These days, there are countless dance club hits that feature just a couple of words - typically, sampled dialogue from an unknown source - repeated endlessly. Fatboy Slim ("The Rockafeller Skank") and Duck Sauce ("Barbra Streisand") are just two examples that leap quickly to mind. But those tracks are a dime a dozen, and so this list isn't about them.… read more!
A funny thing happens whenever I tell someone I'm a filmmaker. Just about everybody asks me, "What kind of films do you make?" I think it's an odd question, as most directors tackle all kinds of genres. That said, there are filmmakers who strictly focus on one genre - especially in documentaries, horror movies, and porn. And once upon a… read more!
These days, it's cool for everybody to talk about how geeky they are. (How many times have you heard entirely non-dorky people say, smilingly, "I'm such a dork"?) It seems like almost everybody you talk to these days will claim that they were a nerd in high school. Which is blatantly untrue. If it were true, then jocks would never… read more!
Over the past few decades, there's been a concerted effort to make English less sexist. For example, whereas proper English dictates the use of "he" when referring to a generic third person of unknown gender, today we employ the less grammatically correct "they" in most cases, and sometimes still the awkward "he/she". Stewardesses and stewards are now clumped together as… read more!
Have you ever heard a song on the radio that you were sure was by a particular performer - only to find out, often years later, that you were wrong? Of course you have. And so have I. Here are nine examples of well-known hits that sure sound as though different, usually more famous artists recorded them. Call it the… read more!
A long-standing Hollywood tradition is the "And Introducing" credit. Such a credit is designed to showcase an actor in a key role who had never appeared in a movie before, as if to say, "Look at our brilliant discovery. When this person's an A-lister, he or she will have us to thank." Producers (and agents) interpret this rule rather liberally,… read more!
As the saying goes, "comedy is tragedy plus time." One may also say, "a tourist trap or Halloween costume is tragedy plus time." Because there are some disturbing things that, decades or centuries later, have entered the realm of popular culture and are now accepted as entertainment. Here in Hollywood, for instance, there are tour bus companies that will take… read more!
I'm not exactly a renaissance man, but to varying degrees of success, I can write, direct, produce, edit, act, animate, paint, draw, design, and sculpt. Hooray for me! But if I can perform any of these tasks slightly better than the average person, it is at the detriment of the following routine activities, which hundreds of millions or even billions… read more!
Whether you hail from a small town in the Midwest or a small town in central China, the lure of Hollywood is always there for filmmakers who exhibit prowess and ambition. Some of the best directors in American cinema were immigrants: Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Ang Lee and so forth. The following nine were not so lucky. Though note: the… read more!
The concept of the "group show" - where the general public is invited to view new work by a collection of artists - is a relatively recent one in art history: it all began with the Paris Salon, first held in 1737. And so it continued, rather stiffly, for the next 130 years or so, until the art world rebelled.… read more!
When you think about it, a feature film director is a very, very rare animal. Out of over 10 billion souls who have lived and died on this planet since the dawn of cinema, it's likely that no more than 100,000 of them have ever helmed a feature - and I'm including all those who made no-budget, unreleased indies that… read more!
Celebrities have appeared "as themselves" in feature films since the silent era, typically in brief, jokey cameos. But whereas real actors have been known to play themselves in leading roles - from autobiographical ego-fests (as Joan Rivers and Shirley Maclaine have done in TV movies) to intentionally fictionalized versions of their lives (John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich, Neil Patrick… read more!
I'm sure you've all started reading books that, for whatever reason, you didn't complete. Usually I'm pretty good about finishing, even when I don't care for the book (which is the same reason why I have only once walked out of a bad movie), but here are nine cases where I gave up. DUNE, Frank Herbert. In 1984, when I… read more!
Although I've fraternized with dozens of would-be filmmakers over the last two decades, an astonishingly small number of them ever went on to actually direct a feature. Having done so twice myself, I can tell you that it's not that hard to do, if you really want it. So what I'm saying is that few aspiring directors really want it.… read more!
Most Best Picture winners are "typical" Oscar winners in some way: war movies (The Best Years of Our Lives, Platoon, Schindler's List), sweeping epics (Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Titanic), gritty suspensers (The French Connection, Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men), "important" contemporary dramas (The Lost Weekend, Midnight Cowboy, American Beauty), glossy musicals (Gigi, Oliver!,… read more!
A couple of years ago, my wife Miki and I went on a cruise with her parents. It was their idea, not ours. But we were good sports. The consensus: neither Miki nor I enjoyed cruising. It was all too mainstream for us - the food, the activities, the decor, our fellow passengers. So while we don't consider ourselves hipsters… read more!
For a while, there was this joke that every hip indie rock group had to have a female bassist, a la Tina Weymouth in Talking Heads. But recently I saw some old British Invasion band playing a song from the era, and I was intrigued by seeing a girl behind the drums. I wanted to know more, and this list… read more!
This list does not contain the countless - and usually lame - cinematic "re-imaginings" of classic TV programs (e.g., Bewitched, The Flintstones, The Brady Bunch, Starsky and Hutch). Nor does it include any of the various Saturday Night Live skits that were stretched out to feature length, as I already wrote a list about them years ago. Finally, it does… read more!