In an interview from Turner Classic movies, filmmaker Terry Gilliam provides his perspective on the differences between Stanely Kubrick and Steven Spielberg. Essentially, it comes down to this: Spielberg provides comforting answers for his audience; Kubrick (as in 2001: A SPACY ODYSSEY) raises challenging questions that provoke the audience to think.
To underline his point, Gilliam quotes an exchange between Kubrick and Frederick Raphael, his co-writer on EYES WIDE SHUT. In Raphael’s memoir of their working relationship, Eyes Wide Open, he recounts a conversation regarding films that have depicted the Holocaust. Raphael shows off his smarts by mentioning obscure titles, while Kubrick keeps asking “What else?” Finally, Raphael is forced to mention the elephant in the room SCHINDLER’S LIST. What follows goes like this:
STANLEY KUBRICK: “Think that was about the Holocaust?” FREDERICK RAPHAEL: “Wasn’t it? What else was it about?” STANLEY KUBRICK: “That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. SCHINDLER’S LIST was about 600 people who don’t.”
Do you ever feel your Sense of Wonder being overwhelmed? We certainly did this past weekend (in terms of quantity if not quality) with no less than six horror, fantasy, and/or science fiction films opening in U.S. theatres – some nationwide, some in limited engagements. EVIL DEAD, THALE, and EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL were covered in a previous Spotlight Podcast earlier this week. That leaves JURASSIC PARK, 6 SOULS, and THE BRASS TEAPOT for this follow-up edition.
Podcasters Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski delve deeply into the prehistory of the Steven Spielberg classic, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, which has been re-released in a new 3D conversion, including IMAX engagements. Does depth add a new dimension of terror to the 1990s computer-generated imagery? And how does the film hold up two decades after its original release?
After that, Biodrowski offers capsule comments on 6 SOULS (a supernatural thriller starring Julianne Moore) and THE BRASS TEAPOT (a comic-fantasy about a couple who discover a teapot that gives them free money – when they hurt themselves). Lawrence French wraps up with an account of seeing producer Thom Mount (who was interviewing director Roman Polanski via Skype at the Roxy Theatre in San Francisco) and learning from Mount that there is director’s cut of Roger Corman’s neglected FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND (1990) lying in the Warner Brothers vaults. If only Warner Brothers could be persuaded to release that version on Blu-ray disc!
It’s our first Spielberg veteran here at CFQi, and a good one, too. Dee Wallace probably reached her greatest audience as the progressive but put-upon suburban mom of E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, but she had previously developed her genre chops in two landmark horror titles: Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES and Joe Dante’s THE HOWLING, and most recently took her career in a darkly satirical direction with her work in the Asylum’s gory, fractured fairy tale, HANSEL AND GRETEL. Our conversation with Dee was frank and incisive, taking in a discussion of Spielberg’s personal investment in his films, the emotional complications of doing explicit sex scenes, and what it’s like breaking into the business on a low-budget horror film. Click on the player to hear the show.
Check out some of the Blu-ray bonus clips at the bottom of this post.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, Universal Home Entertainment releases the Blu-ray disc of JAWS (1975), the Steven Spielberg film often credited with birthing the phenomenon of the summer blockbuster. Based on Peter Benchley’s bestseller, JAWS went on to become the most successful box office winner of all time (until it was replaced by STAR WARS two years later). The film has seen several previous home video releases (VHS, laserdisc, DVD); now, as part of Universal’s 100th anniversary celebration, it arrives in a new, digitally remastered high-definition transfer, with 7.1 surround sound. The combo pack also contains a DVD, a digital copy, Ultraviolet, and over four hours of bonus featuring, including a new documentary THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING (the title is an ironic commentary on the actual facts of JAWS’s production, during which the mechanical shark was often not working).
The press release offers more details, in the usual hyperbolic Hollywood style:
One of the most influential motion pictures of all time and nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award®, JAWS stars Oscar® winner Richard Dreyfuss and Oscar® nominees Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw. Produced by legendary filmmakers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, the film earned an Oscar® for composer John Williams’ instantly recognizable minimalist score, as well as Oscars® for Best Editing and Best Sound. When it was first released in 1975, JAWS smashed box-office records and became the highest-grossing film of its era, earning Spielberg a reputation as a Hollywood visionary. Today, it remains one of the highest-grossing films in motion-picture history and is largely considered the film that launched the summer blockbuster.
JAWS is one of 13 classic Universal films to be digitally remastered and fully restored from 35mm original film elements as part of Universal’s ongoing 100th Anniversary celebration. The JAWS restoration began with researching and evaluating the existing film elements to determine the best means to restore the film. Over the course of several months, skilled technicians at Universal Studios Digital Services meticulously balanced color, removed dirt and scratches, and repaired any damage to the film elements shot by shot and frame by frame. Following the picture restoration, Universal Studios Sound team up-mixed the iconic JAWS soundtrack to DTS-HD Master 7.1, optimizing the sound on the Blu-rayTM for the latest home theater technology. The entire restoration process was conducted in conjunction with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment’s post-production team to ensure the integrity of Spielberg’s original vision remained intact.
“JAWS holds a unique place, not just in Universal Pictures’ history, but in global pop culture,” said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “It is only fitting that this phenomenal film should be given the extensive restoration needed to ensure that long-time fans as well as newcomers can enjoy this unforgettable cinematic achievement for generations to come.”
The JAWS Blu-ray™ Combo Pack is available in collectible Universal 100th Anniversary packaging for a limited time. The Combo Pack also contains a Digital Copy of the film for a limited time, compatible with iTunes®, iPad®, iPhone®, iPod™ touch, Android or online retail partners, as well as an UltraViolet™ copy. UltraViolet is the revolutionary new way for consumers to collect movies and TV shows in the cloud to download and stream instantly to computers, tablets and smartphones. Consumers can now truly enjoy their movies anytime, anywhere on the platform of their choice.
Blu-ray™ Bonus Features:
• The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of JAWS: All-new feature-length documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider.
• JAWS: The Restoration: An all-new, in-depth look at the intricate process of restoring the movie.
• The Making of JAWS: A two-hour documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.
• From the Set: An insider’s look at life on the set of JAWS, featuring an interview with Steven Spielberg.
• Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
• JAWS Archives: Take a peek inside the JAWS archives, including storyboards, production photos and marketing materials, as well as a special segment on the JAWS phenomenon.
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• UltraViolet™: The revolutionary new way for consumers to collect movies and TV shows, store them in the cloud, and download and stream instantly to computers, tablets and smartphones. Currently available in the United States only.
• Digital Copy: Viewers can redeem a digital version of the full-length movie from a choice of retail partners to watch on an array of electronic and portable devices.
• pocket BLU™ App: The popular free pocket BLU™ app for smartphones is now even better with newly updated versions for iPad®, Android™ tablets, PC and Macintosh computers, with features made especially to take advantage of the devices’ larger screens and high resolution displays.
o Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
o Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
o Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
o Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
o Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.
• BD-LIVE™: Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to access the latest trailers, exclusive content and more!
DVD Bonus Features:
• Spotlight on Location: The Making of JAWS: Highlights from the full-length documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.
Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, Jaws set the standard for edge-of-your-seat suspense quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon and forever changing the movie industry. When the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.
CAST & FILMMAKERS
Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Produced By: Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown
Music By: John Williams
Based on Novel By: Peter Benchley
Screenplay By: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb
Director of Photography: Bill Butler
Production Design By: Joseph Alves Jr.
Editor: Verna Fields
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Copyright: 2012 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Selection Numbers: 61121167 (US); 61121267 (Canada)
Running Time: 2 Hours 4 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen 2.35:1
Technical Info: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1/DTS Digital Surround 2.0 Mono and Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Street Date: 8/14/2012
Copyright: 2012 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Selection Numbers: 61120918 (US); 61121268 (Canada)
Running Time: 2 Hours 4 Minutes
Layers: Dual Layer
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Screen 2.35:1
Technical Info: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Mono, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
In honor of its Centennial anniversary, Universal Pictures proudly salutes 100 years of unforgettable films that have entertained audiences and touched the hearts of millions around the globe. In celebration of our first 100 years, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is proud to present a selection of our many beloved movies as part of an extensive year-long program that underscores the studio’s rich cinematic history and indelible cultural impact.
Check out sample clips from the bonus features below:
Ralph Angus McQuarrie, best know for his conceptual artwork for STAR WARS, passed away March 3rd. He was 82.
McQuarrie came from a background in the advertising and aerospace fields, doing work ranging from dental equipment and conceptual work for Boeing. He also did film posters, and supplied the animation CBS used to show what viewers what the Apollo moon landing would entail. Ralph McQuarrie was approached by George Lucas in 1975 to do presentation artwork to help sell “THE STAR WARS” to film executives unable to envision what the film would look like. He designed the robots C3PO and R2D2, and the iconic Darth Vader, giving him the distinctive helmet and breathing mask.
He was quoted (by the San Diego Union-Tribune as saying:
“I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea. I didn’t think the film would ever get made.
My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn’t be enough of an audience. It’s just too complicated.
But George knew a lot of things that I didn’t know.”
At Star Wars.com Lucas was quick to praise McQuarrie:
“His genial contribution, in the form of unequalled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘do it like this’.”
And indeed, many of the scenes and settings in the first three STAR WARS films looked very much like McQuarrie’s paintings come to life.
Ralph McQuarrie also designed several of the the UFOs in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), including the mothership, inspired by Speilberg’s description of it looking like ‘an oil refinery at night’.
He also did design and production illustrations for E.T: The Extraterrestrial, the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, STAR TREK IV, and COCOON (1985), for which he won an Academy Award.
He appeared uncredited as “General McQuarrie” in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and even had an action figure made of his character.
He did design work on a STAR TREK film that did not get made (prior to STAR TREK: The Motion Picture), which featured a radicallly redesigned Enterprise. The study model for this project was eventually used as a background ship on STAR TREK: The Next Generation.
NIGHTBREED (1990), BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED and JURASSIC PARK were other productions on which he worked.
Time to close the year off with some rip-roarin’ adventure, so why not throw in a little, continental flair in the process? Steven Spielberg has decided to take that route, and make his debut in the animation field, with THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, a cg-animated film using AVATAR’s performance-capture process and based on the charmingly audacious comic books by the artist Hergé. Starting with a mysterious message found in a model boat and spinning out into grandiose tapestry of action that includes pirate raids, fictional Arabian kingdoms, motorcycle chases, and talented opera singers, the story takes the classic boy reporter/detective (performed and voiced by Jamie Bell) and gives him the kind of adrenaline-filled exploits that only Spielberg can orchestrate.
Click on the player to hear the press conference featuring Steven Spielberg (who fields most of the questions), producer Kathleen Kennedy, stars Bell and Nick Frost, and WETA effects master Joe Letteri.
Here’s a Sneak Peek of TERRA NOVA’s “Now You See Me”
Taylor and Mira square-off in the jungle where he learns more about her plans and about his son. But then they both face a pre-historic enemy they must conquer together.
Meanwhile, the “Sixer” mole scrambles to cover its tracks as Terra Nova goes on lockdown and Jim closes in. Also, Zoe faces a difficult decision as the Ankylosaur she has been caring for grows rapidly.
TERRA NOVA airs Mondays at 8:00 PM/7:00 Central on the Fox Network.
J.J. Abrams, the man who set the deliriously enigmatic pace for LOST in that show’s pilot and upended STAR TREK by blowing up Vulcan (we still haven’t recovered) now sets his sights on the Spielbergian kids’ adventure in SUPER 8. Set in a small-town, rose-tinted version of 1979, the sf/fantasy film tells the tale of a group of tweens — prime amongst them Elle Fanning — who while filming their zombie movie capture on-camera a spectacular train crash and the unleashing of something malevolent from within. With Abrams idol Spielberg himself stepping into the producer role, will SUPER 8 be the film to take the Master’s visionary fantasy/drama template from the seventies and eighties and reconcile it with Abrams’ ability to work nuanced, character-based drama into a genre framework? Or is the inexorable pull of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS’ sense of wonder too strong even for the man who in the past few years has acquired a reputation for his own, unique storytelling style? Join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons as they discuss the issue.
Click on the player to hear the discussion.
SUPER 8 – the highly anticipated science fiction thriller from writer-director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg – explodes onto screens this week. Naturally, the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast – the podcast of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films – is here to tell you whether or not to get your hopes up; CFQ regulard Dan Persons, Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski wiegh in, and Dan, who got a sneak peak months ago, opines that, yes, you should be excited. Also on this week’s agenda: a look at some recent headlines, including news that Tom Cruise is signing on to appear in the big-budget futuristic would-be blockbuster OBLIVION and that directorial stylist Alex Proyas (THE CROW, DARK CITY) is developing a new science fiction film.