It seems that we survived the end of the world. Screenwriters everywhere let out a collective sigh of relief; not only do they keep their audiences, but one of their favourite plot lines too. So what can we expect from the film industry in 2013?
A fair bit of nostalgia by the looks of things; Jurassic Park, The Little Mermaid, Top Gun, and Star Wars episodes II and III are all to be rereleased in 3D and Imax. And let’s not forget the inescapable sequels; Bruce Willis teams up with his son in A Good Day to Die Hard (rising above the puns), then there’s GI Joe: Retaliation, Scary Movie 5, Iron Man 3, Fast and Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, Kick-Ass 2, Despicable Me 2, Grown Ups 2, The Smurfs 2, RED 2…the list goes on. Now I’m not saying I won’t go and see any of these, but the continuous rehashing of tired plot lines and overuse of great characters to squeeze out a profit (without taxing the screenwriters) is getting me down. I long for old Hollywood glamour. Weeks of anticipation for a film to come to town, big names like Bergman, Bogart and Hepburn…actors with presence and personality. Fortunately for this grumpy gal, 2013 celebrates many classic film anniversaries and the institutional Warner Brother’s Studio’s 90th Anniversary. Join me as I dig into the archives for some golden oldies and celebrate just how good cinema can be…
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World (1963)
The dying words of a man, overheard by a group of motorists, sparks a crazed cross country race to the money he buried in California.
With this action-packed, frenetic film, Stanley Kramer proved he could handle comedy in a big way. 2001’s small-scale remake Rat Race has nothing on this three hour epic of organized chaos an army of comedians brings to this humorous portrayal of greed. Although for some the 105-strong cast could be a little OTT, the never-ending goofy slapstick and onscreen mayhem make this a mad-cap romp to remember.
Disney’s Robin Hood (1973)
King Richard’s off fighting in the Crusades and his evil little brother taxes the population of Nottingham into prison. Robin to the rescue!
The oft reworked tale of Robin Hood got a new lease of life when Disney transformed Nottingham’s most notorious into woodland animals. Despite a limited budget requiring the artists to recycle some sequences from earlier Disney films, the reinvention of Robin and his paramour as a pair of feisty foxes is a family classic.
Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life (1983)
A cheerfully offensive documentation of the meaning of life, split into seven skits about its stages; from the Miracle of Birth to the great frontier of Death itself.
The Meaning of Life sees the comedic troupe of Life of Brian and Holy Grail fame return to their roots with this sketch-style musical comedy. The cast deliver wonderfully eccentric British humour that will either have you crying with laughter or scowling at the nonsense. Although the ultimate aim of the film might be trying to define the meaning of human existence, digressions into topics such as war, sex and Christianity allow the Pythons ample opportunity for a few musical numbers you probably shouldn’t sing on the train.
Offensive and disgusting and just like Marmite you’ll either love or hate The Meaning of Life.
Having failed to scare off the obnoxious family moving into their home, the newly wed and dead Maitlands (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) are forced to hire bio-exorcist Beetlejuice to prevent their home becoming a paranormal theme park.
Beetlejuice is the liveliest depiction of the afterlife since Ghostbusters. Keaton’s vindictive, cantankerous prankster brings anarchy to the lives of the innocent and beguiled Maitlands, whose fateful honeymoon sees them plunged into Tim Burton’s surrealist envisioning of the hereafter. In perfect contrast to Winona Ryder’s gothic, macabre Lydia, Keaton’s exuberant poltergeist performance is almost pantomime – you just love to hate him.
Twisting the traditional haunted house tale for his ends, this sardonic comedy is a testament to Burton’s vivid imagination, and justifiably remains a favourite for Burton fans today.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Recently bereaved Sam shares his emotional turmoil on the radio and is inundated with propositions from women across America. His son Jonah decides to take up the cause and contacts Annie, a journalist, 2700 miles away.
As Sleepless’ lovers (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) aren’t even introduced until the final scene, this is not quite the usual rom-com plot. It is, however, one which may strike a chord. Distanced from friends and family as most of us are, we can relate to issues of geographical separation and time difference, but where Hanks and Ryan have radio, we have Skype. (Arguably their tale wouldn’t have had quite the same tear-jerking impact had they previously met via video chat, but it makes us appreciate the wonder of the internet.) Hanks’ portrayal of Sam has a gravity and sweetness which, complemented by Ryan’s vulnerable Annie, will convince any cynic. Inspired by An Affair to Remember, director Nora Ephron plays on how Hollywood inspires and distorts romance.
Editor’s Note – Disney and Lucafilm have since decided to postpone the 3D release of Star Wars Episodes II and III.