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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return – Part 12


At long last, Audrey Horne has returned!  Fans who have been clamoring for the character to appear on the new season of Twin Peaks can put down their pitchforks and stop storming the Black Lodge.  But I suspect that these fans might not be happy with the 21st century incarnation of their favorite character.  The playful girl we fell in love with has returned as a bitter middle-aged woman who harangues her husband when he doesn’t want to help her search for her missing lover.  This person is barely recognizable as the girl who once tied cherry stems in knots.  David Lynch gave fans what they said they wanted, but not in the way they wanted it.

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July 31: Happy Birthday Geraldine Chaplin and B. J. Novak


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Geraldine Chaplin becomes the second member of her family to headline in this series on her 73rd birthday.  Of her father Charlie’s eleven children, she has had by far the most distinguished acting career.  She had her first major film role as Tonya in Doctor Zhivago in 1965, and received a Golden Globe nomination.  She also began a long career in European cinema in the late sixties—she is fluent in both French and Spanish—and in the late sixties began a 12-year professional and personal relationship with Spanish director Carlos Saura.

Chaplin did a number of Hollywood films in the seventies along with her work with Saura.  She played Anne of Austria in Richard Lester’s two-part adaptation of The Three Musketeers, and then did several films with Robert Altman.  As a part of the ensemble cast of Nashville, she received a second Golden Globe nomination for the role of the pretentious BBC journalist Opal.

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Weekly Recap: Poop Happens


Summer is winding down.  This week, we attended a few back-to-school related meetings.  Most kids will be back in the classroom sometime next month.  That means the last death rattles of the summer movie season.  Hollywood studios have already released all of their surefire hits.  Now they are dumping movies they think might be able to turn a quick buck in the couple of weeks remaining or they are counter-programming with adult-skewing films like Dunkirk.  This week, Sony gifted the world with the critically reviled Emoji Movie.  Despite terrible reviews, the animated turd is threatening to take the top spot at the box office.  But it’s facing stiff competition from Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed war picture.

It’s the last Sunday in July, so let’s recap all the poop that happened here at Le Blog this week.

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July 30: Happy Birthday Christopher Nolan and Richard Linklater


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Our two headliners took part in a director’s roundtable discussion sponsored by the Hollywood Reporter a couple of years ago.  Nolan is standing at the left and Linklater at the right, with Morten Tyldum and Angelina Jolie between them, and Bennett Miller and Mike Leigh sitting/kneeling in front.

Christopher Nolan, who is 47 today, was born in England and studied film at University College London, where he was president of the Film Society.  He made a pair of short films during his college years, and a third, Doodlebug, not long after graduating.  He made his first feature on a budget of $6000 that he raised himself.  A tightly paced thriller titled Following, it received very positive reviews, enabling Nolan to then make his first widely-released feature, one which introduced many viewers to the concept of anterograde amnesia.  Memento was a financial and critical success, and brought Nolan an Oscar nomination for screenwriting.

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What the Hell Happened to Movie Stars?


Jeffthewildman wonders where all the big movie stars went.

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July 29: Happy Birthday Ken Burns and William Powell


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Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns turns 64 today.  A history buff as a child, he made his first documentary at 17.  After graduating from college in the mid-seventies, he made a few short films and then adapted a book by David McCullough into Brooklyn Bridge, which was nominated for the Best Documentary Feature of 1981.  He received a second Oscar nomination for The Statue of Liberty four years later.  Starting about 1990, he began focusing on creating documentary miniseries for PBS.  That was the year that approximately 40 million viewers saw his The Civil War.  Four years later, he won an Emmy for a series about Baseball.

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Clerical Errors


In the July 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, Joe Queenan asked the big questions about movies about bad members of the clergy.  Like why does God allow these movies to exist and which level of hell is reserved for the makers of Last Rites and Monsignor?

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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: The Bride of Frankenstein


In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Last year I covered the first installment in Universal’s Frankenstein series starring Boris Karloff and Colin Clive and now, with both represented on my puzzle, it’s time to take a look at the 1935 follow-up Bride of Frankenstein. The film has been, especially in later years, widely considered to be superior to the classic original and as director James Whale’s masterpiece. Critics Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss of Time Magazine made this declaration in 2005 as part of the publication’s “All Time 100 Movies” series. The same opinion has been expressed subsequently by high-profile sources such as Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Herald, and Playboy. But is this an easily affirmed estimation of its merits, or is there a more complicated answer to the question? Join me as I share some information about the film’s production and qualities along with my own experience in giving it a few viewings.

Warning- There will be spoilers for Bride of Frankenstein in this article
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July 28: Happy Birthday Sally Struthers and Randall Wallace


 

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So, just one day after Norman Lear’s birthday comes that of one of the stars of his most famous series.

Today is Sally Struthers’ 70th birthday.  She left home at 18 to pursue an acting career and within a few years started getting TV and movie roles.  In 1970 she had stints on The Tim Conway Comedy Hour and The Smothers Brothers Summer Show, and appeared in a supporting part in Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces.  Just one year later came her breakthrough, when Norman Lear cast her as Gloria Bunker Stivic on All in the Family.  Struthers won the Emmy for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Comedy Series for both her first and final seasons on the show.

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Disney Magic Kingdoms Mobile Game Updates


Disney Magic Kingdoms is a free-to-play mobile game that was released in early 2016.  The game allows players to build their own Disney theme park.  Back when it was new, Daffy Stardust checked it out and compared it to a similar game he was playing, The Simpsons: Tapped Out.  Daffy thought the game might be colorful enough to entertain small children, but found it’s limitations frustrating.  I have actually stuck with the game for over a year now and I thought I would update readers regarding how Magic Kingdoms has changed since its release.

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July 27: Happy Birthday Norman Lear and Taylor Schilling


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Today our headliners are the creator of some of the most influential television programs of the past, and the star of one of the most heralded programs airing today.

Norman Lear is celebrating his 95th birthday today.  He dropped out of college to join the Air Force in World War 2.  He worked in PR and as a door-to-door salesman before getting into writing for television. He wrote for several series during the 1950s before creating his first series in 1959; given the times it was perhaps inevitable that it was a Western, The Deputy.  After that show was canceled, Lear spent about a decade as a writer and producer on a variety of projects, before he came up with the idea of a comedy about a working-class American family.  ABC didn’t like it, but CBS did, and the series was an instant critical success, although its ratings did not take off until its second season.

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Brian Grazer: The Life of Brian


The summer of 1992 was a busy one for producer Brian Grazer.  Based on their previous success, the duo had just been named Producers of the Year by the National Association of Theater Owners.  With three upcoming movies to promote, Grazer sat down for a feast of Chinese food to discuss how he left a career in law to make movies with TV’s Richie Cunningham.  In this interview from the July 1992 issue of Movieline magazine, Grazer is surprisingly honest – especially when it comes to his commercial (as opposed to artistic) aspirations. Read the rest of this entry

July 26: Happy Birthday Kevin Spacey and Stanley Kubrick


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Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey turns 58 today.  He and actress Mare Winningham were high school classmates, and starred together in the senior play, The Sound of Music.  He then moved to New York and gradually built a successful career on Broadway, which culminated in his winning a Tony for playing Uncle Louie in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers.  One of his first major screen appearances was in a 1987 telecast of the Broadway revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, with Spacey as Jamie Tyrone.

Spacey began working in film in the late eighties, and had supporting roles in films like Glengarry Glen Ross, as well as a starring role in Swimming with Sharks.  His film breakthrough was in 1995, when he had three prominent film roles: in the medical thriller Outbreak as an Army doctor, as the serial killer in Seven, and in an Oscar-winning performance as Roger “Verbal” Kint in The Usual Suspects.

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