Willow

I have a pet theory that Ron Howard is like Spielberg without all the cinephile love. They’ve both done broad genre work, fantasy adventure and prestige films that earned Oscars. They’ve had giant successes in just about every realm, and they’ve also had monumental failures. They also both continually push to learn new things, both from a content standpoint and technical perspective. It’s also impressive that Howard has evolved so thoroughly that we often don’t even think about him as a child actor who emerged to continued success. For several generations, Howard has always been a sophisticated filmmaker with a wry sense of humor and a keen ability to deliver a fist-pumping moment of Hollywood satisfaction. Every once in a while, the realization that he’s been in the industry since he was six hits home and puts his career into both a surprising and completely sensible context. Of course he’s done what he’s done…and yet how many child actors can make the same claim (or have enjoyed the same enormity of success)? So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who just can’t grow a beard as well as Spielberg.

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discs this must be the place

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! Sure it’s a few days late, but it’s still technically the same week… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. This Must Be the Place Cheyenne (Sean Penn) was a rock star many years ago, but these days he lives a quiet life in a big house with a wife (Frances McDormand), two dogs and an empty swimming pool. He’s a bit slow in his mobility and speech, and his appearance is still modeled on The Cure’s Robert Smith. When his father falls ill Cheyenne heads to NYC to reconcile with the old man, but instead he finds himself on a quest for revenge against a Nazi. Obviously. Paolo Sorrentino‘s film is more than a little odd. Between Penn’s performance and the script’s insistence on couching a traditional narrative in strange, character-filled trappings it’s guaranteed to turn off many viewers, and I really wouldn’t blame them walking away. But I found the story’s take on the need for (and power of) forgiveness a compelling reason to watch, and Penn’s performance may have taken a bit to grow on me but it eventually added to the film’s charm. It’s damn funny at times and lands an emotionally satisfying ending too, but be warned… most of you will apparently hate it. It’s the new I Melt With You in that regard. [Blu-ray extras: None]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Instead of the all-too-common practice of placing actors in front of a big green screen and adding the image in a computer later on, the filmmakers behind the music video for Willow‘s “Sweater,” decided to project their backgrounds on two walls and a floor in real-time. Doing so allowed them to create a magical sense of movement, letting the lead singer travel down city streets, weather a storm in a small boat and fall down a wormhole all without leaving the comfortable confines of a 10-or-so square foot area. It’s not crisp and clean and perfect, but it’s not meant to be. However, I can’t shake the feeling that this is what playing a video game will look like in five years. It’s lo-fi done to incredible effect from director Filip Sterckx, and huge kudos go to him and his crew. What’s even better? They have a behind-the-scenes look at how they created the video. Hat tip to United By Photography for featuring the video and director Craig Brewer for tweeting about it. What will it cost you? Only 4 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Here’s a fun fact: Prior to 2001’s releases of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, fantasy movies were frequently silly, low-budget shlockfests that actors only wanted to make so they could eat something other than whatever they scraped from under their fridge for another month. (For the record, I am told that this lifestyle — I like to call it Underfridging — is good for bolstering your immune system. On the other hand, high potential for scurvy. Your call.) And since the Harry Potter series has spanned eight films and employed every single actor in Britain at least once (twice in the case of Warwick Davis), you know there’s a treasure trove of painfully cheesy fantasy movies lurking in their collective resumes. Let’s take a look at some of them!

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s here! And it is completely creeped out by the image above. It still loves Eugene Levy, and will continue to deliver all the best movie news and tidbits from around the web, but know that it is now uncomfortable. We begin tonight with a first look at Eugene Levy and Jason Biggs on the set of American Reunion. Over at the ad-riddled site Collider, there are a number of photos of the cast as they get back together for yet more Pie. I suppose we should be excited about this.

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