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'Meet the Fockers': Top Live-Action Comedy Ever? And Oscar Winner Controversy

'Meet the Fockers': Biggest live-action comedy blockbuster ever?

Jay Roach's low-brow family – or rather, families – comedy Meet the Fockers, starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, and Teri Polo, is now officially the most successful live-action comedy in history. But is it really?

According to a Los Angeles Times report, the craphouse family movie of the year (2004/2005) has grossed $498 million worldwide, $221 million of which outside the U.S. and Canada. It should be pointed out that as far as international box office figures are concerned, it surely doesn't hurt that in the last couple of years the U.S. dollar has lost a lot of ground against most major foreign currencies.

Now, the Los Angeles Times apparently doesn't consider that Academy Award-winning paean to idiocy and conformism, Forrest Gump, a comedy. Robert Zemeckis' Best Picture Oscar winner starring Tom Hanks, Sally Field, and Robin Wright took in $679 million (not adjusted for inflation) worldwide in the mid-'90s. But then again, perhaps the Times has a point.

'Meet the Fockers' vs. 'Home Alone'

But what about Home Alone? True, the Chris Columbus-directed Macaulay Culkin flick isn't funny, but then again neither is Meet the Fockers. In any case, according to Box Office Mojo Home Alone earned $476.68 million (not adjusted for inflation) worldwide in 1990-91.

Minor detail: inflation is a reality today, much like it was a reality back in the early '90s. Once that fact of life is factored in (but without taking into account currency fluctuations), Home Alone would have scored around $725 million in 2005.

That would place the 1991 sleeper blockbuster approximately $225 million ahead of the Meet the Parents sequel. So, should the award for the highest-grossing live-action comedy in history go to Meet the Fockers, or…?

Just do the math.

Image of Ben Stiller, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, and Blythe Danner in Meet the Fockers: Universal Pictures.

Mighty Times: The Children's March'Mighty Times: The Children's March' poster.

'Faux documentary' controversy rages on following 'Mighty Times: The Children's March' Oscar win

“The people that vote on our films are our peers, and these people have seen reenactments for 20 years plus,” says Bobby Houston, director of the 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary short Mighty Times: The Children's March.

Producer Steve Kalafer, whose Oren Jacoby-directed Sister Rose's Passion was also shortlisted in this year's Best Documentary Short category, has complained to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that Houston and Mighty Times: The Children's March producer Robert Hudson misled the Academy's documentary board by not divulging the fact that reenactments had been used in their documentary short.

Their previous non-fiction short, Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks (2002), opened with a disclaimer, while reenacted scenes were flagged via the on-screen use of film borders with sprocket holes.

'Intentional deception'

As reported in the New York Times, in a March 18 letter to Academy executive director Bruce Davis, Kalafer labeled Houston and Hudson's lack of disclosure “an intentional deception,” adding that “in comparing the two [Mighty Times] films, it is clear that they chose to realize the full potential of their 'faux doc' technique, raising it to a new level as a well-crafted, cunningly deceitful art form – but not documentary filmmaking.”

The Times adds that the Mighty Times: The Children's March filmmakers used “vintage cameras and distressed film stock to shoot more than 700 extras, trained dogs and period automobiles and fire engines on various locations in Southern California.”

Mighty Times: The Children's March depicts the 1963 civil rights protests of thousands of children in Birmingham, Alabama.

Bobby Houston quote via the Times.

Mighty Times: The Children's March poster: Southern Poverty Law Center / HBO.

Russian movies in Strasbourg, 'Bride and Prejudice' in Israel and 'dystopia' in Istanbul

Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, in March / April '05 Strasbourg is holding an eight-film retrospective of Russian and Soviet cinema. Pyotr Todorovsky' s Academy Award-nominated 1983 drama Wartime Romance kicked off the mini-festival.

Among the other classic films in the program are Mikhail Kalatozov's 1958 Palme d'Or winner The Cranes Are Flying and Grigori Chukhraj's masterful 1959 drama Ballad of a Soldier.

Newer Russian films include Lidiya Bobrova's Granny (2003) and Stanislav Govorukhin's Bless the Woman (2003).

The festival, which is being held at the 92-year-old Cinéma Odyssée, runs until April 4.

Eilat Film Festival

Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywoodized version of Jane Austen's most famous novel, will kick off the third Eilat International Film Festival in the southern Israeli coastal town.

The Eilat festival will screen 45 films from about 20 countries, including:

  • Memory Lane / Le intermittenze del cuore (Italy).
    Dir.: Fabio Carpi.
  • Love Trap / Feestje (The Netherlands).
    Dir.: Ruud van Hemert.
  • The Magician / El mago (Mexico).
    Dir.: Jaime Aparicio.
  • Hazan (Japan).
    Dir.: Igarashi Sho.

A Best Israeli Film and a Best Foreign Film will be chosen from among the competing entries. The Eilat International Film Festival will be held between April 6-9.

Istanbul Film Festival

Aslo, the 2005 Istanbul International Film Festival, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, will be held April 2-17. The festival will screen 170 films from 62 countries.

Selected entries range from Buster Keaton's The General (1927) and Rudolph Valentino's last movie, The Son of the Sheik (1926), to Mike Leigh's Vera Drake and Wong Kar Wai's 2046.

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) are two of the films to be presented in the “Dark Side of the Future: Dystopia” sidebar.


         
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