Ben talks to Sidewalk Film Festival lead programmer Rachel Morgan about what people can expect from the Birmingham-based event in its 16th year.
Morgan talks about how the festival has changed after nearly two decades, what films people should not miss and how the the less-seasoned moviegoer can enjoy a festival format. Read more about the festival.
Upon hearing the tragic news of the great Robin Williams’ untimely death, Ben and Corey reflect on the man’s career, on which each of them grew up.
The four-time Oscar-nominee and best supporting actor-winner for “Good Will Hunting” brought an unparalleled energy to the big screen and pioneered aspects of comedic performance in films like “Aladdin,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Good Morning, Vietnam.”
But we also found out he had a tremendous talent for drama in a handful of harrowing performances in “Dead Poets Society,” “Awakenings” and “The Fisher King.”
A consummate entertainer who lit up nearly everything he touched, Williams will be missed by all who saw or will see his work in film.
Ben and Corey talk “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” their favorite movie of the summer, plus its chances of reigning supreme at the box office during a weekend with weak competition.
The guys also offer praise to motion capture pioneer Andy Serkis, who steps his game up here and paves the way for other talented actors who similarly embrace digital performance.
Plus, the guys catch up on some movie news and other industry notes like Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” Oscar chances, Universal’s revival of its Monster Movie Library, the future of “Ant Man,” a “Shining” prequel possibility, the “Pacific Rim” sequel announcement and much more.
MEATBALLS (1979) Ivan Reitman’s Canadian summer camp comedy is the perfect movie to watch at the start of this season and a great way to understand why Bill Murray would become such a champion of the genre. Murray is ALWAYS on in this movie, almost mugging a little too hard and never settling down for an honest moment, but the movie wouldn’t survive without it. I’d say it sacrifices story for antics and vignettes, but it isn’t really reaching for anything beyond making you laugh here and there. But it definitely has heart, thanks mostly to the good nature of Murray’s Tripper Harrison, especially when he spends time with shy outcast Chris Makepeace and encourages him to run the camp Olympiad (also another great example of the nurturing and irreverent 1970s when adults could harmlessly joke around with kids: “Let’s go get laid before the race.”). The structure definitely reminds me of “Caddyshack” in that we’re stuck in this place for an hour and a half and we could wind up with nearly any character at any moment, and story only surfaces when it reminds itself it’s a movie after all. But this doesn’t have nearly as many memorable characters, nor does it give them opportunities to become that. Still, a harmless and fun time. Best just to see unfiltered Murray charisma and potential.
Does it belong to your Shelf of Shame? Only if it’s a “Bill Murray Essentials” project. This is by no means a disappointment, but I wouldn’t call it essential comedy viewing. Up next: Midnight Run (1988)
SOME LIKE IT HOT (greatest comedy ever? need to see more Billy Wilder)
MEATBALLS (set Bill Murray’s film career in motion, created a legend)
A SHOT IN THE DARK (many including my dad call the best Pink Panther)
SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (need to see more Preston Sturges)
MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE (seen the other Python, gotta complete it)
EDDIE MURPHY RAW (is this the best standup movie ever?)
MIDNIGHT RUN (always stared at me in video stores)
THE APARTMENT (again with the Wilder, plus a best picture winner I haven’t seen)
WITHNAIL & I (gotta represent the cult classics, one I just keep hearing about)
SILVER STREAK (always wanted to see a Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder flick)