Warner Bros Everett Collection
Just how different are modern cinema and that of the '70s and '80s? Are there great movie scenes that wouldn't get made today because the audience wouldn't tolerate them? Conversely, are there scenes that were shocking back in the day that wouldn't cause anyone to think twice now?
It's a given that audiences' tastes change over time… the same as social norms do in America. Oddly, though, where audiences sometimes become more relaxed about what they will accept — for instance, with profanity, since George Carlin's "7 Dirty Words" has been reduced to two — they sometimes become more conservative about other things. Below is our look at a group of scenes from movies that probably wouldn't make it on screen for a studio release now, and some others that were shocking when they were released that wouldn't cause anyone to lift an eyebrow today.
Oh No, They Didn't!
The Last Temptation of Christ / Life of Brian
Martin Scorsese's adaption of Nikos Kazantzakis' 1953 novel, with the scene of Jesus dreaming of a sexual encounter with Mary Magdalene, was controversial in 1988 and caused an outcry from various Christian groups. In today's media environment, and with the advent of social media, that controversy would be 1,000-fold and wouldn't go away easily. Even Scorsese wouldn't be able to get that into a film now… we'll accept the debauchery and debasement of his The Wolf of Wall Street but depicting Christ as having sexual urges wouldn't fly. In the same vein, imagine trying to convince a studio to okay Monty Python's famous "Always Look on the Bright Side" finale to Brian with the singing crucifixion victims. It met with criticism when it was released in 1979, but it would cause Bill O'Reilly's head to explode now.
Quentin Tarantino gets heat from all sides for his use of the N-word in his stylized action-violence fantasies like Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction… which represent a far different aura than a studio comedy would. Many white audiences would shift uncomfortably in their seats now at Mel Brooks' comedic use of the word during the scene where Cleavon Little's Sheriff Bart first arrives at Rock Ridge. (As well as the various other ethnic jokes throughout the film; Brooks' was an equal opportunity offender.)
Airplane! / Heathers
On a similar token, as funny as Airplane! remains in our memories, in the wake of 9-11 many audiences would be squeamish about laughing at a plane crashing through a terminal, just as the reveal of Christian Slater's plot to blow up the school in Heathers would play much differently now.
What's the Big Deal?
The Exorcist / Rosemary's Baby /The Blair Witch Project
Horror movies have to really work hard now if they want to be controversial. William Friedkin's The Exorcist is still plenty scary 40 years later and the scene where Linda Blair's Regan finds an inappropriate use for a crucifix would still get attention… but it would be minor and chalked up to the now standard shock tactics employed by the genre. Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby is so non-threatening at this point that it's being done as a network TV series. Similarly, Blair Witch's up-the-nose shots would be seen as cute after the rise of films like Paranormal Activity that, in fairness, it helped spawn.
Lolita / The Last Tango in Paris
When Reese Witherspoon had sex with her teacher in Election, it barely registered as being inappropriate. Vladimir Nabokov's book and the subsequent 1962 Kubrick film were hugely controversial (pick any scene of James Mason and Peter Sellers leering at Sue Lyon). When the film was remade in 1997 with Jeremy Irons playing the tortured Humbert Humbert, obsessed with a young girl, audiences could've cared less. When Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango was released in 1972 with Marlon Brando as a widower in an illicit affair with a young French woman it earned an X-rating for its sexual content, particularly for a scene involving butter being used for something far removed from toast. When Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty came out in 1996 with Liv Tyler as an American teenager experiencing a sexual awakening amongst a group of artists in Italy, most people's reaction was, "Hey, is that Steven Tyler's daughter?"
Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
Let’s face it; high school reunions are a drag. You’re forced to interact with people you’ve long fallen out of touch with, many of them for good reason, and somehow you still feel the incessant need to impress them.
But one of the worst aspects of any high school reunion is the “What Have You Been Doing Since Graduation” game everyone plays. In fact, the only place high school reunions present any measure of entertainment value is in the movies. To wit, Universal is returning to the American Pie universe with the fourth film in the franchise: American Reunion. In preparation for this reunion, we thought it would be fun to check in and see what the students of East Great Falls class of 1999 have been doing since graduation. Given that they’re all movie stars, we’re assured their stories will be far more interesting than that of your salutatorian and his hardware store.
Ah, our beloved Jim. When he wasn’t making time with baked goods or horrendously misusing super adhesives, actor Jason Biggs managed to snag a pair of leading roles in 2000 that saw him reteam with his American Pie co-stars. He appeared alongside band geek Alyson Hannigan, as well as Freddie Prinze Jr., in Boys and Girls, and in Loser with Mena Suvari. Biggs then turned up in Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl co-starring with Ben Affleck and the late, great George Carlin. From that point on, he dotted a string of direct-to-video comedies with turns in such films as Eight Below and Over Her Dead Body.
Alyson Hannigan forever changed the way we would look at flautists, and not because of her musical talents. Outside of the American Pie franchise, Alyson Hannigan enjoyed a monumental level of success on television. She became an icon to an entirely different legion of geeks when she portrayed Willow on the Joss Whedon-created TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, based on the 1992 film. Currently, Hannigan stars on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, now in its seventh season.
Proving that some jocks do have a sensitive side, Chris Klein played the lovable Oz in the American Pie series. In addition to appearing in American Pie 1 & 2, his presence was sorely lacking in American Wedding, Klein starred in action flicks Rollerball and We Were Soldiers. In all honesty, my favorite Chris Klein roles were in films he landed both before and after his previous American Pie outings. His turn in Election, matching wits with a very perky, to the point of sociopathic, Reese Witherspoon was utterly hilarious. He also appeared in the 2006 American Idol-skewering farce American Dreamz from Pie director Paul Weitz.
Seann William Scott
The walking, talking, unchecked id of the American Pie franchise, Stifler (alias Seann William Scott) has had easily the most promising film career of any of his fellow East Great Falls alumni. His post-American Pie string of hits began with the his role in the first in another film franchise, Final Destination, and was followed by the stoner cult hit Dude, Where’s My Car?. He also scored big when he teamed up/butted heads with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the 2003 action comedy The Rundown. He’s also joined the still thriving Ice Age film series; voicing the rambunctious Crash. He recently starred in the hockey comedy Goon, which is generating a goodly amount of critical praise, and David Wain’s Role Models, which paired him with actor Paul Rudd.
Adorable, elfish Mena Suvari, who returns as Heather for this fourth installment, has been amassing a very interesting catalog of work since the first film in the franchise. In 1999, for example, American Pie wasn’t the only “American” film in which she appeared. She also played the haunting cheerleader in Sam Mendes’ Oscar-winning film American Beauty. She also co-starred with James Franco in the Nicolas Cage-directed Sonny as well as a very powerful seven-episode stint on Six Feet Under. Recently, in keeping with this particular theme, she also turned up in a couple episodes of American Horror Story.
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
ATF Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) has had many a hard day at the office but never anything like the one that awaits him. On a sunny pleasant morning in post-Katrina New Orleans a ferry explosion kills hundreds of people. After Carlin goes fishing for clues he comes across a beautiful young woman Claire (Paula Patton) believed to be a victim of the bomb blast. But to Carlin her lifeless body bears telltale signs of foul play beyond the ferry incident and he believes retracing her final days will solve her case and find the bomber. The FBI does Carlin one better with an unprecedented technology that actually allows them to watch Claire’s life as it unfolded just prior to the string of events. There’s one catch however for Carlin FBI Agent Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) and uber-techie Denny (Adam Goldberg): The footage which cannot be paused or rewound is limited to a timeframe of four-and-a-half days ago. When Carlin tries to manipulate the video by going back four-and-a-half days and thwarting the suspected terrorist’s (Jim Caviezel) plans he literally walks right into his own déjà vu. In Deja Vu Denzel gives his usual flawless performance and yet just the same there’s something still to be desired. Whether in scope character or box-office influence his roles lately are so similar that they themselves could be the culprit behind a case of the ol’ déjà vu. Problem is his aforementioned flawlessness is by now so (seemingly) effortless that a trip back to Training Day territory or something in which he bears his teeth and grit--something he’s obviously capable of doing--would be a welcome change. Patton on the other hand is headed down the right path. Fresh off her eye-opening breakout turn in Idlewild she is not only extremely easy on the eyes she can act and is often forced to do so by herself as someone who doesn’t know she’s being watched which is presumably no easy assignment for an actor. Goldberg has always been good but unfortunately has also always seemed destined for supporting roles like this and Jesus Christ himself Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) is more than sufficiently creepy in his role. As for Kilmer whose screen time dwindles with each role you basically forget he’s there. Deja Vu has the kind of pedigree studios can’t buy--that is unless they’re willing to fork over several million for behind-the-camera talent. Rookie screenwriter Bill Marsilii teams up with Terry Rossio writer of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Shrek to name just a few blockbusters that will put all of his future generations through college. Then they join director Tony Scott of Top Gun Crimson Tide Enemy of the State and Man on Fire fame. Finally producer Jerry Bruckheimer is also in the mix and everything he touches turns to platinum. They all mesh well--if mediocrity is what they were trying for. The writers turn Deja Vu into a sci-fi film way too far in and the better part of the movie is merely footage of Claire’s final days. Even worse is Bruckheimer’s trademark overproduction. Scott’s stamp of high tension is present but there’s too much going on most of it uninteresting or overwhelming to really appreciate it. Either way sci-fi is simply not the director’s strong suit. And as the film’s end nears the whole group collectively sends it spiraling out of control its futility hiding behind crowd-confusing and -pleasing twists.
Janet Jackson's breast-baring NFL halftime show is creating more fallout than anyone might have imagined.
It's been a busy week for Janet Jackson--and the entertainment industry in general. Here's a recap* of the global uproar her supposedly accidental breast-baring incident during her Super Bowl halftime duet with Justin Timberlake has caused, starting with the events of last Sunday--and the week's not over yet!
Sunday: In flagrante delicto
Right after ex 'N Sync-er Timberlake sang the last line of his hit, Rock Your Body ("I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song"), he reaches over and rips off the right cup of co-performer Jackson's gladiator-ish leather bustier, after which her breast, covered only with a medieval looking nipple medallion, was revealed to some 89 million-plus people watching the game. Pity the poor suckers who paid to watch the relatively chaste Playmates-and-models-in-their-underwear Lingerie Bowl halftime game on pay-per-view.
Monday: Apologies ensue
MTV claims the bodice rip and breast reveal was a mistake, pure and simple. "The tearing of Janet Jackson's costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance," according to a statement released by the cable network.
"CBS deeply regrets the incident," spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade said after the network received calls about the Sunday night (peep?) show.
We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show," Joe Browne, NFL executive vice president, said. "They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show. It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime."
Timberlake blames the big reveal on a "wardrobe malfunction." "I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl," Timberlake said in a statement. "It was not intentional and is regrettable." Quickly distances himself from any and all responsibility.
Jackson publicly apologizes for the incident and takes the rap for CBS and MTV. "The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my half-time show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended - including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL."
Jackson's spokesman, Stephen Huvane, was quoted by CNN as saying the incident "was a malfunction of the wardrobe. It was not intentional. ... He was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave the red-lace bra."
FCC chief Michael Powell calls it "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt," announces plans to investigate.
Tuesday: The repercussions begin
"There's now going to be an FCC investigation into the nipple," MTV Chief Executive Tom Freston confirms after it was revealed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would look into whether the incident broke FCC rules regarding indecency or obscenity. If CBS is found to have aired material that falls outside of FCC guidelines, the network could end up paying up to $27,500 or into the millions if each CBS station is fined for the infraction.
Federal Communications FCC head Michael Powell said in a statement, "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt."
TiVo, on the other hand, finds that ever-present silver lining as the incident becomes the single most replayed moment in the company's six-year history.
Wednesday: More Nipplegate
Jackson's breast exposure receives the somewhat dubious honor of being the most-searched term in Internet history, according to search engines Lycos and Yahoo. Jackson bested searches for the ever-so-popular Paris Hilton sex tape some 60 times over on Lycos. More impressively, searches for Jackson's breast on Yahoo accounted for a full 20 percent of all searches on the site, beating out even the Super Bowl with its paltry 2.7 percent.
Despite the building public ire, Jackson and Timberlake are both still scheduled to appear at the upcoming Sunday night Grammy Awards.
Despite their still being scheduled, CBS and the Grammy organization are taking no chances, announcing plans to enhance the capabilities of the "5-second delay button" to make the delay time longer and include video, if needed.
A worker on the set claims rehearsals for the show were much tamer than what aired. David Spear, a consultant for the company hired by MTV to produce pyrotechnics during halftime, said Jackson rehearsed in jeans and a sweater, and Timberlake pantomimed
*Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, Yahoo
removing the jacket she was to wear.
A "shocked" and "appalled" Timberlake continues to distance himself from Nipplegate. "It was, 'Oh my God, oh my God'. I was completely embarrassed. I don't feel like I need publicity like that and I wouldn't want to be involved in a stunt, especially not a stunt of this magnitude," he said to Los Angeles' CBS 2 News.
Parents forced Laguna Beach, Calif., school officials to kill a deal that would have allowed MTV to film Laguna Beach High School students on campus for a "reality" television show.
Thursday: The You-Know-What Hits the Fan
The Grammy Awards retracts the invitation to Jackson to attend this year's ceremony--or she bows out, depending on who you talk to. Jackson was slated to introduce recipient Luther Vandross, who wished to attend the ceremony but had to pull out due to heath concerns stemming from the stroke he suffered late last year. Justin Timberlake will, however, still attend. Jackson's camp had no comment.
Former Timberlake bandmate J.C. Chasez gets booted from the NFL's Pro Bowl halftime show this Sunday in Hawaii, is replaced with hula dancers, drummers, conch shell blowers and local singers. Said Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the Pro Bowl: "We saw what happened on Sunday, and Monday we took a look at what the performance would have been in terms of the music and dancing. We just felt it was inappropriate as we're being extremely cautious in light of what happened at the Super Bowl."
For his part, Chasez had this to say in a statement: "While I agree the mishap at the Super Bowl was a huge mistake, the NFL's shallow effort to portray my music as sexually indecent brings to mind another era when innocent artists were smeared with a broad brush by insecure but powerful people." (We think JT owes JC dinner for being replaced by a conch, at the very least.)
NBC decides to err on the side of caution (hey, why not?) and will edit out a two-second shot of an 80-year-old woman's breast that was to be seen in an emergency scene on Thursday night's ER. The show's executive producer John Wells says the decision sends a bad message.
Friday: The inevitable lawsuit
And lastly, a Knoxville, Tennessee, bank worker named Terri Carlin is suing MTV, CBS, and parent company Viacom for damages claiming to have suffered "injury" due to the Super Bowl halftime broadcast. The proposed class-action lawsuit reads, "As a direct and proximate result of the broadcast of the acts, (Carlin) and millions of others saw the acts and were caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury." Carlin is suing for billions in compensatory and punitive damages.
Will Janet beat brother Michael at the bad-publicity game? More, no doubt, to come!