I wonder if part of his duties is making a documentary of himself.
I wonder if part of his duties is making a documentary of himself.
He made a lot of great movies, my favorite is probably Twelve Angry Men, but this is surely the most famous scene he ever helmed. Enjoy!
Haikus from Carina Chocano in today’s New York Times Magazine:
Your “Good Will Hunting”
‘Twas a masterpiece. It’s true:
We liked them apples.
You played the private
In “Saving Private Ryan.”
Saved? Died? Can’t recall.
Who was Jason Bourne?
An American James Bond.
Without all the sex.
You’ll soon be playing
Liberace’s muse. Homework:
Your best role? No way.
But best-named role: “Glory Daze”‘s
There’s a LexG rant on The Hot Blog in which he is amazed by a poster on Glenn Kenny’s blog (whew, I’m tired out with all the sourcing) that a person mentions that he has seen only one Adam Sandler movie. He wonders, with some reasonableness, how a person could live in the world of pop culture without even accidentally seeing one.
I have seen a half dozen or so Sandler films, but the only one I saw in a theater was Punch-Drunk Love, and I hated it. Of all the Sandler films I’ve seen, the only one that I didn’t instantly regret was Funny People. (for the record, I’ve also seen Mr. Deeds [it was because of Winona], Anger Management, Click, Spanglish, and 50 First Dates [which wasn't terrible]). Some have said that Reign Over Me is pretty good.
I have not seen the movies that made Sandler’s reputation–The Waterboy, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore. They strike me as appealing to the kind of frat-boy caveman mentality that is anathema to me. I never found Sandler’s shtick to be funny–I doubt he ever made me laugh on SNL.
I hope I never see the stuff that is regarded as garbage, like The Grownups, Little Nicky, Chuck and Larry, Big Daddy, and the latest abortion to be released (check that–I may have to rent that for the Brooklyn Decker in a bikini scenes, but then again, isn’t the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue a more efficient means of cheesecake delivery?)
So, any Sandler defenders out there?
In this installment of Major Directors’ Early Works, we’re going to look at the 1978 first film of James Cameron named “Xenogenesis”.
This is a quite staggering early work, if only because Cameron completely self-taught himself special effects by going to the USC film library and photocopying every thesis paper he could find and absorbing all there was to know about how to make fantastic worlds appear on-screen. The man truly is a genius.
I’m reading the most recent biography on Cameron right now, entitled ‘The Futurist’, and the slight bit that they discuss his early life reveals a man who can not only do it all, but can imagine it all and then create it all. And this early film shows just how much he wanted to achieve.
He is quoted in that biography as saying that after a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, he realized there was something he needed to understand about what Kubrick did with special effects and that there was something he wanted to achieve in that same realm. He didn’t view 2001 and say there was something he wished he had done. No, he said he now knew there was something he wanted to achieve, to show people that same type of feeling Kubrick left him with and he wanted to dissect and learn how to create those effects so he could achieve that also. *Filmman shakes his head in awe*. That level of inquisitiveness is breathtaking.
As is this short film. There are robots fighting! There are lasers and a robot throwdown and I have to say, I was more giddy watching this than at any time during the Los Angeles street sequence in Transformers, and that scene made me pretty goddamn giddy.
The tank is an obvious precursor of the hunter-killers in Terminator and the other machine is an obvious precursor of the amp suits in Avatar. They even composited the cockpit onto the good machine and then show an awesome angle from behind the bad robot to show off that level of effects talent. *Filmman shakes his head in awe*.
And the ending, while leaving it wide open for a sequel, is still, you have to admit, pretty thrilling for what it is.
This is the birth of a miraculous filmmaker who would go on to make some of the greatest action films ever. How I wish he would get back to even effects like this, and leave the CG to George Lucas. Cameron is a master with CG, but please get back to real-world effects. The world misses things like this. And Michael Bay needs to learn how to film a robot fight sequence.
And these shorts just keep getting better.
Just when I think I’ve found my favorite early works, another comes along to take its rightful place at the top of the food chain.
First, is Burton’s stop-motion masterpiece, VINCENT.
This is a strikingly-shot and handsomely-written film spoken in a verse-style that appears to be an autobiographical script of what one would surmise Mr. Burton grew up wanting to be.
The young man involved describes how he grew up wanting to be Vincent Price and how he has different ideas of things he wants to do compared, I assume, to what the status quo says to do.
Enough from me. Enjoy this, the first Tim Burton film. A true masterpiece of lighting, animation and writing.
“You’re not Vincent Price, you’re Vincent Malloy. You’re not tormented or insane, you’re just a young boy.”
Why this has not become a legendary children’s story, I don’t know.
**Interesting fact: Burton’s girlfriend, an executive at Disney, produced this.
The next I could only find in three parts:
His first major foray into directing, with big names and production values, but still an early film, was FRANKENWEENIE.
Filled again, with stark blacks and whites and harsh shafts of light in a world that, rather than seemingly shot on a backlot, seems to exist perfectly in that Leave It To Beaver world where if you visited the backlot, you would think you were intruding on a neighborhood you shouldn’t be disturbing.
This is, once again, a masterpiece of the psychological underpinning of what it takes to be a child in a world that shows how random terrible things can happen…and what some children think they may be able to do to reverse the awful fates that befall some things.
No doubt, Burton just wondered what it would be like to bring back a dead dog, but he added so much more depth to that simple idea.
Dare I say, I feel, after viewing these two films, Burton has fallen far off his initial brilliance as he made his way through the studio system. What types of movies could this man have made had he stayed independent?
My love of Batman aside, that movie now seems like a large wart of a blemish on his career, a steam-rolled contract hit fostered by those two wunderkind of the Sony system who, it seems, fooled everyone in a town where what you can say and get means more than what you can do. But who am I to question men who make so much money in a very profitable business.
And please don’t get angry, but after these films, Burton strikes me as the dark version of Steven Spielberg, making pitch-prefect representations of the dark side of suburbia, what kids think of when they think about what they wouldn’t want to tell anyone.
All of that aside, this is a great movie, a sign of a brilliant talent, and a very enjoyable watch, with an ending that brings child and adult together in the implication of Burton saying that no one is immune to child’s impulses.
Actor Stellan Skarsgård (Breaking the Waves, Pirates of the Caribbean), who has a big supporting role in this week’s upcoming Dan Brown adaptation Angels & Demons, when asked about the books by Swedish television show Kulturnyheterna.
Dan Brown is, I think, a terribly bad writer. But he has cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. It’s like when you eat peanuts in a bar, you know? You may not like them, but you still eat them.
When asked why he took the part, he said that the script was better than the book.
The film is better than The Da Vinci Code. The story is both simpler and more straightforward, but just as dramatic. Dramaturgically it was simply better.
He says that he was ultimately pretty pleased with the result, which he calls “an exciting action film and nothing else.”
I spent the day working as an election judge for the 21st precinct of the 49th ward, where things were mostly uneventful, with no long lines (or any lines, for most of the day) or equipment problems in sight. Early voting numbers were substantial, and that particular precinct is located in the heart of the Loyola University campus, where few students were registered (most students register in their home precincts, not the college precinct). We had about 125 ballots cast for the day, which, couple with the early votes, represented a fairly substantial turnout in percentage terms.
Immediately after I finished there, Jeanine and I headed downtown. Jeanine had received a ticket for the Obama rally earlier in the day, so we were excited about that. After all, how often do you get to see a President-elect give his acceptance speech, even without the historical ramifications of this election? Shortly after, we learned that Pennsylvania had been called for Obama. This was expected, of course, but good news nonetheless since McCain’s closing strategy depended heavily on winning the state.
We got to Grant Park (at Michigan and Congress) at about 9:00, only to find a line stretching south down Michigan Avenue. And stretching. And stretching. By the time we got to the end of the line, we were at Michigan and Roosevelt, over half a mile from the park entrance. It took about an hour or so to get through, and all the while we were hearing various news and rumors about states that had been called. Finally, as we neared the park entrance, the networks officially called the race for Obama, and cheers went out up and down the street.
We got to the rally site just as McCain got to the meat of his concession speech. It didn’t get much reaction from the crowd, other than visceral disgust when he started talking up Sarah Palin. It’s possible, even likely, that McCain would have lost had he not selected her as running mate, but I can’t help thinking that her selection damaged him in a way that’s hard to measure. Obviously he wasn’t going to be popular with Chicago voters anyway, but with that selection, he went from a mostly respected if underwhelming candidate to a complete rightwing sellout in the eyes of a lot of people. In other words, I think it created hostility where there wasn’t any before, in exchange for what clearly was little tangible value.
At any rate, the rally site was already full by the time of our arrival. We ended up staking out a spot underneath the trees way in the back, where we could at least see the stage, no matter how far off it was. I thought his speech was perfectly appropriate, a gracious acceptance of victory but with a clear call to voters to stay engaged in governance now that the campaigning is over. I thought the story of the 106-year-old Georgia woman struck just the right note – a reminder of how quickly things can change but also of how hard it nonetheless can be for that change to take place.
Regardless of what happens from here, it’s hard not to see this as a watershed election. I don’t even mean that in terms of Obama himself, although a black President is obviously historical. But we saw three things yesterday:
1) A high turnout. The linked AP article shows disagreement over whether this was the highest turnout in a century, or merely the highest in a generation, but it’s clear that the electorate was highly charged this year.
As a footnote to this, let me also say this: one of the reasons that turnout wasn’t even higher is surely because some people simply don’t know how to vote. I estimate, at my precinct yesterday, that somewhere between 20-25 would-be voters were unable to cast a ballot because they weren’t registered in that precinct. In most cases, because they were college kids, they were actually registered somewhere else, even in a couple cases in different states, but had no way to cast a ballot because they couldn’t make it home to vote. Their only recourse was to cast a provisional ballot, but those won’t be counted because their registration is not valid.
In addition to that, some people showed up who simply were not registered to vote at all. They didn’t know that there was a registration deadline, and obviously they couldn’t vote. I hated turning people away, but that’s the state of things. The fact of the matter is that you have to jump through hoops in order to vote in most parts of the country, and if we made the process simpler and easier the turnout would be higher.
2) As that AP article indicates, the demographics of the elecorate have changed in this country. It is no longer possible to be elected President – or even to come all that close – just by winning a majority of white voters.
3) Exit polls are pretty clear that Obama won every age group other than senior citizens. This election is the passing of the torch, if you will, between generations of political power. The Republican Party is obviously not dead, but the current incarnation of it – dependent on jingoism, social conservatism, trickle-down economics – almost certainly is, at least as a national political force (it clearly remains strong as a force in the South).
The politics of the United States has changed. By 2012, the people who voted for McCain this year will be an even smaller percentage of the electorate than they are now, while Obama’s coalition will have grown. This doesn’t in any way tell us what will happen in 2012, but it does point to the challenge that Republicans will face between now and then.
In other races around the country, there were a few spots of bad news. I don’t understand how the Alaska Senate race can be close, with incumbent Ted Stevens’ recent felony corruption convictions and all; not even Tom DeLay could survive that, and he was only indicted (to this day, he’s yet to stand trial). As of right now, the race is yet to be called, though it looks as if Stevens will prevail. And the Prop 8 vote in California is patently ugly and disgusting, with the only silver lining being that the California constitution is notoriously easy to amend, making this result unlikely to stand for long.
But overall, it was a fantastic night. The eyes of the world were squarely focused on Chicago last night, and I think the city came through. It’s a small town in some ways, one of them being the way that they love seeing one of their own make good. The challenge is now on the Democrats to make good on their promises, having consolidated power in the House and Senate in addition to winning the Presidency. It’ll be a tough four years, but I’m looking forward to them.
There’s an effort to elect an unknown random person as President… and it’s someone we know!
Wherever he is: Chris Farley must be raising his glass to Palin. She’s taken his act of endearing doofusness to new heights.
Thought I’d put up a thread for thoughts about Paul Newman. His death certainly wasn’t unexpected, but is nonetheless a major bummer. I don’t think he ever gave a phony performance, and never seemed to chew the scenery (a possible exception is Road to Perdition). So many great roles it’s hard to determine what was his best. I guess the first film I saw him in was probably The Sting, or maybe Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which were two of my favorites when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. There’s still a few I haven’t seen yet (The Hustler, Hud, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) that I will try to rectify.
Dear Mr. James Cameron,
I see through various and varied internet outlets that you have a new movie coming out in 2009. Some small movie named Avatar? That news is cause for rejoicing, no doubt, but the only thing I can seem to think about whenever I hear or read that news is: WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!