Saturday, July 20, 2013

Top 5 Best Movie Midgets of All-Time

NERD NOSTALGIA: The 5 Best Movie Midgets of All-Time.

By: A. Aleister Sirrat

     Midgets.  They really are God’s little punch line.  There’s no doubt that if you’re having a bad day and you just so happen to see a midget walking down the street, you will start smiling automatically.  What is it about midgets that we find so entertaining?  I mean TLC at one point had 5 or 6 shows alone dedicated to lives of midgets.  Now, some of you are probably wishing that I’d use the more “politically correct term: Little People”, but I’m not going to in this review.  Why?  Because I don’t believe in political correctness, and I think it’s very stupid that they have to be called “little people” because I think it sounds more demeaning.  Also, did you know that only 3% of the Earth’s Population is over the height of 6’3”?  I’m just over 6’5” tall; that makes me a minority too, and I’ve never had a person call me a “Big Person”. So you know what, I’m going to keep on calling the midgets.  Now, back to the review at hand; Hollywood has seen some pretty famous and notable stars who were midgets, and this review is here to honor the Top 5 Movie Midgets of All-Time.

#5- Warwick Davis as The Leprechaun in the “Leprechaun: Franchise”

Wow.  Someone actually thought that this
was a great idea for a horror franchise? 
This was kind of a difficult choice for me to make for this spot, because it was a toss-up between Warwick Davis as The Leprechaun and Verne Troyer as Mini-Me, and I decided to give Warwick Davis the spot on this list because his character actually talks in the films as opposed to Verne Troyer who is just there to be the mute comedic sidekick to Mike Myer’s, Dr. Evil Character.  Now, there is no question about it; “Leprechaun” is probably the lamest Horror Franchise of all time; half of the films are pathetically campy, but they’ve still managed to make and release 6 “Leprechaun” Films in ten years.  There have only been 3 “Austin Powers” films made and only two of them feature Verne Troyer as Mini-Me.
Warwick Davis
         Another reason why I went with Warwick Davis instead of Verne Troyer is the fact that the “Leprechaun” films are more original than the Austin Powers films.  The Leprechaun at least had whacky adventures on a farm, in the hood, and it outer space for crying out loud!  Now, look at the Austin Power’s films that depend on quirky celebrity cameos, gross out humor, and pop-culture references for laughs.  Yeah, “Leprechaun” beats “Austin Powers” by a lot.  If I have a choice between watching “Austin Powers: Goldmember” and “Leprechaun in da Hood”, I’d much prefer to watch “Leprechaun in da Hood” because it’s much more entertaining.

#4- The Oompa Loompa’s from “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”

I think everyone has wished that they were Willy Wonka at some point in their lives.  I mean who wouldn’t love to be the owner of a gigantic chocolate factory filled with wonderful contraption, a chocolate waterfall, and—to top it all off—an endless supply of midget slaves that sing their own spirituals.  Now it should go without saying that the the 1971 version of the film had the better Oompa Loompa’s.  I say that for a number of reasons. One reason why is because there were multiple midget actors required for the roles as a opposed to the Tim Burton re-make which just made multiple CGI copies of one actor, Deep Roy.  Not only that, but the Oompa Loompa’s in the 1971 version had better songs, better choreography, better costumes, and were just all around better than the remake in every way possible. 

Doompa Dee Doo!

#3- Hans & Frieda from “Freaks”

These two are awesome!
“Freaks” is my Favorite Horror Film of All-Time and who are the films protagonist, a circus midget named Hans, played by legendary circus and film performer Harry Earles.  Harry wasn’t the only midget performer in the film, he was also accompanied by his sister Daisy, who creepily enough played one of his love interests in the film...don’t worry Director Tod Browning didn’t have them do anything gross on camera.  When the film starts off Hans is this kind-hearted circus performer who is in love with a trapeze artists, named Cleopatra, and wants to marry her.  Cleopatra is only interested in Hans because she hears through Frieda that Hans is very rich, and wishes only to marry Hans to get to his money.  After Hans is humiliated by Cleopatra and her lover, the strong-man Hercules, he goes from loving, happy-go-lucky character, to a hateful revenge driven character.              
     Then you have Frieda, who was Hans (let’s say) “girlfriend” in the film, who Hans leaves so he can be with Cleopatra.  Despite the fact that her character just lost the man she loved, she still tries to soldier on and still wants to protect Hans because she is the only person who can see Cleopatra’s cruel intentions.  So right here we have two strong and interesting characters in the film who just so happened to both be midgets.

#2- Phil Fondacaro as Malcolm Malory in “Troll”

Torok Sucks!
Let me start off by saying that “Troll” is not a good film.  There’s no suspense, there’s nothing scary, the acting is terrible, and it’s pathetically campy, but the one thing this film had that I actually liked was the acting of Phil Fondacaro as the English Professor Malcolm Malory.  Fondacaro actually had two roles in the film.  He played “Torok the Troll” (aka the villain of the film) and yeah...Torok freaking sucks.  He has got to be one of the dumbest movie villains I’ve ever seen, however Fondacaro was able to keep some of his dignity as an actor by playing the likeable, intelligent, and optimistic Dr. Malcolm Malory, an College English Professor who happens to be a midget.  Malcolm doesn’t let his height interfere with his work or daily life.  He just goes about his business like any other person would.  He is very intelligent and well-spoken, and just wants to be viewed as any other regular person.                    
Be careful Malcolm She's Evil! Pure Evil!
     One of the best scenes we get in the film happens when Fondacaro’s character is talking to the young girl Wendy (who has been possessed by Torok) and he confesses to her that he is dying.  As he tells the story of his approaching demise he doesn’t sound devastated or scared, but rather stunned that he—a man who has overcome so much life—will not be around for much longer.  Torok/Wendy takes Malcolm’s story to heart and they decide to give Malcolm another shot at life, by transforming him into an Elf.                         What I like about Malcolm Malory is that, I think this is the first time I’ve seen a role played by a midget in a film and they’re not just there for comedic relief, but rather he’s there as an actual supporting and important character to the films plot.  He’s not there to make you laugh and to make wisecracks.  He’s just like all other supporting cast members; his character just happens to be a midget, and I just think that it’s great that the film was able to allow Fondacaro to have such an important and respectable role.

#1- The Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz”
     Yeah, this one should come as no surprise to any of you, the Most Famous movie midgets are the 130 midgets that played in the “Wizard of Oz”.  Not only that, but this is one of the Most Famous films ever made, but it has also been ranked as the #6 Greatest Film of All-Time by the American Film Institute.  The film featured many notable midget actors of its time.  Including Harry and Daisy Earles and their siblings.  I’m pretty sure that this film was the largest gathering of midgets in just one single film.  Not only did some play munchkins, but a great number of them were all cast as the Wicked Witch of the West’s flying monkeys.                                                    
Cool Story Bro, Tell it Again!
    I’ve also heard an infamous rumor that (approximately) 108 midgets that were featured in the films were from Germany and that they were sent to MGM by none other than Adolf Hitler!  What was the reason why Hitler could have sent these people to the studio was because during Hitler’s reign when he was trying to create his Third Reich, he initially tried to exile all “undesirables” and “imperfect German’s” out of Germany.  He heard that MGM studio was looking for midget actors and was more than willing to send them all to America.  It’s a good thing to, because if they had stayed in Germany many of them would have ended up as test subjects for the chief medical doctor of the concentration camps, Dr. Josef Mengele (aka The Angel of Death) who is said to have had an “unhealthy” obsession with dwarves and twins.                                      I don’t know necessarily if this rumor is true and I cannot remember the name of the source I heard it from, but I believe it is true.  If you watch certain scenes in “The Wizard of Oz” closely you’ll see that what some of the munchkins are saying don’t sync up to their lip movements, the reason why (most likely) was because some of the actors playing the munchkins in the film were speaking German and not English, and their speaking parts were dubbed over in English. 

Fun Fact: Harry Earles who played Hans in "Freaks"
was also a member of the Lollipop Guild in the "Wizard of Oz"
That's him pictured on the far right.  Who funny is that???

Friday, July 5, 2013

5 Under appreciated films that feature the acting talents of Edward Norton

NERD NOSTALGIA: 5 Under Appreciated Films that feature the acting talents of Edward Norton.

By: Brian Cotnoir

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me personally that I am a huge fan of Actor Edward Norton.  Ever since I first saw  “American History X” during my senior year of high school I have grown to admire Edward Norton as an actor.  Even if you don’t recognize the name, most people know him as The Narrator/“The Other Guy in Fight Club”...the one that isn’t Brad Pitt.  Besides “Fight Club,  Norton has received a lot of great praise for his roles in films such as “American History X”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “The Illusionist” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt”.  However, Edward Norton has also been featured in a lot of other great films that not many people know about.  So this week’s review is going to serve two purposes: 1.) Pay Homage to his awesomness Edward Norton and 2.) Expose you to some of Norton’s lesser known works.

5.)-”Kingdom of Heaven”

Yep, That's Edward Norton
     Not many people know that Edward Norton was in this film and there’s a very good reason why: his character wears a mask the entire film.  The film itself it’s pretty long and it the tale of a blacksmith—played by Orlando Bloom—and he leaves France to help a Christian Army reclaim the city of Jerusalem.  Edward Norton’s character is named “Baldwin IV”, and as I said his character wears a mask because he is a leper.  I actually saw this film for the first time on TV, and as I was watching it I began to say to myself, “hey, that guy in the mask sounds a lot like Edward Norton”; one trip to IMDB later, and my suspicions were confirmed.  This film doesn’t have a lot of action in it, but it does feature other great actors, like Liam Neeson, and also early on in the film they show one the coolest way that I have ever seen a person killed in a film, so you’re definitely going to want check out “Kingdom of Heaven”.

4.)- “Death to Smoochy”

It's so funny!
I have no idea why so many people hate this movie.  It has a great story, an all-star cast, and it’s just so freaking hilarious to see Edward Norton dressed up as a big purple rhino.  Edward Norton’s character is the overly-sensitive vegetarian loser who writes politically correct songs for a children’s show for a character he created called “Smoochy the Rhino”.  Robin William’s plays a washed up children’s TV show actor who lost his show to Norton because it was discovered that he was taking bribes from kids parents so that they could be on the show.  I’ll be perfectly honest: I think Robin William’s is very annoying and only about 5% of the movies I’ve seen him in are actually good, but d@mn it he is so hilarious in this movie.  He’s so crazy and neurotic in her pursuit to ruin Edward Norton’s character’s show that you can’t help but laugh.  I don’t care what anyone says; this is a funny movie and this is an awesome movie!

Now that's some quality children's entertainment

3.)- “Keeping the Faith”

Norton be praised!
     Edward Norton stars and makes his directorial debut in the 2000 Comedy “Keeping the Faith”.  It’s the story of two friends a Catholic Priest (Edward Norton) and a Rabbi (Ben Stiller) who learn that their old friend Anna (Jenna Elfman) has come back to New York City.  Both friends have always secretly had a crush on Anna, but neither of them every told the other. Now both friends and men of faith are out to win the heart of their old friend.  This film just has a ridiculous premise and that’s why it’s so great.  Edward Norton’s character is a Catholic Priest, so already he took a vow of celibacy, and yet he still yearns to be with this woman, and Ben Stiller is just hilarious as the Rabbi Jacob Shram.  I have no idea why Edward Norton and Ben Stiller haven’t collaborated together on other films because they both work together so well!  This is a good comedy, and has laughs, drama, romance, and all other sorts of good things in it.  You should probably check it out.

2.)- “Leaves of Grass”

Edward Norton meet Edward Norton
This is definitely one of Edward Norton’s lesser known films.  This film got a limited release in theatres back in 2008, and what I like the most about it is that Edward Norton plays two roles...actually he’s playing twin brothers in this film.  One character he plays, Billy, is an Ivy League Philosophy Professor who leaves his home in Oklahoma and goes to the East coast.  Billy’s Twin brother, Brady, is a small time drug dealer who claims to grow the best marijuana in the state of Oklahoma.  Brady gets into some big trouble when he can’t pay a debt back to a local drug lord, and has to fake his own death to get his brother to come back to Oklahoma to help him out.  This film is just awesome and really funny.  It features other big name stars like Richard Dreyfus and Susan Sarandon, and it’s just so cool to see Edward Norton play two characters on screen at the same time.

My Favorite Scene in the film

It's just funny to watch Edward Norton talk to himself

1.)- “Primal Fear”

     Edward Norton’s first film is also probably his best acting performance.  This film earned Edward Norton a Golden Globe award and a Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (which he wrongly went to Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry Magurie).  The film is based off of a novel written by William Diehl, “Primal Fear” tells the story of a Chicago attorney named Martin Vail, played by Richard Gere, who defends a young altar boy accused of viciously murdering a beloved archbishop.  As it turns out the attorney chosen to prosecute the case is Vail’s ex-lover.  What follows next is a roller coaster ride of passion, determination, and exposed secrets.         
Just look at that fresh young face
Edward Norton, plays Aaron Stampler, a young altar boy accused of the arch bishop’s murder.  Stampler claims he was in the room when the archbishop was murdered, but that it was an unknown third party who committed the murder.  His attorney, Mr. Vail, tries to exploit the possibility that Aaron possibly suffers from “multiple personality disorder” and that it was his other personality “Roy” who committed the murder.  Norton does a great job playing the young Aaron Stampler and his rogue bad-ass alternate personality, Roy.  
    I will admit the first time I saw “Primal Fear” I was zoning in and out of the film.  In particular the parts of the film that focus on Martin Vail’s investigation.  However, I was totally blown away by the twist-ending at the end of the film.  In my personal opinion it is the best twist/surprise endings in cinema history.  Primal Fear is an ideal film for those who have interests in law, mystery, and crime-drama’s and I think people who see it will really enjoy it.

Meet Aaron

Meet Roy