Saturday, February 6, 2016

Of Mice and Men was Published

Of Mice and Men was Published
Of Mice and Men was Published
Both the novella and the stage play of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was released in 1937, but it was the Novella that was published for the first time on this day. In 1939, Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath and it is said that his work became more sentimental with the following works of Cannery Row and The Pearl. In the 1940’s he tried his hand writing movie scripts with good success for Forgotten Village (1941) and Viva Zapata (1952). However, even that wasn’t enough for this guy. In 1962, he wrote Travels with Charlie, a non-fiction book which chronicled his travels across the states with Charlie – his poodle and he won the Nobel Prize. He died in 1968.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Video of the Day: Snow White in 70 Seconds

Rapper Baby Kaely tells the story in just over a minute. With pictures too!

‘Hail Caesar?’ Hail, The Coen Brothers!

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin (Universal)
The latest concoction from Oscar-winning filmmakers and brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, was dreamt up about ten years ago says George Clooney in a recent press release for the movie Hail, Caesar! Clooney was working another film for the pair when they asked him if he was interested in playing an actor who gets kidnapped. “They had about three pages of plot written down and a few terrific lines. That’s it. Of course, I said, ‘Yes.’” For years there was talk of this great movie to be made, but no script materialized until much later. They took their time with this one and for that, we can be grateful.

Hail, Caesar! isn’t a comedy for everyone. Like other Coen films, the story can become confusing at times wondering what “this” has to do with “that,” but in the end, it all works out beautifully. However, the film is very much a character-driven comedy, meaning that while there are some funny lines here and there, the real comedy is how these characters are portrayed and how they interact with each other. You won’t find any pratfalls here and the plot is less important.

Hail, Caesar! aims (and succeeds) to not only spoof the movie industry in the early 1950’s, but to also honor it. Throughout this film we get to see portions of the films that the fictional Capitol Pictures are working on including a dance sequence featuring a bunch of sailors, a shoot ‘em up western, a sophisticated drama, an elaborate water dance sequence with synchronized swimmers and the biblical epic film for which this movie is named after. None of these films-in-progress are real, but reassemble famous films from the time and you can’t deny the beauty and style of these movies.

United Artists in Created

United Artists in Created
February 5, 1919
On February 5, 1919, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith came together to form United Artists Corporation with the goal of gaining more financial and artistic control over producing and distributing their films. Chaplin not only acted but also directed UA films. Pickford retired in the 1930’s but continued to act as producer. In 1951 the production studio was sold and UA became only a financing and distributing facility. The company has warbled back and forth financially over the years. In 2011 MGM reacquired its 100% stake in UA.MGM might continue to make new films under the UA brand.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Released

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Released
February 4, 1938
Produced by Walt Disney, Snow White was the first full-length, colored animated feature film that audiences got to see for the first time 76 years ago on this day in 1938. At the time, critics were skeptical that audiences could sit for a full-length animated film or that an animated film could evoke feelings similar to live action films. The film was nick-named “Disney’s Folley.” At the 11th Academy Awards, Disney was awarded an honorary Oscar, and the film was nominated for Best Musical Score.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Video of the Day: 'Selfie: The Musical"

Perhaps the shortest and most enjoyable musical ever. (by AVbyte)

'Madoff': Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner Lead This Top Notch Production

Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner in "Madoff"
Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner in Madoff (ABC)
ABC was really smart when casting Richard Dreyfuss for the role of Bernie Madoff for this week’s miniseries, Madoff. I probably wouldn’t have bothered watching it if a lesser-known actor were to play the part. The whole Madoff scandal story didn’t really interest me before this casting news. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m really glad that I did. It’s not a happy or uplifting story of course, and despite the fact that so many people fell victims to the one of the greatest cons in U.S. history, the miniseries is really a story about how one man destroyed his family. There’s also a few cautionary tales to boot.

Bravo to ABC and director Raymond De Felitta for telling the sordid story in such an un-sordid way. Of course, being shown on ABC, the network was limited on what language could be used and so forth, but De Felitta proved that you don’t need to make viewers feel like they need to take a shower to wash off all of the gunk from watching such a spectacle. One thing that I feared about watching Madoff was that I wouldn’t understand it. I still don’t completely, but as it turns out, the whole operation was much simpler than I could have imagined. Writer Ben Robbins did a great job of boiling down the facts for viewers like me. In short, the story is like the gospel – simple and yet difficult at the same time.

During the Madoff trials, Bernie’s family said that they were innocent and were unaware of the patriarch’s bad practices. Many of us wondered how they couldn’t have known about his crooked deals. This miniseries aims to show just how. It appears that Madoff tried to shield his family from the unsavory practices of his Ponzi scheme by purposing leaving them out of crucial conversations which in turn, created hard feelings between them.

Snow White Continues to Enchant With New Release

The new DVD Blu-ray of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has been released.
This March, Walt Disney Animation will release Zootopia, the studios 55th animated feature. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far the Disney Company has come over the years. One thing is for sure, there would be no 2016 Zootopia if there were no 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Often called “Walt’s Folly,” Disney followed his heart and put his life on the line with the film. The success of the film shut the mouths of Walt’s critics. It was a huge success.

Original Snow White movie poster
The original movie poster.
The American Film Institute loves this film ranking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the #1 movie for all animated films. Sure, some scenes from the movie may look dated compared to today’s sophisticated computer animation techniques, but the film still shines as a great example for beautiful animation.Remember, the entire film was made up of hundreds of hand-drawn and hand-painted cells.

Some say that the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs feeds on stereotypes and complain that the main character just sits around waiting for a man to rescue her. However, they forget that in this story, Snow White is just a young teenager. She lives with her jealous step mother who treats her like a slave. It’s not like she had a choice to just move out on her own. There were no child protection services in this fairy tale. Still, the critics do have a point. She probably shouldn’t have just run off with the first prince that she met.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The First Groundhog Day

The First Groundhog Day
February 2, 1887
On this day in 1887, Punxsutawney Phil made his first appearance at Gobbler’s Knob as a rodent meteorologist. The rules then are the same as they are now: if the groundhog see his shadow, it is predicted that there will be six more weeks of winter. If he sees no shadow, an early spring is predicted. Thousands of people make the trek to Gobbler’s Knob each year for music and celebration. Ironically, the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, was released on February 12th.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Video of the Day: The Evolution of Barbie

Wow - they really did it. Mattel said that they were going to start making more realistic versions of Barbie and they did. I hope the theory is correct, that girls will pick ones that represent them or someone they know rather than the "ideal" original Barbie. It will be interesting to see which ones get left on the shelves.