Matt Damon in The Bourne Supremacy courtesy Universal Pictures
Question: Much has been made about Paul Greengrass' handheld-camera work in The Bourne Ultimatum, and the fact that both Supremacy and Ultimatum have been hits makes me certain that filmmakers will keep doing it. But I can't be the only person who gets nauseous watching these films. The incessant movement is difficult to watch. Rarely does the camera stop long enough for the viewer to process a shot... even the quietest moments can't be still. Matt Damon is great and I'd like to say I enjoyed the movies, but when I have to go home and take something for headache and nausea, that can't be good. Am I alone in this? - Daryl
FlickChick: You're far from alone - some critics and a lot of moviegoers have complained about the restless, shaky handheld-camera work and superfast editing in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) in particular and movies in general.

Filmmakers generally use restless, jittery camera work to establish a you-are-there atmosphere; sometimes it's meant to look as though there's an amateur behind the camera, other times it's just meant to look nervous and edgy. Combining this kind of camera work with rapid-fire editing is a natural for action sequences if you want audiences to feel as though they're in the thick of it, experiencing the same sensory overload as the characters rather than sitting back and watching things unfold at a distance. There's also a line of thinking that the combination of a nervous camera and rat-a-tat editing goes a long way in covering weak performances, lazy staging and inadequate production design; by the same token, it can be a real boon to filmmakers working on low budgets by turning what could be liabilities produced by not having the money to create a polished look into assets - look at The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Cavite (2005). Among mainstream filmmakers, Tony Scott is a repeat offender: Man on Fire (2004) and Deja vu (2006) are real eyeball rattlers and I actually turned off Domino (2005): I wouldn't say I felt nauseated, but it was giving me a headache. But I think the technique works really well in the Greengrass Bourne films, as well as in his United 93.

The only time I ever remember feeling ill because of rapid camera movement was during Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives (1992), and I think a lot of that was that I was forced to sit very close to a very wide screen. Being forced to whip my own head back and forth to follow the action is what did it, and that was actually less about the fact that the camera work was deliberately unsteady as it was Allen's choice to use swish pans in a domestic drama.

Readers: Weigh in, please.

Question: I was wondering if you could help me with this movie title: All I remember about the movie is that it was on TV a lot in the '80s when I was a kid and it had some sort of premise like the movie Rat Race. I remember these groups of people all searching for clues to money. The only parts I think I remember correctly involve a bag of money under a bridge in a fish tank and a clue or something underneath a bridge in a bird's nest. Any ideas? - Phillip
FlickChick: It could be the all-star flop Scavenger Hunt (1979), but I think the better bet is Midnight Madness (1980), which I know got heavy TV play in the 1980s and has a substantial fan club as a result. But I haven't seen it and it's not on DVD, so I can't swear to it.

Question: After seeing Hairspray I was wondering what other film musicals are based on older, nonmusical films that were remade into stage musicals. Little Shop of Horrors comes to mind, but I can't think of any others. - Eric
FlickChick: There aren't a lot. Little Shop of Horrors (1986) is indeed one: It started life as Roger Corman's microbudget horror-comedy The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), became the Off Broadway musical Little Shoppe of Horrors in 1982 and then went back to the screen with new tunes intact.

And The Producers, of course: First came Mel Brooks' aggressively un-PC 1968 film, then the massively successful 2001 Broadway musical and finally the shockingly charmless 2005 musical film. Bob Fosse's 1975 musical theater piece Chicago is rooted in the nonmusical play by Maurine Watkins, which was filmed twice - as Chicago (1927) and Roxie Hart (1942), with Ginger Rogers - and then filmed as a musical in 2002.

These examples aren't quite the same, but they share musical/nonmusical and stage/screen connections:

The Women was originally a long-running, nonmusical Broadway play (1936), then a 1939 nonmusical movie and then a movie musical under the title The Opposite Sex (1956).

The French/Italian nonmusical film La Cage Aux Folles (1978) became a Broadway musical in 1983, but was then filmed as the nonmusical The Birdcage (1996). And the 1956 French stage musical Irma La Douce moved to Broadway - still a musical - in 1960, but became Billy Wilder's nonmusical film (1963). Star Shirley MacLaine was, ironically, then best known for her work in stage musicals like The Pajama Game.

PS: A coworker reminded me of Phantom of the Opera, which was made several times as a straight horror film before finding new life as a 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. It was then made into a movie musical in 2004. Thanks, Gerry!

Question: I have been hearing about a movie called Solstice, starring Elisabeth Harnois and Shawn Ashmore, for about a year now. Have you heard anything about this movie, and if so, do you know when it is supposed to be released? Also wanted to say how much I love the podcast!! - David H.
FlickChick: Thanks, David! Solstice, a New Orleans-set remake of Danish director Carsten Myllerup's 2003 Midsommer, wrapped in May 2006. It was directed by Daniel Myrick, who codirected The Blair Witch Project (1999) and subsequently shot The Objective, which is in post-production. Solstice is being released by Endgame Entertainment and I've seen references to an October 2007 release date, which certainly makes sense for a horror movie. The official site has nothing on it except Myrick's blog, which hasn't been updated since August 2006. I have a call in to Endgame, and I'll keep you posted.

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.

See Maitland McDonagh and Ken Fox review this week's new flicks on the Movie Talk vodcast.

Hear Maitland on the weekly podcast TV Guide Talk.