It is always difficult to cast exactly the right actors for any character in a movie. This gets even more complicated when a movie centers around the lives of real people in history- as the actors physical resemblance to the actual person matters. Along with a natural physical likeness an actor must have to their subject, the movie magic of hair and makeup play a big role in creating the identical image. I have compiled a list of several of my favorite actor/subject twins: Continue reading 12 Actors Who Look Exactly like Who they Played
Most of the time on this blog I write about current movies, celebrities or sporting events. However, a lesser known thing about me is that I love history. Some historical figures in American history have been lauded so much that they have become more and more of mythical figures with every re-telling and history book reference. However, these people are far more down to earth then we tend to think. I have compiled a list of historical giants and their surprising tattoos. Continue reading Historical Giants with Shocking Tattoos
The biggest event in American sports takes place in a little over a week. Whether you like football or not chances are that you will see part of the game or at the very least hear about it. I am of course talking about the Super Bowl. I have found several things to be true about those who watch this game. Most people fall into one of a few categories of the Super Bowl audience. Continue reading Categories of the Sports Fan: Super Bowl Mania
This is a rave review for a movie that a lot of people did not like. It’s based on a musical I loved that a number of people did not like. The music was composed by a genius who leaves a lot of people cold. Such is the magic and mixed reviews of INTO THE WOODS.
Here are the three biggest complaints I hear from people about the movie: 1) It’s too long. 2) It’s too short. (They cut stuff out.) 3) There is too much singing (it is a musical… shocking)
SIDE NOTE: In the musical, act one ends with everyone seemingly living happily ever after. Act two spins all that on its head. When the musical was first tried out in San Diego, people thought the end of the first act was the end of the show. Sondheim himself had to go out to the parking lot every night and tell people to go back to the theater, there was more.
Sondheim’s music is intricate and I have to say that for me, personally, there are times when I’m awestruck by his work and other times when there are songs I do not like very much. And then a song like “No One Is Alone” comes along and he tears my heart out like no other song has.
In the case of the movie version of INTO THE WOODS, none of the basic complaints bothered me. I knew the story going in; I knew it was more song heavy than most musicals, so those weren’t concerns.
But I had my own trepidations before seeing the film. I always hate that studios insist movie stars be cast in musicals, even if they’re not as good or as right as the Broadway cast. Russell Crowe in LES MIS…. seriously? And I saw that Meryl Streep was playing the witch. Of course she was. Hollywood thinks Meryl Streep can just do anything. Who cares if she can sing? Her singing in Mama Mia, though not bad by any means, was also not overly impressive. But you know what? She can sing. Beautifully. And she found just the right tone of humor and heartbreak. She made every moment work. Damn her. She CAN do anything. Her voice knocked me over.
The rest of the cast was equally sparkling. Emily Blunt – wow. Anna Kendrick – give me her over Anne Hathaway. James Corden – what the hell is he doing giving up a movie career that’s about to take off to do a late night talk show on CBS? Chris Pine – a pleasantly decent musical comedy surprise. Tracey Ullman – another one who has so much talent and skill that she can do whatever she feels like.
But since INTO THE WOODS is set in a fantasy world, the singing felt organic. I bought it. And the fact that I love the songs themselves also helped I’m sure.
Rob Marshall, who did an amazing job of adapting CHICAGO for the screen, was the perfect director for this project. And James Lapine, who wrote the libretto did the screenplay. What a concept – letting the writer who best understands the material write the movie.
It is when the cameras stop shooting that these movie stars really finally get to unwind and enjoy their break time resulting in some pretty great pictures. These behind the scenes photos of actors on set my just change your mind forever on the characters they play…. then again, some really are not surprising.
This week I was ready to post your traditional holiday blog post. I had it almost entirely written and ready to go with lots of cheery feel-good moments to fit the season. This is until I saw a movie that made me scrap that entire post. I know that writing about a World War II period piece movie is not very fitting for the holiday season, but sometimes there are those things that are just so good, that they deserve to be written about and read, regardless of the time of the year.
The Imitation Game- For those of you who have not heard of this movie, that is not a surprise. Films such as this one do not have big advertising budgets, epic battle scenes, big explosions or superheros. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with the big budget- Marvel-esque films, quite the contrary, I usually enjoy them immensely. But we seem to then overlook the really well done, well acted, important true stories that some films talk about. The Imitation Game had a limited release because of this reason. We love our true stories that end in heroism. But what about the other, equally important stories? Even with big stars like Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, the movie was not picked up by a large number of the major theater chains. This, to me, is very upsetting.
The other day I was speaking to a co-worker about the fact that I like old movies. She then proceeded to tell me that she loved old movies as well and, silly me, I got really excited that there would be someone I could talk to about the classics like Casablanca, Some Like it Hot and All About Eve. To my dismay however, when she said she loved “old” movies she meant movies from the 80’s. Since when did films from the 80’s become the classics?
One of the first non-animated movies I ever watched as a kid was the thriller/ mystery film Psycho. And to answer your next question, “Why did your parents ever let you watch such a scary movie as a kid,” the answer is (As you might have guessed) they were out of town for the weekend and I was being babysat by my older siblings and they saw no issue with letting a 5 year old watch Alfred Hitchcock’s- Psycho. I am pretty sure they regretted that decision later that night when I forced one of them to hold my hand and walk with me everywhere (literally to the fridge from the living room).
If you are one of those out there who hasn’t viewed a movie made before the 80’s, then get your
head out of your butt and take a look at some of these great films that are worth watching. Starting with one of the all time greats.
Though I will not deny that Psycho is obviously dated, the film was made in 1960, and is in black and white. With this in mind the setting is obviously a little old. However, there are no movie affects that really make the age disparity noticeable. Because of the strength of the story, its director and its actors, Hitchcock’s most famous film, Psycho, has aged the most gracefully of almost any film from that time. The thrilling, exciting twists and turns of the movie are just as relevant and exhilarating for audiences today,
Final Thoughts —
I know this film is old and that modern day viewers have biases against old movies, especially black and white ones. But there is a reason Psycho is still referenced, copied and emulated in modern day movies. It is exciting, enthralling and entertaining.
(There have been several remakes over the years. The remakes are gory, and poorly done. Don’t waste your time on any except the original)
I am pretty sure I am not alone in saying that even though I am an adult I am ridiculously excited for the upcoming new film Jurassic World. Last time I checked, 40 million people have watched the new trailer on YouTube. Although I am excited, I am also nervous because I so badly want it to be good and not disappointing after all this build up. Because lets be realistic, even the biggest Jurassic Park fans admit that the third film in the series was total crap.
So in preparation for the newest installment of the classic franchise lets take a look back at the film that started it all.
1. Nerdy Dreams Can Come True
When director Steven Spielberg and author Michael Crichton were working on a screenplay that would eventually become the television show ER, Spielberg asked his fellow writer about the plans for his next book. Crichton told him about Jurassic Park, and Spielberg apparently fangirled so hard over the idea that he immediately convinced Universal to buy the film rights in May 1990– before the book was even published. He was so excited that he began story-boarding scenes from the book, even though there was no screenplay written yet.
2. Without One, There Would Be No Two
Though Spielberg was excited at the idea of Jurassic Park, he wanted to direct a film he thought far more crucial–Schindler’s List–first. But MCA/Universal President Sid Scheinberg refused to greenlight Spielberg’s Holocaust film unless the director agreed to make his dinosaur picture first. Both films were released in 1993; Jurassic Park in June, and Schindler’s List at the end of the year.
3. A New Excuse To Go To Theme Parks
Spielberg’s original plans to bring the dinosaurs to life were inspired by the universal studios “King Kong Encounter” ride. On the ride, Kong is designed as a full sized animatronic. Because the dinosaurs couldn’t be life-sized recreations, Spielberg had to think a little differently. Some creations, including the T. Rex, were full dinosaurs, but most were just upper half–including the head and torso of the dinosaur– while others were just bottom half, including the legs and claws. –That would have been a really weird set to walk onto with just random dinosaur half’s all over the place.
4. Less isn’t More… it’s Less.
Richard Attenborough, who plays CEO John Hammond was on a 15 year hiatus from acting when Spielberg approached him about taking a role in Jurassic Park. Attenborough had been directing at the time but he said he agreed to end his semi-retirement because Spielberg had “the charm of the devil.” (Fun fact. When Spielberg approached him to do the film, Attenborough was directing Gandhi which beat Spielberg’s E.T. for Best Director and Best Picture at the 55th Academy Awards.)
7. Everything In Perspective
Jurassic Park shot on location in 1992 on Hawaii’s Kauai Island. Hurricane Iniki, the most powerful hurricane to hit Hawaii in recorded history, hit during filming. Attenborough apparently slept through most of it. When asked by cast members how that was possible, he replied that it was nothing — after all, he had survived the London Blitz during World War II.
8. Grant and Lex Would Have Been T. Rex Food
Even though the T. Rex could have hunted based on smell, at the time Jurassic Park was made, it wasn’t known for sure whether the giant dinosaur’s vision was based on movement. During filming in 1992 this fact was assumed as a possibility since some reptiles are known to exhibit that trait. However, more recent research suggests that the T. Rex probably had pretty excellent vision…. oops.
Today I was going through all our old VHS video tapes, why we still have them? I have no idea. Among the pile of Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, I found Grease. I completely forgot that we had ever owned Grease. For old time sake I decided to literally dust off the VHS player and watch this classic movie. I learned a couple things —
— Whoever did the casting has no idea what teenagers look like. Everyone in this movie looks way to old to be a high school student.
— When I first saw this movie my parents must not have known I was watching it because it is SO not appropriate for an 8 year old to watch. It is just a good thing I had no idea what they were talking about half the time.
In light of these observations I decided to do Google research and found some of the things I came across interesting.
As I alluded to earlier, Grease was set in high school, but what you may have guessed (just by looking at them) was that most of the cast was well beyond their high school years. John Travolta (Danny) was 23 and Olivia-Newton-John (Sandy) was 28 when filming began. Jeff Conaway (Kenickie) was 26, and Stockard Channing (Rizzo) was the oldest in the group at 33.
2. Plastic Wrap Innuendo—
The original stage play of “Grease” has more sexual references than the censors would allow in the film. One of these was the use of plastic wrap as a condom. The censors made the filmmakers take this out during the production of the movie, but John Travolta found a sneaky way to put it back in. During the song “Grease Lightning” you can see Danny Rubbing plastic wrap on his junk during the dance number… classy.
3. Dancing in the Heat—
The dance contest during the movie had to be filmed during the summer when the school was closed. They gym wasn’t air conditioned, and the doors had to be kept closed to control the lighting. The gym became so hot that several of the extras had to be removed and given medical treatment for heat exhaustion.
4. Real Life Addiction—
According to an interview conducted on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” Jeff Conaway (Kenichie) stated that he first became addicted to painkillers during the filming of “Grease.” He said that during the “Grease Lightning” song and dance number, a fellow cast member dropped him and he injured his back.
5. Kenickie’s Song—
6. Actor’s Porn Past Loses Him the Role—
To cast the role of the coach the director looked to Harry Reems, a previous porn star, to play the part. Reems was cast and ready to begin filming when protests over the Star’s porn past began surfacing, threatening the movies success. Paramount relented and gave the role to Sid Caesar.
7. Stagnant Water—
The filming of the scene where the cast is near the bridge after the car race made several cast members and extras very ill. The water on the ground was stagnant and filled with trash. Apparently no one knew this until it was too late.
8. Lucie and Rizzo—
Although fans of the movie couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role of Rizzo other than Stockard Channing, she was not the studio’s first choice. Paramount wanted Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball, to play the part. Lucy allegedly called the studio and said “I used to own that studio; my daughter is not doing that screen test!” The part then went to Channing.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love this movie. It has a very random place in my heart and I have the choreographed, made up, dance moves from when I was 10 to prove it. I Just find it interesting to look back on these things as an adult.