May 23, 2019
[movies] Burning desire: John Wick and the undying appeal of the revenge thriller
… ‘Though John Wick primarily attracts audiences for its simplicity of gun-fu action ecstasy, the film-makers clearly have more universal existential ideas on their mind. Sure, John Wick as played by Keanu Reeves is an ex-assassin left broken by his wife’s death and only capable of exorcising his pain through mass murder and vengeance. But he’s also an individual trapped in the system that created him, desperate to live freely and “retired” on his own terms, without the need to kill again.’
May 7, 2019
[alien] Alien 40th Anniversary Short Films
… Six official short films celebrating Alien’s 40th anniversary.
April 3, 2019
[movies] The ultimate guide to analog control panels in sci-fi movies
… A look at of the retro-tech in classic science-fiction movies. ‘Of all our control panel selections, Alien might have the most functional looking one. That’s because the production designer, Ron Cobb, constantly worked from the idea that everything should have a legitimate purpose. Cobb went as far as making legitimate real world safety signs for fixtures and airlocks.’
March 19, 2019
[alien] Ridley Scott’s Masterpiece ‘Alien’: Nothing Is as Terrifying as the Fear of the Unknown
… Interesting collection of digital artefacts from the horror movie Alien including the screenplay. ‘The visuals are fascinating, but they alone would not have resulted in a brilliant horror flick had the pacing been any different. Scott deliberately let the story unfold slowly, gradually, respecting Hitchcock’s regard for the crucial importance of suspense. It is the waiting that’s killing us, it’s the feeling of being isolated and helpless that overwhelms us, it’s the silence and uneventfulness that bring about the feeling of upcoming horror, it’s this patience and restraint that makes the elements of pure terror so damn effective.’
March 12, 2019
[movies] Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil?
… An interesting look at why modern stories tend to be narratives about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. ‘It’s no coincidence that good guy/bad guy movies, comic books and games have large, impassioned and volatile fandoms – even the word ‘fandom’ suggests the idea of a nation, or kingdom. What’s more, the moral physics of these stories about superheroes fighting the good fight, or battling to save the world, does not commend genuine empowerment. The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win.’
February 28, 2019
[comics] Star Wars in 2000AD [Part 1
| Part 2
] … Nostalgic look back at the influence of Star Wars on 2000AD. ‘The first mention of the movie appears in the letters page in prog 8 (16 Apr 1977). This would have been my first exposure to the title “Star Wars” — but I don’t remember it. Fun fact: prog 8 was the first issue to print readers’ letters.’
February 26, 2019
[movies] An Oral History of ‘Office Space’
… Amusing look at the making of Mike Judge’s classic office comedy.
Gilbert: I went out and found 20 printers that were all the same, because we’re smashing it, right? I took them all apart myself to make them all weaker, so when they hit them with baseball bats, it would come apart. Every take where we broke one and we got more parts, we kept throwing those broken parts onto the inside of the printer.
Livingston: I just walk around in the background with a baseball bat. I wanted it to be the idea that I was blooding these guys a little bit—this was their initiation into this kind of thing. The two of them, all the stuff they did was hilarious.
Naidu: The idea that it takes on the element of a full-on gangster beatdown was very clear to me. I used what little tae kwon do training I had left over and everything I remember from every gangster movie I had. I’d give it a massive hammer kick. That comes from Master Kim when I was 12. Make sure the leg comes above the head.
February 20, 2019
[movies] Office Space at 20: how the comedy spoke to an anxious workplace
… Looking back at Mike Judge’s office comedy. ‘The aggressive regular-guy-ness of Livingston empowers anyone sharing his middle-income lot – not well-off enough to enjoy being rich; not poor enough to have the hardship to account for his misery – to access him as a surrogate, making his strike against the coffee-slurping overlords into a slacker wish-fulfillment fantasy. His version of getting unplugged from the matrix comes when a hypnotherapist drops dead in the middle of their session, which leaves Peter in a state of new enlightenment. It means all he must do to change direction is simply decide to do so. He starts coming to work in flannel shirts and jeans, ignoring the memos telling him things he already knows, and eventually skipping out entirely to embrace absenteeism as a philosophy.’
February 5, 2019
[movies] Mann – Magic Act
… a tribute compilation to the movies of Michael Mann.
January 23, 2019
[movies] 20 Creepiest Movie Nuns
… ‘Killer Nun (1978) – Say what you will about “Killer Nun,” it certainly lives up to its title. Following the removal of a pesky brain tumor, Sister Gertrude begins exhibiting signs of odd behavior, including anonymous sex with strangers, fits of psychotic rage, and an obsession with the torture of martyred saints. Things take a turn for the worse when she’s accused of throwing a geriatric patient off the roof of a hospital. Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg gives the deranged title character her all, particularly in the scene where she crushes an old woman’s dentures under her foot while yelling “Disgusting!” over and over again.’
December 30, 2018
[comics] Alan Moore film aims to ‘dispel Northampton’s anonymity’
… BBC News on Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins new film “The Show”. ‘I hope to rescue Northampton with a strenuous application of imaginations…’
December 24, 2018
[movies] 25 Horror Christmas Movies Ranked From Worst To Best According To Rotten Tomatoes
… ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) – Tells the tale of Billy Chapmen, orphaned at 5 after witnessing the murder of his parents at the hands of a Santa suit-clad madman on Christmas Eve. Now 18 and out of the brutal grip of orphanage nuns, Billy is forced to confront his greatest fear, sending him on a rampage, leaving a crimson trail in the snow behind him.’
[via Feeling Listless
December 20, 2018
[movies] Batman Returns, The World’s Greatest Holiday Movie
… Amusing list of thoughts on Batman Returns. ‘Oh, Penguin. How preposterous that this gross man with disgusting eating habits, tiny hands, awful hair, repugnant behavior, and no prior political experience could be considered a viable candidate! Oh, wait. Oh GOD.’
November 22, 2018
[watchmen] The Watchmen movie proves you can be faithful to a comic and still miss its whole damn point
… The Onion AV Club on the Watchmen movie. ‘From another perspective, the Watchmen movie is also a total debacle, one that fundamentally misunderstands the entire point of the book. To Moore, heroes are either ineffectual and useless, or they’re fearsome fanatics out to destroy lives. The impulses that produces these heroes are bad impulses. They’re about domination. There’s nothing cool about them. And yet Snyder can’t help but make everything look as cool as it possibly can.’
October 4, 2018
[movies] Introducing the Horror Oscars: The 40 Best Scary Movies Since ‘Halloween’
… Great list of the horror movies since 1979 onwards. ‘1980 – The Shining: Slowly but surely in the 1980s, consensus started to shift—the box office grew steadily, the critical reputation was bolstered, and within a decade, The Shining was an American classic. Why? Like Alien, it is technically magnificent and eerily tense, like waiting for an ocean of blood to pour from an elevator shaft. The Krzysztof Penderecki score is deeply unnerving. Shelley Duvall, with her long face, eight-ball eyes, and pallid complexion, is the most vulnerable subject of spousal torture ever put on screen. There are moments of shock, psychological torture, and bloodcurdling terror. (RIP, Scatman Crothers.) It’s so mystifying and intoxicating, that it has become the subject of wildly imaginative conspiracy theorizing.’
September 21, 2018
[comics] From Bond to ITV’s Strangers: why is everyone ‘fridging’?
… A Look at why the “Women in Refrigerators” trope went mainstream. ‘WiR has been prevalent in superhero narratives since The Amazing Spider-Man comic shockingly killed off Gwen Stacy in 1973, inaugurating an era of darker stories in which actions had serious consequences (although these consequences were disproportionately suffered by women). Since comics writer Gail Simone gave the trend its name in 1999, publishing a list of “superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator”, the term “fridging” has been used mostly about superhero storytelling. But it has seeped into mainstream pop culture too, particularly in the past decade as comic-book adaptations have dominated blockbuster cinema.’
August 14, 2018
[movies] I watched Nicolas Cage movies for 14 hours straight, and I’m sold
… Some thoughts on Nic Cage from a journalist who attends a 7 movie Cage marathon. ‘It is during the fourth feature – the 1989 black comedy Vampire’s Kiss – that all hell breaks loose. Vampire’s Kiss is the movie you recommend if Cage’s greatness is ever called into question. His performance as a maniacal literary agent perfectly encapsulates why David Lynch described him as “the jazz musician of American acting”. Or, less charitably, why Sean Penn once famously called Cage “no longer an actor” and “more like a performer”. You could deride Cage for over-acting, as many have, or you could say his performance in Vampire’s Kiss is so exquisitely eccentric – so wild and restless and imaginative – it virtually defies description. I’ll have a crack anyway: it’s German expressionism meets Monty Python absurdism meets contemporary dance. The legendary alphabet scene generates a response so loud and enthusiastic I can feel my seat shaking.’
August 13, 2018
[movies] Stephen King’s Son Believes He Solved a 44-Year-Old Murder Mystery By Watching Jaws
… Joe Hill on Jaw’s connections with a murder from 1974. ’54 minutes in, he leapt out of his seat, his arms prickled with goosebumps and his heart pounding, at a scene that startled him for the first time despite the many times he had watched the movie. It wasn’t your typical jump-scare, no image of a hungry Great White Shark attacking a beachgoer. Instead, it was a scene in which a crowd boards a ferry on the Fourth of July, a seemingly innocuous moment in Steven Spielberg’s iconic masterpiece. In the shot, a female extra wearing a blue bandana over her auburn hair caught Hill’s attention. She was “almost a twin of the figure” in a forensic recreation image he recently saw of the Lady of the Dunes, the still-unidentified murder victim discovered in Provincetown in 1974—the very same year Jaws was filmed on nearby Martha’s Vineyard.’
July 13, 2018
[movies] The meaning of the ending of 2001 according to Stanley Kubrick
… Two Kubrick interviews where he explains 2001: A Space Odyssey
The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.
They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what we think is their natural environment.
Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made into some sort of superman.
July 12, 2018
[movies] My Incredible, Agonising Quest to Find the Worst Movie on Netflix
… ‘But my quest hit a snag. Though there were many truly awful sounding movies listed, every single thing I looked up seemed to have been removed from Netflix. InAPPropriate Comedy, a sketch comedy show directed by the Shamwow Guy that was widely accused of being racist? Gone. Avalanche Sharks, a horror film about, well, what it sounds like it’s about? Also gone. I was beginning to worry that, due to the constant reduction in the number of movies on Netflix, all the real garbage had been purged.’
July 10, 2018
[movies] Doctors Diagnose The Injuries In Home Alone
… Doctors give their opinions on the injuries the criminals in Home Alone would have received if the movie was set in the real world.
June 29, 2018
[people] Inside Trials of Johnny Depp: Lawsuits, Drinking, Marriage Gone Wrong
… Unputdownable profile of Johnny Depp. ‘We move to the dining room for a three-course meal of pad thai, duck and gingerbread with berries. Depp sits at the head of the table and motions toward some rolling papers and two equal piles of tobacco and hash, and asks if I mind. I don’t. He pauses for a second. “Well, let’s drink some wine first.” This goes on for 72 hours.’
June 25, 2018
[movies] David Lynch: ‘You gotta be selfish. It’s a terrible thing’
… A Profile of David Lynch. ‘There is another striking scene from childhood. One night, Lynch writes, he encountered a beautiful naked woman walking down the street, bruised and traumatised. “It was so incredible. It seemed to me that her skin was the colour of milk, and she had a bloodied mouth.” He was too young or too transfixed to find out who she was before she vanished. After art school, Lynch hustled for years to make Eraserhead, widely believed to be a response to the birth of his first child, Jennifer, who had club feet. Cineasts still debate what the onscreen infant was made of: skinned rabbit, lamb foetus? But when I ask Lynch he bats it away. “I don’t talk about the baby.”’
June 11, 2018
[movies] The 25 Best Heist Movies Of All Time
… Great list but can’t agree with Heat not being in the top five. ‘Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Director Sidney Lumet bathes the film in New York atmosphere, but it’s equally dazzling in its depiction of the troubles that can occur when ill-prepared men undertake a foolish, dangerous endeavor. But what makes Dog Day Afternoon resonate is Lumet and his cast’s ability to erase the line between these fools and us — Pacino’s one-terrible-day desperation humanizes his character’s neediness and growing panic, putting the audience in the bank with him as he tries to tap-dance his way out of disaster.’
May 31, 2018
[movies] Toy Shining
… A Mashup between Toy Story and The Shining by Kyle Lambert
May 9, 2018
[books] Roger Moore’s 1973 Book About The Making Of Live And Let Die Is Straight-Up Bonkers
… An amusing look at Roger Moore’s warts-and-all account of filming Live and Let Die … ‘B-Day Twenty-two started off on a very black note when in the middle of my knees-bend morning work-out Mike Jones, my hairdresser, telephoned from London to tell me he would not be joining me in Jamaica as a unit hairdresser after all. Mike, who chopped off my locks for Bond, has been with me for several years but out of two hairdressers on the unit list it was decided to bring only one to Jamaica. Harry chose to axe my man which displeased me no end. I finished my work-out in a furious mood and flung my breakfast toast across the room in rage.’
May 1, 2018
[movies] Ghostbusters’ Slimer was created in a cocaine frenzy, artist who made him says
… The surprising creation story of Ghostbusters’ Slimer
. ‘He found out that Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd had always wanted Slimer in John Belushi’s likeness as a tribute to their deceased friend—something no one had bothered to tell Johnson throughout the six-month process of creating the ghost. (“I said, What the fuck are you talking about?” he adds.) So that night, Johnson took an eight ball of coke, cut up a gram of cocaine on top of a stack of headshots of Belushi, and that’s when things started to get creative…’
April 25, 2018
[movies] The Five Types Of Nicolas Cage Movies
… Nicely done taxonomy of Nic Cage movies. ‘That get at the heart of what Cage is: a worker. He enjoys being an actor. If given the opportunity to work, he’s gonna do it. Cage is on record as rejecting the idea that selectivity is the hallmark of a successful actor. “Film acting is one of the only industries where you’re criticized for working hard,” he said in 2013. “In any other industry it’s considered a quality and something to behold.” I don’t really see the lie there.’
April 9, 2018
[space] Exploring the Secrets of Soothing Spaceship Sound
… a look at the soothing white noise of fictional spaceships … ‘In the intervening years, Snell has taken it upon himself to sample and loop the ambient hums of dozens of science fiction ships, building an unlikely but sizeable YouTube presence of over nine million views and over a hundred videos. Whether it’s the calming tone created by the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or the throbbing pulse of Dr. Who’s Tardis, Snell aims to shine a light on an important element of science fiction that most people don’t often think about—what the spaceships sound like.’
April 5, 2018
 2001: The aliens that almost were
… A look at the work Kubrick and his team put into creating alien special effects for 2001 that were eventually never used. ‘From the very outset of work on the film we all discussed means of photographically depicting extraterrestrial creatures in a manner that would be as mind-boggling as the being itself. And it soon became apparent that you can not imagine the unimaginable. All you can do is try to represent it in an artistic manner that will convey something of its quality. That’s why we settled on the black monolith – which is, of course, in itself something of a Jungian archetype, and also a pretty fair example of “minimal art.”‘
March 20, 2018
[movies] 47 Things We Learned from Nicolas Cage’s Vampire’s Kiss Commentary
… Nic Cage looks back at Vampire’s Kiss
. ‘The scene where Cage runs down the street after assaulting Alva in the basement had to be re-shot because he was running too fast for Bierman’s camera. Cage told the director “Well if you want me to run slow I’m going to run like this!” and that’s the run that made the cut. He caught a lot of criticism from people saying it was over the top, but Cage gives that no weight. “’Over the top’ is one of those things that doesn’t work with me because I don’t believe in such a thing. It’s just stylistic choices.” He says that Bierman caught him during his more experimental phase, something he hasn’t really explored since.’
March 15, 2018
[movies] Dr. Strangelove in Color
… ‘Do I look all rancid and clotted? You look at me, Jack. Eh? Look, eh? And I drink a lot of water, you know. I’m what you might call a water man, Jack – that’s what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.’
March 9, 2018
[movies] Watching a film with mum on Mother’s Day? Don’t see these
‘Remember when you were 14, and you were watching TV with your mum, and a sex scene unexpectedly came on, and the shame and embarrassment you both felt ended up causing all manner of long-lasting psychological scars? This film is pretty much one long sex scene, and it’s about a mother and her son, and watching it with your own mother absolutely isn’t worth the decades of therapy bills. Again, this one was actually released to coincide with Mother’s Day in the UK.’
February 28, 2018
[books] Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read
… and what we watch and listen to.
‘The lesson from his binge-watching study is that if you want to remember the things you watch and read, space them out. I used to get irritated in school when an English-class syllabus would have us read only three chapters a week, but there was a good reason for that. Memories get reinforced the more you recall them, [Jared] Horvath says. If you read a book all in one stretch—on an airplane, say—you’re just holding the story in your working memory that whole time. “You’re never actually reaccessing it,” he says.’
February 22, 2018
[tech] Go look at some Anime Floppy Disks
November 24, 2017
[movies] John Wick solidified Keanu Reeves as one of the greatest action stars of all time
… Hard to argue with any of this article from the A.V. Club on John Wick
My favorite scene in the movie isn’t a fight. It’s the part where Viggo, the movie’s lead Russian gangster, has to tell his son just how badly he’d fucked up. Viggo’s boy, Iosef, has broken into the home of a “fucking nobody.” He’s killed the man’s dog, stolen his car, and left him unconscious. Viggo, played by the late Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, doesn’t mind any of this. He just minds that Iosef did all this to the wrong guy.
Carefully and patiently, Viggo tells Iosef that he and his associates used to call John Wick, that nobody, baba yaga—the bogeyman. And then he continues, “John wasn’t exactly the bogeyman.” Dramatic pause. “He was the one you send to kill the fucking bogeyman.” A moment later, as that sinks in: “I once saw him kill three men in a bar with a pencil. A fucking. Pencil.”
November 23, 2017
[movies] Coppola’s ‘Conversation’ – prophetic snapshot of ’70s S.F.
… a look back at the movie The Conversation
. ‘For all the other actors’ abundant talent, the movie lived or died on Hackman’s performance. Hackman, a sharp dresser and an extrovert, did not easily sink into the role of Harry. “It was a hard part for Gene to play because it demanded such containment,” Murch recalled. “The character is such a tightly wound person, and that is not at all who Gene is. He was operating outside his comfort zone. But now he says it is one of his favorite performances.” Coppola was immediately impressed by [Harrison] Ford, whose role as a henchman for Duvall was initially quite small. “It was clear Harrison was super bright and able to make much more of the character than was there. He knew how to use clothing and props. He was always thinking,” Coppola says in his DVD commentary.’
November 3, 2017
[movies] 42 Facts Every “Ghost World” Fan Should Know
… ’18. The studio wanted someone like Russell Crowe or Harrison Ford to play Seymour. 19. They also considered Nathan Lane for the role. 20. But Zwigoff always knew he wanted to cast Steve Buscemi in that role. “I had to call him and threaten to hang myself if he wouldn’t take the part,” he said.’
November 2, 2017
[kubrick] Danny Lloyd – the kid in The Shining: ‘I was promised that tricycle after filming but it never came’
… Whatever happened to the child who played Danny Torrance in the The Shining?
Kubrick and his team protected him from the scary stuff, Lloyd says. In one scene, where Wendy runs screaming through the hotel with Danny in her arms, Duvall carried a lifesize doll. “I specifically remember I was banned from the set for the entire time Scatman Crothers was being axed,” he says laughing. There is something nice and Tom Hanks-y about his measured tone and efforts not to say anything mean or controversial.
I read that he accidentally walked in on Jack Nicholson filming “Here’s Johnny!” (voted the scariest scene movie history a few years ago). Is that true? “Yes, but not the actual ‘Here’s Johnny’ bit. Jack was out in the hallway with the axe. He was having fun and goofing off. I think it was a plastic axe he had. Both my parents were there and we were laughing. That wasn’t scary.”
October 11, 2017
[tv] Your New TV Ruins Movies
… ‘Filmmakers were not content to make movies with video cameras until those cameras could shoot 24p, because video, with its many-frames-per-second, looks like reality, like the evening news, like a live broadcast or a daytime soap opera; whereas 24p film, by showing us less, looks somehow larger than life, like a dream, like a story being told rather than an event being documented. This seemingly technical issue turns out to have an enormous emotional effect on the viewer. These days, any TV you are likely to buy, will, by default, have technology enabled that completely changes the emotional quality of the movies you watch. This is a cinematic disaster.’
[via Feeling Listless
October 10, 2017
[docu] Louis Theroux Explains the Staged Realities of ‘My Scientology Movie’
… interesting Q&A interview … ‘You get that feeling—which is some of my favorite material in documentaries in general—that the wheels have come off. Someone says, “Fuck you,” the set wobbles, and the mic drops down. You hear them on the mic: “I’m fucking done with this shit. Go join the cult of Louis Theroux if you want to.” There’s an electricity to that kind of material, where it’s slightly going awry. When [Rathbun] is like, “Your questions are fucking insipid and repetitive. Ask me a real question,” he’s basically saying, “You’re a bullshit journalist, and I’m sick of you.” That crackles with the quality of real life.’
October 9, 2017
[alien] 32 Things We Learned From the ‘Alien’ Commentary
… some notes from an audio commentary on Alien
“He’s a Replicant, basically,” says Scott about Ash. Yes, we get it, Ridley. Decker is a Replicant. Ash is a Replicant. We’re all Replicants. You happy? He does point out Ash’s quick, little jog in place might be a clue to him being a robot, that maybe all robots get stiff and need to keep their joints active. Someone go see if Harrison Ford ever does that in Blade Runner.
October 5, 2017
[movies] Risky Business Dance with “Realistic” Audio
… What might Tom Cruise dancing in Risky Business sound like with no music? …
October 4, 2017
[movies] This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017
… a nicely written fresh view on Blade Runner
There are cops, and there are little people.
There is a whole class of slaves. It is illegal for them to escape slavery. The cops are supposed to murder the slaves if they escape, because there is a risk that they will start to think they’re people. But the cops know that the slaves are not people, so it’s okay to murder them. The greatest danger, the thing the cops are supposed to prevent, is that the slaves will try to assimilate into the society that relies on their labor.
Assimilation is designed to be impossible. There are tests. Impossible tests with impossible questions and impossible answers. The tests measure empathy. It is not about having enough empathy, but about having empathy for the correct things…
September 27, 2017
[movies] Hayley Campbell on Brian De Palma’s Blow Out
… ‘It’s about about a tortured man torturing himself in only the way an obsessive creative whose art lies in the miniscule can: over and over, not until it has no meaning, but until it grows and has so much meaning that it consumes him.’
September 15, 2017
[tv] Love On A Real Train
… A look at the similarities between Mr Robot and Risky Business … ‘[Jonathan Bernstein] described De Mornay as a “frosty Hitchcockian blonde” whose chilliness is mirrored by the icy blasts of TD synth there and elsewhere on the soundtrack. In its way, Risky Business is a quintessential ’80s movie — it’s a twist on a mismatched-buddy caper, it prizes ruthless capitalistic innovation, absent parents fuel its plot engine, and it contains Curtis Armstrong — and if you swap in J.D. for Booger, you could say all of those things about Mr. Robot. There is a system to be gamed, so to speak, in both: Princeton admissions (and pimp vig); data storage. There is a battle against monopolistic power and influence that aspires to those things even as it turns them against themselves.’