Landmark films literally change the face of the art form itself and are rare indeed. The Great Train Robbery, the first big hit silent film; The Jazz Singer, the first talking film; The Wizard of Oz, one of the first huge family movies; Jaws, the first summer blockbuster; Star Wars, the first science fiction epic of the new technology era; and now Avatar.
Remember what it was like to go to a movie and cry and laugh and applaud and feel great about just being alive when you walked out of the theater?
I do. And you will, too, when you run as fast as you can to a neighborhood theater to see The Blind Side, one of the most touching, wondrous, uplifting and miraculous movies of the last several years. And, what makes the experience even more delicious is that the film is based on a true story.
You know the kind of person who always seems angry at or disgusted by the world? He’s the kind of guy who seems to wear a big sign around his neck that says, “Don’t bother me for any reason at any time.” Ever wonder why he is the way he is?
“Mamma Mia!” — what a movie! Exhilarating, dazzling, breathtakingly beautiful for your eyes, rockingly wonderful for your ears, and energetically enchanting for your heart, “Mamma Mia” is pure, unadulterated fun.
Based on the smash Broadway hit, “Mamma Mia” revives the old-fashioned movie musical with such a flourish that I kept thinking—where have you BEEN, musicals? Welcome back!
“Wall-E”, the latest film from the inestimably brilliant Pixar Studios, is a completely original work of staggering, visionary genius. The film also possesses so many brilliant nuances and human insights, and has such a pure and gentle heart, that it truly has no filmic antecedent.
Many years ago (1976), my first job in the film industry was as the assistant to a legendary film producer named Ray Stark. Ray produced such classics as “Funny Girl,” “The Way We Were,” and “The Goodbye Girl.” Even though I went out on my own in 1980 to produce “Somewhere in Time,” Ray and I stayed in touch and, from time to time, he would invite me to his home to watch films with him in his projection room. One night, in 1984, he invited me over to see a new film called “Splash.” Ray was particularly interested in “Splash” because, for years, he had been developing a remake to a dramatic film from the 1940’s entitled “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid,” in which a man found a mermaid, put her in a pond near him, and fell in love with her. When we had finished watching “Splash,” Ray turned to me and said. “Well, that’s the end of developing “Peabody.” There are some issues that audiences just respond better to when they’re presented in comedies than when drama is involved. An audience will give you a lot more leeway in a comedy with their willingness to suspend disbelief than they will in a drama.”
One of our subscribers at The Spiritual Cinema Circle recently left an entry on our message boards that included “I just wish Hollywood would wake up.”
That would require much more of a resurrection than an alarm clock. Waking the dead is still quite a challenge for us mere mortals.
As many of you know, I have blogged recently about the pathetic state of mainstream movies and film critics, most particularly the ugly, violent films that were praised by critics and also nominated for the 2007 Academy Awards.
Well, the Oscars were broadcast on February 24 and, lo and behold, the show received the lowest rating in the history of the Academy Awards!
After my two recent blog posts about the darkness and cynicism in films over the last several years, particularly 2007, I’ve been asked to recommend some movies that would dissipate the bad taste from last year. As I started to look for some of those films, I was intrigued to discover how many amazing films were released in one particular calendar year: 1998.
Never have I written a blog or column that generated as much response as the last one I wrote about the dark, violent preferences of both critics and Hollywood. Now it’s plain that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has the party line: The Academy Award nominations were announced on January 22 and, sure enough, the parade of darkness continues.