Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twisting Disney

My daughter is starting to become obsessed with Disney princesses. She's constantly asking to watch " 'rella" and she's always wanting to dance with me while singing "I know you upon dream" over and over again.

I have no problem with this.

Even though I know that Disney is an evil and ruthless corporate organization determined to rule the world, I have fond memories of many Disney animated features, and I hope that my children will have the same positive feelings for these movies and the characters.

So, in order to appease my daughter (let's face it, I need the readership), I've decided to post pictures of Disney princesses on this blog. . . HOWEVER, since this blog is all about the strange and unusual, I'm going to compromise and post pictures of Disney Princesses according to an artist named Jeffery Thomas (aka jeftoon01) from the DeviantART website.

Here are some of my favorites:

Snow White looks pretty creepy herself, but when you add those freaky dwarfs, it's pretty awesome.

Alice In Wonderland was never one of my favorite Disney cartoons, but maybe it would have been if it had this kind of vibe (Tim Burton? You listening?).

Yes, this one is quite disturbing, but I really like how they brought in the owl with the prince's cape.

Let's face reality, folks, this is probably what mermaids would look like if they existed. Notice how she has a "dinglehopper" for a hand.

Belle is sporting a pretty serious "Samara" look in this picture, but she's still the hottest Disney princess (that's right! I said it!).

Why is Cinderella made of burlap and straw? I don't know, but Gus-Gus looks pretty ticked off about the whole thing.

So there you have it. I know that some of you out there will hate the Twisted Princess series (you can find the rest of the princesses if you click here), but you have to admit that they're quite unique.

Let's see if this wins over my daughter.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Cinematic World Without World War II

The other night I was watching Casablanca, and I realized that the entire conflict which puts the plot in motion was World War II. I then got to thinking about how many films deal with WWII and how many movies use the events and after effects of the Second World War as a plot point. Even this past weekend, there was a big-budget production that dealt specifically with the war. Which begs the question:

What films would not exist if World War II never happened?

That's a double negative, I know, but I'm just suggesting that the Second World War has influenced a large number of films in Hollywood and without this "inspiration" a lot of plot lines and screenplays wouldn't have existed. Yes, a world without WWII would have prevented the awful Pearl Harbor movie by Michael Bay, but it would have also cut out a number of critically acclaimed and cherished films.

Since listing all the movies that would be missing in this alternate reality would create an insanely long post, I've decided to order them in 7 different film categories:

1. Actual World War II

The first to go would be the films that actually deal with soldiers in the war and show the battle lines - the movies where the war is a prominent or primary part of the plot. This is a pretty obvious, category, I know, but I'll try to get a little more obscure as we go on.

Other examples: Sands of Iwo Jima, Saints and Soldiers, The Bridge on the River Kwai

2. Dealing with Nazis

Next on the chopping block would be the films that don't specifically show the war, but they still deal with the participants. Without WW2, we would lose a large chunk of movies where the hero is fighting the Nazis. If you need a bad guy in a movie, the traditional Nazi is the way to go. If your antagonist is a goose-stepper, then you have someone the audience automatically hates without having to delve into any of that annoying character development. In fact, I'd venture to say that Nazis are the only group of people in America who can be destroyed in a movie and no one in the audience will cry political incorrectness.

Other examples: Hellboy, Went the Day Well?, American History X

3. Dealing with the Holocaust

There is some overlap with this category and the previous one, but these would be the sympathetic films that deal more with the suffering of the Jewish people rather than fighting against the Nazi soldiers. These are the films that tug at your heartstrings and bring the horrors of concentration camps into your living room. Hollywood has made a number of these films to help us not forget how low humanity can sink if left unchecked.

Other examples: Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful, Everything is Illuminated

4. Vietnam

"But, The Former 786," you may say, "This is a completely different war!" Trust me, I know that, but I was discussing this post with a friend of mine who is an expert in the way of history and he informed me that the Vietnam War is actually a result of France losing control of French Indochina after being conquered by the Nazis. -- Maybe some sort of conflict around Vietnam would have occurred regardless of WW2's aftermath, but it wouldn't have been the same -- and Oliver Stone would be out of a job.

Other examples: Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Forrest Gump

5. Russian Power and the Cold War

Yup, this category of films would be altered as well. As my historically inclined friend also explained to me, "The Cold War may have happened, but certainly not in the same way. The US was not involved in international intervention before the war, and the Soviet Union claimed Eastern Europe after the war - which started fears of a communist takeover of the world. It also allowed Stalin to consolidate power. The US and the Soviet Union becoming the remaining superpowers is, in fact, a direct result of the war." No Russian fears = no Russian arch enemies in American movies. This would eliminate a number of films from the 80s and would almost completely destroy the James Bond franchise.

Other examples: The Hunt for Red October, Spies Like Us, Rocky IV

6. The Nuclear Option

Speaking generally, pretty much any film that involves a nuclear threat and/or detonation owes a debt of gratitude to the Second World War. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the whole world changed - suddenly there was a way to destroy people en masse. In the history of warfare, only two nuclear weapons have been detonated offensively, both during World War II. Since the bomb and the use thereof come from the war, fear of nuclear destruction is also a result of the war. -->

Other examples: Grave of the Fireflies, WarGames, Terminator 2

7. Miscellaneous WWII

The children in both the above movie and Bedknobs and Broomsticks are displaced because of the events of the war. Another faithful reader mentioned to me that it is generally accepted that Film Noir is a direct result of the Second World War - the films that began the genre almost always focus on a World War II veteran who doesn't know how to reassimilate. Plus, B-movies, in general, were developed as cost-saving measures to keep Hollywood churning and profiting even during times of WW2 rationing. This war is everywhere in Hollywood, I tell ya!

So, there ya go. Now, keep in mind, this is an alternate reality, so my speculation is just as good as yours. However, it makes you wonder what the film industry would be like if it wasn't for World War II. It's probable that other events would have inspired screenwriters and other wars could have taken the place of the current ones in film, but I just thought it was interesting that one war among so many could make such an impression on the big screen. I mean, click here and see a massive list of films that deal with WWII!

So, in answer to the question "War, what is it good for?" I'd say it's pretty good for the box office.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sweet Georgia Brown!


So this past week has been a little busy for me, so I didn't have time to find and/or formulate a substantial blog post. So I decided to share a couple videos with a common theme - see if you can guess what the theme is (Hint: it's the title of this post).

#1 - You may remember this exercise video lady from another post. This is another segment from the Jazzercise workout video. Notice the music in the background.

I mean, how can you NOT lose weight to this routine?

#2 - This next video is a woman named Georgia Brown (theme tie-in!) who is the Guinness World Records' holder for singing the highest recorded vocal note. Take THAT, Mariah Carey! See if you can guess the tune she's sing. . .er. . .screeching.


I'd like to thank Jordan for introducing these videos to me and for teaching me what the "whistle register" is.

Thanks, Jordan!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Favorite Hughes Movies

Some of you may probably already know about the sudden passing of John Hughes and there have been many articles written about him and his movies as of late, but I wanted to do my own tribute to the man who wrote and/or directed many of my favorite films.

For those of you that don't know who John Hughes is, let me put it this way: if you watched any comedy from the 80's then you've seen his work. Hughes was a creative storyteller with an amazing sense of humor.

So I now present to you a list of my personal favorite John Hughes movies which, not coincidentally, is also a list of some of my favorite films in general:

6. Uncle Buck (Writer/Director)

It's amazing to me how funny and heartfelt a movie can be at the same time.

5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Writer)

It's tradition to watch this every holiday season with my family. It's a classic!

4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Writer/Director)

One of the greatest "road trip" films of all time. John Candy and Steve Martin make a great team!

3. National Lampoon's Vacation (Writer)

So many hilarious moments that it's hard to choose just one.

2. Home Alone (Writer)

A childhood favorite that's often imitated, but never duplicated.

1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Writer/Director)

One of the best movies ever. Period. I never get tired of watching Ferris' antics on his vacation from school. We all wish we had days like this.

Some other very honorable mentions include The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Mr. Mom, Weird Science, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Great Outdoors, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Career Opportunities, Curly Sue, Beethoven and many more.

Thank you, Mr. Hughes, for entertaining me so much throughout my life. You will be missed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breaking Down the Term "Chick Flick"

Chick Flicks.

The fact that this post starts off with that phrase may cause thousands of males to not read the rest of it. After all, "Chick Flick" is one of those terms like "menstrual," or "neutered," or "minivan" that make men cringe at the mere mention of it (I've now just lost more male readership). But what, exactly, is a Chick Flick? It's an umbrella term that covers pretty much any film that is geared toward a female audience. But there are actually a number of different types of films within this realm - some more accessible to men than others.

Let me put it in terms that males will understand: Meat. "Chick flick" = "BBQ." BBQ is a general term that covers a range of delicious meats, but included in that group you can have brisket, pulled pork, ribs, steak, chicken and other stuff like that. Chick Flicks ain't so different.

So let me present to you what I've found to be the four categories included in the term "Chick Flick." Here they are in order from most accessible to least accessible to males:

1. The Romantic Comedy - Man Meter = Green

This is the most accessible type of Chick Flick to men because it is, still, a comedy and there are, usually, funny parts that work for both men and women. Sure, they have their annoying cliched moments, but they usually have an entertaining storyline and enough eye candy to keep men entertained. Plus, if you suggest watching these films when with a girl, you'll gain bonus points.

Other examples: Return to Me, Serendipity

2. The Tearjerker - Man Meter = Yellow

This category of Chick Flick is pretty much what it sounds like. The sole purpose of these kind of movies is to make people weep and weep openly. Maybe that's why women drag men to these kind of movies - so they can see them open up, emotionally, but usually they just get a lot of eye rolling. Lost loves, sudden tragic deaths and cancer abound in these plotlines. These types of films will do anything they can to make your eyes well up. However, sometimes these films get nominated for Academy Awards and that leads me to believe that some men will still watch them.

Other examples: Love Story, Steel Magnolias

3. The Period Piece - Man Meter = Orange

Even though we're sliding down the scale, believe it or not, this is NOT the least accessible to men. Many of these types of films, generally set in the Victorian era, are based on well-written literature and so they are, usually, not completely horrible. And I think that if males give these period pieces a chance, then they will not regret it as much as they think they will. Heck, I once watched/was forced to watch the entire BBC Pride and Prejudice TV serial and I didn't want to gouge my eyes out, for the most part. But still, men are weary of movies where bonnets are a regularly occurring piece of clothing and the word "Gables" is used in any way, shape or form.

Other examples: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre

4. The Men-Hater - Man Meter = RED

Now when men watch one of these, they WILL regret it. In these types of movies, men are the bad guys. During one of these films you will discover that males are nothing more than antagonistic, chauvinistic, disgusting pigs and you should be ashamed if you have that abominable Y chromosome. How DARE you be male!! Even if these movies entice you in with the likes of Ashley Judd or Demi Moore, trust me, these are NOT films you want to take a date to.

Other examples: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Now and Then

So there you have it. Some films may be included in two categories at the same time, but the majority of films geared toward women will fall into one of these four categories. And Hollywood is going to keep making films like this because Chick Flicks are cheaper to make than the big blockbuster special effect movies and they bring in more money in relation to their cost because people going to see it are usually on a date and/or in a large group. Cha-ching!

So the next time someone suggests that you watch a "Chick Flick" you can ask them to specify which one of the four categories it falls into, refer them to this blog when they look at you funny and say that they have no idea what you're talking about, and then make an educated decision as to whether you really want to watch it or not.

Happy viewing!