Saturday, June 30, 2012


We are now exactly one week from our movie location trip, 'The Farm, The Field & The Tower'!! So it's time to do something very important in preparation: WATCH MOVIES!

This weekend we'll begin watching three films which represent the reason we're making this week-long excursion into the heartland of the US and Canada.

The Kent Farm from "Superman, The Movie" is our first stop and we'll start from opening credits all the way up through the scenes where young Kal El reaches Earth and grows into manhood. While in Canada our tour will also include Smallville High School, the railroad tracks where young Clark jumps in front of the train and hopefully the area where the Smallville Cemetary scene was shot.

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and especially "Field of Dreams" are all about where we're headed so of course we'll be watching those from start to finish. Time to make those lists of what to bring, ready airline check-in info and plan for the big party that ends this movie location adventure; two days at Comic-Con!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Movies I worked on: "Ted" and "People Like Us" open today

Two recent movies I cut broadcast spots for premiere in theatres today.

"Ted" is Seth McFarlane's first major motion picture directoral gig and I can now say that the movie is insanely funny!! It's been tough these past few months trying to keep my mouth shut about it, especially around Rebecca. We are both huge "Family Guy" fans and I knew she was going to love it....if we could just get to opening day where I wouldn't have to keep a lid on things anymore!

We'll be heading to the new Arclight Beach Cities tomorrow night for the movie while trying out a new restaurant in the Long Beach area. I have the finished broadcast spot to post but need to wait until Monday because it's quitin' time and my weekend begins NOW!

The second is "People Like Us" starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. In the film, Chris' dad dies and leaves $150,000 for him to give to a sister he never knew he even had. Deep in debt and estranged from his mother, Pine's character struggles with how to connect with his new found sibling. The movie can be sweet and definitely crosses into chick flick territory. However we're in no big rush to see this because we have so much else going on at the moment that takes precedence. I hate to say it but part of the reason is because it's more of a rental.

June has seen me immersing in a couple of Fall releases at work, including "Gangster Squad", orbiting briefly into the next "Resident Evil" and more recently "Taken 2" which I am working on right now. The summer has definitely heated up with multiple projects in house or about to drop. My involvement will pause for a week when our vacation trip, 'The Farm, The Field and The Tower' begins in a little over 7 days!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Blade Runner": Ridley Scott's iconic and multi-layered science fiction classic turns 30 today

30 years ago today, "Blade Runner" was released in theatres and was greeted with....muddled reviews and less than glowing public response. Out of this initial stumble at the box office, the movie would go on to become one of the seminal science fiction movies of all time!

Director Ridley Scott followed up the smash success of "Alien" with another visit to the science fiction genre, dipping into a Philip K. Dick novel about a seasoned ex-cop whose called upon to locate and 'retire' several replicants who'd escaped from an off-world colony to extend their very short life span by any means necessary.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" is an intricately dense book that screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Peoples had to sift through to bring the essentials of story to the surface. What ultimately appeared on screen was a world no one had ever seen before which ultimately yielded some interesting layers of it's own. Those layers wouldn't be revealed fully for another ten to fifteen years.

Of course it goes without saying that there were two very notorious aspects of "Blade Runner" during production and post production:

Harrison Ford was repeatedly at odds with Ridley Scott, never wanting to discuss the movie until it's 2007 'Final Cut' release on DVD.

Also, when shooting wrapped and Scott went into the edit room, the studio felt the story was a bit confusing and downbeat. They ultimately forced him to insert a Ford voiceover to clarify story points in the movie, as well as tacking on a 'happy ending' where Deckard and Rachel escape the confines of the dark depressing city to arrive in greener pastures.

The movie would become a trifecta for Harrison Ford who'd already just perfectly inhabited such iconic characters as Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

Ford's Deckard is pitted against Rutger Hauer's stunning performance as Roy Batty, the Nexus 6 Replicant who only wants to live longer and will do anything to ensure that.

And regardless of the antics Sean Young would reveal to the public later on, her subtle portrayal of Rachael, the replicant who doesn't realize she's artificial, would influence not only a number of female characters in future films, but also the 80's/40's retrofit dresses and hairstyles she wore.

Gymnast-turned-actress Darryl Hannah somersaulted onto the screen for the first time as Pris, the deadly pleasure model who would die for Roy. And don't forget Edward James Olmos in his first high profile big screen appearance as Gaff, the Blade Runner who ultimately knows Deckard's least if you watch the special edition.

While composer Vangelis' beautiful and haunting score perfectly established the movie's LA noir setting and retro-future, Designer Syd Mead's iconic vehicle creations, like the police Spinner and intricate sets, would also emboss the film with an undeniably unique look.

The added layer that drifted to the surface as Ridley Scott's cinematic voice was finally heard years later; is Rick Deckard a replicant? That aspect subtly overlays Harrison Ford's character as the story moves into the third act. Introduced in the 1991 director's cut, now embedded in the complete 'The Final Cut'.

Past Deckard's dream of a unicorn in the forest as well as a more knowing view of the photos he has on his piano (the 'gifted' past that Tyrell gives replicants to operate as a cushion for their emotions), Gaff's origami unicorn left at Deckard's apartment before he departs with Rachael at the very end of the movie is a revelation far from the original 1982 release.

As I watched that very cut on Saturday in The 10th Box to celebrate the 30th Anniversary, I was very aware of how the voice over seemed like a square peg going into a round hole. Even awkward at times. Mostly because I had not screened this version in awhile and and am now closer in appreciation of "The Final Cut".

No matter what though, the '82 release will always stand as the cut I first enjoyed. The funny thing is (like several critics of the time) I was actually a bit disappointed with "Blade Runner" the first time I saw it in the theatre. But it was one of those films that I really wanted to like! So I made a point of going right back the following week to see again. That's when I 'got' it. I saw what was in front of me, appreciated and embraced it.

Today, the 'Deckard's Briefcase' edition DVD box set which includes all five versions of the movie proudly sits amongst my movie collection. Oh yeah, I should add that it now also sits on my home theatre hard drive.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Getting closer to the Kent Farm property access permission

As we head into the last two weeks before our movie location tour, I've made it my mission to find out how to get in touch with the owner or owners of the property where the Kent Farm from "Superman, The Movie" is located in Alberta, Canada. For the first time I am finding myself getting closer to this information!

It's SO very important that we're able to walk onto the property, stand between the farm house and the barn and take photos to our hearts content. Sure, we can take as many as we'd like from the road. But after making what could be a once in a lifetime trip, I want to make absolutely sure we can walk right up and be where those Smallville scenes took place in the movie.

I spoke with an official just south of the farm near a small village called Blackie in Alberta. She was extremely helpful, sending photos of the property to confirm we were talking about the same place, as well as pointing me in the direction of an online site that can hopefully help out even more.

I'm not revealing any names, addresses, phone numbers or other personal information here as I want to continue to respect the owner's privacy. I will however reveal when I actually have that permission in hand. Wish me luck!

UPDATE: I now have the actual name and address of the owner of the Kent Farm property! Yes, I am in fact a movie location detective. Again, don't ask because I won't tell. Doing further research to find a proper contact avenue. It might come down to mailing a letter, probably Priority Mail because of our looming deadline, which might be less intrusive than calling if I were to pull up the phone number in the white pages.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Last leg of our movie location tour has been booked!

Last night I reserved our flight for the final stop in 'The Farm, The Field & The Tower' tour: the "Field of Dreams" baseball diamond in Dyersville, Iowa. We'll be arriving there on Thursday, July 12 and staying for a little over 24 hours.

I'm checking into what they have there for equipment. Rebecca is bringing her baseball glove but I don't think the airlines would take it too kindly if we brought bats on the flight. I can't believe they actually let you play on the field itself!

I also booked our flight to San Diego and Comic-Con for Friday, getting us in with enough time to have dinner and settle. Then it's off to the event for Saturday and Sunday. The entire trip from top to bottom has now been arranged and reserved!

Two and a half weeks until we leave for Calgary! Jeez, that got here fast!

Friday, June 15, 2012

30: complete schedule now online

The full schedule for '30' has now been posted and the festival begins tomorrow night with a double feature of "The Road Warrior" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". Woohoo! Click on the image for the complete rundown.

I'm looking forward to watching all six of these movies in a row over the next week. Some, like "Wrath of Khan", I haven't actually taken the time to screen in a number of years. That'll just make our enjoyment much more fresh.

So bring your "E.T." T-shirts and "Blade Runner" ties! The projector starts cranking up Saturday night!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

30: The Summer of 1982 Film Festival

If you're not of the Spielberg Generation or perhaps been living in Siberia for the past month then you probably don't realize that this is the 30th Anniversary of 6 movies that defined the most iconic summer of all time!

"The Road Warrior", "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", "Poltergeist", "E.T.", "Blade Runner" and "Tron" were all released within a month and a half period starting in late May of 1982. These movies would go on to redefine cinema and take their place as true classics of action, fantasy, horror and science fiction.

The Alamo Drafthouse is having a film festival all this month in honor of that pinnacle year. The only problem is their list of movies is cluttered with very forgettable fare. Flicks like "Q: The Winged Serpent", "The Sword and The Sorcerer", "Friday The 13th in 3D" and "Class of 1984" (seriously?) were never really on anyone's radar as far as long term shrine-age and I think they were just trying to fill out the run.

They did manage to secure five of the six but were unfortunately unable to lock down "Blade Runner". I understand that the studio (and Ridley Scott) have always been picky about where the film is shown, but still...the Harrison Ford starer is A MUST and leaves the event somewhat uneven.

I, on the other hand, will be highlighting 'The Essential Six'. Beginning this upcoming weekend a more focused film festival is doing it the right my home theatre!

It's called '30'...and will honor all six icons that are celebrating three decades right now. Beginning Saturday I'll be running a double feature of "The Road Warrior" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" followed during the week by "E.T." and "Poltergeist", finally rolling into the next weekend to wrap everything up with "Blade Runner" (The original 1982 cut) and "Tron".

The 10th Box site is being updated as we speak so stay tuned! I'm expecting a high turnout of fans and friends and I may have to seriously overstock the concession stand. LOL!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The surprise ending

I popped a very cool surprise on Rebecca this past weekend....and I will do the same for all of you right now.

I've always been serious about not going to Comic-Con this year due to major issues I've covered before, making our movie location trip the big event of the summer. But when hotel rooms went up through the event organization in March and I actually (surprisingly) secured a reservation at our beloved Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, I began to think (amongst the bitter irony of it all) that I should put that reservation in my back pocket just in case we decided to make some use of it.

Now it's time to reveal that we do, in fact, intend to take advantage of part of this lower rate accommodations happenstance. At the end of 'The Farm, The Field and The Tower' location tour, we will be heading to Comic-Con for Saturday and Sunday!

I wanted to keep what I'd secured as a surprise for Rebecca on our anniversary which was this past Saturday. She'd expressed several times a sense of yearning about not attending Comic-Con, even though she and I were extremely excited to be making our upcoming trip. We both wished it could have worked out and I truly wasn't really sure what was going to happen, unbeknownst to her.

As I began to lay out plans for our movie location event I realized that in order to fill out the entire week (which we both already had been approved for at our perspective jobs) the length of time at two of the stops would start to become a bit gratuitous. I could only ever comfortably stretch things out to Saturday, with Saturday night / Sunday becoming the inevitable 'oh yeah, Comic-Con is still going on and we're not there' always being the end game.

It occurred to me that we could take this tour AND do Saturday and Sunday of Comic-Con if we played our logistical cards right. As Rebecca's eyes widened about the possibilities once I filled her in (she definitely loved my surprise), we began to think about heading directly to San Diego from Iowa after the "Field of Dreams" baseball diamond.

So that's now the O-fficial plan: Alberta Canada, Wyoming, Iowa, San Diego! The final two days at Comic-Con will also serve as our climactic end-of-tour wrap party. Woot!

Yeah, I'm still annoyed at the bullshit the Comic-Con organization as well as the Hilton and Marriott put us through. But with a stay at our favorite hotel in hand for half the price we've paid in the past (as well as my pro-reg in place) I think we need to do this.


Monday, June 11, 2012

"E.T." touched and influenced a generation of moviegoers 30 years ago today

I'll never forget the sneak preview we went to of "E.T." in Boston a week before it's release on June 11, 1982.

Elliott (Henry Thomas in a truly iconic performance) and the boys had broken E.T. away from the feds and were escaping on their bikes. Faking out a couple of fed cars as they winded through a series of hills and suburban construction, the team smiled broadly as they realized they'd made it.

Suddenly the strong, grasping hands of government officials reached out to snatch the boys! Standing up on their bikes to pump the pedals faster, a car screeched to a halt just up ahead of them as more law authorities ascended. They were caught!

But when all seemed lost as the firm hand of a police officer came into view holding a shotgun (my favorite shot from that scene), E.T., deep in concentration, closed his eyes and the bikes with all the boys on board began to ascend! Over the heads of the surprised feds and on to the safety of the forrest. 

When that moment happened on screen for the first time 30 years ago, people in the theatre cheered wildly, throwing their arms in the air as though the winning goal had just been made. It was a lightning rod of the shared moviegoing experience and one that I will always cherish.

E.T. was everywhere in 1982. From T-shirts to buttons to plush dolls to Reese's Pieces. Although the M&M company would forever kick themselves for not wanting their candy associated with 'a scary little creature', the marketing blitz that followed was one of the first and biggest of it's kind, greater than "Star Wars" even.

Director Steven Spielberg would once again be knighted by movie audiences for directing yet another wonderfully crafted and even magical tale for the ages, while Drew Barrymore would come off of her endearing turn as Elliott's adorable younger sister Gertie to become a true movie star and Hollywood mover and least after somewhat leaning into Lindsey Lohan country for a short time during the late 80's.

"E.T." was the crown jewel of the Summer of 1982. The movie that crowned the box office that year and quickly became legend.

I think we ended up going to see the movie another 5 times over the course of that summer. And I really appreciated Spielberg's recent denouncement of fiddling with his classic in the 2002 version. After feeling swayed by some conservative groups who felt the 'guns against kids' aspect of the end of the movie was a bit much, his insertion of walkie talkies into the hands of previous gun-totting law enforcement individuals became an alteration that the director himself called an unnecessary change to an iconic movie. This fall's Blu-Ray release will contain only the 1982 version, guns and all. God bless it!!

Even though I thought he and ILM did a skillful job of softening these armament actions, I also seriously appreciated Spielberg calling for the original untouched version of the movie to be given the remastering star treatment as well on the big blue box set released in 2003, which I own. Much more than his good friend George Lucas, Spielberg understands the importance, meaning and gravity of the original above all else.

"The Dark Knight Rises" midnight show: WE'RE IN!!!

After patiently waiting this morning for "The Dark Knight Rises" midnight show tickets to go on sale, diligently refreshing the Arclight page again and again, I was rewarded with seats in one of my two favorite rows at the Arclight Hollywood Dome for the summer's most anticipated movie!!

As usual, the four Arclight theatres in LA began posting they're midnight screenings a little at a time. Hollywood was the longest holdout as Sherman Oaks went up. I feared that they may not be screening the movie at The Dome because it could be opening at Mann's Chinese Theater just a short series of blocks away. Quickly I purchased tickets for Sherman Oaks and heaved a sigh of relief that we were all set. Glad I headed back to the main page once more to check on the purchasing progress when I noticed that Hollywood was in fact selling tickets for The Dome!


However, my secret weapon was waiting.

The great thing about The Dome is that there's a row smack in the middle of the best viewing location for the giant screen that has two wheelchair seats in it. Ticket buyers tend to stay away because there's only two or three side by side and yes, the seats are fair game. Always finding them available, these are my backup when the front row of the upper level is gone (my first choice). People waste little time snatching up the best rows in the house, especially for these midnight shows. And yet, amongst all the clammering to buy before everything sold out, there it was; my untouched row just waiting for me to grab!

Select. Confirm. DONE!!!

Oh but wait, there's more!

Also at Arclight Hollywood, they're turning the pre-opening event into a marathon; "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" will be screening back-to-back right before the midnight of "The Dark Knight Rises". BO - NUS!!! Went right in and bought those as well.

YAY!!! This was the final big event I was anxiously awaiting and now it's in the bag!

Oh, and I just got off the phone with the Sherman Oaks Arclight where they refunded my money for the first set of tickets I purchased prior to jumping into The Dome. Now, all is right with the world.

Friday, June 8, 2012

'The Farm, The Field & The Tower': our movie location trip begins in one month!

On July 7 we'll be leaving on our week long trip to three iconic movie locations in the US and Canada. YES...after much deliberation we finally have a name for the trip...AND a logo! Because you KNOW I love branding everything! LOL! Click on the image for a full sized version. 

So here again is the rundown for what is now officially called 'The Farm, The Field & The Tower'.

Our first stop will be Calgary, Alberta Canada where we'll visit the Kent Farm filming location from "Superman, The Movie" (as well as a few other Smallville sites). Then it's off to Rapid City, South Dakota, crossing over into Wyoming to arrive at Devil's Tower and the alien landing location from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Thirdly jetting over to Dubuque, Iowa where we'll play a game or two of baseball on the cornfield-lined baseball diamond from "Field of Dreams".

Setting our countdown clocks for thirty days to three, two, one....SET!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Poltergeist" came into the light and scared the crap out of America 30 years ago

On June 4, 1982, "Poltergeist" would be a direct competition to "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and originally thought of as the clear winner with the amount of pedigry attached. But these two would battle for the top of the box office just one week before a little alien who loved Reese's Pieces would come along and wipe everyone off the map.

Steven Spielberg's supernatural thriller would go on to reign as one of the scariest movies of the 80's, while little Heather O'Rourke will always be synonymous with putting her hands up on the bedroom television, proclaiming 'they're here!'

Some interesting stories arose during production. There were a number of weird incidents that occurred on set and after the movie wrapped. Many connected these mishaps with the subject matter of the film. Plus, it was always rumored that Spielberg himself directed the movie instead of the man actually credited with the job...Tobe Hooper. The story goes that Hooper set up the shots, then Spielberg made adjustments. Ultimately the film felt and looked like a Steven Spielberg directed production which no doubt also led to it's fantastic success.

This was the first time a horror movie took place in a suburban home with a normal suburban family. In fact with it's proximity to "E.T." (released on June 11), the film almost seems to take place right over the hill from Elliot's house.

With outstanding performances by JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson and a little medium named Tangina played with wonderous mysticality by the late Zelda Rubinstein, not to mention groundbreaking ILM special effects and Jerry Goldsmith's melodic and haunting score, "Poltergeist" would become not only a cinematic icon but a true 80's phenomenon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

30 years ago today the crew of the Enterprise took on the vengeance of Khan!

Continuing on in acknowledgement of the 30th anniversary of the most iconic summer in movie history...

On June 4, 1982, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and Steven Spielberg's landmark supernatural film "Poltergeist" were released in theaters and soon became major blockbusters. Even though I was a little too scared to go see "Poltergeist" (I'd later take it in on home video), attending "Wrath of Khan" on opening night was mandatory!!

There's a lot to remember and talk about so I'm going to split these two films up into separate posts. First up, "Star Trek II".

After "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was released and gained moderate to good box office returns, Paramount decided to not 'invite' creator Gene Roddenberry back feeling that his humanitarian approach to the material was in need of a little adrenaline. That ended up being the best direction, along with bringing an old nemesis from the original series onboard; KHAN!!!!!!

This would also be the movie that gave fans of the series a major jolt; the death of Spock. Kept under wraps for months and finally leaking out as the final weeks clicked down to the premiere, the passing of one of the most beloved characters in science fiction would add one of the major emotional elements to the story and elevate a dramatic aspect that punctuated the original TV series.

Nicholas Meyer, who had previously directed only one movie ("Time After Time"), gave Kirk and crew that much needed shot in the arm which would steer the movie series through the next decade. He not only brought a darker life and death struggle as had been previously experienced in the "Star Trek" universe, but also sprinkled just the right amount of humor throughout.

James Horner's iconic score also gave the film it's grand scope. Not a lot of people know that the reason he was hired for "Star Trek II" was because he'd done such a good job doing a knock-off version of Jerry Goldsmith's music for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" in the low budget Roger Corman movie "Battle Beyond the Stars".

Another little tidbit of trivia: the original title for this movie was suppose to be "The Vengeance of Khan". Rumor has it that George Lucas felt some pressure to his already titled "Revenge of the Jedi" being released one year later and decided to change it to "Return" so there wouldn't be any confusion or

A major makeover change to the crew of the Enterprise from "The Motion Picture" was the use of naval-type maroon uniforms, a major lasting contribution by Nicholas Meyer. After all, when you get right down to it "Wrath of Khan" is really a sea epic that takes place in space instead of on or under the ocean and that aspect was also one Meyer imprinted on the overall design.

And I don't care what anyone says about how Kirstie Alley will always connect to "Cheers" or her weight issues and reality show. She'll always be Vulcan Lt. Saavik to me, thank you very much!! Alley gave the story a fresh, younger perspective outside of the main characters from the original series who were certainly a bit older.

Beyond the first movie, beyond the four that followed with the original cast, beyond the "Next Generation" cast films and even beyond JJ Abrams reboot, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" continues to be the most beloved of all the "Star Trek" movies....and I think that distinction will continue for a long, long time.