Archive for Movies

Bringing Movies Back to Tucson

Posted in Pop Culture and Entertainment with tags , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2010 by raingeg

I had the pleasure Saturday to meet Robert Shelton, no not the former President of the University of Arizona, the man that ran Old Tucson back when it was a thriving movie set. I can’t emphasize the word “was” enough. Old Tucson is only a shade of what it once was, after a devastating fire and a change in ownership, its never been the same.

This is from Old Tucson’s website about Shelton:

In 1959, Midwest entrepreneur Robert Shelton saw more than an antiquated movie set when he set eyes on Old Tucson Studios. He saw potential for expanding it from the ghost town it had become into a viable movie studio and family attraction. Shelton leased the property from Pima County and began to restore the forgotten town. Old Tucson Studios re-opened in 1960, as a film studio and a family fun park as well.

The park continued to grow, literally building by building, with each movie filmed on its dusty streets. Western film legend John Wayne, who soon became friends with studio owner Shelton, starred in four movies at Old Tucson Studios and each production added buildings to the town. Rio Bravo (1959) added a saloon, bank building and doctor’s office; from MCLINTOCK! (1963) came the McLintock Hotel; El Dorado (1967) left Old Tucson Studios with a facelift on Front Street; and from Rio Lobo (1970) came a cantina, a granite lined creek, a jail and Phillip’s ranch house.

The stampede of movie productions during those early years include, The Deadly Companions (1961), starring Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara; Lilies of the Field (1962) starring Sidney Poitier ; Have Gun Will Travel (1962); The Outrage (1964) and Hombre (1966) with Paul Newman; and episodes of Bonanza (1966, ‘71, ‘72); Death Valley Days (1966-69); and High Chaparral (1966-’71).

Old Tucson Studios became the premier, privately owned, western film location. In 1968, a 13,000 square foot soundstage was built to give Old Tucson Studios complete movie-making versatility. The first film to use the soundstage was Young Billy Young (1968), starring Robert Mitchum and Angie Dickenson. That same year, Shelton also purchased the Mescal property, Old Tucson’s second filming location just 40 miles southeast of Tucson.

Tucson is really hurting for business, mostly because our city is run by people that either really don’t like Tucson and are trying to drive it into the ground (that’s a joke) or they are so tied to their leftist agenda that they are doing more harm than good.

There is a Senate Bill that we should all throw our support around.

Arizona Public Media reports back in April:

Senate Bill 1409 would extend a tax credit to movie productions companies that come to work in Arizona. The current tax credit expires at the end of this fiscal year, and SB 1409 would not only extend the credit but it would also increase it to as much as 30% if certain criteria are met dealing with the amount of money spent in the state and the number of Arizona residents hired for the production. Backers of the bill say it is needed to keep movie companies shooting in Arizona. They point to the 2007 version of 3:10 to Yuma, none of which was filmed in Arizona. Opponents, however, say the tax credit is too much and movie companies make enough money they don’t need the financial help.

On April 5, 2010 the full Senate failed the proposal on an 11-16 vote.

This would bring a lot of business to Arizona and hopefully turn Tucsn, not just Old Tucson, into a place where Hollywood can once again film some movies. With its natural light, great weather and short distance to California, Tucson is a great place for filming movies.

From what I can tell SB 1409 died in the Arizona House, I don’t know for sure. I’ve sent out an email in hopes of getting an answer to that question.

If you’d like to listen to last weekends Voices of the West program click on the link below and listen to or download the file.

Voices of the West 7-24-10

Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trailer, Plus Screwtape Movie Info

Posted in Pop Culture and Entertainment with tags , , , , on June 17, 2010 by raingeg

The first bit of news for the day was the release of the trailer for the latest installment of The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I have to admit that I haven’t read the books, but I am a big fan of the movie and of course C.S. Lewis. I didn’t even know that they were making another film, I remembered hearing that something happened and Walden Media didn’t want to make another movie. My memory was semi-right, apparently Walden got into a budget dispute with Disney after the last movie didn’t do as well in theaters as they had hoped. In January of 2009, 20th Century Fox took over for Walden Media as the distributor.

The thing I really have my eyes on is a Screwtape Letters movie. 20th Centry Fox owns the rights to the book, and they are expected to pair up with Walden to make a Screwtape movie. The Wikipedia site says that it is expected to be released in 2010, but with the year half over I don’t see that happening. Upon visiting IMDB.com I found a page dedicated to the movie, but because it is production there is not much info on the film. But from what I can gather Ralph Winter (X-Men) is supposedly involved in the movie. I think it would be great if they could get Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong)  involved, as he already knows a lot about the book because of his work on the Focus on the Family radio drama.

Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen

Posted in Movie Review with tags , , on June 25, 2009 by raingeg

Yesterday afternoon I bought some tickets for a midnight showing of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. It took about three hours to get everyone situated to go into the theatre. We actually sat down at about 10:45 and we sat for the next hour and fifteen minutes waiting. We stared at the screen, watching the monotonous slides with trivia questions on them, with the occasional interruption of a popcorn and soda ad. So that got old pretty fast. The two young girls that were sitting next to me decided to leave their nerd/stoner friends about fifteen minutes after I sat down. After wondering why these fairly attractive young ladies were with these quite geeky guys, I received an answer to my question, when they returned to their seats wearing Transformers shirts and boxer shorts. Finally after an hour of slowly drinking a Dr. Pepper, sitting with my friends to my right and the girls with their nerd/stoner guys to my left, the real previews started.

Generally I am excited to see the real previews, but this time they were awful. I was not that enthused by the next installment of the Harry Potter series, though the girls next to me sure didn’t mind showing their admiration for Harry. They had a preview for some M. Knight Shyamalan movie that looked as though it was based on an anime cartoon. And after The Happening I don’t think I can trust this guy to make a decent movie. Other previews included some new alien movie and G.I. Joe, which looks to be about the same or worse than Spiderman 2, and that is bad in my book!

Now to the movie, I will try to make this really vague so it doesn’t give away any of the details. First, it’s a long movie, remember that Dr. Pepper I talked about earlier, don’t drink one before you see this movie, I did, its not fun. Next, its rated PG-13 and its even pushing the limits there, if your kids are not 13 don’t bring them to the movie, see it first and judge for yourself, but its rated that way for a reason.

The plot of the movie is basic and it works fine, it’s the plausibility factor that ruins part of the movie for me. Just taking into consideration the enormous amount of money that it must take reconstruct what these transformers destroy is mind boggling. I know its just a movie, but it starts to be a little bit much. Tucson can’t even rebuild a downtown that already exists in a 10 year time frame, the enormous amount of damage done to these cities must ruin their economies and take decades to repair.

The action is probably the strongest part of the movie. Its great fun to watch them transform and the battle scenes are pretty amazing. The battles that take place in wide open deserts and forests are much better than the ones that take place in cities, it’s a bit easier to believe.

As far as humor goes, it’s a bit racy for a PG-13 movie. There is a lot more cussing and sexual innuendoes in this movie compared to the first Transformers. Scenes that got the most laughs were generally either sexual in nature or awkward for Sam. There is also drug consumption that ends up not being that big of a deal and what they call “sci-fi violence” what I call Transformers fighting, again not a really big deal. At times Meagan Fox, who plays Sam’s girlfriend Mikaela, is wearing some pretty skimpy clothing and is not afraid to flaunt it. The other girl at college try’s to force herself on Sam and she too is at times scantly dressed. I am not entirely bothered by a lot of this stuff, but I’ve heard many parents complaining that it goes a little bit too far, so I am giving you fair warning, this is more racy than the first movie.

The political angle is interesting. You might remember that they poked fun at former President Bush in the first movie. This time around they don’t really overtly make fun of President Obama, but they do poke fun at his foreign policy approach. They send in a Washington bureaucrat to “oversee” the operations that the transformers are involved in. It finally comes out that the government does not want to work with the transformers, fearing that their presence has brought wrath form the Decepticons to the country. Then he goes on to say that they might be willing to negotiate with the Decepticons, hmmm, seems a little similar to real life now doesn‘t it. I’m surprised he didn’t ask Optimus Prime to address him by his tile, whatever that might be.

The ethical angle is interesting as well. The transformers chastise humans because they wage wars. Yet throughout the whole film you get to see what amounts to be an extremely long and damaging war between good and evil transformers. It seems a bit hypocritical of the transformers to chasten humans for their capacity to wage wars yet they are fighting in a war that hardly ever ceases.

All-in-all, its alright. I wouldn’t buy the movie and I wouldn’t see it again. It was definitely better than those Spiderman movies that I mentioned earlier, but it doesn’t hold a candle to last summers The Dark Knight. If you are over the age of 13 and/or not easily offended go see the movie for yourself and find out. If you don’t like anything that pushes the line a bit then don’t go see the movie, wait until you can fast-forward.

“Somethings Happening In Here, What It Is Ain’t Exactly Clear”

Posted in Movie Review, Politics, Religion with tags , , on June 14, 2008 by raingeg

After I left M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie The Happening, I felt as though I would have been better off taking the nine dollars I spent and using it to start a small bonfire in my room. EW.com called the movie “a feature-length Twilight Zone episode”, that is ironic, because prior to reading that review I thought to myself, “Rod Serling must be rolling over in his grave”. I told my friend that the Twilight Zone episode I had watched the night before was better than this movie.

I drove home in a fog, listening to Frank Sinatra and dreaming about the good old day’s when movies had a substantive plot, good writing and inspired actors. I couldn’t stop thinking about great movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Manchurian Candidate. I couldn’t help but compare Mark Wahlberg’s role in The Happening to Frank’s role in The Manchurian Candidate, Frank made Mark look like Barney, Barney’s funny at times but nonetheless the big purple dinosaur thing is just not believable.

Mark is not to blame for this failed movie and its nearly non-existent plot. A plot that took advantage of extremely base ideas, had hardly any twists and turns, and insulted the intelligence of the viewer. This movie is merely a bad way to prove a point. If you want to get the whole idea behind the movie, watch the last five or ten minutes and spare yourself the agony of sitting through a bunch of uninspired acting and pointless death.

The movie starts out with a woman randomly killing herself in the (heavily tree populated) Central Park, after she becomes disillusioned about what is going on in the world. Next scene, a construction worker is telling a dirty joke that makes no sense, when all of the sudden, people start randomly hurling themselves off of buildings. Mark Wahlberg play’s a science teacher, and his wife is played by Zooey Deschanel, the Elf girl that sings in the shower. They bring along with them, the daughter of some friends that becomes an orphan about twenty minutes into the film. Together the three embark on a journey of hardly epic proportions, as they try and figure out why people are randomly killing themselves, while at the same time avoiding the same fate. They meander through the northeast hiding from wind and trees, while avoiding backwoods folk with shotguns and dealing with a crazy old lady. And in a bit of irony (read next paragraph) Zooey’s character ends up pregnant.

The moral of the story, overpopulation bad. That’s it, nothing more, its a strange thought that often occupies the minds of left leaning individuals. The thought that we are all going to run out of resources and harm the continuously evolving, (apparently) living organism known as earth, and that will somehow trigger it to smote us. It truly reveals where our societies values rest, not in a God or any moral teachings that will better mankind, but in morals that the world offers, morals that ask if its alright for the earth before thinking of humanity. You have to look no further than this and some other countries and what we are currently doing with ethanol. What society in their right mind would start depleting its food supply, in order to save a planet that is theorized to be in jeopardy? The answer, only one, ours. The earth has truly become many a people’s god, the worship of earth and the nothingness it has to offer, is nothing short of a tragedy.

All I Really Want to do, is be Able to Laugh at You

Posted in Movie Review with tags on May 13, 2008 by raingeg

I saw two movies over the weekend, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Heartbreak Kid. These movies are supposed to be comedies and in many parts they were funny, but at times they were just stupid. If it weren’t for the sex scenes that bordered on porn things would have been better. The fact of the matter is that I have laughed more at an episode of Seinfeld or Cheers than I did at these movies, and I didn‘t see any explicit sexual stuff in those shows.

I have to say that every time I go see a movie, no matter what genre, I compare it with the best in its class. So when I went to see Kingdom of Heaven a couple of years ago I compared it to Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan, needless to say it did not measure up to those movies. I do the same when I see comedies. So when I sat down to see Forgetting Sarah Marshal I was thinking to myself, “alright lets pick something that this can measure up to” the first movie that came to mind was Swingers, which was a great movie that was funny and not to crazy. And the low budget Swingers did a number on the (what seemed to be) cranked out Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

The main problem with these movies is that the main plot gets tainted with the small disgusting parts and it ruins the rest of the movie. The plots of each movie are fairly simple and would have done just fine without the soft-core scenes. The irony of this whole issue is the fact that I actually liked Knocked Up which was a pretty crazy movie but it didn’t have the same type of sexual content that these movies have and the plot of Knocked Up revolved around sex. And to be fair The Heartbreak Kid was far worse than FSM in the sex category, but FSM had some areas that were pretty interesting for lack of a better word.