The Dark Crystal

dark crystal room

While watching Thor: The Dark World, my desire was to switch this week’s list of movies to watch to a list of TV series to watch. The whole movie is like Game of Thrones meets Doctor Who, the former an understandable influence since director Alan Taylor has helmed six episodes of that show (the fact that Christopher Eccleston is in the movie has nothing to do with the latter). He’s also won an Emmy for his work directing The Sopranos and a DGA Award for his work on Mad Men. Other series I was reminded of while watching include The Wire, because of Idris Elba, Lost, because of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and The IT Crowd, because of Chris O’Dowd. But most of these are already so well known, and they really don’t have a lot to do with Thor 2 other than talent connections. I also wasn’t interested in checking out 2 Broke Girls just to make a well-rounded yet thin point. So, here’s your usual list of movies I thought to recommend after the Thor sequel. Not surprisingly, there are no appropriate documentaries included this time. You’re welcome. Minor SPOILERS if you haven’t seen Thor: The Dark World. 

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hold the dark crystal

It’s a known fact that the summer of ’82 offered up perhaps the best movie season on record (no, really, you can Google it), but the entire year is a never-ending marvel of cinematic joy. A small sampling includes 48 Hours, Blade Runner, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Gandhi, Poltergeist, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Tootsie, and The World According to Garp. Hell, we even got The Beastmaster, Megaforce and Zapped. But as fantastic and memorable as those movies are there are two specific releases from 1982 that helped shape a young me into the movie lover I am today. First up was John Carpenter’s The Thing, a film I had been anxiously following in Fangoria and Starlog (and one I had to guilt-trip my dad into taking me to for having walked me out of Conan the Barbarian during the witch-humping scene), and then six months later came Jim Henson‘s and Frank Oz‘ fantastical puppet adventure, The Dark Crystal. The two movies could hardly be farther apart in tone and style, but they shared a mastery over practical effects used to create a world, build atmosphere, and enhance a story in ways many effects-filled movies never manage. We can all agree that Carpenter’s film is a classic, and my annual viewings on Blu-ray show that it holds up in every regard. But what about The Dark Crystal? It doesn’t appear in conversation nearly as often as other ’80s kids films do. You never hear any […]

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Science fiction has long been considered by some experts to be a lesser genre than traditional dramas and character studies. Because it lends itself so easily to exploitation, science fiction isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Sure, it tends to be a box office winner, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the all-time domestic grossing films fit easily in that genre (with at least two more – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Shrek 2 – marginally related as genre films). Still, some still consider science fiction something not to be taken seriously. It is for this reason that “legitimate” film directors might shy away from science fiction in lieu of more important or significant projects. However, many directors got their start or their earliest fame from working in science fiction and other allegedly exploitative and pulp genres. This week’s release of Prometheus reminds us that even though Ridley Scott has directed historical epics (Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven), military action films (Black Hawk Down), crime thrillers (American Gangster) and straight dramas (Thelma & Louise), he got his start in science fiction with Alien and Blade Runner. Scott isn’t the only director to begin a successful career in science fiction. Here are seven other directors who started out or received some of their earliest success in this genre.

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Alamo Drafthouse Summer of 1982

The Alamo Drafthouse was already planning to turn the heat up on this summer by looking ahead to the past – celebrating the 30th anniversary the massive 1982 months that made the middle of the year famous for movies. Their marquee already included The Thing, Tron, The Wrath of Khan, Poltergeist and more. Now, the “more” part of that is about to expand. As special badges go on sale (80 bucks gets you the original 8 films), Team Alamo is announcing 7 more flicks to the tour. That includes Class of 1984, The Dark Crystal, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Secret of NIMH, Vice Squad and Pink Floyd: The Wall. How they knew that NIMH was my security blanket as an elementary school kid is anyone’s guess. This event was already an awesome trip down memory lane, and now it’s even greater. What’s fantastic here isn’t just the re-release of a ton of excellent movies, it’s the diversity on the board here. Speaking of which, here’s the full schedule, so grab a calendar and a few markers:

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The Daybreakers directors urge us to go grab our own cameras, to be Willem Dafoe and to have faith in a Dark Crystal sequel.

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bluray-header

Back on track once again for this edition of This Week in Blu-ray, where it is time to recover from the hangover of Fantastic Fest and get back into the spirit of buying Blu-ray rather than hamburgers at the Alamo Drafthouse.

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