Author Archives: Jacob Foose

The News Van Flipping: A Tragedy?

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about in the title of this blog, here’s a video to remind you. During the Penn State protests over JoePa being fired, there was a WTAJ news van on what appeared to be College Avenue. After protesters messed up its windshield and destroyed most of the exterior, it was time to flip the van! Also, if you watch that video, look at the phones people are taking the videos with. 2011 throwback!

Look at how messed up that thing is. kind of crazy how rioters would just go after a news van like that. Thank god it wasn’t reporting any news and was just kind of hanging out downtown.

Wait what?

Okay so WTAJ is my local TV News station. It’s about a four minute drive and I had to go past it every day on my way to school. That van had been replaced about three years earlier, so it was just sitting in the parking lot of the WTAJ station. So, they clearly put it downtown expecting something to happen. Now, maybe they just knew riots would break out in Beaver Canyon and wanted to be on the scene, but everyone knew that riots would happen. Realistically, they knew what was gonna happen and decided to put a van there to get flipped and they could get national coverage (they did).

Which is pretty shitty. People got in a lot of trouble for flipping this van. Which kind of shows you that in today’s “everyone has a phone environment” it’s hard to riot. Wear a bandanna over your face. I understand that the van was flipped and it’s vandalism, but come on. College students drink, riot, and study in that order of importance.

So if you, like me, are kind of pissed at WTAJ, tweet at them. I’d recommend @JoeMurgo, the weather man, because it’s an Altoona tradition to get blocked from his Twitter.

Sarah Polley: Someone Who Actually Really Matters

So I have always had this odd view of documentaries as “not mattering.” Well, that’s not true. What I mean is that they never mattered to me. They always seemed low-budget and low-impact. Feature-length movies always appealed to me more. So when going into this movie, I didn’t really expect anything. What a pleasant surprise to see that I really enjoyed it. But more than that, I found this weird rabbit hole of Sarah Polley’s importance to film and my own personal film enjoyment.

So first off, in the movie, when they’re talking about that point where she gets a phone call but she was dressed as a Neanderthal, they mentioned that it was part of the movie Mr. Nobody. At that point, I had one of those big “wait really?” moments. Mr. Nobody is one of my top 10 movies, but the only actor in it whose name I ever remembered was Jared Leto, but that’s just because he’s everywhere nowadays. Then I found out that she is one of the three girls in Nemo’s life, meaning she had a huge role. So kind of weird that I never knew about her.

That led me to her IMDB page, and for someone who has been in so many things I’ve seen, she definitely should be a name I at least sort of knew. She was in the more recent remake of Dawn of the Dead, which say what you will about it, was at least pretty cool. But she was a main character in that movie. Also, she was in that HBO John Adams series which I think everyone had to watch at some point in their junior high career. She was Nabby Adams, the daughter that died, which was kind of a major plot point.

This brought me to Sarah Polley’s Wikipedia page, and she’s won so many awards. Her first real directorial debut, Away from Her, won her an award for achievement in direction and a nomination for an academy award for best adapted screenplay. Stories We Tell won the Toronto Film Critics Association award for best Canadian film of the year, which is a $100,000 prize.

So, I kind of give a little more cred to documentaries now, considering that they can have some big deals associated with them. Also, a lesson to you all. Searching IMDB pages of actors and actresses is another rabbit hole that will ruin an entire day’s worth of work.

 

This blog was written along to CarpetlandFluxCollective’s new EP. Give it a listen and support local music.

Method Acting Gone Too Far: Daniel Day-Lewis

We learned about Method Acting  back with On The Waterfront. It’s the idea of tapping into what the character would actually be experiencing at the time so that the acting can be “real.” It seems like a cool way to make the movie just that much better. But you know who takes it WAY TOO FAR? Daniel Day-Lewis.

Let’s look at Lincoln. He took a year off before filming so that he could read every book on Lincoln he could (over 100), work with a makeup artist to perfect the look, and working on his accent. And that accent was important. Daniel Day-Lewis is British by birth, so he doesn’t have that accent like in the movie. So, he refused to let anyone with any sort of accent that wasn’t American speak to him so that it didn’t mess up the way that he talked. Also, for the entirety of filming, he had everyone refer to him as Mr. President, even when they weren’t shooting. Imagine going up to craft services and he’s standing there as Lincoln and you have to refer to him as Mr. President. But he won his third Oscar for Best Actor for it, so whatever. Even though I will point out that Lincoln was described as having an extremely shrill voice, almost like a teapot, and that never happened.

But this isn’t his craziest moment. He spends so much time doing wild stuff just to be more realistic for movies. For The Last of the Mohicans, he went full survivalist. He taught himself how to hunt and live off the land, and for the entirety of filming, refused to eat anything that he hadn’t personally killed.And then he went off and learned how to build a canoe.

In The Name of the Father had our boy putting himself into solitary confinement for multiple day stretches, just because. When he was getting ready for the interrogation scene in that movie, he stayed awake for three days and nights. And, to make the “prisoner being tortured” role a little more accurate, he told crew members to randomly throw water at him.

For Gangs of New York, Daniel Day-Lewis refused to break character. At all. Liam Neeson hated him for it because they’d go out after a day of filming and Daniel Day-Lewis would still be in character in random bars and restaurants. He apprenticed as a butcher and would stay in character by sharpening knives when he wasn’t filming. Once, it was raining on set, and he refused to wear a warm jacket because it wasn’t period-accurate. Then, he got pneumonia. And he refused treatment because medicine wasn’t period-accurate.

Seriously, watch out. The desk you’re sitting at could actually just be Daniel Day-Lewis getting ready for his next role. Paul Dano quit There Will Be Blood  because Daniel Day-Lewis started throwing bowling balls at him, so just imagine what he’ll do to you.

He Was Tyler Durden THE WHOLE TIME

love Fight Club. It’s the only movie that we’re going to watch in this class that I’ve seen before, and it’s not like I’ve seen it once and then forgotten about it. I watch Fight Club maybe around once a year and the jokes still make me laugh and the gruesome scenes are still just right to make me cringe. It’s a seriously great movie.

One of the things I like about the movie the most is that once you’ve seen it, the movie actually becomes more fun to watch. That’s because Fight Club was so good at laying foundation that the narrator was actually Tyler Durden, and it’s so easy to miss and overlook. And I mean, sure there’s the obvious stuff like “hey we have the same briefcase” when they’re on the plane. But there’s also the VERY subtle stuff.

I’ll start with the craziest way they said that Tyler Durden was fake. Remember right after the apartment exploded, and the Narrator called Tyler, but he screens his calls and calls the payphone back? There’s a shot where they zoom in on the phone to show the BWAAHHHH aspect of the phone calling back. The ending of the movie was right there the whole time. See below.

The phone can’t take incoming calls. Clearly this is all in the narrator’s head, and we’ve barely even seen Tyler Durden.

But even BEFORE Tyler shows up, hes’ already in the movie. And you might not even have noticed it. The movie has a few different shots where he shows up for a split second. This video has all of those shots slowed down because they’re literally blink-and-you-miss-it. Even i missed one of those shots watching it on Monday, and I knew where it was going to happen.

Guess what, we’re going to go even earlier in the movie to find the next one. Remember when the narrator was in the hotel room talking about his life, and the commercial for the hotel said “WELCOME!”?

25 Things You Didn't Know About The Movie "Fight Club"

Yep. Tyler Durden. He was there the entire time.

I could write about these subtle hints that Tyler is a figment of the Narrator’s imagination all day. And I will. Let’s keep going with smaller ones:

In the scene where the Narrator fake fights his boss, he says that he was reminded of his first fight with Tyler. Why? Because that fight was just him beating himself up.

When the Narrator and Tyler are discussing fighting different people and get on the bus, the Narrator pays only one fare. You might have thought Tyler was being rebellious and not paying but nope.

In all the scenes where Tyler is driving, and it shows the Narrator getting out of the car, it ALWAYS shows the Narrator getting out of the driver’s side.

It’s little stuff like this that makes it such a good movie. You could keep watching it over and over to catch these small details and it just enhances the enjoyment of the movie. Another Fincher movie that I’d recommend if you enjoyed the mind-blowingness of Fight Club is The Game. When I watched it for the first time, I could not tell you where I thought the story was going because Fincher is that good at laying out details for either side. Would recommend.

 

Today’s blog’s music was the new Explosions In The Sky record, The Wilderness. Listen to it and love it.

News Media Today a.k.a. The Onion In Real Life

For those of you unfamiliar with what I mean by my title, first go to TheOnion.com and read some of the best parody news in the entire world.

Moving on, Network had this very odd and totally wrong prediction about the future of news and that is that the news department will be trying to manufacture sensational news just to attract viewers. The last scene of the movie is Howard Beale being killed essentially for ratings, ad revenue, and an idea for another show. Thankfully that has never happened oh wait shit strap in.

Remember how Dr. Jordan talked about in class how Trump is getting all of the media coverage and by extension is winning all of these votes essentially because he’s who the news cares about? That’s not just because he says crazy things. Remember that huge poll that CNN had late last year (when we still had 400 candidates) that showed Trump at 36%? Yeah that wasn’t some actual measure of popularity. They designed the poll to give him an edge. Why? If their poll has him leading they get to cover him more, and people tune in for Trump. It’s unethical to say the least and infuriating to say the most. But moving on.

But news reporters don’t do morally awful things just for the sake of ratings? Except for that time a bunch of reporters broke into the apartment of the San Bernadino shooters two days after the shooting. Depending on who you are that might still have been an active crime scene. But no let’s show pictures of children on TV in relation to a terrorist attack and let’s also contaminate potential evidence. It’s actually pretty disgusting. Salvia Eric comments on it in a way better way than I can (warning it is very not safe for work).

I don’t know. I’d like to believe that Network was wrong and everyone involved in news is the Walter Cronkite of their generation always on the hunt for the truth. But you see things like this and you get kind of depressed.

P.S. I found an Onion article from the day after Obama won the election called “After Obama Victory, Shrieking White-Hot Sphere of Pure Rage Early GOP Frontrunner for 2016.” lol

 

2001: A Familiar Odyssey

Whenever I talk with people about movies, they inevitably find out that I have never seen Star Wars. Not a single one of the movies. I can see the horror on your face now after reading that. But the honest truth is I’ve never seen them and I honestly don’t feel like I have to. Star Wars is one of those movies that is so ingrained into American culture and film that even by not seeing it, I could tell you the plot based on times when shows I enjoy have parodied it. To a lesser extent, the same could be said about Scarface. After watching this movie, I weirdly enough found out that 2001 is one of those movies that just being a fan of media makes it so that you know the plot.

We’re going to skip a bunch of the standard “that song is everywhere now” stuff and get to the nitty gritty. The weird stuff.

For instance, the first time during 2001 that most of us said “what the hell is going on” was when the big black monolith first appeared on screen with the apes in Africa. To me, not only did I not know what the hell was happening, but it also felt strangely familiar. You know where I’ve seen that scene before? The clearly inferior Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie with Johnny Depp. Not only does this scene show that scene and have the monolith turn into a chocolate bar (which is actually kind of funny now that I think about it) but they even have that exact music going the whole time. As if the reference wasn’t obvious enough.

Another one that sticks out in my mind is the Futurama episode Love and Rocket. If you’re not familiar with Futurama, it’s a show made by the same guy who made The Simpsons, but it ended when it should have. Anyway, I can’t link the whole episode, but the whole episode rips off the entirety of the section in the Discovery One.  The ship develops a personality, it becomes irrational and attempts to kill all of them. Even the scene when he’s taking apart HAL is exactly like it. The funniest part that I just now am realizing is that there’s a scene when they’re talking in private and the ship goes “Oh I wish I could read lips.”

To round out my review of the movie using other pop cultural references, I’ll just go to my favorite TV show of all time, Community. Of course they have a reference to this movie, and it’s the super confusing end scene. At least in this context, it’s confusing because Jeff was knocked out with monkey gas and was worried about turning old all episode. But, it does show the importance of that table in the show. There’s even the sound of monkeys in the background.

Now, I talked about these three references because they follow along with the plot of the movie, but I found so many more cool shoutouts. I’m sure that you guys remember some references to this movie now, because there are too many.

 

Also, there’s a new Flatbush Zombies record out called 3001: A Laced Odyssey. Would recommend for fans of underground hip hop

A Legacy of Missing The Point

The Graduate ends with this scene of Ben interrupting the wedding of Elaine and the generic frat guy that she went on one date with. It’s a great way for the film to end, thematically speaking. For one, Elaine has been on exactly one date with both of these guys, but we root for Ben because he’s the protagonist of the movie and we naturally want to take his side. Plus, we know that he at least loves Elaine. The final shot of the movie shows how perfect the ending is. Ben and Elaine get on the bus and they’re so stoked that they ran away from the wedding and they’re glad to be together at least. But, as the shot goes on and on, they slowly realize that they don’t know each other, have just estranged Elaine’s entire family, and their situation is much less than ideal. Essentially, neither of them have any idea of what they’re doing. As “hello darkness my old friend” begins playing, the movie ends with the same humor that it had throughout the rest of it.

Now, that last scene that I linked above is SUPER important, because every movie that you’ve ever watched that has included a scene of someone interrupting a wedding to declare true love has ripped off that last part of The Graduate. Trust me, you’ve seen a move with that part in it. But here’s the thing, all of those movies have entirely missed the point of why that scene was poignant.

For one, besides Shrek, when have the romantic parts ended with the girl marrying a guy she doesn’t know? It doesn’t happen much. The movies show this successful relationship that is going up to the point of marriage and the girl throws it away for the guy doing a big romantic gesture. That’s not how love is supposed to work. Aren’t you supposed to marry the tried and true person over the guy you only know as the one doing those weird things? Essentially, why is a girl going to throw away work she put into both a relationship and planning a wedding for “Hey here’s a song we both like”? She probably wouldn’t.

The second part I’m uppity about is that part after the wedding. So, you’re a woman who just threw away two years of her life with a dude and a multi-thousand dollar investment in an awesome wedding to be with Owen Wilson. Doesn’t that weigh on your soul a bit? Why is it a happy ending? Essentially, the guy just came along and ruined a girl’s relationship with the groom’s entire family and also strained it with her own family. That’s not a happy ending! That’s kinda shitty really.

You know what makes me the most upset? Wayne’s World 2 has what is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of this scene and falls into the same traps that other movies do. And I love the Wayne’s World movies.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Cameos

So in Rear Window, I noticed something kind of cool: Alfred Hitchcock was in the apartment of the songwriter kind of early in the movie. It looked like he was doing something with the clock in the apartment, but that’s not important. Take a look at the picture below.

That’s Hitchcock on a train right next to Carey Grant, aka C. K. Dexter Haven (we seem to see a lot of the same faces in this class). Apparently, it was a whole thing that Hitchcock would appear in his own movies. In 39 of his major films, he makes an appearance. Once he moved to Hollywood, he appeared in every movie he made. The funny part is that he had to adjust his cameos because of how much people loved him. Apparently, people spent so much time looking for him that no one paid attention to the movie. As a result, Hitchcock made it so that he always appeared in the first thirty minutes of the movie specifically so that people could see him and then go back to watching the movie.

There are two modern occurrences I could compare this to. The first is obviously Stan Lee. He created or helped create many of the comic book characters that have been absolutely dominating the box office for the last few years. This video has all of them as of 2014, so there are definitely several more since then. It’s pretty cool, and everyone always goes nuts at his appearances, and makes sure to look for them specifically. They’re not hidden enough that you wouldn’t see them just watching the movie though, so they aren’t distracting.

The part that is distracting is the thing that really made me want to write this article: The Psych Pineapples. In every single episode of the (underrated) show Psych, there is a pineapple hidden somewhere. Sometimes it’s just on a shelf in the back and you can see it obviously. Sometimes it’s a keychain on someone’s keys that are only seen for a second in a security footage the investigators have found. It’s crazy, and unlike the Seinfeld Superman, the pineapple is in every episode. So, Hitchcock, you may think you’re distracting your audiences, but there are episodes of Psych where I don’t even know what the plot was, but I remember where the pineapple is.

“I COULDA BEEN A CONTENDER”

On the Waterfront has been praised for its acting, its social message, its direction, its realism, and pretty much everything else that you could imagine. But today, I want to talk about one thing that no one seems to ever talk about in regards to this movie. That one, five word phrase that everyone knows but no one mentions, “I coulda been a contender.”

The line comes about in this scene where Terry and his brother are in the cab talking about how Terry could have become a great boxer if it hadn’t been for his brother’s involvements with the mob and the dirty side of betting. The line is a great culmination of all of the emotion in the scene. It was meant to evoke a lot of empathy for Terry and his life. However, watching the movie, I didn’t have that emotion at all because I was thinking about all of the places where I’ve heard that line.

We could mention the obvious choice, which is Rocky, mainly because that movie really gets me going. I really want to talk about the song Funny You Should Ask by The Front Bottoms because I love that band. But there’s just too many to choose from. So I’m forced to go a different route.

As in most aspects of life, something only truly becomes a cultural phenomenon when it gets its own TVTropes page. That link takes you to a whole page of times when either someone said the phrase “I coulda been a contender” or just the concept of someone possibly having been a contender is an important part of the media. There are dozens upon dozens of entries, and I know that Front Bottoms song hasn’t been added yet, so there could be more. And you know what, the quote at the top is the scene from On The Waterfront. And if you look around, there’s nowhere else that line came from.

I know Kazan will be remembered forever, and I hope it’s for something a little more than this.

Box Office Poison: A Continuing Legacy

Katherine Hepburn was introduced to us as box office poison before anything else, including the stipulation that she is not actually related to Audrey Hepburn, which is kind of a letdown. But I digress, box office poison. It’s a term given to actors whose movies tend to flop over and over again,, no matter how much talent they have or how good the movies are. I wanted to google around and see if box office poison still existed. I mean, there are a ton of actors in the world, and if one of them consistently brings down the movies that they star in, they would be dropped from the acting business, right?

Wrong.

This article, which is kind of annoying because it uses a slideshow format, talks about actors who tend to star in movies that make less than is invested in them. And the names on there are surprising to say the least. First of all Michael Cera is on that list. Odd indie music experiments aside (not kidding), who doesn’t love Michael Cera? Like Katherine Hepburn he doesn’t really have the star quality, and his acting/personality is a little niche at times, but unlike her, he doesn’t really star in major films.  Even so, the small budgets of the movies he’s in are only matched by even smaller returns.

Also on that list is Vince Vaughn, which makes sense, because who ever goes to see Vince Vaughn movies? He was good in True Detective though. Colin Farrel is on this list too, and he was also in True Detective. Same goes for Taylor Kitsch. I feel like the author of this article just didn’t like True Detective season 2.

An important inclusion on that list is Mel Gibson. Because for most of these actors, they just star in movies that no one wants to see. On the other hand, Mel Gibson kind of vanished from acting after the whole voicemail incident. That led me to look around for other box office poisons that came around after some sort of incident. I found this article on Breitbart (a Donald Trump-worshiping online “news” site) that claims that of all people, George Clooney is box office poison. George Clooney. Because of his left-wing stances on things. The article is trying to prove a stupid point, but it does bring across one good point: Even George Clooney is susceptible to not doing so well in the box office.

Maybe we should stop caring about revenues brought in and just enjoy actors, because clearly they’re here to stay regardless of how much money they make.

 

Side Note: I would actually recommend listening to the Michael Cera stuff if you like the music that Professor Jordan plays before class. Songs like Too Much are very similar.