A few of my favorite triads
Are three films better than one? Given the threesome (and then some) craze raging through all of cinema, I’m going to easily answer that question with a declarative N-O.
Though movie fans get excited over their final 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Batman' or 'Iron Man,' trilogies, planned or unplanned, frequently leave the viewer disappointed, stuck in a maddening state of comparison. And I can only think of studio execs drooling over the prospect of not only cashing in on continued big screen success but the marketing coup of endless DVDs -- single editions, special editions, box sets, extra special box sets and more.
But all cynicism aside, there’s still some worthy, even, masterful trilogies that have graced our screens. Here are some of my favorites.
"Evil Dead" Trilogy
"Evil Dead," "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn," "Army of Darkness"
God bless director Sam Raimi. Not only did he create Evil Dead, a horror work that managed to be both scary and funny, but he brought the world Bruce Campbell, a cult hero you can't possibly dislike (see the great Bubba Ho-Tep for further evidence). Using innovative stop-motion action effects, Raimi injected the horror genre with inventive pluck. The influential, low budget Evil Dead was flat-out scary though endlessly amusing and weirdly charming, assault by trees and all. He went full-throttle funny with the Three Stooges-inspired Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. After a quick re-cap of the first film, the second quickly dives back into Campbell fighting supernatural demons, and in one hilarious sequence, his own severed hand. Raimi moves into even nuttier territory by the trilogy's third act, Army of Darkness (1992). Campbell returns again as the sarcastic Ash, this time in a medieval fantasy with a chainsaw for an arm, a Remington shotgun and an Oldsmobile '88. Damn. I want one.
"Mad Max" Trilogy
"Mad Max," "The Road Warrior," "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome"
Yeah, yeah, there's the whole Thunderdome factor, but dammit, I like the final Mad Max. And Tina Turner needs to appear in more movies. Mad Max (1980), the great George Miller's taut, low-budget car/motorcycle/futuristic film depicts a pissed-off cop (Mel Gibson in his star-making role) seeking vengeance for the murder of his wife and kid at the hands of outlaw bikers. The restless camera and stunt work is above and beyond the film's B-movie potential. Serious invention was at work. 1982's The Road Warrior (which some think is superior to Max) followed. The second film in the trilogy finds our hero living in an Australia annihilated by nuclear war. Max aids oil-drilling survivors who've been pursued by murderous outback gangs (how scary is that?). The film's amped-up intensity made this one of the most talked-about films of the '80s. And Thunderdome (1985), well, you've gotta love that Tina Turner rules an evil town, plus Max becomes a gladiator and hangs with orphans. And contrary to Turner's song, we did "need another hero." Wow, with talks of another Mad Max and without Mel Gibson (which is an absolute shame -- I don’t care how you feel about him) this might not be a trilogy anymore.
"The Lord of the Rings"
"The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," "The Return of the King"
I’m always hearing contrary stances on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and I’m frankly, sick of them. Director Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth pictures remains one of the greatest of threesomes—a massive achievement of technological brilliance and emotion, something you rarely find in movies with such a reliance on effects, design and creatures. That the odds -- and thousands of nit-picky J.R.R. Tolkien fans waiting to string him up if he screwed it up -- were against him from the start makes the scale of this accomplishment even more mind-boggling. Unlike most trilogies, Jackson’ s venture into Middle Earth is essentially one big film cut into three parts (he filmed them simultaneously), and yet each part also can stand completely alone as its own mesmerizing, fulfilling movie. To see each of these films is to experience a filmmaker at the absolute peak of his creative powers. Everything that we love about the movies, from heart pounding drama and action and tension to meticulous, loving character development to breathtaking visuals, can be found here. It truly is a reminder of why we go to movies.
"Pather Panchali," "Aparajito" and "The World of Apu"
Satyajit Ray isn't the first name that comes to mind when most people think trilogy (though he should), but the Indian filmmaker made one of the greatest, most beautifully filmed entries in the genre with his Apu Trilogy. The first film, Pather Panchali (1955), concerned a boy named Apu, who grows up in a Bengali village in the early part of the century. His encounters with his impoverished family offer a gorgeously rendered child's eye view of the world without condescension. 1956's less joyous Aparajito follows Apu as he deals with his father's death, then, in a memorably tragic scene, his mother's. Apu leaves for the city, going against the wish that he follow in his father's shadow of priesthood. The next film, The World of Apu (1959), finds him living in Calcutta, alone and in shabby conditions. Apu wants to be a writer, but instead marries a would-be spinster, until she dies while bearing their son. Grief stricken, Apu hides away, never seeing his son until the film's sob-inducing finale. Interestingly, Ray never intended to make a trilogy, but feeling pressured by the first film's success, crafted this masterful final film, something all pressured trilogy makers should turn to.
Read more after the jump.
Bruce Vilanch talks Franco
-- Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch discussing James Franco hosting the Oscars [at Vulture].
And yes to equal aged love interests
And Ewan is only 40 -- not exactly an elder statesman at this point. But what a gentleman.
Here's the details via The Huffington Post:
"As far as Ewan McGregor is concerned, the world has seen enough of his penis. To be fair, he's been awfully generous to date.
"The Scottish actor, who has shown it all to both men and women in films such as 'Trainspotting,' 'The Pillow Book,' 'Velvet Goldmine' and 'Young Adam,' spoke to the Express in England about nude scenes, and how, as he reaches the age of 40, he's been turned of by getting down with younger co-stars.
“'I’m getting older and the actresses stay younger,' he told the paper. 'I don’t want to become Clint Eastwood, where his love interests seem 50 years younger than him. You never want female co-stars to feel like you’re taking advantage of the situation. Anyhow, sex scenes are terribly exposing and rarely of any use in learning about character.'"
Peter Jackson has the pictures to prove it
I believed in Peter Jackson (I believed!), but due to the problematic history of the project, many were skeptical. Alas, it appears Jackson may have his Hobbit habit for a lifetime -- the hobbit on his back -- which sounds both frightening and a little delightful.
Here's more from E!:
"When it was announced last month that cameras would begin rolling on the highly anticipated two-part 'Lord of the Rings' prequel on March 21, naturally, there was a lot of 'We'll believe it, when we see it' talk. After all, this is a production that has seen more than its share of setbacks thanks to such things as set fires, threats of union strikes and perforated ulcers.
"But, sure enough, principal photography did indeed start today at the Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand, with directo Peter Jackson himself taking a moment to post pics to his Facebook page from the film's set.
A promising James Patterson reboot
Here's the exclusive news from Deadline:
"In his first major film role since leaving Lost, Matthew Fox has signed on to play an assassin in I, Alex Cross, the reboot of the James Patterson franchise character that’s being put together by QED with Tyler Perry starring and Rob Cohen directing. Ed Burns has also signed on to play Tommy Kane, Cross's partner. At least three studios are vying for the project and a domestic distribution deal will be set imminently.
"Contrary to his virtuous Lost character Jack Shepard, Fox will be playing one bad dude in this film. Fox plays Michael Sullivan, who kills both for money and thrills. He’s known as the Butcher of Sligo and shows why after Cross thwarts one of his killing attempts. Sullivan makes his retribution personal, by killing the detective’s wife in gruesome fashion. Then it becomes a mano a mano battle between them. Sullivan is one of the best known villains in the Patterson-penned novel series."
The alien comedy stirs different reactions
Critics are split on this alien comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost -- either embracing it's shaggy dog Spielberg sentiment, or finding it all very lame and coarse.
Here's a sample of two very disparate takes.
"The title character himself is also an unimpressive digital creation-Rogen might as well be performing his stoner-from-another-world shtick during a wee-hours movieoke session." -- Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
"Graeme and Clive, representatives of a nation of nonbelievers in UFOs and big dinner portions, come to the psychic capital of a country that wants to believe, and they're transformed. In Paul, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do likewise, in celebration of what the Spielbergian cosmos is all about." -- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
More female Trekkies than Men?
According to a new survey, female Trekkies outnumber male Trekkies.
Wow. OK. But you know, Nyota Uhura would be proud. I think.
Here's the story via MTV and their blog called MTV Geek! (sigh ... I miss the "Nightmare Alley" geeks of lore).
"A blog called Subspace Communique recently released the findings from a survey of 5,041 Star Trek fans it conducted in 2010 -- and the results might surprise you! For starters, 57% of the fans were female! Here's some other findings:
- The respondents were mostly single, over 40, and well-educated.
- 43% referred to themselves as "Trekkies."
- 79% said they were involved in Star Trek fandom because they agreed with the philosophical ideals of the shows.
- Fellow fan behavior considered by the interviewees to be "deviant" were was follows: Unable to tell reality from fantasy (89%); considers Star Trek "their whole world" (67%); indulging in cosplay (47%); referring to oneself as a character name or taking on a "rank" (39%); producing fan films (13%); playing in themed music bands (4%).
Out with the new in with the old?
According to E! and Crystal himself, it could very well happen.
"In light of the incredibly warm welcome Billy Crystal received (hello, standing O!) upon taking the stage during the most recent Oscar debacle telecast, one thing was made perfectly, well, crystal clear.
"The folks behind Hollywood's biggest night so need to bring back the eight-time Academy Awards MC for another go-around.
"But will it happen?
"'It might be fun,' Crystal tells the Associated Press.
"Although, the best Oscar host since Bob Hope added that he would only consider it if they actually decided to shake things up a bit.
"'I think the show needs to change,' he pointed out. 'There's too many awards and it has to sort of freshen itself up, and if I can be a part of that, that would be great.'"