Incongruity

We’re watching “Up In The Air” as I write this, and its growing on me, but I just wanted to note that once Clooney and Farmiga land in Wisconsin the movie feels extremely naturalistic.  They visit his old high school and it looks like a high school, the wedding and reception look like they take place in actual places.  The people and the setting look like the small, lower middle class halls where most people actual get married.  Of course standing out from these images are Clooney and Farmiga, almost too big for the room.

Quentin’s Violence

We had a chance to catch a few movies this weekend- Inglorious Basterds and Shutter Island. I can’t say I loved either but they were both visually striking movies. Quentin does his thing, tension and release, long dialogs and gratuitous violence. Martin does his too, excellent sound design and striking imagery. Both fell kind of flat to me, but one thing that really struck me was how ridiculous the violence in Tarantino’s movie is. For all intents and purposes its comic relief. The violence in Shutter Island is doled out purely in service to the story.

Shutter Island

There is something about Leonardo Dicaprio that doesn’t ring true to me, but Scorsese is firing on all pistons as usual, save for a thing here or there. The opening sequence could have been just as suspenseful with no music at all as opposed to the insanely bombastic score that accompanies it. I’m glad he didn’t lay too heavily on the pop to score the rest of the film but the sound and music cues were really well done.

As far as the story…eh…you basically knew what was happening from the beginning and I guess people were into the “twist” but the quality of the movie really came from the suspense, the fantastic imagery, and the sound.

Overreacting Echosphere

So some time yesterday someone in the blogger/twitter-sphere picked up on an interview with James Cameron where he claims the Sigourney Weaver character in Avatar smokes because its “a negative comment about people in our real world living too much in their avatars, meaning online and in video games.”

Note:  He did not say, “a negative comment on video games and online culture.”  He did not say, “Video games derive us of the ability to enjoy life.”  The resulting eruption on gaming blogs would lead you to think that he did just that, and maybe killed Shigeru Miyamoto in the process as well.  The man lives and breathes digital tech.  He talked for an hour at a games conference about the game for his movie- a game that nobody even cares about.  He BUILDS SUBMARINES! This guy is no luddite.

This whole mini-controversey is a really telling example of:

  • How gaming culture is so incredibly sensitive about itself that it can not handle even the most slight criticism.
  • How quick paid-by-the-post bloggers are to seek controversy magnet headlines and write stories about them without thinking for even a second about what they’re writing.

Surely many gamers out there know someone who played a little too much WOW.  Girlfriends who left because of too much COD4?  PEOPLE WHO SPEND $300000 on VIRTUAL REAL ESTATE!?

In no way was Cameron indicting all gamers or even gaming culture, but simply showing that there are those who let go of their meatspace lives a little too much in favor of their online persona.  Is it so wrong to even consider the possibility?  The whole thing was so insignificant that no one even noticed until Cameron pointed it out in an article about smoking in movies.

The funniest thing about the entire episode is that in all of the above articles the commenters are more level headed than the authors.  How often does that happen?

Update (spoilerific):
AND ANOTHER THING: If then the movie contains a metaphor for living out experience online, what does it say that its crippled main character chooses to completely abandon his human self and that it is depicted as a triumph?

Fixing Movies Online

So I’m not even going to touch delivery to the living room, because that’s still a big question (but Tivo + Netflix is a match made in heaven).

iTunes is getting pretty close to giving people what they want when it comes to downloadable movies, but they *still* complain about the time it takes to download the movie. They want to start streaming it now, it takes too long to download. Who cares? Its a frickin’ movie!

How do we fix it? Turn on the netflix stylee:

Give people a queue, and give them a delivery box (amazon Unboxed was close)- some kind of app that is not a web browser. The box runs in the background and gives you a little “shelf” that shows the titles you have. You watch the titles and send them back. Then they deliver you the next title in your queue.

The real key here is get rid of instant on video, and get rid of progress bars! Have people play with their queues and make sure they know when their media is “delivered”.

We’re just shifting the netflix model onto the net. We’re shifting people’s expectations from “instant on” to “Netflixing” their movies. Watch them when they arrive, send them back when they’re done- all online.

House of Sand and Fog

So I watched House of Sand and Fog the other night. What a fantastic film. It really crystallized a lot of things I’ve been thinking about lately about the way we live in America. Hell, it could be construed as a metaphor for America’s efforts to democratize the middle east. Pointing it out may put me firmly in the realm of ‘merica haters to some (aboslutely not), but the movie really shows us just how screwed up and wasted we’ve become. A country of enternal children who are too lazy to get anything done properly and then have the nerve to bitch about it when things don’t go their way.

Apparently some have problems with the likelyhood of the events of the movie realistically taking place, and they don’t like Connelly’s character because she’s so “weak.” I think the real problem is that they were uncomfortable watching some honest to god truth telling before their very eyes. Watch how the cop immediately suspects the “foreigners” (American citizens by the way) are revelling in Kathy’s misfortune. Watch how they quietly conspire to exploit the family’s status as immigrants. Yes the film does go to extremes, and yes Kingsly’s character is no angel, but it really is does dare to show us a bit of ourselves we really don’t want to know about, and to that I say bravo!

Blip Then v Blip Now

What a difference some coverage makes:
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The Terms of Service as they Read Now

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When Making a Biographical Film

You must do the following:

  • Represent the person’s entire life as a series of grand cliches.
  • If the person produced something (scientific, artistic), have their character experience something verging on mystical that will inevitably lead them to their breakthrough.
  • Bog down truly dramatic moments by presenting them as those most boring cinematic shorthand possible- rush to the hospital, physical collapse which represents the inevitable tragedy of person
  • Try to wrap the movie in ideas and images you don’t really understand, but believe reflect the person’s intent or creation.
  • Politics is taken as nothing more than scenery- another roadsign on the highway through their life.

    Granted, you are condensing a person’s life into a few hours, so you are going to have to do some condensing, but all of these movies are the same- Pollack, Friday, A Beautiful Mind, Kinsey– they are all more or less the same. It always feel like by trying to tell the story of a person’s life, they forget about that person’s humanity, what they truly did, their relevance. I’m not sure if part of it is a desire to attract an audience or the simple inability for filmmakers to see beyond cliche.

  • 54 Hour Movie Project #8 is up!

    Month eight of the 54 Hour Movie Project is here! This month’s sentence: “They started an online gambling web site.”
    Each month teams across america get together to produce a movie in 54 hours. 6pm Friday they get “the sentence”- the single guidepost for the film’s content. Teams must submit by 12am on monday.

    read more | digg story

    Make sure to check out Yar Hasty Ent’s Entry Toxic– Its a play on the Google dominated future!