When it comes to home theaters, I thought I'd seen it all. But nothing's come close to this. First, I'm going to try to describe the sheer magnitude of Jeremy Kipnis' theater. His Stewart Snowmatte laboratory-grade screen is the biggest I've ever seen in a home, and in the back of the theater, there's a Sony ultra-high-resolution (4,096-by-2,160) SRX-S110 digital projector. I'm looking everywhere, jotting down questions, and Kipnis sounds almost giddy talking about his theater's capabilities. He refers to his baby, the Kipnis Studio Standard (KSS), as "The Greatest Show on Earth." And from the looks of it, he may be right.
These guys make the image work: peter nofz, jonathan cohen, and spencer cook.
The most popular movie of the year and breaker of just about every box-office record, Spider-Man 3 owes much of its success to its seamless, high-impact visual storytelling. Vast portions of this were rendered in the computers at Sony Pictures Imageworks, the digital production studio that helped bring life to all three arachno-adventures. On the occasion of the release of this latest chapter on DVD—and the entire trilogy in a magnificent Blu-ray set—Sony invited HT to speak with three of the very dedicated men of Imageworks. Digital effects supervisor Peter Nofz, special projects computer graphics supervisor Jonathan Cohen, and animation supervisor Spencer Cook are all gifted artists and masters of their individual technologies. Each has different responsibilities, yet is proud of his role within the elaborate team. And their work speaks for itself—even when you don't notice it.
The meticulous effects auteur looks back on a career spent creating movie magic.
During a time when movies were made entirely by hand, Ray Harryhausen knew better than anyone how to make the most spectacular cinematic creatures come to life. Inspired, like so many, by the original King Kong, Harryhausen honed his filmmaking skills on a variety of short subjects before he tackled his first feature film, Mighty Joe Young, working alongside Kong's stop-motion maestro Willis O'Brien. For you kids reading at home, stop-motion animation is the painstaking process of moving one or more specially designed models a precise fraction of an inch for each frame of film. Do it perfectly 24 times in a row (which can take a full day or more), and you've created one second of a movie. Along the way, Harryhausen even invented the Dynamation technique to more realistically combine his creations with live-action backgrounds, and his work became the gold standard that continues to stoke Hollywood's collective imagination. His 1957 black-and-white, monster-attacks-Rome opus 20 Million Miles to Earth was colorized and released on Blu-ray disc, the first Harryhausen title in high def, along with a new DVD boxed set that adds colorized special editions of Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and It Came From Beneath the Sea, all from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The modern horror maestro loves DVD, hates "torture porn."
Spend some time with the extensive bonus materials on any Eli Roth DVD, and you get his number pretty quickly. An aspiring filmmaker since the age of eight, he's now thoroughly enjoying his professional success. Off a total investment of less than $16 million, he's produced and directed a trio of gruesome, surprisingly funny horror hits, namely Cabin Fever, Hostel, and, most recently, Hostel Part II. Perhaps more DVD-savvy than any filmmaker I've talked to, he's now going Blu-ray with a new Director's Cut of the original Hostel, plus the home video debut of his killer sequel.
The art and passion of an actor/singer/producer. . . and director?
One of those great New York actors who just brings a smile to audiences' faces, the ever-affable Danny Aiello has been in front of the camera for more than 30 years with a string of memorable supporting and starring roles, and even an Oscar nomination for 1989's Do the Right Thing. He's also been in front of the microphone as an accomplished singer, and he's now behind the scenes with his own production company, Revolution Earth. Their first film, Shorty, shares the inspirational tale of a very special lifelong football fan at an impossibly friendly, small Southern college town. Shorty is now available as part of Mill Creek Entertainment's Reel Indies line, which showcases movies from smaller studios.
The man who made October 31st scary again continues to carve new ground.
Coming off a pair of low-budget, high-concept films (Assault on Precinct 13 and Dark Star), John Carpenter forever changed the world of horror cinema with his landmark Halloween. He's been pushing the genre envelope ever since, with fan favorites such as Escape from New York and the truly original They Live, along with unexpected turns such as Starman and TV's Elvis starring frequent go-to guy Kurt Russell. He's also given fans the occasional sequel, as well as his remakes of horror classics The Thing and Village of the Damned, even as Hollywood has begun remaking his signature works, including The Fog and Rob Zombie's upcoming Halloween. Carpenter knows monsters and how to portray a tense siege, and his experience with both benefit his second installment of Showtime's Masters of Horror anthology series, "Pro-Life." Ron Perlman stars as a gun-toting conservative dad out to retrieve his young, pregnant runaway daughter—at any cost—from the abortion clinic where she seeks refuge, even though the "baby" was conceived in the underworld and really, really needs killin'. "Pro-Life" is out on a fully loaded special-edition DVD from Anchor Bay/Starz Home Entertainment, and it boasts the only audio commentary I've ever heard where the director exits in the middle of recording to catch a quick smoke.
At a time when the quality of feature animation was rapidly diminishing in Hollywood, Don Bluth did more than any filmmaker to keep the art form not just alive but healthy. In 1982, he directed his first full-length movie, The Secret of NIMH (now in a new Family Fun Edition DVD from MGM). That same year, Rick Dyer developed a revolutionary idea for an interactive laserdisc arcade game, which he pitched to Bluth and partner Gary Goldman. They would eventually cocreate the animation for what would become a video-game landmark, Dragon's Lair, the sumptuously realized quest of a hapless knight who—if we're quick with the stick—survives all manner of adversity to rescue a comely maiden from the clutches of a fire-breathing nasty. Before he struck out on his own, Bluth was a Disney veteran with decades of experience. He has given life to everything from the brood-friendly An American Tail, to Fox's ambitious Titan A.E., to the animated sequences in the Olivia Newton-John cult hit Xanadu. Yet a ravenous fan base continues to snap up Dragon's Lair on every new format, most recently the better-than-ever special-edition Blu-ray disc from Digital Leisure. I got to speak with Don Bluth, as well as Paul Gold from Digital Leisure.
A working director ever since film school, Randal Kleiser talks to us about his latest, his greatest, and his now famous USC roommate.
After years in television (The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), director Randal Kleiser earned a place in Hollywood history with his joyous adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease, soon followed by his updated ode to young love, The Blue Lagoon. He's kept busy in the ensuing years with an impressive slate of new projects and sequels—although the notorious Grease 2 was not his. We caught up with him as the DVD of his romantic comedy, Love Wrecked, which premiered on the ABC Family channel earlier this year, was being released on DVD from Genius Products/The Weinstein Company.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker discusses baseball, unimportant dialogue, Americana, and French fries.
Well known for his comedies and period films, including many set in his native Baltimore (Diner, Tin Men, Avalon, and Liberty Heights), Barry Levinson also gave us such diverse hits as Bugsy, Rain Man, and Good Morning, Vietnam. In 1984, he scored a home run with The Natural, starring Robert Redford, which many people consider to be the best baseball movie of all time. It's now a new special-edition DVD, The Natural Director's Cut, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.