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Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012
Halloween is fast approaching. Here are our Top 10 Picks for fright films guaranteed to disturb your sleep and shiver your spine.

In an arena as thoroughly subjective as the scary movie, how does one even begin to come up with a list of the artform’s very best? In the hierarchy of horror, things change so rapidly (and frequently) that, at any given moment, one category of creepy such as the Devil films of the ‘70s will give way to an entirely new fear fad like the slasher films of the ‘80s. This means that, as the genre shifts, trends taper off and subcategories flourish, one man’s terror quickly becomes one filmmaker’s trash. It’s the same with opinions on what is and is not petrifying. Dread is indeed a personal propensity, difficult to discuss in terms of absolutes and universals. Yet whenever fans get together and share their experiences with the cinema they love the most, conversations typically turn toward the defining films that began their affair with fear in the first place. Though they may not always agree, it is clear that there are certain films that stand out amongst the throng, that argue for their place as not only good grue, but expert cinema as well.


Again, there are certain caveats to this non-definitive Decalogue that should keep the obsessed and the angry in check, hopefully avoiding most call-outs and complaints to a minimum. Several sensational films from the myriad that many would consider crucial just missed the cut. They include current offerings like Shaun of the Dead and Hostel, as well as deserving efforts from decades past like The Howling, Hellraiser, Prince of Darkness, and Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead. In addition, classics from the Golden Age—films featuring the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman—were also discounted, given their already important place in the overall history of horror. Some will still argue that favorite films are missing or seated too far down the roll. They will dismiss any compendium that does not contain their own idea of fear. While no one claims its 100% authoritative, one thing is for sure, all 10 titles here will shiver you down to the very marrow in your bones, beginning with a truly movie bit of macabre…


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Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012
Steve Allen called him an unsung comic genius. He was right. Here is our tribute to the late, incredibly great Stooge with a finger in his eye and a "n'yuk, n'yuk" in his heart.

On 22 October 1903, a true comedy legend was born. While few would recognize him by his given name—Jerome Lester—millions recognized the sheer creative genius that was Curly Howard. Yes, Curly Howard, the third (and perhaps best loved) Stooge. The brother to Moe, and Shemp, and as part of the original Columbia short subject brigade, a man who brought mirth to multiple generations of comedy fans. But he didn’t start out as part of the act. While his brothers hooked up with partner Larry Fine and “leader” Ted Healy for several tours of vaudeville, “Babe” (as he was known to friends) pursued a career as a humorous conductor. When Shemp tired of Healy’s abuse and drinking, he left to take other offers. Moe suggested Curly step in, on one condition. He had to shave his full head of flowing red hair. Since he considered himself quite the ladies man (and he was), Curly was crushed.


Still, upon his debut with the trio, he quickly became its most iconic member. With a collection of classic mannerisms, malapropisms, and mugging, he soon symbolized the Stooges’ sensibility. Moe may have been the Mean One, and Larry and Laid Back One, but Curly was the Cut-up. He was the punchline to every joke, the rimshot to every pie in the face. Up until his untimely death from poor health at age 48, he was the center of attention, though he was far from happy. Still, the legacy he left behind has become a beacon to a long forgotten time of face slaps, eye gouges, and head clunks. In this regard, we present the Top 10 Three Stooge Shorts—Curly Edition—of All Time. Of course, there’s a caveat. This is a very personal list. After all, comedy is a very personal thing. Also, we’re concentrating on Curly, not the Stooges or shorts overall. And finally, the fact remains that you could easily do a Top 20… or 30… or 50 Curly overview (he co-starred in 98 of the timeless two reelers, after all) and still leave out something legitimate.


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Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012
Most sequels stink. Some soar. Here are our choices for 10 follow-ups that should have been made... and still could be, if Tinseltown was so predisposed.

For the second week in a row, Taken 2 sits atop of the North American box office. The highly anticipated sequel to the Liam Nesson hit from 2008 has taken in a whopping $87 million at the box office, making yet another return to Bryan Mills and his specialized espionage skill set a movie studio mandate. It’s that rare combination of fan friendly film and commercial success (critics, of course, be damned), the kind of cash cow that no suit can ignore - at least, not without losing their job. Since the dawn of the artform, Hollywood has loved to revisit material. The silents were a study in repeat theatricality, while the Depression saw a glut of musicals and mindless escapism. By the ‘50s, producers found a way to add continuity by building on franchises. Even though Andy Hardy, Charlie Chan, and their lot started the trend decades before, it was the prepost modern movement that argued for the viability of mining an original movie’s mojo for even more money.


Of course, for every unnecessary sequel, there have been many that never made it past the talking stage. A few, like a Hot Fuzz update, seem more like the punchline to a particular interview question than a stone cold career reality. In other cases, time has tripped by without allowing a proposal - like a Steven Spielberg produced spoof of his original blockbuster, penned by the National Lampoon gang, entitled Jaws 3, People 0 -to get beyond the pitch stage. In our humble opinion, there are a lot of great sequel ideas out there, things that rival Aliens and/or The Godfather Part 2 as matching or bypassing their seminal source. On the other hand, there are concepts that clearly weren’t thought out too well. Thus we present the 10 Sequels That Should Have Been/Should Be Made. Each one has plenty of potential. Whether audiences would respond to them now, so far removed from their original inspiration, remains to be seen. As Taken 2 argues, you need to strike while the iron is hot, not hesitant.


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Tuesday, Oct 9, 2012
Some of our very best filmmakers got their start in front of the lens. Here are 10 terrific examples of those who've made the struggle for said recognition a success.

It’s a tricky subject…and it’s also an old cliche. Almost every sitcom and story about Hollywood to come out of the maudlin Me Decade of the ‘70s and the Greed is Good era of the ‘80s used the “but what I really want to do is direct” punchline as part of some preconceived preoccupation with the men and women who make/made movies their job. No one was happy unless they could dictate their own filmic fate. Yet as you will see, the notion of a performer taking the reins of their own onscreen showcases is nothing new. Sometimes it was done out of necessity. At other times, it was a question of financial convenience. At the heart of it all is a desire to express oneself, to move beyond playing pretend to actually craft the backdrop and its accompanying believability in which to set such sometimes amazing Method-ology.


Of course, coming up with a list like this is next to impossible. First, we have the question of the core concept. Is someone like Elaine May a worthy addition, considering her limited time onscreen and her equally uneven output as a director? What about Ron Howard, a commercial titan but a critical clown, for the most part? Do we look at confirmed outsiders like Sean Penn as viable inclusions, or is someone like Peter Berg or Jon Favreau too mainstream to make an appearance? Questions… questions. In any case, here are our choices for the 10 (or make that, 11) best actors turned directors in the 100-plus year history of film. Certainly we have forgotten a few important names, but for us, these individuals argue not only for a smooth transition between creative crafts, but the viability of making such a decision, beginning with a pioneer who fell into her future role quite by accident:


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Tuesday, Oct 2, 2012
Thirty-five years. Ten terrific movies. This is how we see the amazing creative canon of David Lynch and his superb, if sparse, output.

Thirty-five years ago, the American movie going public was put on notice that the artform they so desperately worshipped would never be the same again. Then, before a lengthy fun on the Midnight circuit, David Lynch’s first feature film, Eraserhead, premiered, and the concept of what could and could not become commercial cinema was forever challenged (note to the uninformed—celluloid lost). Since then, the eccentric writer/director has carved a niche within indie and arthouse genres, experimenting with type while letting his approach journey into hallowed, hallucinatory places. In celebration of his initial foray into filmmaking, we will take a look at the man’s output, and list them accordingly. This is not really a best to worst. Instead, it’s an overall assessment, a career consideration that should be longer, but frustratingly, and fascinatingly, is not.


Let’s start off by saying the following. At least three things that Lynch has been associated with—the TV shows Twin Peaks and On the Air, as well as the multimedia piece Industrial Symphony No. 1—cannot be considered. They just don’t meet our “movie” standard. We will also avoid his sensational short films, as well as the experiments on his DavidLynch.com website. So by sticking to his features, we end up with ten titles to rank and reevaluate. That makes things a bit simpler…if not easier. You see, for those devoted to all things Lynch, his waking nightmare fever dreams are nothing short of sensational. Rating one higher than another is almost an unthinkable task. Still, we will put our nose to the cinematic grindstone and come up with a way to compare/contrast The Elephant Man against Lost Highway for proposed placement. In fact, it’s safe to say that there is no greater collection of motion pictures as the one’s filling this man’s amazing oeuvre, beginning with his one considered failure (?!)…


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