Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ocular Optometrical - Lists 3: Eye Of The Tiger Baum

Scene/Unseen - Topic: Comic Book/Superhero Movie
My Pick:

Creepshow (1982)
I'm obviously going for a less celebrated film on this one, and maybe I don't love Creepshow as much as Spiderman 2 or even American Splendor, but it's a really fun anthology horror film. Directed by George Romero and written by Stephen King, Creepshow totally nails the delicate balance of black humor, suspense and gruesome gore of the EC Comics that it is based on. Probably the strongest thing King ever wrote for film, he perfectly captures the weird morality plays that unfold in the pulp horror comics, down to the nearly ubiquitous theme of cheating spouses. Romero's direction doesn't hide the limited budget completely, but that and the slightly dated 80's quality just give the movie more charm.

There was a popular rumor going around town that most of the cockroaches around Carnegie Mellon University were in fact relatives of the swarm of cockroaches wrangled for the story parodying Howard Hughes and his germphobia, even though I think it was in fact "The Crate" segment that was filmed at CMU. I'm so proud that Romero is a diehard Pittsburgher.

Filmspotting - Topic: Top 5 Box Office Bombs That I Actually Liked

I culled my Top 5 & Honorable Mentions from this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_US_box_office_bombs
Yes, I'm disturbed that i'm citing a wikipedia entry, but really, I could care less about box office grosses so I just needed a source to play along with this week's picks.

Honorable Mentions:

L-R:
The Black Hole (1979), Head (1968), Heathers (1989), The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Lolita (1997), Mars Attacks! (1996), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Slither (2006)


5. Flash Gordon (1980)
Budget:$35,000,000
Domestic Gross: $3,934,030
- I recently caught Flash Gordon on cable and I can readily admit that it's not a well made movie. In particular, the acting is atrocious. Even my man Max Von Sydow (who admittedly was terrible pretty often when away from Ingmar Bergman) reached new levels of woodeness. However, I can happily report that I saw Flash Gordon in the theater at least twice and contributed to the little money that it did make. The thing is that at the age of 5, I enjoyed Flash Gordon just as much as I did Star Wars. They were both just fantasy/sci-fi movies, and, even though Star Wars was already a cultural phenomenon (enough that Flash Gordon ripped it off pretty obviously throughout), I was as excited about the winged Vultans as I was about Wookies and Greedos. I still have a soft spot for Flash Gordon which I mask by liking it ironically.


4. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
Budget: $40,000,000
Domestic Gross: $8,083,123
- It's been a loooong time since I've seen Baron Munchausen. It's one of the only Terry Gilliam movies that I don't own on DVD because I keep holding out for them to do a special edition with some bonus features about the production or a commentary [apparenlty my prayers have been answered and a special edition was released last month!], so It's possible that I've selectively forgotten the films weaknesses in my vague recollection. First off, I was a big fan of mythology & tall tales as a kid and M√ľnchhausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels by Rudolf Erich Raspe was a particular favorite, though I'd forgotten much of it by the time I caught Terry Gilliam's film and spent much of the movie thinking, 'I know this story, where do I know this from?!' Add to that Terry Gilliam's overly lush production design and dark humor and you've got a wonderfully imaginative movie that teaches kids to be brave, have adventures, but doesn't sugarcoat the dangers involved including societal ostracization.


3. Ed Wood (1994)
Budget:$18,000,000
Domestic Gross: $5,887,457
It's surprising that a movie that won Golden Globes & Oscars and had a manageably small budget was such a financial failure at the box office. Tim Burton's most mature film, a tribute to the schlock director behind such notorious classics as Plan 9 From Outer Space & Glen Or Glenda, Ed Wood does a beautiful job of capturing the tone of Wood's low-budget Hollywood, his outsider status, and eccentric, but good-natured demeanor. The film is hilarious, as Burton doesn't shy away from highlighting the bizarre ideas & behaviour of the filmmaker, and his strange adopted family of down-in-their-luck actors, but he does so with a warm reverence. Marin Landau's oscar-winning portrayal of an aged Bela Lugosi is funny and endearing and very deserving of the recognition. Highly recommended.


2. Zodiac (2007)
Budget:$65,000,000
Domestic Gross: $33,080,083
I guess people were still smarting from Panic Room, but it's still surprising that Zodiac was such a bust at the box office considering how much geek-cache David Fincher still has. I really enjoyed Zodiac (and in fact put it at no. 4 in my top 10 Films of 2007 here) and it's certainly one of the best crafted (2nd best even!) box office bombs ever.


1. The Iron Giant (1999)
Budget:$48,000,000
Domestic Gross: $23,159,305
A fantastic, primarily cel-animated film that deals with some pretty heavy cold war topics with an overflowing amount of heart, The Iron Giant might have been a tough sell to the under 5 set, but it should never have been mistreated in its release like it was. Luckily it's found a nice, second life in video, but there is really no excuse for this being a box office bomb. It's beautifully made and infinitely likeable!

BTW This is an open invitation to post your own picks for any topic in the comments. I'd love to read them.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Believe it or not, I still need to see Zodiac, and for that matter, Slither.

I am way behind on my Netflix.