This past year, Susan Orlean (the New Yorker writer played by Meryl Streep in Adaptation) wrote an entire book about the history of this star dog. For a time, the dog — played over the year by many German shepards — was one of silent and talkie film’s most well-known actors, appearing in more than 20 movies by the time TV’s The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin came around in 1954.
When The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hits movie theaters on December 21st, it will be the second major female-led franchise movie released in just over a month. The first, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I, has already earned over $640 million dollars worldwide since its November 18th release and has become the third-highest grossing movie of 2011 (after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon -- and on a lower budget than those films). The remarkable success of the Twilight film series, with over $2 billion in worldwide ticket sales to date, proves that audiences will show up to see tentpole movies built around women.
Now with the upcoming release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the spring/summer 2012 openings of Mirror Mirror, The Hunger Games, and Snow White and the Huntsman, audiences are being offered a run of female-oriented big-budget films unlike anything they've seen in recent years. After decades of lavishing resources on male-led action and comic book movies, Hollywood is finally making an effort to give women and their stories the blockbuster treatment.
Why do I write about families?
When asked, which is unfortunately quite often, I usually just make something up that sounds reflective. I don't like the question. I have no interest in knowing why I write the things I do, but as it's asked so frequently I figured I should put some thought into it. I keep going back to one particular day. I'll walk you through it, show my work like you're supposed to do in algebra class, and by the end maybe I'll have a sensible answer.
It's the summer of 1987 in Honolulu, Hawaii. I'm an 11-year-old wannabe pro-surfer hitchhiking home in a Camero driven by a man named Eagle. Eagle was in a war and he's telling my sister and me about it. He wears aviator sunglasses that shield his eyes and yet show exactly whatever he's looking at. My sister (technically, my stepsister) is in the front seat and I'm thankful because she has to talk. In the back I can daydream with my arm slung around my surfboard like it's my boyfriend. I'm thinking about the present I'm about to get. I didn't ask for a pony. I didn't want new clothes, a new bikini, a surfboard, or Jimmy Cliff and Yellowman tapes. For my 11th birthday I asked to be adopted.
Over the weekend, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and AMC came to an agreement to keep the critically acclaimed show on the sometimes critically despised network for 16 final episodes. Setting an end date for Breaking Bad lets Gilligan and his writers craft the conclusion of Walter White's story exactly how they want, without the worry of contract negotiations and the fear of running out of ideas.
This isn't a new. In Britain, lots of shows have one or two seasons (see: The Office, Coupling, Life on Mars) and if they are really successful at the end of their run, they get offered a followup episode (The OfficeChristmas Show) or even a spinoff (Ashes to Ashes). (In America, Lost took advantage of this idea of an end-date, as well as Matthew Weiner and Mad Men.) More shows should announce an end date, and here's why:
In January 1943 the Russian-born poet, essayist, former radical and future filmmaker Eleanora Deren wrote a friend that her husband, Alexander Hammid, was having a tough time finding work as a cameraman in Hollywood. The union, she wrote, was one of those “racketeer things,” though there might be a job at Paramount Pictures. “There are other prospects,” she added, “but in Hollywood prospects are a dime a dozen.” Four months later she and Hammid carved out a different future in the poetic form of “Meshes of the Afternoon,” a black-and-white, 14-minute silent film and a classic of the American avant-garde cinema that they shot a few blocks from the Sunset Strip.
The golden age of Hollywood may have passed, but these are boom times for great character actors. On the big screen and the small, in movies and in television, beautiful sad sacks like Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston and Steve Buscemi are running away with some of the best roles and lines going, and Viola Davis is suddenly on the verge of stardom.
Reality TV and the tabloids can have the plastic people with the corrugated stomachs and corrected cheekbones. This season will have its share of muscular action heroes and sexy vampires and suffering spouses, but the richness of the new movies is more likely to lie in the ragged human details. We’ll take the sagging jaw line, the suggestion of mortality, the kinds of faces and physiques we recognize from the shopping mall, the office, maybe even the mirror.
Character actors endow the make-believe of movies with personality. They’re the performers nibbling in the corners of the screen, like the ticking bomb played by Stephen Root in "Office Space,” a basement-cubicle casualty in thick glasses, lost in a miasma of humiliation. Their faces, bodies and performances linger in your memory even if you can’t quite recall their names.
With the remake of Fright Night coming out, we’ve got vampires on the brain. So we put our brains together (unusual mental image though it is) to come up with our list of The 10 Best Vampire Movie Scenes, from The Lost Boys to Shadow of the Vampire to – shudder –Twilight (although we have a damned good reason for that one). So sharpen your fangs and let’s get started…
Not so long ago, I walked out of the movie, No Strings Attached feeling annoyed, but it was my own fault. I should have known better than to think that a Hollywood rom-com would have anything other than a fraudulently happy ending.
At first it was fun watching the two leads fumble around, trying to figure out how to be together, but it quickly reverted to cliché. At that point, the troubled female lead suddenly made a turnabout and was ready to commit; this despite there being nothing in the script that could explain her transformation.
Just like in all current rom-coms, the male lead was first full of hope, then fed up with his female counterpart's ambivalence and then finally decided to write her off. But then true to formula, he too, changed his feelings and took her back.
With the newly restored 35mm version of the late German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder's long-unavailable 1973 science-fiction epic "World on a Wire" -- which opens this week in New York before a national roll-out courtesy of Janus Films -- the number of missing movies has shrunk by one. This happens all the time, of course; filmgoers and home-video customers are deluged with more rediscoveries and restorations than we can process, and as soon as I publish this list it will become outdated. (Here's what I can see from my desk in various piles: Newly restored versions of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" and Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality," along with new-to-video titles such as Margot Benacerraf's "Araya," Jules Dassin's "The Law," Joseph Losey's "The Romantic Englishwoman" and John Huston's "The African Queen.")
In our age of information glut, it may seem surprising that anything remains missing at all. Yet the number of films that either can't be seen at all or can't be found without considerable difficulty (and extra-legal Internet spelunking) remains impressive, even when you bracket the fact that the vast majority of films made in the silent era no longer exist, including perhaps 95 percent of those made before 1920. (Or odd national tragedies, such as the reported fact that most of Malaysian cinema has been destroyed.)
With HBO’s Game Of Thrones wrapping up a stellar first season and American Gods (far) on the horizon, television is on the cusp of a fantasy revolution. And it isn’t the squeaky-clean fantasy ofHarry Potter or Lord of the Rings (for that, see the upcoming and very promising Once Upon A Time) – cable TV is ready and willing to tell adult fantasy stories for adult viewers.
With that in mind, the Screen Rant crew put together a list of the fantasy novels we’d most like to see adapted into serialized TV dramas with modest-to-big budgets. All of them would make sprawling, epic TV shows… in the right hands, of course.
Check out our list and see if you agree with our picks – and add a few suggestions of your own to our comment section.
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