The Credits » 2012 » December Celebrating Film and Television's Creative Community Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:50:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Happy New Year’s Eve! From The Apartment to When Harry Met Sally – 7 Clips to Ring in the New Year Mon, 31 Dec 2012 15:30:00 +0000 One of the most famous scenes in film history happens to occur during New Year’s Eve, and it also happens to include arguably the most famous kiss in film history, too. See if you can figure it out from these ... Read More

One of the most famous scenes in film history happens to occur during New Year’s Eve, and it also happens to include arguably the most famous kiss in film history, too. See if you can figure it out from these clues—the scene is set in Cuba during a raucous New Year’s Eve party in which a troubled man by the name of Michael stomps out onto the dance floor, grabs his brother, and gives him a kiss on the lips. Yeah, we know, pretty easy to figure out that this is Cuba at the start of a Castro-led revolution, and Michael’s last name is Corleone, and the kiss he gives his brother Fredo is the kiss of death. “I know it was you, Fredo. And you broke my heart.” Is there a better New Year’s even scene in film, or better yet, a better scene in film?

That argument is for another day, because today we’re paying tribute to an evening that can be more heartbreaking than any other holiday—to be alone when the ball drops, to look back on a year misspent or look forward to a future that’s clouded in uncertainty—and cinema’s contribution to capturing the pathos of New Year’s Eve. Yet, New Year’s Eve can also be, of course, the greatest night of the year, be it a bacchanal celebrating all that has come before and all that will pass, or a quiet evening with a loved one, it’s a holiday that invites both introspection and revelry, and filmmakers have long used the inherent drama of the last night of the year to their advantage.

There were so many indelible New Year’s Eve scenes to chose from—the unforgettable (and at the time, ground-breaking) moment in the original The Poseidon Adventure (1972) in which a New Year’s Eve party is broken up by the biggest party crasher of all time—a freak 90-foot tidal wave. Or the classic film Holiday Inn (1942) in which retired nightclub crooner Bing Crosby flees the big city with a broken heart to open a country inn that’s open solely during the holidays, only to have the man who stole his girl (none other than Fred Astaire) dance his way back into Bing’s life, threatening to steal his new love interest.

So here is a selection of scenes that prove that while New Year’s Eve is dramatic by nature, some of our greatest filmmakers have proven time and time again that the last night of the year can be made even more dramatic by design.

The Gold Rush (1925)

This is, arguably, one of the most iconic movie scenes in history, the immortal “dinner roll dance” that the impossibly gifted Charlie Chaplin performed in one of his most beloved films. Chaplin plays The Lone Prospector, a man in search of gold in Alaska. What he finds instead is love, in the form of beautiful Georgia (Georgia Hale). He prepares a New Year’s Eve meal for his beloved and waits for her sure-to-be-soon arrival. When her and her friends “arrive,” Charlie puts on a dance performance for the ages. This short scene is a bittersweet masterpiece, and still resonates for anyone who has ever waited in vain for someone they loved on the last night of the year.

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Billy Wilder’s film about Joe Gillis, a hack screenwriter who’s been tapped to write a script for former silent-film star (and well past her prime) Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) is one of the greatest films of all time. It also includes one of the most uncomfortable New Year’s Eve parties ever put on film, in which Gillis shows up to Desmond’s mansion and finds a four-piece band, a full bar, and no guests.

Marty (1955)

Two lonely people find themselves together on New Year’s Eve in Delbert Mann’s beloved film. Written by screenwriting giant Paddy Chayefsky, Ernest Borgnine gives a painfully sweet performance as the eponymous loner, and in this scene, when his attempted kiss is rebuffed by Clara (Besty Blair), it looks like the new year will be just like the last, filled with loneliness and despair…

The Apartment (1960)

One of the truly great New Year’s Eve scenes in film (broken up into two clips here) can be found in The Apartment, Billy Wilder’s classic. A beautiful Shirley MacLaine finds herself in a situation many of us have been in—spending the last night of the year, and the first moments of a new one, with the wrong person…until she decides to throw caution to the wind and race to the man she loves, but will it be too late?

Out of Africa (1985)

You didn’t see this one coming, did you? Sharing a New Year’s Eve dance together, seemingly mismatched Danish aristocrat Karen (Meryl Streep) and big game hunter Denys (Robert Redford) have very different outlooks regarding their place (and their goals) in Kenya. Yet it’s clear they have chemistry, and the scene also highlights how finding yourself in the company of an attractive foreigner is not the worst way to spend the last night of the year.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

If this clip wasn’t included we’d be doing a disservice to this list, even if it’s the one scene everybody first thinks of when they think of famous New Year’s eve moments in film. The reason it still resonates is it epitomizes the fantasy of finally finding love on the one night where it feels like everybody deserves somebody if only for the moment the clock strikes twelve. So many ingredients were right in this film—the actors (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, of course, but also Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby as Marie and Jess, respectively, were perfect as Harry and Sally’s mutual friends), the direction by Rob Reiner, but perhaps the most important (and oft-overlooked) aspect was Nora Ephron’s script. Who hasn’t longed to say just the right thing to the person we love at just the right moment? Thanks Nora, we’ll never live up to this moment.

Mermaids (1990)

An odd choice for sure, but there’s something right about this scene in which a fun-loving (therefore maddening) mom, Mrs. Flax (Cher) kisses her daughter Charlotte’s (Winona Ryder) crush on New Year’s Eve, prompting a screaming match, and the arrival of little sister Kate (Christina Ricci) on the porch, wondering what all the fuss is about. It’s worth watching just to see these three actresses in a scene together.

And finally, a New Year’s Eve mashup for those that just want to forget all their troubles for one night and party—Happy New Year’s Eve!

Featured photo of lanters being released in Thailand by Mark Fischer

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Top Blu-Rays and DVDs of 2012, From Bond 50 to Vertigo Fri, 28 Dec 2012 15:30:29 +0000 Hollywood’s always looking over the horizon towards the next big technological innovation, expanding as fast (if not faster) than any industry when it comes to making the most of cutting edge technology. Take this season’s blockbuster The Hobbit, which was ... Read More

Hollywood’s always looking over the horizon towards the next big technological innovation, expanding as fast (if not faster) than any industry when it comes to making the most of cutting edge technology. Take this season’s blockbuster The Hobbit, which was digitally shot and is being projected in select theaters at 48 frames per second, twice the normal rate. As Douglas Trumbull told us in a recent interview, the resulting movie “…can become like a window onto reality.  It just doesn’t look like a movie anymore.  It looks like a live experience.”  It stirred debate on just how real a movie should look, with some fans arguing that it looked too vivid, and therefore not like a move is “supposed to.”

Last year’s Christmas season tech controversy swirled around The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Steven Spielberg’s 3D animation extravaganza, which utilized game changing live performance capture footage on which to build the fluid animation. A commonly heard refrain was, “it was too lifelike to pass as animation.” No, it wasn’t. It was a great looking movie, and one of Spielberg’s best and most exciting flicks. If you missed it then, check out the Blu-ray now, and if you like it, Peter Jackson has announced he’s working on the Tintin sequel as his next movie for 2015.

If you think these storms of controversy concerning fast moving movie technology are a new thing, you’d be wrong, because looking back over the history of movies you’d see it’s kind of the norm. Take 1930’s The Big Trail, directed by Raoul Walsh, which starred an unknown two-bit prop man turned actor named John Wayne in his first movie role. It was an epic Western shot on locations throughout the Pacific Northwest in the new Fox “Grandeur” process – which was an early (and gorgeous) 70mm widescreen, twice the normal size of standard 35mm film. Heavily promoted as the next big thing in movies, to go along with the arrival of sound, the widescreen epic was released onto gigantic movie palace screens and flopped. The studios quickly dropped this cumbersome and expensive technology until the early 1950’s, when TV began to challenge their cultural dominance. Curious about this John Wayne widescreen “flop?” You should be, it’s a great movie, and the Blu-ray looks fantastic.

Fast forward 50 years to another misunderstood Western epic, the infamous Heaven’s Gate (1980), directed by Michael Cimino. Given carte blanche by United Artists after his phenomenal success with The Deer Hunter (1978), Cimino also shot his revisionist western on locations in Wyoming and throughout the Northwest. The story is simple but never simplistic—cattle barons and hired guns battle against immigrant settlers for their lands in late 19th century America—and Cimino imbues it with a post-Vietnam cynicism and a modern, elliptical storytelling style. It’s also one of the most beautifully filmed movies of the last 50 years, shot by the great Vilmos Zsigmond. The Criterion Collection has put out a superb Blu-ray, which includes a Cimino audio commentary.

More Westerns you say? Check out two westerns by the great director John Ford, both making their debuts on Blu-ray this year: Fort Apache (1948), with Henry Fonda and that guy John Wayne again, and Rio Grande (1950), also starring Wayne. Unofficially known as the first and third movies of Ford’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” both center around the US Cavalry’s battles with Indian tribes in the decades after the Civil War.

Two rare movies making their US premiere on DVD and Blu-ray come from that baroque modernist of Hollywood moviemaking, Orson Welles, who once said he “prefer[s] the old masters; by which I mean: John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Welles’s follow-up to Citizen Kane (1941), is an elegiac drama of a 19th century American family slowly coming apart at the dawn of the industrial 20th. His intense, brooding, noirish adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1948) – shot in three weeks on a shoestring budget with papier-mâché sets for the “B” studio Republic Pictures—is a certainly among the greatest Shakespeare adaptations ever produced in Hollywood. It shows without a doubt what even a second tier Hollywood production studio was capable of in the hands of a genius.

Even though Republic Pictures was a small, independent studio, it was never second rate. From the mid-forties to the late 50’s it produced and/or distributed some of the best movies of the period.  This year Olive Films licensed for release on Blu-ray and DVD over 100 films from the Republic library, now controlled by Paramount, many of which have either never been released in any home entertainment format or have not seen the light of day since VHS. Coupled with their recent licensing deal for select Paramount titles, Olive Films looks to be one of the most interesting home video houses out there. This year Olive premiered on Blu-ray and/or DVD several great movies, little seen since their initial theatrical releases: startling film noirs – from director Fritz Lang’s Secret Beyond the Door, (1947) and George Cukor’s A Double Life (1947), to director Raoul Walsh’s (surviving the poor box office from The Big Trail, seventeen years earlier, above) Freudian, western noir, Pursued (1947) starring Robert Mitchum; two tough dramas starring the iconic John Garfield, Body and Soul (1947) the story of a boxer, and Force of Evil (1948), a poetic gangster drama, and one of the best films of the 1940s;  director Max Ophuls’s romantic melodrama Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) starring Joan Fontaine; director Nicholas Ray’s cult western Johnny Guitar (1954); director Frank Perry’s creepy cult thriller Man on a Swing (1974), and director Robert Aldrich’s late masterpiece, the political thriller Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977), with Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Paul Winfield, and the recently passed Charles Durning, all giving their usual top notch performances.

The summer Sci-Fi/Monster 3D film Prometheus (2012) was a return for director Ridley Scott to the precise, long-take style he made his name with in The Duellists (1977), Alien (1979), and Blade Runner (1982). The 4-disc Blu-ray set contains a cornucopia of information on the making of the movie, and is easily one of the best Blu-Ray’s of the year.

Prometheus can be seen as the latest progeny of director Ishiro Honda’s seminal Godzilla (1954), which finally got the deluxe Blu-ray treatment it deserves from The Criterion Collection. Included is the original Japanese film plus the shorter 1956 “Americanized” dubbed cut. Both include detailed audio commentaries, and the disc also contains interviews with the actors and crew.

This is certainly the year to be an Alfred Hitchcock fan, with 20 of his nearly 60 films arriving on Blu-ray. Every major studio for which Hitchcock directed films during his fifty-year career got in on the act. Warner Brothers released the Master of Suspense’s thrilling Strangers on a Train (1951) and his only foray into 3D, Dial M For Murder (1954). MGM-FOX released the three films Hitch directed for legendary producer David O. Selznick: his American debut Rebecca (1940); his first movie with Ingrid Bergman Spellbound (1945); and his 40’s masterpiece Notorious (1946), with Cary Grant and Bergman again. Paramount released his stylish widescreen caper To Catch a Thief (1955) with the incomparable pairing of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly; and The Criterion Collection released one Hitch’s best British films, The 39 Steps (1935). Universal capped off the year by releasing Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (1942-1976), containing 15 movies spanning the great director’s career, including the Blu-Ray premiere of Vertigo (1956), recently named the greatest film of all time by the British film journal Sight and Sound.

And now a quick glance at some of the best box sets of the past year.

ULTIMATE BUSTER KEATON COLLECTION (1920-1937) collects all of the shorts and features the great comedian starred in across 14 Blu-ray discs. 

UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: ESSENTIAL COLLECTION (1931-1954) collects 9 horror classics across 8 Blu-ray discs

CASABLANCA 70TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED COLLECTION GIFTSET (1942). The great wartime love story comes with 2 Blu-rays containing the movie and many extras, a Standard DVD with the movie only, a poster, a 60 page hardcover book, and 4 drink coasters.

SINGIN IN THE RAIN 60TH ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION (1952). The greatest Hollywood musical comes with 1 Blu-ray and 1 standard DVD containing the movie, plus an additional standard DVD containing many extras, a 48-page book, three small posters, and a collectible umbrella!

FOREVER MARILYN COLLECTION (1953-1961). Marilyn Monroe, one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, gets the Blu-ray treatment from Fox, with 7 of her best movies packaged together, 5 of which are making their Blu-ray premiere.

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 50TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED COLLECTOR’S EDITION (1962). David Lean’s widescreen epic comes packaged with 3 Blu-ray’s. The movie is on Blu-ray 1 in a 4K digital restoration, with Blu-rays 2 and 3 containing numerous documentaries and extras. A CD of the score, an 88 page book, and a individually numbered 70mm film frame round out the package.

BOND 50 (1962-2012). This box set contains all 22 James Bond films on Blu-ray, 9 of which are making their Blu-ray premiere. Plus there’s a slot to hold this year’s superb Skyfall (2012) when it premiere’s on Blu-ray in 2013.

INDIANA JONES: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES (1981-2008). Spielberg’s adventure opus comes packed with extras, with the first three movies making their Blu-ray premiere.

THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY BOX SET (2005-2012). Christopher Nolan’s bold reimaging of the Caped Crusader comes on 5 Blu-ray discs (2 each for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, the second discs contain the copious extras), plus a 64-page excerpted version of the book “The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Featured Image of David (Michael Fassbender) explores an alien environment in PROMETHEUS—Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

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LMU Spreads Holiday Cheer With Inspiring Student Filmmaking Program Thu, 27 Dec 2012 15:30:53 +0000 By now, you’re likely settling into the familiar post-holiday stretch. Gifts are being un-boxed and well-worn, wrapping paper has been sent in trash bags to the curb, and New Years’ Eve plans have been meticulously hashed-out. But before we start ... Read More

By now, you’re likely settling into the familiar post-holiday stretch. Gifts are being un-boxed and well-worn, wrapping paper has been sent in trash bags to the curb, and New Years’ Eve plans have been meticulously hashed-out. But before we start making resolutions and returning unwanted gifts, here at The Credits, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the holiday cheer permeating the final weeks of 2012. A truly heart-warming program brought to us by the folks at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, has given underprivileged students in Los Angeles one invaluable gift: a two-week first-rate instruction in filmmaking.

Loyola Marymount University, renowned for boasting a comprehensive film program for underground students, has extended its collegiate filmmaking instruction to high school students in the Los Angeles area. LMU’s film-centric Summer Creative Workshop offers students from lower income neighborhoods across Los Angeles the opportunity to receive an intensive two-week collegiate education in all aspects of film production—from screenwriting, animation, directing, producing, editing, and more. The program is an innovative initiative to foster filmmaking love at the high school level, in the hopes of propelling students’ success in the industry at LMU’s undergrad program, and beyond.

The results are heartwarming and pronounced. LMU’s program has been the catalyst for a bevy of students’ film careers and life-long interests in cinema. Check out the video on this year’s very talented class of aspiring filmmakers:

We spoke with program director Charles Swanson, who gave us the inside scoop on the LMU Summer Creative Workshop and how it’s helping local high school students to expand upon their love of film and break into the industry, all while achieving real-world filmmaking experience.

The Summer Creative Workshop at LMU has been going on for several years, providing 16 high school students annually the rare opportunity to live on the LMU campus and attend rigorous film training sessions, at no cost. “For the first week, they get first rate, direct instruction on everything from photography to editing, film production, design, you name it,” Swanson explained. “Then the next week, we start shooting their projects, and the students are separated into two categories: production and animation.”

The workshop allows students to have an active role in producing multiple films, while under the instruction of LMU’s highly accomplished faculty. During their stay, students engage with LMU students, alumni, professors, and guest speakers all while attending a diverse spectrum of film classes. For the first week, students are put into teams to engage in writing screenplays and brainstorming on the kinds of film projects they wish to pursue. In the second week, the students’ ambitions are put to the test: the program culminates with the production of two short three-minute film projects in production and animation.

The only LA-based program of its kind, the LMU’s Creative Summer Workshop targets nine local high schools for participants—and the response has been huge. Now, applicable sophomore and junior students can apply for a competitive spot among 16 Fellow positions in the program.

In a city that calls Hollywood ‘home,’ the opportunity to fully engage with film production is a great way to get students involved in local professional filmmaking and to bolster interest in the art form. So what are they looking for? “Passion,” says Charles Swanson. “One kid skateboarded all the way to LMU from Palos Verdes, where he went to high school. He told us that he lost his money for the bus and skateboarded the whole way. That was impressive. He was eager and he knew what he wanted: to focus on editing and directing.” It seems that kind of unbridled passion is commonplace during the workshop, where students are tasked with exploring many aspects of film production that they might not have been exposed to prior.

According to Swanson, students come away from the program with much more than they initially anticipated.  “We had one young woman who has written her own children’s novel, and she said she wanted to be a screenwriter,” said Swanson, “but when she picked up the camera, she just loved being behind it. So, like with our undergrads, I think they come in with an idea of what they believe they want to do, but then they might find that they’re interested in a different aspect of filmmaking.”

Therein lies the real value of the LMU summer workshop: it provides students who might not otherwise get the chance to work in real world film production, while gaining a deeper understanding of the subject and exploring future career possibilities.

We spoke with Joseph Anderson, a junior at Crenshaw High and former LMU Creative Summer Workshop student, who focused on the production of a short animation film. “My teacher told me about the program—he noticed I was always watching movies and talking about them—maybe too much, really,” Anderson joked. But his interest in film has been a rather serious and lifelong pursuit. “I couldn’t think of another subject I enjoy,” he said.

For Joseph, LMU’s Summer Creative Workshop was an invaluable opportunity to hone his passion for film. “I just really wanted to be there [at LMU],” he said, “and the students, the staff, everything was just so comforting. We worked long days and long nights doing what I love. I learned about writing scripts—and about how many people it takes to get storyboards done. I learned so much about animation—from basic structure, to production, and design.”

The program has since strengthened Joseph’s resolve to pursue a college education in film. “I absolutely want to go to LMU [as an undergrad],” he said, and he’s grateful that the summer workshop has provided the springboard he needed to get serious about animation production.  “One of the animation teachers gave us his business card,” Joseph said, “and he encouraged us to keep interacting with the school, by helping to guide us through the steps we should take for applying to LMU’s undergraduate program.”

And Joseph’s not the only one. Program Director Charles Swanson notes that by the time students have finished the program, they’re eager to continue their film education. “They’ve been in this group of creative people with creative voices, and their confidence is just bolstered,” he said. “They leave here and they say, “well now I can be in film. I can be a cinematographer or a director. That’s really the main spark we’re trying to instill. The gift we hope this program gives is the broadening of their perspectives and some hope for the future and their creative abilities.”



For more information on LMU’s Summer Creative Workshop, be sure to visit the program’s website. And check out the department website for more on LMU’s Undergraduate Film and Television Program.

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Remorse and Paradise: Miguel Gomes’ Tabu Compels Beyond The Screen Wed, 26 Dec 2012 15:30:30 +0000 Tabu—the new feature film by Portuguese director, Miguel Gomes—ruminates on themes of crime and guilt. What the viewer is left to question is what sort of crimes are we talking about? There are crimes of passion, crimes of love, war ... Read More

Tabu—the new feature film by Portuguese director, Miguel Gomes—ruminates on themes of crime and guilt. What the viewer is left to question is what sort of crimes are we talking about? There are crimes of passion, crimes of love, war crimes, crimes for monetary gain, and so on. Yet, the film’s characters seem to speak and act on crimes of the soul, when one’s desires and urges become a crime in and of themselves–where the mere thought of them can bring along a culpability whose punishment is already wrought before the first illicit touch.

The film begins with a fable-like introduction recalling Paul Thomas Anderson’s own parable of remorse, Magnolia (2000). It tells the tale of an early colonial explorer (think pith helmet and puffy tan pants) who, while searching the Savannah, comes across the vision of a female spirit whom foretells of his death—at his own hand. The explorer, knowing this, leaps into a river where he is consumed by a crocodile and the legend lives on amongst the African Natives for the rest of time. Gomes then cuts to present-day Lisbon, with the title-card, “Part One: Paradise Lost.”

We meet Aurora, an old woman living her final years alone, cared for only by an African housekeeper, Santa, and watched over by her neighbor, a middle-aged philanthropist named Pilar. As Aurora’s health deteriorates, so does her lucidity. Santa seems willing to do as she’s told by Aurora’s absent daughter, while Pilar—whose compassion is only matched by everyone else’s apathy—strives to get Aurora professional help. When Aurora’s health worsens and Santa at last takes her to a hospital, she begins making bizarre requests. Among them, and while on her death bed, she asks that Pilar find a man by the name of Gian-Luca Ventura so she may see him before she dies. Pilar makes it back to the hospital with Ventura too late. He attends Aurora’s funeral solemn, teary eyed, laying a bouquet of flowers on her grave. On the way back to the airport Ventura begins to tell Pilar and Santa his and Aurora’s tale. So begins part two: “Paradise.”

Tabu’s second half contains no dialogue. The only speaking is done by the elderly Ventura in voiceover. He explains that fifty years ago, Aurora lived on a farm in the African Foothills of Mount Tabu. After the death of Aurora’s father, who lost all the family’s money, she marries a kind man by whom she soon becomes pregnant. It is then that Ventura, a lover of many women who has lived past crimes to which he never speaks, arrives looking to capitalize on the burgeoning Portuguese and British colonies. The two begin a torrid affair. As their love grows, so do their misdeeds, all against the backdrop of an imminent political uprising amongst the natives, who look to drive the imperialist occupiers from the region.

Despite starting off with a generous buzz–the film won the critic’s jury and the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlin Film Festival–Tabu may end up being overshadowed by Academy Award hopefuls like Lincoln and Argo, especially this late in the season (the film did manage to rank number ten on The Village Voice’s Top Ten Films of 2012). Still, Tabu has a venerable air. The film boasts beautiful black and white cinematography and a heart-wrenching script that channels the bittersweet tomes of love and shame that were the mark of 1930’s French cinema.

Herein lies the success of Tabu: the film finds power in its epic sadness. While Aurora remains cold and bitter from a lifetime of having what she wants (read: ‘poor little rich girl’ complex), Ventura, by comparison, appears quite mournful. Perhaps he never considers anything he and Aurora do to be criminal at all. He considers his soul lost to the previous misadventures of which he hints. The crimes he commits with Aurora might be the only right actions of an otherwise corrupt existence.

At it’s core, Tabu is about perdition. While some consider life too short to regret things you’ve never done, Tabu paints a gorgeous portrait of two people who’ve had to spend the entirety of their long lives regretting what they have done. As a friend of Pilar’s says in part one, “The hand is rough but the soul is delicate.” Are Aurora and Ventura’s hearts prepared to pay the price for the actions their bodies permit? The answer of course is complicated, but that’s precisely the point. Tabu resonates like the lasting cinema of a by-gone era, and the philosophical issues the film explores are well worth meditating on long after the movie ends.

**Feature image: TABU, courtesy of Adopt Films.
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays From The Credits! Tue, 25 Dec 2012 15:30:38 +0000 Thanks to, we’ve assembled a list of Christmas clips that represent the spectrum of emotion felt during this day of giving and receiving, of familial harmony…

….and familial chaos…

Some of these films are proper ... Read More]]> Thanks to, we’ve assembled a list of Christmas clips that represent the spectrum of emotion felt during this day of giving and receiving, of familial harmony…

….and familial chaos…

Some of these films are proper classics (who amongst us hasn’t relented to It’s A Wonderful Life at some point in their holiday history?), while others are classics of the cult variety (we’re looking at you, Wild at Heart and Gremlins fans). What they all have in common is they deal with the holidays in some capacity, with one small, furry exception (you’ll see what we mean below.)

Of course no list like this is ever totally comprehensive, and a lot of great holiday films were left out. We simply wanted to get a nice cross section of holiday moments, from the absurd to the sublime. A few of these films show up on our trivia timeline, where the behind-the-scenes story is often as great as the film itself.

So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our readers, and we look forward to an exciting, cinematic year ahead.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

One of the most iconic scenes from arguably the most iconic Christmas film of all time, George offers Mary the moon, and gets a good lesson from an eavesdropping neighbor.

Gremlins (1984)

Christmas trees can be a bit of a hassel. They can make a mess, they’re not the easiest things to haul in and out, they can be fire hazards, and they can often come with undesirable critters, like spiders, or, in the case of poor Lynn (Frances Lee McCain), monsters.

Scrooged (1988)

Bill Murray plays the aggressively awful Frank Cross in this take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In this scene, he ruthlessly fires Elliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwaith), then savages a painting his assistant Grace’s (Alfred Woodard) child did. Nobody does nasty quite like Murray.

Christmas Vacation (1989)

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) has had about enough of his yuppie neighbors (one of whom happens to be Julie Louis-Dreyfuss), and suggests a good place for the location of his tree.

Wild at Heart (1990)

A Christmas memory brought to you by David Lynch. Enough said.

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991)

Does anybody chew a scene quite like Alan Rickman? Here, as the villainous Sheriff George of Nottingham, Rickman’s fuming at the notion that the public adores Robin Hood, so he does the only sensible thing a man clinging to power can do in such a situation—he calls off Christmas.

Love Actually (2003)

An almost painfully charming school rendition of “All I Want For Christmas” in this ensemble piece that follows the lives of eight different couples dealing with their love lives in the frantic month before Christmas.

Elf (2003)

Will Ferrell, as Buddy, a human raised as an elf in the North Pole, is disgusted to find that the Gimbel’s Santa is not the real Santa who raised him, but rather…Artie Lange? The horror!

March of the Penguins (2005)

Okay, not technically a Christmas film, but this scene, in which a penguin family is reunited, is both impossibly adorable and so infused with holiday spirit (Love! Reunion! Warm coats!) that we decided it deserved inclusion. Plus, we’d listen to Morgan Freeman narrate his tax forms.

Doubt (2008)

The incomparable Meryl Streep plays the impossibly dogmatic Sister Aloysius Beauvier in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964. In this scene, she doesn’t quite agree with Father Brendan Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) when he suggests allowing the kids to sing a secular song, like, say, “Frosty the Snowman.” Her take on what that song represents is chilling, but her performance, in pure Streep fashion, is thrilling.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)

Talk about a Christmas miracle, check out Harold’s shot in this crucial game of…beer pong?

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“I’m Kind of a Big Deal”: A Helpful Film Gift Guide for The Overzealous Film Quoter Mon, 24 Dec 2012 15:30:28 +0000 Everyone’s got one. That friend who just can’t resist dropping a legendary movie quote at the most serendipitous of times. We’re talking about that charming (and ok, at times needling) buddy whose eyes glaze for an unexpected moment of, uh, ... Read More

Everyone’s got one. That friend who just can’t resist dropping a legendary movie quote at the most serendipitous of times. We’re talking about that charming (and ok, at times needling) buddy whose eyes glaze for an unexpected moment of, uh, possession, only to bark in a feigned scruffy voice, “Hey. You looking at me?” Yes, we are looking at you, Overzealous Film Quoter. And we’ve got just the film gift guide to satiate your movie-dialogue parroting obsession.

They convene in high school basements, college dorm rooms, dive bars, and theater queues, just waiting to land the perfect film quote into an unsuspecting situation. They thrive at pub trivia nights, hipster parties, and high school AV clubs. We’re talking about that special someone in your social circle, who will habitually, impulsively, and, yes, embarrassingly holler, “Run, Forest, run!,” at the nearest grumpy-faced jogger.

A loveable character with plenty of cinema prowess, the Overzealous Film Quoter leaves no opportune moment for a film quote unutilized. The mere mention of the city of San Diego, for instance—renowned in its own right for boasting a fine zoo, serene lagoons, and gifting the world with the word ‘brah’–opens the floodgates for a succession of Anchorman-sourced quotes. (As if the city itself were built solely in homage to Will Ferrell’s portrayal of news anchor hack Ron Burgundy.) An innocent inquiry can turn into an unexpected moment of mini-melodrama with a quick turn of chin and a faraway look: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” A severed romance? “We’ll always have Paris.” And the Overzealous Film Quoter strikes again.

So, today’s the day the Overzealous Film Quoters of the world get their very own film gift guide. Instead of gifting your friend a silent movie (c’mon, that’s just mean), celebrate your friend’s neurotic film tic by broadening his or her cache of quotable movies. We’ve put together an entirely subjective list of suggestions for some truly appreciated film script recalls. Amongst the mix, you’ll find classic quotable scripts, as well as some under-sung heroes that deserve to be quoted more often:

The Big Lebowski (1998): A Coen brothers classic. When ‘Dude’ (Jeff Bridges) is wrongly identified as a millionaire, his rug is ruined as a consequence for not paying a debt he doesn’t really owe. Seeking restitution for his rug, he enlists the help of his bowling friends and runs into a series of unexpected events. Plenty of bizarre and existential quotes to cop, including this exchange below between the Dude and his bowling companion, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman).

Walter Sobchak: You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don’t wanna know about it, believe me.
The Dude: Yeah, but Walter…
Walter Sobchak: Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon… with nail polish.

Barton Fink (1991): Here, the eponymous successful playwright turned screenwriter hack (John Turturro) starts to lose his cool when he shacks up at the eerie Hotel Earle in this (yet again) Coen Brothers classic. An ideal script for the struggling and underappreciated writer to quote from at random. 

Barton Fink: I’m a writer you, you monsters! I create! I create for a living! I’m a creator! I’m a creator! [points to head] This is my uniform!

The Princess Bride (1987): This is a bona fide classic quotable script. A fairy tale gone hilariously satirical, The Princess Bride is a film with a script that keeps on giving, by way of evil princes, giants, awesome swordplay, and pitch-perfect one liners. Plus, can you beat a cast that boasts Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, and Peter Falk?

Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): Oh, Monty Python And The Holy Grail! To say this movie is a tour de force of repeatable quotes is simply an understatement. King Arthur and a bevy of knights set out in search of yes, The Holy Grail. But what they encounter is a series of hysterical setbacks and an arsenal of inimitable quotes. Perfect for the absurdist Overzealous Film Quoter. (Bonus: British accents).

French Soldier: I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Ghostbusters (1984): A quote-worthy classic, Ghostbusters is a perennial favorite amongst Overzealous Film Quoters. Ghosts have descended upon Manhattan and only a hilarious cast of ‘Ghostbusters’ and sundry characters—including Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Akroyd, and Rick Moranis—can save the city. But the script is the real star of this 80s classic:

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
Mayor: All right, all right! I get the point!

Annie Hall (1977): Wonderfully neurotic Woody Allen is the mastermind behind this NYC-based Oscar-winning romantic comedy—and it sports a compulsively repeatable script. Everyone loves neurotic one-liners, but nobody loves them more than The Overzealous Film Quoter.

Alvy Singer: I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.

Jackie Brown (1997): In this Quentin Tarantino classic, a flight attendant gets caught up in a crime plot between the Feds and criminals, set to one of the best soul-themed soundtracks out there. The script is a treasure trove for anyone who likes great comebacks with plenty of attitude. A good choice for a friend who swears like a trucker—this might be the only line of dialogue in the entire film without an expletive:

            Ordell Robbie: I’m serious as a heart attack.

Trainspotting (1996): Based on the Irvine Welsh book, this film tells the gritty story of a man’s plight through—and attempts to escape from—Edinburgh’s drug scene, with plenty of great bits of dialogue. (Bonus points: an excuse to feign a Scottish accent.) And this may be the greatest response to being hit-on that’s ever been written for film:

Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Well, I’ll come back with you if you like, but like, I’m not promising anything, you know.
Diane: Do you find that this approach usually works? Or let me guess, you’ve never tried it before. In fact, you don’t normally approach girls – am I right? The truth is that you’re a quiet sensitive type but, if I’m prepared to take a chance, I might just get to know the inner you: witty, adventurous, passionate, loving, loyal. Taxi! A little bit crazy, a little bit bad. But hey – don’t us girls just love that?
Mark “Rent-boy” Renton: Eh?
Diane: Well, what’s wrong boy – cat got your tongue?

Do The Right Thing (1989): Spike Lee’s classic story about a community living in the racially-charged neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, is chock full of epic quotes. That’s because the dialogue is great and it has ethos. This, for instance, is poetry:

Radio Raheem: Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love.

Breathless (1960): Godard’s New Wave classic, Breathless is an existential film about a small time thief who kills a police officer and falls in love with a young journalist, while a manhunt gathers around them. It also boasts one of the most oft-quoted dialogues around, which is a testament to great screenwriting—it never ceases to intrigue. Plenty of great quotes for the deep and moody Overzealous Film Quoter in your life.

Patricia Franchini: What is your greatest ambition in life?

Parvulesco: To become immortal…and then die.

The Warriors (1979): Gangs rule a dystopian New York City, and trouble finds it way to The Warriors, a gang who must journey through NYC—and across several hostile territories—in order to get to their turf. Let’s just put it this way: we dare you to watch this movie and not say the film’s most legendary line compulsively, and for weeks afterward (you’ve been forewarned):

             Cyrus: Can you dig it?

PCU (1994): Jeremy Piven stars as a fifth year college co-ed at the esteemed Politically Correct University (PCU), where he and his rag-tag crew wreck havoc on the uber-sensitive (and politically divided) student body. A precursor to Old School, Van Wilder, et al, PCU was a bit of a 90s-college-humor-forerunner. It’s no Animal House, of course, but that’s precisely the point (to everyone, everywhere: stop quoting Animal House.) Also, here you can clearly see Jeremy Piven’s (as Droz) budding knack for witticisms before he eventually dominates the form as Ari Gold in Entourage:

Droz: What’s this? You’re wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see? Don’t be that guy.

Droz: We need kegs. Multiple, cold and domestic.

Droz: Ok, now it’s true, the majority of students today are so cravenly PC, they wouldn’t know a good time if it was sitting on their face, but there’s one thing that will always unite us and them. They’re young. They may not realize it yet. They’ve got the same raging hormones, the same self-destructive desire to get boldly trashed and wildly out of control. Look out that window! That’s not a protest! That is cry for help! They’re begging us…
[shouts] Please have a party! Feed us drinks!
[Continues shouting] Get us laid! Aahhhhhh!

Casablanca (1942): Casablanca might be the most quoted film in history; and with dialogue this great, it’s little wonder why. The classic romance about an expatriate and a former lover is teeming with quotes just waiting to be repeated during a romantic moment IRL. (Bonus points: Humphrey Bogart impressions).

Rick: Who are you really, and what were you before? What did you do and what did you think, huh?
Ilsa: We said no questions.
Rick: …Here’s looking at you, kid.

Grandma’s Boy (2006): Ok, if you’re going to go for slapstick/stoner quotable movies, it’s likely that films Half-Baked, Dazed and Confused, or Super Troopers are well-worn territory already. So how about this Adam Sandler-produced underdog: A video game programmer/stoner is forced to live with his grandmother and battle out an evil genius at work. A bit sophomoric, but aren’t we all? Perfect for gamers tired of quoting Tron: 

JP: All I’ve ever cared about was video games and they made me a millionaire. So maybe I don’t know what the Civil War was, or who invented the helicopter even though I own one, but I did beat The Legend of Zelda before I could walk. I’m thinking about getting metal legs. It’s a risky operation, but it’ll be worth it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): The screen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s hallucinatory book is a drug-addled tour de force featuring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. Why is it quotable? Because Hunter S. Thompson has some of the most original lines out there. And bonus: when your friend quotes this movie, it’s kind of like you’re reading. You can practically hear the man writing here:

Raoul Duke:  There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Mommy Dearest (1981): Dark, yes. But the best-selling memoir turned cinematic sensation, Mommy Dearest, is a film teeming with quote-worthy one-liners. Joan Crawford might not have won the Mother of the Year award, but some of the lines in this film are unrivaled. Perfect for an Overzealous Film Quoter with a penchant for cutting remarks and especially vicious insults.

Joan Crawford: I’d rather you go bald to school than looking like a tramp.

Best in Show (2000): A list of quotable films would be incomplete without a Christopher Guest-directed mockumentary. Of course, picking the most quote-worthy of his movies is no simple task. This is Spinal Tap is one for the history books, as is A Mighty Wind, but we have to give his much-lauded Best in Show the honor. The mockumentary about a national dog show, and the quirky contestants competing is chock full of great lines.

Buck Laughlin: I don’t think I could ever get used to being poked and prodded. I told my proctologist one time, “Why don’t you take me out to dinner and a movie sometime?”

Jaws (1975): Everyone’s seen Jaws (it’s a fact). But try watching the original summer blockbuster/shark thriller with a tuned-ear for quotable dialogue. As you can see, it’s great material for anyone who enjoys standing by idly, while commenting on things run awry:

Hooper: This was no boat accident.

Brody: You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Brody: That’s some bad hat, Harry.

To which you can reply:

Hooper: [shouting] YOU GOT ANY BETTER IDEAS?

Therein, the real joy of having an Overzealous Film Quoter friend—two can play at this game.

Happy holidays!

**Feature image JAWS, courtesy of Universal Pictures
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Scrooged! Elf! A Christmas Carol! Bad Santa! Take Our Holiday Movie Trivia Timeline Tour Fri, 21 Dec 2012 15:30:17 +0000 Have you ever wondered if it were possible to get your tongue stuck to a pole like little Ralphie does in A Christmas Story? Or where in the world the idea for Gremlins (yup, it’s a Christmas movie) came from? Or where Linus came ... Read More

Have you ever wondered if it were possible to get your tongue stuck to a pole like little Ralphie does in A Christmas Story? Or where in the world the idea for Gremlins (yup, it’s a Christmas movie) came from? Or where Linus came up with that moving notion on the true meaning of Christmas in A Charlie Brown Christmas? Well, with a little (okay, a lot) of help from, we’ve got your answers, and much more, below in our latest infographic.

Click to enlarge image. 

]]> 0 I Love You, Mom: Dan Fogelman’s The Guilt Trip Is A Love Letter To His Late Mother Thu, 20 Dec 2012 15:30:58 +0000 Screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s story is a true life Hollywood fairy tale: New Jersey native comes to Tinseltown looking for work in the entertainment industry, lands a gig writing for TV, then writes for a little animation company by the name ... Read More

]]> Screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s story is a true life Hollywood fairy tale: New Jersey native comes to Tinseltown looking for work in the entertainment industry, lands a gig writing for TV, then writes for a little animation company by the name of Pixar (Cars), while writing his own scripts on the side, one of which becomes the hit Crazy, Stupid, Love starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling.

The fairy tale continues today (fitting, considering Fogelman also wrote Warner Bros.  Rapunzel update Tangled) with the release of Paramount’s The Guilt Trip, starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand as a son and mother going on a cross-country road trip—based on his real-life experience a handful of years back. Next up? He’ll direct his script for Imagine, about a 1970s aging rock star recommitting to his youthful ideals after finding a letter from John Lennon, starring Al Pacino, Julianne Moore, and Jeremy Renner. We talked to Fogelman about landing Babs to play his mom, whether Googling himself is a good idea, and boozing it up in a secluded cabin in order to write.

Dan Fogelman and his mom, Joyce, on the road trip that inspired The Guilt Trip—Courtesy Dan Fogelman

Dan Fogelman and his mom, Joyce, on the road trip that inspired The Guilt Trip—Courtesy Dan Fogelman

The Credits: When you’re writing something that’s this autobiographical, how do you know where to draw the line? Is anything off limits?

Fogelman: I kind of put everything out there. The movie’s a bit of a love letter to my mom and to moms in general. So there’s nothing that risqué about it, where I was going, “Oh, this is really going to offend people.” It’s a weird thing. It’s very autobiographical—the character Barbra plays is very much my mom. We took a road trip together and most of the things that happen in the movie happened on our trip, but at the same time, my father’s very much alive and a nice guy, and I killed off the father in our movie (laughs). I had to call my dad and be like, “Listen, everybody in our lives is going to be watching this movie about Mom, and the father’s dead. Don’t read into it too much.”

How did he handle that news?

He was fine. I actually put him in the background of one of the scenes, which was my way of compensating. My mother actually passed away a couple of years ago, so it’s this bizarre experience right now making this film about her.

Barbra Streisand was your mom’s hero. Tell me about the moment you found out that she was going to play her. What went through your mind?

My mom was a Jewish girl from Brooklyn; I always say she wouldn’t know a celebrity if one walked into her living room, but Barbra was everything to her. My mom used to watch The Way We Were, and just wail at the end of the movie. My sister and I thought it was funny how hard she would cry. I did the road trip with my mom about six years ago, then wrote the movie, and she knew that it was getting made, and then she got sick and passed away. And I was on a quest to get Barbra to play her.

How does one get Barbra Streisand in one’s movie?

It was a process. Barbra doesn’t work very often. I went to her house for the first time to talk about the script, and I remember I brought her purple flowers and orchids. I had a really nice arrangement made because she was having us over for dinner. And she liked the flowers. I’ve gotten to work with quite a few people now, and I don’t get nervous very much, but there was a lot riding on this, and Barbra sat us down, I was with Anne Fletcher, the director, and she said, “Talk to me about this movie. Why should I do this movie? I don’t like working a lot.” And we sat at her house for five hours talking about the film.

Did she cook?

No, she has people who cook (laughs). But Barbra’s an eater, so she loves to have people over. She has an amazing house on the water. It’s out of this world.

I read that she didn’t want to leave Malibu to film this movie. 

Yeah, she’s achieved the level of fame and success where people come to her. So we brought the movie to her. The only way the movie was gonna happen was if it was Seth [Rogen] and Barbra together–that was everybody’s head space. First Barbra and Seth got together and read a couple of scenes, and she liked Seth immediately. That was a big draw for her. Then we did a table read, and people were really laughing and loving Barbra. She turned to me afterwards and said, “This is really funny.” And that was the turning point.

You’ve said this is essentially seeing your mother as a “person” for the first time. As you get older, that happens. When was that moment for you in your real life?

In real life, my parents got divorced when I was 16 or 17, and so I had the perspective of seeing my parents kind of get out and start dating and restart their lives in different ways. We have this tendency to see our parents as these creatures that exist to only be our parents, and at some point, we all have a moment where we go, “Holy crap, they exist when they’re not in the same room as us!”

Exactly. What made you want Seth in the role?

I think he’s the most naturalistic actor I’ve ever worked with. There’s no artifice. I remember seeing Knocked Up, and thinking, this guy is the real deal. You didn’t feel like you were watching an acting performance, you felt like you were watching someone very real on screen. To me in this movie, he’s almost like a young Albert Brooks. Barbra always calls him, “adorable,” and he kind of is in the film.

When did you know you wanted to write?

I actually always wanted to write novels, I never studied screenwriting, and I wasn’t a huge movie buff, even. I guess I just wimped out because novels are too hard (laughs). I wanted to do something in the entertainment industry, but it’s a little like playing a sport you’ve never played, and you don’t know the rules. I moved out here and kind of got lucky. I worked for years in television, and then things started moving quickly for me.

Does having hit after hit mess with your head a little bit?

That’s very nice of you to say. The internet makes things very hard. I can go online anytime and read 400 terrible things about any one of my movies, or my writing, and I try and avoid it. You’re always kind of chasing something.

Do you read your reviews?

It’s hard not to. Everyone in your life has like Google Alerts on your movies, and they’re all reading it. My father calls and says, “You have a terrible review in the New York Post.”

And you’re like, “Thanks, Dad.”

Yeah. Invariably, I’m proud of all the films I’ve done. The kind of stuff I do, it’s not movies about going to kill Bin Laden. Cynics are not always going to love what I do. You have to kind of accept that going in. These movies don’t always get all good reviews. We had a premiere the other night, and I could hear sniffling throughout this huge theater, and that’s f**king cool. So you try to hang onto those cool moments.

What’s your writing process?

I don’t write often, but I write very quicky and kind of stream of consciousness. I’m not a screenwriter in that I don’t have any training and I don’t know what I’m doing. I tend to sit on an idea for a long time. I rented this cabin and would go up there for like a week and a half and write. I did that for Crazy, Stupid, Love and Imagine, which I’m directing next year. My girlfriend and I bought a little ranch a few hours from Los Angeles so now I’ll go there to write. I have to lock myself in a room with a bottle of booze (laughs). It’s like the lamest screenwriter version of Thoreau. I’ll get a bunch of food so I never have to leave the house. I’ll get up at 4 am and write until 10 o’clock at night for eight days.

Do you use Final Draft Pro or something?

Yeah, Final Draft is what I learned on. I usually write really long and then spend the last two days of that process whittling it down. On the mom movie, it was different. I actually kept a journal the entire trip and would email it to my like 150 of my friends every night. They thought I was f**king crazy for driving across country with my mom.

Did you know the whole time it would be a screenplay?

Yeah. At the end I had like 25 pages of prose, and I basically just turned it into a screenplay.

That’s awesome. So what kind of advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers or screenwriters?

It’s very difficult. And if there’s something else you can do that would make you equally or close to equally as happy, you should do that other thing. It’s just hard to get lucky. But if you’re still determined after that, there really is no path. Other than just write your ass off. Read as many screenplays as you can, watch as many movies, and write as much as possible.

Dan and Joyce at the Grand Canyon

Dan and Joyce at the Grand Canyon—Courtesy Dan Fogelman

Featured Image: Left to right: Lorna Scott is Waitress (standing, left), Seth Rogen is Andrew Brewster (sitting, left), Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster (center), and Brett Cullen is Ben Graw (sitting, right) in THE GUILT TRIP,  from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

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Talking Apocalypse Now, Philadelphia and More With Legendary Film Producer Mike Medavoy Wed, 19 Dec 2012 15:30:00 +0000 Mike Medavoy’s film credits read like an American Film Institute (AFI) ‘Top 100′ list; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Network, Coming Home, Platoon, The Terminator, Dances With Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs, ... Read More

Mike Medavoy’s film credits read like an American Film Institute (AFI) ‘Top 100′ list; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Network, Coming Home, Platoon, The Terminator, Dances With Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Zodiac and Black Swan, to name a few.

Medavoy was a co-founder of Orion Pictures, a former chairman of TriStar Pictures, the former head of production of United Artists, and is currently the chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures. He sat down with chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Senator Chris Dodd, and AFI’s founding director, George Stevens Jr., to talk about the insanity of life on the set of Apocalypse Now, horse trading actors with director Jonathan Demme, and what making Philadelphia meant to him.

An Evening With Legendary Film Producer and Studio Head Mike Medavoy from The Credits on Vimeo.

For more on Medavoy, you can’t do much better than his book, “You’re Only As Good As Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I should Be Shot.”

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The Many Lives Of a Hollywood Stunt Performer: A Conversation With Oliver Keller Tue, 18 Dec 2012 15:30:24 +0000 Oliver Keller grew up in a small town in Switzerland dreaming of becoming a stuntman in Hollywood. His appetite for excitement led him to Super G Downhill skiing and an eventual apprenticeship with a German stunt professional, but he had his ... Read More

Oliver Keller grew up in a small town in Switzerland dreaming of becoming a stuntman in Hollywood. His appetite for excitement led him to Super G Downhill skiing and an eventual apprenticeship with a German stunt professional, but he had his sights set on bigger things.

Today, Oliver is a rising star in Hollywood’s stunt community, and has worked on mega-blockbusters from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to Master & Commander, and not one but two of Sacha Baron Cohen films (Brüno and The Dictator) and the largest Bollywood film ever made (Dhoom 3).

We talked to Oliver about falling out of buildings, third degree burns, designing a canon to help blow cars into the sky (while he’s inside them), and how he got down to 7% body fat while working as Henry Cavill’s stunt double on Immortals.

Oliver Keller

Oliver Keller

The Credits: So tell us about this film you were just working on, Dhoom 3?

OLIVER KELLER: Dhoom 3 is the biggest budget Bollywood movie ever made. We were filming in Chicago. We flipped five cars, dropped a guy 300-feet from the top of city hall, and shot a chase scene on the Chicago river with jet skis and boats while motorcycles raced on the river walk. We had more than 100 stunt performers involved.

Sounds like a fun job. When did you know you wanted to be a stunt performer?

I was born and raised in Switzerland. I competed in downhill Super G skiing as a teenager and raced BMX bikes in the summer. When I was 7 years old, I saw a TV show called The Fall Guy, where Lee Majors played a stunt man. I thought that’s what I want to do one day. I never lost that. Living in a small town in Switzerland, with about 200 people, everybody’s kind of laughing at you, but my family supported me, and when I was 15 or 16 I went to Germany to a stunt school, and a stunt coordinator put me under his wing, and gave me some opportunities. I eventually moved to LA.

Just another day on the job

Just another day on the job

What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained while doing a stunt?

About 13-years ago, on a TV show in Germany, it was one of those 3-2-1 countdown action shots, only the explosion when off at 2. I wasn’t anywhere near my safety area, and it was a naphthalene gasoline explosion [this sticky compound is often used in pyrotechnic special effects for simulated explosions], so the fuel stuck to my wardrobe. I tried to move away from the flames, and the safety guys were on quick, but I got burned pretty badly. They had to take a skin sponge and grind down the burned layers of skin and remove all the burnt layers. They didn’t have to do a skin graft, but I ended up with 2nd and 3rd degree burns (my nose was 3rd degree, it was really bad). But I was really lucky. I’ve never been macho about this job, but I also believe if you can still work, you continue, so, three hours after they took me to the hospital, I came back to the set and crashed a car (on purpose, it was his remaining stunt.) After that, my day was over.

Can you tell us about some of the actors who are the bravest when it comes to stunts?

Joe Manganiello comes to mind immediately [he plays the werewolf Alcide in HBO’s True Blood], I doubled him on the first Spider-Man, he’s a very, very good athlete. He has a football background and he’s game for anything. He’s in very good shape and he gets fight choreography done very quickly. If you can use the actor, then you say, okay, let’s do it. It will look a little more authentic. I’ve also been the stunt double for Ashton Kutcher a lot [in 2006’s The Guardian, 2010’s Killers, and 2011’s No Strings Attached], and I know his limits. But he’s very much game for lots of it, he loves to fight. He does a very good fight in Killers.

Tell us what it’s like to work on a gigantic, big-budget films where there’s hundreds of people involved and massive stunts?

One of the highlights in my career was working on Master & CommanderI was on the French crew, on the French boat, and the set was down in Mexico, at the Baja Studios, which they built for James Cameron’s Titanic. It’s got all these stages and pools the size of four or five football fields. Also, it’s on the coast and they have an infinity pool so it looks like it blends into the ocean. We had 80 stunt performers on that shoot, including 100 crew, 150-200 extras, live animals—cows, chickens, goats. I died like fifteen times on that movie. I was blown up, thrown off the ship, drowned, you name it. One day you wear a red hat and fight for the British, the other day you wear a green hat and a mustache and fight for another country. And Russell Crowe, he’s into doing a lot of action, he’s so active, he’s in great shape.

Oliver as Sacha Baron Cohen's stunt double in The Dictator

Oliver as Sacha Baron Cohen’s stunt double in The Dictator

What did you do on Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator?

A lot of slapstick stuff, really. I rode a horse in the sand dunes in Spain. I fell off the UN Stage. In [Sacha’s] movies, the challenge isn’t the stunt so much but the wardrobe. We’d rehearse a specific stunt, like climbing over a fence, jumping across a rooftop, and you’re doing it in your hiking gear, solid boots, and it goes great. But during in the shoot? Now you’re wearing an Arab jellabiya [a traditional garmet, like a robe] and loafers with fur on them. And in that outfit I had to run down an alley outside of a hotel, cut into a mass of people, step on one guy’s thigh, leap over his body, use another guy’s shoulder for leverage, and then football tackle a girl onto a table. The girl? A tiny little Asian lady I had to take on. Typically your stepping stone is an apple box, but doing it on a human, they all have a risk of failure, if one element doesn’t fit with the other, the whole gag doesn’t work.

When did you realize you had made it as a stunt performer?

On Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I worked on Pirates for a week, we shot on the back lot on Universal Studios, on European Street—where we filmed Port Royal being attacked by the Black Pearl. I had to run for my life, dodge exploding glass, running like crazy through the town. I was just in LA for two years at that time, and to come from a small little country like Switzerland to LA to work on a movie like that, a movie that has an open checkbook, I don’t know how many millions they had, but it was shocking. We blew that town to pieces that one night. Chimneys falling off, raging fires, huge explosions, the whole town was just destroyed, and we wrapped at like 6 am, with our call time to return at 4pm. When we got back at 4pm, everything was put back in place, totally cleaned up. I just realized, well, nothing’s impossible. This is a Bruckheimer production, so whatever has to get done gets done.

How do you stay in shape?

On Immortals, I doubled the lead [Henry Cavill, who played Theseus], and we shot the film in Montreal, and Henry and I had to go up eight weeks before filming and train. We both had the same personal trainer and for those eight weeks we trained six-to-eight hours a day, with the goal to get down to 7% body fat. We did a combo of weights, yoga, and CrossFit. It’s a workout where you use a lot of your own body weight, and as you workout you keep you heart rate in a constant fat burning zone. We did hours of weights, hours of cardio, it was hard as hell.

When I’m idle (not on a job) I do cardio, everything from a StairMaster to running stairs, sprinting and jogging. The more you change your routines, the harder your body has to work and figure out what it has to do to keep up, and you get more efficient results. If you do the same workout all the time, eventually it doesn’t as well anymore.

(In the below clip, Oliver performs as Cavill’s stunt double.)

Tell us about this ‘cannon’ you built to flip cars.

There’s several ways to flip car, including many different types of ramps. I developed a system that’s basically a steel pipe, around 3.5 foot long, 8-12-inch in diameter, with a wall thickness of about an inch, or ¾ inch, and then on one side it’s capped. It’s designed as an actual canon. Nitrogen gets fed into the cannon via a dive tank, and you control the release of the nitrogen from a button taped to your hand or next to steering wheel. The thing is, we are really restrained in the car, neck restraints, hand restraints, this is all to keep your limbs from being torn off while you’re flipping, so we’re really limited on movement inside the vehicle. So you set up the nitrogen ignition button in the car near your finger, and when you push the button the compressed nitrogen goes from the dive tank through the tube into the steel pipe, or canon. The cannon is poking through a hole facing the ground below the car, so when you push that button all that nitrogen goes from the holding tank into the cannon, and the piston shoots out and goes straight down with so much force that it flips the car. This allows you to avoid having a ramp in the shot. So you drive down the road, you go 50 or 60 mph, you pull your steering wheel left or right, hit the button and the cannon goes off. You’re airborne.

Yes, he’s inside that car

What’s the highest you’ve ever had to fall for a stunt?

Falling has changed now with our technology. The old fashioned way, and still a very efficient method, is to fall into cardboard boxes, with the sizes of the boxes varying depending upon the height you’re falling from. Of course there’s also the airbag, just a big air-filled cushion, but these days, because we have so much help with computers, we use these massive cranes with wires that allow you to hook a stunt man up and drop him on a computerized winch. There’s not that many stunt people who can do 60-feet and above free falls, so there’s a lot of wire help now.  You can drop a stunt person 200 feet and the computer tells the high-speed winch exactly how fast to fall, and as he starts to descend and gets closer to the ground, the computer slows the winch until he can land softly on the ground on his feet. As for my highest free fall, well, it was 94-feet into airbag for a TV show in Switzerland. Out of gondola, no less. The big airbag we used? It looked like a postage stamp from up there.

Featured image is of Oliver hanging out of a helicopter, prepared to jump on the moving truck. Courtesy Oliver Keller


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