Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014
In celebration of his 40th year as a published author, we present these five unfilmed, and five already available Stephen King books that are crying out for a cinematic (re)configuration.

Forty years ago, on 5 April to be exact, a book entitled Carrie was released to limited fanfare. Written by a then unknown scribe named Stephen King, while he was struggling, it was actually his fourth complete novel (but first to be published). With an initial run of 30,000 copies, few could imagine the cottage industry it would help fuel. While the hardcover was hardly a hit, the paperback sold over one million copies. King quit his job as a teacher to concentrate on his new career and the rest, as they say, is one of the greatest runs in horror prose history. The mild mannered man from Maine with a wealth of internal demons and a demented way of expressing them would go on to sell a staggering 350 million books, many of which have been adapted into successful (or in many cases, schlocky) movies. In fact, during the ‘80s and ‘90s, hardly a year went by when another King effort made it onto either the big or small screen.


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Thursday, Apr 3, 2014
When you think animation, do you automatically think Disney, Pixar, Anime, Miyazaki, Studio Ghilbi and/or stop motion. Here are ten terrific examples that will broaden your perspective.

Perhaps a better title here would be The Best Non-Disney, Non -Pixar, Non-Anime, Non-Miyazaki, Non-Studio Ghilbi, Non-Stop Motion Animated Films of All Time. Yes, believe it or not, there are other offerings out there in the history of the artform other than the pen and ink (now mostly CG) spectacle of the House of Mouse, its computer supported partner, the fascinating finesse of the Japanese, and the entire Nightmare Before the Fantastic Mr. Fox frame-by-frame conceit. We would never know it, however. The merchandising machine built by Uncle Walt and his workers more or less covers the globe with its glad tidings, and the other studios in the system—Fox, Dreamworks, Paramount, etc.—can’t help but play Ice Age/Madagascar/How I Shreked Your Dragon catch-up. That just leaves the outsiders, the foreign entries and the independent wannabes who desperately hope your don’t mind a lack of Mickey, Minnie, Buzz, Woody, my neighbor Totorro or Porco Rosso in your latest trip to the cineplex.


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Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014
He was the King of '80s/'90s action. Now, while attempting a comeback, we look at the 10 best films in Arnold Schwarzenegger's onscreen action legacy.

He’ll be back on the silver screen this weekend in an oddball amalgamation of drug cartel crime thriller and murder/mystery whodunit entitled Sabotage, but the fact is that Arnold Schwarzenegger never really went away. Even while serving two terms as Governor of California, his legacy shifted while staying most ingrained in moviegoer’s hearts. After vowing a return to his previous place in the pop culture lexicon, he’s tried teaming up with other past action heroes (The Expendables 2), doing a duo piece with an equally ‘relevant’ rival (Escape Plan with Sly Stallone) and even going back to his “one man vs. many” mainstay dynamic (see below). In each case, new generations have mostly ignored this once celebrated superstar, leaving those of us in the outskirts of the biz wondering why this former box office behemoth has lost his way. That got us looking back at his past catalog and, suddenly, it all became clear. When he was on, there was nobody better. But that was then, and this is now.


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Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014
He's both beloved and berated by film fans around the world. Yet, for us, these 10 examples explain why Lars Von Trier is one of the artform's best.

When you mention the name Lars Von Trier, you get a decidedly diverse set of reactions. Many mainstream film fans have no idea who he is. They’ve never seen his work, perhaps could name check a movie or two they’ve “heard” about, and are perhaps better versed in his various recent tabloid tales than anything he’s done on celluloid. Others may be a bit better informed, mentioning his no-frills filmmaking ideal Dogme ‘95 or his controversial Cannes outbursts. On the other hand, it will be the rarified cinephile who can walk through the man’s output over the last few decades, delineating his output in both specifics and subtextual generics. Indeed, Von Trier is that kind of artist, an auteur with a singular vision that occasionally gets carried through (and away) within stark expressions of his own personal complexities. He doesn’t shy away from the difficult or the contentious, but he does occasionally let it do too much of the talking.


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Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014
Another 10 examples of possible productions that never got made, and why the declined studios should reconsider their decisions.

Sometimes, it’s fun to play “What if?” What if Sean Connery had stayed on to play James Bond to the bitter end? What if David Lynch (or David Cronenberg) had helmed the final film of the original Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi? What if the Beatles had played the various characters in their proposed adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, and what if Guillermo Del Toro had been given the cinematic carte blanche (and buckets of cash) to make his proposed hard-R homage to H. P. Lovecraft, In the Mountains of Madness, with Tom Cruise in the lead? Hollywood is filled with such possible projects, each one promising something special. Of course, film is a business as well as an artform, meaning sometimes, money and other pragmatic factors have to inject some sullen common sense into all that aesthetic excitement. A great idea doesn’t always mean a great final result. Huge bombs have been built out of wild ambition and free artistic license.


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