Guilty Pleasures


When filmmaker Nora Ephron brings together an all-star cast led by Steve Martin, you expect something terrific. Mixed Nuts was Ephron’s follow-up to her smash success Sleepless in Seattle, and when it was released by TriStar Pictures on December 21, 1994, she was greeted with some of the most visceral reviews of her career, and experienced a spectacular failure that would briefly scare her career.

An adaptation of the successful (but obscure to American audiences) 1982 French farce Le Pere Noel Est Une Ordure (loosely translated: Santa Claus is a Bastard), Mixed Nuts retained very little of what made the French farce so dark and uncompromising. At the same time, Ephron tailored the film to something more along her style and managed to give the characters of the piece some hope and love through a cynical story. Right here, it’s easy to see why the film failed at the box office: The film wanted to be hopeful and dark at the same time, and a comedy can’t quite succeed when they’re trying to counter-balance that. It is a weird holiday film made for those who are looking for something a little different than films like A Christmas Story or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

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I’m going to describe a movie.  It’s a sci-fi movie from the early seventiesCharlton Heston is in it.  He is the last man on Earth.  He wears a track suit and speeds around post-apocalyptic L.A. in a convertible, battling albino zombie mutants with a machine gun.

Sounds awesome, right?  It is.  The movie is called The Omega Man, and it will blow your mind.

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In 1977, the motion picture Star Wars changed popular culture forever.   What few people realize is that there was a far more culturally and artistically significant film released that same year:

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As Mike McDermott once said, “I feel like Buckner walking back into Shea.” That’s exactly how I feel writing this article. Read the rest of this entry »

Dragons. Are there any cooler creatures in all of mythology? Unfortunately, in the world of celluloid, these great creatures of imagination have not really gotten their due. (At least, not in live-action cinema; why I have not yet seen How to Train Your Dragon is still beyond me.)

Is there any live-action film in which dragons have truly come off as cool as they deserve? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wasn’t too bad, but the dragons aren’t the stars. As I impatiently await the day when Peter Jackson brings his vision of the ultimate dragon, Smaug, to life in The Hobbit, I think about other dragon-themed movies that I have enjoyed in the past. None of them are deserving enough to be called “great”, but I’m very forgiving of movies I want to like. In one of these cases, I was the perfect age to see a dragon with real presence brought to life on the big screen – even if the movie he inhabited was far from perfect. Without further adieu, I present, in ascending order on my Flickchart, my picks for Guilty Pleasures starring dragons.

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