Tag Archives: Alan Arkin

The Set of 400: #42 – My Favorite Barbershop Quartet

Today! Because that’s nothing, I once waited a whole year for September –

The Muppets (2011)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring Jason Segel (x3), Amy Adams (x2), Steve Whitmire (x6), Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz (x6), Bill Barretta (x3), Matt Vogel, Peter Linz, David Rudman (x2), Chris Cooper (x3), Rashida Jones (x3), Jack Black (x6), Alan Arkin (x6), Zach Galifianakis (x2), Bill Cobbs (x2), Mickey Rooney, Ken Jeong (x3), Jim Parsons, Kristen Schaal (x2), Sarah Silverman (x3), Donald Glover, Emily Blunt, James Carville, Whoopi Goldberg (x6), Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris (x2), John Krasinski, Judd Hirsch (x2), Rico Rodriguez, Eddie Pepitone (x2)

Man, it is disconcerting seeing full-body Muppets with legs, right? Like, sitting is okay, but standing like that? Gah! Muppets on bicycles is such a cool trick that it was never visually an issue seeing their whole body, so why is the above picture so strange? And this was an actual poster for the movie – maybe not the most common one, but still!

It’s pretty ingenious puppeteering!

The 2011 Muppet film was the first big screen adventure for the gang in twelve years. They’d popped up in a bunch of TV specials, and started a pretty decent YouTube channel for music videos and song parodies and the like, but the days of major pop culture relevance were long behind them. Thus, when rumors started that there was this new, glossy Disney film with big stars attached and one-half of Flight of the Conchords doing the songs, I was excited but pretty skeptical. Would this actually see the light of day? Could a new Muppet film truly come to pass? There have been whispers of a Fraggle Rock movie for over a decade now, so it’s not like these things tend to materialize. And serious, the best Muppet product from the previous decade was a somewhat nausea-inducing Playstation game, Muppet Race Mania, so what kind of hope could I have?

Significant as being Frank Oz’s last full project with the Muppets, it was also a pretty fun game.

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The Set of 400: #100 – My Favorite Nude Medal Ceremony

Today! Because in order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying –

Catch-22 (1970)

Directed by Mike Nichols (x2)

Starring Alan Arkin (x5), Jon Voight (x2), Martin Balsam (x3), Buck Henry (x3), Richard Benjamin, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins (x2), Art Garfunkel, Jack Gilford (x2), Martin Sheen, Orson Welles (x2), Bob Balaban (x2), Paula Prentiss, Norman Fell (x2), Charles Grodin, Austin Pendleton, Peter Bonerz, Jack Riley (x4), Bruce Kirby, Richard Libertini (x3), Elizabeth Wilson (x2), Susanne Benton, Jon Korkes, Marcel Dalio

The Top 100! We finally made it! This is what the list always was in the past – a tight group of a hundred films I love, not this insanely bloated collection including a ton of movies I like but would probably be embarrassed to bring up to the Gallery of Sound register. And often floating near the end of those lists from days gone by is this adaptation of my favorite book, Mike Nichols’ noble experiment in bringing Joseph Heller’s unfilmmable novel to the screen. I don’t anticipate ever doing a list like this of my favorite books – come on, that would be far too difficult, as I don’t really re-read books much, so even though I remember loving The Stand, how it would compare to something I read last month is questionable. So, just for your edification and because this is all about me anyway, Catch-22 is my favorite book. I’m not sure what is ever going to supplant it, but I suppose anything’s possible. I’ve still never read The Da Vinci Code!

The movie sucked pretty loud, though, as I recall

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The Set of 400: #126 – My Favorite Set of Steak Knives

Today! Because I can go out there tonight with the materials you’ve got and make myself $15,000. Tonight! In two hours! Can you?

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Directed by James Foley

Starring Jack Lemmon (x4), Al Pacino (x3), Ed Harris (x2), Alan Arkin (x4), Kevin Spacey (x2), Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce (x3), Bruce Altman

Hey, surprise back-to-back Jonathan Pryce movies! Now in the past I’ve mentioned some stage-y films (say, Noises Off) and really stage-y films (Rhinoceros), but then we’ve got Glengarry Glen Ross, which is one of the stagiest goddamn motion pictures ever made. Seriously, it’s what, 80% in the office? Maybe more than that? Sure, they broke some moments out into the rain or that bar, but it’s almost a unit set film, and that set isn’t anything all that striking or cinematic. So how do they counteract this? Towering, screaming performances, that’s how!

Enjoy this one room, suckers!

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The Set of 400: #209 – My Favorite Heroin Stuffed Doll

Today! Because there was a murder around here last night, they found the body this morning. A lady from Scarsdale –

Wait Until Dark (1967)

Directed by Terence Young

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin (x3), Richard Crenna, Jack Weston, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (x2), Julie Herrod, Samantha Jones

Apparently my favorite movie from 1967 (take that #263 Jungle Book and #311 The Graduate!), Wait Until Dark was a tremendous play by Frederick Knott (that I secretly and not so secretly burned to stage, back in my theater days), turned into a very effective locked-in movie, featuring the best acting Audrey Hepburn would ever do. Many of her most famous roles largely required her to show up – not saying she wasn’t talented, but light comedies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sabrina and Roman Holiday aren’t exactly showcases for towering talent. Or maybe I just give more credit to drama/thriller acting – which probably isn’t fair. You know what, forget what I said. Audrey Hepburn is fine.

Hell, I couldn’t pull off this look

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The Set of 400: #274 – My Favorite Airport Storyboard Movie Pitch

Today! Because if I’m doing a fake movie, it’s gonna be a fake hit –

Argo (2012)

Directed by Ben Affleck

Starring Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin (x2), John Goodman (x2), Scoot McNairy, Victor Garber (x3), Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler (x2), Tate Donovan, Chris Messina, Philip Baker Hall (x2), Rory Cochrane, Clea DuVall (x2), Titus Welliver, Bob Gunton (x2), Richard Kind (x2), Richard Dillane, Adrienne Barbeau, Taylor Schilling, Christopher Denham, Zeljko Ivanek

When we as a people rose up and decried in one voice that we would not allow the slighting of Ben Affleck to continue for one goddamn minute longer, Argo became the surprise Best Picture winner of 2012, despite not receiving a Best Director nomination – as rare a thing to happen at the Oscars as any. And the pointed reason for this win is attributed to this general outrage of Affleck being overlooked, which I don’t really understand. Not the overlooking (even though it was probably a little unfair), but the outrage. Why did everyone care so much? And in a year that I will go to the wall to defend as one of the best in film history? It’s not like there weren’t other deserving and/or better films available. So why did everyone lose their minds over the nominations?

Like, did this seriously have to happen?

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The Set of 400: #307 – My Favorite Inspirational Kate Smith

Today! Because long before the age of Reason/Evil waged unholy treason –

The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)

Directed by Philippe Mora

Starring Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Kate Fitzpatrick, Michael Pate, Bill Hunter

Just your standard Australian musical superhero comedy, The Return of Captain Invincible is a pretty oddball production story that shouldn’t work as a movie as well as it does (which is debatable, too). While they managed to scrape together enough dough for effects and the likes of Arkin and Lee in the lead roles, the planned distribution company in America went bankrupt just before the movie’s release, resulting in it having virtually no all-time box office gross – figures have it around $55,000 worldwide. In Australia, the movie was tied up in litigation for a year – something having to do with tax credits and the producer re-cutting the film without the director’s input – before it got released. Thus, the whole thing managed to slip under the radar for a long time.

Or has it ever really emerged? I have no idea how popular this movie ever got. As of this writing, IMDB only shows 599 people having rated the movie – a few thousand being pretty standard for almost any film. This, despite our collective mania over superhero films in the last twenty years, and the world’s ever-long love affair with musicals? I’m not 100% sure when I first saw it – I want to say I acquired a VHS copy when some video store was going out of business when I was in college? Don’t know, but I’ve been squarely in the Captain Invincible fan club a long time. Continue reading

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