Category Archives: Movies

Famous Actors Who Started Out in Commercials

alex atkins bookshelf moviesAll famous highly-paid actors had to begin somewhere — including in the humble world of commercials, hawking products that they probably wouldn’t want to be promoting today. But — hey — you have to start somewhere. Recall what Constantin Stanislavski, one of the most influential theatre directors and father of the Stanislavski method (known as method acting), declared to his acting students: “there are no small parts, only small actors.” Of course, many stars would never want to admit to doing commercials because they have reached such lofty heights; ahem, commercial work is beneath them. For example, before he was cooking blue meth in an RV, Bryan Cranston was smearing Preparation H on his bum. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, possesses a certain amount of humility. During her acceptance speech for Best Actress SAG award, Lawrence graciously thanked MTV for helping her get her start in showbiz with a promo for My Super Sweet 16, a reality TV series about privileged (read: spoiled) teenagers. Back then she earned a pittance; today she commands $10 million plus per film. That’s the meteoric trajectory of showbiz… Inspired by her proud admission, here is a list of famous actors, and the products they hawked, long before they became famous.

Ben Affleck: Burger King

Brad Pitt: Pringles

Bruce Willis: Seagram’s Wine Coolers

Bryan Cranston: Preparation H

Dakota Fannin: Tide

Drew Barrymore: Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dustin Hoffman: Volkswagon

Elijah Wood: Pizza Hut

Elisabeth Moss: Excedrin

Evangeline Lilly: Canadian singles phone chat lines

Jodie Foster: Coppertone

Jason Bateman: Golden Grahams cereal

John Travolta: Lifebuoy soap, Band-Aid

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Pop Tarts

Keanu Reeves: Corn Flakes, Coca-Cola

Kirsten Dunst: Baby Dolly Surprise

Kristen Stewart: Porsche

Leonardo DiCaprio: Bubble Yum

Lindsay Lohan: Jell-O

Matt LeBlanc: Heinz ketchup

Meg Ryan: Aim toothpaste, Burger King

Mila Kunis: Lisa Frank

Morgan Freeman: Listerine

Naomi Watts: Tampax

Paul Rudd: Super Nintendo

Tina Fey: Mutual Savings Bank

Tobey Maguire: Doritos

Tom Selleck: Close Up toothpaste; Pepsi

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For further reading: The Super Book of Useless Information by Don Voorhees
https://www.ranker.com/list/young-celebrities-in-commercials/celebrity-lists
http://mentalfloss.com/article/22677/10-famous-actors-who-started-out-commercials

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The Best Movies with Twist Endings

alex atkins bookshelf moviesThere’s nothing better than watching a movie with a great plot twists — and M. Night Shyamalan is the O. Henry in the world of cinema, known for his surprise twist endings. We don’t need to discuss any spoilers to make a compelling case — you know the ones: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and The Village. Ranker.com asked its reader to rank the best movies with twist endings — not surprisingly M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (“I see dead people”) was voted number one. Here is the list:

The Sixth Sense (1999)
Fight Club (1999)
The Usual Suspects (1994)
Seven (1995)
Primal Fear (1996)
Psycho (1960)
The Others (2001)
The Presitige (2006)
Memento (2000)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Saw (2004)
12 Monkeys (1995)
Unbreakable (2000)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The Game (1997)
American Psycho (2000)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Friday the 13th (1980)
The Village (2004)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
The Crying Game (1992)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Chinatown (1974)
April Fool’s Day (1986)

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For further reading: http://www.ranker.com/list/best-movies-with-twist-endings/anncasano


What is the Longest Movie Title?

alex atkins bookshelf moviesFilm directors know that although a long movie title stands out in a list as an outlier, it does not necessarily translate to success at the box office. The constraints of marketing material, and the mindset of the average moviegoer, prefer shorter, more memorable movie titles. Besides, the film will be referred to using an abbreviated title anyway. But that hasn’t stopped movie directors from releasing films with really long titles — perhaps, to prove that they can. Here is a list of notable movies with the longest titles:

Night Of The Day Of The Dawn Of The Son Of The Bride Of The Return Of The Revenge Of The Terror Of The Attack Of The Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating, Crawling, Alien, Zombified, Subhumanoid Living Dead — Part 5
Directed by James Riffel; released in 2011
41 words; 177 characters

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes
Directed by Ken Anakin; released in 1965
20 words; 85 characters(85)

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Directed by Sacha Baron Cohen; released in 2006
12 words; 72 characters

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Directed by Stanley Kubrick; released in 1964
13 words; 56 characters

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Directed by Migeul Arteta; released in 2014
10 words; 50 characters

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
Directed by Christopher Monger; released in 1995
12 words; 47 characters

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For further reading: http://www.imdb.com


How Much Would Darth Vader’s Suit Really Cost?

When it comes to villains in modern times, there is no character more iconic, more evil than Darth Vader — with his menacing dark helmet, creepy mechanical breathing apparatus hidden behind imposing body armor, flowing black cape that cuts through the air like a knife. And then there is the foreboding Darth Vader theme that follows him wherever he goes (composed by the legendary John Williams): “BOM-bom! Bom bom bom BOM-bom! Bom bom bom BOM bom! Bom bom bom bom…” You get the picture. When you see Darth Vader, you don’t have to be a total Star Wars geek to wonder, what would Darth Vader’s super evil suit cost if you built it in real life? And we’re not talking about those very high-end, detailed costumes that you can buy for Halloween (that can cost as much as $,1000; a movie-quality replica — the Anovos Premier Line Darth Vader costume — can cost as much as $6,000). Thanks to the inquisitive and clever folks at Dailyinfographic.com, wonder no more. The cost of Darth Vader’s suit would cost a cool $18.3 million. That’s quite a bit more than an original Darth Vader costume from “The Empire Strikes Back” that was valued at about $250,000 by Christie’s auction house back in November, 2010.

Here’s the a breakdown of Vader’s black suit of evil:

Helmet: $600,00
Similar to the mounted display of the F-35 helmet, it features augmented reality functionality (night vision, navigational capability, and advanced targeting)

Base suit: $12 million
Similar to a pressurized NASA space suit

Prosthetic legs and left arm: $180,000
Spoiler alert: in one of the films, Darth Vader loses some limbs in a battle with Obi Wan Kenobi

Lifetime maintenance for prosthetic limbs: $5.4 million
Prothetic limbs require yearly maintenance

Breathing apparatus: $45,000
In order to breathe, Vader must utilize a heart and lung machine

Voice: $1,000
Vader’s voice is modified by a high-end voice synthesizer

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For further reading: http://www.dailyinfographic.com/darth-vaders-suit-would-cost-18-3-million-in-real-life?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DailyInfographic+%28Daily+Infographic%29
https://www.cnet.com/news/crazy-accurate-darth-vader-costume-costs-5780/
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/money/original-darth-vader-costume-auction-christie-london-article-1.190212


What is a Flip-Flop Film?

atkins-bookshelf-moviesIn her highly entertaining and information-packed book, Infographic Guide to the Movies, Karen Krizanovich introduces the term “flip flop film,”defined as a movie that was not a big hit at the box office, but over time has been recognized as a cinematic masterpiece, and  consequently, thanks to its release in various evolving formats (VHS, laserdisc, and DVD) has become extremely lucrative. For example, the highly acclaimed film Casablanca earned $3.7 million when it was released in 1943, but has earned more than $4.4 million in rentals alone in the U.S. Here are six famous flip-flop films (name of movie, year of release, first release earnings, followed by lifetime earnings):

Fight Club (1999): $43 million, $100 million

The Big Lebowski (1998): $15 million, $46 million

Blade Runner (1982): $23.4 million, $33 million

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946): $3.3 million, $20 million

The Wizard of Oz (1939): $3 million, $20 million

Casablanca (1943): $3.7 million, $10.4 million

Citizen Kane (1941): $540,000; $2.5 million

What other famous flip-flop movies should be on this list?

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For further reading: Infographic Guide to the Movies by Karen Krizanovich (2013)
http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Casablanca#tab=box-office
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/business


How Realistic are Romantic Comedies?

atkins-bookshelf-moviesOne of the most popular romantic comedies of all time is When Harry Met Sally… (1989) written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. In 2008, The American Film Institute ranked it as the 6th best romantic comedy of all time. The film, inspired by Reiner’s return to single life after his divorce, revolves around the critical question that Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) asks Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) during a cab ride early in the film: can men and women ever just be friends — platonically, without the benefits? Harry and Sally passionately disagree (Harry doesn’t think so; Sally does). Over the span of many years, the two bump into each other and a friendship gradually grows into a romantic relationship. Outside of the deli scene (with Rob Reiner’s real mother delivering the famous line: “I’ll have what she’s having.”), one of the film’s most memorable scenes is when Harry professes his love to Sally on New Year’s Eve: “I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Hand me the box of tissues…

Romantic comedies like this also beg the larger question: how realistic are romantic comedies? How do they compare with real world relationships? Do people really have Harry-Sally relationships  — transitioning from the dreaded “friend zone” to a romantic relationship? The folks at Daily Infographic reviewed surveys and laughed and cried their way through the top 150 romantic comedies to come up with a snap shot of romance, titled: “Hollywood vs. Real Life.” Interestingly, out of all those movies, only one dealt with online dating (You’ve Got Mail, released in 1998; also written by Nora Ephron and starring Meg Ryan ). Here is a look at romance by the numbers — and how unrealistic romantic comedies truly are:

Experienced “love at first sight”:
Hollywood: 10%
Real life: 45%

Experienced unrequited love (loving someone who doesn’t love them back):
Hollywood: 6%
Real life: 78%

Lied to someone to get them to like them:
Hollywood: 21%
Real life: 53%

Experienced an “opposites attract” relationship:
Hollywood: 29%
Real life: 66%

Experienced a Harry-Sally relationship (growing from a friendship into a romantic relationship):
Hollywood: 7%
Real life: 72%

Have experienced online dating:
Hollywood: 1%
Real life: 48%

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For further reading: http://www.dailyinfographic.com/hollywood-vs-real-life-how-realistic-are-romantic-comedies


The Most Visually Stunning Movies

atkins-bookshelf-moviesEach year, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, the average number of movies released in the United States is about 600. Of those, only a tiny portion enter the pantheon of the most visually stunning movies — movies that feature a masterful blend of cinematography, art direction, and composition that you could turn the volume off and be mesmerized for its entire running time. One director known for his brilliant, captivating visual style is Tarsem Singh, who seems to paint his films; he has established himself with unforgettable films like The Cell (2000) and The Fall (2006).

The editors of Screen Rant developed this list of 12 movies so visually stunning that you could watch them on mute:
What Dreams May Come (1998)
Skyfall (2012)
The Revenant (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Life of Pi (2012)
Interstellar (2014)
Gravity (2013)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Fall (2006)
Ex Machina (2015)
Avatar (2009)
Amelie (2001)

Not to be outdone, the editors over at Taste of Cinema created a list of the most visually stunning films of the past five years:
Her (2013)
Laurence Anyways (2012)
Melancholia (2011)
The Great Beauty (2013)
Frances Ha (2012)
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
The Tree of Life (2011)
Gravity (2013)
Weekend (2011)
The Grandmaster (2013)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Nebraska (2013)
Life of Pi (2012)
Elena (2011)
Only God Forgives (2013)
Spring Breakers (2012)
Stoker (2013)
Post Tenebras Lux (2012)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
The Master (2012)
Ida (2013)
Oh Boy/A Coffee in Berlin (2012)
Upstream Color (2013)
Pina (2011)
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

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For further reading: http://screenrant.com/visually-stunning-movies-best-cinematography/?view=all
http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2014/the-25-most-visually-stunning-films-of-the-past-5-years/
https://www.quora.com/On-average-how-many-Hollywood-films-are-released-in-a-year


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