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Generation Next: The Changing of the Cinematic Guard…

There are times when I feel quite young. I was born on the same day that The Joshua Tree was released. My dad took me to the cinematic re-release of Star Wars. I was mainly introduced to the great directors through video and DVD. Hollywood as it exists today is not markedly different from the Hollywood that I grew up with. However, as I sat in the cinema last week, it occurred to me: perhaps I have sat through my first real changing of the cinematic guard, so to speak. It’s an occurance so subtle and gradual that I never really noticed it, and yet it must, by necessity, be part of Hollywood’s seasonal cycle.

Putting the older generation out to feed?

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Non-Review Review: Speed

Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?

– Howard tells you everything you need to know

Speed is the quintessential nineties action movie. If you want to look at a movie that typifies what a nineties action film looked like, but does so with an incredible amount of skill (and a reasonable portion of wit), it’s hard to recommend a more obvious choice. It’s a movie that falls apart if you think about it too hard, but director Jan de Bont does an absolutely amazing job making sure that we’re never really looking beyond the next ridiculous plot twist or tension action set piece. More than earning its name, Speed is a movie that runs on enough raw adrenaline that it becomes as easy to overlook the movie’s flaws as it is to it seems to be ride a bus across a fifty-foot gap in a half-constructed bridge. And de Bont manages to make that look really easy.

Can I phone a friend on this "pop quiz"?

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Non-Review Review: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now was what might be described as a “troubled” production. Francis Ford Coppola was never intended to direct the film, which ran into trouble with local weather and local politics, undergoing script changes on a daily basis, an overweight and overpaid Marlon Brando who refused to read either the script or the book it was based on (leading Coppola to read it to him), Dennis Hopper’s drug addiction and countless other factors. Actor Martin Sheen at one point had a massive heart attack and had to walk a quarter of a mile for help, which Coppola had to cover up (claiming he collapsed due to exhaustion and filming with extras and voice doubles) for fear of losing funding. Al Pacino had been considered for the role, but had the foresight to turn it down, with Coppola suggesting, “Al would do the film, if we could film it in his apartment.” If that’s true, he might be the smartest person associated with the production.

I mention this, because I think a significant amount of that trouble seems to feed through the film. There’s a sense that isn’t a safe production, which is somewhat fitting, given the subject matter.

Up the creek...

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Non-Review Review: True Romance

True Romance is one of those films I’m surprised never found a stronger audience, even retroactively. It features a screenplay from Quentin Tarantino which really put the future director on the map, but it also features a huge number of pre-stardom appearances from actors as diverse as James Gandolfini, Brad Pitt and Chris Penn. The movie holds together fantastically, but perhaps it works better as a collection of scenes than as a fully-realised movie – but, when the scenes are this good, that’s not necessarily a heavy criticism.

It's Whirley ride...

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Leslie Nielsen

I am not going to attempt to write an obituary for the recently deceased actor Leslie Nielsen. Countless other bloggers, film critics and media writers have already published their own versions, many of which are undoubtedly far more eloquent than anything I could come up with. Like Dennis Hopper before him, I can’t claim to have encyclopedic knowledge of Nielsen’s incredibly long and distinguished career, nor can I suggest that his filmography is composed of nothing but masterpieces. However, he was always a performer who I respected and whose considerable talents seemed to be tempered with a desire never to take himself too seriously.

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Non-Review Review: Land of the Dead

Welcome to the m0vie blog’s zombie week! It’s a week of zombie-related movie discussions and reviews as we come up to Halloween, to celebrate the launch of Frank Darbont’s The Walking Dead on AMC on Halloween night. So be sure to check back all week, as we’ll be running posts on the living dead.

Zombies, man. They creep me out.

– Kaufman

Land of the Dead is something of a delayed epilogue to Romero’s “dead” trilogy. The first three films were produced roughly once every decade, with The Night of the Living Dead appearing in the sixties, Dawn of the Dead in the seventies and Day of the Dead in the eighties. There was no zombie movie from Romero during the nineties (save a remake of his original film – and even then Romero didn’t direct it – his frequent collaborator Tom Savini was behind the camera. Land of the Dead is a somewhat more controversial film than the first three films Romero produced, perhaps because it’s the first time that it feels like Romero gives his zombies more development than the human survivors. It also plays with the audience’s expectations a bit more than the first three films – and, whiel I’m not convinced that this sort of toying around with the formula works, you have to give the director credit. It isn’t as strong as the earlier films, but it still feels like a director who has something to say about the state of modern society. And that is about good enough for me.

Hopper-ed up...

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Dennis Hopper

I’ve been kinda sitting on my hands about this. I mean, far more eloquent and informed writers and sources have draft eulogies to the man. And movie stars pass away all the time, yet I’ve never paused to acknowledge them here. I don’t know, I guess I should probably write something, if only for my own reflection in years to come. This isn’t a well-informed article. These are just my memories and associations of Dennise Hopper.

Dennis Hopper, 1936-2010

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