Category Archives: steven spielberg

Richard Matheson 1926-2013

We have truly lost one of the legends of the writing game. Celebrated multiple award-winning author Richard Matheson passed away this weekend, surrounded by family and friends. He was 87.

Even if you didn’t know his name (shame on you!), you know his work. Here is just a sampler – the following movies are all based on his work – The Incredible Shrinking Man, Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May Come, Real Steel, Trilogy of Terror, The Box, Loose Cannons, The Legend of Hell House Burn Witch Burn, Jaws 3-D (hey, a paycheck is a paycheck), and the these last three, all based on the same novel, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and I Am Legend.

That’s not all, all of the good “Twilight Zone” episodes that weren’t written by Rod Serling, they’re all Matheson too. He wrote hundreds of short stories and books, and countless hours of television in many different genres, including episodes for “Star Trek,” “Combat!,” “Have Gun Will Travel,” “Thriller,” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.” Other than “The Twilight Zone,” possibly his two greatest contributions to television were the Steven Spielberg-directed Duel and The Night Stalker, which became a fondly remembered cult TV series.

We have lost another legend.

My Oscar Picks 2013

My opinion really doesn’t count for all that much this year as some personal issues have kept me from seeing many of the films this year, but folks expect to see my picks, so this year, I will choose by instinct and odds rather than any educated guesses. I still might get lucky. Here you go…

  • Best animated feature – Brave
  • Best animated short film – Paperman
  • Best visual effects – Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Best original screenplay – Django Unchained
  • Best original score, and song – Skyfall
  • Best costume design – Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Best direction – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actress – Sally Field for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actor – Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
  • Best actress – Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Best actor – Denzel Washington for Flight
  • Best picture – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Yep, that’s right. I’m predicting a complete shut out for Le Miz. Nothing against the flick, but that’s just how it played out as I picked category by category.

    What do you folks think?

    Super 8

    Super 8 ~ I never cared much for “Lost,” and Cloverfield could have been so much more than it was, so I was understandably nonplussed when I first heard of Super 8. But, I loved J.J. Abrams’ version of Star Trek, and even thought it was one of the best flicks of the year it came out. The idea of a movie written and directed by Abrams yet produced by Steven Spielberg intrigued me however, especially when preliminary trailers made it look like some sort of mish-mosh of E.T., Close Encounters, and Cloverfield.

    If it needs to be compared to any movie however, it’s more in line with Stand By Me, or even closer to the more obscure, yet so entertaining Matinee. Super 8 is in many ways a walk down memory lane, and not just in the way it’s a period piece set in the early 1980s or late 1970s, although that illusion is ruined with pinpoint accuracy by a Walter Cronkite TV broadcast about Three Mile Island. After that, any pop culture reference post TMI pulled me out of the flick.

    Super 8 is also a time capsule in that takes us back to our early teens and that period between playing with our buds and thinking about girls. It’s a bittersweet teen romance mixed with a family drama – and oh yeah, there’s a monster too. But the drama is very good, so much so that at one point, my eyes welled up. The monster sadly, when we finally see it, is of the Cloverfield type, and also of the variety that showed up for a cameo in Star Trek. It makes me wonder if J.J. Abrams can only do ugly, rarely seen monsters with weirdly opening jaws.

    The flick is so much better however than I ever would have guessed going in. There was expectation, and Super 8 far exceeded it. Recommended.

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    1941

    1941 ~ Infamously known as Steven Spielberg’s only notable box office flop, this movie about the hysteria that strikes California days after the attack on Pearl Harbor is not really as bad as its reputation suggests. It rolls on with a madcap flair similar to that of Animal House and Meatballs and has many of the Spielbergian elements that would reappear in his later more successful films.

    The best scene in my opinion is the opening, which is a parody of Spielberg’s own opening of Jaws. In this age of Scary Movies and other movie satires, it’s ironic that Spielberg may have been the first person to throw that spin on his own work.

    While pushed initially as a Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi flick, they are barely in it, but what little they do do is entertaining. The real stars here are Slim Pickens and Nancy Allen who are just hilarious. Also good are the performances of Toshiro Mifume and Christopher Lee is surprisingly comedic roles in the Japanese sub lost offshore finding their way with a Crackerjack compass. Good stuff.

    Young Sherlock Holmes

    A JUMP BACK INTO YESTERYEAR

    A Video Review of Young Sherlock Holmes

    Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

    Producer Steven Spielberg has always been a fan of the old movie serials. This is evident from his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark. So in 1984 in the aftermath of the phenomenal success of that film he sought to revive the movie serial in modern times. Young Sherlock Holmes was the result of this project.

    Unfortunately the logistics of doing a weekly, bi-weekly or even a monthly multi-part serial in theatres playing several films by several different studios and distribution companies proved impossible so Young Sherlock Holmes became simply a feature film. It is interesting to note however it is broken up into nearly precise intervals of cliffhangers – as if it had been broken up like a serial.

    It is the charming and actually pretty scary and intense story how Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) and Watson (Alan Cox) met and solved their first case involving an ancient cult and a hidden pyramid. Although lovingly written by Chris Columbus it is full of plotholes but it moves fast like a roller coaster so you don’t really notice until afterwards. This may also be in tribute to the old serials but I think that might be giving Mr. Columbus too much benefit of the doubt.

    There are a couple of tidbits to look for. With apologies to Barry Levinson the E.T. flying across the moon homage was directed by Spielberg. The stained glass knight was the first fully CGI character and it was animated by Pixar. And wait through the final credits for a surprise.

    All in all it’s a good film and retains that old movie serial flavor that was its original intent. Check it out.