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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This Gatsby Looks Great - The Great Gatsby Trailer

If there is one thing Bah Luhrmann does right it is lavish. Although, I questioned a the need for a 3D retelling of The Great Gatsby after viewing the trailer I must admit it will at least be interesting. Luhrmann has a talent for bringing to life periods in glorious, exuberant ways... accurate or not, they make for great eye candy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Web's Most Exciting Announcement Ever! - Upcoming Events on FilmSnork UPDATED

It has been too long since an original article has been posted on the site.  There is a reason for this, the FilmSnork110/100 challenge was much more time consuming than expected.  Between the viewing of the films, the time spent contemplating and writing the reviews my time has been limited.  Still, there are great things coming soon.

Make sure you let me know what you think of these ideas in the brand new comments section below.

Here are just a few of plan for this year:

UPDATE 5/18:  Director Retrospective -  A director, with the help of site members, will be selected.  Every film ever directed by the chosen director will be watched and discussed in chronological order.  Members will be encouraged to follow along and join the discussion as we watch the evolution of the filmmaker.   

Watch A-Long TV -   Since the rise of DVRs, iPods and Kindles the sense of community that was once had when we all watched the same shows on the same night and discussed it the following morning has been lost.  I intend to revive that with a unique viewing experience of full seasons of shows on a schedule to once again create that communal experience.  A scheduled weekly viewing or two followed by a discussion.  I have a few great shows in mind.  Don't worry, I will not steer you wrong - what we watch will be great TV.  We will check out shows that we have not viewed previously and revisit some favorites - The Wire, Buffy, The Shield, BSG, etc.

Project Screenplay - Once upon a time I had finished a screenplay.  I felt it had great promise and was well received by those who have read it.  The problem is, it was not perfect and needed revisions.  Years later, many of the revisions have been thought through, but have not made their way to paper.  My plan is to complete a final draft of this script with the help of the FilmSnork community.  As I revise the screenplay I will be posting several scene per week and asking for you to critique it.  Honest critiques - good, bad or ugly.  I have never been one to show my work to people (a highly recommended thing to do) - now I plan to show it to the world.  Once this is done, if successful there may be additional screenplays.

FilmSnork Film Festivals - Just what you would expect.  A series of films to be watched and discussed.  I will come up with the list, provide enough time for people to obtain them to view (usually will pick films with streaming options - amazon, netflix, etc.) and then provide a place to discuss them.  Thinking I will start with and under-appreciated film festival or possibly great films from the 80s.  The more people that watch, the better the experience.

"The Sopranos" Cut To Black - an analysis of the finale of the HBO show which upset and confused many viewers.  I am pretty sure I have a definitive answer to what the final moments meant.  A shot by shot analysis of the episode will provide answers that you never had the questions

Of course there will still be various articles and plenty of film reviews along the way.  One thing I hope to curtail is the constant begging for new members.  I apologize, but I want to get the word out.  My compensation are the prizes.

If you have any ideas for events to add to the site or way to improve it, please leave a comment on this page.  The best way to do so is to choose the Name/URL option and create a screen name and stick with it.  One goal is to create a better comment system - keep an eye out for it.

I hope you are all as excited about these events as we are.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FilmSnork110 COMPLETE: 115 Movies Watched, 1 Man Changed

For the first time in a hundred days I did not wake up overly tired, did not spend my breakfast confirming that my Kindle was loaded with a movie for my commute, did not check over and over if Netflix had mailed out the next film in my queue and will not need to consume a late night box of Cheez-its to keep me alert during a late night screening.  I also did not have to watch a movie on the train, walking through the streets of Manhattan, in the elevator or while giving blood.  There was no commitment to fulfill.  Just a normal day.  But, what a glorious day.  On the train to work I did something very simple and it felt odd, almost dirty... I read a magazine.  A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I am going to miss it.   But the weight of the challenge has been replaced with a new sensation, power.  Power to control my life has returned to my hands, and no longer lies in a list of films.  But the power I am feeling it not just the return of control of my life... it is more.  Today I woke up a new man.  It is a miracle, it really is sort of a miracle.  The FilmSnork110 has changed me forever.  I feel great.  Even better than great, I feel reborn.  People don't get to feel like this often so when you do you must take advantage of it because if you waste it, you are going to burn for it. 

As I started this challenge I kept getting asked one thing, "why?"  The answer was simple.  I had started to forget my passion for film and needed remind myself what it was that drove me.   One thing people did not seem to grasp, The FilmSnork110 was never a challenge to others, it was a challenge to myself.  I am sure there are plenty of people out there that can top 11o in 100 days (I encourage you to.)  This challenge was created to attempt to revive a dormant part of myself that I realized I missed.  As my life became more complex and responsibilities multiplies, my time for movies has dwindled.  Where at one time, not too long ago, I used to watch 5 movies or more during an average week, I found myself barely finding the time to watch one.  This was not me.  This was not who I was.  Throughout my life I had always insisted I would never fall into the the trap of allowing my life to be consumed by the grind (work, stress, daily responsibilities, etc.) to the point that things I was passionate about fell to the wayside.  When I found myself coming up with excuses as to why I could not part take in my favorite things (besides my family, of course and farm fresh eggs) I realized there was a problem. 

I had to do something.  I had to take a chance.  I needed to make a change.  If not, I may become what I feared worst - someone that forgot that enjoying life was living life.   A plan needed be devised and implemented quickly. One that would throw me right back into the mix, watching movies again; something hardcore, something merciless.  So I decided to do some house work as I tried to find a solution.  I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the sink, and when I came to I had a revelation! A vision! A picture in my head! A picture of this - the FilmSnork110.  110 movies in 100 days.  Needless to say to those that followed my progress,  I did not take the task lightly.  Each film was given my full attention knowing that afterwards I would need to rate, review, write journals about and often discuss the films.  I was quickly immersed.  I was home.   As each day passed I felt more rejuvenated, more alive, more like the old me.  That is where the miracle took place.  I stopped making excuses and I found the time to return my passion to my life.  With passion back in my life the passageway to my dreams was suddenly not as obstructed as it had once been.  Even with all obstacles in my way (my wife loves when I refer to her and the kids an obstacle) I was able to reach my goal of 110 movies, even surpassing it for a grand total of 115 movies.  I, the same guy that could barely fit a movie a week into his life found a way to watch about eight films a week.  Not only did I restore the passion I had for film, but that passion seemed to multiply.  I was rejuvenated.  I was reminded what I wanted out of life did not have to be constrained to what was listed under my job description, it could and will be so much more.  The miracle is the FilmSnork had risen and nothing will reverse that.

The miracle can happen to you.  It can happen tonight for all of you.  If you believe in those dreams that you once pursued, the miracle can happen and once it does then you'll want it to happen all the time.  Watching movies for the FilmSnork110 was only a catalyst for my miracle.  You need to find your own personal catalyst.  As we grow older it is easy to forget who we really are.  We set aside our passions for tasks.  As our list of responsibilities grows, many will consciously decide there are elements of their life they can shed.  For other people it is not a conscious decision - they become overwhelmed and things are lost in the commotion.  If your passion is one of those lost elements or worse set aside for "the perfect time," then it is time you give your life shake up.  The biggest myth out there, that there is a "perfect time."  People love to tell you how they don't have time for it.    Guess what?  NO ONE has time.  If you do not take the time you lose the passion, when you lose the passion the dream dies - which is why you must fight for it.  When you get just a taste of that passion you get that momentary spark inside you - you will not be able to stop yourself.  You just have to want that feeling and if you like it and you want it you'll get greedy for it.  You'll want it everyday of your life and it can happen to you.  SHAKE UP THE ROUTINE!  If your passion is painting and you don't paint because you are too tired from the gym, the skip the gym.  If at the end of your days you followed your dreams, creating your own personal art collection, and all it cost you was living life with a muffin top... you win!  Re-channel your energy.

Change your focus, live the life you want, not the one you are told you must live.   If your dream is to go to Paris, then go to Paris.  If you cannot afford to, then work harder or spend less or sell blood and save - that is the sacrifice.  Dreams do not happen, they are achieved.  If you are waiting for it to happen you are missing the boat.   Follow your dreams and you won't be one of these bastards that says "I don't have time for (fill in the blank),"  you'll be to busy loving life.  Follow your passions.
 Write a book, travel, design clothing, be the world's best father (or 2nd best, I fill that position already.)

Would you ever tell your children that they should follow their dreams and embrace their passions only until they reach a certain age, then abandon them?  I hope not.  That is not sound parental advice.  Then why do you tell yourself that each day (I am not accusing you of actually talking to yourselves, at least not all of you) through your action or lack there of.  You only get one life and it you are not living it, the what the hell are you doing?  If you have a dream you must pursue it now.  Being a parent, completing your work for your employer are not sacrifices, they are requirements.  It is the time between which you must harness and turn into your own.  That is the time for sacrifice.  Whether it is getting less sleep than you want, skipping the big game or in my case not watching a movie - unless you sacrifice (or are very lucky) you will never turn the dreams to reality.
There is a great quote from "The Shawshank Redemption, "get busy living or get busy dying."  No truer words have been spoken.   I have embraced the clarity provided to me by the FilmSnork110 to realize it was time to get busy living.  I have discovered that parts of me I thought were gone were very much alive.  This silly, little challenge has opened my eyes to that.  Not only did I get to watch a great number of wonderful films (and some Adam Sandler films as well,) the challenge has forced me to start thinking like a filmmaker again, it has reminded me that the person I once was still exists inside me.   My dreams are not longer a memory, they are something I am current pursuit of.   I believe in it now.  I believe it is going to happen to me now.  I'm ready for it.  It's great.  It is a good feeling, it is really better than I have felt in a long time. 

I am not exactly sure when this journal entry because a self-help program - for that I apologize (kind of.)   If you have set aside your passion I recommend you challenge yourself   It does not matter if it is movies, gardening, tennis or painting - go and do it again.  Take it from me, this monumental waste of time (a some have called it) has sparked a fire inside of me that will burn for years to come - perhaps until the day I die.   I cannot say I will ever take on something like it again, at least not until FilmSnork is my full-time job, but I would never give up the experience.  Thank you for your comments, likes, emails, texts, phone calls, conversations and general support.   Now roll credits.

Put a little love in your heart.  Put a little love in your heart.

Here is a breakdown of the FilmSnork110:
115 movies
217.4 hours
9.06 Days
13044 minutes
782640 seconds 
9.06% of my life was watching movies 
Total stars given 771
Average film rating  6.7 stars
Average Adam Sandler film rating  3 stars
Highest rated first time viewed films:  Every Little Step, Take Shelter, The Avengers
Lowest rated first time viewed films:  Grown Ups, The Sitter, Saturday the 14th

Instead of watching 115 movies these are other things that could of been accomplished.   If you have a task you would like to add to the list, let me know and I will do the calculations.

15.5 college credits
5.45 full-time work weeks
70 NFL games (4.4 full seasons)
87 NHL games (1 full season and possibly a first round of the playoffs)
Raced the entire Tour de France 2.52 times (at Lance Armstong's pace)
Listened to 326 the entire Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 
Listened to Pink Floyd's The Wall 137 times

Driven across the USA from NYC to San Fran 5 times 
Driven 56.7% way around the world
Flown back and forth between LA and Singapore 6.5 times
Climbed Mt. Everest 13 times (at world record pace)
Walked from Atlanta to Chicago
Prepared 4348 Ramen Noodle  in the microwave

Cooked 54 stuffed 15 pound turkeys
Watched the entire series of The Sopranos 2.75 times
Watched all 506 episodes of The Simpsons 1.17 times
Watched all the Star Wars movies back to back 16.25 times 
OR just watched the good Star Wars 33.7 times
Read the Bible the full way through 2.85 

Watched Joey Chestnut consume 88699 hot dogs (at his record pace)
Have had a colonoscopy 434 times
Have had 145 root canals

Some people will question why I did not do some of activities listed above.  They are missing the point.  I hope you enjoyed the whole FilmSnork110 experience as much as I did and hopefully get more out of it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Avengers Review - The Film That Saved The Superhero Film

Superhero films have always been comparable to fast food.  They are easy to consume, they have little nourishment and once you are done consuming it you are usually not satisfied, often regretting the whole experience.  Well let me tell you straight out, The Avengers IS fast food; amazing fast food, the In-N-Out Burger of superhero films, the best of the best.  Not all fast foot experiences are created equal, for every "The Dark Knight" and "Spider-Man 2" (the Five Guys level of films) there are a handful of "The Fantastic Four" or "Spider-Man 3" caliber films (Burger King) or even worse "The Green Lantern" and "Batman and Robin" (the lowly Jack in the Box.) 

The basics of the story are going to be quite familiar for those of you that have seen the list of related films that have preceded it (Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, etc.)  If you have not seen them let me explain.  After each of the superhero film concluded there was an extra scene that played post-credits showing each of the heroes being courted by Nick Fury to join a project called The Avenger Initiative.  Fast forward to the start of this film.  We meet Loki, the evil brother of Thor, as he steals the the Tesseract; an all powerful glowing cube of energy.  He plans, to harness its power, opening a portal for his armies to assist him in the taking over of earth - to crush man.  It is the kind of plot line you expect from a superhero film; a big bad baddie uses something with super power to take over (the city, earth, galaxy.)  How can anyone stop such evil power?  Call in the heroes to save the day.  And that, is just what they do - The Avengers arrive to save us all.

The group consists of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth),  The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo),  Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) - quite an impressive line up of heroes and actors.  The best cast in the world is not worth a thing if they do not have chemistry and I am glad to say they have plenty of it.  This is where I have to tip my hat to Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel.)  He obviously had a clear vision of who each character is; playing the role of not only the writer/director, but also fan.  His understanding comic books, appreciation of the characters and their universe makes him the perfect person to bring these character together.  He knows what fans want to see and gives it to them, and not in a way where we are bogged down by back story or exposition.  Somehow he is able to balance not only the story lines of each of the major players, but also their personalities to deliver a satisfying ensemble.  Many directors have failed to find the correct balance with a single superhero let alone a team of them.

For example, how many renditions of The Hulk did we see before someone nailed the character making him interesting and likeable?  After decades of horrible takes on the green guy, it looked as interest in him was fading.  From the joke of the 80's TV series to the two film misfires this decade - no one could capture the spirit of The Hulk.  They failed, making him one-dimensional and uninteresting.  (Sorry, Lou Forigno's version is a nostalgia piece, not a version you would watch for more than 10 minutes of today if you seriously entertained.)  That is until Whedon took over.  I am sure one of the first obstacles he wanted to was tackle The Hulk; to transform him from a thoughtless creature whose sole purpose was smash things and look angry to a creature with some personality in both human and monster form.  Not only did Whedon succeed, but he probably single-handedly revived the character of The Hulk, transforming him into an audience favorite.  During a few sight gags involving The Hulk (they are too good to spoil for you, see them for yourself) the audience was not only laughing, but hooting, hollering and clapping... a far better reception than all previous Hulks combined.  This is mastery of Joss Whedon.  He knows and loves the characters and at the same time respects the audience enough to deliver to them what they want.  And boy, does he deliver.  It is not just The Hulk, each character is handled with TLC.  He balances each member of the team to provide maximum impact (besides Hawkeye who kind of gets the short end of the stick.)  The characters do not exist to simply perform a task and sell merchandise,  they also fleshed enough to provide much more to the experience  - we connect with them; we cheer for them, we laugh with them and we worry about them.  Being able to accomplish this with just one superhero in a film is a difficult feat; to do this with six is the work of a genius. 

Another nice surprise are the action scenes.  I was expecting a blurred mess of CGI action as found in so many films these days.  Instead the action revolves around the characters - we see their faces, hear their thoughts and able to follow the fight.  Thank goodness we are spared the big swooshing camera moves that often makes following the action so difficult  That is not to say there are limited effects, actually quite the opposite.  Each scene is stuffed full of some of the best CGI I have seen.  The best thing is, it never becomes a distraction - it improves the experience and never detracts.

The films greatest strength is not the plot, the characters nor the effects, it is its humor.  I laughed out loud several times and I am not a laugh out loud type of guy.  Actually, there were more quality laughs during this film than most comedies I have seen this past decade.  The humor is not the only reason to see it, but it is like the unexpected toy surprise in the Happy Meal, it doesn't hurt.

There are so many good qualities to this film, it seems pointless to mention them all.  This is a movie for people that want to enjoy themselves... and you WILL enjoy yourself.  As always, there are going to be haters out there that will try to tear this film down, acting as if they are above it.  I am sure you will hear comparisons to The Dark Knight, how The Avengers' plot was not as well developed.  I agree, it was not.  You win smarty pants.  But (and it is a big green Hulk BUT,) this movie's intentions were not to be The Dark Knight, it was to be The Avengers.  It created a unique and completely enjoyable film experience.  TDK was a rare occurrence, instead of being a superhero film with a crime element, it was a crime film with a superhero.  Not every film tries or intends to pull that off.  We came for the fast food and that is what we got, wonderful, delicious fast food.  Not finding caviar and pâté on the menu is not a letdown, it is exactly what we expected.  The great thing is, Whedon and company delivered on those expectations over and over.

Like after eating a good meal at a quality restaurant, I left completely satisfied.  And, as I walked out the door to leave I did so hoping to return again soon.  My advice for the haters, eat somewhere else.

9 out of 10 stars

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods - Review

Every year dozens of horror movies are released and automatically dismissed by audiences as waste of time, rehashes of stories that you have seen many times before or just plain stupid.  In most cases that assumption is correct.  They are often formula films that do not use take chances with their plots, rather focus on the the creativity and shock of the way the kills are carried out.  Audiences have grown tired of these hit or miss horror offerings and tend to only spend their money at the theater to see reboots and sequels.  There is some good news, "The Cabin In the Woods" is creative, innovative enough to buck that trend while still providing some of that standard horror movie fun you want to see (sickos!)  There is a problem though, it is a very spoiler sensitive film which creates quite a conundrum for me.   How do you review a movie whose very marketing promotes it as being a a unique spin on the standard film without ruining any surprises for others?  As you may know, my tolerance for spoiling any part of the film viewing experience is zero and I don't want to change that now.  So I came up with a solution.  Here it is.  I will start be saying I really enjoyed this movie.  Now go away and come back and read this after you have seen the film.  Just because I am telling you to read no further, don't go expecting the greatest film ever or to be blown out of your seats by some big reveal like that in "The Sixth Sense."  Go expecting to be entertained and stay open minded.  Goodbye.  I'll see you in a few weeks (or days for you go-getters.)

Are you back or did you fail to heed my warnings?  Either way I will attempt to avoid spoiling, that can be left the comments section.

So just what is "The Cabin in the Woods" about?  The first scene has two men talking as they walk through the office as they start their work day... a strange way to start a film called, "The Cabin In The Woods."  No cabin, no woods, just men in an office.  Maybe they go hunting together later on in the film, stay in a cabin...a cabin possessed by an evil spirit.  That kind of be a new and innovative horror movie premise.  Right?  Not really.  OK, then the film cuts to a group of college friends talking.  Wait a second.  Talking about what?  About staying at a cabin in the woods.  Bingo!  I see exactly where this is going.  Forget the middle aged men, that opening scene cannot be connected to the rest of the film.  By the looks of it we are here to see some college students party it up - sex, drugs, alcohol, rock 'n' roll capped off with an attack by some a knife wielding slasher from the local summer camp, or a mythical creature with a taste for blood that was released by a recent earthquake or or or a group of zombies that are hungry to snack on some unwilling participants.  Of course, this is your standard horror fare.  We have seen it all before.  But wait, those office guys are back and they are talking about some strange non-office like topics - one of the topics is the cabin in the woods.  Wait a minute!  What the hell is going on here?

That is essentially how I felt during the opening scenes of the film.  It starts off as something you have grown to expect and is quickly revealed to be much more.  I went into the film pretty much blind.  Basically the only knowledge I had of the film was that it was co-written and produced by Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire" fame.  Upon learning that he was involved I had enough incentive to see the film and chose to avoid any trailers, interviews, etc. 

The film has two parallel storylines.  The first, seem to be your run of the mill horror movie scenarios, college kids partying a cabin in a desolate part of the woods try to fend off impending death from some sort of attacking unknown foe.  The second part of the story takes place in the office (actually a laboratory) where the two men mentioned earlier head a team of people...  (Here is the biggest spoiler of the review, you've been warned.) ...a team that not only watches the events of the cabin from their remote underground lab, but also treat the group of friends as their human lab rats - manipulating them for their own use.  That is all I will tell you about the plot - anything beyond that will spoil the experience for you (feel free to discuss at length in the comments section.)

The film offers more than a unique twist on a familiar storyline, it uses that twist to go meta - self-referential, self-knowing.  Like "Scream: before it, "Cabin" takes something we are very familiar with and then uses that familiarity to break down the rules and plot points of whole genre, rebuilding it to its liking.  It pokes fun at while at the same time embracing the common elements of the films we have grown to love.  The cabin half of the film is populated with every stereotype of the genre - they are all there: the pothead, the jock, the virgin, the egghead, the slut, even the creepy old guy at the gas station that warns of impending doom makes a cameo.  It is everything you silly thing you expect and so much you do not.

Note that it you have not seen a half dozen horror films about a group of kids that gets stranded in a creepy, wooded locale where the only source of shelter is the spooky abandoned cabin, then you may not appreciate the meta aspects of the film.  The good news is that you do not need to be too familiar with the genre to enjoy this film - it offers enough to keep even the most novice horror fan entertained.  It is at times dark, cruel and scary, but it is also creative, hilarious and smart.

This is not an easy film to review because it is so unique that to delve any deeper into it than I have would be a disservice to the reader.  With that said I hope you can forget all that you have read here and go see the movie.  When you have, come back and discuss.

Spoiler-esque comments below.  Highlight to them to read.  Do so at your own risk.
Fans of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe will most likely find this film feels familiar.  All it would take would be a visit by Buffy herself and it truly could be a special episode of the BTVS.  Honestly, I would not be surprised, almost expect, this to one day be referenced in the Buffy comics.

8.0 stars out of 10.

FilmSnork's 100 Day/ 110 Movie Challenge (COMPLETED)

Challenge Announcement and Description (01/25/2012)
Over the next few months I, FilmSnork, will be taking on a challenge that has been unheard of in the world of film writing, probably because I made it up... 110 films in 100 days.  Over the last few years life has gotten in the way of my film viewing - a once near daily (or multiple times daily) event has gone to the back burner as everyday life have taken priority.  Well, everyday life is going to have to learn to share me as I return to a steady diet of film consumption.  Sorry family, sorry kids, sorry job - this is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change.

Over the hundred days, I plan to intake a steady mix of films - some of the recently Oscar nominees, some of those films that I have always been told to see & for one reason or another have avoided, a few stabs in the dark based solely on the DVD packaging and, if provided, your recommendations.

I will update this post on a daily basis with micro-reviews of each film and info about upcoming viewing.  As the challenge moves forward expect me to schedule in theme weeks (i.e. Torture FilmSnork Week - a full week of films starring my least favorite actors/actresses, Flop Week - Ishtar, Gigli, etc), John Hughes Week, etc.
As with any challenge there are rules that need to be established, so here they are:
- The most obvious rule - I have to watch the entire film.
- 100 of the films will be movies I have never watched before or never watched in their entirety.
- 10 of the films will be films I have already watched.
- 10 films will be recommendations - please be nice.
-  I do not need to watch one film a day,  I can stockpile to prepare for days where I will not be able to fit a movie in.
-  I can also fall behind and watch multiple films in one day to catch up.
-  All films will be reviewed.  Exceptionally good or bad ones shall be given full reviews.
-  All viewing must take place between February 1st and May 10th. 

I think that just about covers it.  As I prepare myself mentally, physically and emotionally for this challenge I ask one thing from all of you, your participation.  No, you do not need to watch the 110 films, but your input, recommendations and support.  It will take me about 200 hours of viewing and plenty more of writing about the adventure.  All I ask of you is a simple comment here and there, your response to my review (agree or disagree), recommendations, a simple click of the "like" button.  A little encouragement goes a long way.

- FilmSnork

Below you will find the film schedule, theme weeks and the original announcement of the event.  I update the page daily with my progress and with additions to my queue.  Please look over the theme categories and feel free to provide recommendations for those that have less than 5 films listed.  All recommendations are considered, only those I have not seen are chosen.  So far I have 44 of 110 films selected - 66 to go.


The Film Schedule:
#1,2     (02/01/2012) : The Descendants, Warrior
#3        (02/02/2012) : A Better Life
#4        (02/03/2012) : Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
#5        (02/04/2012) : KungFu Panda 2
#6        (02/05/2012) : The Help
#7        (02/06/2012) : Moneyball
#8        (02/07/2012) : Real Steel
#9        (02/08/2012):  The Artist
#10      (02/09/2012):  Midnight in Paris*
#11      (02/10/2012):  Ides of March
#12      (02/11/2012):  Puss In Boots
#13      (02/12/2012):  Rise of the Planet of the Apes
#14,15 (02/13/2012):  War Horse, Beginners
#16      (02/14/2012):  Hell and Back
#17,18 (02/15/2012):  If a Tree Falls, There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane
#19      (02/16/2012):  Birdemic
#20      (02/17/2012):  Bridesmaids
#21      (02/18/2012):  Bitch Slap
#22      (02/19/2012):  Horrible Bosses
#23      (02/20/2012):  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
#24      (02/21/2012):  The Beaver
#25      (02/22/2012):  Being Elmo
#26      (02/23/2012):  Tree of Life
#27      (02/24/2012):  Saturday the 14th,
#28      (02/25/2012)   Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
#29      (02/26/2012)   The Odd Couple
#30      (02/27/2012)   The Real Thing
#31      (02/28/2012)   A Prophet (Un Prophète)

#32      (02/29/2012)   Thor
#33      (03/01/2012)   Contagion
#34      (03/02/2012)   Paranormal Activity 3
#35      (03/03/2012)   Another Earth
#36      (03/04/2012)   Bad Teacher
#37      (03/05/2012)   Project Nim
#38-40 (03/06/2012)   Pearl Jam Twenty, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Fright Night
#41      (03/07/2012)   Tabloid
#42      (03/08/2012)   Every Little Step
#43      (03/09/2012)   Troll Hunter
#44      (03/10/2012)   X-Men: First Class
#45      (03/11/2012)   My Week With Marilyn
#46      (03/12/2012)   Everything Must Go
#47      (03/13/2012)   The Hangover 2
#48      (03/14/2012)   Cedar Rapids
#49      (03/15/2012)   Alice In Wonderland
#50      (03/16/2012)   Despicable Me
            (03/17/2012)   FilmSnork Day of Rest
#51,52 (03/18/2012)   talhotblond, Super
#53      (03/19/2012)   Win Win
#54,55 (03/20/2012)   Red Riding Trilogy: 1974 & 1980
#56      (03/21/2012)   Red Riding Trilogy: 1983
#57      (03/22/2012)   Lincoln Lawyer 
#58      (03/23/2012)   Tin Tin
#59      (03/24/2012)   Cowboys and Aliens 
#60      (03/25/2012)   Our Idiot Brother

#61,62 (03/26/2012)   Grown Ups,  Just Go With It 

#63      (03/27/2012)   The Resident
#64      (03/28/2012)   The Dilemma
#65      (03/29/2012)   The Hunger Games
#66      (03/30/2012)   I Am Number Four
#67      (03/31/2012)   Young Adult
#68      (04/01/2012)   In Time

#69      (04/02/2012)   Memories of Murder
#70      (04/03/2012)   Mother
#71      (04/04/2012)   Sin Nombre
#72      (04/05/2012)   Battle Royale
#73,74 (04/06/2012)   Jesus Christ Superstar, The Skin I Live In
#75      (04/07/2012)   I Am Love
#76      (04/08/2012)   Broken Embraces 

#77      (04/09/2012)  Stone
#78      (04/10/2012)  The Incredible Hulk*
#79      (04/11/2012)  Pride and Glory
#80      (04/12/2012)  Kingdom of Heaven
#81      (04/13/2012)  Fight Club*

#82       (04/14/2012)  Melancholia

#83       (04/15/2012)  Come and See 
#84       (04/16/2012)  The Longest Day
#85       (04/17/2012)  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
#86       (04/18/2012)  Gettysburg
#87       (04/19/2012)  Hell is for Heroes

#88,89  (04/20/2012)  The Sitter, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

#90       (04/21/2012)  IP Man

#91       (04/22/2012)  Take Shelter

#92       (04/23/2012)  Blue Valentine
#93,94  (04/24/2012)  After the Wedding, Martha Marcy May Marlene
#95       (04/25/2012)  Troubled Water
#96,97 (04/26/2012)   Biutiful, Morning Glory
#98       (04/27/2012)  Hereafter

#99       (04/28/2012)  Meek's Cutoff

#100     (04/29/2012)  12

#101,102 (04/30/2012)  Blindness, Cabin In The Woods

#103,104 (05/01/2012)  Shane, The People vs. George Lucas
#105        (05/02/2012)  Das Boot
#106        (05/03/2012)  Goodfellas* 
#107        (05/04/2012)  The Avengers  

#108        (05/05/2012)  True Romance*
#109        (05/06/2012)  King Kong (1933)*
#110        (05/07/2012)  We Bought a Zoo
#111        (05/08/2012)  Rear Window*
#112,113 (05/09/2012)  Mars Attacks*, The Godfather*
#114,115 (05/10/2012)  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,* Back to the Future*

Legend: not viewed yet, viewedprevious viewed selection*


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Was 2011 The Year That Killed The Superheroes?

Look!  Up in the sky!  It's a dying bird!  It's a plane out of gas!  No it's the falling box office results of the latest superhero movies!  Oh that's it?  Not interested.

Over the last three decades we have seen dozens of superheroes make their way to the silver screen - from Christopher Reeve as Superman to Michael Keaton as Batman to Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man - men in tights, capes and suits entertained millions and pulled in billions of dollars.  Yet this trend has not been invincible and after a year of lackluster instead of blockbuster box office receipts, we are left asking has the superhero movie met its match?   Regardless of how bloated the budget or the marquee value of the star, this summer's onslaught of superheroes resulted in less buzz than previous years and in the end lower box office results.

Sure, the studios create the facade that everything is just fine; commiting to sequels, as if that means anything - just as soon as they commit the projects are put on hiatus when the DVD sales don't meet expectations.  Hollywood treats the scenario like a followup to Weekend at Bernies in which the studios are played by Andrew McCarthy, the superhero fans are played by Jonathon Silverman and Bernie's corpse is played by the superheroes.  They act as if Bernie is alive while the whole time he is just being propped up on their shoulders.  "He's just fine," they say... but, it is obvious to everyone else that they are living in denial.  All is not okay.

Could this be the year that killed the superhero film?

Don't get me wrong there is still a pulse, but it is has faded.  Is this a temporary thing brought on by numerous variable, the perfect storm for mediocre box office or has a new trend started?  I fear the golden age of superhero films may have passed us.   The demise brought about by the following factors:

OVERSATURATION:  The most obvious is reason for the decline is simply the demand is less than the supply.  This year alone we were served five wide release superhero films (Thor, Green Lantern, Green Hornet, X-Men and Captain America) over the first eight months of the year, four were released within 3 months of each other.  That is a lot of money to shell out for a country with 10% unemployment and financial uncertainty.  If there was more time between openings there may have been a bump to ticket sales.  But how much time is needed to get these numbers where they should be.  When the event film of the summer - the one that has its own doughnut at Dunkin (Captain America), pulls in a measly $175 million ($77 million less than the original Michael Keaton "Batman" which was released 22 years ago - yep you're old) perhaps a little more time between opening would help.  We barely have time to buy the merchandise or get the superhero's emblem tattoo before the next film is ready for release.   The sheer volume of films is just incredible. Take a look at this stat:  In the last twelve years approximately 43 superhero films have made it to the big screen.  In the previous 22 years a total of 17 were released (and one of those was "Batman and Robin," if that counts).  We have had more superhero films in the last three years than the total between 1978 and the year 2000. These are shocking numbers unless compared to vampire films/TV shows which are released every Friday due to Hollywood's Overexpose It To Death Clause of 2005.  Compared to vampire films the sequel heavy Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th, looks like a long lost relative.

2ND TIER SUPERHEROES: I am sure many people will disagree, but Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America are second rate super heroes.  The big three include Superman, Batman and on a good day Spider-Man.  This is not a opinion on the quality of their stories, the depth of the character or even their popularity -  in general, besides the big three the average joe does not know much about the characters, their history or enemies.  Mention Lex Luthor and the majority of people know who you are talking about and the connotations associated with the name - there is great name recognition, no learning curve - the same cannot be said for most superheroes.  Comic book fans may be running to the theater opening day, but my guess is their girlfriends were not.  The 2nd Tier hero stories are unfamiliar and generally less attractive to the general public.  This may explain why this year's superheroes came straight off the pages of GQ; the stories were less attractive, but the stars of the films were not.  Ryan Reynold, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth are not the biggest draws in Hollywood, but with a guaranteed male audience something was needed to draw in the female demographic.  Sorry, it didn't work.  Even the guys were provided eye candy in an attempt to boost ticket sales - you can tell yourselves whatever you want, but Natalie Portman, Blake Lively, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lawrence were not only chosen for their acting chops... if so, why no Mindy Cohn sidekick?   Some of the most popular superhero portrayals of all-time were from actors that did not exactly fit the mold, a virtual unknown Christopher Reeves as the 1980's Superman and Michael Keaton known back then as Mr. Mom as Tim Burton's Batman - not exactly door busting names, the heros' name recognition initially brought the crowds.

Iron Man broke the mold when it blew the doors off the box office, pulling in $318 million an unheard of amount for a relatively unknown superhero.  This, of course, got the studios salivating - if they could make over $300 million on Iron Man imagine what dough they could rake in with the full DC and Marvel lineups. This explains the $5 Billion purchase of Marvel Comics by Disney in 2009. 

Will the next incarnation of these lead to bigger box office results?  My gut feeling is no.  The hype is not there.  When it was revealed that Batman would face off against The Joker in The Dark Knight, people could not wait for the next installment which was a painful three years away.  I am not sensing anything close to that level of anticipation for this year's batch of super hero films - if they a one time thing I am sure many people would not give it a second thought. 

INCONSISTENT QUALITY:  These last couple of years have been tough on superhero fans - even before this last batch of underperforming films we had to deal with a monstrosity that shook the superhero universe to its very core, testing not only our loyalty but our tolerance to pain.  I am talking about Spider-Man: The Musical.  From the day it was announced until the day it closed (what?  it is still running???  Good heavens, someone get me a scotch) the film has been a punchline to many jokes that rumbled and shook the superhero faithful with great might.  Before the Spiderman Broadway show, NBC tried to release a "Wonder Woman" television show.  A show so bad that it never made it onto the televisions and instead lives on, being passed around on the internet in small doses to prevent vomiting.

These are just two high profile examples of some of the low quality products being pitched to viewers. Over the last decade we have suffer through numerous superhero incarnations, not every film could come close to The Dark Knight or Iron Man's audience approval ratings.  For every Spider-Man 2 we had to deal with everything from the lackluster Fantastic Four to the atrocious, they-that-shall-not-be-named Elektra and Catwoman.  When the trailer for The Watchmen was released the buzz lasted all the way to the $55 million opening (for a film with no big named stars, based on a 25-year-old comic - that's a big opening) , followed by a $17 million second week, a near 70% drop.  Audiences cannot be jerked around this way and expected to come back like a happy puppy.  We remember, once you have been burned you must regain our trust.

All it takes is seeing Spider-man: Turn Off the Lights - the Musical once to scar a potential audience member for life. This may explain why I heard whimpering as the Andrew Garfield Spiderman trailer was shown before Captain America.

NO LONGER EVENT FILMS:  This goes hand in hand with oversaturation, but it is different enough to address it separately.

As a young Snork, there are some memories made that will never be forgotten - one of them was the opening night, midnight screen of "Batman" - this night is burned into the brains because the incredible amount of hype surrounding the film... the movie event of the summer.  Unlike today, there was no Fandango.  If you wanted tickets you stood in line and bought them.  If you took your time and waited to buy your tickets until the day of the show you may as well have planned on seeing "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids."  Try explaining that one to your friends that bought the shirts, the drink cups & the Halloween costumes when you come to the Halloween party dressed as Rick Moranis instead of The Joker. Batman became part of who we are and to some degree still maintains there within us.  It was an event.  An event that will not be forgotten.

What was the event film of this summer?  The barely cracking the top ten in ticket sales, "Thor"?  Sorry, in terms of event films, that was barely a blip on the radar. Instead of putting out a three or four films a year, try putting out one or two very good ones.  If the summer was bookended by superhero releases it would have made sense, instead they were peppered throughout - taking the wind out of their sales before there was wind.

As these films crawled their way through theaters, news on upcoming entries of the big three was revealed - Superman, Batman and Spider-Man.  Christopher Nolan's final Batman film (what may be the saving grace of superherodom) is highly anticipated.  Then there's the new Zack Snyder Superman.  We barely figured out the convoluted plot of  "Superman Returns."  There are serious questions surround this one.  To top that, Sony is re-imagining Spider-Man - Tobey is out and Andrew Garfield is in.  I guess the sub par Spider-Man 3, put the kibosh on continuing the previous storyline.  It would have been a tough task any way, after they used just about every single story thread in S-M3.  But really, a reboot after five years?  Couldn't we just have a year with three superhero films?  Nah.

So, is the superhero film dead?  Are they fading away like Superman's powers after blowing his nose in a green kryptonite tissue?  What do you think is the problem?  What is the solution?  Sound off in the comments section.   As always, follow me on Twitter for the latest updates, reviews and insight - @filmsnork.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

182 Superheroes in Under 5 Minutes

Not everybody is into superheroes, but this site is for both film geeks and geeks a like. Enjoy this montage of superhero clips in HD with the accompanying sounds of Weezer. Make sure you take the most recent superhero based poll. How many of these films can you identify? Any stumpers?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer - Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That Here's the Final Trailer for the Big, Black Bat

For those of you that cannot wait to see this trailer, here it is. I am going to TRY to use some willpower and wait to see the trailer for the first time when I go to see The Avengers this week. Keyword is try. Enjoy it and let me know what you think in the comments section.