breakthrough films


On this day in music history: December 14, 1977 - “Saturday Night Fever” opens in theaters across the US. Released by Paramount Pictures, it stars John Travolta and is directed by John Badham. The low budget film about a young working class man spending his weekends dancing in a Brooklyn discotheque becomes a pop cultural phenomenon, grossing over $237 million at the box office, and is the breakthrough film role for Travolta. Initially Paramount has very low expectations, with some studio executives referring to it as “a vulgar little movie”. Their minds are changed when theater audiences respond enthusiastically to the first teaser trailer, which features John Travolta strutting down the street to the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”. The actor also receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in 1978. The soundtrack album featuring five tracks by the Bee Gees goes on to sell more than thirty million copies worldwide. The R-rated film’s popularity is so great, that Paramount re-edits the film and resubmits it to the MPAA for a PG rating so Travolta’s younger fans can see it with out being accompanied by an adult. This version of the film is the one that is aired on television, when it makes its network debut on ABC on November 16, 1980 (with further alterations), and is briefly issued on home video along with the original theatrical cut. Due to legal complications regarding clearances for the all of the music featured in the film, “Saturday Night Fever” does not make its debut on DVD until 2002, just in time for the twenty fifth anniversary of its original release. Since then, it has been reissued again on DVD for its thirtieth anniversary in 2007 and on Blu-ray disc in 2009. The iconic white three piece suit worn by John Travolta in the film is purchased at auction in 1979 by film critic Gene Siskel, whose inner lining includes an inscription to the critic from Travolta himself. After Siskel’s death in 1995, the suit is auctioned again by Christie’s to an anonymous buyer in the UK.


Today’s women’s history month post is another request, the show Atomic Betty. This is another science fiction show with a female protgaonist at the helm, this one airing on a different network.

The show (which is sometimes known as Atomic Betty: Mission Earth) hails from the French/Canadian side of animation, one of the bigger industries in the west for television. It was made primarily by Atomic Images, Tele Images Kids, and Breakthrough Films & Television. Its studio is based on British Columbia over in Canada, and aired primarily in that country, but it had pretty solid success down in America as well. The series was made with Adobe Flash, something fairly common in contemporary Canadian animation. 

The series was about the main hero, Atomic Betty, and her various sidekicks and friends going on adventures. Her identity is of Betty Barrett, a 12-year-old girl living in Moose Jaw and attending school. Betty finds out that she’s actually an alien, and a space peacekeeper known as a Galactic Guardian. She fights space villains alongside Sparky, her pilot, and X-5, a robot companion, including the likes of the evil Maximus IQ. Betty has to balance her job as a guardian with her normal earth activities, but must spring to action when summoned to help. She often has to come up with explanations for these random absences, however. 

The show was a joint creation between Mauro Casalese, Olaf Miller, Rob Davies, and Trevor Bentley. It aired in both English and French in its various distributions, and starred Tajja Isen as Betty. Tajja, an experienced stage and television actress, also wrote and recorded the soundtrack to the show. In Canada the show aired on the Teletoon channel and stateside it aired on Cartoon Network. Its original run was from summer 2004 to winter 2008, and lasted a total of 3 seasons with 78 segmented episodes. It followed the standard half-hour block formula of two 11-minute segment episodes.

The show originally aired on Teletoon in Canada, but did gain notice in America when Cartoon Network picked it up. It was not the only Canadian show to get shown in America by CN, but it was arguably one of the more often remembered ones. It was also one of the handful of cartoons on the network to have a female star. Some episodes were released on DVD in its original run.

Oscar Ballot 2016

Today begins the posting of my 2016 Oscar ballot! Throughout the day and into tomorrow, I’ll be posting my picks in the categories below (and some additional ones of my choosing).

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Leading Actor
  • Best Leading Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Editing
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Sound
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Best Animated Film
  • Best Documentary Film
  • Best Ensemble Cast
  • Best Breakthrough Performance
  • Best First Film

If you’re into these kinds of things, I hope you enjoy! If not, might be best to mute me for the next few days! And if you disagree,



This year’s Academy Award winner for Animated Feature Film, Big Hero 6, took flight at the Academy as its ongoing “Deconstructing” post-Oscars series entered its third year on April 23, 2015. As with past events dedicated to Life of Pi and Gravity, the technological and storytelling breakthroughs of the film took center stage as the filmmakers appeared at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater for an evening hosted by Academy governor Bill Kroyer and featuring a welcome from Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

The film itself emphasizes creative problem solving and teamwork, qualities that proved useful behind the scenes as well.  Producer Roy Conli spoke about his time at Disney including the role of John Lasseter overseeing the feature film projects at the studio, where the “caffeine patch” open space at the office allowed the staff to find an impromptu area to get together and share ideas.

“Communication is the key,” he said, which paved the way for director Don Hall’s own discussion about starting this film four years ago as he was wrapping up Winnie the Pooh. As a kid he loved both Marvel and Disney, so the conjunction of the two companies allowed him to dig into the Marvel archives for material.

For more from last night’s special event click here.

Setlock with fancy Indian tomb? Nope - the angel Gabriel

Okay guys, breakthrough about filming at the cemetery: they’re not there for the fancy tomb, and probably not even for the graves. They’re there for this angel:

When we see them setting up for filming, there’s a guy on a ladder:

You can see the guy in the red shirt holding the ladder. That big fancy tomb (Rajah Rammohun Roy) looks like this:

Let me show you the things we can see in both pictures so you know where you are:

Zoomed in:

The setlock picture:

We see AA and MF walking on the path (where the crew is in the above picture), but they’ve got their coats on - they’re not filming yet:

The picture of them we have without their coats - likely either filming or just before or after:

So therefore we know where they are in the big picture: standing on the path, just behind the tall round tombstone with moss on it:

Pointing in the direction of the arrow.

Zoomed in:

Now for the angel:

This is the path that the crew and MF and AA were on, but from facing the other direction. You can see the concrete blocks (pink circle) at the bottom of the fancy tomb:

You can also see the thing in light purple through the fancy tomb:

So the angel is just behind the trees, approx. at the big arrow (MF and AA are at the little arrow):

The angel is on top of a base pillar of stone:

So to film just the angel (and not the base) from a level angle, you’d have to be up high - like on a ladder:

The angel’s behind the tree in the above picture, but you can see the base. Remember, MF is pointing in the direction of the angel:

There doesn’t look to be much of anything else over in that direction except the angel. In this picture, you can’t see the angel because of the trees:

But that’s from the Arnos Vale Cementery website and clearly taken in the fall. Setlock filmed in January, and you can tell from the other stuff in the picture that there’s much less vegetation. For example, the tall round tombstone is completely covered with ivy in the picture in the fall from the website:

And the setlock pictures have it with only a little ivy:

And you can definitely see the base of the angel, even in the above picture, so you can probably see it from the path.

So let’s look at the angel:

JIM: You need me, or you’re nothing. Because we’re just alike, you and I – except you’re boring. You’re on the side of the angels.

The thing it’s holding in it’s hand is a horn, which means it’s almost certainly Gabriel:

The trope of Gabriel blowing a trumpet blast to indicate the Lord’s return to Earth is especially familiar … The earliest known identification of Gabriel as the trumpeter comes in the year 1455 in Byzantine art, as an illustration in an Armenian manuscript showing Gabriel sounding his trumpet as the dead climb out of their graves. (x)

Gabriel blows the horn and the dead rise:

The “dead rising” bit is probably the reason for this angel, since that could definitely have to do with Jim. Also the main villain in TPLOSH is named Gabrielle.

cupidford added this tweet:

Which also looks like it’s Gabriel. Judging by the base, I think it’s actually the exact same statue.

When Gabriel blows the horn, the dead rise and the Day of Judgement happens:

Which is what Mark’s tweet references.

John and Mary are wearing gloves in this scene and they weren’t on the tarmac:


It looks like Adam most likely wasn’t present at the MTV Awards. If he was there, they’re keeping him super under wraps since he wasn’t photographed at all and certainly wasn’t sitting with Daisy and J.J. Sorry to crush your dreams, people!*

* On a more positive note, The Force Awakens won a number of well-deserved awards, including best film, best breakthrough performance (Daisy) and best villain (Adam). It didn’t, alas, win best fight (which is criminal, since nothing else came close to matching it, imo).

Tonight, the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive will screen Suzuki’s pulpy 1963 film Youth of the Beast. Starring Suzuki regular Joe Shishido, this eye-popping amalgamation of sumptuous color and production design tells the violent story of an ex-cop who infiltrates two rival yakuza gangs in order to avenge the death of a friend. Considered to be the director’s breakthrough film, it was also the first in which he fully indulged in the dramatic visual style that would become his trademark. 

Repertory Pick: Seijun Suzuki in Berkeley


1995 Hindi Cinema

Dilwale Dhulaniya lejayenge The Making (The brave hearted takes the bride)

What was a breakthrough film in the world of contemporary cinema is now officially vintage. It’s beautiful because it was glimpse of what Indians could be, and not something they have always been. The film proposed a solution of a hybridized Indian that stood for the ‘core Indian values’, but was equally modern and at times willing to slightly transgress. This idea generated vast attention in the diaspora that the new Indian was someone that could have the best of both worlds. Raj could wear the Harley Davidson jacket, yet still could stand with his arms wide open and sing “tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam.”


Richard Linklater’s ‘Everybody Wants Some’ Gets April 1 Release

Paramount has moved the opening of Richard Linklater’s dramedy “Everybody Wants Some” forward two weeks to April 1 in limited release.

The studio will expand the film over the following two weekends. It also moved back its horror thriller “Rings” off April 1 to the pre-Halloween weekend of Oct. 28.

“Everybody Wants Some” will open the SXSW Film Festival on March 11. The film follows a group of college baseball players in ’80s Texas as they navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood and stars Blake Jenner, Ryan Guzman (who was a college baseball pitcher), Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Glen Powell, Will Brittain and Zoey Deutch.

The launch date will coincide with the April 3 opening of the Major League Baseball season.

The project, which takes its title from a popular 1980 song of the same name by Van Halen, has been considered the follow-up to Linklater’s breakthrough 1993 film “Dazed and Confused.” It’s the first title from Linklater following 2014’s “Boyhood,” which grossed over $44 million worldwide on a $4 million budget.