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Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014
For most of us in the West, it was television and the work of Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass that made stop-motion animation an aesthetic given.

It’s origins can be traced by to 1897 and a film called The Humpty Dumpty Circus. There the technique was used to illustrate a collection of toys and stuffed animals coming to life. Famed film maestro George Melies used it for many of his films while Willis O’Brien popularized it with efforts such as The Lost World and King Kong.


It was George Pal, however,  who brought the concept to the kiddies—so to speak—creating a collection of celebrated “Puppetoons” that cemented the approach as part of the family film ideal. For most of us in the West, however, it was television and the work of Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass that made stop-motion animation an aesthetic given. Though they made a few feature films, their broadcast classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, and Here Comes Peter Cottontail turned an entire generation onto the then dying artform.


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Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
From hangnails to horrific diseases, infections to amputations and all in between, here are 10 fright flicks that get the biology unbound right.

They say we only truly fear a few specific things: the death of a loved one; our own mortality; speaking in public (?). But buried within these specific phobias lies an equally compelling terror, one that can be summed up in two words: body horror.


For some, it’s losing a limb. For others, it’s an unnatural growth or tumor. Whether it’s chewing on a piece of tin foil or sliding down a banister festooned with razor blades, rotting from the inside out or bouts of gross gangrene, injury to ourselves (or others, to be fair) provides a basic, inherent sense of dread. It’s biology unbound, it’s our own humanity out of control and harmed/harmful.


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Tuesday, Sep 9, 2014
No, David Cronenberg’s Total Recall never made it to the screen. And we are all the poorer for it.

This article is adapted from the book The Sci-Fi Movie Guide (Visible Ink, 2014).


Even were it not for the mental anguish brought about by the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it would be obvious we live in strange times, cinematically speaking. To wit: Every other movie playing in theaters features alien invasions, bionic bodysuit weaponry, time travel, or a half-dozen other elements that make a geeky kid’s heart beat just that much faster. You would think, then, that studios would be dusting off every science-fiction script their D-girls passed on over the past couple decades and working out how to put Matthew McConaughey in it.


But there are still drawers full of unproduced maybe-classics out there just waiting for somebody to give them a couple hundred million bucks and a few movie stars to play with. Here are some of the more legendary never-produced science-fiction films that should be green-lit tomorrow. Before you ask: No; these films would almost definitely not make their money back. But after Cowboys & Aliens, Transformers, and Star Trek Into Darkness Hollywood owes us a few gimmes in exchange for allowing Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman to debase the entire field of cinematic science fiction.


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Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014
Time to put a fork in the 2014 Summer Movie Season. Here are the 10 Best and 10 Worst films that filled our hot, sticky days with cinematic joy, sorrow and boredom.

As the final days of August recede in the rearview mirror, as Hollywood prepares for its second massive movie dump of 2014 (January through April being the first of such cinematic exiles), it’s time to reflect on the best and worst of what turned out to be a surprisingly uneventful Summer season. Indeed, with only one movie making significant inroads worldwide (yep,  Michael Bay’s tepid Transformers: Age of Extinction managed to break the billion dollar bank around the planet) and no domestic release reaching $300 million, Tinseltown is hanging its head in shame.


Sure, there were significantly less flops this time around than last year (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Hercules being the ‘lone’ exceptions), but there were also more mediocrities. Indeed, bad movies have been replaced by “meh” movies in 2014, films you can neither love nor loathe.


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Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014
While his life was filled with many career triumphs, the late Richard Attenborough will always be remembered for these ten examples of his undeniable talent.

Richard Attenborough was born in 1923 to a founding member of Britain’s Marriage Guidance Council (a charity centering on advice for couples) and a scholar who wrote the standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. In World War II, he served with the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) film unit (where he recorded the outcome of Bomb Commander sorties) before taking to the stage. He would soon become one of Britain’s biggest box office draws.


He costarred in the original production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, taking a ten percent profit-participation in the production. It would go on to set a world record as the longest running stage play in history (over 25,000 performances and still going strong) and during the ‘60s, he recorded triumphs in both hero and villain roles. He even earned back to back Golden Globes (for The Sand Pebbles and Doctor Doolittle), becoming one of his homeland’s most celebrated stars in the process.


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