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Tears In The Rain, by Tyler Smith

31 Dec

BLADE RUNNER (1982)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young

I recently compiled a list of some of my favorite screen villains. Usually, I find myself drawn to the villains who are not obvious caricatures, but are complex characters, whose motives are not always bad. I tend to like characters who, like those of us who live in real life, are just trying to life their lives according to what they think is right. The complexity comes into play when someone or something gets in the villain’s way, and he must decide how to deal with it. It’s usually around this time that this character is established as a villain.

Which brings me to one of my favorite movie villains: Roy Batty, from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

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It’s Hard Being The Shepherd, by Tyler Smith

5 Dec

PULP FICTION (1994)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender
Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis

It’s frustrating writing about movies like Pulp Fiction, because everybody has an opinion on it, so why are they going to listen to what I have to say?

With Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, I can be confident that very few, if any, of the readers have seen it, so it frees me up. Hell, I can just make stuff up, if I wanted, and no one would be the wiser.

Not possible with this one, though.

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What’s Inside That Cabinet? by Tyler Smith

4 Dec

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920)
Directed by: Robert Wiene
Written by: Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz
Starring: Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss

My senior year of college, I took a critical studies class on German Expressionism. For those that don’t know, Expressionism refers to the themes of a film being expressed in the visuals. For example, Gotham City is a cauldron of sin, violence, and corruption. We don’t need to be told this by the characters, because we already know this, because the city itself looks like no other city in the world. The buildings, the darkness, it’s not meant to reflect reality; it’s meant to let us see what can’t be seen.

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"I Just Cut The Hair," by Tyler Smith

11 Nov

THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE (2001)
Written and Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, James Gandolfini

The work of vintage mystery writers has long been an influence on Joel and Ethan Coen. Upon reading Dashiell Hammett’s “The Glass Key” and “Red Harvest,” it’s almost surprising that he didn’t get a credit on the Coens’ Miller’s Crossing. In The Man Who Wasn’t There, they are inspired by the work of James M. Cain, the writer of “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” Those books, and subsequent films, are all about ordinary guys drawn into a murderous plot, usually by a beautiful woman and the promise of wealth. Invariably, their crimes catch up with them, and we are left shaking our heads, knowing that these guys never had a chance.

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Just Like The Rest Of Us, by Tyler Smith

7 Aug

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)
Directed by: Norman Jewison
Written by: Stirling Silliphant
Starring: Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier, Warren Oates

There have been a lot of movies about prejudice, some good (Crash), others not so much (Remember The Titans), but one of the best is Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night. What’s interesting is that, whenever great movies are discussed, this film is seldom mentioned, which is especially odd, considering that it won both Best Picture and Actor that year.

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It’s The Pictures That Got Small, by Tyler Smith

20 Jul

SUNSET BLVD. (1950)
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Written by: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman Jr.
Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim

As many of you know, Jen and I took a trip to Los Angeles for a week. A couple of days after getting back, a good friend of mine in Missouri passed away, so I went home for the funeral for a couple of days. Needless to say, it’s been a very busy two weeks, with many emotional ups and downs.

Behind the Masks, by Tyler Smith

20 Jun

FACES (1968)
Written and Directed by: John Cassavetes
Starring: John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel

In film school, one will frequently be asked who one’s favorite directors are. Chances are, if you’ve taken the time to actually go to film school, you have a definite answer to that. After being there a while, though, you’ll start to notice that there’s a follow-up question to that, which is, “Who are your influences?”

It may seem as though these are the same question, but they most certainly are not. To give an example, I love the work of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder. However, in the films that I’ve made and desire to make in the future, I’ve found that I have no desire to emulate the work of these great directors.

Instead, when asked the question of which directors I am influenced by, the top four on the list are Jim Jarmusch, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, and John Cassavetes. Over the course of talking about my favorite films, I’ll be discussing what I like about each one, but, today, we’ll focus in on Cassavetes, and his second film, Faces.

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A Celebration of Inhumanity, by Tyler Smith

8 Jun

The last couple of days have been very strange for me.  It has been a true roller coaster of emotion.  It has been a time of introspection and self analysis.  And, no, this actually has nothing whatsoever to do with my depression.  This came about because of a television show called “Deadliest Warrior.”

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All The Way To Stans, by Tyler Smith

31 May

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976)
Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
Written by: William Goldman
Starring: Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Robards, Jack Warden

There are a handful of movies out there that, when I see them on television, regardless of how far into the film it is, I will sit and watch it until the end. Now, this could mean that I’ll just be catching the last twenty minutes, or it could mean that I’ll be up until three in the morning, because they just started the movie fifteen minutes ago. Doesn’t matter. There are some films out there that are just so engaging that I can’t help it. I have to watch.

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A Hard Target Search, by Tyler Smith

31 May

THE FUGITIVE (1993)
Directed by: Andrew Davis
Written by: Jeb Stuart and David Twohy
Starring: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano

It’s no secret to anybody that knows me that I have a serious aversion to action films. Perhaps more so than any other genre, “Action-Adventure” has the highest potential to make me roll my eyes and grit my teeth. There’s just something about it.

I think it may be that many action films seem to come up with the action first, then the story. I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard that, when Robert Towne was halfway through the script for Mission: Impossible II, John Woo approached him and informed him that he had already thought up two complete action setpieces, and was working on a third, and that Towne would have to work them into the script. Towne observed that these action sequences made no sense by themselves, let alone as part of a larger story. Woo just shrugged. As I said, this story may not be completely true, but the end product sure does bear it out.

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