More Talking in Movie Quotes


In 2009 I posted about my tendency to talk in movie quotes that nobody got but me. This is a quick addendum to that fine list; two one-word lines from films I hope you’ve seen.

Mangoes!  This is from Apocalypse Now, shrieked by Chef as he’s being ordered to search a Vietnamese skiff for weapons. Keep in mind, Chef was prejudiced against mangoes since the tiger incident. Viewer discretion advised:

Firewood!   This is from Force 10 from Navarone, elegantly delivered by Barbara Bach in a succinct staccato: “FIE whood!”

These have the unique disposition of being things I say out loud, non-sequitur, whenever I see or hear the words. They’re also both exclamations, which leads to the fact that they both get me into awkward social situations. Especially at Hawaiian BBQs.

Movie Quiz Game


I just wasted a perfectly good hour playing a pretty cool quiz game called Famous Objects from Classic Movies. Using minimalist representations of objects found in the vast array of moviedom, the creators then have a Hangman-style interface where you type in the title of the movie the object is from. Some objects are harder to associate than others, but the choices are all pretty awesome. I ended up with a score of 77 right, 4 wrong. Created by Ji Lee, it’s a must for any movie buff to play, and they’re always adding more titles. So go play!


In the Movies: Elevator Shafts


Shane Gorski under Creative Commons

Settings in movies tend to be places the average person doesn’t spend a lot of time in, be it a beach in the South of France, or in outer space, or elsewhere. The exotic nature of a particular scene stimulates the imagination, and pulls the viewer in deeper. Our interest perks up when the characters on-screen find themselves in strange locales; and one of these locales is the dreaded, beloved, and mysterious elevator shaft.

Found almost exclusively in the action/thriller genres, scenes involving elevator shafts take us into the forbidden area above and below the cars we generally ride in when traveling tall buildings. While it’s true that the concept of a mechanical lift has been around for centuries, modern elevators (and the dangers associated with them) sparked the imaginations of filmmakers since the days of black and white. And although the typical elevator shaft is not a grandiose space that would allow for such dramatics as Hollywood would like us to think, many timeless classics have portrayed them as such.  Let’s take a look at some.

Death by Shaft

In John Farrow’s classic, The Big Clock, Charles Laughton’s character Janoth plummets to his death when he steps into an open shaft; this is after killing his accuser, so it’s justified. Things don’t end up so satisfying for Emilio Estevez’s character in Mission Impossible‘s opening sequence, as the car he’s hiding atop takes him to the top of the shaft, where he meets a steely, gruesome end.

There’s even a horror movie starring Naomi Watts about a killer, evil, possessed elevator called The Shaft: YouTube Link

Surviving the Danger

20th Century Fox

Detective John McClane is pretty well-versed in dispatching the villains he encounters via elevator shaft. Whether he’s dropping C-4 down the Nakatomi Plaza’s well, or battling a henchwoman in a power station’s, he definitely “dies hard” in a hostile environment.

20th Century Fox

The opening of Speed features a breathtaking rescue effort as a group of office workers are held hostage in an elevator car, Dennis Hopper’s madman ready to blow the cables at a moment’s notice. Enter Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels, who go into the shaft above the imperiled car and save lives in a most excellent fashion. Director Jan de Bont was the cinematographer for Die Hard, and the influence shows in this taut sequence.

Artisan Home Entertainment

Narrow escapes are plentiful in each movie about an unstoppable cyborg trying to kill the Connors, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day includes many, including this scene where the T-1000, having just missed the elevator going down with his prey aboard, deftly opens the doors and jumps down onto the top of the car. Multiple stabbing attempts later, he oozes into the elevator after failing to kill his quarry… again.

Other examples of surviving the danger include Backdraft, and I assume Salt. In the former, a firefighter is rescued from a burning shaft, and the latter ostensibly has Angelina Jolie eluding her pursuers in some acrobatic way. What can I say, I haven’t seen it.

Use it or Lose it

Some films have a scene in an elevator shaft for utilitarian purposes. There’s not a lot of danger, and nobody dies. The characters just need to use the shaft in order to do something.


In Sneakers, River Phoenix’s Carl uses the shaft to navigate into a service duct, where he can manipulate an office’s security measures. He spends about five seconds in the shaft, but there it is.

And finally, a scene involving an elevator shaft unlike any other.

Warner Bros.

Without giving too much away, this scene from Inception is hands down the most creative use of an elevator shaft I can think of. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt’s Arthur puts the shaft, the car, and the cables into a cinematic spin that completely makes sense… once you’ve seen the movie a couple of times. :)

Okay, here’s where I turn it over to you, reader. What did I miss? Sound off in the comments.

Best Summer Movie Showdown


Cinematical has been having a Best Summer Movie of All Time poll going since before summer even started, and now it’s down to two. As they say, either way George Lucas and Harrison Ford win. But which is the the best summer movie of all time, Star Wars (1977), or Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)?

I have interesting first-view stories about both of them, so this is hard for me to decide. If it was between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, I’d have no problem voting. That would be because my Empire story trumps both.

Which other movie would you consider the best summer movie of all time?

(Images courtesy Paramount & Fox)

The Best Cinematic Insults


The dramatic/comedic use of The Insult goes back to the Greeks. It’s a timeless language tool that, when well-penned, enables characters to skewer one another in the most hurtful, brutally truthful, and sometimes blunt ways possible. And the movies are no exception. In fact, some of the best insults ever are preserved in our contemporary Greek comedies and tragedies called Film.

Obviously NSFW material, and if you’re a herder of nerfs, you may be sensitive to at least one of these classic insults.

(YouTube Link)

0’00 – Roxanne, Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Gleaming the Cube, The Princess Bride, A Fish Called Wanda, The Empire Strikes Back, The Wizard of Oz, Casino, Three Amigos, A Clockwork Orange

1’05 – Dolemite, Glengarry Glen Ross, Bad Santa, The Witches of Eastwick, The Big Lebowski, In Bruges, Full Metal Jacket, There Will Be Blood

2’05 – Toy Story, Casablanca, Encino Man, The Women, Predator, Army of Darkness, They Live, Uncle Buck, Big Trouble in Little China, New Jack City, Billy Madison

3’00 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Departed, Carlito’s Way, In the Loop, Glengarry Glen Ross, Stand By Me, Grosse Pointe Blank, Duck Soup, Caddyshack, Planes Trains & Automobiles

4’00 – South Park, Napoleon Dynamite, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, As Good as It Gets, The 6th Day, Step Brothers, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Full Metal Jacket, City Slickers, Road House, True Grit, Shot Circuit

5’00 – Raging Bull, The Usual Suspects, Snatch, Caddyshack, The Last Boy Scout, Ghostbusters, The Sandlot, As Good as It Gets

6’00 – 48 Hrs, In Bruges, Silver Streak, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Fish Called Wanda, Goodfellas, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Mist, Trading Places

7’00 – The Warriors, Point Break, Gangs of New York, Reservoir Dogs, The Breakfast Club, The Cowboys, Full Metal Jacket, Dodgeball, Donnie Darko, Scarface, The Good the Bad and the Ugly

8’00 – Anchorman, Tropic Thunder, Sexy Beast, In the Loop, Get Shorty, Blazing Saddles, The Way of the Gun, Blade: Trinity, Clerks, The Boondock Saints, The Exorcist, What About Bob?, Weird Science

9’00 – Con Air, True Romance, In the Loop, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Lake Placid, The Front, Gone with the Wind

via Cynical-C |   Related: The Insult-O-Matic

Airplane! is a Remake of an Old Fifties Flick


If you’ve ever wondered where Jim Abrahams and David Zucker came up with those hilarious jokes in Airplane!, the answer isn’t strictly their warped minds. Many of the scenes set up for the gags were directly cribbed from 1957′s Zero Hour! It’s a movie about an ex fighter pilot named Stryker, who… well, see for yourself.

(YouTube Link)

Of course, the writers did have warped minds, and saw this story, replete with so many unfunny-yet- ripe-for-the-funny lines, as a perfect structure for the brilliant comedy it ultimately became.

The Other Avatar


When James Cameron’s Avatar came out, quite a few people I spoke to about it thought I was talking about Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Being parents, they were familiar with this children’s tale that I’ve never heard of, and all I could think of was, “Wow, somebody didn’t get the memo about duplicate titles in one year.”  Anyway, here’s the Super Bowl ad for M. Night’s attempt to return to relevance… and it looks pretty dang good.  Maybe.  Never Forget.

Hope For A “Long Walk” Movie


Forget The Road, the upcoming Viggo Mortensen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel.  The bleak, dark story with a somehow life-affirming movie-from-book I want to see is The Long Walk.


As I finish reading this book for the third time, I notice there are others out there who are rediscovering it, too.  Others who also see what I see in this, one of Richard Bachman’s most brutal tales (and that says a lot, since Bachman is the dark side of successful novelist Stephen King, whose mainstream horror at least always has the good guys winning something in the end)…and that is a metaphor for life, and the relationships we forge on our individual, selfish walks through life.


Frank Darabont, the One Guy In The World That Can Make Great Stephen King Movies, bought the rights to the book years ago.  You might remember the trifecta of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist as all being simultaneously faithful to the books, and cinematically gorgeous.  As a fan of both, I sincerely hope he’s just waiting for the perfect cast before going through with filming this story.

It’s a parallel reality.  Germany bombed the Eastern seaboard of America in 1945, and now it’s some distant, unnamed time in the future from that.  America is still America, but there is a highly influential military government.  Each year, they hold The Long Walk, in which male volunteers between the ages of 14 and 18 hope to be picked as one of 100 Walkers.  The Walk starts with 100 young men, and ends with 1, who is then awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life.

Soldiers in half-tracks monitor the walkers, and if one drops below 4 mph he is warned.  Three warnings and then the walker “buys his ticket” courtesy of the soldier’s gun.  Our hero is the odds on favorite, and he makes friends with many of the other guys, sometimes to his benefit, occasionally to his dismay.  It’s dark, serious stuff, but underneath it all is the realization that we’re all on a Long Walk, and while we may think we’re going to cross that finish line, anything may happen.

via Logopolis

via Logopolis

Bachman/King even includes a line in the book where a character feels like he’s in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, which is most likely the inspiration for this social dynamo of a story.  I especially love how the Crowd became a sort of villain in the last third of the book.  I’m looking forward to this movie becoming a reality, but as for now, it sits on Mr. Darabont’s To-Do pile.

Movie Poster Mashups


Here’s some of my favs from the gang over at B3ta.

Del Toro Does Deadman?


Guillermo Del Toro, auteur of so many wonderful films, like Pan’s Labyrinth, is my favorite krazy director/producer.  His upcoming projects make me salivate, like Bag of Bones, the Stephen King hauntfest from years back, to adaptations of Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to whatever the hell “Drood” is.

But in light of all the hoopla surrounding Disney taking over Marvel, I’m particularly excited about Del Toro’s interest in a little-known DC comic called Deadman.  It’s about a circus performer who is murdered during one of his stunts, but is blessed with the ability to “possess the bodies of those around him.”  After the much-deserved success of The Dark Knight, I do believe DC will see a surge in artistic application, and rise above the Mouse triumphantly soon.  The truth is, we’ll have to see what DC does with Del Toro’s limitless talent.

Check It Out.

Oh, and on a side note, I think Guillermo would be a great cat name.


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