Archive for the 'Films' Category

General discussion and ruminations about the movies. Includes the contents of the reviews and trailers categories.

Game of Thrones: The good parts version

17-Mar-13 1:27 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; Comments Off

I read George R. R. Martin's maiden voyage into his Song of Ice and Fire franchise, and though I enjoyed the detailed and political world he crafted, I was not swept away. As a result, I've not found myself riveted to the television show or reading the rest of the series' novels.

A fantasy world that was also adapted to live action but which has entranced me is The Princess Bride. William Goldman's 1973 adaptation of S. Morgernstern's classic tale (the original of which I've still not found… huh) is as wonderful, whimsical, and dashing in literature as it is starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, and André the Giant.

The Princess Bride reunion photo

The magical cast, 25 years later.


So timeless, so enduring is that fairy tale that I can't help but wonder how much more successful the already flourishing Game of Thrones series would be if it adapted some of Goldman's more creative literary devices. Namely: What if the book Peter Falk read to Fred Savage was Martin's?

Having read the first book (the equivalent of seeing the show's first season), I encountered no spoilers in this video, only delight — and inspiration. My nephew recently turned five; how long before I can start reading my version of Martin's epic battle scenes to him? But, ah, kids these days — maybe the video game would be more his speed.

(Hat tip to Lauren Davis)

Tis the season to Die Hard

23-Dec-12 2:53 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off

When folks ask me what my favorite Christmas movies are, I turn to a stable of reliable hits: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; Jimmy Stewart's It's a Wonderful Life; and … Die Hard.

Yes, Bruce Willis's violent defense of Nakatomi Tower from Hans Gruber and his personal militia is indeed a holiday film, set as it is on Christmas Eve. The sequel occurred in the same season, but the second and fourth Die Hard films moved away from that synchronicity — with a fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, set to do the same. In fact, it mixes up not only the time but also the place by being set in Russia, in much the way the seventh and final Police Academy film went to Moscow. Certainly that series didn't jump the shark…

If you're missing your annual dose of holiday havoc and can't wait for Valentine's Day for Bruce Willis to tear up the screen, look no further than Tom Ridgway to give you your dose of festive fight scenes. TomSka, creator of the silly "asdf" animations, goes after St. Nick himself in Christmas Destruction:

Happy holidays!

Identity crisis in Man of Steel trailer

14-Dec-12 12:55 PM by
Filed under Trailers; 2 comments.

Tis the season for superhero reboots: Spider-Man got his this past summer, and the Fantastic Four will get a makeover in 2015. Between those two will be the most iconic superhero of them all. Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton, will become Clark Kent, then Superman, this June 14 in Man of Steel, an original film directed by Zack Snyder (300), produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), and written by David Goyer (Blade II, Jumper, The Dark Knight, Ghost Rider 2). With teasers having been released at this past July's Comic-Con, it wasn't until this week that the masses got their first glimpse of Metropolis' defender with this full trailer:

Man of Steel is the first Superman film (if it can be considered that, given the movie's title's lack of nomenclature) to not be based Christopher Reeve's interpretation since he made that role manifest in 1978. Bryan Singer's 2006 sequel was both empowered and limited by its adherence to continuity, and though I seem to be one of the few who enjoyed Brandon Routh in the role, even I agree it's time for an original retelling.

And that we'll get: Snyder's version appears to focus away from the action and more on the character. Although there are hints of super-powered villains, the film's tension appears to originate from the identity crisis Kal experiences. Is he an alien, a Kansan, or a Samaritan? How will he balance his responsibilities to himself, his family, and his world? It doesn't sound like the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster, yet with such a storied production crew behind it, Man of Steel has potential to deliver the movie franchise back into the sun.

(Hat tips to Gene Demaitre, Kevin Melrose, and Keith Shaw)

Shuffle: A life out of order

10-Oct-12 4:05 PM by
Filed under Trailers; Comments Off

What do you get when you cross Quantum Leap, The Time Traveler's Wife, and "All Good Things…"?

The answer is Shuffle, a 2011 film from writer and director Kurt Kuenne, creator of the Showbits Summer Shorts pieces Rent-a-Person and Validation. Kuenne reunites with Validation star T.J. Thyne for Shuffle, a mystery about a man living his life out of order for a reason he has to decipher — before it's too late. Here's the trailer for the film that production studio Theatre Junkies describes as "Twilight Zone meets Frank Capra":

Kuenne's previous shorts were so sincere and touching that I'm eager to see how he manifests the human condition in Shuffle. The film was released this past August to home video, streaming via Netflix, and rental from iTunes and other services.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer

19-Sep-12 11:45 AM by
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.

The Lord of the Rings made for an epic cinematic tale that debuted in the 2001 holiday season, becoming an annual tradition until the trilogy's conclusion in 2003.

Now we have another three years of J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations to look forward to, as this December 14 sees the premiere of the first of three movies based on The Hobbit, the tale that precedes LotR. (It's not a prequel, as The Hobbit was written first.)

Three movies from only one book is possible because we'll be seeing many of the sequences and scenes that were only hinted at in the original narrative. If you wondered where various characters disappeared to while the story followed the main party, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy will fill in those gaps. Although skeptics and pundits may decry this elongation as a desperate money grab, one must admit that it's a darn effective one: who's going to see just two-thirds of this tale, especially given previous successes in the series?

Back when the original trailer was released, The Hobbit was still envisioned as a duology. The latest trailer is the first to preview the trilogy and shows more of the scenes that are unique to the film:

I'll be in line on or near each of the three opening nights. What about you?

(Hat tip to Jason Schreier)

The Hobbit trailer, real and literal

11-Jan-12 6:36 PM by
Filed under Humor, Trailers; Comments Off

I'm a fan of The Lord of the Rings — the movies, not the books — and not obsessively so. I saw each of the three movies the weekend they were released, followed by the director's cuts back-to-back in a marathon session seven years ago. But the tale didn't begin with Fellowship of the Ring, and neither did the marathon: we started with Rankin's animated movie, The Hobbit, which I'd seen many times as a child. It's a fun movie and the best in an overall poor series of animated adaptations of JRR Tolkien's books.

It seems the only way we'll have the complete tale in a single medium, animated or live action, is to target the anomalous entry in the above marathon for replacement. Peter Jackson is happy to oblige beginning December 14, 2012, with the first of the two movies, the first being The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

This is not technically a prequel, as it was written before Fellowship, but it is indeed set many decades before that 2001 film. Some things remain constant, however: just as the previous trilogy is greatly enhanced by RiffTrax, so too has The Hobbit already begun attracting its satirists:

Like the literal trailer and its lyrics? You can get the song on iTunes for only 99 cents! Good grief.

I eagerly await this return to Middle-Earth and all the good humor it portends.

(Hat tip to Mary House and Know Your Meme)

Animal's Holiday Guide

24-Dec-11 9:30 AM by
Filed under Potpourri, Trailers; Comments Off

Happy holidays from Showbits! The site turned five years old this month, and though the posting isn't as prolific as it used to be, I'm still glad to share this outlet with you, especially in so demanding a season. We often need to remember to take a breather and enjoy this time of year. With some tips on how to do so is The Muppets cast member Animal:

The Muppets are long-known for their festive spirit. Be sure to join them for a chorus of bells, too!

See you in 2012!

Filming the holidays with iMovie trailers

21-Dec-11 11:35 AM by
Filed under Potpourri, Trailers; Comments Off

When I first saw Apple's iMovie '11 demonstrated, I knew I had to have it. Even though I don't do much video editing, I had to play with this edition of the popular movie-making software's exciting new feature: a trailer-making workflow. By choosing a film genre and dragging and dropping predefined types of shots (wide, group, action), anyone could effortlessly make a coming attraction for the movie of their lives.

My first outing with this functionality was a promotional video for an annual fundraising event. Since the fundraiser had already been held by the time I got my hands on iMovie, I didn't have any footage of my own to work with. I instead downloaded existing YouTube videos and recut them for my purpose, using the "sports" genre of film. When I showed the final product to the original videographer, she responded, "I just saw your movie trailer and I LOVE IT!!  You created a great, professional quality, energetic piece. I might bug you to do this again with what we['ll shoot next year]!"

My most recent trailer is the only one I've shot for fun. On June 12, 2011, two friends joined me in my annual ascent of Mount Monadnock, the world's most-climbed mountain. It was a last-second impulse to bring my video camera, a Kodak Zi8, and I got several candid and staged shots throughout the state park. I originally tried casting it as a horror film, but in the end, it worked best as an adventure.

But the trailer that was most meaningful is the one I made as a gift. I spent Christmas 2010 with friends, and I wanted to show my appreciation for letting me into their home to share this special holiday. Over the course of a week and as innocuously as possible, I shot several clips of B-roll. Most of them were no longer than five seconds, though one, a Christmas pageant, was fifteen minutes. Altogether, I ended up with about thirty minutes of film, which I whittled down to a brief trailer.

When I debuted a rough cut to the friends, they were extremely moved, immediately wanting to watch it again — and again — and again! They shared it with everyone in their immediate and extended family, and I could tell from my online analytics that the video was viewed every day for at least a month. As its audience was not computer savvy, they had no idea that the quality of what they were seeing wasn't the result of me being a professional video editor. Thanks to iMovie, I was able to keep my secret!

Just in time for me to re-create this gift for my own family this year, Vimeo, my video-hosting service of choice, has offered these tips for shooting great holiday video. Their suggestions are simple yet effective and will give you plenty of grist for later editing.

Happy holiday filming!