Friday, October 14, 2016

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.82 – The Resurgence of the Ghostbusters

After another long hiatus, FORCED PERSPECTIVE has returned to the airwaves! SportsGuy515 and Adolfo are back to discuss anything and everything in film. On this episode (which was recorded in mid-July 2016), the duo continue their trek through Summer 2016 with reviews of The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory, Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, The Purge: Election Year, The Secret Life of Pets, and Ghostbusters. And to kick off the show, the one and only DENNIN drops by to join in the discussion on Independence Day: Resurgence. PLUS: the disappointment of Independence Day: Resurgence, the hype/controversy surrounding Ghostbusters, the greatness of Frank Grillo in The Purge: Election Year, a quick discussion on the extended cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and more!


Please Like, Rate and Review FORCED PERSPECTIVE on iTunes

Monday, October 10, 2016

100 Essential Horror Films: 2016 Edition - Announcing the Nominees

As The Essential Films has done in the past, this year I will be counting down the 100 Essential Horror Films. But this year, I'm doing things a little differently. I have reached out to bloggers, critics, filmmakers, podcasters, proprietors, Redditors and writers to generate the list of 100. Here's how it worked. Each person that responded, provided me with 10 horror films they considered to be "Essential."  Their number one picks were weighted higher than their number 2 picks, and so on. The votes are now being calculated and soon I will begin, with the help of my collaborators, writing the article. In the meantime, please peruse the 500 films that have been nominated and suggested for our Top 100. Will your favorite make the list? Find out soon!

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
1408 (2007)
28 Days Later (2002)
28 Weeks Later (2007)
30 Days of Night (2007)
The 7th Victim (1943)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
The ABCs of Death (2012)
The Abominable Doctor Phibes (1970)
Alice Sweet Alice (1976)
Alien (1979)
Aliens (1986)
Alien3 (1992)
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
Altered States (1981)
American Psycho (2000)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Angel Heart (1987)
Antichrist (2009)
April Fool's Day (1986)
Arachnophobia (1990)
Army of Darkness (1992)
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
Attack The Block (2011)
Audition (1999)
The Awakening (2011)

The Babadook (2014)
The Bad Seed (1956)
Bad Taste (1987)
The Beast with a Million Eyes (1956)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
The Beyond (1981)
Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
The Birds (1963)
The Black Cat (1934)
Black Christmas (1971)
Black Sabbath (1964)
Black Sunday (1960)
Blacula (1972)
Blade (1998)
Blade II (2002)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blob (1958)
The Blob (1988)
Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Blood Feast (1963)
The Body Snatcher (1945)
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Brood (1979)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
Bubba Ho-tep (2002)
Bug (2006)
The Burbs (1989)
The Burning (1981)

Cabin Fever (2002)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Candyman (1992)
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Carrie (1976)
Cat People (1942)
The Cell (2000)
Cemetery Man (1994)
The Changeling (1980)
Child's Play (1988)
Child's Play 2 (1990)
Children of the Corn (1984)
Chopping Mall (1986)
Christine (1983)
City of the Dead (1960)
City of the Living Dead (1980)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Cloverfield (2008)
The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Cooties (2014)
Coraline (2009)
Count Dracula (1970)
The Craft (1996)
The Crazies (1973)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)
Creep (2014)
Creepshow (1982)
Creepshow 2 (1987)
Crimson Peak (2015)
Critters (1986)
Cronos (1993)
Cujo (1983)
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Curse of the Demon (1957)

Dark City (1998)
Dark Skies (2013)
Dark Water (2002)
Darkman (1990)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Day of the Dead (1985)
Dead Alive [Brain Dead] (1992)
Dead of Night (1945)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Dead Silence (2007)
Dead Snow (2009)
The Dead Zone (1983)
Death Game (1977)
Death Proof (2007)
Deep Red (1975)
Demons (1985)
The Descent (2005)
The Devil's Advocate (1997)
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
The Devil's Rejects (2005)
The Devils (1971)
Diabolique (1955)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Don't Breathe (2016)
Don't Look Now (1973)
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920)
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Dracula (1931)
Drácula (Spanish Version) (1931)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Dracula's Daughter (1936)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Duel (1971)

Eden Lake (2008)
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1986)
Eraserhead (1977)
Event Horizon (1997)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Evil Dead (2013)
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
eXistenz (1999)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist III (1990)
Eyes Without a Face (1960)

The Faculty (1998)
The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)
The Fall of the House of Usher (1960)
Faust (1926)
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Final Destination (2000)
Final Destination 3 (2006)
The Final Girls (2015)
Flatliners (1990)
The Fly (1958)
The Fly (1986)
The Fog (1980)
Frankenstein (1910)
Frankenstein (1931)
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (!969)
Freaks (1932)
Freddy VS Jason (2003)
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Fright Night (1985)
Fright Night (2011)
The Frighteners (1996)
From Beyond (1986)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
From Hell (2001)
Funny Games (1997)
Funny Games (2007)

The Gate (1987)
The Ghost (1963)
Ghost Story (1981)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Godzilla (1954)
The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920)
Goodnight Mommy (2014)
The Green Inferno (2013)
Green Room (2016)
Gremlins (1984)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
The Grey (2012)
Grindhouse (2007)
The Grudge (2004)
The Guest (2014)

Halloween (1978)
Halloween (2007)
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The Hands of Orlac (1924)
Hard Candy (2005)
Hardware (1990)
The Haunted Castle (1921)
The Haunting (1963)
Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)
Hellraiser (1987)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
High Tension (2003)
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
The Hitcher (1986)
Horns (2013)
Horror of Dracula (1958)
The Host (2006)
Hostel (2005)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
Hour of the Wolf (1968)
House (1977)
The House by the Cemetery (1981)
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
The House of the Devil (2009)
House of Wax (1953)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
Housebound (2014)
The Howling (1981)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
The Hunger (1983)
Hush (2016)

I Am Legend (2007)
I Bury the Living (1958)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
I Saw the Devil (2009)
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Inferno (1980)
The Innkeepers (2009)
The Innocents (1961)
Inside (2007)
Insidious (201)
Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956)
Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Invitation (2015)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
It Follows (2014)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jaws (1975)
Jaws 2 (1978)
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Jennifer's Body (2009)
John Dies at the End (2012)
Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
Juan of the Dead (2011)

Kill List (2011)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
King Kong (1933)
Krampus (2015)
Kwaidan (1964)

Lake Placid (1999)
The Last Exorcism (2010)
The Last House on the Left (1972)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973)
The Leopard Man (1943)
Let Me In (2010)
Let the Right One In (2008)
Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
Lifeforce (1985)
Lights Out (2016)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Lords of Salem (2012)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Lost Highway (1997)
The Loved Ones (2009)

Mad Love (1932)
Maggie (2015)
Mama (2013)
The Man Who Laughs (1928)
Manhunter (1986)
Maniac (1980)
Maniac (2012)
Maniac Cop (1988)
Martyrs (2008)
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
May (2002)
Messiah of Evil (1973)
Mimic (1997)
Misery (1990)
The Mist (2007)
Monster House (2006)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Motel Hell (1980)
The Mummy (1932)
The Mummy (1959)
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Near Dark (1987)
Nekromantic (1987)
The Neon Demon (2016)
Night of the Comet (1984)
Night of the Creeps (1986)
Night of the Demons (1988)
Night of the Hunter (1955)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Night Watch (2004)
Nightbreed (1990)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Nightmare Castle (1965)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Oculus (2013)
The Old Dark House (1932)
The Omen (1976)
Onibaba (1964)
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Opera (1987)
Orphan (2009)
The Orphanage (2007)
The Others (2001)

Pacific Rim (2013)
The Pact (2012)
A Page of Madness (1926)
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Pandorum (2009)
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Paranorman (2012)
Peeping Tom (1960)
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Phantasm (1979)
The Phantom Carriage (1921)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Phantom of the Opera (1943)
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Phase IV (1974)
Phenomena (1985)
Pieces (1982)
Piranha (1973)
The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Pitch Black (2000)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Planet of the Vampires (1965)
Planet Terror (2007)
Poltergeist (1982)
Pontypool (2008)
Possession (1981)
Predator (1987)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Prom Night (1980)
Prometheus (2012)
The Prowler (1981)
Psycho (1960)
Psycho II (1983)
Pumpkinhead (1988)
Puppet Master (1989)
The Purge (2013)
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
The Purge: Election Year (2016)

Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

Raising Cain (1992)
Ravenous (1999)
Re-Animator (1985)
REC (2007)
Red Dragon (2002)
Red Eye (2005)
Red State (2011)
Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008)
Repulsion (1965)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
The Ring (2002)
Ringu (1998)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Salem's Lot (1979)
Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
Santa Sangre (1989)
Saw (2004)
Scanners (1981)
Scream (1996)
Scream 2 (1997)
Scream 3 (2000)
Scream 4 (2011)
Se7en (1995)
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Session 9 (2001)
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
The Shallows (2016)
Sharknado (2012)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Shining (1980)
Shivers (1975)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silent Hill (2006)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Sinister (2012)
Sisters (1973)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Skin I Live In (2011)
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Slither (2006)
The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Species (1995)
Sphere (1998)
Spirits of the Dead (1967)
Splice (2009)
Spring (2014)
Squirm (1976)
Stake Land (2010)
The Stand (1994)
Starry Eyes (2014)
The Stepfather (1987)
Stephen King's It (1990)
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Stoker (2013)
The Strangers (2008)
The Stuff (1985)
Suspiria (1977)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
Teeth (2007)
Tenebre (1982)
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Them! (1954)
They Live (1988)
The Thing (1982)
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Thirst (2009)
Tokyo Gore Police (2008)
Tourist Trap (1979)
The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976)
The Toxic Avenger (1984)
Tremors (1990)
Triangle (2009)
Trick 'r Treat (2007)
Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Trollhunter (2010)
Tucker & Dale VS Evil (2010)
Tusk (2014)
The Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Two Thousand Maniacs (1964)

Under the Skin (2013)
Unfriended (2010)
The Uninvited (1944)
The Unknown (1927)

V/H/S (2012)
V/H/S 2 (2013)
Vampires (1998)
Vampyr (1932)
The Vanishing (1988)
Videodrome (1983)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Voices (2014)

The War of the Worlds (1953)
Waxwork (1988)
We Are Still Here (2015)
We Are What We Are (2013)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Witch (2015)
Witchboard (1986)
The Witches (1990)
Witchfinder General (1968)
The Wizard of Gore (1970)
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Woman in Black (1989)
World War Z (2013)
Wrong Turn (2003)

You're Next (2011)
Young Frankenstein (1974)

Zodiac (2007)
Zombie (1979)
Zombieland (2009)

The Essential Films Podcast Episode #007: Jaws (1975)


On today's podcast adventure, Adolfo and Mark are going to need a bigger boat as they go back into the water for Steven Spielberg's classic blockbuster JAWS. 

On today's show they discuss: 
• How did they first experience Jaws 
• The perfect blockbuster film
• The Universal Studios Jaws Ride 
• Richard D. Zanuck’s sweet mustache 
• Steven Spielberg getting shut out for Best Director 
• The iconic John Williams score and how it trained the audience to expect the shark 
• The perfect use of jump scares 
• The difference between PG in 1975 and PG in 2016 
• How an unseen monster is more terrifying 
• The greatest movie poster ever created 
• How Peter Benchley didn’t think anyone could make the film 
• The magic of movies in the 70s and 80s 
• The film’s major production problems and why they were serendipitous 
• Why Spielberg always skips the last day of shooting on every movie he does 
• What parts were Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall and Sterling Hayden considered for? 
• The Jaws tourism industry 
• Bryan Singer’s connection to Jaws 
• Perfect foreshadowing in the script 
• A discussion on Mondo Posters 
• Quint’s iconic entrance into the film 
• “A Whaaaaat?” 
• The real life fisherman Quint was based on 
• Two different genre mash-ups: Horror and Adventure 
• Why did Mark watch BASIC INSTINCT 2? 
• How the most famous line in the film was improved 
• How a little person helped film the real shark footage 
• The story behind the Indianapolis speech Quint’s manly death 
• Spielberg’s brashness in thinking he could take this on as such an inexperienced director 
• The unprecedented marketing campaign 
• How Jaws started the summer blockbuster tradition
 • The difference between “So Bad it’s Good” and just plain bad movies 
• JAWS: The Video Game! 

As always, we go off on tangents on: 
• VERTIGO (1958) 
• DUEL (1971) 
• STAR WARS (1977) 
• JAWS 2 (1978) 
• PIRANHA (1978) 
• 1941 (1979) 
• CADDYSHACK (1980) 
• JAWS 3D (1983) 
• BRAVEHEART (1995) 
• THE MAKING OF ‘JAWS’ (1995) 
• CHASING AMY (1997) 
• THE FAST AND FURIOUS Franchise (2001-Present) 
• JOYRIDE (2001) 
• SHARKNADO (2013) 
• MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015) 



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Essential Gene Wilder


On August 29, 2016 the world lost one of its most cherished comedic actors when Gene Wilder passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Wilder briefly appeared in Bonnie and Clyde in a small role before appearing in his first major role in The Producers. A staple of the classic Mel Brooks comedies like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Wilder also went on to entertain generations of children in his titular portrayal of Willy Wonka. Wilder also starred in several blockbuster comedies with his friend and on-screen partner Richard Pryor. Wilder had been out of the spotlight for over a decade, with his last on screen appearance in a guest role on the hit sitcom "Will & Grace" in 2003, for which he won an Emmy. Gene Wilder will go down in the history books as one of the best. He will be missed.

Directed by Mel Brooks

Wilder first caught audiences attention with his first major role as Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks' hilarious Broadway spoof, The Producers. Wilder's comedic performance was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1968 Academy Awards. In the film, Leo is a straight-arrow accountant suckered into a money-making scheme with sleezy producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel). The con? Sell multiple claims to a tasteless musical, "Springtime for Hitler", to old rich ladies. When the play surely fails on its first night, they won't be obligated to pay back their benefactors. Much to their horror, the play becomes an instant success. The film went on to become its own Broadway musical, which was later adapted again in 2005 as a motion picture starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.

I'm in pain and I'm wet and I'm still hysterical!

Directed by Mel Stuart

In perhaps his most cherished role, Wilder plays the eccentric owner of the titular chocolate factory in this adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's book. In a nationwide contest, the Wonka company places 5 "golden tickets" randomly into chocolate bars. Whoever finds one gets to visit the mysterious chocolate factory for a strange and magical tour. Among the families on the tour are four horribly naughty children and one good hearted child, Charlie Bucket. The children are introduced to the wildly eccentric Willy Wonka, who, as he leads them on the tour, has little surprises for each of the misbehaving children. Charlie, of course, makes it to the end without incident, but what will his prize be? Wilder was nominated for a Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) Golden Globe and this film, while living in the hearts of adults and children everywhere, was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2011. The film was later remade in 2005, to less success, with Johnny Depp in the Wonka role.

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Directed by Mel Brooks

Hedy Lamar, a corrupt political boss in a small western town appoints a black man as sheriff, with the intent of having him fail for his own nefarious deeds. Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) realizes there's a frame-up and enlists the aid of legendary gunfighter, The Waco Kid (some call him... Jim) as his deputy. The two work to reverse the townspeople's hostile (and racist) opinion of Bart, befriend the giant Mongo and turn back Hedy Lamar's henchman at every turn. The film devolves into meta chaos during the over-the-top finale that still holds up today. Wilder plays The Waco Kid as both comedic and as a gunfighter to be taken seriously. Perhaps the funniest film in both Wilder AND Brooks' filmography, Blazing Saddles themes on racism are still sadly relevant today.

What did you expect? "Welcome, sonny"? "Make yourself at home"? "Marry my daughter"? You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.

Directed by Mel Brooks

This send up of the classic 1930s Universal monster movies, also came out the same year as Blazing Saddles. Not just one Wilder/Brooks collaboration, but TWO in one year. And both end up essential becoming comedy classics. In this film, Wilder plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (pronounced "Fronk-En-Steen") the grandson of the infamous mad scientist of the same name, who is trying to erase the shame from his family's name. He travels to Transylvania, where he stumbles upon the process on which to re-animated the dead... which he does to hilarious result. The highlight of the film being when the Doctor and his Monster (Peter Boyle) do a tap routine to "Puttin' on the Ritz."  Wilder received an Academy Award nomination for writing on this production.

 My grandfather's work was doodoo! I am not interested in death! The only thing that concerns me is the preservation of life!

Directed by Arthur Hiller

A major comedic blockbuster at the time, Silver Streak marked the first on-screen pairing of Gene Wilder and the late Richard Pryor.  Pryor was originally supposed to star as Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles, but the world had to wait two more years to see this comedic duo in action. At first thought, it might seem an odd pairing, given the two actors' comedic sensibilities, but they play off each other beautifully here. Wilder plays a hapless book editor on a train, the "Silver Streak", traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago, who thinks he witnesses a murder. When no one believes him, he decides to investigate on his own. All this gets him is a killer on his trail and a convicted thief (Pryor) as a sidekick. The Wilder/Pryor formula proved successful and the two teamed up for three more films in the future.

You stupid, ignorant son of a bitch, dumb bastard. Jesus Christ. I've met some dumb bastards in my time but you outdo them all.

Directed by Sidney Poitier

Two hapless morons, Skip (Wilder) and Harry (Pryor), are mistakenly arrested for a bank robbery and have no way to prove their innocence.  These two criminals have a hard time adjusting to prison life in  series of comedic situations. When the warden learns that Skip has an unnatural ability to ride a bronco, he forces him to ride in a Rodeo competition that will line his pockets when he gambles on him to lose. Skip and Harry immediately concoct an escape plan, but will they make it?  An even bigger box office hit than Silver Streak, the Wilder/Pryor formula proved once again to be incredibly successful, both financially and creatively.

We tried to teach him Charades! He Didnt Get it! He just didnt get it!

Other Notable Films:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Essential Films Podcast: Episode 6 - THE SEARCHERS (1956)

Subscribe Now on iTunes!

On today's podcast adventure, Adolfo Acosta and Mark Espinosa join Ethan Edwards and Martin Pawley on the trail of some Comanche when they discuss John Ford's essential classic THE SEARCHERS.

On the show, Adolfo and Mark discuss:
• The insane fact that the Academy Awards ignored the film
• Patrick Wayne’s terrible acting
• How we first experienced THE SEARCHERS
• The stunning cinematography
• The John Wayne “character”
• The “true story” that inspired the film
• The magnificent opening and closing shots
• Ethan and Martha’s secret love
• Ford’s influence on the likes of Lucas, Scorsese, Bogdanovich, Tarantino, Milius
• Ford’s exploration of racism
• Ethan and Scar as mirror images of each other
• Is this John Wayne’s greatest performance?
• Ethan Edwards: the anti-hero

PLUS: Mini Discussions on:
• DUMBO (1941)
• THE FLY (1986)
• TRUE GRIT (1969, 2010)
• STAR WARS (1977)
• The book EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS by Peter Biskind
• Michael Cimino
• TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)
• BAMBI (1942)
And More!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Batman On Film: Part 11 - Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

NOTE: This film is part of our ongoing "Batman on Film" series. It is not part of The Essential Films series.

Sam Liu
2016 • 76 Minutes • United States
Color • English • Warner Bros.

Cast: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Ray Wise, John DiMaggio
Screenplay: Brian Azzarello based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland

In 1988, DC Comics published Batman: The Killing Joke, a one-shot graphic novel written by Alan Moore (Watchmen) and illustrated by Brian Bolland (Judge Dredd). It told the story of The Joker's escape from Arkham Asylum and his mission to drive Commissioner Gordon mad. It's also notable for featuring the origin (possibly) of the enigmatic Clown Prince of Crime.  The comics has long been a favorite among comic book fans as one of the definitive Batman and Joker stories. The comic has influenced everything from comic books to the movies. Tim Burton has called this his favorite comic book and the influence of this story can be felt in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight (2008.)  Warner Bros. animation has had a recent string of successes in adapting famous storylines into animated features including Justice League: The New Frontier, Superman: Doomsday, Under the Red Hood, The Dark Knight Returns and Flashpoint. It only seemed natural that they should adapt what many consider to be THE Joker story. Add to that, this is the first DC animated film to receive an R-rating and the fact that they are wading into the theatrical release pool (the film was released last night in select theaters for a limited run through Fathom Events), fan anticipation was at critical mass. So, did the film pay off?

Sort of.

SPOILERS AHEAD. You've been warned.

The screening began with a 10 minute documentary featuring Mark Hamill as he talked about getting his big break in Star Wars through his casting on Batman: The Animated Series to portraying Joker in the Batman Arkham video games. It was a very enjoyable short film in what will most certainly be on the Blu-ray special features.

The film begins with a storyline not from the original graphic novel. Batman and Batgirl are on the trail of Paris Franz (really) an up-and-coming gangster who narrowly slips through their fingers. As Batgirl becomes increasingly obsessed with catching Paris, Paris also becomes increasingly obsessed with Batgirl as an object of sexual desire. Batman realizes this and wants to keep Batgirl as far away from the situation as possible. Batgirl, resents Batman's over protection, and becomes frustrated with his lack of feeling towards her, especially when she harbors romantic feelings for him. This culminates in an extremely controversial sex scene, where Batman and Batgirl consummate their sexual tension. When Batman draws even further away from her afterwards, Batgirl loses her temper while apprehending Paris and nearly beats him to death. Batgirl at this point decides to hang up the cape and cowl.

It is at this point that the Killing Joke, as most comic readers know the story, truly begins in what is an almost direct adaptation of the material.  Batman arrives at Arkham to question the Joker on a series of murders, only to find that an imposter is in his place. Joker has escaped Arkham and taken over an abandoned carnival as his new base of operations. He's on a mission to make Commissioner Gordon (and Batman, for that matter) go insane by doing something so heinous, that it breaks him. After all, all it takes is "one bad day." Interspersed in flashbacks are memories from Joker's "one bad day" that broke his mind and turned him into the Joker (or so we think.) Exactly like the comic it's based on, Joker arrives at the Gordons' house and shoots Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon point blank through the spine paralyzing her. He then takes pictures of her prone, naked, bloody body and displays them for Jim Gordon's horror. Batman eventually tracks down the Joker and defeats him, and the two enemies square off one final time, but this time Batman tries to reach out and "save" the Joker's sanity. What follows is pretty much line for line the dialogue from the end of the original book.

The voice cast is very strong here. Three original animated series voice cast members return to their roles. Tara Strong reprises her role as Batgirl, and brings to life one of comics' most underrated characters. Kevin Conroy, the definitive Batman, is the gravely-voiced Dark Knight. He sounds slightly different than his Batman: TAS and Justice League days, but it's still definitely him and he brings every ounce of anti-hero menace that the audience will love. Of course, the film is all about The Joker (or it's supposed to be) and you can't talk about the cast without talking about Mark Hamill. Hamill, to me, will always be the voice of the Joker. Others have done him well, but never as good as Mark Hamill. Hamill plays him slightly differently than the TAS days. This being a darker film than the original series, his portrayal is darkly funny. But he brings a lot of empathy in the flashback sequences as well. This is an A+ performance for Hamill.

Now let's talk about THE scene. Batman and Batgirl have sex. This happens. It's obvious and there's no denying it. Now, there's no "nudity" in the scene. There's a brief shot of Barbara tearing off her batsuit to reveal her underwear underneath as she kisses Batman, and that's about it. It's not vulgar... but it's extraordinarily out of place. It almost feels like the creators wanted to justify their R-Rating and they threw in a sex scene. It's clumsy and it's very awkward, much like the Batgirl portion of the story turned out to be. Now, I love Batgirl, she is a fantastic character, and I understand the reason for adding the story to the film. By itself, literally translated, The Killing Joke is not long enough to justify a feature, so the creators padded it out with this story. MY main concern is how awkwardly it's accomplished. There is a noticeable shift as soon as her story ends and Killing Joke begins, almost like it's two different films altogether. I also understand wanting to give Barbara more depth so that her paralysis at the hands of the Joker gives the viewer a greater empathy for her. It's just very poorly executed.

Ultimately, the Killing Joke portion of the film is executed almost perfectly, but the 30 minute Batgirl mini-movie that's tied into it just doesn't flow and feels like a DVD extra. (And don't get me started on the cliche gay best friend. Yikes.) It's an interesting experiment for DC/WB and I hope this is not the end of seeing DC animated films on the big screen.

Grade: B-

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Essential Films Podcast: Episode 5 - ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)

On today's podcast adventure, Adolfo Acosta and Mark Espinosa are a couple of bums, that were never contenders to begin with, and take a one-way trip to Palookaville in their discussion Elia Kazan's ON THE WATERFRONT.

On this show, Adolfo & Mark discuss:

• The beautiful Criterion Collection release of the film
• Our first introduction to Marlon Brando in his prime
• The masterful cinematography by Boris Kaufman
• The history of the production
• The 1999 Academy Awards where Elia Kazan was snubbed by his peers
• Elia Kazan’s ties to Communism, and his controversial testimony before HUAC
• The parallels between Kazan and Terry Malloy
• Our favorite moments
• Karl Malden: The conscience of the film
• A dissection at the “I coulda been a contender” scene
• The differences in aspect ratios in different versions of the film
• Brando and Lee J. Cobb’s powerhouse performances

PLUS side discussions of upcoming Criterion Collection releases, DE PALMA, DRESSED TO KILL, A FACE IN THE CROWD and more


SUBSCRIBE on iTunes to get all future episodes as soon as they drop!




TWITTER @EssentialFilms @FPMoviePodcast @Adolfo_Acosta @Sportsguy515