Monday, July 17, 2017

George A. Romero 1940 - 2017

George Romero the director of such films as Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow, Knightriders, and Martin has passed at the age of 77.

Romero directed Night of the living Dead back in 1967 with some friends and colleagues and changed cinematic history.   Shot for about 100K the film would go on to become a classic of modern horror, and would also be inducted into the museum of modern art, and into the Library of Congress’s National film registry. 

Romero would go onto produce and direct many other films such as Martin, Dawn of the Dead, and Knightriders.  It was the film Dawn of the Dead that put zombies back into the media and it is a film that re-invented the zombie genre.  Many current shows and movies have Romero to thank for being the first to re-inventing the zombie genre and making it profitable.  Roger Ebert considered "Dawn of the Dead"one of the best horror movies ever made.

On a personal level George Romero showed that one could work outside the studio system, and so he really was one of the first DIY filmmakers that would go on to be very successful.    His passion for story telling was very well known, and he loved talking to his fans about filmmaking and his movies.  To many of his fans Romero was very approachable and it was that that made him so special.

Talking about the production of his film “The Crazies” or his film “Martin” you understood that Romero's films had so many different sub-text.   Whether an allegory about consumerism (Dawn of the Dead), or a story about loneliness and misunderstanding (Martin) Romero's films work on many levels.   Even towards the end of his life he was still trying to get films made.  He had boundless energy, and loved what he did, and took the time to meet his fans and admirers. 

Romero is survived by his wife, his daughter, his son Andrew Romero as well as his other son Cam Romero from a previous marriage to Christine Romero  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)Saldan

What is it that make the Guardians of the Galaxy films so fun and worth seeing?  It's the characters simple put, and the actors who play them.  Plus there is a theme in the movies that run throughout the series or franchise and that is that their more then superheros their family.  A dysfunctional family, but no less a family.  That's what makes this franchise so good.  The humor that is built into the films, and the actors who play them so well.  From Chris Pratt who plays Star Lord to Dave Bautista who plays Drax the actors really bring a certain joy to their characters that they are playing.  Even Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper who do the voices for the characters of Groot and Rocket are entertaining and fun.

I could go on about the direction, and the art direction, but why?  It's all good.  In fact its so good you take them for granted.  The writing is perfect James Gunn and Dan Abnett do an admirable job keeping it close to what the Marvel comic of the Guardians was like.

And even if you're not familiar with the comic you'll enjoy the film(s).  The filmmakers do this by casting actors who love their characters, and who are having fun doing so.  The chemistry between  Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana is magical, and you really want to root for our heros because they are family.

The latest film also expands the character of  Yondu played fantastically by Michael Rooker who is a personal favorite of mine.  The theme in this film is family, and how Star Lord finds out who is his father played by Kurt Russell who seems to get better and better as he gets older.  The theme of what a father really is hits close to the heart, and plays well into the narrative of the film.  

So it's not the effects, or that it is a superhero movie that makes Guardians of the Galaxy 2 a superior film, but it is its theme of family, and adversity that makes it a fun movie.  Audiences can relate, and that's what makes the film a superior fun filled family film.  Even when the jokes are a bit risque they are funny because you know some of them will be over children's heads, and adults, don't have to stress about explaining it to their young ones. 

Also don't get me started with the soundtrack.  Both films have some great  old music that brings back a nostalgic vibe to the film.  It's unique to the films, and I really enjoy it.  It's an added bonus, and I really like it, and I'm sure many fans of the film also enjoy it.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is a fun filled action packed summer movie with heart.  

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rogue One - 2016

So after seeing Rogue One I was thoroughly impressed to see how Disney is expanding the Star Wars universe.  A picture about getting the plans to the Rebels became an interesting and thought provoking story that greatly expanded the Star Wars universe, and added depth to the story.  Plus the effects, the acting, and the direction push the Star Wars universe in a very interesting place.

I remember seeing the original so long ago in a theater in Manhattan.  It was my first venture into the city, and I was overwhelmed at the movie,  The sound, the effects, the story all compelled me to know more about this film.  How they made it.  Who made it, and was there more.

The same could be said about Rogue One.  Special effects have come a long way since 1977.  The re-creation of Peter Cushing is remarkable, and certainly it opens a whole new way to make films, while at the same time opens a whole can of worms for the acting industry.   The last shot of Princess Leia in the film is remarkable as well since Carrie Fisher who portrays her is no longer with us, and yet we see a 19 year old princess Leia taking the stolen Death Star plans.

The filmmakers definitely wanted Rogue One to be the film that precedes the original Star Wars "A New Hope".  It is well done.

I don't want to spoil it, and I tried to not know much because I wanted the experience to enjoy the film without knowing much about it.    First off Felicity Jones does a great job here playing our heroine.  The writers create a very well written character who just wants the love of her father who is played by Mads Mikkelsen.  As Star Wars did it relies on many foreign actors too, since it was filmed on many locations just like the original.  It's from this vast pool of talent that makes the films so fantastic.  It's creators Lucas and now Disney know where the talent is, and the Star Wars universe is richer for it.  Maybe that's why Rogue One makes a great companion piece to "Star Wars: A New Hope".

While watching Rogue One I was reminded about another film.  A film about misfits with a mission, and that film was the World War 2 film "The Dirty Dozen".  Starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes and George Kennedy.  It is a favorite of mine, and the director of Rogue One, Gareth Edwards, certainly makes you feel like you're watching a film about a bunch of rebels with heart.

I've always been interested in why many who play the video games, or watch the movies side with the Empire.  I looked at the statistics of game play and a lot of players play as the Empire.  I guess it's the cool gadgets.  Walkers, tie fighters, and stormtroopers, but I've always sided with the rebels. Guess I'm just a hopeless optimist, and always had a problem with authority which the empire represents.

I find it interesting that a film like Rogue One comes out now just as a new administration comes into power here in the United States.   Where there is hope their is resistance.  Rogue One gives that in spades and I like that.  Hence I like the film, and I'm sure a lot of Star Wars fans will enjoy it.

It's also wonderful to see the film along with my teenager boys.  It's like looking back in a mirror at myself when I was young.  I'm sure this is a feeling that is happening to many families also.  The Star Wars epic has encompassed a generation of fans, and is now making newer fans with the new films.  It's brilliant marketing, and one that works very effectively on its audience.  I just hope the stories stay well written, and are not released haphazardly or written in haste to produce box office gold.  

To sum up.  It's a fun film, and a superior looking and feeling film.  Enjoy it.