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Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011
Think the actor's recent rash of paycheck-cashing roles is something new? These 10 career-spanning examples will set the record straight.

Everyone loves to argue that, over the last decade of so, Nicolas Cage was a great actor making only wise decisions. They love to point to his filmography circa 2005 to present and conclude that, before this unfortunate binge as a play for hire paycheck casher, the award winning star was work smart and role savvy. They highlight his recent pathetic attempts at working within difficult genres—the comic book epic (Ghost Rider), the apocalyptic headscratcher (Knowing), the sci-fi actioner (Next)—and resolve that, prior to some bout of wild child tabloid talentlessness, a pre-middle aged Cage made all the right choices. In turn, they have gone from adoring to apoplectic, hating their one time hero in the process. 


In response to such a conclusion, all one can say is…WHAT? If anything, Nicolas Cage has made it his goal, every arduous step of the way, to thwart convention and instill anger. Even during his meteoric rise in the late ‘80s, he would temper success with sidetracks into the weird and eccentric. In fact, scattered throughout his near 25 years in the biz, he’s made as many blunders as brilliant moves. In celebration of the DVD release of one of his worst bank statement supplements—last January’s confused crap Season of the Witch—we look back at the 10 most flagrant film f*ck-ups any actor can claim. If you want clear reasons to hate him, this collection offers conclusive proof.  Clearly, Cage always had hack in him. It just took the last few years for it to fully flower.


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Tuesday, Jun 21, 2011
Lock up the wee ones... here are 10 films guaranteed to stunt their growth, as well as their sense of fun and imagination.

In 2011, the family film is a staple of the standard Cineplex experience. From anthropomorphic animals and objects to low brow live action lessons in caring and sharing, Hollywood can churn out the kiddie chum with shocking regularity. Every week, a new affront to taste and future therapist’s visits. Perhaps even more astonishing is the public’s—or make that, parent’s—lack of consideration in making choices for their wee ones. They will literally buy almost anything, just as long as it has the requisite amount of slapstick and stupidity to keep their offspring out of their hair for a while. As an ersatz babysitter, the PG to G rated entertainment has gone from being amiable to merely available. As a result, picking ten examples of cinema’s worst is a lot like shuffling CG penguins around a ritzy Manhattan apartment… possible, but not a very pleasant experience overall.


In creating our list, we had to apply a few caveats. For one, we didn’t consider the animated film when compiling this list. Noxious cartoons are their own stagnant slice of Hell. Similarly, we didn’t scour the shelves for knock-offs, clear copyright infringements like Ratatoing or The Little Panda Fighter, which leads to another category we tried to avoid. Bless them for their advances in style and concept, but the foreign film community can surely stink up the joint with their jaded, often harsh family fare. From the aforementioned Mr. Popper and his pooping water fowl (in theaters now!) to something like Thunderpants (about a kid gifted with the ability to fart really well… no seriously), there are plenty of regular choices to choose from. In this case, we guarantee that all ten will challenge your view of viable kid vid material, as well as your will to live.


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Thursday, Jun 16, 2011
Get ready to have your aesthetic driven insane by these 10 toxic examples of cinematic "huh?"

Movies usually don’t set out to confuse. Indeed, their concept by committee designs and carefully constructed marketing plans don’t leave much room for oddity or the unusual. True, every once in a while, a studio can get caught up in an otherwise pointless trend and turn something with measureable potential into a talent-free turkey shoot (case in point, this week’s major home video release, the redolent Red Riding Hood), but for the most part, commercial cinema struggles to avoid the “WTF?”... cyber-hipster speak for “What the F*ck?” No, in order to find these outward examples of oddball vision, one has to tip toe outside the mainstream and shift through the indulgent and arrogant back alleys of independents… or their equally elusive foreign paths.


Even then, “WTF?” can remain hard to truly define. It’s not just a badly miscast actor or actress embarrassing themselves onscreen or a script that substitutes logic and rationality for a determined dream logic. No, in order to qualify in this particular category, you have to think far outside the normative box, breaking the mold that no one wanted you to make in the first place. We’re talking jaw-droppers here, ideas and the expression of same that hurt your head and scorch your eyeballs with their brazen bewilderment. While there are potentially hundreds of examples to discuss, movies made to clean your cerebral clocks via some manner of celluloid sulfuric acid, we’ve decided to celebrate these ten as the most unusual and off-putting ever, starting with a big budget work from the ‘70s that still inspires stares of creative disbelief…


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Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011
The 10 Greatest Examples of Summer Movie Magic By the Filmmaker Who Created the Reason for the Season...

He is one of our greatest filmmakers, and yet he is constantly dismissed for one ever-present and undeniable fact: no one has been more successful as a director than Steven Spielberg. From his career defining work in Jaws to his latter day triumphs of dramatics and depth, he has been unfairly criticized for being more populist than exclusive, working in genres that don’t typically define “art” and avoiding the risk and the experiment to play in more common, commercial territory. He is the very definition of the mainstream, a moviemaker who has understood what the public wants in each of the five decades he has sat behind the lens. Sure, there have been some flops (Always, 1941) and some less than special triumphs (Hook, Catch Me If You Can), but there is one thing that even critics cannot deny—when it comes to the Summer movie season, nobody is a better perennial poster boy.


Looking over his vast catalog, it’s interesting to note how many of this biggest triumphs ended up as part of the May to August rush. A few classics—Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schnidler’s List, Munich—came out during what it usually considered Awards Season, but for the most part, Spielberg is a sunbeam and lemonade film fixture. His muse is specifically set to combine fireworks and emotion into a heady stew of movie magic. It’s with this in mind—and the arrival of the obvious homage Super 8—that we narrow down his oeuvre into the Top 10 Spielberg Summer Blockbusters of all time. Without him, the popcorn season would never have been the same. With him, the entire landscape of the modern movie industry was changed forever. It’s a imprint that continues on to this day (doesn’t it, J.J. Abrams???):


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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
In recognition of his entire career (and the recent release of A Clockwork Orange in a 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition), we order Stanley Kubrick's classics, from #11 to #1.

It’s like picking through diamonds. Some are flawless. Others have minor imperfections that do little to damage their luster. As for the rest, well, there are a couple that could pass for precious, but beyond that, they’re more industrial than iridescent. That’s what it’s like looking over Stanley Kubrick’s amazing output. In the lexicon of film, few stand as tall or as iconic as this renowned genius. He’s the agreed upon gold standard, the definitive talking point when the subject of cinema as art comes around. Few have reached his level of reverence. So imagine the difficulty in ranking his work. With so many great entries to go through, so many mythic movies to consider, it is like being a jeweler. One has to take into consideration the entirety of the catalog, as well as the standing of each object, before plowing through and putting them in order.


There is a caveat, however. For starters, we have purposefully left out Kubrick’s first two “films”—1953’s Fear and Desire and 1955’s Killer’s Kiss. The former was disavowed by the director and has not had a legitimate home video release. The latter suffers from some technical issues and is considered a mere shadow of the filmmaker’s future genius. We also aren’t addressing his days as a photographer or his work in newsreels and short subjects. While important, they don’t fully explain this director’s lasting appeal and influence. Instead, this is an exercise in examining Kubrick’s ‘critical’ output—the titles that took him from unknown New York novice to internationally recognized auteur. Each step along the way, each aesthetic leap, leads to one inevitable conclusion—as an oeuvre, few are more impressive. As a craftsman, none can match him.


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