We're at an iMPAAsse.

I've seen commercials advertising the special theatrical release of The King's Speech. It's not longer, it's not the director's cut, it doesn't have an additional scene after the credits. It's the PG-13 version.

The King's Speech is a great biopic. It's inspiring, it's powerful, it's historical, it's both lighthearted and deep. It's cinematic magic, and while it wasn't my choice for Best Picture for 2010, it should be made available to the widest audience possible.

Do you know why it was rated R in the first place? If you'll recall, there was no violence, there was no sex, no nudity, no thematic elements, and no drug use or alcohol abuse (save for some chain smoking and a scene where Guy Ritchie is determined to find the perfect bottle of wine.)

If you'll recall, there was one scene responsible for it's restricted rating. In a moment of frustration, Geoffrey Rush urges Colin Firth to belt out a cathartic tirade of expletives. The tirade is as follows:

"Fuck. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck and fuck! Fuck, fuck and bugger! Bugger, bugger, buggerty buggerty buggerty, fuck, fuck, arse! Balls, balls, fuckity, shit, shit, fuck and willy. Willy, shit and fuck and... tits."

According to the MPAA, this is naughty language that can only be exposed to adults. According to my sources, the edited version is as follows, and perfectly suited for all ages:

"Shit. Shit! Shit, shit, shit and shit! Shit, shit and bugger! Bugger, bugger, buggerty buggerty buggerty, shit, shit, arse! Balls, balls, shitty, shit, shit, fuck and willy. Willy, shit and fuck and... tits."

Hearing the word "Fuck" thirteen times in swift succession is dangerous to malleable young minds. Hearing it twice is perfectly fine. Of course, this is twice as many times normally allowed. Under normal MPAA guidelines, a film may say "Fuck" once and maintain a PG-13 rating. Clearly, the MPAA has a soft spot for Colin Firth's charming, British allure. Buggerty? Delightful!

Oh, and let's not forget "Shit." To the MPAA, that word is completely inconsequential. "Shit" and "Shoot" might as well be interchangeable (though not as verbs. That would be silly.)

Why do I take such personal issue with this? Does it have anything to do with my getting a three-day suspension in the 6th grade for saying "Shit" in a private conversation to a friend? No, not a bit. Clearly I hold no ill-regard towards the shit-eating language police and their goddamn, ass-backwards, cock-guzzling rules.

Fuck no. Not at all.


Cast, Casting, Design, Music, Editors, DP, Producers, Writer, Director

Opening credits are a relic from old Hollywood, when the credits ran before the film in their entirety. Since then, film production has become more complicated. Crews of dozens have ballooned to crews of hundreds. In interest of time, credits were moved to the end of the film, while only a few choice names remained at the beginning. I don't know why.

If you think about it, opening credits are unnecessary and redundant. All they're doing is preventing the movie from starting for two minutes. Some films don't even use them at all, and nobody cares.

But sometimes they're the stuff of legend. Maybe it's an exercise in typography, maybe it's a music video in disguise, maybe they're just trying to set a mood. Sometimes, the opening credits are just awesome.

This isn't a true Top Ten list, these are just ten examples I really like. Don't infer anything concerning rankings or omissions.

1) Enter the Void (2010)

I know nothing about Enter the Void other than the opening credits. I'm actually scared to watch this film because there's no way the actual movie can compare to this technotronic love letter to Adobe After Effects.

2) Catch Me If You Can (2002)

It's tough to categorize Catch Me If You Can into standard genres. But this animated credit sequence does what my words cannot. It exudes the 1960's vibe of the film, while sharing it's sense of whimsy, trickery, and deception. Tell me the opening to Mad Men wasn't slightly more than inspired here.

3) Juno (2007)
A major theme in Juno is music, so the design studio responsible for its opening credits drew inspiration from 1970s-era rock posters. Over 900 photos of Ellen Page were rotoscoped to create this sequence.

4) Watchmen (2009)

If Zack Snyder could make an entire movie in slow motion, he would. I like this sequence as it creates the illusion of still photographs come to life, and introduces us to the world, history and characters of Watchmen without even saying a word. Unfortunately, it's too effective; I like it better than the entire rest of the movie.

For some reason, they won't let me embed the stupid video. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14vTrFyHO94

5) Casino Royale (2006)

Arguably, any James Bond film could be on this list, but I like this one best. The familiar imagery of standard playing cards is electrifying and mixes well with the breakneck action Daniel Craig introduced to the franchise.

6) Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Back when I was a kid, my only copy of Honey I Shrunk the Kids was recorded off TV. In addition to being edited for time and content, it was interrupted by commercials, and started five minutes in. As such, I didn't see this credits sequence until years later. Which is a shame, because it's actually pretty neat. Too bad the animators had no clue what Nick and Amy actually looked like.

7) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Every time I watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I forget just how insane these credits are. They start off silly and gradually progress into full-fledged lunacy. From the Python's, I'd expect nothing less.

8) Zombieland (2009)

People see zombie movies for one reason: Zombie effects. Zombieland serves us this insatiable desire on a silver platter. I also like how the credits are treated like physical objects. A nice touch.

9) Thank You For Smoking (2005)

Typography and product recognition. It's amazing how many brands I can identify, and I don't even smoke.

10) Do the Right Thing (1989)

Fight the Power is an inseparable element of Do the Right Thing, and you hear snippets of this song throughout the entire film. It only makes sense to hear the song in its entirety before the movie begins proper. Plus Rosie Perez can dance like nobody's business.



Love For Sale

I think I finally understand the appeal of romantic comedies. But first an important question: Have you ever read fan fiction?

Basically, fan fiction is an unofficial, non-canon sequel or companion piece to a piece of fiction not at all affiliated with the creators. As the name implies, it is exclusively produced by a fan.

Why does fan-fiction exist? For a number of reasons. As a writing exercise. As a testament of loyalty and/or fandom. To give eternal life to a beloved franchise. Or (most likely) maybe it's to fulfill a long-sustained fantasy.

I'm going to segue abruptly to a famous term anyone remotely familiar with TVtropes.org should know: Shipping. Shipping is the pairing of two characters whom the viewer/reader believes should have a romantic interest. Most commonly, two lead characters with unresolved sexual tension. Within the canonical confines of a TV show, shipping almost invariably spells doom (Moonlighting, The X-Files, and CSI spring instantly to mind.) But in the no-holds-barred world of fan-fiction, anybody gets paired with anybody else. It's up to the lewd, perverted mind of the writer.

Now, what does all this have to do with romantic comedies? Simple; Romantic comedies are the ultimate form of fan fiction.

Hollywood producers tap into the primal urges of the target audience. Think about the astronomical number of mouth-breathers who go apeshit every time there's a celebrity hook-up, break-up or sex scandal. What if we could harness that power and profit from it? What if we could ship together two of the hottest celebrities in LA-LA-Land, project their romantic private lives onto 50-foot screens across the country, then sell the DVDs to In Touch reading freaks for $22 a pop?

Through the magical power of the RomCom, we can ship together an infinite permutation of actors and actresses, drag them through the artificial trenches of relationship hell, and both thespians come out smelling like roses on the other side. Meanwhile, audiences get to pretend Guy HotChest and Dame SweetLegs are actually canoodling, and studio execs get to refill their money bins in time for their Thursday morning breastsroke.


Random Factoids I - The Saga Begins

Random Factoids:

- Batman was the first movie to ever have two separate soundtracks; One orchestral soundtrack composed by Danny Elfman, and one pop soundtrack composed by Prince.

- For appearing in National Lampoon's Animal House, Donald Sutherland was offered his choice between $35,000 or 15% of the total gross. Sutherland bargained with the producers, and was paid $50,000. Had he opted for the gross, he would have earned $21,240,000.

- The character Gopher was created exclusively for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. He never appeared in any of A.A. Milne's stories, giving a subtle double meaning to his repeated assertion, "I'm not in the book, you know."

- In Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, all songs by Sex Bob-Omb are performed by Beck. All songs by The Clash at Demonhead are performed by Metric. All songs by Crash and the Boys are performed by Broken Social Scene.

- Janet Leigh, the actress famously stabbed to death by Norman Bates in Psycho, is the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis, the actress nearly stabbed to death by Michael Meyers in Halloween. Director John Carpenter cast Curtis for this exact reason.

- The 2006 film Flushed Away was a joint production between animation mainstays Dreamworks Animation and Aardman Animations. Aardman is best known for their claymation features, such as Wallace and Gromit, but Flushed Away's story revolved heavily around water, which easily damaged set and character pieces. As such, Dreamworks retrograded their usual CGI style to emulate Aardman's plasticine figures, going so far as to animate imperfections such as fingerprint smudges.

- Cloverfield was named after the street where Bad Robot Productions are located. The title was not intended to be permanent.

- Judy Garland wore a prosthetic nose in The Wizard of Oz to appear younger.

- In 1980, The Blues Brothers set the record for most car crashes in a single movie. the record was broken in 1998 by its own sequel, Blues Brothers 2000.

- The song Dazed and Confused does not appear in the movie Dazed and Confused. Led Zeppelin rarely ever licenses their music. While shooting School of Rock, Richard Linklater (director of both films) shot special footage of Jack Black and hundreds of extras pleading the band for permission to use Immigrant Song. Led Zeppelin received the footage, and gave Linklater permission.

- Demolition Man features product placement for Taco Bell, but with a futuristic design, logo and font. After the film's release, Taco Bell changed their logo to emulate the fictional logo.

- The Nightmare Before Christmas' original ending revealed Dr. Finkelstein as a villain, working in conjunction with Oogie-Boogie. During filming, Tim Burton accidentally kicked a set piece, destroying it, and forcing a re-write.