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The New Serg Beret

Talking and Writing About Cinema Since 2012

Month

September 2013

Film A Week 37: Doctor Who- The Movie (1996)

United Kingdom. November 23rd, 1963.

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy the day before loomed in the air internationally due to his public figure. On a sleepy evening in the UK, a character that would prove to be timeless appeared in a serial series to below than the average ratings and nearly face cancellation. Yet, the second part of the series introducing the terrifying robotic alien beings was met with higher ratings and acclaim. From that day forth, countless novels, episodes, radio broadcasts, specials and fans have been made to all devote their love to a character that has inspired everyone for the past fifty years.

That character’s name is The Doctor.

Doctor Who has been one of the most beloved British characters alongside James Bond and Oliver Twist. The series has gone to create a following that even Trekkies would call a bit over the top. Saving the universe from Daleks, Cybermen and The Master while alongside companions like Sarah Jane, Rose Tyler and Amy Pond, our favorite Time Lord from Gallifrey for a moment gives up in his moments of anguish to his moments of bravery.

From First Doctor William Hartnell to the Forth Doctor of Tom Baker, the generation of 60’s Britain and 70’s America had a minor wise old man. From the Sixth doctor Colin Baker (no relation to Tom) to Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, the 80’s had a marvelous time as young geeks found solace in a hero not many knew about. The revival of the Doctor with Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston (my personal favorite Doctor)  to new fan favorites Tenth Doctor David Tennant (second favorite Doctor) and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, the new Millennium to present day has made the Doctor go from a nerd culture to a mainstream household name internationally with younger Doctors giving perspective.

Wait a minute, what in the hell happened to the 90’s? That is where today’s film comes in with the made for television film, 1996’s Doctor Who: The Movie featuring the lost and forgotten Eighth Doctor.

Week 37

The BBC teamed up with Universal Studios & Fox in order to make the television film that would revive the series, not only in the UK, but in the States as well. Paul McGann stepped in to tackle the role of the Doctor as he is stuck in San Francisco on December 31st, 1999 with amnesia and the TARDIS is damaged and needing a beryllium atomic clock to get in back in order. The Doctor teams up with Dr. Grace Halloway, played by Daphne Ashbrook, in order to save the world before the clock strikes midnight.  The Master, played by Eric Roberts, the only American to play a major role in Doctor Who, returns to find the Doctor, has also returned to steal his body and take control of the universe by manipulating Chang Lee, played by Yee Jee Tso, who was present at the Doctor’s ‘death’ and has his sonic screwdriver and yo-yo.

The movie itself is an interesting case as it is just so campy. Not that it is a bad thing, but this is as close to a campy American version of this series as one can get because it feels so grounded in the campy action-adventure film of the 90’s alongside pulpy cheese fests like The Rocketeer and The Phantom. That is a compliment because campy films are one of my favorite guilty pleasures, so bias is expected. It features fast-paced action, giant set-pieces for the hell of it and goofy off the wall humor that is to be expected from any classic Doctor Who adventure. It has American touches from being set in the States with stereotypical cliches like the obnoxious fat guy to the emotionless security guards and gangs in San Francisco who run away from danger.

The film moves along quite smoothly with McGann’s nervous yet filled with delight Doctor running around hoping to make sure the day is saved and distracting people with Jellybabies while threatening to kill himself. Even better is that since the Doctor is without his signature tools of the trade, it is a more grounded in reality Doctor without losing the focus of why the Doctor is a outstanding character. Daphne as Grace is a bit of an annoyance at the beginning, but finds her footing in her short time as the Doctor’s companion. Serving as the audience surrogate for the unfamiliar American audience, Grace actually fills some holes that American would give a resounding “What the fuck are they talking about?” face while hearing. Tso as Chang Lee is very mediocre at best looking like he is their for a steady paycheck and wants nothing out of this film.

Now, as for Eric Roberts as the Master, he was having a goddamn ball. Eric Roberts knows how to be an asshole to a tee that casting him as the Master is far from a farfetched idea. The only downside that would be for fans would be that The Master is American, which I find is complete crap because he is also from Gallifrey and can be whoever he damn well pleases. It’s Eric Roberts at his most campy even arriving in a Fu Man Chu style outfit in the Doctor’s TARDIS, which for some reason looks like a more elaborate version of Legends of the Hidden Temple set, but I digress.

Doctor Who: The Movie did not succeed in television ratings, but it probably has to due with more unfamiliarity of the character rather than its content. It is odd writing that sentence now since the series has grown into a massive success around the world. The Eighth Doctor continues his life in novels, audio dramas and comics where he has become a cult favorite. Maybe one day he will return.

As it is the 50th anniversary of the character, I do have kind words to share.

The Doctor is a character for anyone to look at and aspire to be like. He sees the universe as a magnificent creation with stunning ideas and people of different walks of life coming together.  He sees the flaws and perfections in people, admires them and never for a second regrets ever meeting them for the importance they have brought.  He cannot guarantee the safety of others he knows that even is the wonder he universe holds, danger lurks around every corner, yet does whatever in his power to prevent harm. He embraces the now and embraces the past and views the world in a realistic sense while maintaining optimism. He is a lover and a fighter. He is a kid at heart and an old soul. He is an intelligent being that does not go out of his way to make himself better than anyone else.

He may be a 900 year-old Time Lord, but he is more human than anyone we could ever know.

Happy 50th, Doctor Who. May there be 50 more years of exploring, excellence and inspiration.

You are and always will be…

Next week on Film A Week, the final animated feature to be chosen for Film A Week is here and it is a big one. Twenty five years ago, anime was given exposure in the West due to a anime that changed the way people and critics saw animation and created a game changer in the cinematic world. Hop on your motorcycle and get ready to enter a world that even myself has yet to explore. The world of… AKIRA.

Film A Week 38: Akira (1988)

Saturday, September 28th

Kickstarter Projects: Carver- A Horror Film By Emily DiPrimio

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Written by Jesus Figueroa

Thirteen year old Emily DiPrimio along with her father Ron DiPrimio set out to make Emily’s dream of making a horror movie a reality.
That film is “Carver” and it has already been in development.
“Carver is about a group of teenagers who are haunted by a despicable act they committed when they were younger. Their actions caused the deaths of three innocent people. Now on the anniversary of those deaths an ominous calling card, in the form of a carved pumpkin has been placed at each of their homes. Someone is out for revenge…the question is who?,” Emily said.
The classic style of slasher films is apparent in the with the storyline but plans are to make this film stand out. The inspiration comes from classic horror films which utilize props and special effects rather than Computer Generated Images.
“What we tried to do with the script is make it a combination of the two basic slasher film types from the 80’s. We know Jason, Michael, and Freddie are the one’s doing the killing. Where in My Bloody Valentine and The Prowler it’s more of a slasher who done it. Our movie combines the two…there is a relentless, seemingly unstoppable killer but no one will know who the killer is until the end,” Emily said.
Emily is not only working on making her dream of making a horror slasher film tribute to classic horror but has been acting on an upcoming web series. This young actress worked until an injury stopped her from furthering her work as the leading role.
“We were working on a web series called Violet. I was the lead actress in the show. After we filmed some of the first episode my ankle and foot were black and blue and swollen. I ended up needing ankle surgery that had me on the shelf for 12 weeks. I was depressed because I really believed in Violet and was having a blast doing the show. My dad saw this and asked me to help he write a screenplay he had been thinking about writing for a long time. It was a slasher film called CARVER. The next thing I knew the 12 weeks flew by and we had a script,” Emily said.
The inspiration that drives is the joy that Emily has for watching the classic horror slasher films.
“The last slasher film I enjoyed was Friday the 13th IV. I am only 13 and I am not going to pretend that I have seen every slasher film. There are a lot of movies that I still need to see and I am steadily working my way though my dad’s DVD collection. I really enjoyed Friday the 13th IV. It is what a slasher movie should be fun, scary, and bloody,” Emily said.
She likes the old style horror films because they don’t utilize CGI and that makes for a more realist feel.
“It (CGI) just looks bad. No one bleeds like that. Old school make up effects just look cooler and more authentic. Special effects make up is an art form and when I watch a lot of horror films nowadays it seems like a dying one,” Emily said.
If funded the film will quickly go through pre-production and will start production in the first quarter of 2014.
Emily said, “If we are luck enough to get funded we would like to begin filming in April 2014 and have a finished film ready for our backers in October 2014.”
Visit their kickstarter here

Kickstarter Projects- “Bereave” A New Feature starring Malcolm McDowell

Written by Jesus Figueroa

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Feature length film “Bereave” looks to crowd-funding to take this project from development to pre-production and production.

The feature film set to star Malcolm McDowell and Jane Seymour needs the support from the crowd to get to the next step.
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The Giovanis brothers head this Kickstater. They are passionate about this film and have been trying to fund this project since 2008.
With three films having had a good response on the film festival circuit and having won awards at some of these prestigious film festivals, the Giovanis brothers look to crowd-funding as a way to improve their film.
With every film trying to be better than their previous film, their new film “Bereave” combines a great cast with a good storyline.
“Fatally ill and unable to reveal this secret to his family, Garvey thinks he has figured out how to die alone. Suffering the mortal fears, Garvey’s behavior becomes erratic. But when his beloved wife Evelyn mysteriously goes missing on their anniversary – he must live to save her! In that short time, Garvey realizes what life still has to offer and in following his journey; we do too.”
The Giovanis brothers are asking for $100,000 to make a feature film. How will this project be made with such a low budget?
The $100,000 Kickstater project is just part of the funding, an “angel” investor will match up to 50% of the crowd-funding.
There is only a short amount of time left to fund this project and they have some good incentives for supporters. Take a look at their Kickstarter video and see what this project is all about.
“Bereave” Kickstarter link: http://kck.st/15oAyoa

Film A Week: The Spooktacular Seventies Starting October 5th (Guest Writers Welcomed)

SpookTacular70sPreview

Hey readers, Film A Week is headed to the Seventies in order to celebrated a decade where horror was thrilling. The month of October is the host of All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween to everyone else, and Samhain to my Pagan pals) and I wanted to celebrate by diving into some film I never seen in the genre. Luckily, a majority of them are from the Seventies.

For Weeks 39 to 43, nothing but horror throughout the month featuring classics like The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the DeadIt is going to be a month of thrills, chills and gore like never before. I would also love some help from those across the WordPress circle to come in a give their take and thoughts on the films themselves in guest spots or even write an entire Film A Week post. It is up to you and I am willing to collaborate with just about anybody. This is one of my favorite times of the year, so I hope October will be nothing but a blast.

Thanks for your time and I cannot wait for this to happen,
Sergio J. Berrueta

In the Cyber World: A One Year Anniversary Special

Today was an average day. I woke up from a pretty decent sleep I do not remember getting into since I passed out after a long day at my school. I put on my clothes after having showered the night before and went back to East Los Angeles College to embrace in the world of hard-hitting journalism, studying and wasting my thoughts on personal emotions stirred up inside. Entering my first class adjacent to the newsroom, I went to my desk computer and sent in an application and logged into WordPress, only to find that it has been a year since this site launch. Really? It’s been a year already I thought to myself. A year spent on dedicating my thoughts on cinema, a fictional British character, spreading poems and trying to make sure this is not a huge vanity project. After a year, I am glad to say, damn, it really has been quite a year.

I first started this blog with a purpose and that purpose was to share my opinions, thoughts and humorous notes. The blog never found its proper footing until the pretentious as hell (yes, I can finally admit that looking back on it) 007 in 23 series focusing on James Bond. It gave me the will to write again everyday and pursue this as a potential career even if I end up broke. Between November and December though, I started to neglect the blog as I started the groundwork to work on a personal pet project of mine I wanted to make: Film A Week.

FilmaWeek

Film A Week is my child and one that I wanted to make go from just me writing to getting other people involved into writing it. It was created to entertain  and spun from the 007 in 23 series to continue writing more. I also dived into Personal Ramblings and posting old poetry and lyrics. With FAW, I wanted to collaborate and expand to have others involved. Even better was collaborating with my mentor and friend Jesus Figueroa of Thisfunktional.com & IWatchMike.com and eight other websites god knows he works for to expand my personal goals. I even got more in touch with my cohorts in the ELAC Campus News team that are nothing short of amazing. Hell, I even worked alongside Jesus at the Anime Expo 2013 and it was fantastic as hell. Never for a second would I trade that experience for the world. FAW is not over and I am not finished collaborating and this site is certainly here to stay, yet something just does not seem right. This how venture would not be possible without a majority of people I wish to thank right now. I may get emotional while writing, so bare with it please.

Tissues here if needed

First off, let me thank the amazing group of people I work with known as the ELAC Campus News team.

I want to start off with Erik Luna who was one of the first people besides Jesus to step up to the plate to write a review for this site. Personally, Erik is a leader and a good natured person who hates to see anything bad happen to anyone and, somehow, puts up with me. Next, Lindsey Maeda, who I served under before for one semester, worked alongside her on laying out a page back when I was a mere copyeditor and now happily serving under again. This woman is remarkable with a kind soul and a pure delight to be around. Without her, I would be lost in the journalism sea confused, hungry and wondering what in the hell I got myself into.

Also getting me out of the muck is Danny Vasquez, who was originally going to write for a review, but had to cancel. This man is brilliant, courageous and taught me that I should not worry because I am alive and being alive is what I should be happy about. Former Editor-in-Chief Megan Perry who is now venturing on her own course helped build me into a better writer and editor. She taught me the importance of working with others, how to appreciate everyone around my world, flaws and all.  Another important person as part of staff is Jesus Figueroa who has contributed to this site countless times, be it sharing press releases, writing reviews or even just promoting his site, Jesus has been a part of this small site. Without his contribution both online and offline, I do not think I could be where I am today. Finally, a former Veteran of the Campus News, Veronica Hurtado for contributing her review of Roman Holiday on short notice and coming through surprisingly well. She is pretty darn awesome and knows what she is talking about.

Everyone from the staff writers to the photo people are beyond brilliant and a mixture of personalities that no one would ever think about ever working together. Yet, somehow, it makes the ELAC Campus News keep going and striving to be something more than a paper.

To my friends, I have kind words for you as well. My best friend, Gerardo Monroy aka Jerry has not been featured on the site just yet. This man I met back in the year 2004 and has been my best friend since then. With his honesty and confident nature, he has helped me grow into a stronger man. Jerry is a friend I never that I would be able to have around in my life and earns the title of my best friend for many reasons. I would not trade him for the world unless Dianna Agron were to walk right into the room we are in, then I would trade him.

Seriously, Jerry, I would

To all my other friends, I have too many to thank for their individual contributions, so screw it, I made a list:

  • Alejandra Carrillo for teaching the harshest of lessons I needed a refresher on
  • Antonio Uribe for letting me understand I can be a nerd and damn proud of it
  • Rosuara Montes for giving me the will to see the beauty of romance and regain confidence I lost
  • Alex Aguayo for allowing me to see that I can be comfortable in my own skin and with who I am
  • Marissa Roxanne Brown for being one of the first ‘fans’ on the internet who supports everything I do
  • Ilse Torres for showing me that I can break out of my comfort zone and to take risks
  • Jasmin Acosta for telling me that I can be more open to possibilities
  • Andrew Miramontes for being a down to earth person that showed me that reality is what we make of it

Trust me, that is just a few out of the many people I absolutely appreciate. If I could list more of them, this post would already be longer than it is now.

Finally, a nice thank you to my family. My family keeps me going and believes I can make it from where I once was. Before in the past, I would have been a lost cause and stuck somewhere much worse, but due to their words of wisdom, I am glad to be alive and ready for the next step. The main person that keeps me going is my grandfather who never for a second lost hope in my accomplishment. He knows exactly what I have gone through to achieve my potential goals and more. I love that man more than anything in the world. My mother is also another person that keeps me going for the same reason as my grandfather, but encouraged me to take new adventures and explore my world further, something she said she wish she had the chance to do. To every else in the family from my darling sister Jennifer to my uncles Ricky and Alex, I appreciate every waking moment they are involved in.

As for the future of this site, it is wait and see at this point. There are a ton of things I am working on and will want to happen soon for the site and in my personal life like a nice internship. Till whatever I decide to do in order to move further, this post was all of the ones that are here for me, the site and will be in the future.

Film A Week 36: City Lights (1931)

The silent era of features were coming to a close by the end of the late 1920’s and the popularity of the sound feature was in full bloom by 1931. Charlie Chaplin on the other hand continued to pursue the silent features knowing his Tramp character would not transfer into the new era of cinema. The Tramp character relies on pure slapstick and visual gags, not spoken word humor. Chaplin decided to give his Tramp character another silent feature (though far from the Tramp’s last appearance since Modern Times would be made after) to see if it would succeed with audiences. Preview screening did not go over well, giving Chaplin little hope in the feature that lingered until its initial release. What happened after was something no one thought a silent feature could pull off during that time…it succeeded and widely regarded as not only the finest outing of the Tramp character, but one of the finest moments in Chaplin’s career next to The Great Dictator.

Week 36

1931’s City Lights sends the beloved Tramp on a whirlwind adventure of him pursuing a blind flower girl, played by Virginia Cherill, and befriends a drunk millionaire, played by Harry Myers. The Tramp learns along the way that he may have feelings for this woman and goes out of his way to help her, all while dealing with the wild and down and out nature of the drunk millionaires escapades.

City Lights is actually quite as simple of a feature as that brief summary because of the way it flows. The film plays like a series of vignettes that are connected by the pursue of the girl. The Tramp goes through being a street sweeper, getting drunk and nearly fighting a dancer and goes toe to toe in the boxing ring in order to get a decent if not sizable pay cut. The film itself is a marvel of silent comedy with precise timing and off the wall humor that only Chaplin or Buster Keaton could have provided. The boxing match is the true highlight with Chaplin literally flying though the air to deliver a blow, the referee getting knocked out and just pure animated nonsense.

The true heart of this is how tremendous the romance is between the blind flower girl and the Tramp. She does not know who the man is, but assumes he is a wealthy gentlemen due to his kindness and the sound of a large car door slamming. She also knows he is more than that with a heart of gold and caring nature that is boundless, something certain rich gentlemen at that time were not. The Tramp knows she is blind, but adores her for being the nice and sweet in nature girl she is. He does everything just to make her happy and proud. Their affection for one another is so powerful in its simplicity that when the Tramp goes out of his way to deliver the ultimate romantic gesture, the ending creates a perfect impact to the hopeless romantic in all of us. Personally, I was crying for a good minute or two due to it.

Chaplin’s score for the film guides the feature along to great heights with the leitmotif of the blind flower girl being the highlight. It uses with bliss and hopefulness to create an aura about her being. It is marvelous what a simple piece of music can do. That is what makes this film great; it’s simplicity. All the film relies on is the acting and the music to set it apart from the rest and capturing that simplicity makes it grounded in a reality that feels genuine. City Lights is one of the greats for being simple and being a utter and complete joy.

Next week, Film A Week decides to explore film on the small screen by getting into another time travel voyage. This time around, we join the eighth regeneration of The Doctor (Paul McGann) and hop in his TARDIS as he takes on his arch nemesis The Master (Eric Roberts) in Doctor Who: The Movie (1996).

Film A Week 37: Doctor Who: The Movie (1996)

Saturday, September 21st

 

Top of the Crop: Ten Animated Features That Should Be in the Criterion Collection

The Criterion Collection constantly releases and carefully picks films considered to be inspiring, surreal, test what can done in cinema, obscure gems and classics that stand the test of time. Yet, within this boundless collection lies very little in the way of animation. Odd that a collection devoted to covering coveted features would have hardly any animation on its slate. Besides releasing Akira on Criterion Laserdisc back in 1995, no other animated movie has been chosen. No animated features, but somehow, the craptacular Heaven’s Gate and multimillion dollar cliche fest Armageddoen got released. Where in the hell is the justice in that? As an animation fan, this is dismal and recommend these excellent animated features get added sometime in the near future. For the sake of the list, I am avoiding Disney, Pixar & Studio Ghibli features since those features get stellar releases via their own respective studios. Criterion, take note.

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10. Heavy Metal (1981)

An anthology of surreal visuals, different art styles and pure stoner insanity, Heavy Metal brings the beloved cult magazine to life on the big screen. The soundtrack combining the early 80’s biggest rockers from Sammy Hagar to Journey to Devo is impressive guiding each story along. The stories themselves range from science fiction to fantasy not shying away from showing what cannot be soon in children’s animation. The voice cast features prominent Canadian actors at the time with John Candy and Eugene Levy appearing in a majority of the segments. The film takes risk and would be a treat to see added in.

9. The Thief and the Cobbler (1992, ’93, ’95 & 2006)

Richard William’s pet project The Thief and the Cobbler suffered a disastrous history of production starting in 1964 and ending production around 1992 with Allied Filmmakers and Miramax Films turning it into a Aladdin rip-off. The film itself is much more than that with the various reworked version of The Recobbled Cut by Garrett Gilchrist being the most complete version of the original feature and as close to the workprint as possible. The animation in the film is beyond compare with every detail intricately drawn and making outrageous near CGI effects all by hand without a computer ever touching the finished product. Vincent Price’s voice works well as Zig Zag with a menacing yet flamboyant nature intimidating the audience. With the troubled production still lingering to this day, it would be a shame not to dive deeper into this forgotten gem.

8. Coonskin (1975)

Ralph Baski may very well be the godfather of alternative animation with his works Fritz the Cat examining the drug-fueled nature of adulthood and Wizards examining a neo-fantasy post-apocalyptic wasteland that borders on Nazism. However, his highly controversial Coonskin is perfect for addition. Taking on the blaxpolitation genre with a  warped version of Uncle Remus Br’er Rabbit tales, Coonskin uses racial stereotypes to focus on satirizing the concept of racism and the mobster genre that was booming in the 70’s. Bashki’s unique and exaggerated style shines through combining realistic photography and Looney Tunes-esque animation to create a new vision that even live-action would never dare to go.

7. The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Breaking away from the reign figureheads of Disney, Don Bluth took off and decided to adapted the novel The Secret of NIMH into his masterpiece directorial debut. An acclaimed novel itself, NIMH showed off the visual style Bluth learned while at Disney and surpassed anything Disney did in the 80’s by diving deep into a dark story with a strong female lead, both ideas unheard of at this time in animation. The light fantasy aspects are here and there, but its main focus is to tell the journey of Ms. Brisby leading to her becoming more than she ever could know. It never skips a beat and does not dumb down any of the story for the sake of being children’s fare. This one is a special case as it has been released time and time again, but its addition would benefit from going into what makes this feature unique from the rest of the Dark Age drivel Disney was putting out.

6. Watership Down (1978)

Take the already familiar and cute nature of rabbits and turn it on its head to create an epic of survival and the risks one takes in order to find a new home. Like Secret of NIMH, using its focus on nice animation that seems intended for children, Watership gives that the bird a focuses on the journey at hand with bloodshed galore, concepts only a modern thriller had and the tone of hope shining through the bleakness of the near loss of humanity the rabbits from the Warren. John Hurt leads the cast with his booming vulnerable voice waiting for the day that they might make it through their exodus. The addition of this would show that even the most innocent of creature can be a manic or destructive as the humans that surround their world.

5. Perfect Blue (1997)

Satoshi Kon’s beautiful psychological thrill ride Perfect Blue captures the brilliance of identity crisis and the paranoia of the reality that haunts the character. As Mima struggles from changing from her good girl image she had in her J-Pop girl group CHAM!, she is caught in her own trap trying to differentiate what is in her mind and what is in her reality. It does not help that their also seems to be a stalker involved in the mix creating more anxiety. With imagery of gang rape and murder, combined with a haunting score, Perfect Blue delivers an anime powerhouse that even surpasses the best of Miyazaki by deciding to follow in the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful storytelling. To induct it into Criterion would be astounding and  could also serve as a great sendoff to the late but great Satoshi Kon.

4. The Iron Giant (1999)

Continuing the trend of fantastic animation directorial debut, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant kick started the impressive career of Mr. Bird by telling a rich and beautiful tale that warms the heart. The film follows Hogarth Hughes who discovers a giant robot, voiced by an up-and-coming Vin Diesel if you could believe it, and forms an unlikely friendship until Kent Mansley and the U.S. government get a hold of the case to see where the giant is hiding. Playing on the idea of fearing the unknown is brilliant and makes for amazing satire of the Red Scare paranoia surrounding the 1950’s during the Space Race.  It was a box office bomb on release, but today is fondly remembered by those who saw it after countless airplay on television and a cult classic of the animation world. Bird is a high in demand name and this film has yet to see a proper Blu-Ray release, so imagine the possibilities of a Criterion release.

3. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

One of the oldest animated films, Prince Achmed is the grandfather of the stop-motion genre. Using intricate shadow puppets and different filters of lighting, the feature gives an interesting tale utilizing elements from 1001 Arabian Nights and created a visual treat of master craftsmanship. As Prince Achemed battles his way alongside Aladdin and the Witch of the Fiery Mountain to get back his magic lamp and defeat a wicked sorcerer. This silent features is gorgeous with an amazing score, designs inspired by ancient Persia and fluid puppetry that never loses its luster. As the precursor to hand-drawn animation, Prince Achmed could benefit from the collection by showing the world once and for all what could be done within the world of animation.

2. When the Wind Blows (1986)

When the Wind Blows takes the art style of the Christmas classic The Snowman to create a gorgeous and terrifying look at the cause and effects of a nuclear apocalypse. Following Raymond Briggs’ original book quite closely, it focuses on an elderly couple James and Hilda Bloggs as they go through nuclear fallout and slowly die  of radiation sickness despite trying to live their lives normally among the dying landscape. It is depressing as hell, but the bleak nature of the situation (which seems to be a theme in these selections) is brilliantly captured with its gorgeous animation and precious art style reminiscent of Hallmark cards. Combined with an amazing soundtrack featuring Genesis and Criterion alumni David Bowie (The Man Who Fell Through Time), this film is ripe for the powers that be at Criterion to sweep up.

1. Twice Upon A Time (1983)

This is an interesting case as many have yet to see this film (me included), but only because the Geroge Lucas produced Twice Upon A Time has yet to see the light of day on any release outside of bootlegs on YouTube and Laserdisc. The film has different version ranging from one with pure adult-language to a PG cut, uses of improvisational actors instead of legitimate actors, such as famed 80’s voice actor Lorenzo Music, and HBO had trouble even getting a decent cut that both producer Bill Couturie and director John Korty both equally enjoyed. The film is said to have the same plot of 2012’s Rise of the Gaurdians which brings up some curiosity and uses cutout animation and stop-motion to create a unique design that sets it apart from the rest. The Criterion Collection should find this film’s original cut or cuts to release and dive into the history of this long lost work.

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Kickstarter Projects- Art Therapy: The Movie

Written by Jesus Figueroa

This Kickstarter only has 10 days left and it is for a great project that explains the importance of Art Therapy. This project just seems like an amazing way to make a wider audience aware of the important role art plays in many people’s lives. They have a moderate goal of $20,000 to bring “Art Therapy: The Movie” to theaters in the spring of 2014.

The documentary will not just be of the way art affects people in the United States but rather on a world wide scale. Primarily focusing on North America, South America and Japan.

The donated money does not go to buy equipment but rather to improve on the production of the documentary by allowing for a chance to get an Emmy Award winning Editor, Animation and effects team that has experience working on projects like this documentary and for music, Grammy nominated artist are working on the soundtrack of the film.

The biggest part of the donations will go to the expense of travel, since it is the biggest cost. The film will show real people and in order to get to those real people the filmmakers have to go to where they are. The people that will be featured are all around the world and although the filmmakers don’t mind the cheaper alternatives to flying there are some places where there is no alternative.

The cost of screening the film, going on the festival circuit and distributing is a costly one and will also be part of what the donations will cover.

Please check out more of the project here.

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