Posts Tagged 'robert zemeckis'

The 2017 Biggie Awards (and my Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2016)

The 28th Annual Biggie Awards

for the love of movies.

Celebrating achievements in film for the year 2016

So 2016 has come and gone. A year I had big hopes for about 15 months ago turned out to be quite a dud in the grand scheme of things. It was even worse than 2015. For the second year in a row, I rated no theatrical release a ‘9’ on IMDb. There were no masterpieces, no all-time greats. There were some really good movies, and I put almost 20 more films on my “Movies I Love” list, but in terms of quality and the ability to stand the test of time, even the second or third-best movies of most past years would have easily won my Best Picture award over this lot.

Lobster Farrell bury
Me waiting for 2016 to be over.

2016 also broke a pretty long streak of spectacular even-numbered years. It was such a mediocre year that it even gave us a Steven Spielberg movie I couldn’t bring myself to watch (The BFG). General cinematic malaise aside, there were, as always, some highlights…

Continue reading ‘The 2017 Biggie Awards (and my Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2016)’

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10 Directors Who Need a Serious Comeback

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how so many of the people who directed some of my all-time favorite movies are currently MIA or stuck making movies that are beneath their ability. (This is how most of these blogs begin- as random thoughts that I decide might be interesting to expound upon.) When I actually began listing them, I was shocked to learn how many of my favorite directors are no longer relevant or no longer making movies that live up to their former standards. As I got to writing about each individual director, I realized this conundrum has a lot to do with the current state of the studio system in Hollywood- and I’ll get into what I mean by that as we go along. To compile this list, all I really did was go through my megalist of all-time favorite movies (which has 500+ films on it and counting) and look to see who has a serious gap in quality on their recent filmography.

And by the way, before we get started, credit to Robert Zemeckis for making his triumphant return to live-action last year with Flight, or else he’d easily have been at the top of the list. Welcome back, Bob! Keep it up!

Inclusion on the list assumes this writer believes the director still has talent left.

In no particular order:

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 3 “Why am I listening to you when I could be underwater instead?”

Continue reading ’10 Directors Who Need a Serious Comeback’

The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)

The 24th Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2012

I’ll be the first to admit I had unfair expectations for 2012. Given the impressive roster of movies on tap, I predicted as early as April of 2011 that 2012 would be the best year in movies since 2000, which I consider to be the best year for movies in my lifetime. In the end, it wasn’t quite the year I wanted it to be, but it was still quite a year. Actually, by my official tally of new entries on my “Movies I Love” list, this was the best year for movies since 2007. I “loved” 24 movies in 2012 (for comparison, 2000 holds the record with 31). What I liked most about 2012 was that it had a lot of variety, as I think you’ll see reflected here in my nominees.

We’ll get into most of the specific films in the descriptions under each category, but there are a few things I want to mention up front.

Continue reading ‘The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)’

Mini-Reviews: THE DICTATOR, MEN IN BLACK 3, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

I don’t have time (of the desire, really) to do full reviews for each of these recent flicks, but I did want to throw my two cents into the fray. Aside from The Avengers, summer 2012 is off to a fairly slow start, both at the box office and from an overall quality standpoint. Let’s hope Ridley Scott can inject some life into June tomorrow (or tonight if you’re gong to a midnight show!).

I went into The Dictator with semi-high hopes, because the trailers and advertising had been really good. I like the fearlessness of Sacha Baron Cohen‘s comedy, and I thought this kind of character perfectly suited his style. While the movie does have several laugh-out-loud scenes, it doesn’t fully come together in the way that Borat did. Unfortunately, aside from Cohen’s Admiral General Aladeen character, there isn’t a whole lot going on here. Thankfully though, Cohen is in almost every scene, so this doesn’t become a glaring issue. My favorite gag is the scene in the helicopter where Aladeen and his associate are taking a tour of New York, and making the middle-aged white American couple across from them go from friendly to uncomfortable to paranoid to fearing for their lives. I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say he somehow manages to make September 11 humor work, something I can’t imagine more than 1 or 2 other comedians even attempting. There are a few funny recurring bits and some good fish out of water jokes once he’s stuck on his own in New York City. I thought Cohen injected some of his own political views (shocker, he’s a lefty!) with the subtlety of Thor‘s hammer (there are a few painfully obvious Bush/Cheney jokes that weren’t funny 5 years ago, let alone now), but at the same time he uses his character to effectively mock Anna Faris‘ activist, all-natural, terrified-to-offend store manager, so there is some balance. To give you a sense of how far Cohen is willing to take some of the jokes, at the end of the film, when he and Faris are married happily ever after, and it’s revealed she’s pregnant with their first child, he asks her, “Are you having a boy or an abortion?” Needless to say, I laughed. Because fuck political correctness.

Continue reading ‘Mini-Reviews: THE DICTATOR, MEN IN BLACK 3, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN’

Can We Talk About the Second Tintin Trailer for a Minute?

For reference purposes, watch this (switch video quality to 720p) before reading ahead:

I’ve written a lot here and there about my lack of excitement for The Adventures of Tintin, the much-hyped 3D performance capture CG-animated collaboration between director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson. Most All of that discussion has been negative due to my inherent hatred of both 3D and CG-animated performance capture movies. Actually, I’ve been bitching about it since the day the project was announced. Literally. To sum up what I’ve said in fragments in other posts; I believe this was an immense waste of time for everybody involved, from Spielberg to Jackson to the actors to composer John Williams, all the way down to the brilliant people at Weta Digital in New Zealand whose computers brought this film life. The plan has always been for Spielberg to direct this first movie, and if it did well enough, Jackson would direct a sequel soon after. I’m sure there are some people out there excited about those prospects, but I am not among them. The movie has actually opened already in several other countries (the UK included), but won’t open in the U.S. until December 21. I know, you can’t wait.

Continue reading ‘Can We Talk About the Second Tintin Trailer for a Minute?’

Mo-Cap Dies, Robert Zemeckis is reborn?

This past weekend, while many moviegoers were out seeing Battle: Los Angeles ($35.6 million), Rango ($22.6 million), Red Riding Hood or The Adjustment Bureau, what Hollywood didn’t expect was that pretty much no one would go out and see Mars Needs Moms, which took in a tepid $6.9 million off more than 3,100 screens. And that’s WITH the film’s premium 3D ticket prices factored in. A $6.9 million debut on its massive $150 million budget sets it up to be one of the biggest financial disasters in recent memory. For one thing, I don’t yet understand how animated movies’ budgets are constructed, but I can’t fathom how any of them can cost anything close to that much money. Ridiculous.

REJECTED! FOR THE COMMON GOOD.

Why do even I bring this up? Oh, I’ll tell you. As it turns out, this box office catastrophe may have brought about some of the best news I’ve heard in years out of Hollywood. I never intended on seeing Mars Needs Moms, and I really had no idea who was behind it. I didn’t even realize (or care) that it was one of those motion capture movies (made famous recently by Robert ZemeckisPolar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol), and that Zemeckis himself was one of the producers. First things first, for once I can give a “Bravo!” to American audiences. This epic fail proves that Hollywood can’t just dump any computer-animated movie they want onto us, tack on an extra charge for 3D, and expect it to gross $200 million.

Moreover, and because Hollywood is so panicky and reactionary, it may have put an end to Robert Zemeckis’ second career as a mo-cap filmmaker. This pleases me greatly. In case you need reminding, Robert Zemeckis is the guy who directed the Back to the Future movies, as well as Contact, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. ALL of these are among my favorites of all-time, and until recently I’d always listed Zemeckis as my third favorite/most influential director (behind Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Cameron). Cast Away came out 11 goddamn years ago, and that was the last time he made a live-action film. I’ve died inside a little bit with each subsequent year that Zemeckis has, in my view, WASTED his time and talents making these soulless computer-animated, motion-capture movies. Until this week, he had been planning ANOTHER mo-cap movie as his next project, and was in fact deep into working on it. It was going to be- get this- a mo-cap remake of the Beatles‘ movie Yellow Submarine. No, I’m not kidding. That’s what he wanted to spend 2 years of his life working on. I mean, I couldn’t have picked a less interesting project for Zemeckis out of a hat that also had Saw 8, Fast and the Furious 6, and a Polar Express sequel as other options. Disney has now pulled the plug on Yellow Submarine, which all but kills it. Last year, they shut down Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital, which is his production company for all these mo-cap turds. In theory, another studio could now say, “Hey, WE want to spend $100 million+ on a Yellow Submarine remake!”, but that’s incredibly unlikely to happen. HUZZAH!!!

So what does this all mean? What makes this worth writing about is that I’m hoping it means that we as moviegoers get Robert Zemeckis, one of the best storytellers in cinema history, back in the real world making real movies. Hopefully he’s had his fun with these other projects, and will not stubbornly pursue them further. That’s right, Bobby Z, it’s time to film real human actors in front of a camera again on real sets and at real locations. Not human actors wearing skintight suits with hundreds of little dots all over them tracking their every twitch for the computer so they can be animated later. This is one instance where a box office disaster may do us all some good as moviegoers. Like I said, there’s a real chance here that we may get one of our best directors back from out of the computer-filled cave he’s been hiding in for the last 10 years.

I hope.

P.S. Motion capture gets another chance this December with the long-awaited (not by me) release of Steven Spielberg & Peter Jackson‘s collaboration on Tin-Tin. Far be it for me to root against a movie made by two of my heroes, but…sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good.

NO!

YES!

HUH?!

It would only be fitting for today’s Recommended Listening to come from Zemeckis and his longtime composer, the great Alan Silvestri, and one of their many collaborations:  


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