Talking to Bill Alexander About Holiday Movies — This Year’s Releases and the Classics
Posted on December 11, 2019 at 7:34 am
Posted on December 11, 2019 at 7:34 am
Posted on November 20, 2019 at 8:56 am
Oscar-ologist Kevin Jacobsen’s delightful “And the Runner-up Is” podcast looks back at the Academy Awards and considers which films that did not win have better stood the test of time than the ones that brought home the gold. Spoiler alert: We agreed that “Marty” is still at the top of the 1955 list, but we had a great time talking about the runner-up, Joshua Logan’s “Picnic,” starring William Holden and Kim Novak and based on the play by William Inge.
Posted on October 23, 2019 at 5:28 pm
Many many thanks to Tony Panaccio and Bleeding Cool for this delightful interview about my fangirl side. Excerpts:
Q: Let’s start at the beginning. What do you remember as your first experience with fandom?
I think my gateway drug, around the time I was nine, was MAD Magazine. As soon as I saw my first issue I asked my parents to let me subscribe and was very proud to get copies with my name on the address label. While I liked comic books before that, mostly Archie, Richie Rich, and Superman, like so many others I think of MAD as the turning point because it made me think critically about culture and it made me ask questions about the news so I could understand the jokes.
Then, senior year in high school, I was lucky enough to meet a guy who not only had a fabulous collection of MAD and comics (a #1 Spider-Man!) and original comic art, but who had gone by himself to New York (from Chicago) at age 14 to attend a con, where he talked to Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, and Neal Adams. In one of our early conversations, he was describing the National Cartoonists Society’s annual Reuben Awards, and I said, “Named after Rube Goldberg!” We were clearly made for each other.
We have been married for more than 40 years and he is now a member of the National Cartoonists Society, so we get to see the Reuben awards ceremony in person. On the walls of our home are selections from his amazing collection of original comic strip, MAD, illustration, and comic book art, which make me very happy every time I look at them. And I will not confirm or deny that we named our son Ben after Ben Grimm, but he might tell you that!
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do at a comic con?
I love everything at SDCC! I love the panels, especially the behind the scenes ones, with costume designers, production designers, location scouts, visual effects people, voice talent, and people talking about the history and impact of comics and sci-fi. I love the people, not just the ones in costume but all the fans. It’s one of the most purely happy places I know. Many people are like one person I heard once who said, “It’s the rest of the year I’m in costume. This is the real me.” Just about 99 percent of the time, everyone is so glad to be there and so happy to support not only what they love but whatever everyone else’s special pop culture obsessions are, too. There’s very little judgment. I don’t know anywhere else that is so spaciously, generously accepting.
Also overheard once at Comic-Con: “What time is the Klingon wedding?” I am so happy to live in a world that has Klingon weddings. And I love SDCC’s combination of cutting edge technology and fandom. Many years ago I saw my first 3D printer/hand-held 360 degree scanner combination there, and it was being used to print out action figures of Predator holding the individual bloody severed head of anyone lucky enough to get in line in time to get one.
I love the passion and fearlessness of the fans; the people who come to SDCC know what they like and do not wait for anyone to tell them what is cool. The people who did not want to sit with them in high school will not know two years from now when they’re excited about the next Game of Thrones or True Blood that it was the fanboys and fangirls who saw them first and loved them without being told they were on anyone’s “must” list. I always say it’s the Iowa Caucuses of pop culture.
My most important rule at SDCC is this: if I can’t get into something I want to see, I will open whatever door is nearby and go to that instead. And every year, that leads me to something I never would have known about otherwise and those are often among the best experiences of the Con.
Posted on October 10, 2019 at 3:32 pm
Zoe Krianik from the wonderful Hollywood Genes blog was kind enough to interview me.
What is your earliest memory of watching a classic film? What did it do for you? Why do you remember it?
My dad says the first movie I ever saw in a theater was the Disney film Westward Ho the Wagons when I was four, and that after that I wanted to see a movie every day. Now I do! But the first film I remember seeing in a theater was another Disney film: Snow White. I instantly became a fan of Disney animation, musicals, and sitting in a dark room watching stories on a big screen.
Which is your favorite (fictional) film family and why?
The Sycamores in You Can’t Take it With You— because they are all so encouraging of each other’s dreams. Runners-up: the Marches in Little Women, the Winstons in Houseboat (who would not want to have Sophia Loren and Cary Grant as parents?), the Gilbreths in Cheaper by the Dozenand Belles on Their Toes, the Mackays in Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, and the Browns in National Velvet because Anne Revere is my favorite movie mother.
Posted on July 25, 2019 at 6:11 am
I’m looking forward to this week’s Lakefront Film Festival, which opens tonight with one of the year’s most endearing films, “Blinded by the Light,” from the director of “Bend it Like Beckham,” based on the true story of a Pakistani/British teenager from an immigrant family who finds his true spirit through the music of Bruce Springsteen.
On Saturday, I’ll be on two panels, one with other movie critics and one about comic books and movies. Please join us!