9 items from 2016
The delightful British comedy The Smallest Show on Earth headlines a great Saturday matinee offering from the UCLA Film and Television Archive on June 25 as their excellent series “Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing” wraps up. So it seemed like a perfect time to resurrect my review of the movie, which celebrates the collective experience of seeing cinema in a darkened, and in this case dilapidated old auditorium, alongside my appreciation of my own hometown movie house, the Alger, which opened in 1940 and closed last year, one more victim of economics and the move toward digital distribution and exhibition.
“You mean to tell me my uncle actually charged people to go in there? And people actually paid?” –Matt Spenser (Bill Travers) upon first seeing the condition of the Bijou Kinema, in The Smallest Show on Earth
- Dennis Cozzalio
Since any New York cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.
The Brian De Palma retrospective has its best weekend yet: Carlito’s Way and Raising Cain on Friday; Body Double and Femme Fatale on Saturday; and, this Sunday, Mission: Impossible, Snake Eyes, and the underseen, Paul Schrader-penned Obsession.
A program of Chuck Jones shorts plays on Saturday; Party Husband screens this Sunday.
Museum of »
- Nick Newman
Annecy — For years, CG animation has driven to emulate reality. Technological standards are now so high, however, that animation can now begin to emulate art, even the squash and stretch comedy of hand-drawn classics.
One result: DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby,” starring Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow, set for a March 2017 release via 20th Century Fox. Directed by Tom McGrath, helmer of the “Madagascar” movies and “Mastermind,” “Boss Baby” had an Annecy audience in stitches at a June 16 sneak preview which unveiled a clutch of never-seen-before sequences to a privileged audience including Guillermo del Toro.
McGrath’s peformance-led comedy style goes with his territory. He watched “Bugs Bunny” with his dad on Saturday mornings. “I laughed at the slapstick, my father at the dialogue,” he recalled, presenting “The Boss Baby” to an Annecy Fest audience. He graduated from the character animation program at Cal Arts. At the time, the old Disney animators, such as Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, as well as Chuck Jones, were still teaching there.
“Now we’re kind of going back to our roots in animation and looking to the past to move forward,” McGrath said. “‘Boss Baby’ is very much a cartoony sensibility. There’s a lot of squash and stretch. In “Madagascar,” while many animators on other films were emulating live action, pushing for realistic lighting and textures, “we really wanted to do something cartoony, but the technology wasn’t quite there. Rigs broke if squished too much.
”’Boss Baby’ is the first film where I could capture things that 2D was able to capture sixty years ago,” he enthused.
In a first sequence shown at Annecy, which McGrath screened to whoops of applause, Tim happens upon baby brother in his cradle, in a executive suit, talking by phone. “I know how important this mission is. You’ve got the right man on the job,” the baby is saying by phone, telling Tim straight off when he realises he’s been outed that he’s the boss, not Tim, and there’s only so much love to go round.
Boss Baby has been sent by Baby Corp. to investigate an evil plot of PuppyCo., to put babies out of business in favour of pets. He spouts businessese: “Think outside the box,” “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t — you’re right,” a Henry Ford dictum. When their parents are captured, however, the siblings finally pull together.
“The theme of the movie, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler, is that there’s plenty of love to go round and it’s not about getting love but giving love,” McGrath said in Annecy.
One example: In one climax sequence, as the young brothers escape from the villain’s brother, Eugene, disguised as a nanny. they do so cycling through a white picket suburb, set against a broad stretch of blue sky and green grass.
One pudgy baby friend, Jimbo, has the body of as mini sumo wrestler. As boss baby and elder bro escape to get to Vegas to save their parents, Eugene running after the babies in frantic pursuit attempting to grab a firetruck with Jimbo in it. But it runs away from him down the road, Eugene’s body stretching in desperation as he tries to hold on.
For McGrath, current animation is rapidly widening its gamut. “As Guillermo del Toro put it in his masterclass yesterday at Annecy, animation is not a genre but a medium. There are a lot of different works: Drama, horror, adult-oriented stuff,” McGrath said.
If McGrath is right, as in live-action, a future animated movie’s success is likely to depend more and more not on its being the latest offering from a big Hollywood studio but on that movie’s originality.
- John Hopewell and Emilio Mayorga
That’s the pitch for Joe Dante’s 1987 film Innerspace, his last collaboration with producer Steven Spielberg until making Small Soldiers for DreamWorks in 1998. Made between his contributions to the outrageous 1986 anthology comedy Amazon Women on the Moon and his darkly comic 1989 movie The ’Burbs, Innerspace could be considered Joe Dante’s most commercial film. Not only did it carry the Spielberg brand, it was also cast with big stars (Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, and Meg Ryan) and boasted impressive, state-of-the-art special effects and a high concept that was sure to bring people out to the theater. And yet, for some reason, the movie was something of a box office disappointment when it was released in the summer of 1987; though the film’s final budget is difficult to pin down, »
- Patrick Bromley
You see what you’ve done with your ironic hipster love of terrible movies? I was 26 when Space Jam was released to theaters in 1996. I’m a big fan of the classic Warner Bros. animation. I’ve purchased Looney Tunes collections on laserdisc, DVD, and now Blu-ray, and I love revisiting the work of Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Maurice Noble, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Frank Tashlin, and Robert McKimson, among others. If you to ask me what televised sport is my favorite, I’ve always preferred basketball to anything else because of the pace and because of the simplicity of the game itself. It’s very pure, and even the worst NBA game is entertaining. And when it comes to Bill Murray… well, he’s on that very short list of my favorite things. Not just favorite people, and not just favorite movie stars, but overall favorite things. That’s »
- Drew McWeeny
Jason Lives, the sixth installment in the Friday the 13th franchise, turns 30 in August and to celebrate, O Cinema and Popcorn Frights Film Festival are having a screening of the film. Read on for more details. Also: Madballs #1 preview pages, The Horde release details, and Warlash: Zombie Mutant Genesis #1 preview pages.
Friday the 13th Part VI Screening: From O Cinema and Popcorn Frights Film Festival: “O Cinema and Popcorn Frights Film Festival are proud to present the 30th Anniversary of the sixth chapter in the Friday the 13th series, Jason Lives.
- Tamika Jones
Benedict Cumberbatch and his silky, sinister voice born for "it was a dark and stormy night..." tales (and greedy dragons) is now going to voice the Grinch.
Illumination, the studio that made "Despicable Me" and "Minions," made the announcement at CinemaCon. Cumberbatch will voice the Dr. Seuss character in a movie simply titled "The Grinch." (Sorry, Cindy Lou Who, you'll have to wait for your own standalone movie.) Why Cumby? Well, it's probably obvious, but producer Chris Meledandri said he has a voice that exudes "comedic wickedness while embodying vulnerability."
It sounds like it's early days for "The Grinch," but it will be adapted for the screen by writer Michael LeSieur and directed by Pete Candeland and Yarrow Cheney. According to Entertainment Weekly, the current release date is November 10, 2017.
- Gina Carbone
With an engaging mix of goofy comedy, charming romance and a heartfelt, if somewhat trite, message of ecological sanity, Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid has achieved massive financial success. After less than two weeks in release, it has become the highest-grossing Chinese language film in history, soaring past last summer’s Monster Hunt. The story of a mermaid sent by her people to assassinate the real estate developer who has been trashing their home waters, but who instead falls in love with the guy and leads him to a new ecological awareness, the film lacks much of the anarchic edge or verbal dexterity of Chow’s early mo lei tau comedies, or the transcendent martial arts climaxes of his Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. It is nonetheless packed to the gills with the kind of moment-to-moment weirdness that characterizes Hong Kong cinema in general and the films of Stephen Chow in particular, »
- Sean Gilman
[Editor's Note: We want to wish Daily Dead readers a Happy 2016! Continuing our Favorites of 2015, Monte shares his list, which includes movies, vinyl releases, and more.]
Bone Tomahawk: An absolutely impressive film from S. Craig Zahler, “Bone Tomahawk” is the western film I always wanted. It’s a mix of unusual humor with touches of thoroughly effective and satisfying horror and beautifully rendered western era compositions. Add some rather stunning performances from an impressive cast, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, and especially Richard Jenkins, and you have one of the most unique horror, western, drama mash-ups you’ll experience.
Turbo Kid: Some call it a guilty pleasure while others, like myself, wholeheartedly defend the action, science fiction, and horror films of the 1980’s. “Turbo Kid” is a loving homage to all the era specific qualities you’d see from these guilty pleasure films combined into one. The fact that it gets nearly everything in tune with the 80’s is remarkable; the fact that it is also has an earnest and humorous story is an unexpected plus. »
- Monte Yazzie
9 items from 2016
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