Gene Autry, Bette Davis and Buster Keaton are just a few of the names that draw flocks of tourists to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.
But there's a lesser-known man among the silver screen legends: Frank Inn, a pioneering animal trainer who made stars out of animals.
Inn's own life closely resembled a Hollywood film. Born into a strict Quaker family from Indiana, Inn set his sights on the movie business early. In the mid-1930s, while still in his teens, Inn hitchhiked west to Los Angeles.
Cage-rattling Chinese artist Ai Weiwei lives in a Beijing complex with his wife and some 40 cats and dogs. Only one of the animals — a cat — has figured out how to open the door to the outside. This ready-made metaphor arrives early in Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and is never mentioned again. But it underlies the tale of one of the few contemporary Chinese who publicly defies the government.
The success of R-rated comedies in recent years might as well be broken down to a formula: blend boundary-pushing raunch comedy with heartfelt sentimentality — and if you're most movies produced by Judd Apatow, center the story on male coming-of-age, even for characters well into adulthood. Teary eyes, full raunch, can't lose.
In 1968, two music producers went to a Detroit dive called The Sewer to hear a Mexican-American protest singer with a small cult following.
The producers' client list was mostly Motown, but they immediately signed Rodriguez (full name Sixto Rodriguez), whose stirring lyrics they hoped would speak to disenfranchised outsiders of all stripes and their champions.
Together, they made two albums — one of which, Cold Fact, provides the soundtrack for the thrilling new documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
The savings are never passed on to the consumer, but a little product placement has become standard practice for Hollywood movies — a pizza box here or a conspicuously angled soda can there, and few take notice. But product integration is another matter: If a movie has been explicitly designed to accommodate a sponsor, it's worse than just a commercial movie. It's a movie commercial.