Much Ado About Nothing, Maniacs! - Mania.com



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Much Ado About Nothing, Maniacs!

By Jarrod Sarafin     April 29, 2007

I have to confess to something and it seems the perfect opportunity to do so. Right here, Maniacs! Are you listening? The past few weeks, I’ve had what normal people call “writer’s block” but it goes beyond that. You see, every week by midnight on any given Saturday, I’m expected to send something in on a given writer, producer, composer, director, actor/actress, or someone else involved in the movie industry. 

I have to say, I love the Hollywood scene. I love a lot of directing legends and a hell of lot more iconic cultural figureheads which have shaped the industry scene to the point where we now know it. I could ramble onward on a lot of people in the scene I love and hate as to why I have the feelings I have for them. 

In fact, I’ll explain why I’ve had that “writer’s block” the past few weeks. 

Did you read last week’s column on Sam Raimi? 

If you did, you would have noticed I thought about doing a feature on Clint Eastwood. 

That same effect has held true this week. I’ve continued onward on him but I’m having what I some people (or rather what *I*) would call the “Eastwood Effect”. 

Truth be told, I’m intimidated by the man. 

The very same with Harrison Ford.  

I’m not sure what to honestly say about those two heroes of mine. I normally try to keep my Star Spotlights to 5-8 pages of a Word Document and even then it’s too damn long for most commentaries I see today around the web. There’s one small….or very large snag with this. 

Clint Eastwood…Harrison Ford? 

I could keep writing till the cows come home, I still couldn’t summarize what they did to me or how they affected my love for the industry but how long would that be? They seem deserving of a narrative book in my eyes.  

When Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford dies, I’ll probably shed a few tears, turn into a reckless recluse and watch all their movies in continuous order. That’s the truth and I’m not shy about admitting such self-exposing truths about myself. I understand that some of you may either insult me over such an opinion or you may even keep silent about such matters. Hell, you may do the same exact thing when your favorites leave our planet. 

I know we have fellow Maniacs here who feel as strong as they do about certain people inside the industry by the fact that we have a certain amount of readers. I’m only seeing only 15-20 opinions on a subject for every given column I do but I know we have a lot more silent readers who feel strongly on the subject matter. I realize that today, you will be reading my Star Spotlight column and my Box Office Report column and yet I’m only going to hear from a small sect of you but I’d like to know what all of you think here on any given matter I talk about. 

What’s more important is the fact that I’d like to hear what given actor, producer, writer, director; etc influences you enough to be a true “Maniac”. 

Yes, that’s right.  

A “Maniac”. 

There’s a reason why Cinescape has been owned by Mania for half a dozen years. There’s a reason why Cinescape has been as popular for twice as long. It’s who we are. We’re major fans of a very important sect of the Hollywood scene. The genre scene. 

I’ve been part of the “Cinescape” scene since it opened up over a decade ago. 

Strike that. 

I came here to “Cinescape.com” two months after it opened up. I’ve been here for almost 11 years now and I know what it takes to be a true maniac in this scene. I know a lot of you are either with me, against me, or outside the build of influence for or against. I find this whole experience both hilarious and fascinating. 

My 3 columns (Star Spotlight, Box Office Report & Superficial Slobber) are all done on the weekends. For those of you whom don’t know, the weekend is like the death nail for most websites. I’m really speaking fact when most “industry” related websites don’t say “anything” on weekends. Some very popular news content driven sites don’t even give an update over Saturday and Sundays. It’s a fact of the industry that this happens. Most content and news sites get their sources from two very large resources over Hollywood, Variety & Hollywood Reporter during the weekdays. Since those two sites take the weekends off, a lot of other sites also take the weekends off. 

It’s small irony that some sites (such as Mania) continue to pay people such as myself to fill in those gaps to keep content going.  

Those gaps include the Superficial Slobber and Star Spotlight columns you’ve been continuing to read right here and now. Do I have a problem with this? Does anyone? 

No. 

As I said, I know a lot about past, present and future of Hollywood and if I teach even one or two people to become the next Edgar Wright, John Carpenter or Kevin Smith by inspiration or knowledge, then my job is done. The fact is I could continue to spill my guts on what I love and what I don’t about the cinema scene but I’d rather hear from all of YOU maniacs. 

Yes, you heard me. 

I say the same thing with my weekly Box Office Report which is due on the same day as this Star Spotlight column. 

Seriously, Maniacs, I want to hear which actors, producers, directors, films, composers which molded you into the maniac that you’ve become. Enough so that you’re reading this column on a sunny Sunday afternoon instead of any number of other things. 

I could give you the definition of “Mania” or “Maniac” but why bother? Instead I’ll say you fit right into the same mold as me and any number of other fellow people whom are reading this article by me.  

What the hell is the “Eastwood effect”? Did you mean really that you would shed a few tears??? 

Yes. 

I did. 

I’ve started a column on Clint Eastwood that I probably will never finish. I want you to sit back in that computer cushioned chair of yours, fellow Maniac, and think to yourself what is the source of inspiration for you loving movies and the film industry to the degree that you do. 

Enough that makes you a fellow Maniac. 

Now, I want you to talk about it. 

Sounds easy, right? Try again.   

I wrote my first Star Spotlight to be about George Lucas shortly after the Academy Awards ceremony where he, Francis Ford Coppola & Steven Spielberg gave the Oscar to Martin Scorsese. Watching these four Godfathers of Modern Cinema was something breathtaking to behold and then what’s more, talking about it after the fact was something even more invigorating afterwards. 

I’ve tried to follow up every Star Spotlight with something as important to me and I’m pretty sure I could do so for quite a while but there are certain people which intimidate even me in the process. One such man is Eastwood. 

Two weeks ago, I said…”Let’s do Clint Eastwood” and halfway through my many page document on the man, I got cold sweats. 

Cold effing sweats. I call it the “Eastwood Effect” 

There are certain men in the industry which awe me to a point where I can’t really say much about them until I get to the point where I go all “school-childish”.  I start stuttering and I remember that this one man whom influenced cinema to the point where I fell in love with it. 

Everyone has their influences. 

I’ll give you, Maniacs, some of mine: 

Sergie Leone

John Carpenter

Alfred Hitchcock

Robert Wise

Wes Craven

Dario Argento

George Lucas

George A. Romero

Steven Spielberg

Richard Donner

John Williams

Michael Kamen

James Horner

John Landis

John McTiernan

Stephen King 

….The List goes onward 

There are certain movies and certain directors which give inspiration to others and pay homage to legends or personal heroes of mine. I’ll give you an “artsy” film which came out last year but will remind you of Sergie Leone’s Good Bad & The Ugly trilogy. A source of inspiration. This is a film which is probably now ranked among my favorites of films of 2006 and which deserves a spot on your own DVD shelf. 

“The Proposition”. 

If you have not seen this film, I won’t tell you to rent it, I’m telling you to buy it!  

Yes, imagine that. Someone telling you to buy a DVD.  

Is that bold? Is that naïve? Is that intellectually promiscuous? All I know is I watched this film and there are certain scenes which reminded me of Sergie Leone’s spaghetti western trilogy based around that ever elusive Eastwood. 

“The Proposition” starring Guy Pierce and Ray Winstone will inspire you if you’re a fan of Sergie Leone or any number of other iconic directors. Directors whom deserve to have a Star Spotlight named after them... It may have not been massively distributed or produced but it will tell you about a past culture of movies which inspired those whom you love today.  

I know what you’re thinking. 

You’re reading this column and thinking….”What was the point of this column???” 

I’ll tell you the point. 

Other then “Much Ado About Nothing”, here’s the basis of this column. 

I want to know which films inspired you enough to become a fellow Maniac! I want to know which directors and acting legends inspired you. Feel free to create your own list of individuals and we can all see what our readership match up on some of these personal favorites I listed above. 
 

Are there actors or directors which would give you what I call the “Eastwood Effect”?!? 

People whom inspired you to the point where you start talking about them but they utterly awe you to a point where you can never finish any such article or column about them? 

Let everyone hear your thoughts on such subjects. Let your maniacal driven thoughts be heard!

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 7 of 7
1 
almostunbiased 4/29/2007 7:16:50 AM
Other than Steven King, I could pick any other from your list. (Not a horror fan.) Here's a few more: Edward Zwick - Glory Francis Ford Coppola Guy Hamilton and John Glen of Bond glory Howard Hawks James Cameron Joe Johnston John Sturges Nicholas Meyers Mel Brooks Martin Campbell Martin Scorsese Ron Howard Roland Emerich Roger Donaldson Peter Jackson Ridley Scott Robert Zemechis and Wolfgang Petterson Have all made more than one movie I just love. Actors on the other hand I'd go with Sean Connery, Ford, Clint, and even Mel Gibson that make the top of my list. But I grew up on Bob Hope and Charleton Heston, watching old movies on the weekends. I am a movie Maniac. And I hate even saying that word, because it just sounds lame. But it is true. Hell, I own over 400 DVD's. And I won't go into my VHS collection since I refuse to watch them anymore. (And when will El Cid be released on DVD anyway? Those Jackasses) I don't know if these are inspirations, but they have brought me great enjoyment over the years.
ashscousin 4/29/2007 5:06:25 PM
I've been obsessed with cinema my entire life, so I know exactly where you're coming from when you talk about the "Eastwood Effect". I could write pages about directors that I think are important and a few more pages about young directors out there right now that I like and will one day probably be considered legends. But what you want to hear about are peoples personal opinions on who are the elite directors/ actors/ composers/ writers, the cream of the crop. My personal all time favorites are as follows. Stanley Kubrick Akira Kurosawa Sergio Leone Sam Raimi James Cameron Dario Argento George A. Romero Quentin Tarantino Roman polanski Mario Bava Terry Gillian There are lots actors whose work I respect and enjoy but for me the directing aspect is much more interesting then the acting part. With the exception of Bruce Campbell, no actor thrills or excites me the way a good director does.
amatorian 4/29/2007 5:40:39 PM
I find myself wondering how I should go about this. Most likely the grand amount of filmmakers out there would elicit a decent amount of names from fellow maniacs and so I wonder whom I should pick. Not just a list, but a name. A singular individual that helped mold me into the cinema adoring, slobbering at the mouth rabid maniac that I have become. There are the easy ones; Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Dario Argento, George Romero, Spielberg, Lucas, Donner, Hitchcock, Kurasawa, Pollack, etc etc etc….on and on and on I can go with filmmakers that have enriched my life through their masterpieces and not-so-masterpieces that make me tingle with delight over a bowl of extra buttery popcorn. But who for me could be signified as the greatest, the one that started the obsession to find that unattainable grandeur in film? Who is worthy of such a title? Jim Henson. Of course when I was a child I saw the Star Wars Trilogy, unfortunately only seen Jedi in the theater but I suppose when you are a year old it’s all the same. Lucas created a legacy in my mind that never will go away, a dominating power that forces me to quote unending to everybody. Henson is vastly different. At the same moment in time I was watching the Dark Crystal. As a child I loved the Muppet Show and Sesame Street but the Dark Crystal was what gathered and harnessed my attention. The detail, the divine fantastical elements to that film inspired me as a child. As I grew older I found Labyrinth. Combined these two movies (the Dark Crystal more so) created a belief that film should be an ever-expansive dream world. Artistically beautiful in a surreal way. This is not reality you are watching, this is fiction and shouldn’t fiction be skewed? Shouldn’t we not only go through the escapism but be overwhelmed by it. Unable to hold ourselves together by the smidgens of a dreary every day life. What we see upon the screen should wrap around us like a protective blanket, holding us tightly as we drift off into something that could never be. I have seen many fantasy, science fiction and horror films over my life finding them to be at the very least hilarious when they are bad (Robot Jox, Plan 9 and Reign of Fire as examples). To this day I have yet to have found an imagination that can top what Henson has done. Amusingly enough the closest lately was from the Henson studies, a large surprise by me since nothing truly amazing has come out of that studio since the man himself died. Mirrormask was closest, but still didn’t have all the necessity to complete a Henson imagination. But, the Gaiman/McKean combination was probably about as close as we are to get for a while. To me film is about exploration, trying something above and beyond and truly showing the audience the possibility of something grander…something that never can happen. For all its wonder and achievement, I still find Lord of the Rings lacking in the sheer imagination Henson can bring to screen (not to say either Peter Jackson or Tolkien were bad, but my standards of fantasy are entirely in the realm of what is impossible and that there are no surrounding rules to follow). We have no more imagineers, I’m thinking of copyrighting that word, Henson seemed to be the last and with his death we lost something beautiful and wondrous. I could not write something fully describing my feelings when I watch these two films (Labyrinth and Dark Crystal). When he died I was a kid, watching the special episode of the Muppets where they spoke of his life and remember shedding a tear that I would never get to see what this man would have done later. Where his mighty mind could have taken me as technology accelerated and the fullness of his thoughts could explode onto 35mm or digital. I still feel as if my life and so many others were robbed of the possibilities upon his death and I mourn. All we have are two films and a legacy of wondrous children’s programming. His films, though, shined above all else. Proving to everybody that movies for kids can be serious, can be dark, can be beyond mystical/magical and can treat children as if they have a brain. I owe Henson the birth of my imagination, my ability to dream and my love of the possibility in movies. Perhaps I can write something about him, but it would never amount to what he has done, how he has affected me and millions of other people throughout his career. A part of me felt like it was torn asunder in 1990 when I found out about his death but it seems only because even at the age of nine I knew that the world had lost somebody astonishing. My personal list could go on and on with directors, writers, cinematographers and so on from all over the world for pages. But this one man, this one person is what did my life the best good in film. I suppose that’s all I have to say about that. A.
loganschlieghliegh 4/29/2007 9:34:37 PM
I must say that most but not all mentioned here are on my list. So I'll only touch on a couple that are on mine and have probably been overlooked by the others. Director Sam Peckinpah, and actors Tom Hanks and John Travolta. I'm sure that if I really took the time to think harder I could come up with a few more. Especially since I also grew up watching the old movies afterschool and on the weekends. Who here besides myself remembers the movie, "Let's Kill Uncle". The one movie I would love to have on DVD.
bjjdenver 4/30/2007 10:25:57 AM
I suppose like anything, that as we grow our influences change. Alot of us have grown up as a generation based on TV and movies...as we have evolved, so has the medium. I remember when cable tv first hit and that really was a huge societal influence. As it has expanded, so has our exposure to influences of the past and influences of the entire world. As a child, I never could have imagined watching subtitled films from Asia, made by people I have never heard of. Now, they are some of the most influential filmmakers working. I think I will make my lists as a timeline, childhood to present: Actors- Clint, Bruce Lee, Burt Reynolds, Cary Grant, Redford, Everyone from Star Wars, lol. Jack Nicholson, Christian Slater, Robert Downey, Deniro, Stallone, Willis, Roger Moore and Sean Connery. Kurt Russell spans the whole life. More recently Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Clive Owen, Denzel (Man on Fire may be the most under-rated movie ever) Many others, but you see where I'm coming from. Directors-Hitchcock, Carpenter, DePalma, Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas John Hughes (obviously this is the '80s section), Carpenter, Scorsese Nolan (for Memento before BB), Eastwood, Jackson, Miike, Tarentino, Rodriguez, Del Toro, numerous Asian and European directors. My favorites also include most of the previously listed by other posts, as well as just as many that I have not listed.
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