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Friday, May 16, 2014
From album covers to motion pictures, H.R. Giger offered up a singular, inspiring vision. Giger was also one of the most influential surrealists of all time.

He is, perhaps, the most influential surrealist of all time, arguably more important than Salvador Dali and better known than movement’s founder, Andre Breton. For some, however, the categorization doesn’t fully give Swiss artist Hans Ruedi “H.R.” Giger enough credit. To them, he was more than just a critical delineation. As a genre prophet, his impact on science fiction, fantasy, and horror is unquestioned. As an inspiration, he’s the godfather of too many cultural connections (Cyberpunk, Goth, Future Shock) to name. While some consider his work borderline pornographic (and have persecuted him for such over the years), Giger remains an embedded part of our contemporary consciousness. After all, who can look at the dual mouthed monster from Ridley Scott’s Alien and not instantly distinguish the man’s amazing style. Both instantly recognizable and frighteningly foreign, it marks the culmination, and the mere surface, of his entire creative canon.


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Thursday, May 8, 2014
A look at 10 movies that were made, and then shelved, by their respective makers, becoming Hollywood myths in the process.

Hollywood has a long history of movies that were planned or proposed but never made. These often fascinating films inspire the imagination with a combination of “what if?” and “why not?” There are also a few examples of films that made it to the moment of production before being sidelined by some inexplicable or unexpected reason. Their legacy is usually one of last minute changes of heart or cast/crew. And then there are the MIA movies, the films that were completed, prepped for a general release, and then abandoned. These are the most frustrating of the bunch, actual projects that could be viewed and judged on their own merits if it weren’t for rights issues, estate arguments, studio stubbornness, or an overriding belief that whatever is contained on the shelved celluloid would ruin reputations and reap nothing but audience anger.


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Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014
January through April films are always a chore, since they represent the landfill where all studio cast-offs end up. Here's the best and worst of this sad season.

We’ve come to expect it. Every spring, the snow melts (or, as with this year, sticks around for several unpleasant weeks for no good reason), the flowers bloom (less they are covered in ice or uprooted by tornados) and Hollywood unleashes its dregs, celebrating its end of the year awards by reminding us once again of how legitimately mediocre most movie months really are. January through April film are always a chore, since they represent the landfill where all studio cast-offs end up. Even when something hits and becomes a phenomenon—like 300—it’s typically surrounded by trash, and as the weeks go by and the garbage piles up, it requires the grand sweeping gestures of the summer tentpoles to clean it all up. That’s why parsing through the last four months to find the Best and Worst can be so maddening. Sometimes, all you’ve got is cinematic compost. In other instances, the cream of the crop is something far outside the studio system.


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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
He's made bad taste a true art form. In light of his recent birthday, here's our choices for John Waters' 10 Best Films.

He was born to a pair of highly conservative parents. As a child, he spent hour after hour playing the fantasy gore game “car accident” and as a teen he tended to hang around the undesirable element in his ‘50s high school. By college age he was a first class shoplifter, a bohemian troublemaker, and a fledgling filmmaker. By the time he hit his twenties, he pooled his resources and his friends. Suddenly, Dreamland Studios was born, and John Waters was a director. Today, he’s the acknowledged Prince of Puke, a man whose humor has influenced countless generations of outsider artists. From There’s Something About Mary to the many faces of Apatow, he’s the inspiration for and the King of gross out gags.


So with his birthday this week, we thought we’d revisit the Waters canon, concentrating on his full length features. Granted, we have automatically removed one from consideration (we just don’t like Cecil B. Demented) and have avoided almost anything pre-Pink Flamingos (with an exception). Also, this is just a ranking of how we see the man’s career, not some universal declaration of good and bad. As a matter of fact, Waters has had one of the most consistent oeuvres of any recognizable auteurs. Because they are always built on his singular vision, his work remains instantly discernible…and accessible. You just have to have the stomach for it, even something as innocuous as the first title on our list:


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Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014
Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

At it’s very best, science fiction makes us think. It asks us to ponder the tough questions and consider the complicated consequences of messing with science, space, technology, and our own fragile grasp of same. It often contemplates ideas bigger than us, using a shape of things to come creativity that’s part warning, part welcome. Of course, Star Wars came and wrecked havoc on the genre, using its space operatics to turn quality science fiction into action adventure in the galaxy, but even within its movie serial designs are ideas that expand our concept of who we are, and who we might be. It’s an approach that’s often yielded uneven results, especially when the desire for eye candy and brain busting special effects take precedent over the one thing great speculative fiction cannot live without, ideas.


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