Friday, December 30, 2011

She hasn't lived long, but she's prospered

In 2004's The Terminal, where Tom Hanks plays an itinerant immigrant forced to live at the airport when it turns out he has no home country status, he befriends various airport staff, among them janitor Diego Luna and customs officer Zoe Saldana.

Touched by the former's pining for the latter from afar, Viktor (Hanks) uses daily trips to Dolores' (Saldana) queue, fulfilling his immigration obligations one step at a time as a cover for passing information about her secret admirer.

When Viktor finally cracks Dolores' no-nonsense, officious exterior, he finds the weak spot in her armour Enrique (Luna) can exploit – she loves Star Trek conventions.

In 2009 Saldana went on to play Uhura in J J Abram's successful and wonderful Star Trek reboot. Coincidence or not?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's a popular call-sign

Once again we've spotted the world's most popular stock police band recording and the sound effect that gives this website its name in not one but two recent films.

In just the last few weeks, we've heard 8814 clear in the car as Eddie (Richard Gere) drives his new partner around in Brooklyn's Finest, and also as Driver/The Kid (Ryan Gosling) listens in on the police band while he plans his getaway in Nicholas Winding Refn's ultraviolent action thriller Drive.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Right comet, wrong year

Mr Stay Puft has been defeated. His marshmallow flesh coats the roof of the Central Park West apartment building and the ghostbusters are just starting to pull themselves from the wreckage.

When Lewis Tully (Rick Moranis) is returned to normal after his brief sojourn in the body of demigod Zuul, Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) kindly helps him down to the street as Venkman (Bill Murray) enjoys his romantic reunion with Dana (Sigourney Weaver).

As he does so, Stanz cheerfully informs Lewis he's been the subject of the biggest interdimensional crossrip since the Tunguska Blast of 1909.

Ray was partly right - what scientists now believe to be a comet entered Earth's atmosphere over Tunguska, Siberia, exploded while still five or ten kilometres up and obliterated 2,150 square kilometers of forest and everything in it (thankfully no people).

But what Ray - or Aykroyd and Harold Ramis when they wrote the script - didn't realise was that the Tunguska event was actually in 1908.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

8814 clear - mark three!

The sound clip that gives this blog its name has shown up again in a movie. It must be the cheapest stock audio file in history (and the oldest - this movie's from 1991). It can be heard in the slacker comedy Career Opportunities, starring a young Frank Whalley and a very winsome young Jennifer Connelly.

When Josie's (Connelly) overbearing industrialist father (Noble Willingham) and the local sheriff Don (Barry Corbin) pull up outside the Target where Jim (Whalley) works in their search for Josie, Don gets out of the squad car to peer through the glass windows, neither of them with any idea that Jim and Josie are having a blast inside while Jim's supposed to be cleaning the store.

As Don opens the door and crosses the footpath towards Target's door, there's our favourite dispatch officer over the car radio...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Home to pirates and giant apes

Not many people like the 1976 remake of King Kong but I love it. So it was while watching a movie recently I instantly recognised a familiar landmark.

When the lifeboats of the Petrox Explorer land on the beach of Skull Island, pretty rescuee Dwan (Jessica Lange) is so taken with the beautiful surroundings (in reality Cathedral Beach, Kauai) she runs off towards the natural stone arch at the end of the beach. Concerned, stowaway wildlife photographer Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) runs after her, chasing her under the natural stone arch and up the steep rocky hill beyond until the rest of the party catches up.

Much more recently, when Blackbeard (Ian McShane) sends Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) off to find the shortest route to the Fountain of Youth in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Captain Jack pauses to talk to himself. After realising there's nobody to listen to him, Jack continues along the beach towards the very same geological feature, the 90 foot high Honopu Arch.

Famous as a movie location (and closed to the public), the Honopu Valley was also home to scenes in Six Days Seven Nights - which also featured the arch - Honeymoon in Vegas and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

He flies, he loves... He kills.

This isn't the deepest trivia you'll ever read on, but did you know the legendary director behind 1984's The Last Starfighter (legendary if you love the film as much as we do, anyway) also played a very iconic movie character called The Shape?

Who's The Shape, you ask? None other than Michael Myers - not the one who played Austin Powers, but the one who terrorised Haddonfield when he came home one night on Halloween...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kubrick really let this through?

Like every other shot in Stanley Kubrick's moody take on Stephen King's bestselling book, the opening titles of The Shining are grandiose and arresting, preparing you for the slow-moving but chilling mood of the film and giving you a gasp of fresh mountain air before the snows start to close in on the Overlook and make everything feel a lot more claustrophobic.

We follow the yellow VW Beetle owned by the Torrances as Jack (Jack Nicholson), Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Danny Lloyd) drive through some stunning Colorado landscapes along open, winding highways running alongside gorgeous shimmering lakes, the edges of knee-trembling drops and towering, cavernous forests of fir trees.

And if you're quick, just a few seconds before the words A Stanley Kubrick Film start rolling up the screen, you can see the shadow of the chopper on the ground that carried the camera crew.

See for yourself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

They ignored their own warning and disturbed the Ark

It's an iconic scene in one of our most iconic movies. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and Sallah (John Rhys Davies) have figured out the exact specifications for the Staff of Ra to reveal the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

At the appointed time Indy shimmies down a rope under the nose of Colonel Dietrich's (Wolf Kahler) entire army unit so the jewel at the top of the staff can do its work, concentrating the rays of the sun coming in through the hole in the roof (accompanied for some reason by a metallic whine that sounds like a diamond saw starting up).

As the sunbeam appears a few observant moviegoers might remember what Indy realised earlier. The Nazis only have one side of the staff - seared into Major Toht's (Ronald Lacey) hand in the fire at Marion's (Karen Allen) bar. But as the holy man told Indy and Sallah, you have to subtract the measurement on the other side. The staff the Nazis have fashioned will be too tall and give them a false reading.

And as the beam of laser-like light crawls along the floor you can see the tomb where the Nazis mistakenly think the Ark will be found thanks to their too-long staff. The model is roped off and if you're quick you'll see the words 'nicht stören' scrawled hastily across it in red ink - German for 'Not Disturb'.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music to die and issue threats by

You might not know it by name but there's a wonderful piece of music called Sonambulo, originally by Fernando Villalona. It's a haunting, beautiful tune played with a guitar and a Hawaiian slide guitar that manages to blend a 50s-flavoured surfing mood with sweet, melancholy overtones.

The reason it might be familiar is because it provided the music for a dream sequence in 1987's La Bamba. Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) lost a close pal when two planes collided in the sky over his school, the falling wreckage killing several kids. Instead of being at school the day it happened, Ritchie was at his father's funeral, and he has a recurring nightmare where he shows up to find the charred body of his friend lying under the burning metal.

If you were one of the five people worldwide who saw Johnny Depp's one and only directorial effort The Brave, you'd have heard Sonambulo again. Raphael (Depp) hears it drifting up from a nearby valley, climbing down to find his sinister benefactor (Starship Troopers and Total Recall's Marshall Bell) sunning himself to the song over the radio.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Stay on pointe, but watch out for velociraptors

That Alan Grant's multi skilled, all right. In 1992's ace Three Stooges-inspired Brain Donors he was a ballet dancer, played by Spike Alexander.

Then, just a year later, he found himself looking a lot more like Sam Neill, running around Isla Nublar and bonding with children like he never thought he'd do while trying to stay one step ahead of hordes of hungry dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

Then again, maybe it wasn't the same guy...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beethoven rises again!

An 8814 Clear callback – the sumptuous, commanding Symphony Number 7 by Beethoven has popped up again in the movies.

You might remember when I talked about it appearing in both John Boorman's sci-fi head-scratcher Zardoz and Gaspar Noe's stomach-churning Irreversible in rapid succession when I watched them so close together. Now it appears again in Tom Hooper's authentic and adorable The King's Speech.

After coaching the future King George VI (Colin Firth) for his stutter, speech pathologist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is standing with the King for support and guidance when he delivers his 1939 speech rallying his people for war with Germany.

Beethoven's work does the climatic scene great justice. As the King starts off nervously and quietly, the horns and strings slowly build to a crashing crescendo as he hits his stride and cements the skills as an orator that would come to characterise him.