[movies] The Original Robocop Was A Christ Allegory … ‘We could view Robocop as Verhoeven’s response to a kind of mythological or narrative challenge: retell the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (as an historical figure or a religious one, it’s up to you) in a way that’s relevant for our contemporary context. The idea that someone like Verhoeven might respond to that challenge by inventing a murdered cop who is brought back to life by technical wizardry, only to walk the Earth again as a robot, is pure genius, almost hilariously so. It not only suggests an awesomely freewheeling response to an ancient storyline; it also raises the absolutely gonzo interpretive possibility that the machines and devices around us, from police drones to television sets, are able to bear religious, mythic, or theological implications.’
[movies] RoboCop writer Ed Neumeier discusses the film’s origins … ‘In both of the movies I’ve written for Paul, they both seem—and I would say this is mostly my fault—they are often called prescient, in that they seem to predict things that are coming. Certainly Detroit’s decline seems to be predicted very well, but that was already happening. I got to a metric, if you want to call it that, wherein I would say, “If you want to predict the future, just think about how bad it could be and make a joke out of it, and there you go.” And if you look at Starship Troopers that way too, it may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a projection of what’s already happening, and where things were going.’
[movies] 26 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About RoboCop … ‘Despite the image depicted on the iconic movie poster, Weller couldn’t fit inside his police cruiser while wearing the full costume. So in any scene where he’s at the wheel of the cop car, RoboCop is pantsless.’
[comics] In The Comic-Book Pages Of 2001, Two Sorts Of Genius Collided … comparing and contrasting Stanley Kubrick and Jack Kirby’s versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey … ‘The 2001 comic also caught Kirby at a low creative ebb. He’d poured a lot of himself into his Fourth World saga for DC, without much to show for it, and by the time he returned to Marvel, Kirby was back to thinking of himself as a hired gun, sweating to fill as many pages as his bosses required, governed by the mentality of a boy who grew up in a ghetto during the Depression. Where Kubrick was a meticulous planner, taking years to develop a project and fussing over every detail, Kirby was a disorganized workaholic, who according to his wife Roz would accidentally throw away about half the good ideas he scrawled onto notepaper and napkins, and who felt like he was on the verge of destitution if he didn’t generate at least 20 pages a week.’
…the chuckling man on the other end of the phone line is happily claiming the theme tune for British TV game show Going for Gold, during an interview wind-down conversation about British TV prompted by his (British) colleague Russell Emanuel.
“Going for Gold? I’m not ashamed of it! It paid the rent and opened up all sorts of doors. I will admit to it: we all have to have our guilty little somethings!” says Zimmer, in a conversation that also includes the unexpected phrase: “I know Les Dawson. Come on, I’m not completely ignorant.”
[tech] Source Code in TV and Films … an amusing look at where the Source Code displayed in TV and movies is really from … ‘In the film Terminator, the HUD shows a listing of 6502 assembly language which appears to have been taken from an Apple II.’
[movies] Why we need to re-evaluate the films we once called great … Joe Queenan on films that fail the test of time. ‘…other movies fall into the I-guess-you-had-to-be-there category. Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless will no longer leave anyone breathless. In Five Easy Pieces, Jack Nicholson’s maverick loner character now seems like a punk. Warren Beatty is just a bit too goofy in Bonnie and Clyde, and just a bit too goofy in McCabe & Mrs Miller. Three Days of the Condor is hamstrung by one of those nauseating, 70s smooth-jazz soundtracks. 2001: A Space Odyssey simply will not end. Richard Gere’s hair makes it impossible to watch Pretty Woman any more, and Val Kilmer’s obstreperous do has a similarly disruptive effect in the festively homoerotic Top Gun. The Blues Brothers is 133 minutes of unadulterated self-indulgence, and Animal House and Caddyshack now seem more and more like infantile twaddle only frat boys could love.’
[movies] 10 remarkable things about Superman IV: The Quest For Peace … looking back at the least sucessful of Christopher Reeves’ Superman movies … ‘The film’s most infamous money-saving location, though, is its use of a Milton Keynes bus station as a stand-in for New York’s United Nations Headquarters on 42nd Street. As Christopher Reeve gloomily put it in his autobiography Still Me, “…we had to shoot at an industrial park in England in the rain with about a hundred extras, not a car in sight, and a dozen pigeons thrown in for atmosphere.” It’s impossible to imagine just how depressing it must have been to set up this particular shot. You’re in Milton Keynes, you have a few dozen extras, and Christopher Reeve walking around in his cape, yet the location still doesn’t look like New York; it looks like a lonely part of a modern British city.’
[movies] What Stanley Kubrick got wrong about “The Shining” … a look at Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick’s different approaches The Shining … ‘The two men represent diametrically opposed approaches to creating narrative art. One is an aesthete and the other is a humanist. Kubrick was a consummate and famously meticulous stylist; King’s prose is workmanly and his novels can have a shambolic bagginess. The great theme of King’s fiction is the capacity of the average person — especially working-class or similarly humble men and women — both for evil and for heroism. Although there’s almost always a battle against a supernatural antagonist in King’s books, the best of his novels hinge on the protagonists’ struggles with themselves. In “Doctor Sleep,” it is just as valiant for Danny Torrance — the psychic child character in “The Shining,” now grown up — to stay sober as it is for him to challenge the novel’s Big Bad.’
[movies] Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs: out of time?… Twenty years after the release of Jurassic Park how realistic were the dinosaurs … ‘New finds show that the forelimbs of tyrannosaurs were rather closer together than previously assumed – on screen those famous little arms are set far up the side of the animal, but in fact should be much closer together and almost underneath the head. These are minor details in appearance compared to the probability that Tyrannosaurus had feathers, or the fact that there’s no good evidence that Velociraptor was a pack hunter or especially smart (or as fast as a cheetah while we’re on the subject), and the giant frill and venom-spitting in Dilophosaurus is basically fiction.’
I follow Coogan’s fast-moving white Dunlops up the cliff and back to the hotel. “It started out not being like me at all. It’s probably got more like me,” puffs Coogan, as the wind buffets his impeccable Partridge hairpiece. “It’s recognising your own vanities and insecurities and turning the volume up on them. Anyone who is creative puts something of themselves in what they do, and I’ve put lots in, but it’s the warped, prejudicial side of myself. It’s not just a mocking caricature. It has to have some degree of humanity. On one level, Alan is very likable because he makes mistakes and vocalises a lot of the insecurities that people feel. He’s also a contemptuous Little Englander, the kind of person who I see as my life to rail against. Part of him is everything I hate about Britain. It’s a bit complicated.”
[tv] The Forty-Year Itch … is there a forty year cycle of nostalgia influencing pop culture? … ‘Though pop culture is most often performed by the young, the directors and programmers and gatekeepers—the suits who control and create its conditions, who make the calls and choose the players—are, and always have been, largely forty-somethings, and the four-decade interval brings us to a period just before the forty-something was born. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories.’
[comics] Man Of Steel: Why Hollywood Needs A Break From Superhero Movies … Joe Queenan on superhero movies … ‘The most interesting thing about the popularity of superhero movies is that they are insanely expensive to make, yet they spring from a plebian, populist artform. Comic books, at least until recently, were cheap. They were beautifully drawn and exciting, but they were still basically cheap. That was the point. Movies are not cheap, especially not in 3D. Comic book heroes, like football players, have lost all contact with their proletarian roots.’
[people] Ain’t It Cool’s Harry Knowles: The Cash-Strapped King of the Nerds Plots a Comeback … profile / update on Harry Knowles … ‘His phone rang. Still trudging, Knowles answered. It was Roland De Noie, his business manager. “I really f—ed up,” said De Noie in a panic. “It’s all my fault.” He had discovered that Ain’t It Cool News — the website Knowles started in his Texas bedroom that grew to be the scourge of Hollywood, redefined the nature and pace of entertainment journalism and turned an overweight, ginger-haired self-diagnosed movie nerd into the face of a geek nation on the rise — owed about $300,000 in unpaid taxes. While Ain’t It Cool News had been making $700,000 a year in gross advertising revenue at its height in the early- to mid-2000s, that had dipped to the low-six figures by 2012. The business had no cash reserves and no way to pay the bills. Its bank account had been seized. “We’re not going to be able to get out of this one,” said De Noie.’
[life] The Godzilla Threshold: ‘Things are at the point where even summoning Godzilla, king of monsters and patron saint of collateral damage, could not possibly make the crisis any worse. The situation has crossed the Godzilla Threshold. Once the Threshold is crossed, ANY plan, with even the smallest possibility of success, no matter how ludicrous, impossible, dangerous or abhorrent, suddenly becomes a valid option.’ [via YMFY]
[funny] Back From Yet Another Globetrotting Adventure, Indiana Jones Checks His Mail And Discovers That His Bid For Tenure Has Been Denied … ‘Dr. Jones’s behavior on campus has led not only to disciplinary action but also to concerns as to the state of his mental health. In addition to multiple instances of public drunkenness, Dr. Jones, on three separate occasions, has attempted to set fire to the herpetology wing of the biology department. Perhaps most disturbing, however, are the statements that come directly from Dr. Jones’s mouth. Several faculty members maintain that Dr. Jones informed them on multiple occasions of having discovered the Ark of the Covenant, magic diamond rocks, and the Holy Grail!’
[movies] Ridley Scott’s Storyboards … a look at the sketches Scott uses as storyboards for his movies. It’s interesting to see the Moebius-influenced Alien sketches – Moebius did concept-art for Alien and seems to have inspired Scott.
[docu] A List Of Twelve Terrific Documentaries From Louis Theroux … ‘A Letter to Zachary – A posthumous love letter from the filmmaker to his murdered friend, it has one of the most explosive and upsetting twists two thirds of the way through. I recently saw this was on the IMDB as one of the most popular documentaries of all time, it’s number two right after Night and Fog. So it’s not exactly obscure but it is totally riveting.’
[movies] Six degrees of Kevin Bacon: scientists expose the seedy underbelly … some of the science behind the Six Degrees of separation theory … ‘Reynolds categorized the few people who surpass the Bacon four degree threshold in his data set as “old, foreign and obscure”. People like William Rufus Shafter, an army officer from the American civil war, who appeared as himself in two short silent films from 1898, and is one of 27 people who are a rule-breaking eight degrees from Bacon.’
[movies] 20 Of The Best Movies Never Made … a list of the greatest movies that never made it to the big screen … ‘Napoleon by Stanley Kubrick – A biopic on Napoleon set to be made just after the successes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick was so enthusiastic to make the project that he confessed to identifying with Bonaparte even down to the way he ate his food. Jack Nicholson was slated to play the title character, but when corporate changes hit MGM, Kubrick lost the approval.’ [via YMFY]
[comics] The Daily Mash: Men torn between Anna Karenina and Dredd 3D … ‘Sure Dredd 3D will have heads exploding in slow motion, customised motorbikes and flamethrowers, but Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a classic portrayal of forbidden love with a timeless social message.’
[movies] The legacy of British director and minor Hollywood legend Tony Scott … Alex Pappademas sums up Tony Scott … ’2005′s spastic, pummeling Domino is probably the best example of how the New Jitteriness freed up Scott to make his movies that much more Tony Scott–like, and it’s thrilling, at least until it wears out your last neurotransmitter. 2004′s Man on Fire is even better, a biblical revenge flick in which Scott uses every image-destabilizing technique in his utility belt to put you right in damaged mercenary Denzel’s increasingly unhinged head space. The colors are gorgeous, too — it’s easily the most ravishingly beautiful movie ever made in which the hero kills another character by sticking an explosive device up that character’s ass.’
[comics] Frank Miller’s Year One Screenplay … intriguing analysis of a screenplay Frank Miller wrote for an aborted revamp of Batman with Darren Aronofsky. ‘…the end result simply isn’t Batman. In some ways, it’s more like Marvel’s character Punisher. Batman may be seen as the quintessential super-hero without super-powers, but such a departure from his traditional background seems an injustice to the character. The screenplay’s vision of Batman is a compelling and a vital one, one arguably more logical than the normal Batman formulation – and a bolder depiction of a super-hero vigilante with a generalized war against crime. But it’s just not Batman, and fans would have been vocal in saying so. Batman fans would certainly not have tolerated such a high-profile project making such fundamental changes to the character – nor its reinvention of Alfred as Little Al. Most fans of the comic, for all their admiration for Frank Miller, would likely feel grateful to get Batman Begins instead of Miller’s Year One screenplay.’
[movies] Real Hollywood Thriller: Who Stole Jaws? … the fascinating story behind the image on the book and film cover to Jaws … ‘It was [Roger] Kastel’s execution that made the image an instant icon. “I think Kastel’s poster, like much of the best poster art of its era, tells the movie’s story instantly while making you want to learn more,” says Tom Whalen, who has made numerous second-generation, or tribute, movie posters for an Austin, Texas, publisher called Mondo. Whalen also gives props to the unnamed graphic artists at Universal who placed Kastel’s image amid the typography required to promote a movie. “The cool blue water situated opposite the blood red title just seals the deal,” he says.’ [via Boing Boing]
[movies] The Fake Magazines Used in Blade Runner Are Still Futuristic, Awesome … the story behind the fictional magazine covers used in the background of Blade Runner which have been discovered recently by the Internet … ‘These covers are bouncing around the Internet right now (at Gawker’s io9, etc) and now it may be that they are fakes, but not in a bad way. The idea that some guy out there saw the movie and painstakingly recreated them with the vintage clipart that the original designer used is mindblowing!’
[shining] This is Uncanny: Number-play in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ … ‘If one needs further proof of Kubrick’s fascination with number play, the title page of his copy of Stephen King’s novel of The Shining is filled with Kubrick’s own handwriting as he works out creative ways to use the number 217. Room 217 was the number of the dead woman’s room in the novel, which Kubrick changed at the request of the Timberline Hotel management. His selection of 237 was not without forethought.’
[movies] Alien: A Film Franchise Based Entirely on Rape … some horror movie analysis from Cracked.com … ‘Admittedly the guys in the audience get off a little easy — gestation of a normal human takes 9 months and involves a lot of bloating, puking, and hormonal surges that generally make women miserable. But Kane’s man pregnancy results in a sore throat and the need to eat spaghetti. Note the “sore throat” comes as a result of an alien wang having been forced down his throat, which he fortunately does not remember. The birth, on the other hand, is another story…’
[books] Flick Books – Can you tell the movie from the book Cover? … a fun little quiz … ‘A movie adaptation is rarely the first time someone gets to give a visual representation of a book. It is usually the cover illustrator who gets the job to draw how he thinks the story should look. However, as soon as a book is turned into a movie, the illustrator’s work is usually thrown in the bin only to be quickly replaced by a “you’ve seen the movie… now read the book” approximation of the movie poster as a cover.’
[shining] The Top 5 Wacky Theories About ‘The Shining’ in New Frontiers Doc ‘Room 237′ … some perfectly reasonable theories about The Shining from a new documentary about Kubrick’s movie … ‘One of the more spectacular theories in the movie: That Kubrick was hired by the American government to fake the Apollo moon landing, and “The Shining” is his way of explaining himself. An interviewee says that owning “The Shining” on Blu-ray allows one to see enough detail to reach this conclusion. Jack Torrance’s constant bickering with his wife about his job responsibilities voice Kubrick’s own justification for why he had to comply with government orders.’
[movies] In Toy Story, Who Was Andy’s Father? … Jess Nevins On Toy Story … ‘We have to assume that Woody was, indeed, an old Davis family toy. The logical assumption is that he was Mr. Davis’ before he was Andy’s. (We could extrapolate other ways in which Woody joined the Davis family, but Woody being Mr. Davis’ toy is the least unlikely). But how did Woody remain mint if Mr. Davis played with him? And if Mr. Davis played with him, why doesn’t Woody remember him? We know the other toys remember their previous owners–Jessie remembers Emily, Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear remembers Daisy–why doesn’t Woody remember Mr. Davis? ‘
Q: You are a person who uses his rationality, who enjoys understanding things, but in 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining you demonstrate the limits of intellectual knowledge. Is this an acknowledgement of what William James called the unexplained residues of human experience?
A: Obviously, science-fiction and the supernatural bring you very quickly to the limits of knowledge and rational explanation. But from a dramatic point of view, you must ask yourself: ‘If all of this were unquestionably true, how would it really happen?’ You can’t go much further than that. I like the regions of fantasy where reason is used primarily to undermine incredulity. Reason can take you to the border of these areas, but from there on you can be guided only by your imagination. I think we strain at the limits of reason and enjoy the temporary sense of freedom which we gain by such exercises of our imagination.