Primers

By Mark Pollard

Hong Kong's kung fu movie genre, kicked off by director Chang Cheh's The Chinese Boxer (1970), has remained popular in the West ever since Lo Lieh broke out in furious combat on grind house theater screens in Five Fingers of Death (1972). But it took another 28 years for a far older Chinese-language movie genre to gain similar popularity. It is called the wuxia pian (pronounced "oo-shyah pea-an") and worldwide audiences received an eye-opening introduction to this world of flying swordsmen and swordswomen when Ang Lee's Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) stormed the box office in 2001. However, Chinese audiences were far less enamored with this movie than their Western counterparts. Quite understandable considering that, as entertaining as it was, the movie represents only the tip of an immense literary and filmic iceberg that the Chinese have been chipping away at for well over 500 years.

Page 04/06/2007 - 12:31pm

by Jennie Rose

As the film industry grew from the ground up, the ratio of women to men in positions of power shifted disproportionately. But in spite of a heavy dose of paternalism in the film industry, every generation grows in skill and talent as more women inside - and outside - Hollywood make movies. With the arrival of each new decade comes the arrival of new challenges for women to find their places again, as the changing nature of the business makes new rules and, hopefully, breaks the old ones.

Page 04/05/2007 - 4:28pm

by Craig Phillips

Just as jazz is the one uniquely American music form, the Western may be the one truly American film genre and, as such, has appropriately reflected eleven decades of American moods. Westerns have always centered on the classic American story itself, that of taming the land (and, occasionally, the part where white people "conquered" natives), of overcoming hardships, of the frontier spirit. While many films from this canon are now best forgotten or serve only as dated curios, many more, from Red River to Unforgiven, rank up there among the best of American cinema. No genre has survived as long the Western, only to re-emerge again and again, intact.

Page 04/05/2007 - 3:11pm

by Marlee MacLeod

We don't just watch movies - we experience them. We're inhabitants as well as observers, safe in theatres and living rooms yet inwardly out on some emotional limb. We feel by proxy whatever passes on the screen and we like it that way, especially when it comes to the more unpleasant human experiences.

Page 04/05/2007 - 1:47pm

by Jeffrey M. Anderson

People have believed in vampires for over a thousand years. Stories have circulated for centuries about people drinking blood, souls returning from the dead and people unable to walk in the sunlight. The word "vampire" was probably coined somewhere in the mid-18th century. Several stories were published referencing vampires, but the most famous and relevant of all was Bram Stoker's Dracula, first published in 1897.

Page 04/05/2007 - 1:36pm

By the Vidiots of TeeVee

TV shows have become ridiculously popular on DVD, and now there are a ton of them, with more coming every week. The skeptical among you may ask why you should bother renting a DVD of a TV series when you can easily hit any one of a hundred channels via satellite TV and watch something already. Easy: watching TV on DVD is not like watching TV on TV. It's not even like watching TiVo. Here are the most compelling reasons to pick up that Six Feet Under DVD.

Page 04/05/2007 - 1:14pm

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Science fiction is essentially just that: stories told using imagined or modified scientific ideas. These are stories not just set in the future, but usually also containing new types of gizmos that allow its characters to act differently or more efficiently than modern-day characters can. But most science fiction seems old hat by now. Simply flying through the stars in a spaceship or meeting an alien from another planet doesn't do the trick anymore. Sure, you can make the spaceship go faster or give the alien more eyes or arms, but it's still the same thing.

Page 04/04/2007 - 4:58pm

by Walt Opie

"The unconquerable doing the impossible." That's how famed sportswriter Red Smith once described a diving, game-saving catch snagged by baseball legend (and breaker of the color barrier) Jackie Robinson. It would also be a good way to summarize the basic plot of many of the best-loved sports movies, for these films often involve a hyper-determined but flawed underdog, in the guise of either a team or an individual, who must compete with the very best in their chosen sport and try to pull off a miraculous victory (or at least come closer to winning than anyone expects). Examples of this are obvious and innumerable, with Sylvester Stallone's 1976 star vehicle Rocky being the modern prototype.

Page 04/04/2007 - 4:35pm

by Liz Cole

slashers-psycho-2 (15K)

The granddaddy of the Slasher flick is arguably Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). And that isn't meant to neglect the influence of its contemporary, fake snuff films, but those were decidedly not mainstream enough to take credit for launching a genre that split the modern horror movement in two. Psycho's infamous shower scene whetted audiences' appetite for blood and screams (both usually that of young females), and inspired a cinematic killing spree that gave us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, and the bottomless Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises.

Page 04/04/2007 - 4:07pm

by Gregg Rickman

One of the few unalloyed pleasures of life is the experience of pure, helpless laughter. A consistent source for that precious commodity is the early slapstick comedies of artists such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy and many more. Liberated from sound film's harsh grounding in quotidian reality, these mimes were free to roam the earth, disguised as tramps trying to stay alive, as ambitious men trying to climb a building, as desperate men attempting to master a giant boat or outrun a herd of cattle. or as a beautiful woman out to rope a man (Clara Bow in It).

Page 04/04/2007 - 3:00pm

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