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Tuesday, Dec 9, 2014
With Paramount announcing Roberto Orci's replacement as director of the upcoming Star Trek 3, we look back at ten other times when studios and suits played musical chairs with their filmmakers.

Over the weekend, in a low key announcement it hoped would fly way under the PR radar, producing studio Paramount announced that Roberto Orci, the director responsible for handling the third film in the newly rebooted Star Trek franchise, had been relieved of his duties. For some, this was expected. Orci is a famed screenwriter, and he’s at least partially responsible (with former writing partner Alex Kurtzman and filmmaker J.J. Abrams) for invigorating the beloved sci-fi series’ stalled fortunes.


On the other hand, he had never directed a feature film before. Also, Orci provoked the anger of Trek Nation by browbeating the fanbase over the affection (or lack thereof) for 2013’s Khan-oriented Into Darkness. It was a gamble. While he said all the right things during the original honeymoon media phase, apparently he was not prepared for an assignment of this magnitude.


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Tuesday, Dec 2, 2014
Disney may have "invented" it, but here are ten examples where live action footage blended with animation to become a cinematic statement all its own.

Let’s get one thing straight right up front: we clearly recognize, going into this category, that almost every movie made in 2014 could be considered for this list. Thanks to a little something called CGI and its overuse by modern moviemakers, almost every film featured at your local Cineplex contains some animated element. That beautiful rendering of your favorite city or countryside? Digitally tweaked. That stunning car chase or impossible stuntwork? Aided by computer-generated vehicles and characters.


Of course, your favorite superhero and his equally engaging villains are rendered with the help of technology. Even basic stuff, like support wires, make-up mistakes, and posthumous performances are altered, thanks to those post-Jurassic Park technical breakthroughs. So we aren’t going to address this approach. If we did, we’d have to parse through hundreds of movies and make mention of each instance where a laptop or motherboard made a difference.


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Friday, Nov 21, 2014
He was more than just a filmmaker. With his passing at age 83, Mike Nichols leaves behind a legacy filled with awards and attitudes which influenced every medium he was involved in.

Mike Nichols won nine Tony Awards, four Emmys, a Grammy and an Oscar, making him one of the few artists in any medium that can claim such honors. Not bad for a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who thought of becoming a doctor but, instead, dropped out of the University of Chicago to try the theater. It was there where he met partner Elaine May, and the two would soon become the toast of contemporary (‘50s) pop culture.


He was accepted into the Actor’s Studio and studied under the great Lee Strasberg before joining the Windy City’s Compass Players in 1955. Along with May, Shelley Berman, Del Close, and Nancy Ponder, they were the predecessors for the noted Second City improv troupe. In 1960, Arthur Penn directed the Broadway smash An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and soon both were huge household names.


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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
We wrap up our cinematic overview of former flops that became movie masterworks with a tantalizing Top 10 including three efforts now considered the greatest of all time.

When last we left off with “Films That Went From Bombs to Beloved: 20 - 11”, we were talking about bombs. Motion picture bombs. No, not those big (or small) budgeted behemoths that stumble into the Cineplex, announce their mediocrity, and then wander out with little to show for it except an IMDb listing and a lot of negative social media screeds. In this case, we aren’t concentrating on films that flopped because of their lack of creativity or invention.


No, with this overview, we are concentrating on films that failed in spite of their final evaluations. Put another way, we are going back over the history of cinema and staring in wide-eyed disbelief at some of the titles that, today, we adore, but years ago were marginalized and miscalculated. Yes, a few of them made money (if you consider a million or so over budget a “gold mine”), but for the most part, they strutted and fretted their hour upon the big screen stage, only to really gain respect and recognition much later on.


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Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014
Not every cinematic bomb remains forgettable. Sometimes, a failure is just a gemstone in disguise that will only reveal itself well past the release date.

Movies usually bomb because they are bad. Uber bad. Can’t be redeemed by acting, directing, or scripting terrible. In those cases, the write-off is obvious. As the medium moves on, the truly awful fall by the wayside, brought up only when discussions of the worst of the worst are warranted.


Sometimes, however, a film failure isn’t. Instead, it’s a victim of circumstances; the culture of the moment, the counterintuitive perspective of the final product, the star/director choices. And then there are those cases where a movie is literally ahead of its time, unable to be enjoyed in its own temporal moment but, once removed, is revitalized and reevaluated. Some may argue that this is a current phenomenon, home video and the internet allowing for such reassessment. In reality, as long as there have been film critics, there has been such scholarship.


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