On "The Interview" and Creative Freedom


The year is 1940. Adolf Hitler is at the zenith of his power. Having conquered multiple European territories and formed multiple international alliances, the German dictator is seen as the most dominant leader in the world. Charlie Chaplin – Hollywood’s most dominant leader – decides to release a film that Read more

Home Alone & Church at Christmas


The Wise Guise has enjoyed presenting high-quality Christmas content since our first year. We've posted old Christmas-themed Facebook notes from yours truly in addition to the infamous 2012 Christmas Movie Smackdown and a Christmas YouTube Hall of Fame. As I write this, I continue my tradition of watching classic TV Read more

SAG, Golden Globe nominations push "Boyhood" out front in Oscar Race


Is “Boyhood” really the frontrunner for Best Picture? Upon release this summer, it certainly felt like a contender. The perfect review scores and strong limited box office seemingly guaranteed that. And yet, the lack of star power in the film made it feel more like a production made for Read more

Sneak Preview: Favorite Films of 2014 So Far


Every year I rank my favorite films of the previous year in January or February. You can find past editions in our archives, including the 2012 edition when I ranked my top 50 movies of the year. Like I said then, and will reiterate now, I need to get Read more

Why WWE was right to fire CM Punk


Fittingly, as we were all giving thanks for the wonderful things in our lives yesterday, former WWE superstar CM Punk interrupted the holiday with a long, rambling podcast as close friend Colt Cabana’s guest. It’s filled with the typical, ego-charged rhetoric from Punk we’ve come to expect. He says he’ll Read more

Rugby: My New Favorite Sport


Last week I experienced the thrill and experience that is the sport of Rugby. Well, the thrill and experience that comes from watching the sport of rugby. Last Saturday, I went to the USA Eagles v New Zealand All Blacks game in Chicago. Packed into a sold out stadium, with Read more

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On “The Interview” and Creative Freedom

Posted on by Alex Beene in Entertainment, Featured, Movie Previews, Movies | 1 Comment

The Interview Poster Preview On The Interview and Creative Freedom The year is 1940. Adolf Hitler is at the zenith of his power. Having conquered multiple European territories and formed multiple international alliances, the German dictator is seen as the most dominant leader in the world.

Charlie Chaplin – Hollywood’s most dominant leader – decides to release a film that pokes fun at Hitler’s rise. Titled “The Great Dictator,” the release was one of the most daring in cinematic history. A comical piece on Hitler during his massive rampage seemed ill-timed, to say the least.

Of course, studio leaders were nervous. They thought this type of film would jeopardize European distribution for not just the Chaplin release, but all films to follow. Hitler and his allies may not look too kindly at the studio system using their personas for humor and put a ban on Hollywood products in general.

Chaplin himself became concerned his production may be put on the shelf if enough entertainment voices were critical of the film hitting theaters. At the height of Hollywood’s panic, Chaplin received a call from then-President Franklin Roosevelt. He assured the legendary filmmaker to have no fear; the film would be distributed. He would see to it. He thought it was a very important project Americans needed to see.

“The Great Dictator” would go on to be a box office smash and boast strong reviews that produced multiple Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture nod. Today, Chaplin’s first all-talking picture is remembered fondly for its courage. Had studios given into their financial and personal cowardice, it may have never been seen by generations of film-goers.

Flash-forward to 2014, and a new film threatening a global power is getting ready to roll. “The Interview,” which takes shots at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, hits theaters on Christmas Day.

Well, maybe. Earlier this week, Sony backed away from the release. The New York premiere was canceled, and reports began to surface the studio told movie theater owners it was “up to them” as to whether they would show the film or not in their theaters. screen shot 2014 12 03 at 10.26.10 pm On The Interview and Creative FreedomAll of this comes after a fresh threat from hackers who claimed they would carry out “9-11-esque attacks” on theaters who opted to show the film Christmas Day. These same hackers have slowly – and embarrassingly – been releasing personal information from Sony’s servers over the last few weeks in retaliation for the studio’s decision to distributed the James Franco-Seth Rogen collaboration.

Speaking for myself, I will gladly pay money to see “The Interview” in theaters, and I will do so without fear. The real shame here is – unlike in Chaplin’s day – studios have given into fear and are preparing to scratch out most of the impact the film could have had.

Where are the brave studio leaders saying, “We’re not going to give into some sad hackers who want to embarrass us”? Where are public office holders like FDR ensuring the creativity of a group of American filmmakers? Sorry, you just won’t find them.

Yes, we do live in a more global society. It’s a lot easier to attack a company or a country now through digital and viral means than it once was. However, the principles are still the same, aren’t they? At least they should be. This is artistic integrity from a group of our citizens, and instead of standing behind their voices, we’ve got studios and others looking to silence them.

We’ve still got those too scared of terror. We’ve still got those too horrified of offending anyone else, even if it’s fictional satire. The same people who are rarely concerned of their own ramblings online are now worried a film release will ruffle the wrong feathers.

If only Chaplin were still here. Then, perhaps, the team behind “The Interview” would have an entertainment advocate willing to stand with them.

Home Alone & Church at Christmas

Posted on by Joseph Williams in Faith, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

homealonelogo Home Alone & Church at Christmas

The Wise Guise has enjoyed presenting high-quality Christmas content since our first year. We’ve posted old Christmas-themed Facebook notes from yours truly in addition to the infamous 2012 Christmas Movie Smackdown and a Christmas YouTube Hall of Fame. As I write this, I continue my tradition of watching classic TV Christmas specials late at night. Currently, for the first time ever, while watching Frosty Returns, I realized that Elisabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men) voiced the protagonist Holly in Frosty Returns. A Christmas miracle if there ever was one!

This year, I’ve decided to blog about several less memorable scenes of classic Christmas films. It’s not that these scenes haven’t always been special, but instead, they are scenes overshadowed by their place in the film, other more iconic moments, or in my case, scenes that are more memorable to a child’s mind when I first saw the film compared to re-watching these films as an adult.

Beginning with this first post, I wanted to dive into the church scene from Home Alone. I still remember seeing Home Alone in theaters when I was four years old. Every Christmas, I’d dust off the VHS or DVD or watch it on TV. This year was no different. When I was a kid, the church scene was the one that bored me the most. Finding myself restless and anxious for Kevin versus The Wet Bandits with his house filled with booby traps, I’d want the church scene and serious conversation with Old Man Marley to just hurry up and be over.

Now, as I’ve become an adult starting my own family with my own son, it’s the scene in the church that I want to last forever because it’s so rich and emotionally powerful. For those of you that haven’t done your duty and rewatched Home Alone already this year, here are two YouTube clips. Neither is high quality, but together, they capture the best 8 minutes of the film.

Read more

SAG, Golden Globe nominations push “Boyhood” out front in Oscar Race

Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies | Leave a comment

boyhood still 1024x576 SAG, Golden Globe nominations push Boyhood out front in Oscar RaceIs “Boyhood” really the frontrunner for Best Picture? Upon release this summer, it certainly felt like a contender. The perfect review scores and strong limited box office seemingly guaranteed that. And yet, the lack of star power in the film made it feel more like a production made for critical praise than gold.

The Hollywood Foreign Press and Screen Actors Guild this week have reversed the opinion held by some others and myself. With strong showings in the nominations for the Golden Globes and SAG this year, Richard Linklater’s latest entry seems poised to take Oscars by storm. Lack of big stars be damned; the quality of the film will stand for itself.

And yet, we know how the Academy feels about these things. Remember “Gravity” last year? That film was lavished as a major cinematic accomplishment (and had star power on top of that!) but failed to win Best Picture. It certainly didn’t do poorly in terms of statuettes awarded, earning quite a handful, including Best Director.

“Boyhood” could end up in the same boat this year, especially if “The Imitation Game” catches on. Packed with historical relevance and a strong cast, it’s the type of classic Best Picture winner the Academy may be more in line to honor.

“Birdman” continues to get attention, but its meta-filmesque status makes it hard for the Academy to embrace as a whole. That won’t stop it from being a really strong contender throughout the season. Ditto to “The Theory of Everything.”

The Globes stepped in to save “Selma,” which didn’t impress SAG. It remains to see if the historical drama can catch on. “Unbroken” is similar in its struggle, but it’s massive absence so far doesn’t speak well for its chances down the line.

Golden Globe Film Nominations:

Best Motion Picture – Drama “Boyhood” “Foxcatcher” “The Imitation Game” “Selma” “The Theory of Everything”

Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical “Birdman” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “Into the Woods” “Pride” “St. Vincent”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher” Benedict Cumberbatch, “Imitation Game” Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler” David Oyelowo, “Selma” Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Jennifer Aniston, “Cake” Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything” Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical Amy Adams, “Big Eyes” Emily Blunt, “Into the Woods” Hellen Mirren, “The Hundred-Foot Journey” Julianne Moore, “Map to the Stars” Quvenzhane Wallis – “Annie”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Michael Keaton, “Birdman” Bill Murray, “St. Vincent” Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice” Christoph Waltz, “Big Eyes”

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood” Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year” Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game” Emma Stone, “Birdman” Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Robert Duvall, “The Judge” Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood” Edward Norton, “Birdman” Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher” J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Director – Motion Picture Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Avu Duvernay, “Selma” David Fincher, “Gone Girl” Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman” Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture “Birdman” “Boyhood” “Gone Girl” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “The Imitation Game”

Best Animated Feature Film “Big Hero 6″ “The Book Of Life” “The Boxtrolls” “How To Train Your Dragon 2″ “The LEGO Movie”

Best Foreign Language Film “Force Majure” – Sweden “Gett, the Trial of Viviane Amsalem” – Israel “Ida” – Poland “Leviathan” – Russian “Tangerines” – Estonia Georgia

Best Original Song – Motion Picture “Big Eyes” – “Big Eyes” – Music and Lyrics by: Lana Del Rey “Glory” – “Selma” – Music and Lyrics by: John Legend, Common “Mercy Is” – “Noah” – Music and Lyrics by: Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye “Opportunity” – “Annie” – Music and Lyrics by: Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler, Will Gluck “Yellow Flicker Beat” – “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1″ Music and Lyrics by: Lorde

Best Original Score – Motion Picture “Birdman” “Gone Girl” “The Imitation Game” “Interstellar” “The Theory of Everything”

 

Sneak Preview: Favorite Films of 2014 So Far

Posted on by Clayton Martin in Entertainment, Featured, Movie Reviews, Movies | Leave a comment

Birdman movie 1024x748 Sneak Preview: Favorite Films of 2014 So Far

Every year I rank my favorite films of the previous year in January or February. You can find past editions in our archives, including the 2012 edition when I ranked my top 50 movies of the year. Like I said then, and will reiterate now, I need to get a life. This year I want to share my work-in-progress list early and make sure some of these films that deserve your attention get it before award season. I still have a lot I want to/plan to watch (plus some films that haven’t even come out yet).

The order is very much subject to change but here are my current standings (plus a tweet-length review): Read more

Why WWE was right to fire CM Punk

Posted on by Alex Beene in Featured, Other Sports, WWE | Leave a comment

Punk Why WWE was right to fire CM Punk

Fittingly, as we were all giving thanks for the wonderful things in our lives yesterday, former WWE superstar CM Punk interrupted the holiday with a long, rambling podcast as close friend Colt Cabana’s guest.

It’s filled with the typical, ego-charged rhetoric from Punk we’ve come to expect. He says he’ll never go to work for WWE again, citing a barrage of claims, with the most damning being Vince McMahon and company sent him termination papers on his wedding day. Read more

Rugby: My New Favorite Sport

Posted on by Grant Oster in Featured, Other Sports | Leave a comment

All Blacks vs USA Eagles Rugby: My New Favorite Sport

Last week I experienced the thrill and experience that is the sport of Rugby. Well, the thrill and experience that comes from watching the sport of rugby. Last Saturday, I went to the USA Eagles v New Zealand All Blacks game in Chicago. Packed into a sold out stadium, with 61,499 other screaming fans, I enjoyed my first professional rugby match. This was unlike any display of athleticism I had ever seen. Rugby has the fast-paced and continual play that is exhibited in soccer, with the full contact that one would expect during an American football game. It only took one game because I am now hooked on rugby. Read more

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