Graduation Day! Now

So we’ve graduated to a “real” website! WordPress is a great way to start a blog, but we’re now using Squarespace, which is pretty awesome.

There’s a lot of new things about the site, but we were able to bring over all of our old content (including comments)! And if you were one of our subscribers on here, you can do the same thing on the new site!

We hope you come over and read the new site, as this will be the last update on this version of Filmhash.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment here, we’d love to hear them!

Oh, and please update all your bookmarks to!

Rehash: Oscars, Green Lantern, Raiders, Voldemort

Each Friday we bring you the biggest film news and a smattering of the more interesting movie-related bits around the web! We call it Rehash! To get our thoughts on film news throughout the week, follow Jill on Twitter!

Comics artist Stuart Immonen and his wife Kathryn bring you the first installment of Voldemort’s One Hour Service:

Movieline posted their first Oscar race analysis! It’s on!

Dan Meth made a great video compilation about the Twin Towers’ appearance in films.

Parks and Recreation Showrunner Michael Schur gives a master class on his favorite comedy, Cheers.

The Art of the Title looks at the retro propaganda Captain America credits.

Charlie Jane Anders at ion wrote a great piece on adapting source material, specifically focused on the success of Iron Man and the failure of Green Lantern. Here’s an excerpt:

The lesson of Green Lantern is, pandering to vocal fans of a property almost never pays off. And taking liberties often does. Look at J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, which outraged a huge segment of old-school Trek fans and yet managed to tell a strong story that delighted audiences everywhere. Look at Russell T. Davies’ Doctor Who relaunch, which did away with the Time Lords and recast the Doctor as a scarred war veteran. And yeah, look at Iron Man.

The fans will go see the movie anyway — even if they complain bitterly afterwards. Pulling in the mass audience, though, requires taking some risks with the material and crafting something that is going to look character-focused and fun to a casual watcher. And this is doubly true with a property like Green Lantern, which has almost no popular recognition.

Read the whole article here.

Netflix pricing changes went into effect on September 1st. Read the details!

George Lucas continues his quest for the perfect Star Wars Trilogy, little does he know he already made it 30+ years ago. It was confirmed this week that the latest Blu-ray edition will feature loads of new additions including Jawas that blink (because that’s crucial), and even new dialogue. There’s no shortage of coverage for this news but here’s one article to get you started. I also rant about it here.

The Coen brothers continue to make movie magic with the announcement of their latest project about the 1960s folk music scene in Greewich Village.

Lastly, Cinedelphia takes a look back at TLA Video in Philadelphia, a video rental store chain that will be closing its doors after almost thirty years in the area. Coverage includes personal memories from former and current employees, and the legacy that video rental stores leave behind.

Have a great weekend, and as always, we’ll be back on Monday!

Netflix Instant Pick: Disney’s “New” Princesses

Every week we recommend something we love that is available via Netflix instant view, the greatest thing ever created! Enjoy!

Sorry gentlemen, I had the gals in mind when I decided on today’s Netflix Instant Picks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the magic of “classic” Disney! This is especially the case with our first film based on the Rapunzel fairy tale but marketed to both girls and boys as the gender neutral Tangled (2010). Originally titled Rapunzel, filmmakers decided to change the title to Tangled after The Princess and the Frog (2009) failed to draw in crowds a year before. For whatever reason frilly dresses and the word ‘princess’ scare away young male viewers. So they beefed up the male lead role of Flynn Rider (voice, Zachary Levi) to accompany Rapunzel (voice, Mandy Moore).

The film is by all accounts a literal translation of the classic fairy tale, but I can’t remember the last time I fell in love with a non-Pixar, Disney produced animated film. Needless to say it’s been awhile. Mandy Moore is excellent as Rapunzel, a sheltered young girl attempting to break free from her stepmother’s clutches for the first time in her life. The adventure she embarks on with Flynn as her guide is nothing short of pure fun. The music is also something to be treasured, and although it was the song “I See the Light” that earned an Oscar nomination, my favorite song and performance of the film has to be “Mother Knows Best” sung by Donna Murphy as evil stepmother Gothel. Also, artists schooled in the Pre-Raphaelite style will notice its influence in the visuals and color palettes throughout the film. It’s just one of the many ways Tangled blends traditional animation styling with sleek and modern CGI effects.

The Princess and the Frog was released just a year before Tangled and while it earned critical praise, it failed to be the financial success everyone had hoped it would be. The financial failure has little to do with the quality of the film and more to do with the difficulties of marketing an animated film without the Pixar seal. And as stated before, there’s that pesky word ‘princess’ in the title. It’s actually a shame because I did enjoy the film, although I can understand why it actually may have gone over kids heads a little.

Instead of setting the story in a “fairy tale” land, The Princess and the Frog is set in Jazz-era New Orleans in the 1930s. As fascinating a time as this era was, it encompasses very complex social, economic, and societal overtones that are difficult to fully articulate in a film aimed at children, although I was impressed that they existed at all. In the end, I think parents will get more out of a film like this, but the heart behind the character of “Princess” Tiana (voice, Anika Noni Rose) is hard to ignore. The film also boasts the voice talents of Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, and John Goodman. Never a bad thing!

Again the tale is quite straightforward but instead of a helpless ‘princess’ character, Tiana has her sights set on opening her own restaurant. She ends up getting sidetracked when a fateful kiss with a frog prince takes her down an unexpected road. Again, it’s not so much the story that appeals to me as my love for classic animation. The Princess and the Frog possesses some very memorable jazz-infused numbers that incorporate the traditional fantasy montage sequences we know and love from Disney. The artistry is something to be admired amidst the sea of 3D and CGI animated films.

Both Tangled and The Princess and the Frog are solid entries in Disney’s “Animated Classics” line, and proof that there are other viable studios besides Pixar producing quality family entertainment.

Watch Tangled

Watch The Princess and the Frog

Netflix Instant Pick runs every Thursday on Filmhash. Past picks are here.

The Cry Heard ‘Round the World

I think it’s safe to say that the rumors circulating around the internet the last few days are sadly true: George Lucas has again mucked with perfection. The new Blu-ray edition of the Star Wars Trilogy set to be released on September 16 will have a couple new additions to the beloved series, and this time one of them is audio.

In an attempt to further sync Episodes 4, 5, and 6 with the blasphemies known as Episodes 1, 2, and 3, Darth Vader can now be heard yelling “NOOOOOOOO” as he stops the Emperor from killing Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi. You’ll remember the same Vader cry at the end of Revenge of the Sith when his transformation to evil is complete. At least that’s the point of all this hoopla. To integrate a trilogy everyone loves with a trilogy we would all love to forget.

My anger towards this move by Lucas has little to do with money. He and everyone else can try to take my money, but at the end of the day the choice is up to me as to whether I fork it over. It’s really a non-issue at this point. My confusion instead lies with why this man feels the need to mess with a masterpiece. At the time of its release, Star Wars was on the cutting edge of technology, translating the available visual effects resources into a world beyond imagination. It’s proven to be a game-changer of a movie, a source of inspiration for all. So why all the changes?

Obviously a lot has changed in movies in the past thirty years. Special effects are more brilliant and gorgeously rendered then ever. So maybe I can understand why Lucas, devoid of these advancements the first time around, would want to use them to create a “bigger, better” Star Wars experience, perhaps closer to the picture he had/has in his head. Maybe the idea of Star Wars was so ahead of it’s time in the late 70s, early 80s that Lucas did what he could and was merely waiting for the technology to catch up. The problem is, when the technology has matched Lucas’ vision and he makes his changes, he’s met with criticism every time.

The last additions to the Star Wars Trilogy included among other things a digitally rendered Jabba the Hutt, a prolonged music segment at Jabba’s palace, Hayden Christensen replacing Sebastian Shaw as Anakin, and digitally rendered celebrations around the galaxy when the Empire is defeated at the end of Return of the Jedi (I will admit, I didn’t mind that addition so much). What results is a patchwork quilt of new and old technology that takes away the endearing aspects of Star Wars. I remember the outcry following these changes, and it sounds a bit familiar this time around, only more bitter than before.

By adding a battle cry to Return of the Jedi, Lucas is changing the emotion, the tension, and the flow of the original scene. I can understand the want of symmetry between films. In the “new” scene, Vader recalls his own destruction at the hands of the Emperor, and refuses to see his son endure the same future. So with a resounding “NOOOOOOOO” we are taken back to Episode 3 and a light goes off and everything gets tied up in a nice bow. But what about viewers seeing Return of the Jedi in 1983? With no Episode 3 to recall, how did they understand what was happening? Believe me, it’s not a far leap. The original silence on the part of Vader as his son is slowly being killed takes the viewer inside the character to the battle waging in his head. I don’t need a verbal indication that Vader is now battling his own demon as well as Luke’s. The slow panning of the camera into Vader’s face as he looks from Luke to the Emperor and then finally moves in for the kill is enough for me. The scene is still full of tension, and quite frankly, is a lot less lame.

Maybe the verdict is still out on these most recent changes. After all, the only clip available isn’t even from the Blu-ray. Maybe this ranting has been for naught. No one would be happier then me. But for future reference, coming from a historical/preservationist mindset that at times is resistant to change, sometimes it’s best to just let a masterpiece rest in peace.

From the List of Shame, File #14: From Dusk Till Dawn

While we have seen many films, there are many films that are held in high regard that we haven’t seen yet. As we cross them off our List of Shame, we’ll write about them here!

As a fan of Tarantino (though not an apologist), I have been meaning to go through and watch films made from other screenplays he’s written. With the current vampire craze still undead and kickin’, I decided to dive in and watch From Dusk Till Dawn, his take on the Horror/Vamp genre, directed by his friend Robert Rodriguez.

I’m not a huge fan of Rodriguez’s sensibilities, but it seems like Tarantino wrote the script with him in mind. From Dusk Till Dawn is really two films, the first half comprising of the Gecko brothers, Seth and Richard, (played by George Clooney and Tarantino) en route to Mexico after a bloody robbery in Texas. The second half of the film has them attempting to survive a massive vampire attack along with their family of hostages while waiting in a strip club/bar. The tone of each half is wildly different. The first half really does feel like a gritty crime escape film with Tarantino dialogue rhythms, while the second half retains the dialogue but abandons all semblance of being anything but an adrenaline-fueled B-movie.

Many people will love one half of the film, but may not enjoy the other. I actually enjoyed both halves equally, though for different reasons. In the beginning, we see the tension and comedy that we know and love from Tarantino, while the second half of the film shows off the twisted exploration shlock he and Rodriguez love (remember, this movie predates Grindhouse).

As far as vampire flicks go, this is definitely on the low end. Although the creatures in the film resemble monsters with vampire-like attributes, they aren’t developed all that much in terms of mythology. I guess they at least start out sexy, if you’re into strippers. There’s no glamouring, or much bloodsucking, really.  For the purposes of the film, they may as well be zombies with a love of bats and an aversion to crosses.

I think it’s interesting that Tarantino is so willing to cast himself in the role of the unhinged pervert Richard Gecko, next to George Clooney’s more level-headed Seth Gecko (To my knowledge it’s the second time Tarantino has done this). It’s good to know he isn’t playing roles attempting to glamorize himself (God, I hope not), and this is also the most overt exhibition of his infamous foot fetishizing.

It’s hard for me to deny the fun appeal of this movie, but there were a lot of “Of course!” moments during the film for me. “Of course” the strippers are vampires! “Of course” Clooney builds a pneumatic auto-stake weapon! “Of course” the sun comes up just in time!

I’m not saying this is a great film, but if you like Tarantino and/or Rodriquez, there are worse ways to spend a lazy weekend afternoon.

List of Shame Files normally appears on Wednesdays. Previous entries are here.

First Look: Hunger Games Trailer

The world got its first look at the new Hunger Games teaser trailer at, of all places, this year’s MTV Video Music Awards last night (a ploy to attract viewers may haps?). While I didn’t subject myself to the telecast, I received an ample play-by-play via twitter that kept me up to speed with Beyonce’s baby bump, Gaga’s gender bending, and of course, the debut of the trailer and first reactions.

The trailer is very short, not even clocking in at one minute, but it manages to tell us many things about how the story, and the movie as a whole, are being handled by director Gary Ross. Some of the footage appears shaky in the beginning, suggesting a guerrilla style filmmaking that may actually work considering the subject matter. There’s also a voiceover by Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss’ closest friend back at District 12. For non-readers of the book series, Gale doesn’t have a major role in the first book, but it appears they are beefing up his role in the first film to firmly establish his existing relationship with Katniss, and emphasize the beginnings of the love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

I love the idea of a voiceover to bring Gale’s character into the film, and I’m curious if he will have a running presence throughout the film. I’m also happy to report that it looks like Jennifer Lawrence has successfully mastered the bow and arrow. But, I didn’t expect anything less from someone who can filet a squirrel.

All in all, my curiosity is pretty piqued by the trailer. However, I am growing slightly wary of this film overexposing itself; building up so much hype that it slowly crashes in on itself like a dying star (ten points to the person that can name that reference). I have tremendous hopes for this film, my biggest hope being that it manages to develop itself into a film series that treats its audience like adults, despite its source material. Love triangles are juicy, but I want to see this gal kick some ass!

Netflix Instant Pick: Newman and Redford

Every week we recommend something we love that is available via Netflix instant view, the greatest thing ever created! Enjoy!

One of the all-time best ( and perhaps sexiest) on screen duos is that of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. While they both have illustrious and varied film careers on their own, together, their on screen charisma is undeniable which elevates Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting to near the top of their respective filmographies.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was Redford and Newman’s first collaboration, and one of the great Westerns of all time. The film shows the two title characters and their exploits with The Hole in the Wall Gang in Wyoming, and then eventually Bolivia where they flee the law close at their heels. A very lighthearted take on the traditional outlaw film, I love the mix here of action and comedy, and the audience can’t help but feel like they are following Butch and Sundance on their amazing adventure.

Redford was an almost last minute casting decision, and one that was hated by the studio (Fox), who preferred Marlon Brando or Steve McQueen. It was a decision that certainly changed Redford’s career, and he has used the moniker Sundance ever since for both his estate, and the film festival he founded in Park City, Utah.

The Sting came just four years later, becoming the second pairing of Newman and Redford, and Butch Cassidy director George Roy Hill. It’s a classic con film with Redford as the up-and-comer and Paul Newman as the retired veteran called back for one last job. The two team up to pull a long con on Doyle Lonnegan (the amazing Robert Shaw) to get revenge for the death of Redford’s original mentor. The film became one of the biggest hits of the early 1970s, and won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Adapted Score.

The film boasts both a great story and great acting, placing it near the top of my all-time best film list. I’ve watched it several times now, and each time I come away impressed by just how smart and entertaining this film is.

Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting are among the best films ever (Butch Cassidy is #73 on AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list), and the chemistry between Redford and Newman is something that has yet to be duplicated by any modern acting duo. Whether you watch them for the first time or the fiftieth, make sure to go check them out on Netflix Instant!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Sting

Netflix Instant Pick runs every Thursday on Filmhash. Past picks are here.