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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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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Genre Blast: When Sh*t Gets Real – Science Fiction Onscreen

Here is where I get into trouble. My idea of Sci-Fi is that it’s fictionalized science (duh) that’s plausible, references existing innovation and research, and is somewhat rooted in reality, as we know it. It is not the same thing as fantasy. Films like Star Wars or Transformers are not science fiction; they are fantasy. If you truly believe they are based upon science, you need to find a cool place to sit down and drink plenty of fluids until visions of Ewoks and Wookies leave you in peace.

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Genre Blast: Gangs & Gangsters – If You Can’t Join ‘Em, Beat ‘Em

Sometimes the trigger is poverty, other times ethnic alienation. Even boredom can play a factor is causing the coagulation of a gang. If a group of people find they cant fit into society, human nature takes over and they create a societal structure for themselves. The Italians, the Irish, and most non-white ethnic groups have […]

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Genre Blast: The Road Narrows; Aging in Cinema

[Author’s Note: I’ll preface with a half-hearted apology for my absence for the past couple of weeks: catching me indoors, typing away in a stuffy corner during high summer, is as unlikely than trying to talk sense to a climate-change denier. So as I write this, sprawled on a sandy log, I invite you to […]

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Genre Blast: On a Grand Scale – The Epic

Let’s start with the brash statement that cinema, as we know it exists because of this genre. It’s the genre that draws crowds (or used to), that quite literally creates worlds, demanding the best from every tech guild. This is one genre that no other medium can do justice – the epic. They cost millions […]

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Genre Blast: Dear Old Dad – Fathers on Film

Fathers’ Day calls for recognition of fatherhood as it is portrayed in the cinema, and that is as varied as the number of film writers and their respective relationships with “dear old Dad.” Relationships with the old man are directly influenced by the type of man the father happens to be. Nurturing or combative, empowering […]

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Genre Blast: A Murder, a Mystery & the “Who-Done-It” Game

What is it about murder mysteries that captures our imaginations, not just in cinema, but books, television – even the evening news? Is it the abominable act of killing another person that seizes our attention or is it the challenge of unraveling multiple details in search of the perpetrator. It’s a hot soup of motivation, […]

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Genre Blast: Adventure – “We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat!”

It will probably happen one of two ways at some point in your life: you will search out adventure on your own, or, in some cases, it will hunt you down unexpectedly. The former takes a certain kind of individual who, unsatisfied with the regular routine, sets out to explore the unknown, often risking life […]

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