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Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011
With today's release of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's Paul on DVD, we thought this was the perfect time to run down our choices for the funniest future shock sci-fi genre films of all time.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right up front… Spaceballs is NOT on this list. Sorry all you Web Nation neophytes who think this Star War spoof is the second coming of Boba Fett. Mel Brooks made some classic comedies in his day, lampoons which legitimately stand as solid examples of his wit and work. But to champion this sloppy Schwartz stuff on a list such as this would be like suggesting that the Family Guy‘s takes on George Lucas’ life’s work were brilliant bits of satire. No, a sci-fi comedy should be more than joke names and pop culture riffs. It should stand on its own insular world weirdness instead of relying on the latest headline to elicit laughs… or worse, work the genre into a lame lather by employing it as part of dopey Three Stooges in Orbit dynamic.


As a result, a compendium of comedies revolving around the fanciful and the forward-thinking, the interplanetary and the interstellar can be tricky. Many will argue for standard movie with sci-fi elements (Groundhog Day) while others will suggest works that meet a different criteria (Mystery Men = superhero movie) that what we are dealing with here. As a matter of fact, a DVD released today (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Paul) is a good example of the happy medium we are looking to achieve. On the one hand, it’s really a buddy flick with flying saucers. On the other, it’s an amazing comment on the hard to define world we’re working in. Many will argue with the choices. Some will suggest a stretching of the sci-fi definition. Whatever the case, the clear deciding factor is… are they funny?... and in this case, the answer is a resounding “YES!,” beginning with this beloved trequel of an equally adore franchise:


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Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011
The 10 trailers you don't want to miss for what's left of 2011. Forget Tosh.0’s YouTube videos -- these are the ideal form of two-minute entertainment.

With summer behind us, it’s time to look forward to fall. Ah, fall. Leaves turning. Temperatures mercifully dropping. Pro football back to the field (phew!). Best of all, it’s the best time of year for movies. Ambitious Oscar hopefuls make their pitches starting in September while patient box office dynamos wait for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to bring them a bit of luck. We get it all in the fall. What better way to prepare ourselves than previewing it through previews? Below are the most intriguing trailers for the remaining year (sorry, that means no Dark Knight Returns info). Some may turn out as grand as their marketing department made them out while others merely capitalize from the initial depiction before disappointing. Either way, forget Tosh.0’s YouTube videos—these are the ideal form of two-minute entertainment.


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Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011
Intelligent? Forward Thinking? Epic? Not these 10 Sci-Fi Titles, a collection of speculative crap that is more fetid schlock than future shock.

It’s perhaps the most potent grist in all movie millage… science fiction. No matter what you call it: sci-fi, syfy, speculative fiction, nerd nectar, it’s a ticking time bomb for the fledgling (or fully formed) filmmaker. Because of its outsized notions, its intricate ideas that initially skim the very surface of everyday society, only to dig deeper into realms unrealized and untapped, it’s a perfect set-up for failure. All you have to do is get one thing wrong—an acting choice, a production design, a F/X house—and your entire project becomes a legitimate laughing stock, a ridiculous bit of baffling creative conjecture. Like weak horror or unfunny comedy, bad science fiction can’t be salvaged. It just has to sit there, draining the life out of everything and everyone around it, until the running time puts us out of our misery.


So, picking the 10 worst examples of same should be a Klaatu cakewalk, right? Well, not really. There is such a broad spectrum of possible choices that we had to narrow the field a bit. We had to discount certain segments of the genre, less we end up sounding routine or repetitive. First off, we avoided anything with Star in the title—yes, that means no inclusion of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace or Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier. It’s just not fair to the rest of the non-franchise flops. Similarly, we steered clear of the true cheesy core of bad sci-fi—the 1950s. If we included all the lame schlock speculation that came out during the time, the list wouldn’t be ten but tenfold. Finally, there’s no direct to video titles present and accounted for. If we spent time on such Band-managed muck as Crash and Burn or Space Truckers, we’d never get to the real rottenness.


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Wednesday, Jul 27, 2011
Tinseltown's history is awash in unrealized cinematic dreams, from the most ardent indie approach to the most mild of mainstream conceits. This week we present the list of 'legendary' films that Hollywood failed to make... much to their detriment and film fan's chagrin.

In the last few days, Universal has finally confirmed what many film fans have already secretly feared: that instead of giving Ron Howard carte blanche to take on the Herculean task of bringing Stephen King’s lauded Dark Tower series to the big (and small) screen, they are pulling the plug. No Javier Bardem as gunslinger Roland Deschain. No beam journey into Mid-World. No final confrontation with the ultimate evil… at least not under its studio shingle. Someone else can foot the enormous bill such an undertaking would require. While it may seem like 2011 is shaping up to be the year of the unmade movie—what with Tower, Guillermo Del Toro’s In the Mountains of Madness, and Robert Zemeckis’ motion capture Yellow Submarine remake all going belly up—the truth is that Hollywood passes on product all the time. Mostly, they get it right. Sometimes, they never even give the concept a chance to get it wrong.


Tinseltown’s history is awash in unrealized cinematic dreams, from the most ardent indie approach to the most mild of mainstream conceits. All stars have had their vanity vehicles rejected while name directors lose as many gigs as they get. In the end, most lovers of film don’t notice and the wheels of the medium’s machine continue to roll. However—usually long after the fact—we learn of projects studios passed on that, in retrospect, seem a helluva lot better than the junk they constantly spew in our direction. Would they represent a sizable risk? Absolutely, but does every Inception like experiment have to be the result of billions of dollars in creative carte blanche? No. Still, the legends live on, including the 10 titles selected here. As just a few of the Greatest Unmade Movies of All Time, there’s no guarantee of eventual success. On the other hand, many of these DOA ideas continue to intrigue, including the first one on our list:


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Wednesday, Jul 20, 2011
The ten comedies that make us -- and perhaps, only us at Short Ends and Leader -- laugh out loud. Guaranteed to differ from yours... probably...

This is going to be a tough one. Humor, like musical taste or artistic appreciation, is always in the eye… and ear… and funny bone of the beholder. So when trying to pick through the best cinematic comedies of all time, one is bound to bash their clueless noggin against someone’s link to laughter. There will be those who look at this list and smile smugly, feeling superior that their love of Preston Sturges and/or the Farrelly Brothers trumps this troubled overview. Others will rage furiously at a lack of Abbott and Costello, some missing forgotten film, or too much post-modern attention. Again, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. Instead, if we agree to meet each other halfway, we can perhaps agree to reluctantly disagree.


That being said, there are some obvious omissions. Because much of their output is either missing or reserved for some snooty art house revival, we decided to avoid the whole Chaplin/Keaton argument all together. Similarly, we stopped paying attention to so-called comedy classicism around 2000, since it takes a while before humor shows its true Hangover longevity. Finally, we can fiddle with the order all we want, dropping something off the charts completely while considering long beloved titles like Some Like It Hot, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, or anything featuring the Ritz Brothers. So, without further fidgeting, and a guaranteed snicker spit storm, here are our choice for the greatest big screen comedies of all time, beginning with a highly unlikely inclusion…


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