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Bill Murray Tag

[caption id="attachment_145439" align="alignnone" width="624"] I predicted every one of these would be hits. Also, "Pixels."[/caption] Sometimes I wonder, “Why doesn’t Hollywood call to ask my opinion about what kinds of movies they should be releasing? Surely I have the type of incisive man-on-the-street insight they’re looking

To say that Bill Murray is getting better with age is an understatement; that he chooses interesting, meaty roles would probably be an accurate assumption.  Going back to his masterfully world-weary Herman Blume in Rushmore, he's been consistent and worth the time spent watching, even

Soul Serenade

The Exciters - Do-Wah-DiddyLike many musicians of my generation it all began for me on February 9, 1964. That was the night of the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Nothing was ever the same after that.

The reality is that it was probably longer, but it seems to me that I was in my first band about a week after that Ed Sullivan Show. The fact that I couldn’t play an instrument, other than the trumpet, which was useless in that context, was not a deterrent. I simply became the lead singer. My parents were also kind enough to eventually buy me a Kent bass guitar and a Kay amp (or was it the other way around?), so that I could prepare myself to be the band’s bass player.

Horror movies derive most of their power and enjoyment (you sicko) from a combination of novelty and surprise.The novelty: how the filmmakers will have this particular bad guy stalk and kill the good guys. The surprise: OHMYGODLOOKOUTBEHINDYOUDREWBARRYMORE! Nevertheless, because horror movies are eternally popular, Hollywood remakes

You don’t go see a Wes Anderson movie expecting much in the way of depth or character development—or at least, I don’t. I enter the theater or select the rental knowingly, well aware of the fact that I’m likely in for a sensory spectacle and a flat—albeit immensely charming—storyline. It’s all eye candy, soundtrack, costume and set design, meticulously stylized to the nth degree.

Moonrise Kingdom, the latest in the Wes Anderson catalog, is gorgeous and keen and funny. It stars some Hollywood greats—Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzmann, Bruce Willis—but leading the charge are two screwy kids, Suzy and Sam, played by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. Both troubled, possibly even deeply, after meeting and becoming pen-pals, Suzy and Sam decide to escape the angst and confusion of their home lives and run away together, creating their own little (short-lived) paradise on the far side of their island. It’s 1965 and though the sepia is of the Technicolor bent, nostalgia is very much a presence in this film.

I wasn’t going to resurrect another holiday Soundtrack Saturday post, but I couldn’t help it. A) This is such a great movie, B) It has a great soundtrack and C) I wanted an excuse to reintroduce you all to that bananas Unicef “Put a Little Love In Your Heart” clip. This was originally posted in December 2009, and was the last installment of A Soundtrack Saturday Christmas. Enjoy and have a great holiday!

Since the moment I first saw Scrooged (1988),  it instantly became one of my favorite holiday films. I mean, you have to love any adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that includes the Solid Gold Dancers and casts once-and-future New York Dolls frontman David Johansen as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

The problem I faced was that the soundtrack album for Scrooged is woefully out of print. I was having a hell of a time finding most of the tracks, and I really thought I might have to scrap this post altogether and find another film. But I was determined to write about the movie, so I soldiered on and managed to find the entire soundtrack, thus saving my dream of A Perfect Soundtrack Saturday Christmas.

If you’ve never seen Scrooged, I’m sure you have your reasons, e.g. you don’t like Christmas movies, you hate Bill Murray, you’re angry at Johansen for the Buster Poindexter years. If that’s the case, then maybe I can change your mind, because this is a funny film whether Christmas is your thing or not.

Thanks to a welcome new trend of special event screenings at certain theater chains, this past year I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting Sixteen Candles (1984) and Back to the Future (1985), the subject of my very first Revival House installment. The latest of these films returning to the big screen is Ghostbusters in selected theaters October 13, 20 and 27.

1984 was one hell of a summer for movie nerds like me. May 23 brought us the highly anticipated Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, while the following week allowed us to discover what happened after the death of a beloved character in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Back in the day when a film wasn’t considered “dead on arrival” if it didn’t open in the #1 spot, June 8 saw the arrival of two big summer films, Ghostbusters and Gremlins — but that didn’t stop both movies from breaking $100 million at the box office that year.

In the weeks before these four films opened, I remember sitting in my high school Calculus class attempting to draw the logo lettering of all of them with the exception of Ghostbusters, which to be honest I wasn’t anticipating as much as the others. But as it turned out, even though it was a comedy, Ghostbusters (thanks to help from the excellent special effects by Richard Edlund) was as epic in scope as the other films in the summer of ’84.

Ghostbusters is directed by Ivan Reitman, who at the time had previously directed Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981), in addition to serving as a producer on National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978). The screenplay is written by Dan Aykroyd (who also wrote 1980’s The Blues Brothers) and Harold Ramis (co-writer of Animal House, Stripes and 1980’s Caddyshack; director of Caddyshack and 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation).

“I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

A couple of years ago I was in a record session for the animated series, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. One of the stars of that show was Brian Doyle-Murray, the venerable character actor who has been a mainstay in comedy films and television since the late 70’s. During the session, Brian’s cell phone began to buzz, interrupting the session. Brian, the consummate professional, was a little embarrassed as he pulled out the phone to turn it off. However, when he looked at the caller ID, he paused and said, “Uh, I have to take this real quick.” Then he answered the phone, “Hey Bill, I’m in the middle of a record session.” I have no idea what he said after that because my eyes went wide and I turned around to look  at the recording engineer and the voice director, who both had the same expression I did. “That’s Bill Murray on the phone,” we all said, like giddy little boys.

Obviously, Bill Murray calling his brother shouldn’t be a big deal, but to anyone who grew up in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Bill Murray was king. Just even in the same room in which he was on the phone made this small group of us feel privileged. Bill Murray was the guy you imagined you could toss back a couple of beers with, discuss baseball or politics, and probably laugh your ass off for hours. I watched all of his movies on VHS at one point during the early 80’s. including the perplexing Where the Buffalo’s Roam and Murray’s first true dramatic film, The Razor’s Edge. Even though those movies didn’t work for me, I still appreciated that he was taking risks as an artist.

In 1993, Columbia Pictures release what may be argued as Murray’s greatest film achievement, Groundhog Day. I believe the film surprised a lot of people as it wasn’t your typical slapstick comedy, as we’d all come to expect from Murray.  In Groundhog Day, longtime Murray fans, like me, were dazzled by the actor’s ability to incorporate the many facets of his acting career into a single performance, helping to create one of his most memorable characters, Phil Connors.

I believe it was Shakespeare’s King Lear who said, “When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.” He was kind of a pill, that King Lear. Because let’s face it, what would life be without fools to keep us entertained and occupied, and make us feel smarter than maybe we actually are? It would be the PBS NewsHour, that’s what.

Of course, in real life we have no shortage of fools. (I’m not mentioning any names. Sarah Palin.) But what about in the cinema? In honor of April Fool’s Day, here’s a random sampling of film fools who may have spread their film foolery over the years.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989). I’d already pretty much written off Mel Gibson after the whole anti-Semitic rant episode, but I really got upset when he mouthed off to that reporter in Chicago. Maligning an entire religion is bad enough, but don’t mess with journalists, Mel. You might make one of us mad, and then we’ll talk about you behind your back.

But while I’m loath to recommend any of Mr. Gibson’s work these days, no discussion of cinematic fools would be complete without Joe Pesci’s Leo Getz. Pesci had been little-seen since his intense role in Raging Bull (1980), and was still a year shy of his Oscar-winning turn in Goodfellas when he stole this movie right out from under Gibson and Danny Glover. Just think, if it weren’t for Pesci, we still might not know what they do to you in the drive-through.

It’s been a while since I’ve contributed a Farkakte Film Flashback here at Popdose, but I have a good excuse: I’m freakin’ freezing! It’s hard to type when you’re under three layers of sweater and a Snuggie.

Still, winter can be an evocative time, especially in cinema. In movies like Fargo, A Simple Plan and The Shining, the season is almost like another character in the film: a big, cold, snowy character. And even when it’s subtler, like in some of the flicks below, that cold winter wind almost always packs some dramatic bite. Especially if they’ve got the AC cranked in the theater.

So enjoy the snowbound random rewind below, share your wintery cinematic suggestions in the comments, and pass me my hot water bottle. If you don’t ask me where I’m going to put it, I won’t tell.

Groundhog Day (1993). I thoroughly enjoyed Groundhog Day when it came out in 1993, but frankly I can say the same thing about Hot Shots, Part Deux. Unlike that Charlie Sheen classic, though, Groundog Day has evolved over the years into what I’d argue is one of the most enduring and frankly philosophical of all screen comedies. It also makes me wonder where the heck Chris Elliot has been – Cabin Boy 2, anyone?

And for our purposes, it’s one of the great winter movies, in that Phil’s odyssey (I recall reading one estimate that his Groundhog Day must have lasted at least five years) wouldn’t have been nearly as wrenching (and hilarious) had it taken place on the Fourth of July. Being trapped in an endless summer doesn’t have nearly the comedic possibilities of an everlasting February; when Phil says, “It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be gray, and it’s gonna last you the rest of your life,” you get what he’s talking about.

You don’t know how badly I want to slap the words “Electric Boogaloo” onto the end of Ghostbusters II (1989). Actually, I think any movie sequel whose title ends with the number two should have “Electric Boogaloo” tacked on.

Think of all the possibilities. Grease 2: Electric Boogaloo. The Godfather Part II: Electric Boogaloo. Or my favorite, Kill Bill Vol. 2: Electric Boogaloo.

But I digress. Then again, I didn’t really start anything from which to digress, did I? Sorry about that — my brain crossed the streams. (Thank you, thank you. I’m here all week.)

I’ll bet you’re wondering why I’m writing about Ghostbusters II when I haven’t written about the first Ghostbusters yet. Well, first of all, the sequel’s soundtrack is out of print and harder to find than the original’s. Second of all, this soundtrack has BOBBAAAYYY!!! (if you don’t speak cracked-out Whitney, I’m referring to Bobby Brown) and Run-D.M.C. on it. Also, after the serious tone of last week’s post, I wanted to write about something silly. And finally, because I’m still in disbelief that Hollywood’s going to make “Ghostbusters III. (I know Pete from Ickmusic and Jason Hare are disappointed that this post isn’t about Short Circuit 2 or Cocoon: The Return, but I hope they’ll get over it.)

city-of-emberCity of Ember, the most recent film from Walden Media, starts on a bit of a downer. In a post-apocalyptic era, a city has been built deep in the earth’s core, presumably to protect the human race from nuclear fallout. The great minds that created this underworld, City of Ember, have also come up with an exit plan to be initiated 200 years after the human race is sent below the surface. The plans for this escape are kept in a steel box with special key card and directions to help humans begin anew up top. In the course of the 200 years, the care of the metal box was passed down from mayor to mayor, each one given instructions of what to do once the 200 years is up. Unfortunately, one of the mayors died suddenly, taking the secrets to preserving humanity with him. When the film begins, the city is falling apart. The huge generator that powers the City of Ember is running out of juice, creating treacherous blackout; food is scarce; and the mayor of the City, a man who should have the citizens’ best interest in mind, is hoarding the scarce supplies for himself.

The heroes of City of Ember are two teenagers, Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfeet. As the film opens, Doon and Lina are assigned jobs, careers they are to hold for the rest of their lives. Doon, a highly intelligent young man, is in pipe works and Lina, a speedy girl, is a messenger. Doon, convinced that the generator is about to die, believes he knows how to fix it. Although he’d rather be an electrician, he takes advantage of his job, learning everything he can about the plumbing of the city and how it all connects to the generator. Meanwhile, Lina shines in her role as a messenger. It’s upon delivering a message to the Mayor that we discover that Lina is a direct descendant of the mayor who died. Soon thereafter, she discovers the metal box and the secrets to saving the human race. When Doon and Lina uncover how the mayor has been cheating and stealing from his people, they confront him only to be labeled treasonous and hunted by the authorities. Together, they alone must figure out the clues and unlock the secrets of the City of Ember.

When I was living in Johannesburg, I spent about four months dating a woman who worked as a professional editor for film and television commercials. She put together a video of surfing clips for me to help me promote “Groundswell,” and while I was thrilled with what she did, I never had a full appreciation of just how much work video editing is until I tried my own hand at the task. As you might have seen three weeks ago, my own project was ridiculously simple. It consisted of a single image, a few simple fades, a sequence of white text scrolling over a black background, and a single splice of video pilfered from the end of a movie to include the final few logos that are standard issue for every credit reel. Getting these few things done kept me up until 4 AM during one evening and 2 AM on another.

I think editing is, from the audience’s perspective, the most underrated aspect of filmmaking. A film cannot be great without great editing. Lousy editing can ruin what would otherwise be a great film. And while clever editing will never be enough to save 90 minutes’ worth of crummy material, if you’re willing to claim that you’ve never in your lifetime been hoodwinked into seeing an awful movie simply on the strength of a well-edited preview, then I’m willing to call you a liar.