Can You Solve the Virus Riddle and Save the World?
Can You Solve the Virus Riddle and Save the World?
Jack the Ripper is one of those legends that lives on and new info turns up from time to time. Mental_Floss UK presents 5 People Who Were Suspected of Being Jack the Ripper.
Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 20 Things We Learned from Ben Affleck’s Live By Night Commentary. Here are three of my favorites…
7. The falling snow is done via CG, and when one of the guys compliments its look and how it even appears to land and melt. “Yeah, the first time it didn’t,” says Affleck suggesting he had words with the effects folk, “but by the time it was finished it landed.”
14. He says shooting a scene with a burning cross and Klan members in their hooded uniforms made him realize how terrifying the real thing must have been.
20. This is Affleck’s favorite of his own movies. “Everything about it was so much harder to do and required so much more elaborate work.”
2. BURTON WANTED HIS MARTIANS TO BE ANIMATED VIA STOP-MOTION.
The concept of a Mars Attacks! movie first surfaced in 1985, but development wouldn’t begin in earnest until 1994, when screenwriter John Gems and director Tim Burton got involved with the project. To bring the aliens to life, Burton intended to utilize stop-motion animation, something he’s “always [loved] and always will.”
Early in pre-production, a set of 12-inch articulated Martian models were built for testing purposes. At first, Burton’s plan was to have these animated in front of a blue screen. They would then be inserted digitally onto miniature sets by the artists at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Ultimately, though, Burton decided to abandon the stop-motion approach when ILM presented him with some impressive screen tests featuring computer-animated aliens.
Despite this, Mars Attacks! still pays tribute to the older effects technique. At Burton’s instruction, ILM animated the digital extraterrestrials as if they were stop motion puppets. This is why the Martians move a bit more rigidly than did most contemporary CG characters, such as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993).
4. WHY DID SO MANY CELEBRITIES JOIN THE CAST? THANK JACK NICHOLSON.
Let’s do a quick head count. Glenn Close, Martin Short, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox, and Sarah Jessica Parker are just a few of the big names on this movie’s mile-long list of stars. And yet, when the casting process began, Mars Attacks! struggled to attract any players with serious marquee value. Gems blames this on the fact that most of its characters either die in some cartoonish manner or end up disfigured.
“Agents didn’t want to see their star clients playing loser roles, and a lot of big acts passed on the project,” he says. “At one point, we thought we were going to have to cancel the film. The guy who saved our butt was Jack Nicholson.” According to Burton, the Academy Award-winner was enthusiastic about joining Mars Attacks! from the very start. After sending Nicholson the script, Burton gave him a call while location-scouting. “Which part would you like to do?” asked the director. “How about all of them?” Nicholson replied.
In the end, he was double-cast as President Dale and a sleazy Vegas businessman. Once word got around that Nicholson would be involved, other celebs lined up to join the ensemble. “We started getting requests from more stars than there were parts for,” Gems notes. “It was like a tidal wave when Jack came on.”
9. INDEPENDENCE DAY OWES ITS TITLE—AND PART OF ITS PREMISE—TO MARS ATTACKS!
While Burton toiled away on Mars Attacks!, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich were writing an alien invasion movie of their own, but theirs was to have a more serious tone. The duo knew that both pictures would be released at some point in the summer of 1996.
“I said to Dean, we can’t do our film after a parody comes out. We had to beat [Burton] to it,” Emmerich recently said in an interview with The Guardian. “If it came out on the 4 July weekend, we would beat Mars Attacks!, which was coming out in August. So we wrote the concept around the release date. Dean said: ‘Let’s just call it Independence Day; we can come up with something better later.” The rest is history.
1. THE MOVIE ORIGINALLY CO-STARRED A WIMP.
When photographer George Butler was dispatched by both Life magazine and The Village Voice to cover the burgeoning bodybuilding scene in the early 1970s, he was fascinated with its abundance of charismatic participants. Feeling one of the sport’s star attractions, Arnold Schwarzenegger, could carry a full-length film, Butler decided to pursue a feature-length project with collaborator Robert Fiore that he began shooting in 1975. The problem was that Butler was focused on the mass monsters of the Mr. Olympia scene; to balance it out and offer audiences a more relatable subject, he enlisted slightly-built actor Bud Cort (Harold and Maude) and shot a lot of footage of him working out and marveling at the well-developed bodies all around him. The footage wound up being cut from the finished film.
2. NO ONE BELIEVED ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER COULD CARRY THE MOVIE.
While Butler was trying to raise funds, he shot a 10-minute test sequence of Schwarzenegger making a guest posing appearance in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Screening the footage for investors in New York, Butler was dismayed to see that they seemed more horrified than intrigued by the sight of the massive Austrian flexing his deltoids. After the footage ended, playwright Romulus Linney stood, turned to Butler, and said, “I think I speak for all of us when I say that if you make a movie about this Arnold person, we will laugh you off 42nd Street.” (Butler turned to another approach, piecemealing his budget together by petitioning more than 3000 separate financiers until he got the money he needed.)
5. LOU FERRIGNO PREDICTED HIS OWN FUTURE.
The nature of raw footage means that hundreds of hours of film were left on the cutting room floor, but according to Butler, one sequence in particular has never left his memory. Talking to Ferrigno about his future hopes, the actor told the director that “all I want to be is the Hulk.” He got his wish just two years later, starring for five seasons on CBS’s The Incredible Hulk.
Tarantino has created an interesting list. I’ve never developed a top anything past two: Rocky and The Wizard of Oz. I think if I tried the rest would be interchangeable based on my mood.
Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 18 Things We Learned from John Carpenter’s Rio Bravo Commentary. Here are my three favorites…
2. Hawks is Carpenter’s favorite director, and this is one of his favorite films ever made. He’s long credited it with being the inspiration for his own Assault on Precinct 13.
8. Robert Mitchum’s brother, John, plays the bartender in the scene where Chance and Dude enter the bar in search of the wounded bad guy.
9. The belt buckle Wayne wears during the film was a gift from Hawks upon the completion of their first film together, Red River. It features the brand from the ranch his character owned in the film.
4. ONE OF THE WRITERS DIDN’T THINK THE “KNIFE” LINE WAS VERY FUNNY.
“It wasn’t funny on paper,” Shadie admitted about the line “That’s not a knife.” The quote was a collaboration between the three writers, and it became one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
11. 20TH CENTURY FOX (RUDELY) SAID “NO” TO ACQUIRING THE AMERICAN RIGHTS.
John Cornell showed the movie to a 20th Century Fox executive while he was in Hollywood trying to sell it. ”There was some idiot who sat with his feet on the desk and watched it for about 20 minutes, looked at this watch about eight times and told me that it wouldn’t work,” Cornell remembered. ”He was extremely rude. I sometimes get pleasure from thinking about what the look is like on his face at a time like this.” Paramount ended up acquiring the rights.
15. HOGAN AND KOZLOWSKI GOT MARRIED IN REAL LIFE.
They wed in 1990 and had a son, Chance. Kozlowski filed for divorce in 2013.
Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 39 Things We Learned from Bill Paxton’s Frailty Commentary. Here are three of my favorites…
8. He made the film for multiple viewings. “The first time you sit through Frailty you get pulled into the story kind of subjectively, and there’s this whole kind of creep factor. But on your second viewing there’s a lot of satisfaction as there are a lot of clues laid out in front of the viewer.”
35. The script originally showed the visions — each demons sins — at the time of their abduction/murder, but James Cameron watched an early cut and suggested they shift them all to the end. “He said ‘You gotta remember film is so literal that you’re going to split the audience, and a lot of them are gonna believe that dad really is seeing all this stuff, and you don’t want that to happen because you want them to go with Fenton.’”
36. Why is the ax called Otis? One, he wanted audiences to know that the ax adult Adam uses in the end is the same one his dad used, “so I wanted to mark it some way.” And two, giving it a name anthropomorphizes it and makes it a character of sorts.
Me-TV presents 11 Nifty Little Visual Details You Never Notices in Star Trek. Here are three of my favorites…
THE KLINGON’S BELT BUCKLES ARE BUBBLE WRAP.
Yep, that’s just gold-painted bubble wrap. That’s not so strange. Batman’s utility belt was once made out of sponges.
D-DAY HERO JAMES DOOHAN WAS MISSING HIS RIGHT MIDDLE FINGER.
Doohan served in the Canadian Infantry in World War II, landing at Juno Beach on D-Day. After taking down two snipers and holding position on higher ground for the evening, he was hit by six rounds of friendly fire, including one in his right hand. His finger was amputated. As an actor, he tried to conceal this, but you can spot his war wound here and there, like when Scotty carries a platter of Tribbles.
KIRK AND SPOCK VISITED MAYBERRY A COUPLE TIMES.
As it was a Desilu production, Star Trek often shot outdoors on the studio’s Forty Acres backlot, also home of The Andy Griffith Show. Thus, you can spot the familiar landmarks of Mayberry in “Miri,” “The City on the Edge of Forever,” “The Return of the Archons” and “A Piece of the Action” — but Mayberry can best be seen in the first two.
Cheryl Eddy and io9.com present 12 Things You Might Not Know About Big Trouble in Little China. Here are three of my favorites…
3) Jack Burton’s Insane Boots Were Kurt Russell’s Idea
Though the Big Trouble book showers rightful praise on costume designer April Ferry, Russell says he had a hand in selecting his character’s distinctive footwear. He had Jack Burton’s “funky, high-top moccasins” specially made in Aspen at a shop he happened to know about.
5) The Actor Playing Rain Had No Idea He Was in a Comedy
Peter Kwong tells the authors that his scenes as Rain, one of the villainous Lo Pan’s well-armed lieutenants, were so intense that he was under the impression that Big Trouble was merely “an action-adventure with a mysterious ghost story.”
It wasn’t until he filmed his last-act fight—and noted Dennis Dun’s over-the-top eyebrow raise at a key moment during their battle—that he realized the movie was actually a comedy that also happened to have action-adventure and mystical elements. Later in the book, Kwong reveals that his luxurious long wig, which was specifically designed to look like those traditionally worn in Chinese martial arts movies, cost $3,000.
11) Making Lo Pan’s Glowing Skull Was Weirdly Easy
Actor James Hong plays two versions of iconic bad guy David Lo Pan: the ancient old man, and the younger sorcerer. His on-screen transformation comes courtesy of both a bust of Hong that was covered in clear, flexible skin, carefully painted to look like Hong in his old-man make-up, and by fading the lights off outside the bust while fading the lights inside the bust on. According to Johnson, the scene was completed in just one take.
2. MATT DAMON, BEN AFFLECK, BRENDAN FRASER, AND O’DONNELL’S CASTMATES IN SCHOOL TIES ALL AUDITIONED FOR CHARLIE.
“The whole cast went down to audition for it,” Matt Damon remembered in a 1997 Vanity Fair profile. “So the way I found out about the part is, I’m checking in with my agent, to see if anything good has come in, and my agent says, ‘Here’s one with a young role, and . . . Oh my God, it’s got Al Pacino in it!’ So I go up to Chris and say, ‘Have you heard about this movie?’ and he says [curtly] ‘Yeah.’ So I say, ‘Do you have the script?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Can I see it?’ ‘No—I kinda need it.’ Chris wouldn’t give it to anybody.” Stephen Dorff also auditioned.
7. ‘HOO-AH’ CAME FROM PACINO’S GUN EXPERT.
“I was working with a lieutenant colonel who was teaching me the ways [of the Army],” Pacino recalled. “We worked every day, and he’d teach me how to load and unload a .45 and all this stuff. Every time I did something right, he’d go, ‘Hoo-ah!’ Finally, I asked, ‘Where did you get that from?’ And he said, ‘When we were on the line, and you turned and snapped the rifle in the right way, [you’d say,] ‘Hoo-ah!’ So I just started doing it. It’s funny where things come from.”
12. O’DONNELL’S BEST TAKE WAS A CAMERA OPERATOR’S WORST.
“The one scene where Chris O’Donnell cries, the focus puller missed and it was soft,” editor Michael Tronick revealed. “Normally, Marty [Brest] wouldn’t consider looking at something that’s imperfect that’s flatly out of focus. But it was the best take and we knew it. It had to be in the movie.”