Thursday, January 29, 2015

8 documentaries about notable movies that never happened

Movie fans often like to speculate about films that never got made.
For instance, what if Steven Spielberg had made “American Sniper” instead of Clint Eastwood? Spielberg was originally slated to direct the biopic and planned to take the movie in a different direction.
Last year I noticed the emergence of a subcategory of documentaries about interesting movies that were planned but never completed. In some cases, these movies were ultimately shot by other filmmakers who put their own spin on the material. Some never made it past pre-production.
What follows is a list of documentaries in the subgenre about movies that could have been. Some of these documentaries are still in production or pending release.

Jodorosky’s Dune

“Jodorosky’s Dune” (2014) explores Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to adapt and film the classic science-fiction novel “Dune” in the mid-1970s. Director David Lynch helmed a much derided 1984 film version of the novel. (See articles by Wikipedia, Entertainment Weekly and the Verge.)

Lost Soul

“Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau” (2014) recounts the making of the 1996 box-office bomb “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” The original director of the film, Richard Stanley, was fired after just a few days of principal photography and replaced by veteran journeyman director John Frankenheimer. (See articles from Entertainment Weekly and Wikipedia.)

Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four

“Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four” tells the story of the ill-fated movie version of the Fantastic Four that was executive produced by low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman.
The documentary is expected to be released this year. (See articles by Indiewire and Comic Book Resources.)

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?

“The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?” is a documentary about the proposed 1998 “Superman Lives” feature film that would have starred Nicolas Cage and was to be directed by Tim Burton. It is set for release this year. (See articles by IMDb, Geek Tyrant and another by GeekTyrant.)

A World War II Fairytale: The Making of Michael Mann’s The Keep

“A World War II Fairytale: The Making of Michael Mann’s The Keep” is a documentary in the works about the making of the 1983 cult horror movie “The Keep.” Mann’s film was cut by the studio from its original runtime of over three hours to just over one-and-a-half hours. (See article by Shock Till You Drop.)

Those are some recent examples of the documentary subgenre. But there have been others before them.

Lost in La Mancha

“Lost in La Mancha” (2002) is a documentary about director Terry Gilliam’s doomed attempt to film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” starring Johnny Depp. (See article on Wikipedia.)

Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days

“Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days” (2001) documents actress Marilyn Monroe’s unfinished final film, the romantic comedy “Something’s Got to Give.” The documentary includes a 37-minute reconstruction of scenes from movie, which was canceled after Monroe’s death. (See article on IMDb.)

The Epic That Never Was

“The Epic That Never Was” (1965) is a documentary that tells the story of the aborted 1937 filming of “I, Claudius,” starring Charles Laughton, with all of its surviving footage. (See articles on IMDb and the New York Times.)

Let me know if I missed any other good examples.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Memorable movie songs passed over for Oscars

Many winners of the Oscar for Best Original Song aren’t very memorable. By contrast, there have been quite a few hit songs that have stood the test of time that were passed over by the Academy Awards.
A good number of those shunned songs are on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 songs in American cinema.
What follows is a list of great movie songs that didn’t win Oscars:
  • “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel from “The Graduate” (1967) shamefully was not nominated for an Academy Award. The winning song that year was “Talk to the Animals” from “Doctor Dolittle.”
  • “The Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” (1967) was nominated, but also lost to “Talk to the Animals.” And the terrific “I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” from “The Jungle Book” wasn’t even nominated.
  • “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings from the 1973 James Bond movie lost the Oscar that year to “The Way We Were” from the movie of the same name.
  • “Nobody Does It Better,” performed by Carly Simon for the 1977 James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” lost to the lame tune “You Light Up My Life” from the movie of the same name.
  • “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees from “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) wasn’t even nominated in the year “You Light Up My Life” won. Neither was a bunch of Bee Gees hits from the soundtrack including “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Night Fever” and “More Than a Woman.”
  • “Rainbow Connection” from “The Muppet Movie” (1979) was nominated, but lost the Oscar to the unmemorable “It Goes Like It Goes” from “Norma Rae.”
  • “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins from the 1984 movie “Against All Odds,” was nominated but lost out to the saccharine Steve Wonder tune “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from “The Woman in Red.”
  • “I Have Nothing,” performed by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” (1992), was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.” “Run to You,” another classic Whitney Houston song from “The Bodyguard,” also was nominated that year.
  • “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” performed by Aerosmith for “Armageddon” (1998), was nominated but lost to the forgettable “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt.”
  • “The Great Beyond” by REM for the 1999 movie “Man on the Moon” was not even nominated for an Oscar.
Photos: Promotional art for “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins (top) and “The Great Beyond” by REM.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pop music stars who have won Oscars for Best Original Song

What do Bob Dylan, Eminem and Elton John have in common?
They’ve all won Oscars for writing songs for movies.
What follows is a list of pop music stars who have won Oscars for Best Original Song.
  • Isaac Hayes, “Theme from Shaft”, “Shaft”, 1971
  • Barbra Streisand, “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)”, “A Star Is Born”, 1976
  • Stevie Wonder, “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, “The Woman in Red”, 1984
  • Lionel Richie, “Say You, Say Me”, “White Nights”, 1985
  • Carly Simon, “Let the River Run”, “Working Girl”, 1988
  • Bruce Springsteen, “Streets of Philadelphia”, “Philadelphia”, 1993
  • Elton John, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, “The Lion King”, 1994
  • Phil Collins, “You’ll Be in My Heart”, “Tarzan”, 1999
  • Bob Dylan, “Things Have Changed”, “Wonder Boys”, 2000
  • Eminem, “Lose Yourself”, “8 Mile”, 2002
  • Annie Lennox, “Into the West”, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”, 2003
  • Juicy J, Frayser Boy and DJ Paul, “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp”, “Hustle & Flow”, 2005
  • Melissa Etheridge, “I Need to Wake Up”, “An Inconvenient Truth”, 2006
  • Adele, “Skyfall”, “Skyfall”, 2012
Several pop stars also have won Oscars for Best Original Score. They are:
  • The Beatles, “Let It Be”, 1970
  • Prince, “Purple Rain”, 1984
  • David Byrne, “The Last Emperor”, 1987

Monday, January 26, 2015

Oscar snubs for Best Original Song in 2014 include Lorde and Fall Out Boy

One of the most frustrating categories at the Academy Awards is for Best Original Song.
That’s because the most memorable movie songs, including those that are big hits on the radio, don’t usually win. In many cases, they aren’t even nominated.
Last year’s ceremony was an exception, with “Let It Go” from the Disney animated musical “Frozen” winning the trophy.
But this year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was back to form, skipping a number of popular songs in favor of a few obscure ones.
Entertainment Weekly readers cited two songs as Oscar snubs that really bugged them: “Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” and “Big Eyes” by Lana Del Rey for “Big Eyes.” They were among the 79 original songs short-listed for Oscar contention in December.
Both of those songs were nominated for a Golden Globe award, but lost to “Glory” by John Legend and Common from “Selma.” “Glory” is the front-runner for the Best Original Song at the 2015 Oscars.
To the list of snubs, I’d add “Immortals” by Fall Out Boy from “Big Hero 6.”
Some of the most significant songs from major motion pictures aren’t eligible for Oscars because they weren’t written for the screen.
For instance, “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX was a big hit from “The Fault in Our Stars,” but it wasn’t written for the movie. So it wasn’t eligible for an Oscar.
The 2015 Oscars will be awarded on Feb. 22.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The happiest, horniest, wealthiest states

There are infinite ways to look at the U.S. by laying demographic, survey and other data over a map of the country.
What follows are some interesting examples from around the Web.

The Happiest Regions In America

Researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research put together a map showing the relative happiness of people in metropolitan and rural areas of the U.S.
Among cities, the small city of Charlottesville, Virginia, tops the rankings, and Washington, D.C., and Atlanta both rank as happier than average, according to Priceonomics.
Declining cities like Detroit, Michigan, and urban areas in the Midwest are particularly unhappy. Large swaths of Indiana and Kentucky ranked at the bottom of the happiness rankings.

States with the horniest women

For his book “Dataclysm,” OKCupid founder Christian Rudder uses data gleaned from what people say and do on dating sites to uncover which states have the horniest women and other interesting facts, according to Men’s Health.

States with the longest and shortest average sex times

Fast Company ran a map showing average sex times in states across the U.S.
The infographic was based on data from Spreadsheets, a sort of sex-focused Fitbit.

Map showing whether states prefer boobs or butts

A study of Americans looking for “straight,” “woman-with-man” pornography on websites Pornhub and Youporn revealed which states prefer butts over boobs, Huffington Post reported.

Descriptive words for each state

Business Insider published a U.S. map showing the top autocomplete word for each state when people search Google for “Why is (state) so …?”
Some results:
Why is Illinois so … corrupt?
Why is Virginia so … strict?

Word used most disproportionately in each state’s Wikipedia article

Slate studied Wikipedia articles to find the word most representative of each state. (For Pennsylvania it’s chocolate, for Colorado it’s cannabis, etc.)
Author Ben Blatt discussed how the data can be sorted to come up with different results based on various parameters.

Top State Income Tax Rates

The Tax Foundation has run a series of informative maps.
Check out the organization’s map showing state income tax rates in 2014, which range from zero in seven states to 13.3% in California.


Largest company by revenue in each state

Huffington Post reprinted a map showing the largest company by revenue in each state.
The map was put together by telecom company Broadview Networks.

Wealthiest Americans by state

Real estate blog Movoto published a map showing the richest person in each state.

What each state buys most on eBay

The data analysts at eBay put together a map of the 50 states showing what types of products are purchased in each state most often.
(See article by the Huffington Post.)


Most popular U.S. attractions by state

An Imgur user posted a map showing the most popular U.S. attractions by state.
It was composed using information from a list website called Reflections of Pop Culture & Life’s Challenges.

Each State’s Supernatural Claim To Fame

The Movoto Real Estate Blog published a detailed map showing each state’s supernatural claim to fame, including cryptids, UFOs and aliens, or paranormal activity.
In my current state of Virginia, the top supernatural incident involves the “the Bunny Man” in Fairfax, Va.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The United States of Food

Regional food preferences are the subject of a lot of cool online maps.
As part of my exploration of online maps, I’ll spotlight a few here.

The United States of Burgers

Serious Eats made a map of the U.S. with each state represented by an iconic local burger.
From my old stomping grounds in the Midwest, Illinois is represented by the Steak ’n Shake burger, Minnesota by the Juicy Lucy and Iowa by the Maid-Rite loose meat sandwich.

The Great American Pizza Map

The Washington Post assembled a collection of maps showing which pizza chains dominate what areas of the U.S.

Red, White & Food

Thrillist published a U.S. map showing the most noteworthy restaurant chain from each state. (See map at top. Click for larger view.)

Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer

The New Yorker created an interactive map to chart the growth of craft beer.
You can click on the map to see which states have the most breweries per 500,000 people, the fastest growing breweries and other neat statistics.

The United States of Corn

Photographer Henry Hargreaves and food stylist Caitlin Levin collaborated on a series of “Food Maps” that are made out of the types of foods best known from the places the maps depict.
The U.S. map is made out of corn and corn products.
(See photo below. Click for larger view. Also check out articles by the Laughing Squid and My Modern Met.)


Friday, January 23, 2015

Entertainment maps: music artist preferences by state, Hollywood destruction targets

The United States are not homogeneous. There are distinct differences among the 50 states.
Paul Lamere of the Echo Nest released several maps showing music preferences by state. One map showed the most distinctive favorite artist in each state, meaning the artist that each state listened to more than other states.
Lamere and blogger Randal Cooper put together charts showing the Most Ignored Artists in each state, based on the top 50, top 100 and top 200 artists.
One contributor to Reddit created a map showing the best-selling musician or group by state of birth. Some are obvious, such as Prince in Minnesota and Billy Joel in New York. Others aren’t, such as Kenny G beating out Nirvana in Washington State, according to Fast Company.
Continuing with the entertainment maps theme, Deadspin’s The Concourse did a map of the U.S. showing where Hollywood movies have destroyed the most cities in alien attacks, natural disasters and other cataclysmic events. (See image at top. Click for larger view.)

See also: U.S. maps showing movie and TV show locations.

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