Movies You Need to See: Casablanca

June 21, 2010


This film is one of the most well-known and watched American film of all time. For generations now it has awed all who watch it. Casablanca is one of those films that is what movies are all about.  It has everything that a movie from the golden age of cinema should have. A great story,  compelling love, a huge amount of rich characters, and a perfect snapshot of the time that it was made in. This is probably one of the most quotable movie of all time. Many sayings we have in our language are line from this amazing script of this film. Even though it was made 70 years ago its influence still lives on in not only the sayings that we use everyday but the characters we see in our films. If you havent seen the film, watch it immediately and you’ll know exactly what i mean. I actually had a friend who had watched this movie for the first time pretty recently and he told me he was amazed by all the lines we hear everyday that came from this film. It is truly embedded in our culture.

This film also had an all-star cast in its day. For starter as the two leading characters it had the great Humphrey Bogart and the amazingly beautiful and talented Ingrid Bergman. Humphrey Bogart is one of the most recognizable American actors of all time. He was wildly popular with both men and women. He was the ultimate man’s man, everyone wanted to be just like Humphrey Bogart. Hell I wanna be Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman is one of the greatest actresses ever to live and was loved by everyone who knew her. Alfred Hitchcock once said he never met a man who knew Ingrid that wasnt secretly in love with her. She is my personal favorite actress of all time and for good reason, she is simply amazing. She is the winner of three academy awards and is among the few people who have won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony. Not only the leading member of the cast are great but that are surrounded by amazing supporting actors. The supporting cast includes, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains.

The score of this film is also something of note. It is always high on the lists of greatest movie scores of all time. It is so iconic that Warner Brothers studio uses it at the beginning of their trailers when the WB symbol is seen. The popular song as time goes by is also from this film.

Everything about this film comes together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It is definition movie magic. This film will grab you right at the beginning and not let you go untill the very end. If you havent seen it please do so. It is one of my very favorite films that anyone with a heart will enjoy.

-Danny Johnson

Here’s the original trailer.


Movies You Need to See: Dr. Strangelove

June 11, 2010


The whole title of this 1964 black comedy by filmmaking Legend Stanley Kubrick is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Genre of Black Comedy it is basically a comedy in which much of the humor is based on of events and things that are considered Taboo. So basically Black Comedy is making light of things that aren’t traditionally subject to satire.

Dr. Strangelove is the ultimate Black Comedy for a few reasons.  It came out in 1964 at the height of the Cold War. In early 1960’s America the threat of Nuclear war with the Soviet Union was a very real possibility. It was in the back of everyone’s mind whether or not they would be killed in a nuclear holocaust. That is certainly not something to laugh about right?  Well that is exactly what Dr. Strangelove did. It satirized the worlds collective greatest fear. It took a lot of gall to do that but it paid off. The product is what Joe and I both agree is the single funniest film ever made.

I also think this film could have a new audience in my generation because of our upbringing in Post 911 America. Just the baby boomer generation had the fear of being destroyed by the communists at any moment my generation had the threat of being killed in a terrorist attack at any moment following the few years after 911. Although our Age of Fear really didn’t stick around as long as the cold war’s did, we still understand what it is like to live in constant fear. I think we also share the sentiment that sometimes in a situation that serious you sometimes just have to laugh. 

Dr. Strangelove is the king of Black Comedy by parodying the end of the world. It is also filled with hilarious performances by Peter Sellers (who plays three different roles in the film), George C. Scott, and Sterling Hayden. It has some of the most quotable lines in film and all culminates with one of the most memorable and hilarious scenes in cinema history. This film literally gets more hilarious every time you watch it. It has so many subtleties that you don’t pick up the first few times you watch it, especially the copious amounts of sexual innuendo.

Dr. Stangelove not only one of my favorite movies of all time but also the most genuinely hilarious film I have ever seen. I hope that you rent or buy this film if you havent seen it. It is truly a masterpiece. I think the thing I love most about Dr. Strangelove is what its message is which also happens to be one of my personal mottos; Sometimes when things are so dark and there doesn’t seem to be any hope, you Just gotta laugh. That’s really all you can do sometimes.

Here is the origional trailer.

-Danny Johnson

Danny Johnson

June 8, 2010


Biography: Born on April 18, 1991. The second of  three children. Born and Raised in St. Paul MN. My home neighborhood is the West Side but I spent a lot of time on the East Side as a kid. I have always enjoyed movies even since I was very small. There used to be a video update right across the street from my Grandmas house when I was a kid and I gave them a lot of buisness to say the least. I remember me and my sister must have rented Forest Gump and the Naked Gun movies a hundred times. That Video Store contributed highly to my love for film. Growing up I didnt have a father figure around most of the time so the movies every kid watches with their Dad at one point or another I was laging in and still kinda am. I remember one time I was spending the night at my Grandma’s house and my Grandpa and I started talking about Clint Eastwood movies and I he asked me if i had seen any of the Dirty Harry movies. When I said no he had kind of a disgusted look on his face and promptly walked out the front door without saying anything. He was back in 10 minutes with Dirty Harry and Sudden Impact in hand and we watched both of them that night. I thought that was pretty cool.

I went to Catholic schools all my life though you probably wouldnt know it from my work or my vulgar language. I went to Holy Trinity Elementary School from kindergarten through 8th grade. I met Joe Vaske there in Kindergarten and other Off the Edge member Peter Capecchi in 7th grade.

For High School I went to St. Agnes High in St. Paul. I was never really a fan of school but I absolutlely hated High School. I mean that to the fullest extent of the word I hated it, so much so that I wasnt there a great deal of the time. Although it was horrible I met a few great friends there who hated it just as much as I did.

I realized I wanted to get into making movies in my high school Chemistry class when this particular teacher killed my love of science. I was bored out of my mind in that class and I sat next to a kid I had know since kindergarten but wasnt really close friends with up until that point. All we both did in that class was pass notes talking about all kinds of movies. I mean that was literally the only thing we did in that class. That young man was Joe Vaske. Off the Edge Productions as we know it today was pretty much founded in that room (even though Joe had started it on his own a while earlier with several hommade films starring his family.) I joined Off the Edge Productions in the fall of 2006.

Influences: to name a few; Martin Scorsece, Stanley Kubrick, George A. Romero, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and of course hometown heroes Joel and Ethan Coen.

Favorite Film Genre: a toss up between Film Noir, black comedies, and Horror.

Six Favorite films: (Subject to change) The Godfather, Dr. Stangelove, On the Waterfront, Taxi Driver, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Casablanca.

Directorial Credits: Paint it Black, and Tale of Two Cities (third part)

Peter Giuseppe

June 8, 2010

Joe Vaske

June 8, 2010

Joe Vaske was born on July 3rd, 1990, and was the eldest kid in his family of 5 brothers and sisters. This lead to a sense of self entitlement that he still carries with him today. Joe’s love of film was first peaked when he saw Jurassic Park when he was 8. The awe and wonder he felt while watching dinosaurs and hearing John Williams score contrasted sharply with the terror he felt during a certain scene that involves a dinosaur spitting and blinding a man and then devouring him. This same sense of awe and wonder and sheer terror was later rekindled when he was 11 and first saw Jaws. On a side note Joe has a deep distrust of the ocean and the creatures in it. These two films helped shape who Joe was and wanted to be as a filmmaker.

When Joe was 12 he first began making films on an old digital camera his dad had. While his films strived to have the same sense of terror, awe, and wonder as the ones he had grown up seeing, they mostly fells short thanks to the wooden acting of himself and his siblings and of the limited knowledge of moviemaking in general. This did not deter Joe though as he kept making films under his Company name, Off the Edge Productions, until a fateful day when he realized he was not alone in his love of filmmaking during converstations that took place in a chemistry classroom with Danny Johnson. New member of Off the Edge in hand Joe went on to make his short film directorial debut with “The Death of Death”. This film involved death personified, sean connery, chase scenes through tunnels, random loud outbursts of music, and alcohol. While all these things by themselves are really awesome, Joe learned that combining them didn’t necessarily make a good film.

Since then Joe has kept on learning and growing in his filmmaking ability and has continued to set his goals high. Often Joe has been heard quoted saying, “If I could make a film that contains a quarter of the greatness that Jaws has I will die happy”. Joe’s most recent works have been a fake advertisement for Granny’s Donuts and Takers and Leavers, a musical of sorts that is about a man and a deal with the devil. As of now Joe is working on a bevvy of projects and is still trying to make films that convey who he is and what he is about. Joe’s films often deal with dark subject matter and can be fairly depressing. Joe has commented on this matter, saying, “I was never the same since that chemistry class”.

Influences: Bergman, Kubrick, Coen Brothers, PT and Wes Anderson, Sam Raimi, donuts, Spencer Krug, Isaac Brock, Rice Park, The Mississippi, John Darnielle and pretty girls

Favorite Film Genre: Drama

Six Favorite Films: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Jaws, The Fountain, The Seventh Seal

Movies You Need to See: Dead Alive

June 6, 2010


In 2001 suddenly a little known filmmaker from New Zealand became a household name, Peter Jackson. Within three years he went from little known director from New Zealand to being hailed and a master filmmaker by critics. What caused this skyrocket to stardom and acclaim was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am gonna make the assumption that everyone reading this has seen the LOTR films. If you havent, what the hell is wrong with you? Stop reading this right now and go do that and don’t come back untill you’re done. Seriously its ridiculous.

Before Peter Jackson was famous for his epics of Lord of the Rings and King Kong he was a director of horror films. Yep that’s right the man who brought us the beauty and complexity of Middle Earth was before that a Horror filmmaker, and a damn good one at that.

Dead Alive (or Brain Dead depending on the country you’re in), his best horror film in my opinion came out in 1992. It is by far the goriest film I have ever seen.  Its one of the only films that will make you laugh hysterically, be scarred and possibly want to vomit all in the same movie. It is over the top in every single aspect but it all comes together giving it a value greater than the sum of its parts. This is a must see for people who love old school gore effects and very dark humor. That being said it is not for everyone but I think most will enjoy it. It is also a great movie to bring to a party and make your friends watch it just for the shear shock factor.

If you love horror films, love to laugh and have a pretty strong stomach then this is a definate must see.

check out the origional trailer.

This one may be a bit out of context but hilarious all the same.