Traditionally, an actor becomes a movie star either after a slow ascent from minor roles to bigger ones (see: Harrison Ford, Sandra Bullock), or with a hell of a debut (see: Edward Norton, Julie Andrews). The actors on this list, however, all had potential breakthroughs: large or memorable parts in heavily-promoted studio features. Yet for one reason or another, those… read more!
When the American producers of Ghost in the Shell cast Scarlett Johansson as a character who was ostensibly Japanese in Ghost's original comic book and anime versions, fans cried "whitewashing" – turning a nonwhite character into a white one in order to justify the casting of a white actor. It's only slightly less offensive than putting said white actor in "yellowface", which was done… read more!
In granddad's (read: my) day, radio and TV commercials relied on catchy jingles to sell product. Yet despite its success, this trend started becoming passé in the 1980s, as ad agencies and their clients went from commissioning original compositions to licensing existing music. Somewhere in the middle, however, there's an odd little collection of pop hits that first saw life as commercial jingles. "I'd… read more!
I am still struggling to write more relevant, entertainment- or history-related lists that haven't already been done to death elsewhere on the Internet. (There are now so many, many other list makers I have to compete with.) To keep the List of 9 alive and unique in its 20th(!!) year, I often have to resort to more personal and/or arcane material. Still, hopefully… read more!
I'm not blasé about celebrity sightings. It's one of the fun things about living in Los Angeles; even stars go nuts over seeing each other. And while through the years I have seen many famous people working on movie sets or at premieres, or socializing at bars and restaurants, sometimes I catch them doing the sort of quotidian things you wouldn't expect to see the rich and… read more!
2016 was a pretty grim year, but I do have one positive thing to say for myself: I saw more movies in the theater than I had in any year over the past decade. Compare: in 2015, I caught just 31 new feature films on the big screen. (That may sound like a lot to you, but you're probably not a childless filmmaker who… read more!
It's a bummer to watch a talented filmmaker's career stall out. Someone comes along, directs a few noteworthy movies, then poof! You never hear about them anymore. What happens? Some retire without fanfare. A lot give up on features and move to TV (Keith Gordon, Carl Franklin, Agnieszka Holland). A handful keep working, but not on anything you've ever heard of. And then you have these "whatever… read more!
Much of my time this year has been spent on film festivals: entering them, attending them, and just plain obsessing over them. This list, informed by my experiences and observations, is written with the American independent filmmaker in mind. My short 20 Matches has played in (almost) all of the following types of festivals; for a full list, go here. So if… read more!
Recently I heard someone ask, "What's the fanciest thing you've ever done?" It's a fun question to answer, because first one has to define "fancy". It's not merely – or necessarily – expensive. But it is luxurious. Classy. A little snooty. And I don't come from fancy stock. Never been on a private jet or a yacht, or in an Italian sports car. Never had… read more!
Lately it seems like we have more period pictures than ever. It's not unreasonable to conclude that filmmakers are setting their stories in pre-digital times because mobile phones and the Internet screw up traditional dramatic tropes. (More ominously, it's possible that some current films take place far in the past in order to justify non-diverse casts.) But what 2010s films best represent life in the 2010s? Will it be the upcoming The Circle, based on Dave… read more!
Forgive the awkward title. But how else to describe those who were cast as iconic comic book characters, yet never got to play them to their full potential? I write this list in honor of Jared Leto, whose much-hyped Joker was front and center in Suicide Squad ads, then relegated to a few fleeting moments in the actual movie. (Seriously, when you've got the Joker, why do you instead make… read more!
It was recently announced that Mick Jagger was about to sire his eighth child. Provided that he and baby both survive, this will make the Rolling Stone a new dad at 73. This news got me searching for other famous elderly fathers, and I found many lists citing men over 50. Pshaw! Here is the definitive list of history's very oldest celebrity dads. If you can name any more examples (age 73 and… read more!
The one-man or one-woman play has become a mainstay of the Los Angeles stage, thanks to the many struggling actors who write these pieces for themselves to perform because no one else will hire them. Once in a rare while, one of these solo shows gets turned into a movie, complete with a big cast and multiple locations. The results aren't always successful, but the task… read more!
Even though Hollywood cranks out sequels on an almost weekly basis, the word itself has become toxic – so much so that studio heads laughably insist that their sequels are not, in fact sequels. They're "reimaginings" or "stand-alone films". In the case of this list, however, we're talking about actual non-sequels. But you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. 10 Cloverfield Lane. We begin with a debatable entry.… read more!
It's not unusual to find groups of famous siblings in show business. Why, I've written about it here before. And again. And again. But this time I'm listing those actors who were supposed to be the star of the family, only to watch their siblings go on to greater fame. I'm sure, in most cases, that there's been no bitterness. But who… read more!
This is the promised follow-up to my previous list; the concept is the same, except that this time I'll be focusing on an older crop of small-screen moguls. SKATEBOARD, written by Dick Wolf. Grand Vizier of the Law & Order empire, Wolf had a humble start with this 1978 teen flick, cowritten with its director. Then came a dreadful comedy called Gas, then brat pack… read more!
This list was so interesting to research that I've decided to make it a two-parter. (Part 2 is here.) Usually the biggest names in TV got their start in that medium. But once in a while you'll hear about a writer who gets a motion picture screenplay produced, then makes the move to television. This once was considered a step down; now it's a… read more!
This list was hard to write, because I don't really believe in remakes. First, because filmmakers and studios should focus on new material (even though we all know they don't). Second, because while most older movies look dated today, they still fascinate as time capsules, and often have charming star performances that can't be replicated. Third, because most remakes are lousy. That said, I came up with nine… read more!
As of this writing, I've submitted 20 Matches to 41 film festivals. Deciding where to submit can be tricky, as most festivals cost money to enter, and those fees add up fast. To make it worth the gamble, you have to consider which festivals you're willing and able to travel to; how much clout each festival has; whether it's the right venue for your film; if it has potential for… read more!
Movie romances thrive on the "odd couple" concept: the less the two paramours in question have in common, the more memorable the story. We've seen some nutty extremes, from Harold and Maude to King Kong. But then there are those cases in which the star pairing elicits a gigantic "What?!" I don't just mean a lack of chemistry. I mean performers you'd never imagine being in the same room together, much… read more!