The Black Cauldron

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The MovieThe Black Cauldron

Where You Can Stream It: Disney+

The Pitch: In a far-flung fantasy world, a young assistant pig keeper discovers that his pig has the power to see the future. Meanwhile, the evil Horned King is searching for the mythical Black Cauldron, which will help him raise an army of undead warriors and take over the world. As the two storylines converge, the young pig keeper’s mettle is tested, friendships are formed, and lessons are learned.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: The phrase “the night is darkest just before dawn” could apply to The Black Cauldron, which endangered the entire future of animation at Disney a few years before the Disney Renaissance brought the company to new creative and financial heights. Reportedly costing $44 million and only earning $21 million domestically, The Black Cauldron is a fascinating failure and a piece of Disney history that’s more interesting than its reputation gives it credit for. Read More »

This Week in Trailers

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week we recognize “Our Lips Are Sealed” as the Go-Go’s best single, go cubein’, spend some quality time with Liam Neeson, tackle the controversial issue of abortion, and wine down for the weekend.

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Independence Day Coronavirus PSA by Bill Pullman

“Today we celebrate our Independence Day.” There are few speeches as rousing as the one given in Independence Day by Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore, inspiring a ragtag team of pilots to take down the alien invaders that have wreaked havoc across the globe.

But there’s a real threat facing America and the rest of the world today, and it’s not an alien invasion. It’s the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why Alamo Drafthouse brought back Bill Pullman to inspire people to protect themselves and their fellow Americans by wearing a mask to squash the spread of COVID-19. If everyone wears a mask for just a month, we can beat this thing and truly celebrate our freedom. Read More »

Elliott Smith in Film

Musician Elliott Smith has made an abundance of legendary contributions to cinema, both in his short lifetime (he passed away at the age of 34 in 2003) as well as posthumously. He is, arguably, the greatest singer-songwriter of his generation. In film, Smith is, perhaps, most well-known for his tracks on Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting in 1997, namely, his Oscar-nominated “Miss Misery.” That song played over the oft-quoted “Had to see about a girl” scene. Although Smith lost to Céline Dion’s (of whom he used to do a spot-on impression) “My Heart Will Go On” at the Academy Awards, “Miss Misery” and Good Will Hunting launched him from indie musician to somewhere in between the stratospheres of successful and superstardom overnight.

The Nebraska-born, Texas-raised, Portland transport’s hauntingly graceful tracks have also been featured in several other prominent films and television shows, including many indelible scenes. His hollow, whispery voice, forever yearning for a different reality, remains a staple in film. If Van Sant hadn’t run out of music to listen to on a cross-country road trip and been forced to listen to discarded soundtrack music for To Die For, perhaps Smith’s brilliance wouldn’t have been exposed to the masses. And he wasn’t exactly the type of person capable of bearing the pressures of fame. He had enough demons, as it was. However, fame was inevitable for someone as talented as Smith. Alas, it’s a delicate, almost selfish relationship we, as fans and admirers, have with artists. They create. We consume, and consume, and consume. If their art is deemed mainstream, we become exponentially more voracious. Sometimes, it can destroy a person. Sometimes, it can enable their most dangerous temptations. Sometimes, it can awaken their most sinister demons.

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Eurovision Song Contest The Story of Fire Saga wheel

On the July 3, 2020 episode of /Film Daily, /Film editor-in-chief Peter Sciretta is joined by /Film managing editor Jacob Hall, weekend editor Brad Oman, senior writer Ben Pearson and writer Chris Evangelista to discuss what they’ve been up to at the Water Cooler.

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(Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.)

Despite Mr. Boogedy (which I previously wrote about for this columnnever becoming the TV show it was meant to be, the Disney powers-that-be thought that the horror parody about a family of pranksters being haunted by a ghost absolutely warranted a sequel. Long before shows like Lost or movies like the Marvel Cinematic Universe got audiences used to watching a new chapter in a story without spending time to recap the previous chapter, Disney decided that audiences didn’t need to remember what a 45-minutes made-for-TV movie from a year earlier was about, and could simply jump into its sequel. 

The result is The Bride of Boogedy, a sequel that drops most of its scary elements to instead tell a comedic tale of parents just not believing their kids, seances, and lots of Halloween pranks. 

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Edward Scissorhands is more than a gothic fairytale. It’s more than a suburban satire. It’s a complex film about systemic societal and economic change. Writer Caroline Thompson, director Tim Burton, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and production designer Bo Welch convey timely themes of classism, diversity, and suburban vapidity (post-war Suburbia through the Reagan Era suburban revival) through the use of snow, Edward’s (Johnny Depp) peculiar, unchanging outfit, the suburban setting, and a stealthily symbolic mansion. The story of Edward Scissorhands was conceived during Burton’s awkward suburban childhood upbringing in Burbank, California. It can be dated back to a single drawing in Burton’s teenage years of an early iteration of the Scissorhands character, which represented Burton’s feeling of isolation, his inability to maintain friendships, and communicate effectively with his peers.

In Burton’s biography by Helena Bassil-Morozow titled, Tim Burton: The Monster and the Crowd: A Post-Jungian Perspective, he explained, “I never really fell out with people, but I didn’t really retain friends. I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don’t know why exactly. It was as if I was exuding some sort of aura that said ‘Leave me the fuck alone.’” What began as an auteur-in-the-making’s lack of belonging in his own neighborhood grew into an intelligent allegory for suburban America and humankind’s manmade, pun intended, prejudice against anything that is considered different from the current norm.

Read More »

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: According to the calendar, holidays are still a thing? Happy whatever, America! Now let’s all celebrate like I had to for my lockdown birthday…by doing nothing. Stay home. Cook some hot dogs over a flaming pile of dollar bills while blasting that Team America song or whatever you do on the 4th Of July. Just, pretty please, keep the current situation in mind? Pandemics don’t respect nationwide vacation days. Watch some Americana-themed horror movies from your couch and ensure social distancing. Chris and I have some streaming recommendations that should resonate awful loudly right about now.

Chris: It feels extra strange to celebrate America right now, because of, well…everything. But hey, it’s the 4th of July weekend, baby! And that means it’s an excuse to drink booze, eat grilled food, and watch horror movies (not that I need an extra excuse to do aunt of those things). And since America can be such a nightmare, Matt and I decided to highlight some good old American horror stories (and no, I’m not talking about the show that everyone hates but keeps watching anyway). 

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(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films and television properties that inspired George Lucas’s iconic universe. In this edition: The Rain People (1969) and Filmmaker: a diary by george lucas (1968))

In order to dive deeper into the films and filmmaking techniques and style of George Lucas, it’s practically required to dive into the early work of Francis Ford Coppola. 

“The way I make movies I learned from Francis,” George Lucas said in a 1977 interview with the LA Times. “I was his right hand for 10 years. I absorbed his idiosyncrasies. Yet we’re exact opposites, 180 degrees apart; as a result, we’re each other’s foil.”

Today, we’ll dive into The Rain People and Filmmaker, both films made in tandem in the late 1960s. The Rain People was a film made on the road, shot across a number of states. Francis Ford Coppola wanted to make a personal film and wrote his script and told Warner Brothers he was making it. This was the first film to be produced by American Zoetrope. George Lucas tagged along on the production, filming the behind the scenes documentary, Filmmaker, solo, with a 16mm camera and a Nagra audio recorder.

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the old guard review

If there’s one thing we can all agree on in these divisive times, it’s that the sight of Charlize Theron kicking some ass is fun. Be it Mad Max: Fury Road or Atomic Blonde, Theron has the physicality and screen presence that makes the sight of her throwing down and pummelling some fools spectacular cinema. So why then is The Old Guard, a movie where Theron does almost nothing but fight, so dang dull?

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