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Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

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Things to Come

Things to Come is the detailed tapestry of one woman’s life, as she moves through an important transition.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

Man as a lesser species

May Contain Spoilers

One of my earliest and most memorable movie going experiences was Franklin Schaffner's 1968's "Planet of the Apes". It was presented in my grade school's Cine Club (sort of a small film festival that played one different, semi-recent movie every Saturday during a period of about a month). For weeks prior to the showing I was mesmerized by the publicity artwork which depicted a caged Charlton Heston being repressed by a gorilla. As an eight year old the movie originally struck me purely as a horror piece but it is the other "little things" that still compel me to write about it after all these years.

What's more, I believe "Planet of the Apes" with all of its different incarnations: original classic, sequels, remakes and TV adaptations, makes for a wonderful example of cinematic "dos and don'ts" At a glance the first entry in the series may seem like just another monster movie but this is hardly the case. It's too bad neither the majority of the filmmakers involved in the sequels, nor Tim Burton in his remake, were ever able to figure this out.

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Opening Shots: The 'Burbs

From Dennis Cozzalio, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, Glendale, CA:

The opening of Joe Dante’s cruelly misjudged and overlooked comedy "The ‘Burbs" begins with a vertiginous and hilarious parody of the God’s-eye view shot. Fade in on the familiar Universal logo—the planet Earth spinning, surrounded by incongruously Saturn-like circles of galaxy dust, particle and stars. But the world looks a little off, a bit more animated, more cartoony than usual.

The camera begins to move in on the planet as the words “A Universal Picture sign dissolves away. The camera moves down closer and closer and closer onto the planet’s surface, onto the recognizable shape of the United States. Even closer now, dropping down into the Midwest somewhere, perhaps Illinois-ish. Closer. Closer. Now a city is recognizable. A neighborhood. A street. The camera continues “craning down from above the rooftops (obviously a miniature set), swooping left and down across the front of a row of houses.

Suddenly, Jerry Goldsmith’s score, which has had up to now a liltingly comic grace, turns mock haunted-house creepy with a thunderous, sinister organ chord as the camera glides over to a dwelling that looks a scosh more gothic than its surrounding neighbors. Just as suddenly, flickering flashes of light are visible through the windows into lining the goth house’s basement foundation, and crackling electrical sounds are heard accompanying the flashes. Something mysterious, and very un-suburban, is happening down there…

JE: Thanks again, Dennis! You submitted this along with several others back in July -- and I had frame grabs for it and "Used Cars" ready to go before my "hard drive fatality." Gotta go back and order "Used Cars" from Netflix again. Meanwhile, a happy belated birthday to Joe Dante ! Check out Dennis's Dantean appreciation -- as part of Tim Lucas's recent Joe Dante Blog-a-Thon.

Also don't let 2006 expire before you take Professor Dave Jennings' Milton-Free, Universe-Expanding Holiday Midterm. It counts for 25 percent of your final grade this quarter.

(And, Dennis: Thanks so much for the Christmas gift!)

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'Baby' stages late-round Oscar rally

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HOLLYWOOD - "Million Dollar Baby" scored a late-round rally Sunday night at the 77th annual Academy Awards as Clint Eastwood's movie about a determined female boxer won for best picture and took Oscars for actress (Hilary Swank), supporting actor (Morgan Freeman) and director (Eastwood).

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