10 items from 2015
You might not know who Gary Rydstrom is, but you've certainly heard him before. This is a man whose pioneering sound work has won him seven (!) Academy Awards and brought to life groundbreaking technological advancements like the first film presented in DTS sound ("Jurassic Park") and re-crafting sound mixes in 5.1 surround (after his breakthrough work on "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," he and James Cameron created a new multi-channel mix for the original "Terminator"). He's also directed a pair of Pixar short films ("Lifted" and "Hawaiian Vacation") and overseen the English language dubs of four Studio Ghibli movies ("Tales from Earthsea," "From Up on Poppy Hill," "Arrietty," and last year's Oscar-nominated masterpiece "The Wind Rises"). In short: he's kind of the coolest dude around.
And this weekend he adds another accomplishment to his already unfathomably long list, when his debut feature film "Strange Magic" debuts in theaters nationwide. This bizarre, George Lucas-produced animated fairy tale, »
- Drew Taylor
Every now and then, I find myself suddenly and unexpectedly angry at George Lucas, but not for reasons that have anything to do with "Star Wars." There has been a refrain we've heard from him over and over during the past couple of decades, where he talks about returning to his roots and making experimental films that could never exist inside the studio system, movies that aren't created to be commercial product, but that come from a very personal place. And over and over, those comments lead nowhere and nothing happens. I'd love to see him do it, though. I have a huge fondness for "Thx-1138," Lucas's first feature film, which evolved out of a student film he made. I take Lucas at his word that commercial filmmaking was never meant to be the complete detour it became after "American Graffiti" and "Star Wars" both blew up into mega-hits, »
- Drew McWeeny
Captain T. G. Culpeper Spencer Tracy J. Russell Finch Milton Berle Melville Crump Sid Caesar Benjy Benjamin Buddy Hackett Mrs. Marcus Ethel Merman Ding Bell Mickey Rooney Sylvester Marcus Dick Shawn Otto Meyer Phil Silvers J. Algernon Hawthorne Terry-Thomas Lennie Pike Jonathan Winters Monica Crump Edie Adams Emeline Finch Dorothy Provine Cabdriver Eddie “Rochester” Anderson Tyler Fitzgerald Jim Backus Man driving in the desert Jack Benny Union official Joe E. Brown Biplane pilot Ben Blue Police sergeant Alan Carney Detective Chick Chandler Mrs. Halliburton Barrie Chase Mayor Lloyd Corrigan Police chief William Demarest Sheriff of Crocket County Andy Devine Ginger Culpeper (voice) Selma Diamond Cabdriver Peter Falk Detective Normal Fell Colonel Wilberforce Paul Ford Deputy sheriff Stan Freberg Billie Sue Culpeper (voice) Louise Glenn Cabdriver Leo Gorcey Fire chief Sterling Holloway Mr. Dinckler Edward Everett Horton Irwin Marvin Kaplan Jimmy the Cook Buster Keaton Nervous motorist Don Knotts Airport »
- Sam Moffitt
If you’ve ever longed for a movie with all the insistent life lessons of a Disney fairy tale, the tacky visual excesses of digital-era George Lucas, and enough glorified karaoke covers to fill half a season of “Glee,” then you may want to treat yourself to the altogether perplexing animated brew that is “Strange Magic.” Everyone else can just imagine a CG cartoon mash-up of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Arthur and the Invisibles” and “American Idol” populated by extras from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and they’ll pretty much get the idea. An insipid byproduct of the Disney-Lucasfilm merger that looks to attract a fraction (if that) of the audience for this year’s “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” this noisy, unappealing children’s fantasy fails to distinguish itself among January’s many, many reasons to steer clear of the multiplex.
Lucas is credited here »
- Justin Chang
Like any decent trick, "Strange Magic" came about as a bit of a surprise. Instead of the usual multi-year lead-up of most animated film releases, the release announcement for this film came as a bit of a shock when its beans were spilled last November.
The project is directed by Gary Rydstrom, a sound designer and editor credited with the majority of the most popular live-action and animated films ever made, from "Toy Story" to "Titanic," with the "Star Wars" prequels, "Jurassic Park," and "Saving Private Ryan" under his belt. He has 17 Oscar nominations (with seven wins), yet this is the first time he's credited as the director of a film.
The story is credited to Rydstrom's boss at Skywalker Sound, the one and only George Lucas. This is a straight-up fairy tale, complete with dark forests, goblins, elves and the like.
Oh, dear. Are you going to be some Lucas fanboy about this? »
- Jason Gorber
“Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a fairy tale—but not your average fairy tale. It’s a madcap musical with a princess who has sworn off love, a vulnerable villain, a slightly nutty Sugar Plum Fairy, a tenacious and big-hearted elf, a mischievous imp, and a knight who is no Prince Charming.
“Strange Magic” welcomes an extraordinary roster of voice talent, including Alan Cumming (CBS’ “The Good Wife,” Broadway’s “Cabaret”) as Bog King, Evan Rachel Wood (“The Ides of March“) as feisty fairy Marianne, Elijah Kelley (“Hairspray,” “Lee Daniels’The Butler”) as lovelorn elf Sunny, newcomer Meredith Anne Bull as Marianne’s lovesick sister Dawn, »
- Michelle McCue
He may have played a part in ushering in the blockbuster age, but George Lucas was still a part of the same filmmaking generation and movement—the famous New Hollywood period from the late '60s to the early '80s—as contemporaries like Mike Nichols, William Friedkin, and his buddies Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. The “Apocalypse Now” director played an important role in Lucas’ early career, whether by helping finance “American Graffiti” and siding with him against the studio over the final cut or by simply allowing him to hang out on Coppola’s set and shoot a short documentary. In 1968, Coppola was gearing up to shoot his fourth feature-length film when Lucas convinced him to allow the future “Star Wars” filmmaker to shoot an unobtrusive, cinema-verite documentary about the making of “The Rain People.” The documentary (via Open Culture), titled “Filmmaker,” was produced for $12,000, and follows Coppola as he deals with. »
- Cain Rodriguez
Chicago – One of the specialities of HollywoodChicago.com is the film and personality interview. The majority of these chats came through me, Patrick McDonald, and I couldn’t narrow it down to a top 10 or even a top 20. For 2014, there were 25 top interviews, and it is a diverse range of voices.
It is a privilege to get the opportunity to participate in the promotional tours, awards ceremonies, film festivals, book appearances, phoners and other lucky happenstances that feature the notable among us. To whittle down the list, I mostly thought about what was said in these interviews, whether inspirational or provocative – plus the status of the participants, whether they are up-and-coming or established.
The interview highlights are broken down by “Background and Behind-the-Scenes” and the “Memorable Quote” associated with each subject, and are often accompanied with exclusive photography by Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com. Four notables who just missed the »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
By now you've probably heard mention that Steven Soderbergh, he who is officially retired but not really because nobody totally believes it and he still works in various capacities, just posted his list of everything he watched and read this past year. I love Soderbergh's List-Mania more than I even love Soderbergh because I relate. This is now my favorite celebrity listing tradition of each year, not that there are very many consistent ones.
The whole list is worth reading but I wanted to share nine highlights in the order in which they delighted me.
Nine Highlights In Order Of How They Delighted
08. I can't imagine what his Oscar ballot looks like since it appears in the middle of all his TV viewings and plentiful 1970s movies, he only »
- NATHANIEL R
#20. The Exorcist (1973)
Lost to: The Sting
Crammed in between two Best Picture wins for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather” films was an interesting little year that rewarded another pairing of Robert Redford and Paul Newman (trivia: “The Sting’s” Julia Phillips is the first time female producer to ever win Best Picture). The other big landmark – the first time a purely horror film was nominated for Best Picture. “The Exorcist” was nominated for ten Oscars, winning for Sound and Adapted Screenplay. The horrifying story of a young girl possessed was, rumor has it, cursed as they tried to complete the film. This film about the struggle between faith and sin is possibly the most important horror film of all time.
#19. Avatar (2009)
Lost to: The Hurt Locker
The year after “The Dark Knight” and “Wall-e” missed out on Best Picture nominations, the Academy decided to change the rules and allow ten nominees. »
- Joshua Gaul
10 items from 2015
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