Empire States: What's The Greatest Ever Movie Title?
Posted on Tuesday February 3, 2009, 15:04 by Ian Freer in Empire States
Coming in to Empire towers this morning, I saw an advert for Hotel For Dogs on the side of a bus. If you don’t know, Hotel For Dogs stars Julia Roberts' Niece in a movie where she sets up 5-star accommodation for the neighbourhood waifs and strays. Whatever you think of the premise of the movie, it just stuck me that Hotel For Dogs as a title is a genius piece of marketing: cute, intriguing and straightforward. If you’re an eight year old girl, Hotel For Dogs (bet the rotweiller nicks the hand towels) sounds like the best film ever made. You immediately know everything you need to know about that movie from those three little words.
So this got me thinking about the greatest movie titles of all time. Some great movies have awkward titles — in 1977, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind must have been a right mouthful , the quality of the movie legitmising it as a phrase. Similarly, great titles have adorned terrible movies: Dude Where’s My Car or Snakes On A Plane are ...
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Empire States: The Best Movie Swearing
Posted on Thursday January 8, 2009, 10:10 by Ian Freer in Empire States
Swearing. From as soon as you can say the word “bum”, you hear these immortal seven words: It’s not big and it’s not clever. Maybe not, but movie swearing is undeniably entertaining and in the hands of a Mamet/Tarantino/Lee can be both big and clever. There is little to beat a well-chosen expletive to make a dramatic point or underline a character’s emotion or - if it is children, old ladies or Hugh Grant doing the swearing - get a laugh. If you want proof check out these watered down versions of classic curse-filled lines and just feel the difference.
The opening narration of Apocalypse Now as Captain Willard considers his fate: “Saigon….blast….I’m still only in Saigon.”
The beginning of Four Weddings And A Funeral when a frantic Charles realises he’s over slept before wedding no. 1: “Flip… F...
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Empire States: My Favourite Christmas Movie: Uncle Buck
Posted on Wednesday December 17, 2008, 10:42 by Ian Freer in Empire States
The best thing about Christmas isn’t the presents. It isn’t the week off work. It isn’t even the time you spend with loved ones.
Nope, the absolute best thing about Yuletide is the movies on television. But I’m not talking about the BBC premieres of the big blockbusters that this year — as the snappily edited montage tells us — include a Pirates sequel, a Narnia flick, Wallace And Gromitt and Singer’s Superman revamp. I’m talking about the films that clog up the schedules in the afternoon, the sandwich filling between the Find A Bargain In Your Attic And See What It’s Worth At Auction programmes and The Highlights Of Bill Oddie’s Year In Nature programmes.
But I’m not even talking about recognised Christmas classics like The Wizard Of Oz or The Great Escape (what says Christmas more than the Nazis building an escape-proof prison camp?). The movies I love to watch on telly over Christmas are mid-range ‘80s to &lsq...
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Empire States: Why Adam West Is A Better Batman Than Christian Bale
Posted on Thursday December 4, 2008, 16:32 by Ian Freer in Empire States
As you may have seen by now, Empire has (perhaps not unsurprisingly) voted The Dark Knight our best film of 2008. In case you wondered what skulduggery is involved in coming to this conclusion, every member of the Empire team submits their Top Ten of the year. If you put the film at No.1 it receives ten points; if you put the film at No.2, it earns 9 points and so on and so forth. The points are then added up and the movie with the highest points tally wins. Not that you’ll care, but I didn’t put The Dark Knight at No.1. I put There Will Be Blood. Milkshakes over masks any day.
But all the office talk of The Dark Knight got me thinking about the character of Batman. And it seems to me that — and I am fully prepared to admit this might be madness — Adam West, the legend of the ‘60s TV version, is a better Batman than Christian Bale. Firstly, he doesn’t talk in that ridiculous gravel pit voice (although West does have his own distinctive voice patterns). But, more i...
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Empire States: What’s The Best Song You First Heard In A Movie?
Posted on Wednesday November 26, 2008, 10:18 by Ian Freer in Empire States
Among the many great things you can learn from films (how to get the girl, how to rob a bank, how to murder people dressed up in the old clothes of your dead mother), one of the greatest gifts that movies can give you is music. I don’t know about you but my love of music would be so much poorer if I hadn’t had the chance to listen to say, Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino’s record collections via their movies. Scorsese alone has given me The Chips’ Rubber Biscuit (when the camera is strapped to a drunk Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets), Pietro Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (Robert De Niro bobbing and weaving round the ring in slo-mo in Raging Bull), Warren Zevon’s Werewolf In London (where Tom Cruise is spinning his cue like a nonce in The Color Of Money). This is music I had never heard of before I saw these movies and now my musical life is so much richer because of it.
But, the undisputed Heavyweight Champ of songs I’d never heard ...
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Empire States: The Greatest Cartoon Character Ever
Posted on Thursday November 20, 2008, 15:08 by Ian Freer in Empire States
I was watching the football last night — pundits overrated England’s performance, I thought, average against a poor German side — and, due to the soporific nature of Clyde Tyldesley’s banter with David Pleat, my attention started to drift. In particular, it drifted towards the animation section of my DVD collection. I say ‘animation section’ and it conjures up visions of Blockbuster or a nerdy-nerd-nerd alphabetically ordered set of DVDs, perhaps also documented on a spread sheet. It’s not like that; it is just my favourite cartoons haphazardly grouped together. Honest.
So anyway, at about the time that John Terry failed to clear the ball and it ran through Carson’s legs (Carson’s fault whatever Terry says), I decided to cheer myself up by trying to land on The Greatest Cartoon Character Ever! And after much reflection, consideration and rejection (Bugs Bunny — too obvious; Daffy Duck — too dithpickable), I realised it came down to ...
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Empire States: Movies The Musical!
Posted on Thursday September 25, 2008, 07:05 by Ian Freer in Empire States
What's with all the adventurous movies being turned into Broadway musicals? Yesterday’s news that American Psycho is going to be turned into a Broadway show — although it is unclear whether there will be any actual song and dance musical numbers — films my little heart with joy. This is partly because nothing says The Great American Songbook more than yuppies wielding chainsaws. But also partly because the upcoming crop of musicals based on movies — Chocolat, Shakespeare In Love, Catch Me If You Can, The Color Purple, The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert — don’t push the envelope far enough in what the Broadway musical-movie interface should be. Patrick Bateman might just do that.
But the news got me thinking. What are the movies that really should be readied for curtain up? Here are my suggestions for show stopping tunes from some unlikely musicals — beware spoilers. Are you listening Cameron Mackintosh?
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Empire States: John Alvin (1948 - 2008)
Posted on Sunday February 10, 2008, 09:54 by Ian Freer in Empire States
John Alvin, one of the great movie poster artists, has died of a heart attack, aged 59.
Amongst his best known work are classic images for Blazing Saddles, Blade Runner (1982 and 2007 incarnations), The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. But, unsurprisingly if you know me, his work for Steven Spielberg is the closest to my heart. As a kid, I would fall asleep on Christmas Eve with one Spielberg poster hanging above my bed and awake the following morning with a newer different Spielberg poster to feast on. And it was John Alvin's work that most regularly captured my imagination;
Alvin had a unique ability to capture the lucidity of Spielberg's imagery while retaining his own distinctive, painterly style. His images transcend their promotional function to become iconic works of art in their own right. ...
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Empire States: Kim Newman Junior
Posted on Wednesday January 30, 2008, 16:15 by Ian Freer in Empire States
If you are aged between 7 and 19 and fancy your chances as a movie critic, UK Film Industry charity Film Education are running a competition to find The Young Film Critic of the Year 2007. Head over to www.youngfilmcritic.org for more details.
16 year old David Gray from Shenley Brook End School (Milton Keynes) won the prestigious title last year . David (pictured above with Film Education’s Derek Ray-Hill) was invited to London to watch and review The Kite Runner. He was also presented with his prize of a Yamaha Home Theatre system.
"It’s about two months since I won the Young Film Critic of the Year competition, and that’s how I came to be writing this review." says David. "This is my first commissioned article after being invited to a preview of The Kite Runner. I was given a grand introduction in front of pupils from a number of schools from across the UK, shortly followed by a choru...
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Empire States: Patrick Doyle’s Music from The Movies
Posted on Monday October 29, 2007, 11:10 by Ian Freer in Empire States
The cream of British acting talent descended on the Royal Albert Hall last night celebrate the life and work of British film composer Patrick Doyle all in aid of Leukaemia Research. Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton, Richard E,Grant, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Derek Jacobi, Robbie Coltrane. Adrian Lester and Judi Dench lined up to pay warm and witty tribute to Doyle, who was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 1997 but valiantly fought off the disease.
The concert covered the gamut of Doyle’s work, from his Shakespearean collaborations with Kenneth Branagh to his forays into big budget Hollywood (Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, Carlito’s Way) via his heartfelt explorations into Europe (Indochine, East West). Highlights included Emma Thompson gaily seducing the London Symphony Orchestra with grapes during Much Ado About Nothing’s Sigh No More Ladies, a wor...
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