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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Flicker Alley's new Blu-ray/DVD combo We're in the Movies: Palace of Silents and Itinerant Filmmaking provides a glimpse into obscure corners of film history.

In a phenomenon that historians have called itinerant filmmaking, small companies made a living traveling to various towns and making films. They might advertise in the paper, or they might pitch the project to city councils or booster groups as a promotional idea. They got paid to shoot local amateurs in little stories around carefully chosen locations. The small crew, sometimes just a director and a cameraman, would shoot and edit the picture and then give the print (usually the only copy in existence) to whomever had commissioned it. Then they would move on to the next town.


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Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014
While his life was filled with many career triumphs, the late Richard Attenborough will always be remembered for these ten examples of his undeniable talent.

Richard Attenborough was born in 1923 to a founding member of Britain’s Marriage Guidance Council (a charity centering on advice for couples) and a scholar who wrote the standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. In World War II, he served with the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) film unit (where he recorded the outcome of Bomb Commander sorties) before taking to the stage. He would soon become one of Britain’s biggest box office draws.


He costarred in the original production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, taking a ten percent profit-participation in the production. It would go on to set a world record as the longest running stage play in history (over 25,000 performances and still going strong) and during the ‘60s, he recorded triumphs in both hero and villain roles. He even earned back to back Golden Globes (for The Sand Pebbles and Doctor Doolittle), becoming one of his homeland’s most celebrated stars in the process.


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Monday, Aug 25, 2014
This YA tearjerker could have worked, and it should have worked, but it had it's own demise already written into its DNA.

When the returns came in for The Fault in Our Stars, two studios must have been beyond happy. 20th Century Fox financed the film version of John Green’s popular YA novel, and were glad to see their old fashioned disease of the week tearjerker bring in over $48 million at the box office opening weekend. By the time the end of Summer rolls around, it will easily have banked more than $271 million worldwide.


This should have been good news for Warner Bros. as well, seeing as how it bet on another YA weeper, If I Stay, to further commercialize, and therefore capitalize on the trend. Prior to the 22 August release date, industry pundits had it easily winning the box office war, what with the nine years in the making Sin City sequel and a faith-based football title, When the Game Stands Tall, it’s only real competition. Surely it could mimic The Fault in Our Stars‘s success while beating back any lingering love for a bunch of mutant ninja turtles and a dancing tree creature and his pals.


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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
Is two-thirds of a decent Sin City sequel enough? After nine years of waiting, almost.

They say you can’t capture lightning in a bottle, that a once novel paired with a fresh concept can’t be reused to the same stunning effect a second time around. This is the main critique of sequels, in fact. Whatever made the original hit movie a cultural phenomenon cannot be rediscovered and maintained over a follow-up (or franchise).


So when Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller decided to wait nine long years to revisit their visionary Sin City, many wondered if the near-decade away from their pioneering digital neo-noir would result in something dull and derivative. The answer, luckily, is “No!” Is it as good as the first groundbreaking film? Well…


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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
This is a horribly unfunny comedy by someone celebrated for reinventing the TV drama.

Success in one medium doesn’t guarantee success in another. Great actors often struggle when they try to be musicians, while gifted artists aren’t quiet as aesthetically pleasing when attempting to perform. There’s even inner-format faults as well. An award winning TV scribe usually can translate their talent to the big screen.


They are the rarities, however. Typically, greatness in one place doesn’t translate across. Such is the case with Mad Men‘s Matthew Weiner’s so-called “comedy” Are You Here. Instead of showing the same sharp sensibility that made said AMC hit, we get a decidedly lifeless laugher.


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