#629) Jurassic Park (1993)

#629) Jurassic Park (1993)

OR “Dino Might”

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp. Based on the novel by Crichton.

Class of 2018 

The Plot: Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his partner Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are invited by the wealthy and eccentric John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to give a safety certification for his unopened Jurassic Park, a theme park showcasing real-life dinosaurs cloned from preserved DNA samples. Joined by mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), the scientists’ tour sparks a debate about the ethics of cloning an extinct species. Meanwhile, disgruntled Hammond employee Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) deactivates the park’s security system to steal dinosaur embryos for a rival company, allowing the dinosaurs to roam beyond their secured paddocks. What follows is some classic Spielberg action with groundbreaking visual effects.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film “the epitome of the summer blockbuster”, praising its “skill, flair [and] popcorn-chomping excitement”.

But Does It Really?: Surprisingly, I don’t have a lot to say about “Jurassic Park” other than it’s good, it’s very good. “Jurassic Park” is Spielberg at the height of his power, combining the primal action of “Jaws” with some of the more philosophical themes of his ’80s filmography, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of film special effects and in doing so changing them forever. 30 years on, “Jurassic Park” has more than left an indelible mark on film history and pop culture, and its inclusion into the NFR was a long time coming.

Shout Outs: Quick references to “King Kong” and “Gertie the Dinosaur“, and keep an eye out of a clip from “Jaws” playing on Nedry’s computer screen. Bonus shout-out: Thanks to the logo of Spielberg’s Amblin company, the last moment of the end credits features E.T.

Everybody Gets One: New Zealand actor Sam Neill was starting to make a name for himself in America when he was cast as Alan Grant mere weeks before shooting began (William Hurt and Harrison Ford had turned it down). Indie darling Laura Dern was Spielberg’s first choice to play Ellie Sattler based on her work in “Smooth Talk” and “Rambling Rose”; “Jurassic Park” was her first major studio film. Director Richard Attenborough returned to acting after a 14 year hiatus to play John Hammond. Attenborough had previously won two Oscars for his 1982 epic “Gandhi”, beating out – among others – Spielberg’s “E.T.”, which even Attenborough conceded was the better movie.

Wow, That’s Dated: Thankfully not too much of this movie feels dated, besides the early ’90s Macintosh computers used throughout. I also love the moment where Lex gets very excited about the Jeep’s touchscreen technology. No 12-year-old would be impressed by that today.

Seriously, Oscars?: The same year Spielberg swept the Oscars with “Schindler’s List“, “Jurassic Park” went three-for-three, winning Best Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and Visual Effects. The Visual Effects recipients delivered one of my favorite Oscar speeches of all time, with all four of them giving their thanks simultaneously at the podium.

Other notes 

  • While collaborating on a potential screenplay set in a hospital (which would later evolve into the TV series “ER”), Michael Crichton told Steven Spielberg his idea for a novel based on his screenplay about a grad student who clones a dinosaur (and no, it was not called “Billy and the Cloneasaurus“). By the time “Jurassic Park” was published in November 1990, Universal had bought the film rights with Spielberg set to direct (among those they outbid were directors Tim Burton, Richard Donner, and Joe Dante). Spielberg got “Schindler’s List” greenlight at Universal on the condition he made “Jurassic” first, and he supervised the “Jurassic” post-production via video conferencing while filming “Schindler” in Austria.
  • For the film’s dinosaurs, Spielberg turned once again to effects powerhouse ILM, who started creating life-sized animatronics as well as stop-motion models. Originally, computer graphics would be used to enhance the stop-motion dinosaurs, but ILM’s computer animation team believed all the dinosaur model work could be done with computers. A skeptical Spielberg changed his mind upon seeing an early test animation, which also prompted stop-motion supervisor Phil Tippett to declare “I think I just became extinct”, a line that found its way into the final film.
  • Spielberg starts things off with his trademark “People Looking Meaningfully at Something Off-Camera”. To quote Liz Lemon, “Oh no, you start with that?” Also, I forgot that the first casualty in this movie is a person of color. Come on Steven. Why don’t you have him wear a red tunic while you’re at it?
  • Alan’s first scene is the opposite of a “pet the dog” scene, in which he tells an annoying kid how a raptor would kill him. Just great.
  • Newman! Wayne Knight was cast based on his work in “Basic Instinct”, and plays the kind of obnoxious antagonist he excelled at. That being said, I always enjoyed him playing against-type as Officer Don on “3rd Rock from the Sun”.
  • I’ve realized I don’t talk a lot about John Williams on this blog, despite chronicling all the major hits of his film career. He’s so good, he falls into that category of “He’s always good”. For “Jurassic Park”, his score perfectly encapsulates the sense of wonder and excitement that would no doubt be present if dinosaurs were to actually reappear. Williams’ music does its job so effectively you just naturally accept it as the emotional truth of the scene.
  • If you want to cast an actor who can make scientific mumbo jumbo sound interesting, you could do worse than Jeff Goldblum. His performance here is 90% quirks and stammering, and while it’s a bit distracting, it’s also highly memorable. You can’t say the line “Life finds a way” without emulating Goldblum’s “uh-uh” in the middle.
  • “Jurassic Park” is one of the few movies I can think of whose poster logo and font are present within the universe of the movie. And who says corporate synergy ruined the movies?
  • The Mr. D.N.A. sequence was created especially for the film as a way for Spielberg to cram in all of the novel’s exposition in the shortest (and most entertaining) way possible. The segment was directed by Bob Kurtz, fresh off his animated opening credits for “City Slickers” and “Honeymoon in Vegas”.
  • Remember when you could have an extended ethics debate in the middle of your action movie and still be the biggest moneymaker of the year? Good times.
  • Of course, that’s Samuel L. Jackson in one of his final secondary roles before “Pulp Fiction” changed everything. He even has a catchphrase: “Hold onto your butts”, which I’m only now realizing may be a reference to his character’s constant smoking.
  • I love that they actually got Richard Kiley to be the on-ride narrator. Truly, no expense was spared.
  • Maybe the most amazing feat this movie pulls off: The first major action sequence doesn’t happen until an hour into the movie! The first half of “Jurassic Park” is the equivalent of eating all your vegetables (plot exposition and moral arguments) before getting to gorge yourself on all the dessert you want.
  • Shoutout to Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards for being two of the least annoying child actors in film history, and one of the last in a long line of Spielberg’s “kids in peril” trope. Side note: How did I forget that one of the kids is named Timmy? Was Crichton watching “Lassie” on Nick at Nite when he wrote this?
  • I know this isn’t a hot take, but man alive those special effects are so damn good. The combination of CG dinosaurs, life-sized animatronics, and stop-motion miniatures is so seamless, there’s a point where you stop guessing how they did it and just accept that dinosaurs are real. A+ to everyone involved.
  • Every scene I remember from this movie happens in the second hour. The T-Rex/Jeep chase (“Must go faster”), Goldblum’s weird open-shirt shot, Muldoon’s “Clever girl”, etc. I imagine a lot of kids my age fast-forwarded through the first half of their VHS copies.
  • If I may allow myself one nitpick: As a theme park fan I’m upset Hammond says Disneyland opened in 1956 (a factual error also present in the film’s screenplay). That being said, whenever I watch a video essay that begins “When Disneyland opened in July 1955…” I always say “nothing worked” out loud.
  • Laura Dern spends most of the movie being amused or scared by her surroundings, but at least she gets to do a little action near the end, and is definitely doing her own stunts in a few shots. Get it, Laura Dern!
  • The raptor chase scene in the kitchen is wonderfully thrilling, and highlights the film’s thesis in a nutshell: If dinosaurs were to come back, human survival would rest on our ability to adapt and evolve.
  • “Jurassic Park” is the only movie I can think of that ends with a Deus T-Rex Machina. Also, due to the shot of the dinosaur skeleton being destroyed, this movie technically has the same ending as “Bringing Up Baby“.
  • Still, not the worst experience I’ve ever had at a theme park.

Legacy 

  • “Jurassic Park” opened in June 1993, and by October had surpassed “E.T.” as the highest-grossing film of all time. In the ensuing 30 years, “Jurassic Park” has been celebrated by filmmakers, critics, and audiences as one of the best modern action movies.
  • The film’s biggest impact was on the industry’s seemingly overnight switch from optical effects to computers, with every major director seeing the evolution as a chance to let their imagination run wild. Peter Jackson was inspired to consider a film adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings”, Stanley Kubrick revived his pet project “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” (which would, somewhat ironically, ultimately be directed by Spielberg), and George Lucas was convinced the technology could finally bring his “Star Wars” prequel trilogy to life.
  • The success of “Jurassic Park” saw a surge in the number of Michael Crichton novels that received film adaptations. Within five years of “Jurassic Park” we got film versions of “Rising Sun”, “Disclosure”, “Congo”, and “Sphere”. Crichton also co-wrote and co-produced the 1996 film “Twister”. Who knew?
  • Talks of a “Jurassic Park” sequel (both in book and film form) began immediately after the film’s success. Crichton’s “The Lost World” (his first ever sequel book) was published in September 1995, with Spielberg agreeing to helm the film adaptation shortly thereafter. While a box office hit upon its release in May 1997, critics and audiences (as well as Spielberg in hindsight) weren’t as enthused about “The Lost World”. A third film, 2001’s “Jurassic Park III, saw even more diminishing returns.
  • Plans for a fourth “Jurassic Park” languished in development hell for the better part of the 2000s, with Spielberg rejecting draft after draft. By the early 2010s, an idea for a legacy sequel that would serve as the starting point of a new trilogy was greenlit, becoming 2015’s “Jurassic World”. As with the original trilogy, “World” was an instant hit, while its sequels (with increasing amounts of nostalgic fan service) failed to connect.
  • Among the “Jurassic Park” spin-offs were the inevitable toys and video games, but my favorite was “Jurassic Park: The Ride” at Universal Studios, which has unfortunately been replaced in California with a “Jurassic World’ layover.
  • “Jurassic Park” is also responsible for what has been dubbed “The Jurassic Generation”: the group of kids who became lifelong dinosaur fanatics thanks to the success of this film. Most of my peers are in this group, though I missed out due to my chronic habit of ignoring practically every major trend of my childhood. Hence the classic film blog.
  • Did you know that there was a “Jurassic Park” animated series on Netflix? I sure didn’t. “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” centers around a group of kids at a dinosaur summer camp where – and you’re not going to believe this – something goes wrong.
  • But perhaps the greatest impact the original “Jurassic Park” film has had on our popular culture: Memes! So many memes. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites.

Further Viewing: Easily one of my top 5 favorite YouTube videos ever has a “Jurassic Park” connection, and it makes me laugh out loud every time.

#628) The Dark Knight (2008)

#628) The Dark Knight (2008)

OR “Thank You for Joking”

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. Based on the character “Batman” by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.

Class of 2020 

The Plot: Gotham City’s resident billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is secretly Batman, a crimefighting vigilante superhero. As seen in a previous film, Wayne becomes Batman to end Gotham’s crime wave and mobster influence, and “The Dark Knight” finds him continuing that fight, this time against new criminal the Joker (Heath Ledger). As the Joker goes on a killing spree in an effort to coax Batman to reveal his true identity, Batman enlists the help of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) Gotham’s new District Attorney and “White Knight” who happens to be dating Bruce’s childhood sweetheart Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Joker’s reign of terror not only threatens to unbalance the law and order of Gotham City, but simultaneously pushes Batman’s morals to their breaking point. Holy dilemma, Batman!

Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film “a visual feast of memorable set pieces, screenwriting flair, and characters and situations imbued with a soul and a conscience.” Bale and Ledger’s “now legendary” performances are hailed, and the write-up also unnecessarily reminds us that the film’s themes of “fear and dystopian chaos resonates eerily well in the pandemic havoc of 2020.” You’re not helping, NFR!

But Does It Really?: Despite the relatively short timespan of the superhero movie era we’re living in, “The Dark Knight” has already proven itself to be one of the highlights. The Nolan Batman films successfully distanced themselves from previous Batman adaptations with its darker, grittier take, and “The Dark Knight” in particular showed that the genre could successfully focus on larger, more realistic themes rather than simply non-stop action and over-the-top aesthetics. Aided by top-notch performances and fresh storytelling, “The Dark Knight” has already solidified its place in pop-culture history, becoming one of the rare sequels to join the NFR.

Shout Outs: Three of the Joker’s goons in the opening bank robbery share their code names with Snow White’s dwarfs: Happy, Grumpy, and Dopey.

Everybody Gets One: As with many a recent NFR entry, a majority of this film’s cast are making their NFR debut. Among the noteworthy: returning cast members Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Cillian Murphy, and new cast-members Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the latter replacing Katie Holmes from the first film when she opted to make “Mad Money” instead (and that should be making the NFR any day now. Wait for it…).

Seriously, Oscars?: After its commanding run at the box office, “The Dark Knight” received eight Oscar nominations, winning two: Sound Editing and a posthumous Supporting Actor trophy for the late Heath Ledger. “Dark Knight” failed to receive a Best Picture nomination, and its omission (along with fellow NFR entry “WALL-E“) is speculated to be the reason the Best Picture category expanded the following year from five to ten contenders.

Before we go any further: A Brief History of Batman!

The Batman (as he was originally called) made his debut in Detective Comics on March 30th, 1939. Created by comic book writers Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman was an immediate hit, and within a year had spun-off into his own comic series, which is still printing to this day. Batman made his film debut in a 1943 adventure serial starring Lewis Wilson. Over the years, Batman’s popularity would be revived by the 1960s TV series with Adam West (which, thanks to its plethora of Classic Hollywood guest stars, gets mentioned on this blog with some regularity), and again in 1989 with the big-budget Tim Burton film starring Michael Keaton that returned the franchise to its darker roots. While 1989’s “Batman” was a massive success, its sequels quickly regressed into the kind of ’60s campiness the first film intentionally avoided. Following the lackluster performance of 1997’s “Batman and Robin”, Warner Bros. put the franchise on hold, and met with several directors for a potential reboot. Christopher Nolan pitched a more realistic origin story, which became 2005’s “Batman Begins”. The film was a surprise hit, and Warner Bros. commissioned a sequel, with Nolan opting to continue the Joker teaser from his film’s finale and expand upon his more grounded approach to the source material.

And now back to our blog post already in progress.

Other notes 

  • Prior to watching “The Dark Knight” for this blog, I re-watched “Batman Begins” for the first time in 16 years. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to watch “Begins” before “The Dark Knight”, I wouldn’t call it required viewing as long as you have a general knowledge of the Batman mythology. By comparison, “Begins” is a lighter fare than “Dark Knight”, with characters still managing to throw in a quip or two. But while “Begins” is mostly set-up to the world and characters, “Dark Knight” has the luxury of being its own adventure, and can hit the ground running with minimal exposition.
  • “The Dark Knight” was the first major studio picture to be filmed in part with HD IMAX cameras. Roughly 20% of the film was shot in the IMAX format, and my viewing included shifts in aspect ratios to highlight these shots. IMAX is reserved mostly for the major action set-pieces and big establishing shots, and the change is not too jarring on a regular TV screen.
  • Throughout the movie, reference is made to Lt. (later Commissioner) Gordon’s Major Crimes Unit, aka the MCU, which is definitely weird to hear in the middle of a DC film.
  • Despite the film’s dark tone, I appreciate the occasional injection of humor. Nothing too distracting, just some gentle ribbing between characters that reads more as camaraderie than clever writing. Additionally, the film wisely avoids the kind of meta-humor most modern superhero films feel obligated to shoehorn in. The one subtle exception is Bruce’s desire to make the Batsuit more flexible, a reference to Christian Bale’s criticism (as well as several previous Batmans) about the trademark cowl’s lack of peripheral vision.
  • Heath Ledger’s Joker is a force to be reckoned with. You can’t take your eyes off of Ledger when he’s on-screen, taking the character beyond the unhinged theatricality of a Cesar Romero or a Jack Nicholson and making his Joker pure anarchy incarnate. The extra stroke of genius is that we never learn the Joker’s real identity or his motivations; he’s just a criminal who wants to leave chaos in his wake. And for the record: Rumors that Heath Ledger’s sudden death was fueled by his intense character preparation for this film have been repeatedly debunked by Ledger’s family, as well as several cast and crew-members, who recalled Ledger “having a blast” playing the Joker.
  • I do wonder sometimes just how much you have to pay the likes of Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman to appear in your superhero movie with not a hell of a lot to do. Freeman gets his quick scenes as Batman’s answer to James Bond’s Q, and Caine has a few solid moments as Alfred the butler. Given the amount of lines involving tactical weaponry, I kept expecting Alfred to remind Bruce “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”
  • In addition to the main cast, there are a ton of notable actors in supporting turns and cameos. Anthony Michael Hall – far removed from his “Breakfast Club” days – shows up as the scariest lowlife imaginable: a cable news host. Eric Roberts appears as mobster Sal Maroni, and his NFR presence currently eludes his younger sister Julia. The most famous bit player in the bunch is Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) as the partygoer who stands up to the Joker. A lifelong Batman fan, Senator Leahy has made cameos in severals Batman film and TV projects, donating his payment to the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, where he read comic books as a child.
  • The movie’s other great joke: “How do the defendants plead?”
  • I’m digging this movie’s whole vibe, with the Joker forcing Batman (and Harvey Dent) to consider what happens when your strong code of ethics put others in danger. It’s very “We’re not so different, you and I”, and inspired such later movie villains as Killmonger from “Black Panther”.
  • The Batmobile chase through the city is a highlight for sure. My one question: with a chase through the streets of Chicago (subbing for Gotham) that takes a detour through a shopping center, when did this movie become “The Blues Brothers”?
  • One of my favorite tropes in all media is when non-American actors attempt an American accent. English actors Gary Oldman and Christian Bale have theirs down pat, although Oldman’s tends to disappear when Lt. Gordon is yelling. And while Australian actor Heath Ledger’s accent is a bit out-there, it works for the Joker’s eccentricities.
  • [Spoilers] Anyone who knows the history of Batman knows that Harvey Dent is destined to become the villain Two-Face. The only mildly-dated aspect of this film is the CG rendering on the burnt half of Aaron Eckhart’s face. Nolan was adamant about doing as many practical effects as possible in the film, though conceded that attempting Two-Face’s disfigurement with makeup would just add to his face, rather than remove from (Dent is a burn victim, after all). The CG effect isn’t awful by any stretch, but an HD screen reveals some of its rough edges.
  • As we ramp up to the finale and the film has more spinning plates, we kind of lose focus of Batman himself. Though this is somewhat befitting of the film’s theme of escalation: there’s a point where Gotham’s corruption and moral quandaries go beyond Batman. “Batman Beyond”, if you will.
  • [Spoilers] In true “Empire Strikes Back” fashion, “Dark Knight” takes the world of the first film and plunges it into darkness. This includes the cliffhanger finale, in which despite the capture of the Joker and the death of Harvey Dent, nothing is truly resolved and Batman has become a fugitive from the Gotham police. Hats off to Nolan et al for still making this a satisfying ending, and in the most belated “Title Track/Take a Shot” this blog has ever had, Gordon finally calls Batman “a dark knight” as the movie’s curtain line.
  • “The Dark Knight” is dedicated to Heath Ledger (who died six months before the film’s release), as well as Conway Wickliffe, one of the film’s special effects technicians who died in a car accident during production.

Legacy 

  • “The Dark Knight” hit theaters in July 2008, and quickly started breaking every box office record in sight. Although it never displaced “Titanic” as the highest-grossing movie of all time, it was the highest-grossing film of the year, and surpassed the ’89 “Batman” as the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time (displaced by Marvel’s “The Avengers” four years later). Since then, “The Dark Knight” has routinely been hailed as one of the best superhero movies, best sequels, and best films of the 21st century (so far).
  • Although initially hesitant to make another sequel, Christopher Nolan relented with 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, which was a successful film in its own right and largely considered a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. “Rises” continued the proud tradition of English actors doing weird accents, with Tom Hardy’s genuinely off-putting Bane.
  • “The Dark Knight” has maintained a spot in pop culture, no doubt in part to Heath Ledger’s instantly iconic take on the Joker (“Why so serious?”). Among the film’s oft-quoted aphorisms are “Some men just want to watch the world burn” and “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Although the internet phrase “We live in a society” is associated with Heath Ledger’s Joker, he never actually says it in the film.
  • Following the Nolan trilogy, Batman returned to the big screen in a series of films starring Ben Affleck. The Batman franchise was rebooted yet again in 2022 with “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson, which was an immediate hit with a sequel on the way.
  • Shoutout to the other post-“Dark Knight” Batman films: “The Lego Movie” and “The Lego Batman Movie”, in which Will Arnett shows us the fun side of the Caped Crusader without delving into his tragic backstory.

Further Viewing: One of my favorite YouTube essayists is Patrick H Willems (though I confess to skimming past his videos’ coconut subplot). Willems has several videos chronicling the mythos of Batman on film, but I recommend this one in which he accurately dissects why Batman’s sidekick Robin so rarely shows up in these films.

#627) Titanic (1997)

#627) Titanic (1997)

OR “The Looooooove Booooooat”

Directed & Written by James Cameron

Class of 2017

As always, a reminder that this post is about the film “Titanic”, and not the historical event depicted. There’s a ton of information out there for the curious, with its Britannica entry being a good place to start.

The Plot: In 1996, an expedition team surveys the remains of the passenger liner RMS Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg in April 1912. After an unsuccessful attempt to recover the valuable “Heart of the Ocean” diamond necklace, researcher Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) comes into contact with Titanic survivor Rose Calvert (Gloria Stuart), who recounts her experience aboard the ship. In 1912, Rose (Kate Winslet) boards the ship with her socialite family and wealthy yet obnoxious fiancé Cal Hockley (Billy Zane). Disappointed with the direction her life is going, Rose meets Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a starving artist and third-class passenger. The two are attracted to each other, but are aware of the class difference that separates them. Over the course of two days, Jack and Rose fall in love, and Rose decides to start a new life with Jack once the ship arrives in New York. When the ship is struck by an iceberg, Jack and Rose’s newfound love is put to the ultimate test.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls it “a cultural touchstone of the era” with “spectacular sweeping scenes”. They also quote David Ansen’s Newsweek write-up in which he called the film “big, bold, touchingly uncynical filmmaking.”

But Does It Really?:  Somehow in this film’s quarter-century existence, I have managed to not see “Titanic” in full until this viewing (Though I’ve seen bits and pieces over the years). All I could think while I was watching was “James Cameron you bastard, you did it.” All filmmaking is alchemy, and while no one film has the perfect recipe, “Titanic” is pretty damn close. Cameron somehow managed to have his cake and eat it too; combining a historical epic with a disaster action movie, a deep-sea documentary, and a star-crossed romance, and making it all work spectacularly. “Titanic” has been parodied to death, and has now endured multiple generations of backlash (both historical and critical), but the film continues to be an impressive feat of moviemaking, and possibly the last classic Hollywood epic.

Everybody Gets One: Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were young actors starting to get noticed when “Titanic” came their way. Although both had recently received their first Oscar nods (DiCaprio for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”, Winslet for “Sense and Sensibility”), neither was the first choice for Jack and Rose (names such as Chris O’Donnell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Billy Crudup and Claire Danes were suggested). While DiCaprio had to be persuaded to even audition for Jack, Winslet lobbied aggressively for Rose, and the pair’s instant chemistry sealed the deal. The two actors formed a strong bond during the intensely exhausting shoot, and have stayed close friends ever since.

Wow, That’s Dated: The 1996 prelude dates itself with its giant camcorders and a reference to the Geraldo Rivera/Al Capone TV special. And while Cameron’s depiction of the Titanic sinking was accurate with the information he had at the time, new details have emerged in the ensuing years that have inexplicably enabled critics to declare the film retroactively inaccurate, whatever that means.

Seriously, Oscars?: It wasn’t enough for “Titanic” to make all the money and receive all the acclaim, it had to win all the Oscars too. At the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, “Titanic” lead the pack with 14 nominations (tying “All About Eve” for the most nominations ever), and took home 11 (tying “Ben-Hur” for the most wins ever). The film won Picture, Director, Song for “My Heart Will Go On”, and seven technical categories (also a record for a single film). The “Titanic” steamroll was inevitable, but left little room for other well-received contenders like “Good Will Hunting” and “L.A. Confidential“.

Other notes 

  • James Cameron was inspired to write a movie about the Titanic based on his fascination with the actual shipwreck, as well as a 1992 IMAX movie that featured high-def footage of the wreck. Cameron pitched the film as “Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic”, and a skeptical 20th Century Fox okayed the film in the hopes of maintaining a good business relationship with Cameron. The underwater sequences of the actual wreck were filmed first (Cameron admits these scenes were the reason he wanted to make the film) while Cameron was concurrently immersing himself in research and scriptwriting.
  • Production on “Titanic” ran from July 1996 to March 1997, and is generally agreed upon to have been an unpleasant experience for everyone. Most of the cast experienced illness from hours in cold water, three stunt performers broke bones, and James Cameron’s dictatorial directing style earned him the moniker “the scariest man in Hollywood”. The film went 30 days over schedule, and when Fox refused to give Cameron more money, Paramount agreed to co-finance the film, ballooning the budget to $200 million (the most expensive movie ever up to that point). With the special effects needing more time to be completed, “Titanic” had its release date pushed from July 1997 to December, prompting speculation that the film would be a disaster.
  • The opening prologue helps a modern, more cynical audience permit itself to enter the romantic world of 1912. Of course it’s lovely to see the late Bill Paxton represented on this list outside of his brief role in “The Terminator“, but the MVP is Gloria Stuart. Long past her heyday in 1930s Hollywood, the 86-year-old Stuart was aged up to play 101, and is an overall gem as older Rose. Also in these bookend scenes is Suzy Amis as Rose’s granddaughter. Amis and James Cameron met during filming, and they’re still married over 20 years later.
  • Dialogue has never been Cameron’s strongest suit as a writer, and the opening of the film is a massive offering of Exposition 101. Cameron, however, more than makes up for this with his visual storytelling, particularly the scale and build up to the Titanic’s launch. You truly get the sense of awe needed to convey the ship’s mightiness, making its demise all the more devastating.
  • Wow, this movie is a murderer’s row of great actors. Among the supporting cast aboard the ship: Frances Fisher, Kathy Bates (as Molly Brown), David Warner, Victor Garber, Jonathan Hyde, and Bernard Fox (aka Dr. Bombay from “Bewitched”). There really isn’t a weak link in this chain.
  • Poor Billy Zane. Cal is a short-sighted, one dimensional asshole, and Zane is doing the best with what he’s given. Fun Fact: I met him once. Nice guy.
  • The sparks between Leo and Kate are palpable, and it really does help keep the movie (forgive me) afloat. They’re so good in this I’m even willing to ignore Kate’s not-quite-there American accent and Leo’s ’90s Tiger Beat haircut.
  • The “I’m flying” scene on the ship’s bow is a romantic highpoint (filmed with an actual sunset, no CG or lighting tricks). Although I was well aware of all of this movie’s iconic sequences before this viewing, I had zero knowledge of the earlier scene where Jack teaches Rose how to spit, which is super gross but – thanks to Kate Winslet – actually serves as a set-up to a later payoff.
  • Full disclosure: I was 11 years old when “Titanic” was released on VHS in September 1998, and the parents of a neighborhood friend of mine had a copy. We never got past the first cassette, but we definitely saw the drawing scene and, let’s just say Kate Winslet is an important player in my formative years. On a similar note: I found out years later that Kate Winslet was subjected to a lot of fat-shaming by critics and late night comedians at the time, and all I can say is “How dare you!” Winslet is a stunningly beautiful human, and the skinny model standard of the late ’90s is an impossible (not to mention unhealthy and unnatural) measure for anyone to meet, so everyone lay off!
  • It’s hard not to research a post on “Titanic” the film without slipping into research on Titanic the actual ship. I’ve never been much of a non-pop culture history buff, so all the details about the real Titanic were new to me. The one bit of real Titanic trivia that I found worth noting here: When “Titanic” premiered, seven of the ship’s survivors were still alive. Millvina Dean was the youngest Titanic passenger (2 months old), and the last survivor to pass (May 2009 at age 97). Dean declined an invitation to attend the premiere of “Titanic” which – you know what? Fair.
  • Shoutout to actor Scott G. Anderson, playing Titanic’s real-life lookout Frederick Fleet, who I assume gets a few free drinks whenever anyone recognizes him as the guy who yells “Iceberg right ahead!”
  • Part of my amazement with the film is how much of it is real. Computer effects and detailed models were obviously used for the most epic shots, but there’s a good chunk of this movie that is real people on real sets surrounded by real water. Even more amazing is how many of these scenes are clearly DiCaprio and Winslet doing their own stunt work. Where’s Shelley Winters when you need her?
  • [Spoilers] I remember about 10 years ago when “Titanic” was re-released there was a brouhaha in social media about the floating door Jack and Rose swim to for safety. The theory was that there was enough room for both Jack and Rose on the door, and Jack did not need to sacrifice himself. There was even a whole “Mythbusters” about it. Honestly, the film made it clear to me from the get-go that the door could not support both of them and still float, so I don’t know what everyone got so worked up about. Was there nothing else going on that week?
  • The film’s other most dated aspect: ’90s power ballad “My Heart Will Go On“. James Cameron was initially against having any song in the movie for fear of becoming outdated, so composers James Horner and Will Jennings wrote the song in secret, had Céline Dion record a demo, and waited for Cameron to be in an approachable mood before pitching the idea. Cameron finally relented upon realizing that studio execs – already upset with him for going over-budget – would be pacified at the prospect of the movie spawning a hit song.

Legacy 

  • “Titanic” opened in December 1997, and quickly became a blockbuster hit, staying in theaters for 10 months (!) and surpassing “Jurassic Park” as the highest grossing movie of all time. Everything around the film was also a success: the VHS release was the best selling home video of all time, the soundtrack album reached number one on over two dozen charts around the world, and the companion “Making Of” book was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for several weeks.
  • For my younger readers, I am here to tell you: If you were alive in 1998 you could not escape “Titanic”. It was everywhere. People loved shouting “I’m flying, Jack!” and “I’m the king of the world!” (even James Cameron said the latter in his Oscar speech), and cruise ships had to take extra safety measures to prevent passengers from recreating these moments on their bow (not to mention reiterating the emergency safety measures already in place). There were the obvious parodies (my favorite is the hard-to-find Letterman sketch “Death Boat ’98”), and while they have subsided over the years, “Titanic” has remained a cultural touchstone, especially for those of us with a severe case of ’90s nostalgia.
  • Following the mega-hit sensation of “Titanic”, both its stars and director kept a low-profile. DiCaprio and Winslet opted for independent productions, eventually pivoting to bigger movies (and Oscar wins for, respectively, “The Revenant” and “The Reader”). Cameron’s next projects were deep sea documentaries (including the Titanic wreckage film “Ghosts of the Abyss”) before returning to narrative features with “Avatar”, which – like “Titanic” before it – defied its predicted failure to become the highest grossing film of all time.
  • “Titanic” continued its box office success in 2012, when the film was re-released in 3D for the 100th anniversary of the original sinking. A young naive Twitter was not only unaware that it was a re-release, but also unaware that it was based on a historical event.
  • And finally: “I’m going to sink this bitch.”

Further Viewing: The other countless Titanic movies. Among them: 1953’s “Titanic”, 1958’s “A Night to Remember”, and 1964’s “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, to name just a few.

#626) Halloween (1978)

#626) Halloween (1978)

OR “Life with Mikey”

Directed by John Carpenter

Written by Carpenter & Debra Hill

Class of 2006 

The Plot: On Halloween 1963, Michael Myers (Nick Castle, among others) murders his sister Judith (Sandy Johnson) and is immediately institutionalized. 15 years later, his psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) – planning to petition that Michael receive a lifetime sentence – discovers that Michael has escaped. Michael returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, and begins stalking high schooler Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends Annie and Lynda (Nancy Kyes and P. J. Soles). Laurie and Annie spend Halloween babysitting two neighborhood kids (Kyle Richards and Brian Andrews), giving Michael the perfect opportunity to continue his killing spree. And from these humble beginnings comes one of the longest running and most lucrative horror franchises of all time.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film “uniquely artistic, frightening and a horror film keystone”, praising the film’s “chilling tension” and “haunting piano score”. There’s also an all-encompassing essay by John Carpenter expert Murray Leeder.

But Does It Really?: As I’ve previously stated on this blog, I don’t do horror movies, mainly due to the excessive violence (also because I’m big ol’ scaredy cat). “Halloween” – however – is an exception, keeping the gore to a minimum while still producing an effectively scary movie. John Carpenter creates a straight-forward horror movie that proves low-budget doesn’t have to mean low-quality, with Jamie Lee Curtis delivering an unexpected star-making performance. Even after countless imitators, “Halloween” remains a fresh 90-minute adrenaline rush, with a legacy that ensures its standing as a Halloween standard for years to come.

Shout Outs: The characters Sam Loomis and Marion Chambers derive their names from characters in “Psycho“. Lindsey and Tommy are seen watching “Forbidden Planet” and “The Thing from Another World“, the latter being a bit of foreshadowing to Carpenter’s filmography.

Everybody Gets One: A movie lover since childhood, John Carpenter dropped out of USC after one semester to start making his own films. His second feature, the action thriller “Assault on Precinct 13, caught the attention of producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad, who commissioned Carpenter and his collaborative partner/then-girlfriend Debra Hill to make a movie based on the concept of a man who stalks and kills babysitters. Carpenter agreed on the condition of creative control and a cut of the profits. Elaborating on an idea from a proposed “Black Christmas” sequel, Carpenter and Hill wrote the screenplay for “Halloween” in 10 days.

Wow, That’s Dated: An unfortunate sign of the world I grew up in: It always surprises me in movies when neighborhoods have unlocked doors and no security systems. I suspect if Nextdoor had existed in 1978, this movie would have been over in five minutes.

Other notes 

  • “Halloween” was filmed in four weeks in May 1978 on a budget of $300,000 (most of which went to the cameras). Fake leaves were used to make southern California look like Illinois, and cast members often helped the crew haul equipment. Easily the film’s most iconic cost-cutting, the famous Michael Myers mask was a Captain Kirk mask purchased at a costume shop for $1.98; spray-painted white, with alterations made to its hairline and eye holes.
  • The opening prologue is scary, especially because the continuous POV shot forces us to see the viewpoint of – and potentially empathize with – the killer. That being said, the whole sequence is filmed essentially in the style of one of those old SNL “Continental” sketches, and now I just want a glass of cham-pon-ya.
  • This is Jamie Lee Curtis’ film debut! Unsurprising for the child of two movie stars, Curtis is giving a very confident performance, and already has her indefinable star quality fully intact. Fun Fact: At age 19, Curtis was the only actual teenager in the cast; PJ Soles and Nancy Kyes were, respectively, 28 and 29!
  • At this point in his career Donald Pleasence had already been making movies for 25 years, including “The Great Escape” and “You Only Live Twice”. Pleasence agreed to appear in the low-budget “Halloween” because his daughter Lucy was a fan of “Assault on Precinct 13” (that and, by his own admission, he had alimony to pay). To Pleasence’s credit, he does not phone this movie in, adding a bit of humanity and credibility to the proceedings. You can also sense that Pleasence wasn’t around for a long time, filming his entire role in five days.
  • True to Carpenter’s low-budget beginnings, several of the shorter scenes (especially the ones involving Pleasence) are in one uncut take. He even manages to time one to coincide with a passing train! Well done.
  • Carpenter et al do an excellent job of setting up the mystery of Michael Myers. With his chronic disappearing/reappearing in shots and Carpenter’s strong piano score, you become conditioned to expect Michael to show up at any moment, keeping you alert the entire runtime.
  • This movie is doing something right, because throughout I caught myself yelling back at it such horror movie standbys as “Don’t go in there!” and “He’s right behind you!”
  • In addition to her star quality, Jamie Lee Curtis is also great with kids. Always a good skill to have when endearing yourself to an audience.
  • One of my biggest problems with “Halloween” is potentially not its fault. I spent a lot of time grousing that no one in the movie thinks to turn on a light when Michael is around, with characters constantly stumbling around in the dark for no good reason. Apparently, the production’s tight budget didn’t allow for additional lighting, hence the constant darkness. I say apparently because the only source I could find this information on was the IMDb trivia page, and several clickbaity “Top ‘Halloween’ Trivia You Didn’t Know That We Definitely Didn’t Just Copy From the IMDb Trivia Page” articles.
  • Also dated: Laurie calling her friends “meatheads” when she thinks they are pranking her. Somewhere Carroll O’Connor is smiling.
  • The other great thing about this movie: nothing is explained. We never learn why Michael Myers is the way he is or why he is targeting these specific teens, nor do we ever learn what makes him seemingly indestructible or how he managed to escape. This mystery of course would be inevitably diluted in the sequels, but if you’re like me and haven’t seen any of the other “Halloween” movies, the vagary is wonderful.

Legacy 

  • “Halloween” opened October 1978 in four theaters in Kansas City before getting wider distribution in time for Halloween. Although critics were initially dismissive, positive audience word of mouth kept the film going. “Halloween” ultimately earned 70 million dollars, making it the most successful independent film up to that time.
  • Of course, “Halloween” is responsible for the “slasher film” subgenre that permeated the 1980s, amplifying this movie’s scariness, violence and overall horniness, ultimately devolving into pure misogyny. Among the tropes popularized by “Halloween” is the “Final girl” cliché, in which the female lead is the lone survivor and must face the killer alone in the climax. The “slasher film” subgenre includes “Friday the 13th“, “Final Destination” and fellow NFR entry “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.
  • John Carpenter’s career kicked into high gear thanks to “Halloween”. His immediate follow-ups included “The Fog”, “Escape from New York”, and the previously-alluded to “The Thing”.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis continued her film career with a series of horror movies, earning her the moniker “The Scream Queen”. Thankfully, Curtis has stuck around long enough to show off her talents in such varied films as “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Freaky Friday”, “Knives Out”, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once”.
  • The “Halloween” franchise currently has 13 films in it, and has more reboots and retconning than any other major franchise. Stay with me: “Halloween II” is an immediate follow-up, “III” is an anthology film with no connection to any of the other movies, 4, 5 & 6 (“Return” “Revenge” and “Curse of Michael Myers”) follow the first two films and feature Donald Pleasence in his final film roles. “H2O” and “Resurrection” negate everything except 1 & 2, and saw Jamie Lee Curtis reprise Laurie for the first time in 17 years. “Halloween” (2007) and “Halloween II” (2009) are remakes of the originals with their own continuity. And finally: the latest trilogy – “Halloween” (2018), “Kills” and “Ends” are direct sequels to the first movie, disregarding everything else.
  • In addition to the films, the aforementioned Leeder essay mentions its countless other spinoffs including “novels and comic books and masks and memorabilia, plus a legendarily terrible 1983 video game.”
  • And finally: [Insert your own “Michael Myers/Mike Myers” joke here. Something something “Yeah, baby!” something.]

#625) The Shining (1980)

#625) The Shining (1980)

OR “We’ll Leave the Fright On For You”

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Written by Kubrick & Diane Johnson. Based on the novel by Stephen King.

Class of 2018

The Plot: Writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job as the winter caretaker of Colorado’s Overlook Hotel. With his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) in tow, Jack and his family relocate to the empty hotel for its five-month offseason. Upon arriving, Danny confides in hotel chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) of his “shining”, a telepathic power that Dick also possesses. Throughout the ensuing months, the isolation starts making Jack highly irritable, and the family encounter various ghosts and apparitions within the hotel. Jack’s writer’s block and alcoholic relapse lead to a mental breakdown, and he is encouraged by the ghost of the former caretaker (Philip Stone) to murder Wendy and Danny. One of the most celebrated film directors of all time takes a stab (forgive me) at the horror genre, creating an alienating masterpiece that definitely takes some liberties with its source material.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls the film “inventive in visual style, symbolism, and narrative as only a Kubrick film can be”, praising the film’s “stunning visuals” and “iconic performances”.

But Does It Really?: I have seen “The Shining” a few times over the years, and every time I come to the same consensus: It’s equal parts scary and boring. When Kubrick hits, he really connects with this film’s genuinely frightening imagery, but this is mixed with long stretches of the movie that not only slow the pacing considerably, but also manage to deflate any previous tension. Perhaps this was intentional to highlight the characters’ isolation, but it has never been effective in my viewings. Still, I cannot deny the film its NFR status (I submitted the film for consideration the year it was ultimately inducted). Despite its glacier pacing and misguided diversion from the novel, there is no other movie that looks or sounds like “The Shining”. With its abundance of iconic moments and generation-spanning devotion from cinephiles and horror buffs alike, “The Shining” more than earns its spot on the NFR.

Title Track: Stephen King named the novel “The Shining” after John Lennon’s song “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”. I would have given this movie an immediate 4 stars if that song played over the end credits.

Seriously, Oscars/Razzies?: Following a divisive critical reaction (though a respectable box office run), “The Shining” became the first Kubrick film in over 20 years to not receive an Oscar nomination. Adding insult to injury, “The Shining” is one of two NFR films to have been nominated for the Razzies (the other is “Purple Rain”) with two nods: Worst Director and Worst Actress. Shelley Duvall’s Razzie nomination was officially rescinded in March 2022 in response to Kubrick’s behavior towards Duvall on set (more on that later).

Other notes 

  • Based on Stephen King’s experience staying at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, “The Shining” was published in January 1977, with its film rights being purchased two months prior. Kubrick was interested in making a “commercially viable” horror film following the lackluster box office of “Barry Lyndon”, and “The Shining” piqued his interest out of countless rejected horror novels he read. Filming was scheduled for 16 weeks at England’s famous Elstree Studios, but ended up going for a full year; going over schedule in part to Kubrick’s penchant for retakes, and partly due to a fire that burnt most of the massive Overlook set.
  • My biggest complaint about this movie is the same for a lot of people: Jack Nicholson should not be playing Jack Torrance. This of course has nothing to do Nicholson’s unmistakable talent as an actor, but rather the quality his star persona brings to the character. Jack Torrance is an average Joe who slowly descends into madness while at the Overlook. Jack Nicholson already looks unhinged before he gets to the hotel. I’ll argue the true culprits are his perpetually arched eyebrows; typically a boon to his acting “instrument”, but distracting and foretelling here. Still, if the old adage is true, Nicholson is cast for the third act, having a ball overplaying the character’s intense psychosis.
  • The other element of “The Shining” I have a complaint about is Kubrick’s mistreatment of Shelley Duvall. During filming, Kubrick purposefully and consistently berated Duvall in front of crew members in order to get a more unstable, emotional performance out of her. This is corroborated by on-set footage shown in a behind-the-scenes documentary of the film (shot by Stanley’s daughter Vivian) featuring several instances of the director loudly chastising Duvall and urging the crew not to sympathize with her. Later in that same documentary, Duvall discloses her awareness of Kubrick’s psychological games, and she subsequently expressed her pride in the final product. Maybe it’s my 2022 sensibility talking, but this is definitely a case where the ends do not justify the means. Encouraging your actors to dig deeper is one thing, but doing so as a detriment to their mental health is quite another.
  • Okay, let’s see what I actually like about this movie. Um…well the kid’s good. It helps that Danny Lloyd was unaware he was making a horror film. At least Kubrick protected someone in this cast from potential trauma. While we’re on the subject, I cannot entirely endorse a movie in which a character named Tony possesses a child.
  • The long traveling shots throughout the film are incredible, helping give a sense of the dizzying scope and geography of the Overlook (although the shot of Halloran touring the kitchen looks like the Copa shot in “Goodfellas“). Shoutout to cinematographer John Alcott, as well as Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, who created a modified version especially for “The Shining” that travelled low to the ground. The effect is impressive, especially those shots of Danny riding through the hallways on his Big Wheel tricycle. Brown would eventually receive a technical Oscar in 2006 for another Steadicam variation: the Skycam.
  • Oh my god this movie is so slow. It’s to the point that I actually start getting antagonistic towards the film. Take your time, movie; I can wait as long as you can.
  • Probably the creepiest scene in the movie is Jack entering Room 237, mainly because of the weird turn it takes. If only he had gone to Room 222 or 227 instead.
  • The phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” first appeared in print 1659’s “Proverbs” by James Howell (though the phrase’s definitive origin remains undetermined). The rarely-mentioned second half is “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” According to Vivian Kubrick, Stanley’s secretary spent weeks – if not months – typing out the “All work” pages that appear in the final film for mere seconds.
  • A reminder that Benjamin “Scatman” Crothers, the voice of Scat Cat and Hong Kong Phooey, has three movies on the National Film Registry.
  • A few takeaways from the finale: Danny sounds a lot like E.T. when he starts shouting “Redrum!”, no one has ever been able to explain the significance of the bear costume (or its compromising position) to me, and the final chase is why people don’t like hedge mazes.
  • When I picked “The Shining” to watch for this blog, I vowed I would not fall down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories regarding this movie’s alleged symbolism, but rather peer down said rabbit hole from a safe distance. As evident from the documentary “Room 237”, there are countless interpretations of this film, ranging from commentary on Indigenous genocide to an analogy of the Holocaust to a confession that Kubrick staged the moon landing! Kubrick lived long enough to dismiss all of these (with his survivors and colleagues continuing the debunking to this day). I suspect the reason this film in particular has so many intense theses is two-fold: 1) Like “2001” before it, Kubrick has delivered a movie that leaves so many of its elements up to interpretation and 2) Given Kubrick’s reputation for his meticulous perfectionism, it is easy to assume that Kubrick devised every detail within the film to correspond with whatever message he was trying to make. Funnily enough, as someone who has never read the book, my own theory is close to Stephen King’s original intention: the hotel itself is an evil entity that, in its attempt to consume Danny, ends up consuming his father instead. That reading is still in the film, albeit watered down by Kubrick’s artistic flourishes.

Legacy 

  • “The Shining” was released in May 1980, becoming one of that summer’s biggest hits, and is currently the third highest-grossing Kubrick film behind “2001” and “Spartacus“. By the time Kubrick’s next film – his long gestating Vietnam War drama “Full Metal Jacket” – was released in June 1987, “The Shining” had already started receiving a critical reappraisal and earning its current status as a horror classic.
  • Stephen King has made it no secret that he was disappointed with Kubrick’s film version of his book, citing Kubrick’s misinterpretation of the supernatural elements and the miscasting of Jack Nicholson. The 1997 TV miniseries (somewhat emphatically titled “Stephen King’s The Shining”) is a more faithful adaptation of the source material, but still manages to live in the movie’s shadow. Hey, isn’t that the guy from “Wings”?
  • IMDb lists over 2,000 movies that have referenced or parodied “The Shining” over the years, but all you really need is “The Simpsons” and my vote for their best “Treehouse of Horror” segment.
  • More recent references to “The Shining” come from the films “Ready Player One” and – in what seems to be a recurring segment on this blog – “Space Jam: A New Legacy”.
  • Several of the film’s most iconic moments were created specifically for the film, including the Grady twins in the hallway, blood flowing out of the elevator, and an axe-wielding Jack announcing “Here’s Johnny!”. The latter – a reference to “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson – went over well enough with Carson that he used the clip to open his 1980 anniversary special, causing a brief uptick in the film’s box office.
  • Stephen King finally wrote a sequel to “The Shining” in 2013: “Doctor Sleep”, which dealt with Danny as an adult coming to terms with his long suppressed powers to save a similarly gifted young girl. The inevitable film adaptation came in 2019, and somehow managed to be a sequel to the film’s continuity while also receiving Stephen King’s blessing.
  • Oh, and apparently we might be getting a spin-off/prequel series called “Overlook Hotel”? I guess HBO Max dropped it from development (but hey, what haven’t they dropped?), and the production company is shopping the show around. My question as always about these origin/reboot things: Does anyone actually want this?

Further Viewing: Another favorite of mine from the recut trailer trend of the mid-2000s, “The Shining” recut as a heartwarming family drama. Another reason to love Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill”.