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Friday, Nov 18, 2011
It's time to end this entire Twilight twaddle, and here are ten reasons the phenomenon should go out with a chuckle, not a cheer.

As critic proof as the product from Pixar or the latest in a long line of unnecessary Underworld/Resident Evil/ Saw sequels, Twilight is getting ready to spin its final endgame in the two-part trial known as Breaking Dawn. Why a film focusing on the marriage of vampire Edward and his mope-about gal pal Bella and their eventual offspring requires four hours to tell its tale will always remains a Harry Potter inspired mystery (Deathly Hallows was a massive finale, book wise). What’s even more shocking, however, are the ridiculous lengths that author Stephanie Meyers will go to maintain her disaster-piece’s market share. Having already taken the slight premise of her initial novel and blown it up to all manner of illogical proportions, Breaking Dawn drives the over the top elements into the stratosphere, creating a conclusion that’s so clueless it’s like a teenager taking an Algebra II exam.


While there are dozens of dopey decision made throughout the course of this nutty narrative, at least ten stick out as more misguided than usual. Perhaps they tread all over established cliches only to embrace the truisms later on, or spend their weak-willed ingenuity like so much birthday money before going bankrupt. Whatever the case, we have chosen to preview this piecemeal entertainment by highlighting this collection of laughable logistics. While one assumes a bit of stupidity when it comes to Twilight - scratch that, a LOT of stupidity - the concepts here are more than pathetic. Instead, they show how thin an already wafer-like franchise can be expanded in order to earn more of that sweet, sweet international box office sugar, beginning with some beefcake for the shameful soccer moms in the audience:


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Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011
Today's List This features 10 tell-all tomes that will give you the scoop on some of Hollywood's most notorious films... and filmmakers.

Before the days of DVD, when commentaries and behind the scenes featurettes were restricted to the occasional Criterion laserdisc, the only way to get the making-of scoop on your favorite troubled production or flamboyant film personality was to actually pick up a book and read. Indeed, this sort of non-fiction reportage had the specific goal to lifting the lid on major motion pictures (especially highly publicized fiascos and flops) and the people who made them, providing the insider information that studios fought so stridently to restrict. Even today, in the tell-all tabloid nature of the media, there are many untold stories, onset situations and backstage dramas that never get divulged. So it’s up to the willing journalist to smoke out the scandal and discover the real reasons why a tripwire talent implodes, or a promising production ends up causing chaos – both critically and commercially.


However, the low down dirt is not always found in a detail-oriented dissertation or an interview-laden overview. Instead, several famous faces have decided to expose themselves, giving incredible insight into the mechanics of moviemaking – the dizzying highs and the Hellish lows. Even the standard biography, crafted by someone on the outside looking in, can offer a wealth of worthwhile context. It’s just a matter of picking through the glorified love letters and pasted together products to find something that supplies both substance and spice. While the following list is far from all inclusive, it does represent the kind of benchmark these books should strive for. Indeed, after paging through any or all of these varied volumes, you’ll be a much more qualified film fanatic. Without them, you’re just a sham cinephile. Let’s begin with:


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Thursday, Nov 10, 2011
by Susan King - Los Angeles Times (MCT)
War films have always been a staple of cinema -- providing the inspiration for some of the greatest and most honored films ever.

LOS ANGELES—War films have always been a staple of cinema—providing the inspiration for some of the greatest and most honored films ever.


During the silent era there were D.W. Griffith’s controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915), King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925) and William Wellman’s Wings (1927), which won the first best film Oscar. The 1930 antiwar film All Quiet on the Western Front was the first sound film to earn the best picture Oscar. The academy also gave its highest honor to 1970’s Patton, about World War II Gen. George Patton, 1978’s The Deer Hunter, one of the first films on the Vietnam War, and 2009’s The Hurt Locker, set during the Iraq war.


On Veterans Day on Friday, the U.S. pays homage to the military men and women who have served our country in past and current conflicts. For this occasion we asked writer and film producer Steven Jay Rubin, author of the book Combat Films: American Realism, 1945-2010, to select Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam combat films he most admires.


Susan King - Los Angeles Times (MCT)


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Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011
There are several reasons why David Lynch's third film is a masterpiece. Here are merely 10 of them.

Eraserhead got him noticed. The Elephant Man proved he could transfer his unusual muse to a more mainstream ideal. Indeed, for the first few years of his fledgling career, things were looking up for David Lynch. Then Dune came along and crushed whatever commercial credibility he had. Even critical acclaim and Oscar nominations couldn’t put aside the stigma of being yet another member of the failed blockbuster club. Desperate to again redefine himself and his work, Lynch shopped a script around centering on a mystery, a young man, and the ugly underneath the seemingly tranquil facade of small town America. Entitled Blue Velvet, many were turned off by its overt violence and seedy sexual content. Lynch never gave up, finally finding financing to bring his unencumbered vision to life.


Divisive at the time (Siskel loved it, while Ebert called it an abomination), it has come to be regarded as Lynch’s first legitimate masterpiece, a work of wild imagination and even greater professional skill. From the opening music that mimicked Hitchcock to an ending which offered both finality and a fairytale, it would become the benchmark by which all other efforts in the auteur’s oeuvre would be gauged. Currently getting the glorified HD treatment thanks to Blu-ray, one can re-experience the magic and the menace of this amazing film all over again. Indeed, for those of us who are students of the experience, there are certain beats, individual moments and concepts that create the work of art Lynch intended.


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Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011
Think all movies supply safe, mainstream entertainment? Not this collection of 10 scandalous selections guaranteed to stir up trouble.

Sex, violence, and religion. What do these things have in common—and no, we aren’t using this hot button triptych as the basis for some punchline. In fact, it’s safe to say that anytime one of these concepts is used in a motion picture—subtlety or shockingly—eyebrows will be raised. Now imagine going overboard in the depiction of same, or skirting censorship and the possibility of blasphemy to make a critical comment on each (or all). At this point, you’re wandering into the realm of the sense(less), a place where freaks are curious, yellow and the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover are as thick and human centipede thieves. It’s the world of the shocker, the controversial work of art that envisions a crucifix in a beaker of urine or a skinless human body preserved and positioned as sculpture.


Ever since Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (soon to be known as Hedy Lamar) bared her naked breasts in the Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy, the artform known as film has been dealing with the creative desire to push envelopes and broach taboos. Sometimes, it’s shock for shock’s sake (as in the eyeball slice from Un Chien Andalou). In other instances, the meaning is so unfathomable that even the most daring audience member leaves their scratching their head (as in E. Elias Merhige’s surreal Begotten). From the Mondo movies to the various examples of gore (Bloodsucking Freaks) and gratuity (do we really need a 10-minute rape scene, Irreversible?), cinema seems to thrive on a good PR problem.


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