march forever from left to right. It’s a celebration of scrolling (with music epic enough for the occasion) and a distillation of 8-bit nostalgia. But more than that, isn’t there a lesson about life here? Something trenchant and humane? Something these colorful specks of light can teach us about ourselves? Even if there isn’t, this video is really, really cool. What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Channel Guide - Large

Yes, the moment you may or may not have been waiting for since 1991 is almost here: 21 Jump Street, the overly sincere, denim heavy, painfully ‘80s TV series about baby-faced cops going undercover in high schools, blowin’ up the spot and teaching everyone about morals or whatever, has been updated and turned into a movie that’s being released this weekend! The series, which aired from 1987 to 1991, served as a launching pad for the career of one of today’s greatest actors: Peter DeLuise. (Johnny Depp may have also been on the show.) The weird premise and casting of a pre-mega fame DeLuise are, I guess, what keep 21 Jump Street alive in our collective memory all of these years later. (Although, I don’t think that this new movie is necessarily intended for people who were fans of the series or who were even alive during its run.) Even though the whole “film based on old TV show” genre is ultimately the result of laziness, unoriginality, and rooted in the simple fact that that our memories and feelings of nostalgia can be exploited for profit, the release of 21 Jump Street means that series that existed in the ‘90s are starting to make their way to the big screen and that’s kind of exciting. So if this is where we’re headed, someone might as well start adapting the following shows.

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Culture Warrior

The self-reflexive practices of the meta-film take various forms. On the one hand, there’s the legacy of cinephilic directors from Brian De Palma to P. T. Anderson to Robert Rodriguez who shout out to specific films through their in-crowd referencing, or even go so far as to structure entire narratives through tributes to cinema’s past. Then there’s “the wink,” those film’s, like this weekend’s The Muppets, who exercise cheeky humor by breaking the fourth wall and by constant reference to the fact that they are in a heavily constructed film reality. The third category is less common, but perhaps the most interesting. There has been a recent influx of films that don’t use past films to construct present narratives or engage in Brecht-light humor, but have as their central narrative concern the broad developmental history of the medium itself, from practices of filmgoing to particularities of projection, and anything in between. Bertolucci’s The Dreamers is a good example of this mode of meta-filmmaking, but more high-profile films have begin to make this turn, specifically by directors who formerly operated in the first (and perhaps most common) category, like Tarantino with Inglourious Basterds two years ago. Now Martin Scorsese has followed suit with the 3D love letter to early cinema and film preservation that is Hugo.

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Why Watch? The brief history of the birth of monster make-up for children. Scar Stuff. Evil Teeth. Vampire Blood. These were the things we all needed growing up, the things we ordered from the back of comic books and begged for in bins at the carnival. They transformed us into the coolest monsters of our imaginations and movie screens. This joyous, simple documentary short celebrates the influence of the company that made it all possible. From the artwork to the feeling of cheap, wondrous plastic in your mouth, get ready for nostalgia. What does it cost? Just 8 minutes of your time. Check out IMAGINEERING! for yourself:

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With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us? The Twilight Zone (Episode #56): “Static” (airdate 3/10/61) The Plot:  A bitter old man complains about a newfangled contraption called the television. Fortunately, he finds a radio that plays things without images. The Goods: Aside from this episode being shot in video, which makes it seem incredibly cheap, this episode is thoroughly annoying on its own. A 150-year-old version of Sean Connery named Dean Jagger plays a caustic elder gent named Ed Lindsay who can’t stand television and feels free to claim as much to all the people living in the boarding house with him. One of the inhabitants is Vinnie Broun (Carmen Matthews) who was supposed to marry Ed two decades ago, but the perpetual bachelor kept putting it off. Haunted by that regret, he hears music from the 40s coming through on a boxy radio he pulls out of storage. Funny how no one else can seem to hear it.

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Criterion Files

When I write this column, I typically don’t get the opportunity to write about movies from my teen years. I, like many, came into a cinephilic love for art and foreign cinema during college, and in that process grew to appreciate The Criterion Collection. Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), however, is a movie that’s followed me through various changes in my life for (I’m just now realizing as I write this) about half of my time thus far spent on Earth.

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Culture Warrior

You’d be hard-pressed to find two filmmakers who are more wildly different than Woody Allen and Terrence Malick. One is a notably prolific and economic filmmaker who still releases one movie a year well into his senior years, while the other is a perfectionist who labors over his films and has thus far released, on average, barely more than one movie per decade. One has an unmistakable public persona, while the other is a notorious recluse. One makes films about life in a great city, while the other turns his lens to nature and the experience of the rural. One is as much an atheist as his characters, while the other is a spiritualist who searches for “God,” whatever that may be, through the lens of the camera. Allen and Malick are, in many ways, perfect opposites. But after watching the strong new work by each of these talented filmmakers this past weekend, it became apparent that, at least in the shared thematic preoccupations of Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Malick’s The Tree of Life, these two ostensibly dissimilar filmmakers may have more in common than meets the eye.

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Editor’s Note: This article contains words that often arrange themselves into SPOILERS and should not be read by anyone. Cole Abiaus was a bit too kind in his full review of Super 8 and glossed over the disaster that is the film’s third act, but it’s still worth a read for everything he got right, so check it out here. As a response to the review and to start a discussion on some of the film’s secrets, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter have compiled the list below of the things they liked and the things they didn’t. Give it a read and then let us know what you thought of the movie below.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as MrSmith1939 and 2BorNot2B in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two daydream the ultimate reboot – an entire era of filmmaking brought back to life through the lens of modern directors. What styles should we bring back and homage? It is a good idea to let nostalgia drive us artistically? Will people in 30 years be harkening back to the Abramsian style?

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My family has been friends with a children’s bookstore owner for years, so when we got an advanced copy of something called “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” I read it to give my feedback. I thought it was poorly written and wouldn’t go anywhere. I was incorrect. The books became the phenomenon, and the movies have translated that worldwide shared experience into something else entirely, but all that comes to an end this summer before someone at Warners decides to reboot the whole thing. This featurette shows off the main three in their first screen test, and takes a look back at the cinematic journey that’s brought us to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as EruditeSmurf007 and NostalgiaFiend238 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair rewatches the trailer for The Smurfs in an attempt to figure out why something that harmless needs to be modernized. Weren’t they cute and lovable before? Does a movie like that really need to fake appeal to a snarky teenage audience or should children and their parents be enough? Who is responsible for Smurfette flashing her panties at everyone and who on the production thought pop culture references would buoy a terrible film? In shorter terms, why can’t certain film productions get childhood icons right?

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The American Pie franchise has been ridden hard and put away wet. The brand name has been slapped on no fewer than four atrociously average teen sex comedies that took low-budget laughs and tacked on a semi-emotional ending. There’s nothing wrong with those movies, but they’re a dozen rungs down the ladder from what American Pie was. Now that there’s an American Reunion in the works for the entire main cast, there’s now a rumored (spoilery) plot and character synopsis out there. It would be easy to call it moronic. Instead, it’s more interesting to notice how the nostalgia of the first film has been swapped out for pop culture references.

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In WWII, Dr. Seuss worked for the War Department creating educational cartoons for troops. They just happened to include some fantastic racial stereotypes, bare-breasted ladies, and dirty double entendre.

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You can breath that huge sigh of relief now. Your favorite mechanical owl will be on screen. For now.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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