1.30.2011

BENNETT INVENTORY : Did You Know?


  • A 17 year-old piece of gold
Paul Thomas Anderson's first choice for the role of Jack Horner in 1997's Boogie Nights was Warren Beatty. And, ironically, Warren was thrilled with the script & agreed to be in it! That's as far as it went...
Based upon the elements that Beatty found most intriguing & enthused by, Anderson quickly realized that Beatty wanted the role of Dirk Diggler. This, clearly, was problematic.

  • They're real, and they're spectacular
Speaking of first choices (and prosthetic sex organs), Karen Black had already been cast in the role of Bobbie in Mike Nichols' 1971 film Carnal Knowledge, when Nichols decided the story needed some... enhancing. He turned to makeup artist Dick Smith to potentially construct the most realistic pair of breasts possible for Ms. Black to wear in the film.
Of course, as anyone knows, fake boobs is fake boobs - according to Nichols, they simply didn't "move" correctly. Karen Black was let go as a result, and was replaced by the real thing.

  • I Know What You Read Last Summer
As a child, screenwriter Dan O'Bannon was a fan of the comic series Weird Science. A fan, so much so, that one issue in particular stayed with him up until adulthood. He once disclosed to fellow filmmaker John Carpenter that he lifted the idea for 1979's Alien from Weird Science #8, "Seeds of Jupiter."

  • Eerie, Indiana Pop. 16,661
So many great filmmakers have had their TV babies: Mann/Miami Vice, Spielberg/Amazing Stories, Lynch/Twin Peaks. Though there is one oft-overlooked series due to its very short run on NBC from 91 to 92 entitled Eerie, Indiana, with none other than Joe Dante in the role of creative consultant. He also popped up in the title of director on many occasions, & one can spot a few Dante regulars in guest spots, such as Dick Miller & Henry Gibson.

  • Keepin' it real
The haunting and iconic "stickmen" seen throughout 1999's The Blair Witch Project were not merely an invention of the filmmakers, but rather derives from an actual occult language known as Transitus Fluvii -- which, in Latin, means "passing through the river." This language also appears as the writing on the walls of the house in the film's climax.

  • You owe me awe
Contractually, David Lynch owed Dino De Laurentiis at least one Dune sequel. Understandably, and fortunately, this was decided against. So, to fulfill the bargain, Dino gave him Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon to adapt into a film. And Lynch accepted - though during the vague, preliminary creative process, Lynch found himself to be considerably disturbed by the subject matter, & didn't want to place himself "in that world."
Michael Mann eventually adapted the novel into Manhunter, & Lynch made Blue Velvet.

  • No one watches the Watchmen
After the now-standard Gilliam-esque disaster that was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Terry Gilliam decided to finally get himself a real life Hollywood agent, in the hopes of coming across a mildly successful project. The first to catch his eye was an adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen, penned by none other than Batman's Sam Hamm. Nevertheless, Gilliam felt the script didn't match the quality of the source material. After writing his own draft, he ultimately decided that it was all-in-all simply unfilmable.
The next script to be sent his way was a big-screen adaptation of The Addams Family, which Gilliam immediately dismissed as being unfunny & FX driven.
His next Project would eventually be The Fisher King in 1991.

1.27.2011

1.25.2011

1.22.2011

WOWMANWOW season 3 : episode 2

TEXTURES


BENNETT INVENTORY : Did You Know?


For many of you cinephiles, the answer to this question is, "Yes!" The purpose: maybe there's a nugget you can take with you, so that in those late-night cinema brouhahas, you can unleash your mammoth movie dick & one-up that pretentious a-hole!
...What an a-hole...

  • Wiley Wiggins can't pitch
While shooting Richard Linklater's 1993 film Dazed and Confused, actor Wiley Wiggins needed to throw the game-winning pitch in what should have been a wide shot. Or even a medium shot. Instead, what we see is a slo-mo closeup, due to Wiggins' inability to throw like a man. After enduring days of ridicule from crew & extras alike, Linklater promised the actor that it would all be rectified in the editing process.

  • Burton vs. Elfman
It's hard to think of Tim Burton without thinking of Danny Elfman, & certainly vice versa. & one has to wonder, "What would Danny Elfman's score for a bio pic about Ed Wood sound like?" & we'll continue to wonder...
Burton turned to Howard Shore for this one-movie-break from his film score accomplice, due to a plain & simple "fight" that supposedly occurred due to "creative differences" during the development of Nightmare Before Christmas.

  • Hey, McFly?!
The "Cafe 80s" is one of the most memorable locations in the Back to the Future universe. All the over-the-top nostalgia aside, it also created its own nostalgia - revisiting the diner where it all started, back in good ol' 1955. In Part III, we revisit it yet again, this time as a saloon setting. So, the question remains: in the root of the story - 1985 - what kinda establishment is located in this saloon/diner/nostalgia restaurant?
According to the filmmakers, it's the aerobics studio that we get a very brief glimpse of during the opening of Part I during Marty's skateboard ride to school.

  • Miss Nude America is on tonight
Probably the most memorable, and best, part of Wes Craven's original A Nightmare on Elm Street is the incomprehensibly gory death of Glen Lantz. After being pulled down into the depths of his bed by the gloved hand, 500 gallons of blood spew forth into his bedroom.
There is a "deleted scene" floating around of an alternate take: Johnny's bloody corpse, slowly (and clumsily) rising out of the bed hole, & collapsing beside it. This take was presumably shot for the TV cut of the film. However, the original intention was to have Glen's skeleton emerge. Or, perhaps "shoot out" as the blood did. Either way, they were ridiculously ineffective in comparison.

  • Quentin gets help from Sean Penn's brother
In the gospel of The World According to Chris Penn: Penn, himself, wrote the end of Reservoir Dogs. Supposedly, Quentin couldn't get along with famously-eccentric actor Lawrence Tierney, & asked Chris to "make something up" to end the movie. This one's left for you to decide...

  • The Coens don't like to discuss works in progress
The Coens' 1991 film Barton Fink is a film that embodies the agony & impotence of writer's block; art imitates life. The film was written in the dead-middle of forcing out the screenplay of their Miller's Crossing, & we all benefitted.

  • Michael Mann does a remake... of Michael Mann
How does Michael Mann bury a project he's embarrassed with? Do it again! In 1989, Mann wrote & directed the made-for-TV film L.A. Takedown, which follows Detective Vincent Hannah as he tracks down a small gang of would-be bank robbers. Obviously, this was a first, underfunded attempt at what would eventually become Heat. Few have seen the film since its release, & it may be a while before you do. To paraphrase the writer/director, "Don't call it 'A Michael Mann Film.'"

  • Fincher gives credit where credit is due
Anyone with an interest in DVD commentary tracks will know: Andrew Kevin Walker, screenwriter of Fincher's Se7en, did a little polish work on 1999's Fight Club. Unfortunately, 'script polishing' doesn't warrant a credit (we'll never know just how many films Quentin or Mamet actually wrote). So, as a kinda homage, the character names of the three interrogating police officers in Fight Club's third act are: Det. Andrew, Det. Kevin, & Det. Walker.

STATIC SHOTS

MY AWESOME MIX TAPE #4




1.17.2011

1.10.2011

BENNETT INVENTORY : That Moment


Antichrist -- Eden

Women are inherently evil. This being a thesis drawn from a character desperately trying to disprove her own mental instability. If the entire gender can be lumped together then she's merely accepting her fate. She's safe in her thoughts and decisions and completely and more than that, she's perfectly sane.
A man and his wife take refuge in the woods after experiencing the loss of their only child. The man, being a therapist, is posed with the challenge of curing his spouse of her grief. But with a man so weak in his understanding of his wife and a wife so tormented by her own guilt, it's like the blind leading the blind and they wind up leading each other straight to their own personal hells.
Lars Von Trier uses images that are naturally nightmarish such as a disemboweled animal to illustrate how cruel mother nature can be, but then gives these disturbing images a surreal quality that paralyzes you with its unpredictability. The man spends the entire film trying to be a step ahead , but remains two steps behind with each revelation coming as a greater trauma than its predecessor.
The human mind does not come apart in one quick move. Hell is experiencing pieces of it breaking off like the arms off of a ceramic figurine with no means to glue it back together. You're left with just a limbless shadow of its former self. The audience bears witness to the woman's irretrievable breakdown in a flashback as she witnesses her child jump out of a window and does nothing to stop him. This standalone scene separates this entire film from every film for the past two years giving it preeminence above the rest.
The woman ultimately proves that people are inherently insane. It's our responsibility to never cross that line and disappear. Most of the time, you can never come back. And in the case of this man and this woman, they're only peace is found in violence and cruelty.

-Jess

STATIC SHOTS





1.09.2011

2010: What, me worry?


"The movie really heightens the lack of interest in the film."
- Crow T. Robot


In 2001, I walked into Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring with complete indifference. I'd always been aware of the books & was kinda fascinated with wizards & dragons & things of that nature when I was a child. That's as far as it went, though that little bit put images inside my head of what these things should look like.
This was still very early in the decade, & more than this distant interest in fantasy, I was still conditioned to go & pay money to see the next big Hollywood 'event.' I cherish my opening night memories of Secret of the Ooze, Back to the Future II, Batman Returns, Jurassic Park, & even Independence Day & Phantom Menace. Something that could be huge & inspire & dazzle me with movie magic, and to be able to share that with the people in that theater & potentially all over the world -- I needed to participate, & I thought maybe this movie would be that. I was half right.
Regarding the film itself, I remember very little - nearly nothing. However, the one thing I do remember - perhaps the only thing I remember, & always will - was a scene involving the principal characters battling some giant creature inside a cave. I remember this because, that was the moment - the moment that, when I look back on it now, I'm able to pinpoint when I was forcefully cast into my own personal Twilight Zone. I was immediately struck by the hokeyness, amplified by the amateur craftsmanship - so much in a way that I may have laughed out loud, or, LOLed. & it was at the moment I thought, "Well, this film & the two that follow it will be laughed into oblivion, or they'll acquire some small, strong cult following in the vein of films like Battlefield Earth.
So, my ultimate gripe was & is: in a film driven solely by FX (because it certainly wasn't acting, cinematography, or any of that other film crap), shouldn't said FX be tip-top? Like nothing you've ever seen? & certainly like nothing you've ever seen in a SciFi Original Movie? Independence Day stunk but the CGI was believably dimensional & exhilarating. & that was '96! Point is, the backpeddling of artistry in LOTR has echoed throughout these past 10 years into a painfully misguided direction. The reason it's "painfully" misguided is: at its core, film is headed in the right direction - a largely visual direction. Mildly familiar stories & strong acting performances are becoming outmoded as a substitute to what we see on the screen. I always laugh when I hear or read people criticize the "plot" of Avatar. I didn't see the film, but I can guess that all that money wasn't spent on "plot" - neither from the pockets of the filmmakers or the filmgoers. Nor should it! Bob Harris, my college film professor once said, "There are great stories in books. There is great acting on the stage. Film is about light & movement." Personally, I would add, to a lesser extent, color & sound. Though, mainstream film hasn't really been about that for over 100 years - not until the aforementioned "misguided" present. Expert craft & technique became After Effects & ILM. Light & movement became 3D & IMAX. Art became McDonald's, & McDonald's became Starbucks. Even Pop Art simply became Pop. Now, I like Pop; I like it as a snack. But when there's nothing on the menu but snacks, I'll eventually become fat & stupid. And in that state, yeah, a film like Inception will probably blow my mind.
Right now is the time when technology is playing the singular role of magnifying the ass-backwardness of the whole debacle - especially in our own homes. At our fingertips are Blu-Ray Hi Def Plasma THX Dolby Surround Sound Theater-Quality devices "giving you the best picture & sound like never before!" So we can watch Anchorman. Meanwhile, somebody's watching Close Encounters on their phone. Or a .wmv of True Grit with Korean subtitles they downloaded from Limewire. The home viewing experience has killed the theater-going experience; noisy audience members have been a problem since the introduction of talkies, but nowadays, Todd & Tucker can't tell the difference between a public setting & their own living room. & how could they? The movie is as big & loud as it is at home, they got their free-refill energy drink, their phone nearby, & a shitload of TV commercials peeing on their face.
/Film.com posted a telling article some time ago weighing the pros & cons of video rental-by-mail & various instant, on-demand methods of movie viewing. For those of you unfamiliar with /Film, it's a meticulously up-to-date news feed on the status of Spiderman, The Hobbit, & James Franco. That's not saying anything against /Film necessarily - the site has been very kind to Bennett Media over the years - David Chen in particular, who also happened to write the article mentioned. In it, Craig Kornblau from Universal is quoted saying, "We want to advantage methods that are more profitable... We don't have an obligation to give consumers what they want when they want it." Strong words from a guy selling live action comic book adaptations for a living. And, on a personal note, I'd like to point out that Chen goes on to say, "I'm actually somewhat sympathetic to this viewpoint. It might be best for the consumer to be able to purchase a digital copy of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the day it comes out in theaters, but if that eliminates a huge revenue stream for the studios, it means they might not have as much money to make the next Transformers film." I can't be certain if he's speaking strictly objectively - but what I do know is: I drink alcohol solely for the purpose of keeping warm in my apartment during the winter months - much like your average hobo. The least of my concerns are whether or not studio execs have enough money to make Transformers movies.
I still optimistically consider film to be art, & with that same optimism, I believe, perhaps, we're due for a Renaissance - in the comparative sense - when people start asking, "How many more paintings of Jesus do we really need?"
There was a time when we members of Bennett Media would respectively see everything that was in the theater. And, speaking for myself, when Oscar nominations were announced & I hadn't seen all 5 films nominated in the Best Picture category, I would go to extreme lengths to make sure I did prior to the telecast. Coincidentally, the first year I decided to ignore this personal agenda was in 2003, when I skipped the film that actually took home the Award. (To this day I haven't seen Return of the King). And so, over the years, interest dwindled & tastes became more sharply defined. And more so, we welcome you to the first (and perhaps only) Bennett Media's Top 10 Films of the Year. Of course, that's a little unfair because we only saw 10 films released in 2010. So, it's hardly a "Top" list. How about, "Shit we saw."
-Paul

1. Shutter Island - If this man had made this film 15 years ago, it woulda been Cape Fear. But alas, it was made in the modern age. & so, it suffers from heavy-handed animation & forced color timing. Tech stuff aside for a moment, it has an ending we've seen 50 times in the past 60 years, which certainly hurts the supposed ambiguity throughout - faithful to the book or not.
Scorsese has his built-in audience - there's no need to reduce to crap to try to "appeal." It's like the Ghostbusters 3 thing -- does anyone want to see a younger cast take over? If you do, you must really hate Ghostbusters.
Its strengths, like any Scorsese movie, are clever camera moves, Thelma's cutting, a strong male lead, and rockin' soundtrack. B/B+

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street - & we thought the original was boring. D

3. Toy Story 3 - Pixar is consistently excellent - in particular, the Toy Story series. A perfect example of strong animation going in the right direction: cartoons. Here's a group of people utilizing the tools available to the furthest reaches of their capability, combined with some of the strongest scripts to come outta mainstream Hollywood. A

4. Predators - An action movie on par with, well, Predator. Action films, like the horror genre & the romantic comedy are dying an aching death, & the closest we generally come to "okay-ish" are with a lotta these "throwbacks" that mostly just point & laugh at what it used to be, in the hopes you'll laugh along with them. But if we want a comedy, we'll go to one - apprehensively. Predators is unapologetically what it is, as well as what they used to be: clever & interesting. A-

5. Inception - A bad movie is a bad movie, & there's no need to think twice on it. No one's gonna get on an apple box & cry about how Season of the Witch was such a disappointment. No, it only really hurts when heartbreak is involved. Chris Nolan should be the next great action director - & he kinda is. There are no real discernable cracks in the directing of anything. In fact, he may put in so much effort on the directing side that it results in his utter laziness as a screenwriter. We were sold on the teaser -- which was merely dazzling Nolan-specific images & moves with a startling Hans Zimmer score; possibly a horror film. If only the film itself could have sustained that sense of mystery and wonder. Instead, it knocks us down almost immediately in the first act, then proceeds to kick us for the remainder.
One blogger has said something along the lines of this: "There are 3 kinds of people. Those who got it & loved it. Those who didn't get it & hated it. And those who claim to get it, but hate it simply because it's so popular." We're proudly part of a 4th group - one that we know for a fact exists. A group who, unfortunately understood the movie only too well, which ultimately ruined it. Watching the movie was like watching The Making Of a cooler movie. Devices like title cards & voice over are often demonized for being "lazy storytelling." But, they're a hell of a lot more elegant & interesting than clumsy expository dialogue - & this film was the clumsiest in recent memory. So clumsy, in fact, that Nolan created an entire character - the Ellen Page character - simply for the purpose of pointing her finger towards this cool shit & asking flat-out, "What's that mean?" Thanks, Ellen. C/C-

6. Machete - Speaking of "throwbacks" that parody great cinema - as opposed to honor it - no one does it as shamelessly or as often as the head of Troublemaker Studios; the Rebel Without a Crew, Robert Rodriguez. The greatest crime is how much talent there is in this movie, & no one's given anything to do - they all just kinda stand around (sometimes literally) waiting for the audience to recognize them. [Kudos to Don Johnson, who did the most with the least amount of material]. Similar to Inception, they should have just released it as a trailer. Oh, wait. C+

7. Piranha 3D - Speaking of "throwbacks" -- oh, fuck it. D+

8. Dinner For Schmucks - Imagine if Plains, Trains, & Automobiles had an arbitrary, Gary Marshall-esque subplot about relationship problems. Wouldn't be quite the same movie. B-

9. The Social Network - Another movie that we left at the theater. It's strange - what can we really say about The Social Network? Virtually nothing; we can't even condemn it. That's the problem. What can you say about white bread? It never changes, there's not much to it, & leaves you wanting a sandwich. B

10. Black Swan - A great filmmaker uses metaphors. A mediocre filmmaker uses similes. Based on Natalie Portman's staggering performance, she didn't need any help from cartoon feathers. For a film trying so hard to be subversive and surreal, it's laughably literal, which, by definition, is incorrect. Aaronofsky loves flesh & skin texture, & this is his first film solely about that - or rather, he uses a story of personal transformation as an excuse to epitomize a physical one. At points throughout the film, he does this with chilling makeup FX. Conversely, further into the film, he swaps out makeup for animation, and miraculously Natalie turns into a Babylon 5 character! Didn't see that coming!
Strip it of its digital FX and shave off a few expository scenes, & you may very well end up with an A+. Instead, B+
-P&J

The Movie Title Mash-Up Quiz :: Part Three WINNER

Congratulations to Mr Fist for successfully - and mercilessly - cracking all ten clues for Part Three.
And as usual, we congratulate everyone who guessed &, for the most part, guessed right.
For the correct titles, revert to the comments of the quiz. And as we tell all winners: contact us via email to claim your prize. Thank you all for playing & keep an eye out for Part Four.

1.07.2011

Revved Up Like A Deuce

Some of you might be aware that Static Shots bears its own Tumblr page & has for several months. As recently as this morning (1.7.11) Total Film has nominated the site in their category for Best Single Serving Blog for their Total Film Movie Blog Awards 2011. Be a dear & vote here for Static Shots. & if you're a Tumblr user, follow now & reblog often!

polls close January 27th, 2011

1.05.2011

BENNETT INVENTORY : The Movie Title Mash-Up Quiz, Part Three


It's that time of year again! (actually, 'time' is based on indeterminate intermittence). Before we get into it, we'd like to once again congratulate Tom's conquest of Round Two -- & now a proud owner of Topps non-sports nostalgia.
We hope that you confidently attempt to join Tom in child-like bliss & take a crack at Round Three. This time 'round, the winner will receive a Hologram Jor-El from Superman Returns by Mattel. & if you're not into the man of steel, you can pride yourself in owning your own Brando action figure; perhaps you can find some tiny orange peels & reenact the demise of Vito Corleone. Or, get a tub of Country Crock & perform a fat-free version of Last Tango (feel free to share all the details).
The rules are still the same -- in fact, they'll always be the same unless otherwise noted, so don't play dumb - we hate that.





1. A man forced to confess to a crime he didn't commit comes to terms with giving his daughter away on her wedding day.

2. A group of survivors barricade themselves in an abandoned home & fight off a pair of disturbed doctors.

3. A defense attorney uncovers one of the greatest cover-ups in the history of the American government.

4. A conservative family, anxious to meet their daughter's husband-to-be, are shocked when she brings an idiot home as a lark.

5. A rising female boxer must put her career on hold when she is suddenly burdened with the responsibility of raising a child.

6. Struggling to meet a deadline, a tabloid journalist must race to uncover the truth about a con man & his daughter.

7. A family is torn apart by desert-dwelling deformed cannibals, jealousy, & sexual obsession.

8. A couple of neurotic, out-of-work actors exact vengeance on the men who wronged them - one by one.

9. Galactic circus performers come to Earth to participate in a monumental basketball game.

10. A young man gets dangerously in over his head when he takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of a forgotten glam rock star.
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