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by Bill Gibron

5 Apr 2010

Perhaps the reasons are personal. Maybe, outside of our tendency for know-it-all-ism and information overload, the explanations have remained private and kept close to the vest. Of course, it could all center around money, and the means of making more. Given their recent track record, that might explain their industry exile. Yet for some strange reason, there are many formerly famous movie names—John Carpenter, John Landis, Bruce Robinson—who’ve fallen off the prickly façade of fame. Call it lack of interest on both ends or something more sinister, but it ends up ruining the reputation of the artform. Granted, all three of the previously mentioned directors are behind the lens right now (with The Ward, Burke and Hare, and The Rum Diaries, respectively) giving renewed recognition and possible redemption a go. But for some, the outlook is not so bright. For them, it’s time to champion a creative comeback.

With the five names listed below, it’s important to set up some clear cut standards. First, we must acknowledge that all have done great-to-gratifying work at some point in their career. Without that, who cares if they ever work again. Second, we must recognize that, aside from a promised project or two in the future, they have presently been out of the filmmaking loop for far too long. Third, we have no real indication that they couldn’t make another trek into the always open talent pool, if given the opportunity to do so. For some, they swan in success for decades. Finally, the occasional commercial flop aside, there’s no understandable explanation for why they aren’t making movies right now. A couple even have Academy accolade to bolster their prospects. With that in mind—and with some personal perspective in tow - we offer five names that definitely deserve another chance at the Tinseltown brass ring, beginning with a highly unusual choice:

by Bill Gibron

29 Mar 2010

Dear God of Post-Modern Moviemaking:

Too much? Have I put you off already? If so, I’m sorry. It’s just hard imagining what I have to say, and how I have to say it. You see, I’ve loved you for a very long time. No, not your subversive Midwestern mentality that sees beauty in the most grotesque of worm-infested rotting meat mannerisms. Nor am I particularly enamored of your current concentration on Transcendental Meditation, though I can completely see where you’re coming from with the whole “free your mind” ideal. You see, I’ve loved your MOVIES for a very long time - since I first saw your “straight” drama The Elephant Man way back in 1980, and I’m here to say that I miss you, and need you back in my life terribly.

Wow - how weak-willed and whiny. I was hoping to come off a little more forceful than this. You see, I am a real movie maniac, someone who linked up with your Wild at Heart so significantly that I remember watching it over and over when it was finally released on VHS (I know, you HATE that. Sorry again). Several dozen viewings later and I can argue with anyone over the merits of your bizarro-world Wizard of Oz riff. I’m as Powermad as Sailor and Lula, hotter than Georgia asphalt and convinced that peaches do indeed spread diseases. Crazy old cousin “Jingle” Dell’s got nothing on me, and I can easily…dammit. There I go, rambling again. You have that effect on me, don’t you know.

by Bill Gibron

24 Mar 2010

Granted, the characters are as cardboard as a Dominos Pizza crust (yes, even after the big overhaul - sorry, current sales team). The storyline is also so scattered, stupid, and silly that it can barely contain its own retarded ridiculousness. Almost all the actors are in it for the paycheck or the needed commercial profile (sadly, someone forgot to tell Chiwetel Ejiofor or Woody Harrelson) with a few barely able to keep a straight face through all the forced fear mayhem. Yet without a doubt, Roland Emmerich’s 2012 stands as the greatest disaster movie of all time if for one sequence and one sequence alone - the complete and utter annihilation of California.

As the film’s first major F/X set-piece, the German born genius of the mindless action apocalypse (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) knew he had to craft a real showstopper, and for decades, pundits have been speculating that the next “great” quake would turn LA and its surrounding San Adreas fault line friends into a great big pile of Pacific floaters. Emmerich decided to run with that idea, creating one of the most mind-bloggling examples of CG chaos ever created, a sequence so sensational it raises goosebumps on your flesh as its systematically lowers your overall IQ. In fact, when viewed in the latest incarnation of the home video format - Blu-ray - one gains a deeper appreciation of the moviemaker’s warped vision, and how he turned it loose on our Left Coast cousins. 

by Bill Gibron

11 Mar 2010

Because, in a historical context, it’s destined not to be…

That’s the easy answer. Oscar may do a lot of good when it comes to the filmmaking community and its active membership, but picking the best movie of any given year is never its strong suit. A cursory glance across the decades sees choices both confounding (The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in ‘80s Days) and wholly debatable (Ordinary People vs. Raging Bull, Dances with Wolves vs. Goodfellas), while everyone has their individual sticking points (2001 for yours truly) and abominations (Crash? Really?).

Still, the situation with The Hurt Locker is different in two significant ways. First, it was part of a newly revamped system that opened up the competition to nine more possible spoilers. Shakespeare in Love only had to overcome Saving Private Ryan and two other terrible choices (Life is Beautiful, Elizabeth) that didn’t deserve to be considered. Kathryn Bigelow’s intense war thriller had to marginalize critic’s faves like Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up in the Air while thwarting the massive commercial clout of Avatar - and that still left five other films to figure out. That makes the win all the more sweet, right? Well, not really…

by Bill Gibron

3 Mar 2010

Brian DePalma deserves better. Or perhaps a better way of putting it is that the legacy of Brian DePalma deserves better. If Internet rumors are to be believed, and Paramount has pegged the former member of the post-modern moviemaking b-Rat Pack (along with pals Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas) to helm the sequel to their gimmick laden hit, Paranormal Activity, than a clichéd sentiment like “how the once mighty have fallen” might not be strong enough. No, in this case, a more telling phrase like “you must be f**king kidding me” seems more apropos. True, the man has not made a ‘great’ film in nearly two decades (the last being, arguably, Casualties of War), but does that mean he has to play stupid second fiddle to an artistically inert found footage stunt?

While the report that began the speculation does cite that DePalma is simply “in the mix” (along with Wolf Creek‘s Greg McLean and Transsiberian‘s Brad Anderson), the notion that a filmmaker who was once at the cutting edge of onscreen suspense - borrowing heavily from one Alfred Hitchcock, mind you - would be part of said conversation is crazy. It’s like pointed to David Lynch and saying he’d be perfect for the Alvin and the Chipmunks tre-quel (which will surely be in 3D, one imagines). No one doubts that there are legitimate reasons for Paramount to pursue DePalma, and surely the aging auteur is looking to relaunch his name brand. But with an effort as artistically weak as Paranormal Activity, it seems like Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 all over again (and we all know how well that went…).

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