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Did You Know: Leonard Nimoy

image via allday.com

image via allday.com

Last Friday, February 27th, one of the most iconic figures in the later years of television’s Golden Age passed away. Leonard Nimoy was remembered best for his role as Spock in Star Trek but his career spanned sixty years in front and behind the camera. Few may be aware of it but Nimoy’s work covered nearly every aspect of production from actor to writer and even producer. Today’s blog is a celebration of Nimoy’s career and serves as an informative look at the lesser known aspects of his epic career.

Nimoy Wrote Four Star Trek Films

While he is only credited as a writer on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Nimoy also had a hand in both the first and third films in the franchise as well. He had already been an inspiration to the show’s writers even being openly credited for inventing the Vulcan Nerve Pinch when writers were unsure of how he would disarm an attacker. Others may have been well remembered for their roles on Star Trek but Nimoy had a direct influence on the overall lure and that lead to his inclusion on the writing team when the television show became a film series in 1979.

His first official work in the franchise came after three very dramatic films. Star Trek had slowly become associated with sci-fi action and Nimoy wished a return to the lighter-hearted elements of the series. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was inspired by this idea and became one of the franchise’s most successful releases. This solidified Nimoy’s role as the series continued on and he returned two films later with a very different direction. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is not seen as the most successful in franchise history but is certainly one of the more controversial as Gene Roddenberry himself had doubts about the writing.

Nimoy Wove Jewish Faith into Vulcan Culture

Leonard Nimoy was born to Orthodox Jewish parents and remained active in the Jewish community his entire life. His knowledge of the culture and the ability to speak Hebrew and Yiddish was a big influence on the development of Vulcan culture. The infamous Vulcan hand gesture, symbolizing the famous phrase “live long and prosper,” was commonly used by Jewish priests called Kohen. They would use the symbol to bless the congregation before mass.

Nimoy would also slip in Hebrew or Yiddish words that were foreign to most American audiences when possible. He was never ashamed of his religion and inclusions like this were his way of honoring his heritage, something that Star Trek would later come to represent through its diverse alien cultures. With that said, Nimoy was in no way a religious conservative. In 2002 he published a book exploring, through photography, the feminist aspects of God’s presence. He was condemned by some in the community for his work.

Director of an 80′s Comedy Classic

Leonard Nimoy is remembered best for his work on Star Trek but he had success far outside of the realm of science fiction. The best example is the 1987 comedy 3 Men and a Baby. Opening in the top spot at the box office, the film went on to be the most successful of 1987 topping out with over $100 million in ticket sales. It was only his third film as director and his first away from Star Trek3 Men and a Baby was a remake of a French film of similar name only a few years earlier but found far more success with American audiences.

When the sequel came about a few short years later it was surprising not to see Nimoy attached. By this point he had returned to the Star Trek franchise and had decided to direct another film with Gene Wilder entitled Funny About Love. Once again it focused heavily on family structure in current society which was a constant concern in most of Nimoy’s work.

What to Watch: Chappie

In less than a decade, director Neill Blomkamp has become one of the most prominent names in sci-fi cinema. This Friday his latest film Chappie hopes to usher in the start of spring for moviegoers with a formula seen many times in the past but not with the same kind of style. Best described as Short Circuit meets RobocopChappie attempts to win big with a loaded roster consisting of Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Dev Patel. Considering the loss of momentum for films like Kingsman: The Secret Service and Fifty Shades of Grey, Blomkamp’s latest effort could make quite an impact before the blockbuster season begins.  Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Before Sunrise (1995)

image via imdb.com

image via imdb.com

Richard Linklater’s 1995 indie classic Before Sunrise epitomized the forward thinking of the cinema in the 90′s and launched the career of many artists who are still prominent to this day. On the surface it breaks almost all of Hollywood’s cinematic rules with scenes consisting entirely of one shot and elongated dialogue that seems do little service to the plot. Still, Before Sunrise is intensely romantic and accomplished what few films can within the rigid construct of mainstream cinema.  Continue reading

Did You Know: Richard Linklater

Photo by Michael Kovac - © 2015 Michael Kovac via imdb.com

Photo by Michael Kovac – © 2015 Michael Kovac via imdb.com

Every filmmaker has a given focus within their genre. What I mean by that is, either consciously or subconsciously, every filmmaker circles around the same theme for a majority of their career. In the case of Richard Linklater, his obsession with living in the moment has permeated every one of his films and helped him leave a mark on the art form that few have been able to achieve. His latest film Boyhood received some of the highest honors and was in the running for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. However, there is quite a bit about Linklater that remains a mystery. Perhaps after reading this blog, some of that will become a bit clearer and you can look at his films from a different perspective.  Continue reading

What to Watch: The Lazarus Effect

Photo by Daniel McFadden - © 2013 - Back to Life Productions

Photo by Daniel McFadden – © 2013 – Back to Life Productions via imdb.com

Infamous horror movie production studio Blumhouse Productions has been responsible for the resurgence of the genre without the need of a found-footage gimmick. They may have started with the Blair Witch Project model with The Paranormal Activity series but since the release of films like Insidious and The Purge, Blumhouse Productions has seen that narrative horror is far from dead. Their latest effort The Lazarus Effect opens this Friday and continues the journey into the world of supernatural horror.  Continue reading

Did You Know: Roger Corman

image via imdb.com

image via imdb.com

Roger Corman is a name that will produce a different response depending on who you speak to. To some he was a mentor. To others a rebellious force that changed Hollywood before anyone knew it happened. The famed director and producer helped launch the careers of some of Hollywood’s biggest names in the 70′s and 80′s, all while breaking the usual business conventions of the era. He was a true entrepreneur at a time when people didn’t think it was possible to make a small fortune from independent cinema. Corman’s career would show that the key to success isn’t necessarily originality but instead a willingness to make something work with the little you have in front of you. Continue reading

What to Watch: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Photo credit: Steve Dietl image via imdb.com

Photo credit: Steve Dietl image via imdb.com

To make a sports reference, February is like the off-season for Hollywood. The releases are smaller and tend to not be the kind of films that make waves. The impending Academy Awards also affects releases as studios don’t want their potential 2016 contenders to be overshadowed by the current campaigns. For that reason we have a week with only three major releases, two of which would fall under the category of silly comedy.  Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: The Thing (1982)

image via imdb.com

image via imdb.com

In 1982, John Carpenter had a vision of modernizing a forgettable 1950′s horror film. That movie was called The Thing From Another World. The plot focused on a group of scientists who find an alien stuck in the ice during an Antarctic expedition. As you could expect, the ice thaws and the alien wreaks havoc around the scientist’s base camp. Flash forward nearly thirty years and Carpenter’s re-imagining stands as one of the most nauseating and horrific films of the post-modern era.  Continue reading

Did You Know: John Carpenter

image via imdb.com

image via imdb.com

John Carpenter may be the most underrated filmmaker of his era. That’s a big statement given his recognition within the film community but, outside of hardcore fans, his name is only loosely connected with the Halloween franchise despite him being the creator. That’s harsh and if you don’t agree, you more than likely fall into the serious film-fan category. Carpenter’s work has been revolutionary and caused the biggest move forward in the genre of horror since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Aside from directing Halloween and Escape from New York, there is little the outside world knows about Carpenter and his work. This week’s DYK hopes to shed some light on Carpenter’s fantastic talent.  Continue reading

What to Watch: Kingsmen: The Secret Service

image via imdb.com

image via imdb.com

Matthew Vaughn has had quite the resume over the past ten years. He has worked with a laundry list of current and classic action stars while carving out a niche for himself along the way. Kingsmen: The Secret Service is just the latest in the director’s fresh take on the genre. Bringing in fresh blood like Taron Egerton mixed with experienced stars like Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson may be the ticket to 2015′s first major hit before the mad rush of comic book films in the Spring.  Continue reading