[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? ‘
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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.
[comics] How could they do this to Tintin? … another negative look at Speilberg’s Tintin Movie – this time from Nicholas Lezard … ‘As it is, the film has turned a subtle, intricate and beautiful work of art into the typical bombast of the modern blockbuster, Tintin for morons, and the nicest things one can say about it are that there’s a pleasing cameo of Hergé himself in the opening scene, the cars look lovely, indeed it is as a whole visually sumptuous, and (after 20 minutes or so of more or less acceptable fidelity; and the 3D motion-capturing transference of the original drawings is by far the least of the film’s problems) it usefully places in plain view all the cretinous arrogance of modern mass-market, script-conference-driven film-making, confirming in passing that, as a director, Spielberg is a burned-out sun.’
[comics] The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn – Review … a disappointing look of Speilberg’s Tintin film:‘…while the big set pieces are often exuberantly handled, the human details are sorely wanting. How curious that Hergé achieved more expression with his use of ink-spot eyes and humble line drawings than a bank of computers and an army of animators were able to achieve. On this evidence, the film’s pioneering “performance capture” technique is still too crude and unrefined. In capturing the butterfly, it kills it too. What emerges is an array of characters (puffy, moribund Haddock; opaque, inexpressive Tintin) that may as well be pinned on to boards and protected by glass.’
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August 2, 2011
[movies] Ask Metafilter On The Shining … ‘In my opinion the thing that really makes the movie is the payoff of the scene where Shelly Duvall is backing up on the stairs while Jack Nicholson terrorizes her, and she slowly, bravely and desperately crosses over from trying to keep the reality of the situation at uncomfortable arm’s length (by appeasing him when he gets scary and/or distant), to finally giving in to it and accepting it, fighting back as best as she can, even if she might not win. While the book is a heartbreaking story of a family falling apart, that scene in the film portrays one person’s descent into madness and evil, and another person’s defeated but brave decision to slowly but steadily escape from it so brilliantly. It’s painful and captivating to watch.’
[movies] The Monkees’ Head: ‘Our fans couldn’t even see it’ … The Monkees discuss their disastrous movie Head … ‘In retrospect, the marketing seems suicidal. Posters featured the balding head of the media theorist John Brockman and the slogan: “What is Head all about? Only John Brockman’s shrink knows for sure!” The so-called Monkees movie made no mention of the Monkees.’
[kubrick] Stanley Kubrick Interviewed In Rolling Stone … On dressing the set of Full Metal Jacket: ‘To make that kind of three-dimensional rubble, you’d have to have everything done by plasterers, modeled, and you couldn’t build that if you spent $80 million and had five years to do it. You couldn’t duplicate, oh, all those twisted bits of reinforcement. And to make rubble, you’d have to go find some real rubble and copy it. It’s the only way. If you’re going to make a tree, for instance, you have to copy a real tree. No one can “make up” a tree, because every tree has an inherent logic in the way it branches. And I’ve discovered that no one can make up a rock. I found that out in Paths of Glory. We had to copy rocks, but every rock also has an inherent logic you’re not aware of until you see a fake rock. Every detail looks right, but something’s wrong. So we had real rubble. We brought in palm trees from Spain and a hundred thousand plastic tropical plants from Hong Kong. We did little things, details people don’t notice right away, that add to the illusion. All in all, a tremendous set dressing and rubble job.’ [via Daring Fireball]
[people] The Quaid Conspiracy … the story of how actor Randy Quaid and his wife ended up as fugatives living out of their car … ‘It was hard to wrap my mind around the web of intrigue she was spinning, with her nonstop rapid-fire delivery, a tale out of Thomas Pynchon, or perhaps just Law & Order: Los Angeles, that somehow involved the death of Michael Jackson and the “framing” of Mel Gibson. “I’ve spent three years figuring this out,” Evi said, detailing how her investigation had taken her to courthouses, record bureaus, and morgues, how she’d been knocking on strangers’ doors, looking for information. Randy listened intently, driving. I thought about how on Good Morning America he’d said how “very alive” he felt because of all this.’
[movies] The Decade’s Best In Film Villiany … a list of great movie villains from the Noughties … ‘The Joker reminds Batman exactly how close he is to madness, but he also reminds him why he does what he does. The two need each other. They are what happens when “an unstoppable force meets an immovable object”, and they are “destined to do this forever,” if we’re lucky.’a
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February 18, 2011
[anime] Neon Genesis Evangelion: (Hideaki Anno) Reborn Again (and Again) … huge Metafilter post on Neon Genesis Evangelion … ‘What makes Eva so good is that as the series goes on, the deeper frameworks behind it become more and more apparent. It goes from a fairly standard ‘plucky teens in mechas vs giant monsters’; to a drama with explorations of growing up, shyness, cowardice, love, heroism etc; through a conspiracy reveal with betrayal and intrigue; to an all-out, reason-defying, biblically-proportioned eschaton.’
[movies] Why The King’s Speech Is A Gross Falsification … Christopher Hitchens On Winston Churchill, Edward VII, and The King’s Speech … ‘[Edward VII] remained what is only lightly hinted in the film: a firm admirer of the Third Reich who took his honeymoon there with Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he forfeited the throne, and was photographed both receiving and giving the Hitler salute. Of his few friends and cronies, the majority were Blackshirt activists such as the odious “Fruity” Metcalfe. (Royal biographer Philip Ziegler tried his best to clean up this squalid story a few years ago but eventually gave up.) During his sojourns on the European mainland after his abdication, Edward, then the Duke of Windsor, never ceased to maintain highly irresponsible contacts with Hitler and his puppets and seemed to be advertising his readiness to become a puppet or “regent” if the tide went the other way. This is why Churchill eventually had him removed from Europe and given the sinecure of a colonial governorship in the Bahamas, where he could be well-supervised.’
What a shame, I remark, that he never got to work with Stanley Kubrick, the king of the neverending takes. And with that, Reeves is off and running.
“I would’ve been his wet dream!” he enthuses. “After take 400, Kubrick would’ve been, [adopts grizzled Brooklyn accent] ‘All right, cut!’ and I’d be, like, ‘Stanley, can I do one more?’ ‘Whaaat?’ ‘Look, I know I’m just drinking this glass of water, but I think I can find another side to this. Let’s just do one more, OK?’ ‘Arrrgh, OK, Reeves.’ You know what? I would’ve broken Kubrick. ‘Please, sir, can I have some more?’ ‘Take 600. All you gotta do is walk across the road.’ ‘Come on, Stanley, one more!'”
Cesar Romero as the Joker gets perhaps the least to do, though he certainly seems to be having the time of his life responding to the Penguin’s nautical submarine commands with an unhinged “Yo-ho!” or fluttering in terror while being stared down by Catwoman’s thoroughly inoffensive-looking house-cat. Frank Gorshin as the Riddler is, as always, incandescently insane — after he accidentally hits the Batcopter with one of his skyrwriting riddle missiles, his wonderment is so intense that it blurs the line between ecstasy and disappointment. Burgess Meredith as the waddling Penguin delivers some of the film’s best lines, declaiming with squawking relish as he contemplates the possible death of his henchmen, “Every one of them has a mother!” or urging his submarine crew to dive with the immortal exhortation, “Run silent, run deep!”
From the very outset of work on the film we all discussed means of photographically depicting an extraterrestrial creature in a manner that would be as mind-boggling as the being itself. And it soon became apparent that you cannot 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.”
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November 11, 2010
[movies] Roger Ebert on the 1978 Superman Movie … ‘Donner pulls off a balancing act involving satire, action, romcom clichés and of course a full serving of clichés from hard-boiled newspaper movies. What’s admirable is that Salkind and Donner realized they had to make a comedy. The film came in an era of Disaster Movies that took themselves with dreadful earnestness, and they knew the essential element of Superman was fun. Superheroes who came later to big budget movies, notably Batman and Iron Man, would be burdened with angst. But Superman was above that sort of thing. Above it, or emotionally incapable of it, or whatever.’ [via Daring Fireball]
[movies] Starring the Computer … a pretty comprehensive looking list of real computers shown in movies and TV … ‘NCIS – Season 6, Episode 13 (2009): McGee receives a parcel containing his old computers including a Mac Classic.’
[comics] Superheroes Are Misunderstood … ‘Yes, Iron Man (in his film version, at least) and Batman articulate a glorious spectacle of dripping wealth and grey-area morality, but the narratives of their respective worlds already include layers of self-deception, personal uncertainty and the difficulty of every quest for higher ideals.’
‘He went to the computer that he was using to write the script. He typed, marked, cut, pasted, while I faked interest. When he was finished with the routine, Christiane phoned to say that dinner was ready. As we left, I reminded him that he hadn’t turned the computers off.
“They like to be left on,” he said ironically, factually, tenderly.
[kubrick] Don’t Open The Elevator … Metafilter discuss the trailer for The Shining … ‘Now I’m imagining the reverse shot, which would be the blood patiently sitting in the elevator, listening to Elevator music, until there’s a *ping* and the doors open and it rushes out.’
[movies] Is Christopher Nolan the new Stanley Kubrick? … ‘Kubrick made films about paedophilia, military justice, atomic obliteration, urban violence and the Vietnam war; his emigration to England was partly fuelled by the desire to avoid controlling Hollywood types. Nolan is – at present, anyhow – a confirmed establishment figure; nothing he’s done has caused the smallest ripple of disquiet. This may change, but with another Batman film in the works I can’t see it happening just yet.’
[movies] A Religion for Toys … a movie review that describes the theology behind Toy Story 3 … ‘In the theology of Toy Story, Andy is God and Woody is his prophet. He is more Moses than Jesus. For one thing, he is orthodox. In the theology of toys, the ideal is to be owned and to be played with. Of these two, it is more important to be owned, and to be owned by one God only. Andy’s room is heaven…’
[kubrick] Scorsese on Kubrick … Martin Scorcese on Stanley Kubrick, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut and the Shining … ‘I also love the visions—the maze, the elevator, Nicholson bouncing a rubber ball across the vast expanses of the hotel lobby to kill time, the enormous golden ballroom, the red Formica bathroom in which Nicholson “meets” the butler. And, perhaps most frightening of all, the vision of an ordinary American family, beautifully acted, who’ve wandered into deep psychic waters.’
[movies] Paul Verhoeven: ‘Robocop was a Jesus metaphor’ … ‘The point of Robocop, of course, it is a Christ story. It is about a guy who gets crucified in the first 50 minutes, and then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes, and then is like the supercop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end.’
[morris] New Details on Errol Morris’ Next Documentary, Tabloid … ‘His next film, Tabloid, is a considerable departure from his previous film, Standard Operating Procedure, and centers on the fascinating figure of former Miss Wyoming, convicted rapist, and dog-cloning supporter Joyce McKinney.’
[movies] Kosmograd: Why 2010 wont be like ‘2010’ … why the imagery and portrayal of computers in the 1984 film 2010 doesn’t match up to the computers we use today … ‘Unlike the computers of 2010, the computers in ‘2010’ do not create space. The computers of the Leonov, and even HAL 9000 on the Discovery, are little more than tools or automatons, tactile and solid. Whereas HAL looked out into our world, today we look into the world created within the computer.’
[movies] Is Great Cinema Ever The Work Of A Single Man? … how much does a great movie owe to it’s director? … ‘Theoretically, says Loader, it is entirely possible for a film to direct itself. A solid cast and crew can be relied on to fill in the gaps left by a director who is either inept or awol. “Oh, it happens all the time,” he says.’
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[movies] The Director of Downfall Speaks Out on All Those Angry YouTube Hitlers … ‘As for the idea of such a serious scene being used for laughs, Hirschbiegel thinks it actually fits with the theme of the movie. “The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality,” he says.’
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