Genre Blast: When the Backdrop is Christmas – The Yuletide Genre

Ah, the obligatory list of Christmas films, you’re thinking. Well, Santa Claus, presents for precocious kids, heartwarmingly comical family get-togethers…I’m not going there. In place of mischievous elves, angels getting their wings, or reindeer on the roof, I’m looking for films that use the holiday season as a backdrop, whose narratives just happen to occur […]

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The Four Corners of Spielberg

In one corner we have Amistad, Bridge of Spies, and Munich; in the opposing corner, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, War of the Worlds, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Kitty-corner there’s Catch Me if You Can, Sugarland Express, and The Terminal facing-off against Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park and Jaws – and their […]

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Genre Blast: Beat It! It’s the Cops! – Police Genre

Whether it’s a frustrated and dedicated maverick taking on a situation alone – often against orders – or an escalated paramilitary effort launched due to the scale and sophistication of the lawbreakers, we like our law enforcement tales precise and no-nonsense.

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Guess Who’s Having a Birthday Today

Birthday greetings and eternal gratitude to Jean-Luc Godard, film critic, director, actor, cinematographer, screenwriter, editor, producer…and outspoken citizen of the world.

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GENRE BLAST: When Push Comes to Shove – the Genre of Disparity

One of the miraculous benefits from storytelling – especially in cinema – is its ability to teach and inform, enabling empathy by making news and history come alive. We share experiences not necessarily from historical perspective, but also as a plea to correct or change direction into the future. By recounting and reenacting acts of bravery and resistance, film can serve as both acknowledgement and inspiration.

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GENRE BLAST: Love and Laughter – The Romantic Comedy

 So how does one determine the best of this tired old chestnut of a genre? Simply take at least one of the steps in the overused recipe and invert it, turn it upside down, inside out, or just throw it away Add some intelligent dialog relating to philosophy or metaphysics and maybe add a third party to spice-up the natural balance. Top it off with some serious social commentary and some snappy editing, even perhaps a dash of kink (critics love all three if you can swing it). Now, season with humor to taste and “Bob’s your uncle.”

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Genre Blast: Truth Be Told – Documentary Features

As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, a documentary is a film “that provides a factual record or report.” What the dictionary does not say is that an effective documentarian takes those raw facts and arranges them in such a way as to clarify a point or to provide additional weight and understanding to the topic at hand. This makes the documentary nearly as subjective as a fictional work …

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Genre Blast: Brass Ringers – BizFlicks

At the core of every protagonist in this genre is the seed of origin, that thing, that career, that idea that they either love so much that they dare not take their attention away from it, or a past so traumatically unsatisfying that they can’t reinvent themselves quickly enough.

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Genre Blast: Things That Go Bump, Part 2 – The Paranormal

Everybody loves the tingle when we know that a protagonist is about to turn the corner and come face to face with his or her demise, when we realize that the sicko’s phone call is “coming from inside the house,” or that maybe some unsettling event is not a dream or an aberration, but reality.

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Genre Blast: Things That Go Bump, Part One – MONSTERS!!

Monsters have played a key role in our mythology since the first story was shared with the tribe around the safety of a fire, and I expect they will remain the most popular way to allegorize our fears that stem from any phenomenon that has no immediate explanation. And they are great fun, to boot.

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Genre Blast: By the Book – LitFlicks

Occasionally a complex literary work will connect with the right director and screenwriter who will select a point of view, edit the hell out of the details and modify the arrangement of various elements to support the change in medium from page to screen. When this happens, we, the audience, are handed a diamond that has been painfully pressed from the coal that is the written word. The flurries of words that challenge our imaginations when we read are replaced by the filmmaker’s creative interpretation that somehow maintains all the complexities of the original book.

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GENRE BLAST: The Silents Are Golden

I’m on a rant, so consider yourself warned. I had a genial little chapter on LitFlicks nearly ready for submission when I read a NY Post article by way of the Guardian that cited an American poll that said only 30% of younger audiences have seen a film in black & white and that fewer than 25% had ever watched a film from the 40s or 50s to completion.

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Genre Blast: Period Films – It’s All in the Detail

To qualify, the creation must be of another time and place, always in the past (otherwise we’re heading into invalidated sci-fi territory), and do what films are supposed to do; that is, pluck us from our known reality and drop us into a detailed foreign era to experience life as it once was lived.

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Genre Blast: Into the Looking Glass – Using Fiction to Illuminate Fact

This is a tricky one. Some would call it, rightly so, revisionist history – a term that has been given a bad rap. Yes, real characters are interpretations and are sometimes combined into a single character for the sake of efficiency. Dialog must be invented – except for the odd quotable lines, and events most […]

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Genre Blast: Sports – Win or Lose, It’s All in the Game

A majority of us have never effectively played more than two or three sports and likely never go out of our way to watch them other than passively accepting what we are fed over the television. So how do films about sports accomplish the unusual task of entertaining audiences who may never have played or […]

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Genre Blast: Who’s Playing Whom? – The Biopic

For this exercise, I’m choosing films where the tone, pace and look are intended to enhance the spirit to the person being portrayed. They have the feel of a time or place as well as convey the essence the subject, be it crazy, pathetic, heroic, or creative. Based on artistic merit of the film and NOT the person portrayed –or doing the portraying, although most of these performances are career highs – here are ten biopics worthy of acclaim. Five for him and five for her. And filmmakers – please take a chance and give us another classic biopic of a woman. 1928 was oh-so-long ago. And make certain a woman will direct it, as well. Thanks

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Masterpiece Memo: Le salaire de la peur (Wages of Fear)

The Fifties, that squeaky-clean decade of that saw the birth of the suburbs, strict morality and, the McCarthy era, also had the misfortune to precede the Sixties and Seventies in film history because the number of industry–challenging styles of storytelling positively exploded in the latter two. Since then, with a couple of major exceptions like […]

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Genre Blast: Not the Funny Pages Anymore – Comics Onscreen

Films based on comic books and their younger, slightly more pretentious sibling, the graphic novel, have enjoyed an immense popularity that only seems to increase as cinema technology begins to catch up with the imaginations of their creators as well as the expectations of fans. Once relegated to Saturday afternoon matinees in serialized format with hysterically low production values, this genre is now home to some of the most expensive and successful films ever made.

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Genre Blast: The Play’s the Thing – From Stage to Screen

When a powerful play is adapted to incorporate some of the technical features possible with film, the end result can be transporting. A savvy director and crew will mine the dramatic work for opportunities to maneuver the camera in such a way as to take the audience out of their seats and place them in the middle of the action (just as one would with any other film genre). The playwright’s words should not be treated as a wall that defines the boundaries of the film, but as a door that opens into another medium of expression.

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