Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel
To a large extent, blockbuster movie soundtracks are all the same. There's probably some Kanye, a few dubstep tracks to keep things upbeat, maybe a classic rock song or two, and then some kind of instrumental score meant to add some tension or sentiment at the appropriate moments. And it makes sense — you're not paying for perfectly-scored moments of emotion, you're paying to watch people punch each other and blow things up. So when a blockbuster film manages to match the perfect song to the perfect scene, something special happens. Suddenly, it's not just about the effects. It's about the experience. And even though we've yet to see Guardians of the Galaxy, we can tell that it's going to be that kind of film, thanks to the cheesy classic rock featured in the trailer and the presence of the founding member of Mouserat. In honor of its August 1 release, we've rounded up some of the most iconic blockbuster movie moments in cinema history. After all, what's the point in saving the world if Kenny Loggins isn't singing about it?
“Trouble Man” by Marvin Gaye, Captain America: The Winter Soldier At the start of the film, Sam Wilson makes a tentative attempt at friendship with ol' Steve Rogers by recommending he check out Marvin Gaye’s classic 1972 album; at the end of the film, Steve wakes up in a hospital bed with Sam by his side and the title track playing over the speakers. Because even if you’re unconscious, Sam Wilson is going to ensure that your musical education is complete.
"Non Je ne Rigrette Rien” by Edith Piaf, Inception Primarily used as a way to signal to the people in-dream that the kick is coming, “Non Je ne Rigreete Rien” also warned of a much more dangerous shock headed towards the team: Mal. Sure, it’s a bit on the nose for the recurring dream-ghost of Leonardo DiCaprio’s dead French ex-wife, but finding the perfect movie music moment isn’t necessarily about being clever – it’s about creating a mood. And besides, Christopher Nolan’s not the subtle type.
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, Rocky III It doesn’t matter that Rocky didn’t start training to the sweet, sweet sounds of ‘80s rock until the third installment of the franchise. When you think Rocky, “Eye of the Tiger” automatically starts playing in your head. It might not have been the original music moment of the series, but it’s the most enduring; even the Broadway production couldn’t resist working it into the score. You should hear it in five-part harmony.
“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, Top Gun The love scene scored to Berlin might be a bit more iconic, thanks to its awesomely cheesy use of backlighting, but the best musical moment in Top Gun is, without a doubt, the montage of fighter pilots taking off, scored to what is perhaps Kenny Loggins’ most ridiculous hit of all. Did Berlin give us one of the best running jokes of all time? No. No they did not.
Rogue Pictures via Everett Collection
“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, Shaun of the Dead Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy is filled with hilarious gags and perfectly-timed music cues but none are more elaborate, ridiculous or more pitch-perfect than the gang’s choreographed attacks on the zombies in the bar, using an assortment of pool cues, a fire extinguisher and a last-minute rifle. The fact that everyone in the film acknowledges the insanity of the situation – and even dance along! – makes it unforgettable.
“Where Is My Mind” by Pixies, Fight Club Fight Club is a weird, twisted psychological thriller that leaves you questioning what was real and what was hallucinated. Therefore, the only appropriate song to end it with is one that asks the core question of the film: “Where Is My Mind?” Just melancholy enough to fit the tone, and just obvious enough to help even the slowest members of the audience make the connection.
“Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, Back to the Future When you’re tasked with reviving the party at your parents prom, you could go the safe route and play something everyone would be familiar with, or you could invent rock and roll by busting out some Chuck Berry… before he’s even heard it. And then you can make everything awkward by extending a guitar solo for far too long and freaking everyone out, but hey, Marty McFly was ahead of his time. It’s not his fault they didn’t get it.
“You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito, The Karate Kid In the ‘80s, wimpy kids everywhere were inspired to stand up for themselves and find their inner Karate Kid thanks to Mr. Miyagi. But his “wax on, wax off” philosophy would be nothing without the encouraging synth-pop of Joe Esposito telling them that nothing could ever bring them down. How else were they supposed to get pumped up for the biggest karate competition of their life? Or you know, the playground. Both are intimidating.
“Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, Easy Rider Since its release in 1968, “Born to Be Wild” has been the second favorite song of music supervisors looking to indicate someone as a “bad boy” without actually forcing the other characters to say it. (The first, of course, is “Bad to the Bone.”) It might be cliché now, but it all dates back to 1969, when Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda set off on a road trip and ensuring that any time someone bought a motorcycle, a Steppenwolf reference would be made.
Soul singer John Legend has thrown his weight behind a female empowerment campaign by featuring a long line of ladies in his new music video.
The Grammy winner's promo for his latest single You and I (Nobody In the World) features a number of women staring into the camera through a one-way mirror.
Among those looking at their own reflection are celebrities including Legend's model wife Chrissy Teigen, transgender Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox, and comedienne/cancer survivor Tig Notaro. Also taking part in the emotional video is a topless pregnant woman cradling her baby bump, a young girl with Down's Syndrome, and an older woman who breaks down in tears as she shows the disfiguration left by a mastectomy.
The music video was made in conjunction with a campaign called #OperationGirl, which is being led by organisations focusing on empowering, educating and protecting the rights of women and girls.
A companion documentary called When I Look In The Mirror will also be released and features the women from Legend's video telling their own personal stories of heartbreak and triumph.
Legend supports the campaign's efforts in a statement which reads, "We live in a world where egregious injustices occur regularly against girls and women. We have a responsibility to take action and disrupt the conditions that allow for such tragedies to occur. "Through #OperationGirl we hope to amplify the voices and impact of the many organizations doing great work on behalf of girls and women."
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Will Ferrell will put on the dunce cap once again. According to Deadline, TriStar has purchased The Yank, in which he'll play a mild-mannered insurance courier who finds himself in the middle of a heist to steal the crown jewels. Since the large majority of us don't stumble our way into the middle of gigantic, illicit conspiracies, it's safe to say that Ferrell's latest character won't be the brightest bulb in the box. In fact, Ferrell has made a career of playing dim-witted dunderheads. Even his ostensibly smart characters are clearly lacking a couple thousand brain cells. But which is the dumbest dope that Ferrell has ever played? We've decided to rank all of Ferrell's idiots in ascending order of stupidity.
Megamind (Megamind) Megamind is actually a genius, albeit an evil one, so he gets the top spot. However, he is a dope when he comes to relationships.
Harold Crick (Stranger Than Fiction)Sacrificing your life in the name of great art is quite an academic pursuit, so cheers.
Det. Allen Gamble (The Other Guys) Under a slightly frumpy and dopey exterior is actually the mind of a pretty gifted detective. In any case, you have to be doing something smart to attract Eva Mendez.
Buddy (Elf) Buddy isn't stupid as he is just lost in a world that isn't constantly running in full-on Christmas mode. The North Pole is a long sleigh ride away from Manhattan.
Chazz Michael Michaels (Blades of Glory)It does take some smarts to weasel your way back into a sport you were banned from. Too bad the tapes of him figure skating with Jon Heder will exist on the internet forever. That's quite the oversight.
Dr. Rick Marshall (Land of the Lost)Marshall is actually a gifted scientist, but for all of his fancy book learning, he does lack an incredible amount of common sense.
Phil Weston (Kicking and Screaming)Getting that wrapped up in pee-wee soccer, the least worthy pee-wee sport there is, is almost criminally stupid.
Cam Brady (The Campaign) Cam Brady nearly makes real politicians seem smart...nearly.
Jackie Moon (Semi-Pro)In Jackie Moon's world, wrestling a bear is a good way of promoting your failing basketball franchise.
Mustafa (Austin Powers) He's quite the survivor ("I've been very badly burned"), but if you can only take three questions before spilling clandestine info, then you're the worst henchman possible.
Ricky Bobby (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)Sweet baby Jesus is Ricky Bobby dumb. He's the epitome of every Nascar stereotype every conceived.
Steve Butabi (A Night at the Roxbury) These club-addicted idiots have nothing rattling around their heads beyond velour suits and Haddaway's "What is Love."
Brennan Huff (Step Brothers)Brennan is probably the biggest and most spoiled man-child ever produced by the Ferrell and McKay tag team.
Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)Ron is pretty close to the top. Fortunately enough for him, though, the rest of the world surrounding him is nearly as stupid as he is.
Frank "The Tank" Rickard (Old School)Frank the Tank is definitively the stupidest person Will Ferrell has ever played. He somehow manages to shoot himself with a rhino tranquilizer just in time to ruin a kid's birthday party.
20th Century Fox Film
Hi, Nancy.Hi, Helen.What's the story, morning glory?What's the word, hummingbird?Have you heard about Hugo and Kim? They were cast in Star Wars: Episode VII, although there's no confirmation just yet. I think Kim's playing Bib Fortuna.
That's pretty much what the last year and change has felt like — rumors upon rumors upon rumors of who might be cast in J.J. Abrams' upcoming addition to the Star Wars series. We've heard tell of Clone War veterans reuniting for the film, blockbuster fixtures like Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis, rising indie mavens drawing notice from their turns in Coen Bros dramas and HBO series. But the waiting is over. Courtesy of TheWrap, we have official news of the 12 performers cast to headline the next Star Wars movie. Here's who they are, where you might know them from, and what we can expect from them in the new film.
Mark HamillBest known as: Luke Skywalker, power converter spendthrift and daddy issues-haver.Age: 62.In the new movie: We know very little of what Hamill will be brought on to do in the upcoming film, though with his standing as the Original Trilogy's central hero and his family rallied at the head of this story (presumably), we imagine that Hamill will have a good amount to do.
Carrie FisherBest known as: Princess Leia Organa, rigid adversary of the nerf herder lobby.Age: 57.In the new movie: We've been told, in only the most tenuous terms, that Star Wars: Episode VII will focus on Han and Leia's kids. So even if she and Ford are sidelined as the parental figures who've seen it all before (hey, it's kind of like that new Boy Meets World spinoff), then they'll likely be around for a healthy sum.
Harrison FordBest known as: Han Solo, alleged Kessel Run record holder and reformed atheist.Age: 71In the new movie: On top of the above, new rumors allow that Ford will have a pretty significant role in the new film. Considering his latter days screen presence, we imagine something in the vein of an extended carbonite nap. A few are actually predicting that Han might bite the dust in VII.
Peter MayhewBest known as: Chewbacca, devoted Life Day celebrant and family man.Age: 69 (though that's only like, 14 in Wookiee years).In the new movie: Some people are already pretty livid that Chewbacca's in the film at all, considering his death in the Expanded Universe, but you don't bring out the Wookiee suit just to have him play canasta.
Anthony DanielsBest known as: C-3PO, buzzkill.Age: 68.In the new movie: I don't know, probably a lot of kvetching.
Kenny BakerBest known as: R2-D2, frequent film extra and Robot Hall of Fame inductee.Age: 79.In the new movie: Doot beep beeeooo doot.
Oscar IsaacBest known as: The titular misanthropic folk musician in the Coen Brothers' 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis.Age: 35.In the new movie: Isaac's role is anyone's guess at this point, although two call-outs in a casting release from last year speak to his nature. He might be playing "a late 20-something male. Fit, handsome, and confident," or, more likely, "a 30-something male, intellectual. Apparently does not need to be fit."
Adam DriverBest known as: Adam, the Lena Dunham's oddball love interest on the HBO dramedy Girls, or the space cowboy from Inside Llewyn Davis.Age: 30.In the new movie: Rumors surrounding Driver's initial mention in regard to the film had him pegged to be the villain. We had some fun with that one.
Andy SerkisBest known as: Gollum from The Lord of the Rings movies.Age: 50.In the new movie: Considering his mo-cap history, Serkis is probably playing an alien. And that's awesome.
Max von SydowBest known as: Blofeld in Never Say Never Again, the older priest in The Exorcist, or the guy from all those Ingmar Bergman films.Age: 85.In the new movie: Last fall's casting call advertised the film's search for "a 70-something male with strong opinions and a tough demeanor," exempting the necessity for physical fitness. We can't get more specific than this but it seems like von Sydow is going to be taking on some kind of authoritarian position. Maybe at the Academy (training the Solo kids, per chance), or as the penny-pinching new owner of the Cantina.
Domhnall GleesonBest known as: Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies, or the fellow from About Time.Age: 30.In the new movie: Gleeson could rival Isaac in either of the character descriptions mentioned above, though he does seem more the intellectual type (if only for the British accent).
John BoyegaBest known as: The kid from Attack the Block.Age: 22.In the new movie: Boyega could be playing the character Thomas that was advertised in a casting call last year:
"Young man to play 19-23 years old. Must be handsome, smart and athletic. Must be 18 or over. Has grown up without a father's influence. Without the model of being a man, he doesn't have the strongest sense of himself. Despite this, he is smart, capable and shows courage when it is needed. He can appreciate the absurdities in life and understands you can't take life too seriously."
Daisy RidleyShe's pretty new.Age: I don't know — 20? In the new movie: Could be Rachel, who was introduced in the same casting call:
"Young woman to play 17-18 Years old. Must be beautiful, smart and athletic. Open to all ethnicities (including bi- and multi-racial). Must be 16 or over. Was quite young when she lost her parents. With no other family, she was forced to make her way alone in a tough, dangerous town. Now 17 she has become street smart and strong. She is able to take care of herself using humor and guts to get by. Always a survivor, never a victim, she remains hopeful that she can move away from this harsh existence to a better life. She is always thinking of what she can do to move ahead."
So there you have it: still a whole lot of grey area! But at least we know something!
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Given the recent statements Beyoncé has made along with some backlash she's received from others, it has to be asked: Is Beyoncé a fake feminist? On the one hand she makes grand statements, like this one, taken from a recent Out Magazine interview:
There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist—whatever you want to be—and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.
It sure sounds like a feminist sentiment, doesn't it? She is saying all of the right things here. But Beyoncé is an icon, a businesswoman; she's someone whose very career depends on (among many other things) her ability to say the right thing. But what do some of her actions, or inactions, tell us about her true thoughts on feminism?
Thigh Gap and Messages About Body Image
Beyoncé recently came under fire with accusations of photoshopping an Instagram shot of herself. In the picture, people claimed that the gap between her thighs was created through photo manipulation (they observed some strange effects on other parts of the picture). If it's true, then that is certainly problematic for a so-called feminist. Obviously, Bey gets photoshopped all of the time for her high-fashion shoots (which are fabulous), but to do so with an Instagram picture sends another message: that her natural, un-retouched body is not something she wants to share with everyone. This is a corrosive message to send to her fans, especially the younger lot, considering our culture's epidemic of body image issues. Beyoncé is often such a great champion of her curves, but this alleged manipulation sends a contradictory message.
Mrs. Carter Versus Beyoncé
When Bey announced the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour she got a lot of heat from fans who wanted to see their Queen Bey, not Jay Z's wife. The very concept of taking your husband's last name still sparks debate among women and feminists, but to be a pop star known for songs like "Independent Women," "Survivor," and "Run the World (Girls)," calling yourself "Mrs. Carter" is bound to spark some controversy. Around this time, Beyoncé also released the track "Bow Down" which many found offensive to women (due to the repetition of the lyrics "Bow down b**ches"). In her defense, it has to be said that being proud of your husband's name (especially when your husband is Jay Z) should not automatically be deemed anti-feminist. And "Bow Down" was really a playful track that functioned as an ode to Houston trap music. She also used the song to address her break from music and her new position as a wife and mother: "I took some time to live my life/but don't think I'm just his little wife."
The "Drunk in Love" Conundrum
Bey has been attacked in the past, most recently for her husband Jay Z's lyrics, playfully referencing the abusive relationship between Ike and Tina Turner on Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love" track. But Jay rapping "eat the cake, Anna Mae" is just that — it's playful. The joke may be lost on some — and may, indeed, be inappropriate, but one could argue that asking people to stand by literal interpretations of their music is problematic. Still, Beyoncé never spoke on the issue... but does she ever address specific issues in feminist debate?
Gender Equality, According to Bey
Now, in Beyoncé's defense, she did write a piece titled "Gender Equality Is a Myth!", and has spoken up about equal pay — props for that! And, sure, that alone could make her a true feminist! But it was another piece filled with clichés. Do we know where Beyoncé stands on harder issues like abortion and birth control? No. And we probably never will, if Beyoncé plans to keep on being Beyoncé. She's not a controversial figure, for the most part. She's loved and enjoyed by feminists and non-feminists alike. So she seems to say just enough to claim the title "feminist," without alienating any other part of her fan base. And the truth is, there's nothing wrong with this. It could even be that she is, simply, a pop star first and a feminist second.
If Beyoncé is a fake feminist or a real feminist (a difficult question ultimately, because everyone does not agree on the definition of the word), it's significant that she claims the title, and that she's speaking up (even if in clichés) when she could really say nothing. Some ask, "Who cares?" Who cares if our celebrities are feminists?" But for some of us, feminism is actually a fairly simple idea that should be embraced by everyone. So yes, it matters if Beyoncé is a feminist. And, even if it's difficult to discern her true intentions, it's good to see her bringing awareness to the very idea. Now, if we can just get her (and other celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Kim Kardashian) to stay away from the photoshop tools they have (allegedly) been using on their Instagram pictures, we'd be making great strides over here.
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Grammy Award-winning producer Ryan Lewis is spearheading a new fundraising campaign to build health centres around the world after opening up about his mother's health battle with HIV. The Same Love hitmaker is fronting a new promotional video for the 30/30 Project, which he has launched with his family and his rap collaborator Macklemore.
In the six-minute promo, Lewis introduces fans to "the strongest woman that I know", his mother Julie, and his older sisters Teresa and Laura, as they go public with their story.
Opening the clip, the star explains that Julie contracted the disease unknowingly after receiving a blood transfusion following the birth of her first child, Teresa, in 1984, but she wasn't diagnosed with the illness until the summer of 1990, two years after welcoming Lewis.
Luckily, she did not pass on the virus to her two youngest children and, despite being told her chances of survival were slim, Lewis says, "Thanks to advanced medicine and healthcare available here in the U.S., my mum has lived despite her odds."
He adds, "To honour the 30 years my mum has been a survivor, our family is raising funds to build health centres worldwide that will stand strong for at least 30 years. We're calling it the 30/30 Project."
Lewis is now calling on fans to follow his lead and dig deep to help them reach their first goal of $100,000 (£62,500), which will cover the costs to open a health centre in Nsambe, Malawi, where one in 10 people are infected with HIV.
He hopes supporters will continue to keep giving to fund at least four other medical facilities in Kenya and Uganda, which will be built in partnership with Construction for Change, a non-profit organisation based in his home of Seattle, Washington.
In exchange for donations, Lewis is offering up a variety of gifts, including T-shirts, tote bags, signed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis posters and VIP concert tickets to an upcoming gig.
The first phase of the Indiegogo.com campaign was launched on 22 April (14) and will run until 21 May (14).
As WENN went to press, more than $8,500 (£5,313) of the $100,000 target had been raised.
Lewis first revealed his mother was HIV positive in a Rolling Stone interview last summer (13), during which he revealed the lawsuit over the transfusion put him through college.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
HOLLYWOOD SHOULD STOP MAKING HOLOCAUST MOVIES
If the recent release of The Monuments Men proves anything, it's that Hollywood should stop making Holocaust movies.
There's no denying that The Holocaust was a horrific event, and that we should make every effort to remind young generations that terrible tragedies can occur when individuals become corrupted by power. However, just as disturbing is Hollywood's endless need to exploit this tragedy for the pursuit of profit.
It was Theodor Adorno who once said, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Adorno's point is especially relevant when we consider the constant circulation of Holocaust movies like The Monuments Men. In order to understand the problem, it's important to realize that George Clooney and his co-stars are cashing in on this movie, as are the major Hollywood studies that produce it. Hollywood is a business after all, and we all know that there's no better way to attract moviegoers than to release another "important" story about the Holocaust. In this particular case, we follow a group of American soldiers who are sent to rescue artwork from the Nazis, because apparently artwork is more important than people.
There was a time when it was necessary for Hollywood to make Holocaust movies. Film is popular entertainment, and it has the potential to enlighten the masses about this brutal event in history. However, we already have Schindler's List (1993) and The Pianist (2002), and there are hundreds of excellent, important documentaries worth renting. What we don't need, and what Hollywood keeps giving us, is American movie stars like Clooney and Matt Damon engaging in witty banter through World War II rubble. We aren't going to benefit from Kate Winslet hanging herself at the end of the The Reader (2008). And we especially aren't going to be moved by Brad Pitt's collection of Nazi scalps in Inglorious Basterds (2009). It appears that Hollywood failed to understand that they were only supposed to make one or two important movies about the Holocaust. Instead, they've unleashed a genre.
Hollywood has made movie after movie about the Holocaust to the point where audiences become so distant from the real event that they only think about it in terms of cinematic conventions. Last year, for example, critics and audiences panned The Book Thief (2013) for being too "sappy" and "precious." And maybe it was, but we've gone too far if we're judging Holocaust movies by the same standards that we judge a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
The Holocaust was a horrific, brutal event, and we must remember and honor its victims. To do this, Hollywood must stop making Holocaust movies.
HOLLYWOOD SHOULDN'T STOP MAKING HOLOCAUST MOVIES
If the recent release of George Clooney's film The Monuments Men — based on Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History — proves anything, it’s that Hollywood can still create emotional and compelling films about the Holocaust.
Though World War II is a dark time in the world’s history that many would like to forget, we shouldn't. Of course, many fans of cinema will tell you that we have enough movies focusing on this period of time. Some might even say Hollywood should have stopped after creating Schindler’s List. However, the Holocaust will never stop being part of the world’s history, and Hollywood should never be told to stop creating films based on the subject.
History shouldn’t just be taught by school teachers or textbooks; history can be taught by survivors, by those choosing to tell the survivors' story. History can be learned through any medium whether it's a factual first account or a fictional retelling, like Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.
Perhaps some moviegoers see mentions of the Holocaust as cheap plays on sentimentality, but it also shouldn't be a topic Hollywood wholly avoids — especially in non-historical films. Two specific movies come to mind: The Avengers makes a brief allusion to the World War II and Magneto’s revenge story in X-Men: First Class deals with a survivor’s story — a very fictional survivor who can control metal with his mind, but still.
However, both these films are impactful in different ways. The scene in The Avengers that references the Holocaust is amazing. An old man stands up to Loki, who presumes to be Earth’s one true ruler, and tells him he is nothing special; there will always be men who wish to subjugate humankind and they will always be defeated. Similarly, Magneto’s storyline in X-Men gives the character agency so that he is not simply a one-dimensional victim archetype.
The fact that we can still be moved by the Holocaust — whether it’s in a superhero flick or a serious drama like The Monuments Men — is an important factor to respecting and immortalizing history. Holocaust films should not be disregarded simply because someone is tired of remembering something uncomfortable.
MGM via Everett Collection
With Divergent is hitting theaters on March 21, the theme of teens fighting for survival on the big screen is at the forefront of our minds. It's one that has resonated through the decades in cinema, and we're taking a look at some of our favorite examples.
I'm talking about the 1984 original, not the forgettable reboot. As someone who was born in the 1970s and was growing into teenager-hood in the 1980s, the sight of those parachuting Russians in the film's opening made me want to crawl under my blankets and hide forever. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's steps toward Glasnot years later couldn't come fast enough. This was a bloody movie that featured many up-and-coming stars like Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, and C. Thomas Howell. The film hit towards the end of the Cold War, allowing USSR to play an effective Hollywood villain. The film saw America become a Russian state; the band of teenagers who fought back against the Red Menace made all of us look like sad-sack couch potatoes. To this day, you can yell "Wolverines!" at any person over the age of 35 and you'll much more than likely get a knowing nod back... and not just on the campus of University of Michigan.
By now, nearly everyone in the world knows who Katniss Everdeen is. For the very few uninitiated, Everdeen is a teenager who has to go and hunt other teenagers in a dystopian future that takes its cues from The Running Man more than anything else. Everdeen is tough, resourceful, cunning, and also one hell of a shot with a bow an arrow. She shows people that teens can take matters by the horns and do what it takes to win, and still not entirely sacrifice their humanity. There are those why decry the things she does, but in the long run, she is a good role model for being a strong female lead, which is something the movies have been lacking quite often. Everdeeen isn't one to quake and let a male take over or win or make her compromise herself. Yes, this series of movies shows kids murdering other kids, but the underlying message beneath is one that can't be ignored either.
Released in Japan in 2000, the movie comes from a different culture and as such institutes different tropes into its school-aged characters. The film centers around the students of a ninth-grade class that are made to fight each other to the death. Even more brutal than the American films, it shows what people are capable of when they have their backs to the wall and are being forced to commit atrocities in the name of their own government. I'd be seriously scared to get a note from my son's school in the future about something like this.
What kid hasn't wondered about the true demonic motives of his or her teachers? This 1998 horror/thriller boasts a cast full of comedic powerhouses like Bebe Neuwirth and Jon Stewart, as well as heartthrobs like Josh Hartnett and Jordana Brewster... and, yes, Usher. Running on the theme of teens versus adults, The Faculty becomes an intense and interesting cinematic experience. Beyond its horror aspects, the uniqueness of the overall movie made it better than something like Halloween or Friday the 13th. If you haven't seen it, it'll make you look at the Daily Show host in a totally different light.
Lord of the Flies
The original teen survivor movie, adapted in 1963 from William Golding's award-winning novel. We meet a group of school kids who get stranded on a desert island, and initially band together to survive... before anarchy starts to take over as the veneer of civilization gets stripped further and further in the movie. It's quite harrowing, and a sobering reminder of what can happen when we let the rules of society slip away. And if you've somehow managed to get this far without reading the novel, we highly recommend it. I read it in seventh grade, and had this weird thing about conch shells for a while after that.
Divergent hits theaters March 21. You can check showtimes and purchase advanced tickets here.
Alice Herz Sommer, the oldest-living Holocaust survivor and subject of Oscar-nominated film Lady In Number 6, has died at the age of 110. Herz Sommer passed away in London on Sunday (23Feb14).
Her death comes just one week before the Academy Awards, in which Lady in Number 6: How Music Saved by life, is up for Best Short Subject Documentary.
Herz Sommer, an accomplished music teacher, survived the Holocaust at Theresienstadt concentration camp by playing the piano for the Nazis. She performed more than 100 concerts for her captors until she and her son were liberated in 1945.
She lost her husband during her time at Theresienstadt.
Confirming her death, Lady in Number 6 producer Nicholas Reed says, "All of us are in shock. Alice had such a strong life force and her spirit was so strong that I could never imagine her not being around. She had been sick a few times over the last few years, but her indomitable spirit always pulled her through.
"The fact that we were able to capture Alice's lessons for all the generations to come makes us feel very proud. When things got tough, we would always ask ourselves, 'What would Alice say?' So, in that spirit, I am sad but I am happy that she had such a full life, a life that helped and inspired so many people, that brought such beauty into the world."
Television could use some more Stephen King. The best-selling author's work is already the basis for Under the Dome, which is back in production on its second season. Presently, Universal is shopping a pilot from his short-story Ayana, about a blind girl that can seemingly perform miracles. While King's material has been used as film fodder for nearly 40 years (starting with the original Carrie all the way back in 1976), his work has largely been underutilized on TV, mostly popping up now and then in miniseries form. Given the output from the prolific writer over the years, however, there's plenty more of King's stories that would work as an actual series. Here are five that are just screaming for a spot on someone's schedule.
The Dark Tower
For years, people have been trying to develop movies based on King's bleak Dark Tower series, which follows a mysterious gunslinger named Roland on a quest through an odd world that's part Old West and part sci-fi. Instead of trying to give the story the same treatment as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings books, the guide should be George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, which has thrived on cable. At one point, Warner Bros. considered doing both a movie and TV show (for sister company HBO) from the books, but ultimately passed. With a complex story that has its own mythology and language spread over eight books and multiple side stories, The Dark Tower could run on HBO or Showtime for a long time.
The novel, about an Ohio town terrorized by gun-toting thugs that are taking direction from a possessed autistic boy, built an impressive group of subsidiary characters not unlike Under the Dome. The Regulators was a companion piece to King's Desperation, which was already made into a TV movie. Following the strange happenings in a Midwestern town, which already has a built-in parallel universe thanks to the books, the story could provide plenty of material for a number of seasons.
The Running Man
Yes, it already got the big screen treatment starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there's a whole lot about the novel's set-up that could be mined for a series. The story, set in a not-too-distant dystopian America, is about a gameshow where contestants are given a head start to go anywhere in the world before they are hunted down and killed on television. Run for 30 days without being killed and you win. Taking elements from reality shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race that audiences have become accustomed to, and elevating them to a strange extreme, would make for some exciting (and darkly funny) serialized viewing.
The Ten O'Clock People
In King's short story, a smoker trying to quit can suddenly see through the disguises of any number of people, including the Vice President, and discovers that they're really monsters. The smoking angle wouldn't work any more, but it's an easy fix to come up with another explanation of why certain people can see through the disguises. Having a resistance group trying to convince people that there are monsters among us would make for a nice mythology story in the same vein of Lost or Fringe.
The story of a teenager manipulated into killing by his neighbor, who turns out to be a Nazi war criminal, was already the basis of a movie with Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro. Change the older character from a Nazi to a terrorist living a hidden life in a California suburb, however, and you could have a show that is a combination of Breaking Bad and The Americans. Who wouldn't want to see Walter White as a terrorist?