Thursday, June 30, 2016

Controversial Films on Sounds of Cinema

Sounds of Cinema's annual look at controversial films will air on Sunday, July 3rd.

Sounds of Cinema has made a tradition of using Independence Day weekend to celebrate freedom of speech by looking at movies that were censored, banned, or were otherwise controversial.  The 2016 edition of this program will feature all new material so even if you've tuned in for past broadcasts don't miss this episode. This year's show will feature both new and old films including some titles you may not have realized were controversial in the first place.

Sounds of Cinema can be heard at 9am on 89. 5 KQAL FM in Winona, MN and at 11:00am on 89.7 KMSU FM in Mankato, MN. If you are outside the broadcast area you can still hear the show via live streaming from each station's website.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Look at Shark Movies

With The Shallows now playing in theaters and Shark Week underway at the Discovery Channel, here is a look at some notable shark movies.

Jaws (1975)
Dir. Steven Spielberg

The de facto shark movie. Based on the book by Peter Benchley, a large great white shark stalks the beaches of an east coast resort community. Jaws was director Steven Spielberg's first mega-hit and much has been made of the way this film created the summer blockbuster. But the box office analysis should not obfuscate that Jaws is one of the greatest films that Hollywood has ever produced.

Jaws 2 (1978)
Dir. Jeannot Szwarc

The Jaws sequels do not have a good reputation but Jaws 2 is a fine movie. The sequel revisits the locations and surviving characters of the first film as another large shark patrols the waters of Amity Island. Jaws 2 also gave us the often imitated tagline, "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . ."

Blue Water White Death (1971)
Dir. Peter Gimbel

Four years before Jaws, a group of adventurers and oceanographers set out to film great white sharks. This is the first time that live great whites were photographed in the wild and Blue Water, White Death contains some incredible footage.

Open Water (2004)
Dir. Chris Kentis

Two vacationers are stranded in the middle of shark infested waters when their tour boat accidentally leaves them behind. Shot in the ocean with the actors treading water among real sharks, Open Water has startling power as the couple's situation gets increasingly desperate. Like The Blair Witch Project, Open Water is an example of low budget filmmakers turning limited resources into a strength instead of a weakness.

Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976)
Dir. William Grefe

One of the more unusual titles in the shark genre, a man wears a magical shark tooth necklace that makes him "the shark whisperer." He protects the animals and directs sharks to kill his enemies and other people he doesn't like.

12 Days of Terror (2004)
Dir. Jack Sholder

Based on the non-fiction book by Richard Fernicola, 12 Days of Terror is a dramatization of the 1916 New Jersey attacks. In a period of twelve days, five people were attacked by sharks. This film advances Fernicola's argument that the attacks were the work of single shark. This event was an influence on Peter Benchley's Jaws.

Sharknado (2013)
Dir. Anthony C. Ferrante

There have been deliberate attempts to manufacture a cult hit (see: Snakes on a Plane and Repo! The Genetic Opera) but of course these things have to emerge organically. Sharknado and its sequels were the kind of cheeky schlock that audiences were looking for. Originally shown on the SyFy Channel, Sharknado had special midnight theatrical showings in 2013 that sold out.

Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Dir. Renny Harlin

Scientists in an undersea research facility genetically engineer mako sharks, increasing the animals' size and their intelligence. The sharks flood the lab and begin picking off the human beings. It's silly but a fun watch, especially counting all the nods to the Jaws films and movies like The Poseidon Adventure.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002) 
Dir. David Worth

The Shark Attack movies are terrible but the third installment is a special kind of terrible. It is so weird and so poorly acted and so over the top that it is actually fun if you are in the right state of mind for it.

The Shallows (2016)
Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra

Blake Lively plays a surfer who is attacked by a great white shark and stranded on an atoll 200 yards from shore. The Shallows is a slickly made story of survival with some effective jump scares.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Movies

Here are a few movie suggestions for Father's Day.

Big Fish (2003)
Dir. Tim Burton

One of the best films of director Tim Burton, a son investigates the fanciful tales of his father while the older man struggles with his health. The storytelling is much more complex than the usual Burton fare.

Father of the Bride (1950/1991)
Dir. Vincente Minnelli / Charles Shyer

The original version of Father of the Bride, starring Spencer Tracy, was released in 1950. A well received remake starring Steve Martin was issued in 1991. Both films tell the story of the emotional and financial woes of a father whose daughter is getting married.

Field of Dreams (1989)
Dir. Phil Alden Robinson

An example of a movie apparently about one thing and later revealing itself as about something else, Field of Dreams tells the story of an Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) who hears voices telling him to build a baseball diamond in his corn field.

Finding Nemo (2003)
Dir. Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich

A Pixar film about Marlin, a widowed clown fish whose only son is captured by an aquarium hobbyist. Marlin sets out with a forgetful blue tang to find his son. A sequel, Finding Dory, was released in 2016.

He Named Me Malala (2015)
Dir. Davis Guggenheim

A documentary about Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin. Malala was shot in he head by the Taliban for attending school. She survived the attack and became an international voice in support of women's rights. 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Dir. Steven Spielberg

The third Indiana Jones film is the best sequel in the series. Key to the movie's success is the father-son relationship between Henry and Indiana, played by Sean Connery and Harrison Ford.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Dir. Gabriele Muccino

Real life father and son Will and Jaden Smith play Christopher Gardener and his son. Gardener was living on the streets with his son and they struggled to put their lives back together.

Taken (2008)
Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA agent whose daughter is abducted by traffickers. Neeson's character uses his particular set of skills to rescue his daughter.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Dir. Robert Mulligan

Based on the book by Harper Lee, a white lawyer defends a black man accused of rape in the Depression-era south as seen from the point of view of the lawyer's daughter. 

We Bought a Zoo (2011)
Dir. Cameron Crowe

A father and his children move into a dilapidated zoo with the intention of repairing and reopening it.