Movies

Word of Mouth 12.15.2012

Dec 14, 2012
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An anthropologist embeds herself with hackers. Santa opens shop in Hooksett. A Hobbit scholar explains why Tolkien fascinates. Women comedians find success on through podcasts. And the very interesting history...of boredom.

Part 1:

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Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Vertigo” recently knocked Citizen Kane off its 50-year perch as the best film of all time. That’s according to the Sight & Sound poll, a survey of critics and film industry pros published every ten years.

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Adjusted for inflation, the Bond series is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time, pulling in more than five billion dollars to date. Skyfall – 007’s 25th outing – took in 87.8- million dollars this past weekend ; it was the highest domestic opening ever for a Bond film.

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With the glut of content available on Netflix, cable, and even YouTube, summertime TV longer has the monopoly on re-runs. Well, a new study reveals that watching reruns doesn’t only kill time. It may actually be good for you.  Tom Jacobs is a science writer with Pacific Standard.

Plus...we did a little man-on-the-street survey about re-runs, asking regular folks, "What show or movie can you watch over and over again?" 

Photo by Andrea Metz, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Now that The Hunger Games has killed off the competition for spring box office, Hollywood is gearing up for summer. We’ll get the Batman finale, a Spiderman re-boot, new animated heroes from Pixar and Disney, and comedies from Will Ferrell, and Adam Sandler.  Garen Daly is film consultant for Zeotrope Media is here to preview of some films that won’t break box office records.

(Photo by Sarah Ackerman via Flickr Creative Commons)

Here at Word of Mouth, we frequently crack wise about bizarre stories by imitating that ubiquitous announcer voice from movie and video game trailers…the one who always beginning with “In a world where…"

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

After shooting in London, Barcelona and Paris, Woody Allen made his latest European backdrop Rome. To Rome With Love opens Friday in Italy — in Italian.

The movie is a magnificent postcard of the eternal city — a carefree romp along cobblestone streets nestled between ancient ruins and Renaissance palaces. A soft yellow glow pervades every scene. It projects an image of the sweet life with all the charms under the Italian sun, set to the tune of old standbys like "Volare" and "Arrivederci Roma."

At the start of a bright, sunny day that seems otherwise like any other day, a popular teacher is found dead in her classroom. It was suicide.

The school is traumatized, especially that teacher's students. By the next day, the principal is at her wits' end trying to find someone willing to take the class. So when Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag) offers to teach, it comes at just the right moment.

Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg met in high school and went on to create the Harold and Kumar stoner comedies. Their new movie is American Reunion, the latest installment of the American Pie franchise.

Greta Gerwig, who stars in Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress, has made a name in indie films like Greenberg with a style that stands out for its naturalism. In Damsels, she inhabits the role of Violet, a bright, sweet, sincere college girl as only a bright, sweet, sincere former college girl could.

Bill Duke knew he was going to get flak from a lot of people before he ever turned the cameras on to film Dark Girls, a new documentary about the painful encounters dark-skinned black women experience in a society where lighter is usually considered better.

It's a subject that has, more often than not, been considered taboo to discuss outside the black community. So Duke knew making a general-distribution movie about color prejudice within the black community was definitely going to rub some black folks the wrong way.

A growing number of American professionals have moved to China in the last decade to ride the economic boom. While much of the news coming out of the country is serious stuff — political repression, trade disputes, tainted food — for American expatriates, day-to-day life in China can be chaotic, exciting and often funny.

Time now for a home viewing recommendation from NPR's movie critic, Bob Mondello. He's found himself swept up this week by the 70th Anniversary edition boxed set of Casablanca.

The Lorax

Mar 28, 2012
Reuters/San Diego Police Department/Handout

The box office success of the new Universal Pictures animated feature film “The Lorax” - based on a classic Dr. Seuss tale – creates a window of opportunity to consider environmental messaging to a new generation of future leaders. The original Seuss tale is beloved. I can still recite it from memory. “Tell us ‘The Lorax’ Dad!” my kids would beg. Like all Seuss books, The Lorax features rhymes, nuances and a moral.

In Japan, 'Sliced-Up Actors' Are A Dying Breed

Mar 28, 2012

Japan is home to Asia's oldest and largest motion-picture industry, with its own unique genres and traditions. While every film industry has stuntmen, only Japan has a class of actors whose main job is to be sliced and diced by samurai sword-wielding protagonists. But the decline of period dramas means that this class of actors is literally a dying breed.

This summer, U.S. archer Khatuna Lorig hopes to return to the Olympic Games. But she's already helped put archery into The Hunger Games this spring — by training the film's star, Jennifer Lawrence, to shoot.

In the kill-or-be-killed competition in the film drawn from Suzanne Collins' book, Lawrence's character, Katniss Everdeen, relies on her ability with a bow. And Lorig worked with the actress to ensure she had proper form.

'October Baby' Tells A Story Hollywood Wouldn't

Mar 27, 2012

October Baby tells the story of 19-year-old Hannah, a first-year college student, who leaves home on a search for her birth mother. In many ways, it's a Hollywood-style road trip movie dealing with questions of identity, but at the movie's core is also a vigorous message about abortion.

In one scene, Hannah tracks down a nurse who worked at the health clinic where her birth mother had sought an abortion — one that failed when Hannah was born prematurely.

Hollywood is dominated at the moment by the upcoming release of The Hunger Games, the first film adaptation of a phenomenally successful series of young adult novels set in a dystopian, divided America, where teenagers from different regions are pitted against each other for survival.

21 Jump Street sits atop the box office this week. It is a reboot of the late 1980's television hit about cops going undercover in high schools.  Turns out there are real-life police officers on the high school hallway beat, and, as Slate reporter Will Oremus uncovered, there are specific strategies these fre

When 21-year-old Kevin Smith decided he wanted to be a filmmaker, his sister gave him some advice: "Don't say you want to be a filmmaker; just be one." So he did. He made his first film, Clerks, on a shoestring, shooting at the convenience store where he worked.

The film Mosquita y Mari — the first narrative feature by a Chicana director to screen at the Sundance Film Festival — is both the singular vision of writer-director Aurora Guerrero and a crowdsourced production that could not have been made without multiple communities coming together.

Robert De Niro's last outing with director Paul Weitz was less than auspicious: The comedy Little Fockers received terrible reviews. Being Flynn, their second collaboration, is a more serious affair about the estranged relationship between a fractious father and his son.

A new study from researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that the more movies teenagers watch with images of alcohol, the more likely teens will start drinking. The study also found that an increase in movie watching was a major risk factor for teens who already drink to start binge drinking.

The movie Act of Valor, which opened in theaters last weekend and earned nearly $25 million, was commissioned by the Navy's Special Warfare Command to drum up recruits for its elite SEALs program. But this is by no means the first movie made with the military's cooperation.

Before they made it to the Oscars, the nominated films — not to mention all the films that didn't make the cut — were viewed by some 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Many of those movies were shown in small, private, rented screening rooms all over Hollywood.

The studios have their own screening rooms, of course, but often directors want a more private place to screen works in progress — with no studio suits in sight.

A battered wooden skiff motors along the horn of East Africa. Onboard are a half-dozen men clutching AK-47s and debating whether they'll need to shoot. They are Somali pirates.

Or rather, they're actors playing Somali pirates in a short feature film titled Fishing Without Nets. It tells the story of piracy off the coast of Somalia — from the perspective of the pirates — and it won the jury prize for short filmmaking at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Photo by MacGuffin Podcast, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

This year’s list of Oscar nominees for best film is heavy on nostalgia The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris. We go to the movies to escape talk of politics, foreclosures and the economy, after all. One exception is Margin Call, a smart, tightly-wound thriller nominated for best original screenplay. The film tracks the key players and catastrophic decisions made at a venerable investment firm over 36 crucial hours.

Blame Jar Jar Binks.

If George Lucas had never created that annoying, slapstick-prone CGI character in The Phantom Menace, history would be different. No amount of "meesa so sorry" can make up for this abomination. And to add insult to injury, Lucas is sending a 3D Jar Jar Binks into theaters on February 10th.

Too Bad to be True

Feb 2, 2012

Anyone who’s ever said reality is stranger than fiction… hasn’t seen too many movies about football. In football movies, losing your star quarterback doesn’t ruin your team’s season, it just means the backup guy pulls off last-second trick plays… and in the movies, your team’s chances of victory are less tied to players or strategy than to the coach’s inspiring locker room speech. Take Al Pacino’s half time talk, in the movie Any Given Sunday:

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