Jurassic Park

In 1993 I went to see Jurassic Park and was blown away. I went back two more times and took my Dad to one of the showings.

I’ve always liked dinosaurs since I was a kid but on film they never looked right. They usually were claymation or men in suits. I really like claymation a lot on most things but the dinosaurs just never looked real. I’m not one who craves great special effects…the original Star Trek is great to me with its red beams stunning people. They were always able to convey the story and that is enough for me…but dinosaurs were not beams of light or the transporter…

When this movie came out it blew the doors off of any other movie because of the CGI and also animatronics. It was a game changer in so many ways and brought CGI to the forefront. Today younger people can not imagine what it was like seeing dinosaurs come to life that actually matched our imaginations. THIS is what we were used to. To see a T-Rex with the then new DTS surround sound in a theatre was frightening…a great kind though.

Was the movie Citizen Kane? Not at all but it was the first movie with CGI that looked and sounded real.

Saying that I do believe that CGI can be overused at the expense of a story but in Jurassic Park it was so new and many people could not believe their eyes. It still stands up today but now we are so desensitized to CGI that the movie doesn’t get noticed as much.

 

Needless changes to the original Star Wars

In 1977 a New Hope (then just called Star Wars) came out. It blew out records and changed Hollywood. The original first 3 came out at a perfect time. Science Fiction was not a sure box office hit then and it’s a wonder George Lucas got it made. Some of the script writing was iffy but as a whole, it was a wonderful saga. Not only were the movies good but the merchandising went crazy.

The prequels I just didn’t like. The feel of the originals was gone. Lucas said he wanted a change but he changed it just to another space flick. Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen just wasn’t right. Either bad casting combined with a bad script but to me, he was not convincing. He did do better in Revenge of the Sith but still, in my opinion, it wasn’t where it should have been. Ewan Mcgregor was wonderful as Obi-Wan and the standout to me in all the prequels.

What Lucas did to the original three re-releasing them caught backlash from fans. Changing some scenes…where Han shoots first and adding more decoration throughout the films. What made me upset is Lucas only offered a poor quality DVD set of the original three in 2006 without the changes. One dedicated fan Petr Harmáček spent half a decade tracking down high-quality prints of the 3 original films and put them back together and it’s called “Star Wars Despecialized Edition” that you can download. Petr did a great job with these and it shows you how great these looked when they were released.

There was no need for extra CGI decoration when these movies were re-released. I have nothing against CGI but I do like to see the films as the audience did way back when. When I went to see “The Force Awakens” I knew within the first 5 minutes that Star Wars had the same feel as the first ones. I also liked Rogue One and The Last Jedi…The Last Jedi got some complaints but I still liked it. It was a great send off for Carrie Fisher.

 

Clara Bow… The Only IT Girl

My favorite eras in the 20th century have always been the 1960’s, 1970’s and the 1920’s. I was looking through some books in the early 90s inside some a long forgotten book store and a picture of an actress caught my eye. There was something about Clara Bow that grabbed my attention. I had read about her in a terrible slanderous book called Hollywood Babylon by  Kenneth Anger  and I was compelled to get the book just by her stare from the cover. The book was written by David Stenn called Clara Bow”Runnin’ Wild… I finished it in one night. The book impressed me so much that a few years later I tracked down David’s phone number (again pre internet) called Mr. Stenn just to tell him how much I loved the book. After I explained to him that he made me a lifetime fan of Clara he graciously sent me an autographed copy of the book to replace my worn out (loaned out again and again) to my friends.

David Stenn actually had facts about Clara unlike Anger’s book of sensational garbage. Reading that book introduced me to the world of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. From there my interest in silent movies grew. I always thought all silent movies were grainy unwatchable films where all the actors were on speed. I soon was educated that most of those movies where played on the wrong projector at different speeds and that is the reason for the sped up action. The quality of many of those movies from the 20’s are better quality than movies made in the 60s-80s when mastered right. Stunts where not faked and CGI didn’t exist….everything is real.

Clara had a terrible childhood where her mother was mentally ill and tried to kill her. Her father may have sexually abused her on top of everything else. In her movies she sold the tickets. Paramount built movies off of her name and didn’t always give the best scripts but she was electric on film. Your eyes will automatically go to her. She could convey more in one look than actresses today can say in 10 minutes. She was never appreciated like she should have been and that is sad. She was never accepted by her peers and never invited to Hollywood parties because she was straight up and said what was on her mind. She was great with fans but stardom took it’s toll on her. She ended up marrying a western actor named Rex Bell and went into seclusion.

She did some “talkies” and they are enjoyable but nothing beats her silent movies like IT (no Pennywise) and Wings. Call Her Savage was her best talkie film. Check her out when you can… She is worth it.

 

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Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

Charlie and Buster were two of the best screen comedians ever to walk the earth. They both had similar upbringings. Buster and his family in American vaudeville. Charlie worked in British music halls. Charlie rose to stardom in silent movies in the 1910’s beginning with Keystone, Mutual (where he made his best short comedies)  Essanay and then he confounded United Artist with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and W. D. Griffith. After that Charlie went into full feature films.

Buster started silent shorts in 1917 with Roscoe Arbuckle. After Roscoe broke out on his own so did Buster….he did some more short films which were brilliant. He then went into full features. Buster was just so different than anyone else. He was so still while the world moved in chaos around him. He was a brilliant actor-director and also writer which he often didn’t take credit for doing. If Buster would have just made “The General” his place in film history would be cemented. The same can be said of Charlie Chaplin and his masterpiece “The Gold Rush.”

There was no competition between the two in popularity. Charlie won hands down over Buster and probably everyone else in comedy and drama. His character “The Tramp” was internationally loved. All in all Keaton was a better film maker. They were two different comedians. Chaplin would reach for pathos…sometimes a little too much. Keaton seemed much more real. Keaton’s site gags were incredible and sometimes dangerous to his health…like have a front of a building that weighed a ton (so it wouldn’t twist in the wind) fall on him with the upstairs opening clearing him around 2 inches on each side. He never smiled because it would have ruined his character. Both are worth watching and with Keaton’s films like Sherlock Jr…you wonder how he did some of the things he did with the primitive camera’s they used.

Both were funny men. The other big comedian was Harold Lloyd but he was more of an actor playing a comedian….he was really successful though… second to Chaplin in making money.

 

 

Charlie and Buster older both appear in Charlie’s Limelight.

IT 1990 and IT 2017

I’ve never seen IT as a horror story…I’ve seen it as a coming of age story with scary twists. I really like the novel and I wanted to see something as close as possible to the book.

I went to see IT with very high hopes. I realized before I went though that they could never be met so it is kinda of fruitless to do this. My hope (and far fetched dream) was that they would have made an HBO series of the novel. Yes it would have been around 10 – 15 hour long episodes. I wanted so much for the novel to come to life on screen. That wasn’t going to happen in one movie but I will say that yes I enjoyed the movie.

I’m not one of those who dismisses the 1990 mini series. They were working with a low budget and the constraints of television. With the exception of Beverly I thought the children were perfectly cast. The first episode was superior to the second episode but the second had it’s moments…not counting the terrible spider or the pony tail on Richard Thomas. The one thing IT 1990 had over 2017 is over all creepiness. Maybe it was Tim Curry and the late 80s sound effects.

IT 2017 was much better looking and I liked Bill Skarsgård’s version of Pennywise. The way he toyed with Georgia was classic. They revealed way too much in the many trailers and sneak peaks. Most of the movie you knew what was coming next. My biggest problem is the kids really didn’t have time to bond. Also the time change from the 1950’s to the 1980’s…did Andrés Muschietti just think the audience today could not comprehend the 50’s? The reason I liked the 50’s back drop is that kids were more innocent then and Pennywise in that era is more of a shock.

It’s not really fair to judge the new IT until Chapter 2 comes out in 2019 but the movie was enjoyable. I am just happy the story has been revived again.

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Great B Movies

The Car (1977) – One of my personal favorites…I actually talked my mom into taking me to this in 1977. I loved every minute of it. My son and I have watched it over and over.

It’s Alive (1974) – The trailer use to scare me to death as a kid. I would hear that scream in my sleep… Someone took me to see it and I loved it but was scared… Pure seventies joy.

 

The Spirit of 76 (1990) – A time machine with David Cassidy at the helm going back mistakenly to 1976 instead of 1776 from a grey future… Who could ask for more? It’s complete with Devo and they got the seventies down well. Fun movie to watch.

Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry (1974) – Another movie that I got to see in the theater that I will never forget. It does have a powerful ending…Peter Fonda was great in this and I loved the car they drove.

Gone In Sixty Seconds (1974) – This one is special to me because parked in the lobby of the Theater was Eleanor the car that was actually in the movie. I got to touch it and it was like touching gold to a 8 year old. I remember watching the trailer and my aunt taking me to see it.

A Boy and His Dog (1975) – I wont even try to explain…look at wiki…

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1958) – So bad that is it good. Watching the cardboard tombstones move as people walk near.

Superfly (1972) – Great movie…. A lot of the cops are real cops, hookers….real hookers…low budget with a great ending. Curtis Mayfield recorded the soundtrack…you can’t get better than that…As with another post…where is that car now?