{Guest Post} [Film: Who Killed Captain Alex?, Nabwana I.G.G., 2010]

Film-as-Theatre and the Cult Film Phenomenon:

A Study of Amateur-Film-Turned-Viral-Video Who Killed Captain Alex?

 

Who Killed Captain Alex? movie poster - Nabwana IGG - Uganda, theatre, action movie, cult film

Introduction:

I recently watched the film Who Killed Captain Alex?, a viral success on YouTube which claims to be “Uganda’s first action-packed movie.” It is a hilarious watch for most audiences due to its extremely low budget and the resulting creative special effects, not to mention the “video joker” VJ Emmie (the voice of a Ugandan, English-language commentary track which comments over the only existing version of the movie for the entire hour).

I have seen plenty of hilariously low-budget films, but what struck me about this one is one of the pre-show slides, which says, “He [producer/writer/director/cinematographer/editor Nabwana I.G.G.] never imagined anyone outside his own village would see this film.”

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{Guest Post} [Film: Who Killed Captain Alex?, Nabwana I.G.G., 2010]

Film-as-Theatre and the Cult Film Phenomenon:

A Study of Amateur-Film-Turned-Viral-Video Who Killed Captain Alex?

was last modified: August 23rd, 2018 by Nabra Nelson

[Film: Hail, Caesar!, Joel and Ethan Coen, 2016]
Unmarketing:

Hail, Caesar! and Why You Should Trust Neither Trailers nor Reviews of the Coen Brothers’ Movies

 

Hail, Caesar! movie poster - Coen Brothers - marketing, trailers, themes

Introduction:

There is perhaps no other team in Hollywood so consistently reamed in reviews for misconceptions about their films resulting from their own advertising as are Ethan and Joel Coen. It happened with Intolerable Cruelty; it happened with Burn After Reading; it happened with Inside Llewyn Davis; and now it is happening with Hail, Caesar! as well. Whoever is in charge of marketing these movies is doing a comically bad job.

For the most part, the error is clear: The Coens’ nuanced dark comedies and comedic dramas keep being marketed as flat, uncontroversial, plain old comedies. In my personal opinion, the movie of theirs that was most affected by this disconnect between the total levity of the marketing and the deadpan satire of the film is Burn After Reading. But that’s water under the bridge by now, so instead I would like to spend this article saying exactly what Hail, Caesar! is, and exactly what Hail, Caesar! is not.

The nature of this article is such that it requires spoiling basic plot details of Hail Caesar!, so you should only continue reading after this paragraph if you either do not mind spoilers or have already seen the film.

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[Film: Hail, Caesar!, Joel and Ethan Coen, 2016]
Unmarketing:

Hail, Caesar! and Why You Should Trust Neither Trailers nor Reviews of the Coen Brothers’ Movies

was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Duck Soup, Leo McCarey, 1933]
Jokes that Hit their Marx:

On Duck Soup, One of the Greatest Comedies of One of the All-time Greatest Comedy Troupes

 

Groucho Marx Sketch by Dusty - Duck Soup - Marx Brothers - Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx

Sketch by Dusty

Comedians and entertainers in motion pictures took at least 50 years after movies entered the mainstream before shaking loose of their direct Vaudeville influences. One of the consequences of this fact is that we have a lasting record of the talents of some—though, as far as I can tell, not even close to all—of the greatest Vaudeville acts.

One such great was an act consisting of a family of comedians and musicians operating a variety-show-style performance under the heading of ‘the Marx Brothers.’ Their antics found a natural match in the narrative format of the movie industry, and they became hugely successful, producing 13 feature films in a career spanning decades.

Perhaps their greatest success (though not financially, in its time) is a film called Duck SoupDuck Soup - Marx Brothers - Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, which today stands on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest 100 American films of the past century (in addition to being in the top 10 of their list of the 100 greatest comedy films of the past century). Duck Soup is a comedy classic from some of the all-time masters of early (anarchic) movie comedy, and no one with an interest in classic cinema, movie comedy, or theatrical comedy should miss out on watching it.

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[Film: Duck Soup, Leo McCarey, 1933]
Jokes that Hit their Marx:

On Duck Soup, One of the Greatest Comedies of One of the All-time Greatest Comedy Troupes

was last modified: April 15th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, John Hughes, 1987]
A Thanksgiving Given:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles as the Only Thanksgiving Classic

 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles movie posterI very nearly turned this Thursday Theater article into a list of 10 Thanksgiving movies for you to check out, but after some deliberation I realized that I could only cobble together 3 movies that were both actually relevant to the holiday and passable enough to recommend (if you’re curious, the other 2 movies are the movie version of Alice’s RestaurantPlanes, Trains and Automobiles and By the Light of the Silvery MoonPlanes, Trains and Automobiles).

In truth, I probably should have seen this coming, since there are fewer than 10 Christmas movies which meet both criteria for me. So, instead, I’m cutting out the passable or kitsch options and focusing on recommending the one movie which I feel deserves to be associated with the holiday in perpetuity: John Hughes’ Planes, Trains and AutomobilesPlanes, Trains and Automobiles.

In between the wild successes of, beforehand, his brat pack films and Ferris Bueller and, afterward, the first two Home Alone films, one of John Hughes’ directorial projects was an odd-couple travel movie called Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The movie, like most great family films, would be an exercise in didactic moralizing if not for the sincerity of its presentation and the humility of its execution. As such, I think watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles could stand alongside listening to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” as one of the few worthwhile contemporary additions to the Thanksgiving tradition schema.

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[Film: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, John Hughes, 1987]
A Thanksgiving Given:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles as the Only Thanksgiving Classic

was last modified: March 14th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Clue, Jonathan Lynn, 1985]
Parody Done Right:

Jonathan Lynn’s Clue and its Tasteful Lampooning of the Mystery Genre

 

Introduction:

Clue movie poster - parody, mystery genreFor film fans the world over, yesterday marked a definitive step into the future, as it was the day of Marty McFly’s forward leap in the iconic Back to the Future franchise. For Your Thursday Theater this week, however, I want to talk about a film with both feet squarely in the past. In the same year that the original Back to the Future was released, 1985, Christopher Lloyd (who played McFly’s frenetic sage Doc Brown) also played a somewhat more composed intellectual named Professor Plum in a cult classic comedic mystery: Jonathan Lynn’s Clue.

Lynn, who later directed the highly-regarded legal drama My Cousin Vinny, both wrote and directed this film (with some story collaboration from director John Landis—whose work includes The Blues Brothers, Animal House, and Trading Places). Christopher Lloyd was joined in an ensemble cast by a slew of other gifted character actors, including Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, and Martin Mull. This is a film with humble ambitions that surpasses expectations; it is a film which was cared about and well-executed at every level, and which cleverly presents a tongue-in-cheek treatment of the entire mystery genre.

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[Film: Clue, Jonathan Lynn, 1985]
Parody Done Right:

Jonathan Lynn’s Clue and its Tasteful Lampooning of the Mystery Genre

was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski