Film School Even For The Disadvantaged

One of my favorite things about the world of film is its availability to just about anyone. There are movies to entertain anyone, from small children to adults of all kinds. Film genres embrace horror, romance, comedy, drama, and many combinations of these. Whether you enjoy cutting edge drama, classic films, or a gentle romance, you can find a film to enjoy.

Almost anyone can get involved in the world of film, too. As long as you have the passion, the talent, and the work ethic, you can find a job in the film world. Obviously, acting roles are reserved for those who possess a certain in born talent for adopting fictional roles, but there are many other jobs out there. Stage hands, producers, directors, writers, prop assistants, makeup artists, cameramen, and more can be filled by people of all stripes who receive the right training and put in enough hard work.

The problem is that there are, at times, obstacles that prevent people who dream of entering the film world from receiving the training they need to excel in their chosen role. One of the most common of these obstacles is finances. For instance, if someone is unable to pay for cosmetology school, they will never be able to become a makeup artist for the next feature film. Or, if someone cannot afford to attend film school, they can never pursue a career in film production.

Single mothers, more than many other groups of people, face the financial pressures that make it difficult to pursue any career dream, including the dream of participating in the film world. These women must provide for their families without the support of another person who can contribute emotionally, physically, or financially to the operation of the household. Often, they are forced to take whatever job they can find just to make sure they can feed and clothe their children.

This is why financial assistance for single mothers, and scholarships for single moms, is so vitally important. In addition to help such as welfare, food stamps, or WIC, these single mothers often need financial assistance and scholarships that will help them to go to school to learn new skills and pursue jobs that will help them to support their families in a career that they enjoy.

This point was driven home to me when I met a woman named Jeanine while I was at film school. When she divorced from her husband, she had to move from being a stay at home mom to a working mother, and was only able to find a minimum wage job. Her move out of poverty only occurred five years later when she received a scholarship to attend film school, where she was preparing herself for a career making movies.
In my opinion, anyone, including single mothers, who has a passion and vision for film should be allowed to pursue their dreams. This is why I support and advocate for any program that offers the kind of assistance women need to make it possible for them to pursue their film dreams.

Depression’s Toll: Robin Williams’ Suicide

Obviously, I love film. I have spent the past decade studying, practicing, thinking about, and writing about film. Through the years, however, I have noticed that the film world is a microcosm for many of the troubles that plague the world in general. It seems as if the film world takes these problems and amplifies them so we can see, through the struggles of our favorite actors and actresses, how many other, non-famous people, struggle as well.

When Robin Williams took his own life in August, I was reminded yet again that depression is one of these struggles.  Consider, for instance, actors and actresses like Heath Ledger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who all battled depression at one time or another.  Robin Williams was only the latest, and perhaps most prominent, in a long line of men and women who have lost the battle against the darkness of depression.

Robin Williams’ struggle with depression was a long one that he endured since at least the 1970s and 80s. The darkness that led him to take his life may have been deepened by his diagnosis of Parkinson’s, but had existed at least since the death of a close friend in the 1970s.  It made itself known at other points in his life and film career, and resulted in a number of addictions in the 1970s and 1980s.

When I look at Robin Williams’ life and struggle with depression, I also see the connection that so often exists between depression and struggles with addiction.

 

I’ve written previously on this blog about the frequency with which actors and actresses seem to fall prey to addictions, like marijuana addiction, other drug addictions, or addictions to alcohol. The reasons that many film stars face addictions are varied. What I did not touch on was how often these addictions become intertwined with the presence of depression in their lives.

Robin Williams faced addiction throughout his life. These addictions included struggles with alcoholism and cocaine addiction.  In order to try to overcome his attachment to these substances, he entered rehab several times, most recently in 2014 for help with alcoholism. It is impossible for us to know exactly how his depression and addiction were linked, but it is clear that the struggles were powerful and deep and that his suicide was ultimately a tragic result of being unable to overcome these battles.

When faced with the darkness of depression, sometime it is easier for people to fall into addiction because that addiction can mask the pain that depression brings. It is also possible that addictions give rise to depression. Regardless, we can see through Robin Williams’ life and death that the link between the two is strong, and that although it can be easy to judge others because of their struggles with addiction and depression, we should remember that they are human beings, facing struggles that, unless we have experienced them ourselves, we can never truly understand.

Jurassic Park on Location: Understanding and Enjoying the Hawaiian Backdrop

hawaii

Jurassic Park is a truly classic sci-fi movie. Who can forget the stunning natural views and that terrifying T. Rex? The heart and soul of this movie, however, comes from its stunning, mystical scenery. Set primarily on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Niihau, Maui, and Kaua’i, the filming locations serve as the perfect backdrop for the action packed film.

The scenery, of course, served as a compelling reason for Stephen Spielberg and crew to use the islands as film locations. Hawaii’s breathtaking waterfalls and lush vegetation are an ideal setting for a movie about dinosaurs. After all, we all think of dinosaurs roaming a wild, uninhabited rainforest-like environment, and Hawaii provides just such a location.

Interestingly enough, however, the locations were not only chosen for the views, and were not the setting of the events in the movie. If that were the case, the movie would have been filmed in Costa Rica, where the plot supposedly took place. Instead, the Hawaiian islands were chosen because they offered a more stable, and accessible, location for filming.

In addition, they provided familiarity for Stephen Spielberg, who had worked there in the past and who was therefore familiar with the terrain and filming challenges. The island of Oahu served as a filming location for some scenes because of one of these filming challenges: A tropical storm that made filming on the original location of Kaua’i impossible. In fact, the only truly on location spot for the entire movie was Red Rock Canyon in Montana, where some dig scenes were supposed to have taken place in the movie.

Fortunately for fans of Jurassic Park, you can still visit the filming locations in Hawaii. These locations are truly stunning, with thriving vegetation, breathtaking mountains, and gorgeous trees, and beautiful waterfalls.  When visiting these sites, therefore, plan to have your breath taken away by unmatched beauty, and definitely bring your camera. What you saw in the movie was only a taste of the raw beauty you will encounter when visiting these filming locations in person.

Try not to get your hopes up too high, however, about actually seeing remnants of the film. In addition to a decided lack of dinosaurs, you will also not see much of the film sets left. For instance, the entry gates in the movie are only tall metal poles now, and the helicopter landing area isn’t even available for viewing except by plane.

While you can research your favorite scenes and arrange your own stops at their filming locations, you may find it easier, and more fun, to take a movie tour instead. These tours cover major filming sites not only for Jurassic Park, but also for many other movies. Whatever you decide, however, just make sure you take the time to really enjoy standing in the same spots that you have seen in the movie. Imagine yourself in the middle of a park full of dinosaurs, facing down that crazy Tyrannosaurus Rex, or participating in any of your favorite scenes. The movie will undoubtedly become more alive to you as you stand in the places where it was created and give you an even deeper appreciation for a film you already love.

A Closer Look at Kitchen Nightmares

There will not be anymore screaming and shouting matches between world renowned chef and restaurant owner Gordon Ramsay and those who own restaurants and the chefs that run these restaurants because as of last year, Ramsay himself blogged that Kitchen Nightmares will have its last run. This is bad news for those wanting to watch the show some more. The reality show has garnered so much popularity that a lot of struggling restaurant owners have learned a thing or two from the past six seasons.

Unfortunately with this sad news comes the end of one of the most enduring restaurant rehabilitation TV shows. Ramsay admitted that the 10-season run of the popular TV show was a phenomenal achievement. It all started in 2004 with the British Kitchen Nightmares version then in 2007, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares was brought to the United States of America and its ratings went off the hook and virtually annihilated other shows with similar trends and plotline.

The show was based in only two countries, the United Kingdom and the United States, but the show was successfully sold and watched in more than 150 countries and was watched by over millions and millions of viewers around the planet. He said in his blog that he had a wonderful time with the show but then it is time to pack things up.

This show became so interesting to viewers because it brought Gordon Ramsay to different parts of the United Kingdom at first, then to different small and big cities in the United States of America where he tried to rehabilitate individual restaurants by helping the owners and the chefs to gain back the reigns of the restaurants they own and are running.

One of the highlights of the show was when Gordon Ramsay attempted to fix the problems of Amy Baking Company, which was located in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was one episode wherein Chef Ramsay himself gave up on the attitude of the owners of the restaurant and for the very first time, he walked out on a restaurant. This episode was at the centerpiece of a lot of memes created to describe what went on between Ramsay and the couple who owns the restaurant.

Ramsay himself admitted that Kitchen Nightmares was the show that put him on the international television map, one that made him a household name. He is happy though that he was able to put joy in the faces of his fans and viewers and was able to help fix some restaurants. Though not all of the restaurants he helped rehabilitate went on to attain success, at least he was able to share his views from his vast experience to these clients of his and who knows, maybe they can apply what he has taught them in their future restaurant undertakings. One would be like considering reading home appliances reviews similar to those found in this site before making an investment.

Is Ramsay sad to say goodbye to his show? Yes he is, but he also said that it would not be the end of it all. His fans will still see him in future shows.

Chefs and restaurant owners alike do not want to see the show go just like that. One of the things that made these fans follow Chef Ramsay’s show is the fact that they learn something from him other than just cooking, perhaps similar to using the only the best in one’s trade, like the best rice cooker that can be found here.

With all that has been said and done, there is a wild rumor going around the United States entertainment industry that Ramsay just might revive the Kitchen Nightmares show anytime soon. This will certainly put a lot of smiles to the faces of his fans.

Point Break v1.0

I went back a couple of decades recently. No, not time travel — except in the sense that watching an old movie can take you back in time. It definitely was interesting to go back to when there were no mobile phones, very few laptops, and even surfboard technology was not as advanced. Yes, I watched Point Break, the old Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves movie. And, yes, good stand up paddle boards were a thing of the future at the time the movie was shot. That’s not to say that no one ever stood up on a surfboard and tried to paddle using whatever was available (kayak paddle? canoe paddle? oar?), but paddle boards had yet to become a thing. I’m not involved in surf culture at all, but I can imagine that the gist of it is the same. After all, the crux of it is still a man or woman out on the waves in quest of the ultimate ride, and for many, the camaraderie of others trying to do the same. That camaraderie figures large in Point Break and, of course, it still present today and perhaps even enhanced by our hyper-connected culture.

In case you are not familiar, Point Break is a 1991 movie based in California where FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) infiltrates a surf community led by Bodhi (Swayze) in order to investigate a number of bank robberies that may have been committed by surfers. Utah and Bodhi develop a complex friendship that later changes and develops into a part-enemy relationship as Utah tries to gain proof of the surfer’s crimes. I won’t reveal any more in case you are planning to watch it too. All in all it is a really good crime/action movie with plenty of interesting twists and chases, and lots of guns and knives — yes, there are big hunting knives held to throats as you’d expect, but woman to woman as you wouldn’t expect, rather than man to man. Rotten Tomatoes rates it 68% and the Internet Movie Database gives it 7.2/10. Personally, though I felt its datedness detracted from it a little, I would happily give it 7.5/10 as it kept me engaged all the way through. Swayze was excellent at walking the line between keeping us rooting for him and wanting him to get caught. The portrayals of surf culture felt authentic though an insider might disagree, but even then, a generous viewer would be forgiving, I think, considering it is a movie and willing “suspension of disbelief” is a requirement.

So, by all means: rent it, watch it. It is a movie full of suspense, a charismatic performance by Swayze, and an early performance by Keanu Reeves (it’s interesting to compare Reeves performance to his latest in John Wick, and yes, as you’d expect, he has put on a little weight). The surf shots, too, are a lot of fun, and if you have a free-spirited side you’ll find yourself envying the good-natured and laid-back beach and surf lifestyle of the 80s and 90s. Of course, watch for the remake coming out December 2015!

Mini Reviews: Underrated Horrors of the Past Year You Should Definitely Watch

There’s something very primal about feeling fear. It’s one of the last remnants of behavior that helped our ancestors survive their daily struggles. So it’s no wonder that we have been trying to capture that same fear through words, writing, and movies. This past year saw some of the best movies about macabre ideas come to light and they vary in theme and ideas. Overall, it was great for horror fanatics, but sometimes the most interesting films go very deep under the radar. Here are some of the prime horror movies that went unnoticed to the public at large.

The Babadook

Sometimes, you don’t need gore and violence to make something very terrifying. What The Babadook does well is world building through dialogue and visual clues. It’s never made explicit whether or not the thing haunting a single mom and his son does so because of malice or if it’s real in the first place. It’s also got an eerie atmosphere that carries well throughout the film. The Babadook doesn’t even show itself excessively; the director instead chooses to pick the best moments when the demon rears its ugly head. Overall, it’s a great film that illustrates the slow descent to madness depression can lead to.

What We Do in the Shadows

Over the past half-decade many classic monsters have been taken and redefined with new meanings and metaphors. Though most of them are more romantically inclined, the shift was expected ever since Ann Rice came out with her riveting Vampire Masquerade series. The premise is simple; a group of vampire buddies live together in modern day New Zealand. Each character represents a different stage the vampire genre has gone through. But the important thing here is how each joke methodically picks apart vampire lore while still establishing deep connections between each of the roommates.

The Voices

Ryan Reynolds has had a very rocky career, which only feels like it’s finally getting its groove over the last year. However, his latest exploit called The Voices, is exceedingly good, being more of a character piece, which really puts Ryan Reynolds’ talents on stage. The premise is simple; Ryan plays a young, hardworking man with a strangely bright outlook on life. Since he has little friends, the only source of social contact he maintains is with his cat and dog, but there’s a twist. His cat and dog answer his question, and it becomes evident how this young man is very unstable.

Killers

Serial Killers are often the subject of tons of horror movies and these characters are often well developed when they take the spotlight. Killers takes that same trope and adds a little bit of its own dark charms. The film starts out like a torture themed slasher and quickly evolves into a film about voyeurism, obsession, and how dark things often turn out for worst for everyone participating in the violence.

These are the four most underrated horror films from 2014 to 2015. Check them out and find which films sends shivers down your spine. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to look into a few water ionizers consumer reports found here and other water enhancing products because I watched Piranha 3D again and I don’t trust the tap water in my home anymore.

Just for Kicks – Sneaker & Shoe Documentary

On the surface, a movie documenting sneakers doesn’t seem all that in interesting. But after watching the first 30 minutes of a new documentary, I began to slowly realize the underground sneaker movement is truly fascinating.

This documentary isn’t just about sneakers. What is really being documented is American culture, history and a melting pot of youthful passion. It’s more than just fashion, music and lifestyle.

The sneaker revolution started in the 1970s and no one even noticed. The people wearing sneakers at the time did so out of necessity. The B-boys of the 70s couldn’t dance in a standard shoe, so they opted for sneakers. The new born DJs playing disco funk also required slick movement, which was difficult to get from a standard pair of shoes. The early rap stars had a number of reasons for wearing sneakers, but portraying an image and going against the grain was always a top priority.

The first section of the film interviews the old-school players from New York including a Run DMC group member. This is a fascinating trip down memory lane. The origins of the sneaker are fascinating and packed with humor.

The middle section of the film addresses the gang culture associated with sneakers. Back in 1984 a young Michael Jordan slipped on his custom-made basketball boots. In 1985 the demand for the Air Jordan shoes was something unexpected and unprecedented. The Air Jordan shoes took America by storm and everyone wanted a pair for themselves.

The problem for a number of people was raising the money to buy a pair. $80 for a pair of CrossFit shoes (website) today is nothing, but back in the 1980s, this was big money. The people who could afford a pair would often fear being mugged in the street by gangs and thugs unable to afford to buy a pair for themselves.

The gang culture of the 80s thrived on wearing the latest sneakers on the market. If they couldn’t take the shoes they would steal them from stores. The story continues with the rise of gangs controlling the drug market and sneakers being one of the luxuries purchased with the money.

The final part of the film focuses on the modern day “sneakerhead.” This is a term used to describe anyone who collects sneakers. This section of the film is very interesting and opens the door to a whole new world. The dedication of the sneakerhead community is outstanding. The willingness to travel hundreds of miles to wait in line to buy a limited-edition pair of shoes is extraordinary.

I also was not aware of the price some editions can be sold at, for example, over $2,000 for a vintage pair of Adidas and insane amounts for first-edition Jordans. Recently Nike launched a new pair of shoes called the Metcon 1, which sold out in under 10 minutes and could then be found on Ebay for triple the price.

If you enjoy fashion, music and culture I am sure this movie “Just for Kicks” would be appealing. And if you class yourself as a sneakerhaed, this is a must-watch film.

How Drop Dead Diva Can Inspire You to Pursue a Career in the Legal Field

Jane’s life as a lawyer in Drop Dead Diva is such an inspiration to pursue a career as a lawyer.

It has been a year since the last episode of Drop Dead Diva was aired, but until now, I can’t get enough of it. The six seasons of this series depicting the life of a busy lawyer was totally inspirational. Drop Dead Diva revolves around the life of Jane Bingum. She used to be Deb, a sexy aspiring model, who was engaged to Grayson. However, she got involved in a car accident and died. Upon entering heaven, she switched the return button and things changed since then. Deb returned to earth, but in the body of Jane. Prior to her death, Jane was a lawyer who was totally dedicated with her job. She eventually got hit by a bullet covering up for her boss in the firm. Her lifeless body became the instrument for Deb to return to life and.

Since then, Deb lived the life of Jane. She has Deb’s memories with her, but she also got Jane’s intelligence and brilliance as a lawyer. She needs to completely live Jane’s life though and not tell anyone about this weird turn of events. In each episode, the series showcases a case being handled by Jane and her fellow lawyers at the firm, including Grayson. Though the series is about Jane’s life and all the exciting twists, it was also focused on legal cases and how she has won, even the most difficult cases to win.

An inspiration

Lawyers always have the connotation of being liars. People think that their job is to twist the truth and go far just to protect their clients and earn money. The firm, which Jane is working for, is also more concerned about money more than anything else. However, this did not stop Jane from pursuing justice. She fights for what is right and has never twisted the truth in any way. She has brought justice to several clients and won all cases, from the simplest ones to the most complicated of them all.

Seeing Jane and how she works at the firm is truly an inspiration. If people like her with such brilliance as a lawyer work hard to pursue for justice, then the world will be a better place. In each episode, she has helped convict criminals, pull down big companies that are bullies, and even give assistance to those who are in need for free. She has shown that there are a lot of values in being a lawyer and she does not fit to the stereotype of what a lawyer really is.

Be the next Jane Bingum

I was inspired by this series and it has also inspired a lot of other people. If you have started watching it just now and you have also felt inspired in a way, then it is never too late to start a career in the legal field. In fact, you can enroll for online paralegal programs at http://certifiedparalegal.net/online-paralegal-programs/. Once you have finished the program, you can start working as a paralegal or push for a degree in law. If you want to help in other ways, you can enroll at the American Red Cross Learning Center through this site. Just like Jane, you can help change the world for the better.

The Best Critter Films of All Time

I love critter flicks, they’re so campy and funny. We need more of them! But here’s my rundown of the best pest movies of all time.

10. Food of the Gods (1989)

An unintentionally hilarious and cheesy adaptation of the HG Wells classic novel. There are giant rats, mosquitos, maggots and (although not really a pest) giant chickens. The fight scenes involving the giant chickens taking on a human are hilarious.

9. Alligator (1980)

A mutant alligator goes crazy in New York City. Plenty of gore and action and some good special effects – well for the time anyway.

8. Attack of the giant leeches (1959)

When it came out this was often a double feature with another classic pest film – The Wasp Woman. The leeches look like a cross between a leech (naturally) and an armless octopus. It’s set in the Florida swamps and opens with a hillbilly out in the swamps doing some hunting. He sees one of the giant leeches in the water and shoots at it to no avail. But instead of running he stays where he is. With giant leeches around this was not a good plan!

7. The Killer Shrews (1959)

Another of the 1950s B horror films. The film is very funny and shows that it generally is not wise to start doing any genetic experimentation on a desolate island with no escape from whatever you create, in this case shrews,very big ones.

6. Gnaw: Food of the Gods2 (1989)

Yes indeed there was a sequel to Food of the Gods and if anything it’s even worse than the original. It was an effort at combining slasher films with big monster films. The Giant Rats are accidentally released by a scientist who has created them and they then go on a binge of eating people. In one memorable part there is a pool party planned but the person organizing it doesn’t want to cancel it – it’s only people eating rats around after all. The party as you can imagine does not end too well.

5. Rogue (2008)

This is an Australian film featuring crocodiles, but don’t worry Crocodile Dundee isn’t back. Some of the characters are a bit annoying and it takes itself very seriously, don’t film makers know that they these kind of films are supposed to be fun. But the crocodile is very realistic and is involved in some good fights.

4. Caddyshack (1980)

Yes a gopher is a pest so can include this one. Has a great cast including Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield, and is a comedy classic. Particularly great are the scenes where Bill Murray chases the gopher and dances to a Kenny Loggins song, pure genius

3. Willard (2003)

This is a remake but a good one. Stars Crispin Glover and is really creepy. Watch out for the cat chase scene.

2. Snakes on a plane (1996)

This one actually stars someone well known – Samuel L. Jackson. The plot is that the baddies want to kill a witness who is travelling by plane so put a load of snakes on the plane to get rid of them. They might have found an easier way to try and bump them off, but it makes for a fun film anyway.

1. The Birds (1963)

Had to include this Hitchcock classic. The master director does a brilliant job of ramping up the tension. Tippi Hedren is the star under attack from birds, Rod Taylor her co-star. Whenever I’m out and see a flock of birds, it makes me a bit nervous after seeing this film.

So there we go, from rats to birds it is the list of the best films about pests of all-time, and not a pest controller in sight to sort them out.

Saving Private Ryan: As Close As You Can Get To WWII

I’m a huge fan of Second World War era movies, and one of my favourite ones, although quite clichéd by now, is Saving Private Ryan. Named the best war film ever in a poll of movie fans in 2009, the Steven Spielberg film is far from perfect, with a near-perfect start, a somewhat rocky middle section and an overly sentimental ending. However, it has all the markings of a genuine modern war epic.

The opening sequence, lasting for 27 minutes, is a tour de force, depicting the assault on Omaha Beach on June 6th of 1944 in manner that rivals the graphic content of any authentic war footage. I still remember, how, on my first time watching it, I was confronted with the chaos that the soldiers had to face on that hellish beach, when a soldier in the movie had his arm blown away. He staggered, shocked, exposed to more fire, and then he collected his arm, for he would need it later. There aren’t many filmmakers who would dare go as far as Spielberg did with this particular scene. It was a scene that made audiences truly uncomfortable, and was a supremely fitting tribute to the brave troops who paid the ultimate price for freedom that day.

When the initial fighting has died down, a moving score produced by John William accompanies a spectacle of the carnage, as we observe the name ‘Ryan S’ on a dead soldier’s gear. This dead man is the third son of Mrs Ryan of Iowa, and two of his siblings have also lost their lives in the same bloody conflict. The scene where she is informed of this terrible news was hauntingly poignant.

It is decided by Gen. George C Marshall, that the fourth brother, Pvt. James Frances Ryan, who got scattered with 101st Airborne Division on the night before D-Day, has to be brought home to his mother safe and sound. And to this end, Captain John H. Miller, played to perfection by Tom Hanks, is given the task of leading a small rescue team through enemy territory to make contact with, and bring back, Private Ryan, portrayed by Matt Damon.

After this, the movie becomes a typical rescue mission affair but Tom Hanks plays the role of a decent man coming to grips with the horror and chaos of war sublimely. A supporting character that I admired a lot was Private Daniel Jackson, a crack sniper who uses his M1903A4 Springfield Rifle to great effect throughout the move. This single character was responsible for developing my interest in guns in general and sniper rifles in particular. An excellent site I follow on guns and gunsmithing is www.gungods.net, you should check it out.

The film climaxes with a last stand in the town of Ramelle, where Miller’s squad is hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. It is a visceral film in its totality, but also manages to deliver a message of hope. When Miller says, ‘Earn it’ to Private Ryan in one scene, it seemed like Spielberg himself was actually addressing the audience.

Even to this day, there are parts of this movie which send chills down my spine due to the sheer brutality of what they show. And that, I believe, is the mark of a movie that will stay evergreen.

Why The Avengers: Age Of Ultron Is Shaping Up To Be A Box Office Smash

As one who watches the movie industry closely, I’ve seen a lot of big movies that have some build up leading up to their release. Movies like the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series had huge anticipations leading up to their release, but none of those even come close to the anticipation that Avengers:Age of Ultron is currently getting. It’s not a long shot to say that this movie is going to be huge, probably the biggest opening weekend of all time. Most of us see that it’s going to be a giant movie, but why is the Avenger’s franchise and, more specifically Marvel Studios movies, so big? Well, there are some really good reasons for it and no one else currently in the movie industry even come close to matching them.

Consistency

Many people may think the reason for the success is that the movies may seem like one giant commercial for the world’s best pre workout supplement that will send most guys heading home to Google search testosterone booster reviews so they can look like Chris Hemsworth. But, the truth is that the real secret to the success of the Avengers and Marvel movies in general is the consistency they possess. They took the same strategy that worked in the comics and brought them into their movies. The Avengers work because each movie for the individual superheroes is not just an isolated story that takes place outside the universe of the other movies, but instead each movie is like an ingredient that helps make a delicious dish. That dish just happens to be The Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s tremendous.

It’s All In The Details

When comic book movies began to be made, they made giant mistakes by not paying attention to the details. This happened for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was that the movies were being written by hollywood screenwriters and not comic book writers or writers who were familiar with the stories of the comics. This eventually became a slap in the face to the millions of comic book fans out there because the writers took too many liberties with the characters and ultimately changed some characters entirely. When Marvel began making movies, they used only the best writers who were familiar with the comic’s original source material and paid attention to the details that made each character unique. It may not seem like much, but it’s a small thing that makes a huge difference when you build a cinematic universe like Marvel has.

It Plays To All Crowds

One of the biggest reasons for the massive success of the Marvel movies is that it plays to all crowds, young and old. They do a masterful job of making the movies dramatic and intense enough for the millions of comic books fans that grew up with these characters and light enough that kids love them just as much. This is not an easy task, but it’s one that Marvel has been accomplishing better than anyone else in the industry today.

Film Review: Magnified (The Fictional History of the Telescope)

Last night, I went to the theater and got my first view of Magnified, which is in its opening weekend. For those unaware, Magnified is the highly fictitious story of telescope inventor, Hans Lippershey, starring Mel Gibson as Hans and Geena Davis as his main inspiration turned love interest, Virginia.

The premise of the movie was quite average and simple: boy likes girl, boy is too awkward for girl, boy works to impress girl, girl is impressed and they live happily ever after. Hans loved Virginia from afar for many years, but was always falling short as he felt more comfortable reading and studying than talking to his female counterparts. Eventually, Virginia shares her adoration for the stars above with Hans and becomes vulnerable by telling him that the complexity of what is out in space scares her to death. She excuses herself many times for being so bold as to speak her mind, which I guess was unheard of at the time, but of course Hans was smitten. Hans, wanting to impress Virginia, feels the best way for her to overcome her fear is to learn more about space and astronomy. Eventually he tinkers around enough to build a new amazing telescope, much to Virginia’s pleasure.

I’m just going to come out and say it: this movie was terrible. The plot was dry and painfully predictable. The only part of this story based on truth was that Hans Lippershey invented the telescope. Everything else was fabricated. Writers nowadays are so pressured to come up with ideas out of thin air that it is just leading to lackluster films.

What first drew me into movies was the way you can have intense emotions for characters in the matter of two hours. In Magnified, the characters were not well developed enough to feel anything for them. I really couldn’t care less whether Hans was victorious in his attempt to build a telescope (let alone that the inexpensive scopes used in filming look like fake props well beyond the time period of this movie) This was the major downfall of the film, in my opinion, because each movie has to have at least one character the audience can become emotionally invested in, even if it is not the protagonist.

The one redeeming quality of Magnified was the set and costume design. Lippershey invented the telescope in the 1600’s, so most of the movie was set in the late 1500’s, early 1600’s. The costumes were period friendly, as were the sets. As a viewer, you really felt as though you were transported to a simpler time. However, since I’m not an expert on the time period I can’t say if there were any true discrepancies with décor or technology in the film. The makeup, costumes and set nuances spoke to me.

My advice is to not pay homage to Hans Lippershey by seeing Magnified, but instead just look at your own telescope in your backyard. You will be undoubtedly much more entertained and will most definitely put your brain to use.

The Doll that Inspired Chucky

OK. I’m the first to admit – Chucky (real name of the movie is actually Child’s Play) is a pretty awful movie. It’s one of those films that really aren’t that great, but due to die-hard cult following, have managed to survive and permeate into the lexicon of popular culture. I myself stand guilty of contributing to this phenomenon – I’m a sucker for B-list horror films, and when I watched the first Child’s Play as a kid it really freaked me out. I’ve been hooked on the franchise ever since – and regrettably, I’ve seen every single movie in the Chucky franchise (they get progressively worse). Child’s Play 7 (the 7th movie in the franchise) is due to come out in 2015. At this point, I’m waiting for it with a mix of anticipation and dread – and the dread isn’t because I’m worried that the movie will be scary – it’s actually because I’m dreading watching another 90 minute trainwreck of a film.

In any case, the reason I’m droning on about a mostly awful B-list film franchise is because a few days ago, I was on Reddit, and I learned for the first time that Chucky was inspired by an actual doll. That’s right – the creepy doll cliché that the Chucky franchise popularized actually has deeper, more ‘historical’ roots. I’m mostly just summarizing what I read in this post. Go here to learn about Robert the Doll in greater detail.

So, as it turns out, the inspiration for Chucky is a doll known as ‘Robert the Haunted Doll’. It sits in a museum in Florida, and museum workers apparently swear that it moves around on its own. Legend has it that the doll was a gift from a disgruntled servant to the child she looked after – apparently she was from the Caribbean, and was a practitioner of voodoo. The child, named Robert Eugene Otto, immediately gravitated towards the doll, and named it after himself (hence the name ‘Robert the Doll’). Before long, the parents of young Eugene started noticing that he behaved strangely when he was playing with the doll – they would hear conversations and strange voices coming from his room. At first they brushed this off as an overactive imagination, but soon strange things started happening in the house that couldn’t be explained. Servants began to hear strange laughs in the middle of the night; Eugene’s toys would be found mutilated in the house; heavy furniture would be found overturned. Visitors to the house would claim that the doll’s eyes would follow them around when they moved.

Eventually Eugene grew up. You’d think that a grown man has no use for a child’s doll, but Robert the Doll remained at Eugene’s side, and after his parents died, he remained in the old house, living only with the doll. Eventually, he managed to find a wife, but the doll was a constant point of contention between the couple – according to the legend, his wife, Anne, eventually died due to unknown causes.

Even after Eugene passed away, the legend of the doll continued. The family that bought the Otto house discovered Robert, and the daughter developed an intense attachment to it. To this day, that girl (now a fully grown woman) is convinced that the doll had tried to harm her on multiple occasions.

Nowadays, you can visit Robert the Doll in East Martello Museum in Key West Florida. I haven’t been there myself, but I’d love to go. To be honest, this story and this doll both seem far creepier to me than anything in the Chucky franchise. I really want to visit this museum for myself, and this story seems creepy enough to me that I’m surprised nobody has made a direct adaption of it yet.

My Top 5 Comedies Films of All Time

In my book, there is a fine line between comedy films and funny movies. Funny movies are those that leave audiences in stitches from beginning to end (think American Pie) and comedies are those that don't have me laughing all the time but are still funny. In this post, I will my list of favorite comedy films of all time.

1. Caddyshack

Caddyshack is a classic comedy film starring Bill Murry, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Michael O'Keefe and many more. While this film has received a lot of criticism from film reviewers, I still think it is one of the best comedy films of all time. How can it not be seeing as stars some of the most talented comedy actors of this generation?

What I love about Caddyshack are the witty one-liners that are still quoted in films to this very day. Caddyshack quotes can also be seen in memes posted all over social media sites. I bet most people don't even realize that those memes came from this film. If you haven't seen this film yet, shame on you! Go get a copy now and see for yourself why this is included in my list. A word of warning though, this is a rated R movie so don't watch it on family movie night.

2. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

Do I need to explain why I love this movie? In my honest opinion, anything with Jim Carrey in it is a sure hit. However, not a lot of people appreciate Ace Ventura: Pet Detective because the humor is a bit outrageous to say the least. Remember that rhino scene? Yeah, that one's a little too graphic for some people but that is one of the reasons why I love this film so much.

3. Austin Powers Franchise

Who can forget Mike Meyer's "Yeah, baby!" and "Oh, behave!"? I find myself quoting this film from time to time without even realizing it. Let's not forget Mini Me. All the movies in the Austin Powers franchise have a mix of British and American humor which is probably why it was such a success. Everyone got it! However, I don't think this film would be what it was if it weren't for the costumes and hot women who were smitten by Mike Meyer's character despite the bad teeth. That still baffles me, by the way.

4. There's Something about Mary

There's Something about Mary is a perfect example of a comedy film. In fact, probably all of Ben Stiller's movies are. The storyline of this movie does not involve ridiculous funny antics. Instead, they're things that happen unintentionally in real life. Yes, scrotums getting stuck in zippers do happen.

5. White Chicks

While this film may seem a little racist seeing as it's about two black men dressing up as dumb blonde teenage girls, it's still pretty funny nonetheless. This movie has very light but effective humor. You know what they say, sometimes the most effective tactics are the simplest ones. Sadly, this movie has received a lot of flak from critics because of reverse racism. But from my point of view, it's a comedy film so there's absolutely no need to involve social injustice issues into the mix.

Antz Movie Review

Antz marks quite a milestone in the animation industry. Before this film premiered, both Disney and Pixar were the only big dogs around when it came to theatrically released animated films. However, DreamWorks SKG cemented themselves as a formidable new challenger in the animation industry by having their first project be a fun, creative and slightly edgy animated film. The story centers around the main character, Z. Z is a worker drone in a large ant colony which pushes a totalitarian, conformist mentality on its inhabitants. Z constantly wrestles with this as he questions his place in the colony and whether or not there’s more his life could amount to. We’re then introduced to Bala, the colony’s princess, who is struggling with similar issues. The two of them meet and hit it off so well that Z decides to switch places with his friend Weaver, a soldier ant, in order to see Bala again. But when he finally gets to, the truth is revealed and the two of them end up literally thrown out of the colony and begin a journey to find their own paradise. Meanwhile, an evil plot is underway back at the colony and it soon becomes up to Z and Bala to return home and save the day.

Something became apparent to me while watching this film as an adult: It’s kid safe, but not kid-centered. Animation is often an underrated form of entertainment since many believe it’s a child-centered art form. That belief is utterly shattered with this movie. It’s certainly safe for younger children to watch but you can see from its visual style, complex themes and adult humor in spots, that younger kids are not the intended audience. It lacks the candy-colored, sweet looking visuals you’d find in a typical children’s movie, preferring an art style that’s darker and more gritty. The scale at which the ants are shown in relevance to the outside world also creates a sense of peril that may be a little intense for younger viewers but help convey the overarching theme of the individual vs. the group. This theme of conformity vs. individuality is also something that will be more relevant to an older audience for whom social structure has become a more active aspect of their lives. The movie doesn’t shy away from how extreme the consequences of either mentality can be, even having death be used as a possible consequence.

However, while you can appreciate the more mature tone, said tone also contributes to one of the film’s problems. Many of the jokes require some level of maturity to get and will fly over your average young kid’s head, which can be a problem as this film is being billed as a comedy. This film also has a few more shortcomings, as most first installments do. The CGI animation has become a bit dated and there are moments where the character’s expressions dip into the uncanny valley. Also, the celebrity casting can cause you to hear the actor more than the character and that can really take you out of the movie. These problems aren’t too distracting though, and even being a seventeen year old film, it still holds up pretty well. So, if you get the chance, check it out. You definitely won’t be disappointed. It certainly makes me feel a little different about battling the carpenter ant infestation I had a little while ago.

Horror Movies should be more like Creepypastas

I love horror movies. I feel like horror movies combine the best and worst of film making – the best thing about movies is how much they can affect you emotionally, and horror movies provide that in spades. The worst thing about movies is that there are so many cheap ways to provoke a reaction in the audience – a reaction that isn’t earned. Horror films are constantly guilty of this.

The thing is, even the worst horror films can be scary in parts. Human beings are programmed by evolution to react with fear in certain situations. Surprise a person with a sudden loud noise or sudden movement, and it’s in their DNA to respond with fear – that’s why we have the term ‘Fight-or-flight’. This type of fear is cheap, and the horror films that use jump scares are often complete trash from a filmmaking perspective.
The very best horror movies are those that linger with you for days afterwards – the ones that make you think. If a movie can ‘incept’ itself into your head – that’s when I think a horror movie has been successful. To me, it’s easy to get people scared in the cinema. The difference between a run-of-the-mill horror film and a good horror film is that the good horror film keeps you up at night, or makes you leave the lights on when you go to bed.

There have only been a handful of half decent horror films in the past couple of years. One movie that garnered a lot of attention was The Babadook – and while I enjoyed that film, I honestly didn’t think it was that scary.

I think Hollywood should draw inspiration from the hugely popular ‘creepypastas’ that are floating around the internet these days. For those of you who don’t know, a creepypasta is basically a viral horror short story. They get started on places like 4chan or reddit, and then they the successful ones tend to spread rapidly and within a couple of months everybody who uses the internet knows about the story. Ever heard of slender man? That was originally a creepypasta.

The thing that these stories do really well is they’re unsettling. It’s not really possible to produce cheap jump-scares in the written form, so you actually have to craft a genuinely creepy and sinister narrative. This is probably how a lot of scary urban legends got started as well – things like the Bloody Mary game or the idea of a Oujia Board – these were essentially stories that went viral pre-internet.

I’m not saying that Hollywood should just take these stories and make movies out of them – I’m suggesting that the film industry should draw inspiration from the tone and narrative style of these kinds of viral horror short stories. Forget the cheap thrills – horror films should strike at the core of a person, and linger in their thoughts for at least a couple of nights afterwards.

Anyways, that’s all from me. If you want to read a whole bunch of these creepypastas, go to reddit’s no sleep subreddit. If you want to read more about urban legends, one of my favorite horror sites, Play With Death, recently did a rundown of the 10 scariest urban legends. They also have reasonably good reviews of horror films/video games (and books, but I don’t really read horror books).