Star Wars Episode 7: Nerds in Big Congregations

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens

There has been a considerable amount of time since my last post. Life and work always seems to get in the way of fun hobbies such as this. Only something really substantial would make me take the risk of blogging at work while my boss is in his office. But something that important is about to happen. I think we all know what I am talking about. Yes…. I am of course referring to STAR WARS Episode 7! Continue reading Star Wars Episode 7: Nerds in Big Congregations

Stories from behind the scenes of Hollywoods Biggest Blockbusters

Spielberg-Slate.jpgThis post is for nerdy movie knowledge junkies to get their fix of travia-tastic information. This week I am going to look at several behind the scenes stories from the biggest Hollywood Blockbusters.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
Did you know that it was a secret on the set of The Empire Strikes Back that Darth Vader would say “I am your father.” In the script his line read “Obi-Wan killed your father.” And only the director and the producers of the film knew the real line. Mark Hamill was told seconds before he filmed his close up for the scene.
2. Return of the King
When Shelob (a giant spider) stabs Frodo in FrodoThe Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Elijah Wood had Alka-Seltzer tablets in his mouth so it would foam.
3. Star Trek
Another low budget special affect takes place in the 2009 reboot Star Trek film. Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, cannot do the Vulcan salute (live long and prosper) so the crew glued his fingers that way.
4. The Silence of the Lambs

Continue reading Stories from behind the scenes of Hollywoods Biggest Blockbusters

Photos of Actors Behind The Scenes That will Change Your Perspective Forever

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.

 MGM Lions1600_MGM-LionThis just seems like a whole bunch of bad ideas done at once.

Star Warss1600_Muppets-Star-warsWho knew the land of the Muppets was so close to the Dagobah system?Empire-Strikes-BackPrincess Leia and Chewbacca are actually BFF’ss1600_Star-Wars
Even R2D2 needs a snack break from time to time.
Titanics1600_Sunck-Titanic=RaftThis settles it… they both can fit on the piece drift woods1600_The-Titanic
Apparently a sinking ship can be surprisingly relaxing…
The Shinings1600_The-ShiningLisa Burns and Louise Burns look far less creepy between their hallway haunting

Silence of the Lambss1600_Silence-of-the-lambsNo one can say no to French Fries!
 
Fantastic Mr. Foxs1600_Fantastic-Mr-FoxNaps are vital, regardless where you are sleeping
 
 Frankenstein s1600_Frankenstien
Who says monsters cant be refined?
Harry Potters1600_Harry-snape
Who says Harry and Snape can’t get along?s1600_Maggie-Smith
Maggie Smith relaxing between scenes. Amazingly, she participated in this filming while going through chemotherapy.Harry-potter
Apparently you can make friends with anyone. Voldemort and Dumbledore laughing between takes.
Ben-Hurs1600_Ben-HurApparently the ancient Romans had Vespa’s. They were way ahead of their time.
Final Thoughts
     It is pretty cool to see how the magic happens, and how believable movies manage to be despite the reality of their production.

Movie Music- How Movie Audiences are Manipulated

     Most things about movies are Movie-Musicnot subtle. They are supposed to be in your face, visible and acknowledged. But one of the most important elements of movies is its music. Movies without music would be total crap. Music is one of the most underrated elements in movies because its entire purpose is meant to be unconsciously registered by the viewers. Music is the emotional nudge that movies include to prompt the viewer into the correct emotion or reaction to what is happening on screen. There are two major styles of music found in movies-


1. Subtle emotional manipulation     -This seems pretty self explanatory. Movies would not have any kind of emotional punch without music. A triumphant movie moment would have no euphoria without the slowly escalating jubilant swell of a symphonic orchestra to accompany it.  
2. Leitmotif-
     – This is just a fancy word for a short, constantly recurring musical “theme” that is associated with a person, place or idea (don’t worry, if this is kinda confusing I will explain).

– Emotional  Manipulation
     Music in movies helps you know how and what to feel at any given moment. Whether that feeling is making you want to stand up and go fight an army single handed or like you could run a mile (maybe some of you could legitimately run a mile, I cannot).
      I am not trying to take any credit away from actors and their fine performances, but lets face it, without the music in sad moments (or heroic moments) you would not have that old lady crying next to you in the theater because it just doesn’t deliver the same punch.
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Clip #1

(CLIP 1 COMMENTARY)
All the words spoken in this entire scene have been edited out (there were only a few to begin with in the first place). So why are you still bawling like a baby at the death of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings? It is that slow, mourning singing. That beautiful music rips your heart right out of your chest. Watch the same thing on mute, and you will be totally fine. –I am telling you, composers are ninjas of emotion.  
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  – Leitmotif
   This style of movie music is a tad different. This deals with music directly linked to specific characters or events. What I mean by this is when you, as the viewer, hear a specific melody, it makes you think of one particular person/place or thing. Clip #2 is a perfect example.
                                                                Clip #2

This is the Darth Vader leitmotif. It is his theme, a short melody that, whenever played, means this character is present, or is about to be present. This is the same with the Jaws theme, the Indiana Jones theme, the Jack Sparrow- Pirates of the Caribbean theme and many others. If you hear the music, you associate it with a specific character.
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In films, music goes generally unnoticed. And rightfully so. The composers goal is to be the puppet master behind the scenes pushing and prodding you to feel a certain way without realizing that it is happening.
— As a viewer how can you know that Darth Vader is coming without having seen him yet? His theme is playing. Almost the entire movie of Jaws goes without the viewer ever seeing the shark. How do you know it is coming? Because the Jaws theme (leitmotif) is playing.
Final Thoughts
     I have decided that music composers are magicians (or have sold their soul to the devil to gain unnatural power. I am not sure what I have settled on yet). How do they write music to make an entire viewership feel and react how they want them to? I have no idea, but I greatly enjoy the result.
—– What movie music do you like the best?

Wait… What? -Epic Unscripted Movie Scenes

Much to the frustration of the writers, movie scripts aren’t always ironclad. They are often evolving and changing, sometimes drastically, during the actual filming process. Some films, like Jaws, didn’t even have finished scripts when the cameras started to roll. Talented actors often get very engrossed in their role and often improvise, going off-script while reciting their lines. Sometimes the directors hate it- sometimes they love it. Jim Carey in particular is famous for having a great deal of improvised lines that make it into his movies. Occasionally the improvised lines become some of the most memorable and loved moments in cinema history. Here are a few of my favorites-
1. Gun vs. Sword
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

     -While chasing after his “woman” who has been kidnapped, bad-ass adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) runs into a bad guy with a huge sword (compensating…?). Instead of having a fairly epic fight scene, which was what had been planned, Indy instead just pulls out his revolver and unexpectedly shoots him. The original script called for a long sword fight but the day before Harrison Ford came down with severe food poisoning and decided on the set that he did not have the energy to film the scene, deciding his way would be much easier.
2. The Cat
The Godfather (1972)

     -Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the cold-hearted head of a powerful Italian mob family. This shows when he is seen sentencing a man to be beaten as retaliation for that mans abuse of another man’s daughter- doing all this while stroking a cat. Thing is, the cat was never part of the original script. Brando found the cat roaming around the set and decided he would be a good addition. The cat set the precedent for cats being the companion of all “baddies” in movie future.
3. Slow Clapping
The Dark Knight (2008)

     – The Joker (Heath Ledger) was in jail after having been arrested by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the Mayor shows up to witness the man who had caused such mayhem to his city. While there he also promotes Gordon to commissioner. As the officers in the room applaud the promotion, Ledger begins an unexpected slow clap-never changing his unsettling facial expression. It was just a simple addition but one that was ominous, unsettling and darkly brilliant.
4.  Need A Bigger Boat
Jaws (1975)

     – While cumming the waters in an attempt to lure the deadly great white shark within range, police chief Brody (Roy Scheider) gets his first look at exactly how massive the killer shark truly is. Afraid, shocked and startled he stands up and utters the famous, un-written, line to Captain Quint “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” Turns out he was right.
5. Here’s Looking At You Kid
Casablanca (1942)

     – The very last heartbreaking scene in Casablanca between Bogart and Bergman, as Bogart selflessly puts Bergman on a plane bound for America, Bogart says one of the most iconic lines in all cinematic history “Here’s looking at you kid.” This line was not part of the original script, according to reports Bogart said that phrase “Here’s looking at you kid” multiple times to Bergman while teaching her to play poker between takes and decided to add it in during filming.
6. Hssssss
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
     – The famous “hssss” sound made by Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) during his story about eating a liver with beans and a Chianti to the FBI agent (Jodi Foster) wasn’t planned. Apparently it was something Hopkins did during rehearsals to creep out Foster. It worked so well that it was left in.
7. I Know
Star Wars: Episode V (1980)

     – Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is about to be encased in carbonite, princess Leia finally reveals her love for him as he is possibly going to his death. In the script Leia says “I love you” to which Solo is supposed to respond “I love you too.” Ford decided right before the shot that Solo would not say something like that and changed the line in the middle of the scene.

8. Delayed Explosion
The Dark Knight (2008)

     – Originally, the Joker was supposed to walk down the street while the explosion at the hospital began, get on the school bus during the scripted pause, and the bus would drive away while the explosion finished. However, Ledger stopped walking during the pause and in a moment of improvisation began fidgeting with the remote detonator in a very Joker-esque manner – bringing a slight dark humor to what would have just been a serious scene.
9. You Talking to Me?
Taxi Driver (1976)

     – When the screenwriter wrote this scene it simply said “Travis talks to himself in the mirror” – there was no specific dialog given. Everything that Robert Di Nero says during this faux-conversation was improvised by Di Nero on the spot. To this day whenever someone walks past a mirror they can’t help but say “You talking to me?”

These listed are only a very small number of a few of my favorite great ad-libbed lines and scenes done in movies over the years. I guess that’s why the actors get paid the BIG bucks. That and the fact that some have abs that could grate cheese…

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? – Awkward Movie Romances

A big, and somewhat belated, happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrated it this week. As for myself, I went to 3 Thanksgiving meals and feel as if I will never eat again. At one of these great feasts, the people there were watching Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith. While being submitted to this torture I began to think of other on-screen “romances” that were as painfully awkward to watch as this one was and I came up with a few.

Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson: “Twilight”
     – This duo was painful to watch from the get go and did not get any less awkward over the span of 5 movies. They say practice makes perfect, but that was definitely not the case with this on-screen couple. The constipated looks on their faces as they were supposed to be having a romantic moment resulted in a pathetic lack of chemistry. When I found out that the two were actually a couple in real life, and were still not able to generate any believable romance on screen, I felt bad for their relationship.

Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez: “Gigli”
     – This movie was a complete flop and nearly ruined the film career of Ben Affleck. One of the many reasons for the films utter failure was the complete lack of”gumption” between Affleck and Lopez. During the love scenes, the two would make weird animal noises, which was far more comical than sexy, and their supposed romance in the film was awkward and stiff. Again, as with the “Twilight” couple these two were dating in real life during the filming of this movie. How is it that people who are actually dating can’t seem to generate a realistic seeming relationship on-screen?

Natalie Portman & Hayden Christensen: “Star Wars-Clone Wars & Revenge of the Sith”
     – As I alluded to earlier, this movie romance is one of the worst, and most awkward, things I have seen in a long time. Not only do both actors deliver their supposed heartfelt lines in a choppy monotone, but they are also stiff and uncomfortable looking when they are supposed to be irresistible to each other. Also I can’t help but point out the fairly pedifilic nature of this romance as she is easily supposed to be twice his age and met him when she was an adult and he was a child.

Katie Holmes & Christian Bale: “Batman Begins”
     – As a film overall I really liked this movie, but the love story was the weak point in an otherwise solid film. There was no one instance I would point to specifically to illustrate my point, I guess my only defense is that Katie Holmes is just somewhat awkward in her scenes with Bale. Perhaps I am the only one with this opinion, and if that is the case then I am sorry. However, I just think Holmes was not able to shake her uncomfortable demeanor when she was supposed to be smitten with Batman.

And lastly for a person in his own category—-
Keanu Reeves: “Any Movie He is in Where There is Romance Involved”
     – Whenever he is the romantic interest in a movie it is bound to be awkward and uncomfortable, no matter what actress is on the other end.