The Art of Joe Alves, Production Designer of “Jaws” and “Close Encounters,” Now Available to Fans


With almost six decades in the film business, it would be hard for Joe Alves to pick his favorite project. Alves, an Oscar nominated and BAFTA award winning production designer, is responsible for the look of such classic films as “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Escape From New York” and many others. Recently Alves decided to offer to fans the opportunity to purchase autographed copies of some of his story boards from “Jaws” at his new site –

Alves is also offering an exclusive autographed compilation of some of his conceptions for “Close Encounters” as well as a composite of his visions of the ID from “Forbidden Planet,” one of the first Hollywood features Mr. Alves worked on.

With this year marking the 35th Anniversary of “Close Encounters” please take a moment to revisit my interview with Mr. Alves in which he discusses his amazing career.

Mr. Alves has graciously provided Media Mikes readers a chance to win an autographed “Jaws” illustration of their choice. All you have to do is let us know your favorite scene from “Jaws.” One random winner will be picked from all comments and that winner will be notified by email. Contest ends at Midnight EST on December 16.


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CD Review: Close to Home “Momentum”

Close to Home
Artery Recordings
Producer: Andrew Wade
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Momentum” is the 3rd and latest release from the Cincinnati Ohio based band Close to Home. For those unfamiliar with the post-hardcore group consisting of Josh Wells, Andrew DeNeef, JJ Cooper and Travis Hartman the group has been around since 2005 when it was formed by Josh and Justin Wells. Early on in its career the group was dealt a vicious blow when it lost original bassist Brad Andress to cancer in 2006. The band has since rebounded and their newest album “Momentum” is surely the bands strongest effort to date. The album is being released via Artery Records and features 11 in your face tracks produced by Andrew Wade (A Day to Remember)

Energy and intensity is what you find on the latest Close to Home album “Momentum. From start to finish the band keeps its listeners attention through all 11 tracks. From catchy pop styled choruses to gruff screamo vocals it’s hard not to become wrapped up in this album. Tracks such as “Don’t Waste Your Breath”, “Family Ties” which features guest vocals from We Came As Romans Kyle Pavone and Dave Stephens and “Sleepless in Cincinnati” are beautifully crafted works that showcase each of the member’s talents.

When a band switches lead singers it can go one of two ways. Either it works out great or it totally flops. In the case of Andrew DeNeef taking over for Nick Stein it worked perfectly. The band sounds stronger than ever and should be extremely proud of what they have created as the album lush and full of life. If you are a fan of bands such as A Day to Remember, Of Mice of Men and other groups in the post-hardcore genre you will surely want to check out Close to Home’s and their latest release “Momentum”.

Track Listing:
1.) Make it Count
2.) Don’t Waste Your Breath
3.) Pirates Belong at Sea
4.) Hanging Onto Nothing
5.) Family Ties
6.) Backstabbers Need Not Apply
7.) Sleepless in Cincinnati
8.) Young & Stupid
9.) Fake It Til You Make It
10.) Modern Warfare
11.) Nights like Tonight

Blu-ray Review “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Viola Davis, Max von Sydow
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Running Time: 129 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The events of 9/11 is a very strong subject matter for film. Being a New Yorker myself, it is a little hard to stomach it, even after over 10 years. This film does a great job of focusing on the events of 9/11, without being too much in your face. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” packs a really strong performances from Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Thomas Horn definitely has a bright future in his cards for sure. Max von Sydow ,who won an Oscar for his role, didn’t even speak a word in this film and was phenomenal. You will find yourself trying to hold back your emotions but it is simply not possible. I was really blown away by this film. It is simply fantastic and really delivers constantly throughout the entire film.

The story follows eleven year-old Oskar Schell (Horn), who tries to deal with the events of 9/11 and the lose of his father a year after the events of World Trade Center. He finds a key belonging to his father and sets off on a mission to solve the mystery of what lock the key will open. As Oskar begins to uncover links to the father, he meets The Renter aka Max von Sydow who helps him in his search through the five New York boroughs.

The Blu-ray presentation is very impressive with its 1080p transfer. It looks really sharp and really pulls you into New York during one of its hardest times. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track works so amazing with the films score and works so well with Max von Sydow scenes, even without dialogue. This release includes the Blu-ray, as well as a DVD copy of the fil. If you are a fan of digital copies, this release comes with my new favorite feature UltraViolet digital streaming copy.

The special features are impressive though they are missing an commentary tracks from cast/crew. there is a 20 minute behind the scenes feature called “Making Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” which follows cast/crew on the film’s production. “Finding Oskar” talks about the casting process for Thomas Horn. “Ten Years Later” focuses on a man named Daniel McGinley. He died in the towers during 9/11 but his legacy lives in this feature, very moving. The best feature on the Blu-ray is “Max von Sydow: Dialogues with The Renter”, which runs about 45 minutes. Especially since von Sydow’s performances is so amazing, this is great insight to his work on the film.

Buy It 3/27 on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack with UltraViolet Digital Copy or Download to Own
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Synopsis: Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears. Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock — encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way — he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.

Film Review “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Starring: Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 9 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Oskar Schell got out of school early that day. He went home and saw several messages on the family answering machine. Turning on the television he is puzzled by the images of the burning buildings on screen. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. To Oskar, it was “the worst day.”

Featuring the greatest performance by a young actor since Haley Joel Osment saw dead people in “The Sixth Sense,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is the story of a boy whose love for his father continues to grow, even after he’s gone.

Thomas Schell (Hanks, mostly in flashbacks) is a dreamer. His father left the family when Thomas was a boy and, in spite of his dreams, Thomas became a jeweler to take care of his family. Married to Linda (Bullock), Thomas sees his dreams come true in the guise of his son, Oskar (Horn). The two have oxymoron battles (Jumbo Shrimp takes down Original Copies) and share adventures. Oskar is quiet and shy so Thomas devises what he calls “Reconnaissance Expeditions,” knowing they will get Oskar out of the house and talking to people. Currently Oskar is searching clues for the lost 6th Borough of New York, rumored to have floated away years ago. The search seems to end when Thomas dies. But when Thomas finds a mysterious key in his father’s belongings, a new search begins.

Director Daldry has made three feature films – “Billy Elliot,” “The Hours” and “The Reader.” For each of these films he has been nominated for an Academy Award. Not a bad record. His work here is truly deserving of nomination number four. The film is both exciting and heart breaking. Oskar embarks on his journeys wearing a pair of his dad’s shoes, clomping through New York City with determination. Fearing public transportation (and pretty much everything else in the world), Oskar walks the city, trying desperately to find the lock that the key opens. He explains that, were the sun to explode, those of us on earth wouldn’t know for eight minutes, because that’s how long it would take the light to travel. Oskar wants another eight minutes with Thomas and he’ll walk around the world to get them.

The film works totally thanks to the performance of young Horn, who at age 12 won $31,000 as the champion of “Kid Jeopardy.” The work is truly award worthy, though with this year’s crop of great acting performances I fear young Horn will get lost in the Oscar shuffle. Hanks and Bullock are both strong in what are really supporting roles, as are Broadway greats Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. Another stand out performance belongs to 82 year old Oscar winner Max Van Sydow, who plays a man known only as The Renter. Mute by choice, Van Sydow says more with his face then some actors say with their whole body, giving a wordless performance that rivals that of “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin.