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Showing posts from August, 2016

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #113: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Adam McKay’s comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) takes a satirical look at the American news world of the 1970s to laugh at puff pieces, sexism in the workplace, and the mistakes anchors can make on live TV. The sad fact is today the sexism is still there, if only slightly more hidden (FOX News), and the news on TV sometimes looks more and more ridiculous. Part of what makes Anchorman so funny is that unlike today most of its characters have no idea they are being ridiculous since in their world the term “diversity” is to be confused with the name of a sunken ship.
Having worked as a reporter for three years, I can guarantee you that Anchorman is a lot funnier if you have actually worked in the media. When I first saw the movie while it was playing on a movie channel I thought it was one of Will Ferrell’s better comedies, but it took a new meaning when I joined the Journalism – New Media program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. We had to learn how to use camera…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #114: The Conversation

In a world in which cameras and microphones are everywhere, from the street corners to our very own computers, The Conversation (1974) seems like a quaint and outdated thriller. It focuses on a man whose job is to spy on people, but at the same time said man is very protective of his own privacy and lives in constant fear of someone tapping his phone lines. However a major lesson of Francis Ford Coppola’s film, which still applies today, is that having a recording of someone’s private conversations is one thing, but knowing what to do with that information is whole other ball game.
When I first watched The Conversation it was probably about one year after Edward Snowden leaked classified information regarding the United States’ ability to spy on practically anyone not living in a cave. If you have a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop, or just a good old landline, they will find a way to listen to what you are saying. In 1998 Gene Hackman starred in Enemy of the State, a spiritual sequel of…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #115: Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974) is the sort of comedy that is simply not made anymore today. It is smart, politically incorrect, well written, and most importantly, an actually funny parody. Whereas nowadays most parodies just take scenes from existing movies and add easy fart jokes, Mel Brooks and co-writer Richard Pryor wrote an original story spoofing the Western genre with jokes that will be funny until the end of time. That being said, they also put in one heck of a fart joke by showing what really happens when cowboys eat beans for supper around a campfire.
Said fart joke was told to my brother and I by our dad who thought it would be great for us to see this comedic gem the first chance we got. Turns out he was right. This is how classics stay alive: parents telling their kids to see movies in which writers get away with things that would make a movie censor’s head explode. By today’s standards Blazing Saddles may be politically incorrect, but I have noticed that sometimes th…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #116: Rio Bravo

With his great Western Rio Bravo (1959) Howard Hawks set the template for what could be described as the siege movie genre. It’s a simple enough premise: you have the good guys holed up in a location with a limited amount of weapons and ammunition while outside you have the bad guys trying to get in with a lot more henchmen, guns, and bullets. Hawks himself would make two more variations on this story structure throughout his career, and decades later John Carpenter would use it as an inspiration for Assault on Precinct 13 and Ghosts of Mars. Of course it had to be all-American cowboy John Wayne to be the star of Rio Bravo and start this tradition of holding up against the bad guy no matter what.
In yet another rare instance of homework being fun, I discovered this classic while taking a course on Hollywood Cinema at the University of British Columbia in the summer of 2009, and wrote an essay on it and The Searchers, another John Wayne classic. I think I got a good grade, but if I get …