7 Pioneer Filmmakers Lost To Time

Art is a fickle mistress, as has many times been proven the case. An artist’s “destiny” cannot really be predicted, or to be more coldly rational, his/her public evolution and legacy are part of a causal chain with many many factors involved which most of the time are outside of his direct control and subject to wild fluctuations depending on the “spirit of the times” or a given society’s culture, norms and values. Therefore, the conclusion of this causal chain cannot be determined with the insufficient information he/she or any of his/her peers have at the beginning of his/her career.

So it’s no surprise that you have one hit wonders that pop up bright as a comet and fade just as fast. Or on the contrary, slow starters who amaze the world with their talent and skills in the later part of their lives. Or chaotic up and down performances from artists who one day are amazing and then for a while (or a good while) are … disappointing to say the least. Then, some of them have comebacks.

Then, of course, there’s “the greats”. The ones that everyone knows because of their (as much as humanly possible) constant masterful outputs.

But what about those who were “greats”, but for one reason or another, simply disappeared from memory. Yes, as scary and unfair as this sounds for an artist, it happened enough times in our history. Which is why, in a feeble and minor attempt to right some of these injustices, you can read below about 7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time.

1. Francis Martin Duncan

7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time - Francis Martin Duncan

If you like today’s lengthy and informative documentaries (BBC, Discovery, National Geographic etc.), you probably have Mr. Duncan to thank. As he is the first to create a nature documentary in 1903. It’s called “Cheese Mites” and it was done using a combination of still photography and a microscope, which Duncan came up with. It features cheese mites going about their business, as I’m sure you’ll be surprised to find out.

2. James Williamson and George Albert Smith

These two pioneered most of the editing concepts still used today. The idea of creating a narrative by alternating the distance in the shots comes from them. In “Grandma’s Reading Glass” for example, of 1900, you can see the first POV ever. They did other cool stuff too, including breaking the fourth wall in “The Big Swallow” (1901).

3. William Dickson

William Dickson is one of the 7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time.

We can no longer conceive of a movie without sound. But that was the case for a long time. So, thank pioneers like William Dickson who made the very first partially successful attempt at a recording with both video and sound in 1894’s “Dickson Experimental Sound Film”. Though this attempt was on separate supports and not synchronized. However, he claimed he achieved success in 1899 (still well before the first official movie with sound, “The Jazz Singer” of 1927), but this recording has yet to be found.

4. Oscar Micheaux

The list of 7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time includes Oscar Micheaux.

This man, who was an African-American actor, fought to break some pretty impressive barriers at the time, and succeeded. Namely he made the first lengthy black movie to be shown in a “whites only” cinema. And his movies were shown more than once, including in theaters in Europe, despite being low-budget works as he had constant financial, legal and technical obstacles.

5. The Skladanowsky brothers

Everyone knows another set of brothers (the Lumieres) as the inventors of public cinema. But, surprisingly, the Skladanowsky brothers are the absolute first to have had a screening of a series of 9 second movies for which the audience paid to see. And all of this happened on the 1st of November 1985, a few weeks before the famous Lumieres premiere. But the projection system which the latter had was better, so they were remembered while the Skladanowskys were not.

6. Jean Painleve

7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time - Jean Painleve

This man managed (among many other achievements), to invent the technology needed for making the first underwater photos and movies, at the dawn of cinematography. Watch his documentary of 1934 “L’Hippocampe” in which he filmed sea-horses underwater.

7. Alice Guy-Blanche

Perhaps fiction is one of the most important things in art, with its ability to broaden mental horizons and its impulse for us to use our imagination. As the Lumieres’ screening of just a year earlier was still very much something that the world was trying to get used to, and all early movies shown presented facts of life, realities, Alice made a short about a woman magically picking babies from a cabbage patch. It’s called La Fee au Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) and it was filmed in 1896.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4.

The Batman Cataclysm Of 2014-2015

A cataclysm is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

1:  flood, deluge

2:  catastrophe

3:  a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition; broadly :  an event that brings great changes

So why use the term in relation to the Batman story? Because, quite frankly, momentous and violent events that brought great changes, marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition, which might just be a catastrophe in the long run took place in just one year, from October 2014 to October 2015.

This Gotham Gazette title would fit well for The Batman Cataclysm of 2014-2015

No, it’s not a geological cataclysm. I’m talking about the risky approach that the main “Batman” writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV took with the comic series which will either open the doors for fresh new avenues of story-telling or cause it irreparable damage, even possibly breaking it completely.

Before we discuss The Batman Cataclysm of 2014-2015, as some alien comic-book freaks/historians will surely call it, you might want to know that there will be spoilers the kind of which you should run away from with at least a Flash-like speed, if you’re not up-to-date with the series.

Spoilers are part of the analysis of The Batman Cataclysm of 2014-2015.

Still here? You sure? Last chance. Ok. Ahem…

The Joker kills Batman. Mhm. No lying. No tricks. The tragic, grim, orphan with a haunting past, billionaire/playboy/vigilante Batman we knew and loved for more than 75 years is GONE. And it’s worth mentioning that this was very very intentional and the 75 years in question are not a coincidence.

Because the Joker and Batman battle each other to the death in a cave which ultimately falls over both of their fatally wounded selves, in the last of the six issues of the “Batman: Endgame” story arc, which was published specifically WITH the 75 year anniversary of Batman in mind.

The Batman Cataclysm Of 2014-2015 contains what might be a permanent ending of Batman as we know him.

Then there’s the fact that Alfred loses a hand to the Joker (before Batman’s death, mind you), which at the end of the story, when learning of the conclusion, he does not want re-attached declaring that he no longer has anyone to attend to.

Oh, and the story begins with The Justice League attacking Batman due to a Joker toxin they’ve all been infected with. HOW did the Joker manage to infect the whole Justice League with all of them being helpless to prevent it, you ask? Good question. It’s not explained. Just roll with it.

Then, after the Endgame story arc, the Batman continuity err… continues. Without Bruce Wayne. As… uh… commissioner Gordon picks up the hero’s responsibilities for Gotham and becomes the new Batman. … In a suit that hints (STRONGLY) at a … bunny. Check out the metal antennae(?) on his head. If those aren’t bunny ears, Batman’s not dead. And he is…

Commissioner Jim Gordon is part of The Batman Cataclysm Of 2014-2015.

But seriously. This is not a walk-through of a stoner’s scenario. It’s what actually happens in the Batman story-line, via the official writers and crew.

Theeeen, we find out that Bruce Wayne is NOT dead. He just lost all of his memories, as if not only his past decades of hero-playing, crime-fighting and successful business-ing never happened, but also including his family’s murder and his consequent formative experiences as an orphan. He is practically born-anew, with no detective skills or any form of awesomeness. Just an Average Joe.

Notice how I didn’t lie, as I did say the Joker killed Batman, not Bruce Wayne. The latter is alive and … well… NOT well since he has no memories at all. But the Batman alter-ego as we knew it is effectively dead. (It’s kinda hard to have an alter-ego when your ego is dealing with a thorough, life-long memory loss).

And that’s where the series is now. Jim Gordon is Batman, Bruce Wayne is alive, but just that. And quite possibly the Joker isn’t dead either. Hey, if Bruce made it out, perhaps they’ve decided not to kill Batman’s nemesis par excellence, either.

Who is part of The Batman Cataclysm Of 2014-2015? The Joker.

Scot Snyder and James Tynion IV’s comments on the major changes to Batman? In an October 2015 interview at the New York Comic Con they said that they see them as “an opportunity to look at the mythology from a whole new angle”, because comics seem to be better equipped than ever to tell more down-to-earth, real world stories about the issues affecting their audiences (like, for example, the matter of police brutality, which can now be analyzed better in the comics due to commissioner Gordon’s new-found role as Batman).

They’re also interested in innovation and freshening things up a bit. “In moments like this,” Tynion said, “you get to tell stories that no one’s read before, which is hard to do.” And Snyder added: “Creators like us have more opportunities to be daring. On these superhero books, as long as you’re true to [the core concept] and love the character at the DNA level, companies are now welcoming calculated risk.”

Risk indeed. As reactions to the last changes ranged from: “wow! interesting”, to “meh, so and so”, to “wait, X just doesn’t make sense”, to all out rage rants and fans possibly quitting the series.

Still, for every cataclysm there’s a chance of wondrous rebirth as the demise of the dinosaurs aptly demonstrates by virtue of our wonderful selves being here and not them. Perhaps Snyder & co. decided that the Batman character was also a dinosaur in need of some demise, so that a new age can come and new forms can flourish. Artistic and creative forms, of course.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

5 Interesting Facts About Hellraiser

The Hellraiser movie is an icon and “classic” of the genre. It was written and directed by Clive Barker (his directorial debut), a legend himself, who also wrote the novella that the movie is based upon, called “Hellbound Heart”.

It is known that the money invested to make the movie was around 1 million dollars. And that it grossed an astounding 15 million at the box office.  But there are also some things which are less known about it that only serve to increase its mystique and will probably intrigue most readers. Of these, 5 interesting facts about Hellraiser will be discussed in the following lines.

1. Fortunate or unfortunate location?

5 interesting facts about Hellraiser. The location was a real house, not a set.

Due to the relatively small budget it had (compared to other major productions), the producers couldn’t opt to build a set especially for shooting “Hellraiser”, so instead they had to work with an already built house. But their organizational problems didn’t end here. The only viable option they ended up with (meaning the affordable cost) was a house in which, reportedly … a suicide had just taken place. Talk about inspiration for the actors, right?

2. The fine red line of vulgarity

One of the 5 interesting facts about Hellraiser is the MPAA rating.

Those who’ve seen “Hellraiser” (and those who surely will soon, right?), will know that it features a LOT of violence and gruesome images. Including but not limited to: skinned yet still alive characters, pin-cushioned yet still alive characters etc. And Clive Barker mentioned that he had planned even MORE gruesome scenes that the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) kindly requested he take out and probably burn forever. But, that’s not where they drew the line. They went further and instructed Mr. Barker that the movie, which features a sex scene as well, which sex scene included several hearty thrusts (as is to be expected), could only have two consecutive thrusts. Two was okay. Three, however meant it was vulgar filth and it would get the X rating. You have to admire the machine like precision of the quantification process. Some people are surely amazed that the answer was not given in decimals. Say… 2.73 thrusts would be more to the mark. Also, one wonders: if Clive Barker would have been more of a troll and just had like… 20 sequences of 1 or 2 thrusts interspersed randomly throughout the film, would that have been OK with the MPAA?

3. “What shall we call it?”

The 5 interesting facts about Hellraiser include the title.

The title of the film was initially supposed to be the same as the novella, “Hellbound Heart”. But that didn’t sit well with the producers who were of the opinion that it sounded more like a romantic novel than a horror movie, so they asked Clive Barker for another one. Their opinion was duly noted and Clive came with the (dead-pan) suggestion “Sadomasochist From Beyond The Grave”. You can almost hear the sarcasm pouring out. Thankfully, “Hellraiser” was chosen as the final version.

4. Pinhead troubles

The list of 5 interesting facts about Hellraiser includes Pinhead.

The most emblematic character in the movie is that of the Cenobite leader, nicknamed “Pinhead” by fans. But his name in the script and the original novel was just “the lead Cenobite”. And Clive Barker hated the nickname, which is why he gave him the name of “Hell Priest” in later novels.

There were other problems with the character as well. The prosthetics and make-up for the lead Cenobite took 6 hours to apply. And Doug Bradley, the actor who played him, later confessed having difficulties in hitting his marks while wearing the costume because of the contact lenses that made it hard for him to see. Not to mention the skirts he had to wear which he was constantly afraid of tripping over.

5. Inspiration in the little things

5 interesting facts about Hellraiser - the smoking Frank.

Oliver Smith, the actor who played Frank the Monster had a habit of smoking cigar after cigar on set when not filming, even while in costume. Clive Barker noticed this and instead of kicking him out as a fire hazard and just overall bad health related manners, he thought that a skinless man smoking is a pretty cool image for a horror movie and decided to implement this in the film.

 Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Guesswork In The Complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Worldwide Inc. (under its parent company Marvel Entertainment, owned by Walt Disney) is the American company that publishes the Marvel comics. These comics flesh out the Marvel Universe, a fictional one in which the adventures of those superhero characters created and/or owned by Marvel take place. Heroes such as The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Spider-man, The Avengers, Iron Man etc.

It is worth noting that as the various comics were published it became clear that the Marvel Universe accepts the concept of a “multiverse”, meaning that the possibility for possible parallel plots in thousands of other universes exists for all stories. As such, the “original” universe, if you will, meaning that in which the main continuity takes place, has been identified as “Earth-616″.

guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe - Marvel logo

With us so far? Good. Because it gets a bit more complicated.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the media franchise consisting of a series of superhero films set in the Marvel Universe. And Disney is ambitious, because it’s a pretty big series. (The competition from Warner Bros., with their DC comics based DC Extended Universe probably has something to do with it too).

It’s so big that it is broken up into phases (like a military campaign, you ask?).

Phase 1 lasted from 2008 to 2012 and is made up of the movies: “Iron Man” (2008), “The Incredible Hulk” (2008), “Iron Man 2″ (2010), “Thor” (2011), “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) and “The Avengers” (2012).

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe involves Iron Man.

The Avengers feature are part of the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic UniversePhase 2 started in 2013 with “Iron Man 3″. Then, until its conclusion in 2015, the following movies came out: “Thor The Dark World” (2013), “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014), “Guardians Of The Galaxy” (2014), “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” (2015) and “Ant-Man” (2015).

The guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe features Iron Man 3 as well.

Ant-Man is an element of the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Regarding the future, due to the various changes in release dates quite recently announced (most recent on the 8th of October), it is yet unclear whether the movies announced are part of a single Phase 3 or whether Marvel plans a Phase 3 and a Phase 4.

What is clear is that Marvel has planned and announced movies set in the MCU until 2020. And judging by their most recent post, it would appear that Phase 3 extends from 2016 to 2020. So let’s assume that there is just a Phase 3 for the moment, until an official declaration clarifies things.

Anyway, it’s unimportant whether there are 2 phases or just 1. What is important is that among the movies announced until 2020 there are 3 of them whose title has not yet been released. But the movies themselves have been confirmed. So, the big hype now is all about those movies’ theme. Which superhero(es) will they present? What story.

A little guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe is in order.

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe? Captain America: Civil War is part of it.

Inhumans is talked about in the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The movies whose titles have been confirmed are: “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), “Doctor Strange” (2016), “Guardians Of The Galaxy vol. 2″ (2017), “Spider-man” (2017) – a reboot, “Thor: Ragnarock” (2017), “The Black Panther” (2018), “The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1″ (2018), “Ant-Man And The Wasp” (2018), “Captain Marvel” (2019), “The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2″ (2019), “Inhumans” (2019).

Looking at the release year of movies for each phase we can see Disney has a penchant for patterns. To be more precise, the number of movies released in the same year, per each phase is as follows:

Phase 1:               2 – 1 – 2 – 1

Phase 2:               2 – 2 – 2

Phase 3:               2 – 3 – 3 – 3 – (3?)

With the last (3?) representing the 3 mysterious movies set to be released in 2020.

These patterns look like a thorough, thought-of marketing strategy, which seems to warm audiences to the MCU by starting Phase 1 strong with 2 movies, to keep them interested, then releasing 1 more the next year so as not to spam yet, but still keep them hooked. Then releasing two more the next year for a surge, then toning it down with just 1 movie “tease” in order to prepare Phase 2, which goes all the way with 2 movies/year.

Though Phase 2 has the same number of movies in it (6), it is more “intense”, as it is shorter than Phase 1 (which lasted 4 years), Phase 2 running for 3 years. And this build-up goes all the way to Phase 3 which, in the span of just 5 years will bring 14 movies to the public! More than double the number of movies Phase 1 had with just an extra year longer. Pretty good build-up, eh?

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe, Illuminati joke.

Of course, it could just be that it’s NOT a marketing strategy and is in fact an Illuminati scheme to take over the world! (Wait! I’m confused… From themselves? Since everyone knows they rule it … Maybe it’s some weird “Capture The Flag” style tournament they hold once in a while in which they pass the rule from one family to another… Whatever.).

Back to patterns, another predilection of Disney’s regarding the MCU, is doing things in threes. Each hero OR team of heroes centered story has three installments or is planned to have three installments. Best example? “Iron Man 1″, “Iron Man 2″, “Iron Man 3″. Robert Downey Jr.’s official declaration confirms beyond a doubt that there are no plans for a fourth one. The Captain America cycle was also confirmed to end with “Captain America: Civil War” by producer Kevin Feige.

And finally, the last clue we get is the pattern of sequels and “introductory” or “original” movies. Which is as follows:

Phase 1:               5 original / 1 sequel

Phase 2:               2 originals / 4 sequels

Phase 3:               5 originals / 6 sequels / 3 ???

Looks like the number of originals is set to grow each phase?

Anyway, in essence, because Iron Man has 3 installments and Captain America, Thor and The Avengers will also have 3 installments confirmed in Phase 3, the possible choices left for the three unannounced titles in this phase are: Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Spider-man, Doctor Strange, The Black Panther, Captain Marvel or Inhumans sequels, OR new detailed/original movies for other Marvel heroes (of which there are many).

Of the sequels, a Hulk one would encounter some legal difficulties as Universal has distribution rights, so that seems unlikely. And Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, The Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans have movies with release dates too close to 2020.

Guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe - Guardians of The Galaxy.

Therefore, the plausible choices for sequels seem to be those of: Guardians Of The Galaxy (almost certainly) and… Spider-man. As for the original/detailing installments, a Black Widow movie seems most plausible, a fact that even Feige declared that he would like to see happening.

So, what do you think about the guesswork performed and the conclusions reached? Leave a comment if you have a different reasoning oooor if you’ve managed to find the secret Illuminati message in the patterns.

As part of the guesswork in the complicated Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ben Stiller the Illuminati joke.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

6 TGIF Shows That Left A Mark

If you grew up in the 90s you surely remember some of the shows that ABC aired on Friday night and that seemed to contain important life lessons for your “problems” at the time or talk to you in particular. And in fact, they were. Because the shows in question were good wholesome situation comedies designed specifically to be viewed by families, hoping to instill that happy, balanced, feel-good vibe which should reign whenever a family gathers to spend some leisure time together.

But they probably wouldn’t have had the popularity and appeal they had if Jim Janicek (a writer and producer for ABC) hadn’t went to the network executives and pitched the idea of TGIF. It’s an acronym which has a double meaning, making reference to both the well-known expression in English “Thank God It’s Friday” as well “Thank Goodness It’s Funny”.

In short, Janicek, nostalgic after his childhood memories of his family watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” together, wanted to create a family-oriented programming block on Friday night. For the network, it would be a good thing because it would possibly convince viewers to watch all of ABC’s family oriented shows (of which “Perfect Strangers”, “Full House” and “Mr. Belvedere” enjoyed popularity already) one after the other.

So he sold the idea to the network, who agreed and the TGIF block which ran from 1989 to 2000 (and then had a re-run from 2003 to 2005), achieving great ratings, especially in the 1989 – 1990 period was created. Let’s remember 6 TGIF shows that left a mark.

1. Perfect Strangers (1986 – 1993)

Perfect Strangers, one of the 6 TGIF shows that left a mark.

Revolves around the mismatched life-styles and behavior of Larry Appleton (played by Mark Linn-Baker), a Chicago reporter, and his long-lost unexpected cousin Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) as they have to live together as roommates.

The show, apart from its great fun and the endearing yet annoying character of Balki is also notable for having led to the creation of the “Family Matters” spin-off (another popular TGIF show) and for helping the TGIF concept take flight as it was moved early to Friday night and its stars hosted the first inter-segments between all the shows (doing so for the entire ’88-’89 season).

2. Sabrina The Teenage Witch (1996 – 2003)

6 TGIF shows that left a mark - Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

Based on the character in the series published by Archie Comics (starting in 1962), Sabrina is a teenage-girl who finds out she’s a half-witch via her father. Then the series revolves around her attempts to control her new-found powers and use them for good while simultaneously dealing with the problems of adolescent life, all the while not revealing the fact that she is a witch.

The show was so popular that it moved to Warner Bros for its final three seasons, managing to outrun the TGIF programming block which had ended. Melissa Joan Hart stars as Sabrina and Nick Bakay as her also-noteworthy talking and sarcastic cat Salem (an ex-witch punished for attempting to rule the world).

3. Boy Meets World (1993 – 2000)

One of the 6 TGIF shows that left a mark is Boy Meets World.

Also catering to adolescents, “Boy Meets World”‘s subject is the dangers of growing up as it follows the life of Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) all he way from junior high, through college, up to his marriage. Funny and striking true emotionally for all the young viewers who saw at least parts of themselves in Corey’s journey, the show aired in 1993 and lasted until 2000, making it probably the best known of the later half of the TGIF period.

4. Family Matters (1989-1998)

6 TGIF shows that left a mark - Family Matters.

It started out as a show centered on a pretty normal African-American family of the working-class with a twist: their next door neighbor Steve Urkel who happened to be a boy-genius who invents all sorts of cooky stuff. For good or for worse (depending on which fans you ask), the Steve Urkel character played by Jaleel White gained such popularity that the show gradually turned into a platform for him to showcase his brilliance, despite still managing to focus somehow on the Wilson family. It ran for 9 seasons in total (the last of which, on CBS).

5. Step by Step (1991 – 1998)

Step by Step is one of the 6 TGIF shows that left a mark.

The story of Frank Lambert (construction worker) and Carol Foster (beautician), both of them widowed and with 3 children each. As you can see from the start, it featured the extended families motif and the working-class character background of other TGIF shows, but added to that the widowed status of both protagonists. An interesting twist, extending the target audience of families and individuals some other shows catered to, by promoting the idea that, despite the hardships of integrating 2 different families, “everything will be alright, you can get your life together if you just find the right person and work at it” for people in the situation of the protagonists, which were played by veteran TV stars Suzanne Summers and Patrick Duffy.

6. Full House (1987 -1995)

One of the first 6 TGIF shows that left a mark, Full House.

Possibly the TGIF show that springs to most people’s minds first. Maybe because it was one of the earliest TGIF shows and, as a precursor, it contained “the formula” that would be varied by others. It centers on the life of Danny Tanner (Bob Seget), morning talk show host, faced with the problem of raising his three little girls (D.J., Stephanie and Michelle played by Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin and the Olsen twins respectively) after his wife is suddenly killed by a drunk driver. He calls his brother in-law Jesse Katsopolis (a rock musician played by John Stamos) and his best friend Joey Gladstone (comedian, played by Dave Coulier) to help him with raising the girls and so their life together unfolds. Extended family? Check. Mismatched life-styles? Check. Emotional? Check. Add to that a lot of catchphrases and simplistic good-natured lessons and the formula for good wholesome fun is complete.

 Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.