Friday, July 29, 2022

On This Day in 2002: Remembering SIGNS...

An extraterrestrial visitor walks past a Brazilian birthday party in SIGNS.

It was 20 years ago today that Signs, my all-time favorite M. Night Shyamalan film (even moreso than 1999's The Sixth Sense) was released in theaters nationwide.

So many great scary moments in this movie (specifically the scene above where an alien visitor pays an unexpected visit to a birthday party in Brazil)...though we'll overlook the hilarity that extraterrestrials who are allergic to water would invade a water planet like Earth without having any protective gear on!

Signs was released two years after the film Gladiator, so it was kind of weird watching Joaquin Phoenix—who was phenomenal as the villainous emperor Commodus in Ridley Scott's 2000 Academy Award winner—be the hero at the end of Shyamalan's sci-fi thriller.

"Swing away."

Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), Graham's son Morgan (Rory Culkin) and daughter Bo (Abigail Breslin) deal with extraterrestrial visitors in SIGNS.

An extraterrestrial visitor breaks into the Hess' household in SIGNS.

Merrill Hess confronts the extraterrestrial visitor as his niece Bo watches from outside a window in SIGNS.

Monday, July 25, 2022

On This Day in 1997: Remembering AIR FORCE ONE...

Russian terrorist Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman) confronts U.S. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) aboard his hijacked presidential aircraft in AIR FORCE ONE.

It was 25 years ago today that the movie where President Han Solo told Commissioner James Gordon to get off his plane was released in theaters nationwide!

In all seriousness, Air Force One was one of my favorite movies of 1997. Harrison Ford was awesome as U.S. President James Marshall, Glenn Close was great as U.S. Vice President Kathryn Bennett and Gary Oldman was so intense as Russian terrorist Ivan Korshunov that it was weird to see him as the heroic Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight trilogy almost a decade later.

The only gripe that I have with Wolfgang Petersen's film was Air Force One's demise at the end of the movie. In case you don't recall, the presidential aircraft—with the traitorous Secret Service agent played by Xander Berkeley the only living person still onboard—slams into the ocean after Marshall and his family are safely rescued by U.S. Special Forces soldiers aboard the Liberty 24 aircraft (clips below). Needless to say, the CGI version of Air Force One breaking apart after it impacted the water wasn't exactly Best Visual FX material for the Oscars!

However, the most memorable aspect of Air Force One for me was the music score by Jerry Goldsmith. I love jingoistic tunes in summer blockbusters...which is also why David Arnold's patriotic work in 1996's Independence Day is one of my favorite film scores of all time! Goldsmith's main theme from Air Force One is also featured below.

Happy Monday!





Saturday, July 23, 2022

Movie Review: NOPE...

A flying saucer chases after OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) in NOPE.

Earlier today, I watched Jordan Peele's sci-fi thriller Nope at AMC theaters. Needless to say, it is another creative and witty film by the Oscar-winning director of Get Out and Us!

Nope is about a horse-wrangling family who tries to make ends meet after the father, Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David), dies under mysterious circumstances at the start of the film. OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer), Otis' children, notice a mysterious object lurking in the clouds above their Southern Californa ranch—and attempt to earn some money by capturing the clearest footage possible of this UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) on various cameras.

OJ and Emerald get more than they bargain for in their attempt to film this object, as it is no ordinary flying saucer zooming around the skies above their home in Agua Dulce (a real locale in Los Angeles County). If you watched War of the Worlds—the 2005 version by Steven Spielberg, specifically—and remembered what happened to humans abducted by the alien tripods, then you'll get an idea as to what kind of danger this territorial saucer poses against OJ, Emerald and all the other residents of Agua Dulce!

As mentioned at the start of this review, Nope is an absolutely creative film. Peele reinvents the wheel with this flying saucer, and there is so much symbolism in this movie that I'd need to re-watch it to get a clearer understanding of them. Example: OJ and Emerald are the descendants of the horse-riding stuntman featured in a series of images (shown below) that were captured by 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Horses play a major role in Nope (as the trailers clearly reveal), and by the end of the film, one of the main characters is framed in a shot that mimics the iconic photos taken by Muybridge. Also, there's a maniacal (if not homicidal) chimpanzee named Gordy who also factors into the cryptic themes behind Nope.

[I'm sure that there are lots of online articles now talking about the plot points of Nope, but I prefer writing a review using my current knowledge of the movie (with some quick help by IMDb) before I start reading articles about it.]

Nope has a cast as phenomenal as the concept that Peele came up with for this movie. Along with David, Kaluuya and Palmer, Steven Yeun (of the Oscar-nominated film Minari and TV's The Walking Dead), Brandon Perea (of American Insurrection) and Michael Wincott (of 1994's The Crow...one of my favorite flicks of all time) have memorable roles in this very clever and suspenseful movie.

Nope was shot on 65mm Kodak film for IMAX. After watching the movie at AMC theaters today, I can see why Peele wanted this film to be presented in the ultra-large format! I definitely need to see this flick at the multiplex again to gain a greater appreciation of the thrills and chills that Peele conveyed in his latest critical hit. And one last thing: The film obviously explains why it's titled 'Nope.'

Two thumbs way up for Nope!

A series of images showing a horse-riding stuntman that were shot by 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge.
Eadweard Muybridge, via National Gallery of Art

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Photos of the Day: The OPPENHEIMER Teaser Poster and Film Still...

The teaser poster for OPPENHEIMER.

One day after a previous Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises, marked the 10-year anniversary of its theatrical release, another Christopher Nolan movie is officially on the horizon as Universal Pictures unveiled the teaser poster for Oppenheimer...Nolan's World War II biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist and the man who led the creation of the atomic bomb.

Oppenheimer will debut in theaters nationwide on July 21, 2023—and stars Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer himself. Also in the star-studded cast are Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Josh Hartnett, Alden Ehrenreich and Gary Oldman. Along with Murphy, Modine and Oldman previously worked with Nolan on The Dark Knight trilogy as well.

A teaser trailer for Oppenheimer is set to be shown exclusively in front of Jordan Peele's sci-fi thriller Nope (which is also distributed by Universal Pictures) this weekend. Can't wait to see the trailer and this film on Saturday!

A film still of Cillian Murphy as theoretical physicist, and creator of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

On This Day in 2012: Remembering THE DARK KNIGHT RISES...

Bane (Tom Hardy) prepares to battle Batman (Christian Bale) in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

It was 10 years ago today that director Christopher Nolan brought his Batman trilogy to an epic close with The Dark Knight Rises.

It didn't become a classic like 2008's The Dark Knight, but the final film was still a critical and box office hit—despite the horrible event that occured at a Dark Knight Rises midnight screening in Aurora, Colorado a decade ago today. Real-world tragedy aside, it felt pretty somber to watch the Caped Crusader (Christian Bale) taking on an immensely formidable opponent (Bane, played by Tom Hardy) in a Nolan flick for the last time.

I watched The Dark Knight Rises for the first time on the big screen at Universal Cinema AMC in Hollywood...where one of the camouflaged Tumblers used by Bane's forces was on display in the outdoor plaza. For more images that I took of this awesome vehicle back in 2012, visit my webpage below!

LINK: Click here to view more Tumbler photos that I took at Universal Cinema AMC in Hollywood

An image I took of a camouflaged Tumbler from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES outside the Universal Cinema AMC theater in Hollywood...on July 20, 2012.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

TOP GUN: MAVERICK Has Reached a Huge Milestone at the Box Office!

Maverick (Tom Cruise) leads a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets across the ocean in TOP GUN: MAVERICK.

Congratulations to Paramount Pictures for the enormous success that Top Gun: Maverick has enjoyed at the theaters since its release almost two months ago!

As of today, the Tom Cruise action sequel has earned $601.9 million at the domestic box office...surpassing Titanic's initial domestic box office gross of $600.8 million that it accumulated back in 1997-'98.

Top Gun: Maverick is currently the highest-grossing film, both domestically and internationally, of 2022. However, Titanic still remains Paramount Pictures' highest-grossing domestic movie in the studio's 110-year history—with re-releases in 2012 and 2017 bringing the North American gross of James Cameron's Oscar-winning epic to $659.3 million.

Speaking of Titanic and James Cameron, the Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet film is celebrating the 25-year anniversary of its theatrical release this December. We'll see if Paramount commemorates this occcasion on the big screen...as Disney is unveiling James Cameron's first Avatar sequel, The Way of Water, that same month!

Happy Wednesday.

TITANIC remains the highest-grossing domestic film for Paramount Pictures...at $659.3 million.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

THE BROKEN TABLE Update: It's a Wrap!

The final film festival scorecard for THE BROKEN TABLE.

With the final event that it was an Official Selection in (the Doge Film Festival, which occurred in New York City last week) now in the books, it's safe to say that The Broken Table's festival run is now complete!

Much thanks to the 31 film festivals that made The Broken Table an Official Selection and Award Winner. This wouldn't have been possible without the amazing cast and crew members who made this project happen!

Happy Thursday.

Print-outs of THE BROKEN TABLE's 13 award certificates.

Version 1 of THE BROKEN TABLE's poster with all of its film festival laurels.

Version 2 of THE BROKEN TABLE's poster with all of its film festival laurels.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

On This Day in 2007: Remembering TRANSFORMERS...

Optimus Prime is ready to brawl in TRANSFORMERS.

It was 15 years ago today that Michael Bay unleashed the live-action versions of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and Co. on the big screen with his first of five Transformers movies.

Transformers was my favorite film of 2007—due to it being as action-packed and goofy as Independence Day (my favorite flick of 1996), Steve Jablonsky creating an epic music score for this movie, and Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox actually winning me over with their onscreen chemistry.

What are other reasons as to why Transformers is an awesome film? Because it's about a nerdy high school kid who inadvertently buys a vintage sports car that turned out to be a giant ass-kicking alien robot in disguise...and that giant ass-kicking alien robot helped that nerdy kid get with the hottest girl in his high school at the end. Gotta love Hollywood!

Despite what Stephen King said about watching Transformers, I intend to see it again at the theater a week from today. Just like with Men in Black today, Fathom Events will host a 15-year anniversary screening of the Bay-directed blockbuster film on July 10. Can't wait!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

On This Day in 1997: Remembering MEN IN BLACK...

MEN IN BLACK.

It was 25 years ago today that Barry Sonnenfeld's sci-fi comedy Men in Black—an adaptation of a 1990-'91 Marvel comic book series—was released in theaters nationwide.

Men in Black was one of my favorite films from the summer of 1997 (I was going to be a senior in high school that fall)...even though I realized that it wasn't as funny to watch on the small screen when I bought the movie on VHS from a local Blockbuster Video store later that year. Kinda like how I didn't realize how awesome Independence Day (which I only saw at the multiplex once during its initial release in 1996) truly was until I viewed it on the big screen again in 2016, for its 20-year anniversary.

On an odder, more personal note, it was Men in Black that inspired me to shave my head! I shaved it during the summer of 1997, then started shaving it on a permanent basis in 2000. Why? As I said in the previous paragraph, Men in Black was one of my favorite movies 25 years ago...to the point where I hilariously envisioned myself in a slick black business suit mingling with extraterrestrials-in-disguise in my hometown, and erasing people's memories with a Neuralyzer.

It occurred to me that I would look good with a shaved head and a black business suit in real life (which was my appearance at an entertainment marketing job I worked from 2004 to 2015)! And the rest is history.

EDIT (July 3): I attended a Fathom Events screening for Men in Black at AMC theaters today.



If you read my blog entry above you'll know why I posted this!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Movie Review - JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION...

The theatrical poster for JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION.

So I watched the sixth and supposedly final film in the Jurassic Park franchise this evening, and needless to say, I can see why Colin Trevorrow was removed from his directing gig on Star Wars: Episode IX years ago!

Jurassic World: Dominion had a convoluted storyline, and its use of nostalgia (with Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum returning as Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Dr. Ian Malcolm in this movie) was not half as effective as what Tom Cruise and Co. pulled off in Top Gun: Maverick.

While I'm comparing Dominion to the Top Gun sequel, the two are the complete opposite of each other (overlooking the obvious fact that one flick is about fighter jets and the other about giant ancient reptiles): Maverick had great editing, great music and a clear and coherent storyline. Dominion didn't have any of those.

(But at least Dominion was shot on celluloid! It employed Panavision cameras using Kodak film... I appreciate that old-school creative decision.)

Dominion also had laughable plot points and moments—such as the CIA somehow being responsible for monitoring dinosaurs around the world, and Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard's characters not caring to help Grant, Sattler and Malcolm out of that overturned Jeep in the movie's third act. Or was that still the second act? Can't tell... The story was convoluted.

Also, it's unfortunate that I can't remember any memorable motifs (other than the classic Jurassic Park theme) in Michael Giacchino's music score for Dominion. Oh well. At least he has other recent films like The Batman to be proud of.

Time to watch Top Gun: Maverick at the theater again to remove the overall bitter taste I have from Jurassic World: Dominion! That is all.