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Mel Brooks: Comedy As The Currency Of Friendship
By Eddy Friedfeld
(Photo copyright Steven R. Stack)
Mel Brooks is profiled in a superb American Masters documentary entitled Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, which premieres nationally on PBS stations on May 20th. One of 14 Egot (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) winners, he has earned more major awards than any other living entertainer, and shows few signs of slowing down. With new interviews with Brooks, his friends and colleagues, including Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Cloris Leachman, Joan Rivers, Tracey Ullman, Rob Reiner, and his close friend, with whom he created The 2000 Year Old Man, Carl Reiner. A DVD with bonus material will be available Tuesday, May 21 from Shout Factory.
"When they called me to say I had been chosen as the next 'American Master,' I thought they said I was chosen to be the next Dutch Master. So I figured what the hell, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
For a guy in his mid-80s, Mel Brooks has been on quite a roll — featured in two HBO specials holding forth about his career, and now a loving American Masters documentary, “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise,” in advance of a DVD release. And why not? A raconteur of the first order, Brooks is also gifted with near-total recall, and a wit that hasn’t ebbed with the passage of time. In Robert Trachtenberg’s film, Brooks concedes every bad review is like “a knife through your heart.” In savoring this valentine, that organ and every other can rest easy.
Granted, Trachtenberg doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but that’s in part because Brooks has remained so vital and active in telling and retelling his own story. (In the recommended-viewing department, hunt down the first of his recent HBO specs, “Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett: Together Again. »
- Brian Lowry
Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing: Oscars Outdoors film series Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing will kick off the 2013 "Oscars Outdoors" summer movie season on Wednesday, June 5 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ open-air theater in Hollywood. Much Ado About Nothing stars Amy Acker (Alias), Alexis Denisoff (How I Met Your Mother), Clark Gregg (Iron Man), Nathan Fillion (Waitress, Castle), Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods) and Sean Maher (The Playboy Club), all of whom are expected to join The Avengers director Joss Whedon for a post-screening Q&A moderated by Kcrw’s Matt Holzman. Oscars Outdoors screening films also include two upcoming releases: Morgan Neville’s documentary about backup singers, Twenty Feet from Stardom (June 6), and Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellow Destin Cretton’s relationship drama Short Term 12 (July 20), featuring Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2‘s Rami Malek. »
- Andre Soares
It’s much ado about movies at Oscars Outdoors this summer.
The screening series launched by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year is returning to Los Angeles this summer, along with some New York screenings in partnership with Rooftop Films Summer Series.
Kicking off this year’s lineup is Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The film will screen on Wednesday, June 5, two days ahead of its U.S. release. After the screening, there will be a Q&A with Whedon and cast members Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, »
- Emily Rome
Mel Brooks may be short in physical stature but not in gumption and comedic prowess. The height factor caused the young Brooks to search out the absurdities of life and lampoon them to get the attention he so craved by getting belly laughs out of those around him. Fortunately, the comedy writer and performer encountered colleagues like Carl Reiner (Ocean’s Eleven) who was able to consistently push him into a creative corner so to take full advantage of his talents with the classic examples being the 2000 Year Old Manskits where no historical event was sacred or left unscathed.
Adolf Hitler and racism should not be funny but Mel Brooks was able to utilize humour to expose the follies of human nature with movies like Blazing Saddles (1974). A driven individual he pursued Anne Bancroft (The Graduate) with a single-mindedness which is both admirable and spooky. How could a man who »
Controversial figures apparently attract Marina Zenovich. After her celebrated docu “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” and its less acclaimed follow-up, the documentarian tackles the rococo ups, downs and reincarnations that marked a brilliant comedian’s career in “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic.” Though the film features a number of fellow comics praising Pryor’s genius, from Bob Newhart to Whoopi Goldberg, Zenovich concentrates on those lawyers, agents, wives and collaborators most central to the different stages of his highly eventful life. Skedded for a May 31 Showtime airing, this straight-ahead docu, like its subject, packs surprising punches.
Zenovich generously samples bestselling comedy LPs, early TV appearances and film clips representing the different Pryors on display, from the Bill Cosby-like crossover comedian who enjoyed great initial success, wowing Vegas only to utterly sabotage himself, to the phoenix that rose from the ashes of near-fatal self-immolation. In between, she taps any number »
- Ronnie Scheib
Mel Brooks is responsible for some of the greatest film comedies in movie history. It's a list that includes "Spaceballs," "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein," so he clearly knows the ins and outs of landing a punch line. In an exclusive clip that will appear in the DVD outtakes of PBS' upcoming appreciation of the director, actor and writer, Brooks offers some advice to aspiring comedy filmmakers. "You musn't ever let a producer, ever let a producer in the editing room," he says. "They're not bad people. They're just dumb people." The reason »
- Brent Lang
Well, Sound on Sight’s Locations Month is coming to a close. A lot of good articles about iconic locations have gone up. But there’s one left. The big one. One of the most iconic and enduring locations in both film and television.
That’s right kiddies, it’s time to talk about the Vasquez Rocks.
The rocks were formed roundabouts 25 million years ago by rapid erosion and the San Andreas Vault. That’s right, this one wasn’t cobbled together by no independent contractor or stage hand, oh no. This sucker was formed in the dawn of time by the hand of freakin’ God.
The rocks took their name from Tiburcio Vásquez, who was either a brave freedom fighter crusading against the oppressive white man or a thieving, murderous outlaw depending on who you ask. Vásquez was active around the 1870s and used the rocks as one of »
- Thomas O'Connor
We think that most of us can agree that moms are the best and they do a lot for us! Now it’s time to return the favor and celebrate this Mother’s Day by giving mom the movie night she deserves! Watching a classic flick together is the perfect opportunity to catch up and share stories with your family.
Thanks to Warner Bros., Sound On Sight is giving away the Best of WB 100 Film Collection valued at $597.92. This includes all 22 of Warner Bros. Library’s Best Picture™ winners on 55 discs presented in book style premium packaging. Plus two all-new documentaries: Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot and The Warner Bros. Lot Tour. The set is piled with hours of commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more on select films. It also includes a limited edition 27” x 40” poster, plus a postcard series of Warner Bros. movie posters designed by legendary Bill Gold. »
They're calling it a Blazing Saddles-style action comedy; let me know if you're buying or selling this one. Titled Blazin Four, the indie action comedy will star comedians Mike Epps and Katt Williams in a story that will follow a ragtag group of gunslingers who are hired to protect a small town from invading Mexican bandits. I had to check twice to make sure that I actually read that correctly - "Mexican bandits." I guess we haven't quite moved past that stereotype on film. You can trace the crooked, lazy so-called "Mexican bandit" back to the early days of silent cinema - and even then, Mexicans didn't approve of the *type*. Further, as Deadline states, Mike Epps will »
- Tambay A. Obenson
That there’s still an available building at the northeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to take over — and that there’s still an Academy Museum of Motion Pictures waiting to be created — testifies to the skepticism one might have for the project.
But I’d prefer to focus on the dream that’s within the grasp of the film academy, and in turn fans of cinema everywhere. This vision long struggling to be fulfilled, at a location long struggling to be properly utilized, could be the start of a beautiful relationship.
I follow the Academy Museum project with more than my fair share of interest. There’s the fact that I cover the Academy – the keeper of the Oscars and a critical treasurer of film history – for Variety. That from the northern windows of our office on Wilshire, I »
- Jon Weisman
A good parody film uses pop culture references and zingy one-liners to amuse the audience. A great one can satirize a genre while still telling an original story, and by bringing the audience into the joke using smart, sharp, tongue-in-cheek references. This month, Xfinity On Demand™ will feature two great films that successfully spoofed the Western and Blaxploitation genres of the past: "Blazing Saddles" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." Check out the synopses and tune in! "Blazing Saddles" - In Mel Brooks' satirical Western comedy, a corrupt political kingpin tries to ruin a town by appointing a Black sheriff (played by Cleavon Little), who quickly becomes his rival. A little-known fact: »
- Shadow And Act
Cinemark kicked off the Cinemark Classic Series with The Godfather from Francis Ford Coppola on April 10th. Next up is Raging Bull on April 24. Cinemark, one of the largest motion picture exhibitors, will bring four groundbreaking films from directors Martin Scorsese, Mike Nichols, Ridley Scott and Mel Brooks to their movie theaters across the United States starting April 24th through May 15. The one-day screening for each film screens twice that day at two separate show times, 2 pm and 7pm.
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To celebrate… is that the right word?
To acknowledge the release of Scary Movie 5 today, we at Thn present the Top Five (and Bottom Five) Movie Parodies.
Before we begin, some ground rules. The Top Five can only contain one film per director. Otherwise Mel Brooks and the mob behind Police Squad would dominate the upper regions. This does not apply to The Bottom Five, which presumably will be owned by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Don’t know who they are? Consider yourself lucky.
5. Carry On Screaming
dir. Gerald Thomas (1966)
‘Frying Tonight!’ screams Kenneth Williams in what was the greatest British horror send up ever (until Simon Pegg got his cricket bat out). Like all the great parodies, it doesn’t just spoof its subjects (targets?) but pays homage as well. Thomas and screenwriter Talbot Rothwell clearly love the Great British horrors of the age, such as Hammer »
- John Sharp
Consider this an offer you shouldn’t refuse. The nationwide Cinemark movie theater chain is kicking off another Classics Series tonight, April 10, with one of the all-time classics, a film whose iconography is endless: 1972′s The Godfather. Cinemark will also be showing such films as Alien, Blazing Saddles, and The Graduate over the next five weeks, with an extremely limited engagement, of only two showings each Wednesday, once at 2 pm and again at 7 pm. If you’ve got a Cinemark nearby and time to spare, this may be a rare shot for you to see some of the finest American films of the past 50 years, to laugh with Black Barty, scream with Ellen Ripley, and cry with Michael Corleone. (Better that than sitting down to dinner with him, as he may have a gun stashed away in the bathroom.) You can find more information and buy tickets at Cinemark’s website. »
- Josh Spiegel
Texas-based national movie theater chain Cinemark will screen the 1972 classic in over 120 locations this week. As previously announced, The Godfather will screen this Wednesday at two separate show times, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Cinemark has brought The Godfather back to the big screen for one-night only events in the past, including for the film’s 40th anniversary last year. The April 10 screenings wrap up Cinemark’s Best Picture Classic Series that also featured such Oscar-winners as Forrest Gump, »
- Emily Rome
Cinemark has announced the final film in their Best Picture Classic Series. The 1972 Academy Award Winner for Best Motion Picture, The Godfather, will play in over 120 Cinemark theatres across the country, including on the Cinemark Xd – Extreme Digital Cinema screens where available. Ranked #2 on the 2007 American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, the film is scheduled to play on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at two separate show times, 2 pm and 7pm.
“The Godfather,” Francis Ford Coppola’s epic masterpiece features Marlon Brando in his Oscar©-winning role as the patriarch of the Corleone family. Director Coppola paints a chilling portrait of the Sicilian clan’s rise and near fall from power in America, masterfully balancing the story between the Corleone’s family life and the ugly crime business in which they are engaged. Based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel and featuring career-making performances by Al Pacino, James Cann and Robert Duvall, »
- Michelle McCue
Man Of Steel? Not interested. Pacific Rim? Pfffft. Who cares about robots? Star Trek Into Darkness? Yawn. The movie I can't wait to see this summer is Grown Ups 2. The first one was an absolute masterpiece and ranks up there with such comedies as Blazing Saddles, Animal House, and Caddyshack. Grown Ups had a hilarious and original script with fantastic direction and use of stars Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and David Spade, who once again proved that they are the funniest men in »
- Jesse Giroux
Madcap ensemble comedies are often a risky proposition. They can either be hits (It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Blazing Saddles) or ambitious disappointments. Ever since Sony released a first look at This Is the End at WonderCon, the buzz has been high on Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's celebrity-filled end-of-the-world comedy. What originated as a short film by Rogen and Jay Baruchel has blossomed into this crazy, over-the-top comedy featuring celebrities of all sorts meeting super gory deaths--which you can see in this new red-band trailer that centers on Rogen, Baruchel, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson attending a party at James Franco's house when suddenly the apocalypse hits. Michael Cera gets impaled by a streetlight and Jason Segel and Aziz Ansari meet...
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Forest Whitaker has signed on to produce Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, a biopic centering on the life of late comedian Richard Pryor. The actor will produce alongside the comedian's widow, Jennifer Pryor and his Significant Productions partner Nina Yang Bongiovi.
The actor-producer will oversee the development of a new screenplay, although it isn't known if a writer has been attached yet. Forest Whitaker recently produced the indie hit Fruitvale, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Bill Condon was previously attached to direct Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?, which had Marlon Wayans poised to play the comedy legend. The project fell apart when Bill Condon signed on to direct The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2. Since Forest Whitaker is developing a whole new screenplay, it seems unlikely »
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