The Imaginative Short Film that Inspired “Pixels”

Posted on July 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

Thanks to my friend and fellow film critic Eddie Pasa for sharing this short film by Patrick Jean, the inspiration for this week's "Pixels."

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Original Version: Far from the Madding Crowd

Posted on April 29, 2015 at 8:00 am

Copyright MGM 1967
Copyright MGM 1967

Thomas Hardy’s classic novel Far from the Madding Crowd is the story of headstrong Bathsheba Everdene, who inherits a farm and who receives marriage proposals from three very different men. A new version starring Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, and Matthias Schoenaerts opens this Friday.

The 1967 version starred Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch, and Alan Bates.

PBS showed a Masterpiece classics version in 1998.

A silent version came out exactly 100 years ago, in 1915.

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Based on a book Original Version

List: My Favorite Movie Ghosts

Posted on October 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

Copyright 1966 Universal Pictures
Copyright 1966 Universal Pictures

Happy Halloween! Here are ten of my favorite movie ghosts.  (NOTE: Some of these have inferior remakes — stick with the originals.)

Topper Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are the most sophisticated, witty, and glamorous ghosts ever in this delightful comedy about a young couple who are killed in a car accident and come back as ghosts to brighten the life of a shy banker.

The Uninvited Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play a brother and sister who move into a house on a Cornwall cliff. It turns out someone is already living there — a ghost. This movie introduced the jazz standard “Stella by Starlight.”

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir A ghost romance? Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison play the title roles in this story of a widow who moves into a house inhabited by the ghost of a handsome sea captain.

The Canterville Ghost Margaret O’Brien teaches her distant cousin Robert Young about noblesse oblige when American troops are bivouacked a her family’s ancestral home. It turns out their mutual ancestor is staying there, too, a ghost (Charles Laughton) who has to show some courage before he can go to heaven.

Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson battle a number of ectoplasmic manifestations in this classic comedy (soon to be remade with an all-female team).

13 Ghosts People often ask me if I’ve ever walked out of a movie. The answer is: just once, and it was this movie when I was 9. I was a little freaked out by the special glasses you had to wear to see the ghosts, but it was when the Ouija board pointer was lifted off the board by a ghost that I turned to my mother and said, “I have to go home now.” I’ve since developed real affection for all of William Castle’s films, including this one.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is my favorite Christmas story and I love just about every version, but I think the best is the one starring Alistair Sim.

Pirates of Caribbean: Curse of Black Pearl “You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner… you’re in one!” Geoffrey Rush is the ghost captain of a pirate ship with a ghost crew in this rollicking adventure inspired by the Disney theme park ride.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken Don Knotts is the nervous aspiring reporter assigned to spend the night in a haunted house. Or is it?

The Haunting Julie Harris stars in this classic of psychological horror about investigators who spend the night in a haunted house.


Copyright 1947 20th Century Fox
Copyright 1947 20th Century Fox
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Fantasy Film History For Your Netflix Queue Holidays Horror Lists Neglected gem Original Version

Original Version: Robocop

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

The original version of RoboCop in 1987 and its two sequels are set in the near future.  Decades later, the idea of cyborg law enforcement still feels pretty far off.  So, why not have another go at it?

Original co-screenwriter Edward Neumeier got the idea when a friend told him that “Blade Runner” was about a cop hunting robots.  He thought, “What about a robot cop?”

The movie and its sequels are not just action — they include some pointed commentary on moral and physical decay.  A “futuristic” portrayal of sun damage as a consequence of climate change no longer seems like fiction. Philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek said:

RoboCop, a futuristic story about a policeman shot to death and then revived after all parts of his body have been replaced by artificial substitutes, introduces a more tragic note: the hero who finds himself literally “between two deaths” – clinically dead and at the same time provided with a new, mechanical body—starts to remember fragments of his previous, “human” life and thus undergoes a process of resubjectivication, changing gradually back from pure incarnated drive to a being of desire. (…) f there is a phenomenon that fully deserves to be called the “fundamental fantasy of contemporary mass culture,” it is this fantasy of the return of the living dead: the fantasy of a person who does not want to stay dead but returns again and again to pose a threat to the living.

Here’s the original trailer.

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Original Version
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