Category Archives: Analysis
It’s just a few days after Christmas, so obviously the natural thing to do is to compose another post about Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The topics I’m going to cover here were touched on a bit in last year’s tour of the Walt Disney World version of the Mansion, but since I’m still finding these fan theories lingering I thought I’d talk about them in a little more detail than before. I’ll be asking three central questions, with a little bit of crossover. Who is Master Gracey? Is he the Ghost Host? Do you die on the ride? Some fans will give you a “yes” to those last two questions, but I’m not so sure. Let’s take a look, shall we?
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The other day, I wrote a pretty bare-bones review of the Korean science fiction movie, Snowpiercer. Partially, I was trying to shield readers from spoilers. But I was also still processing the complicated messages of the movie. Over the last week, the movie has stuck with me in a way few movies do. So the purpose of this article is to analyze what is going on beneath the surface of the action movie.
To do that, I am going to have to get deep into spoilers. So if you haven’t seen Snowpiercer, turn back now.
Based on how long it has taken me to do the necessary research for this, my final decade-based installment about how many “great” comedies can reasonably be expected in any given year, it would be easy to assume that the concept of comedy as generational is a winner. Well…maybe. But that would ignore the fact that I have identified here several truly great film comedies which to my eyes and ears hold up no matter what age you are. Some others may depend a little more on your own context and tastes. There certainly are some comedies I have subjected myself to which have aged badly. Not even Lee Marvin and Lee J Cobb could keep my attention on In Like Flint, and if The Ladies Man really is among the best Jerry Lewis has to offer, then I’m really glad I didn’t see one of his “stinkers.” Even some of the really good movies are prisoners of the age, incorporating mildly painful pop culture references and jokes which don’t always land so many years later. Still more perfectly good films like The Graduate, Alfie, and Never on Sunday mysteriously get listed in various places as comedies, when they are clearly dramas.
But these articles are supposed to be more about the movies I do like…so let’s try to focus on those.
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“Okay, who’s been in some other movies?”
In January of last year, I set out to write profiles for a dozen remarkable actors. Researching and sharing my thoughts about the cast of one of my favorite films, the Reginald Rose/Sidney Lumet/Henry Fonda jury room drama 12 Angry Men was a very rewarding experience. So when I finally posted my article about Juror #12, played by Robert Webber, I decided not to let the project go just yet. Okay, so that was more than six months ago. Life (and an as-yet unabated obsession with the Simpsons “Tapped Out” game) can get in the way.
One of the great pleasures of the 12 Angry Men project has been catching up on some of the films these men have performed in over their careers which I had not seen yet. But while there have been plenty of hits, there have also been several misses. What I’d like to do is to narrow down the offhanded recommendations I made over the course of the previous 12 articles into 12 recommended films which include appearances by jurors 1 through 12.
The first two posts of this series took us back through cinematic humor from today’s genre confusion and obsession with idiots and into the 1990’s which featured a greater proliferation of quality comedy writing and the unfortunate origins of some of today’s most disappointing trends. Now I step into Reagan era comedy with both anticipation and trepidation.
The years 1980-1989 contain both the end of my childhood and the entirety of my teenage years. This means that for more than half of the decade, I did not get to choose which films I got to see at the movie theater. Also, the 1980’s featured the explosion of home entertainment options, but this didn’t really get going for my family until about 1987. So while I saw each of my yearly selections from 1986-1989 on the big screen, the rest of these, I’ve had to catch up with on video or cable and only some of that happened during the 80’s.
My opinions of big screen comedy may be inexorably tied to my own development through this era as my expectations were first established and then subverted. Nobody experiences everything in exactly the same way. But I’m going to keep hold of some of my opinions here with all 32 teeth.
The television commercial for the new Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy movie “Identity Thief” makes the claim that it is “the first great comedy of the year!” Now I haven’t seen Identity Thief, so I have no personal experience to be able to refute this claim. Both Bateman and McCarthy are charming performers who have been funny in other stuff. So maybe that claim is fully reasonable. But somehow I doubt it.
This got me to thinking. How many “great” comedies are the producers of Identity Thief expecting to be released this year? Based on the history of modern English-speaking film, how many “great” comedies could reasonably be expected to hit screens in a single calendar year? Now, clearly this is a question without a definitive answer. What constitutes a great comedy will be very different from person to person. What I have decided to do is to look at film comedies from each year and select the best for each. At times I will also give my overall impression of the year in movie mirth. This first installment will cover the years 2000-2011, with future posts reflecting each decade. Right now, I expect to do five posts, with the last one covering the 1960s and 1959. If you can’t figure out why I would shoehorn 1959 in, keep reading and all will be revealed.
The Cabin in the Woods is a fanboy’s dream. While it can be enjoyed on the level of a simple horror story, it works best if you scratch below the surface. It is really intended as a commentary on the state of the horror genre at the time the script was written. Due to the film’s troubled road to the screen, its release was delayed for several years. It was originally written as a response to “torture porn” horror. Fortunately, Whedon and Goddard didn’t tie themselves to the flavor of the moment. So Cabin still feels fresh if not quite as timely today.
As with my review of the film, this scene-by-scene analysis is loaded with spoilers. I recommend that you watch the movie before reading this article. It will be worth it.