- Chris Whitley’s posthumous album Reiter In comes out today. About 1998 or so, I designed one iteration of his official-unofficial fan site.
- A breathtaking ABC memo on preferred human misery for Extreme Makeover. Didn’t they see Thank You for Smoking? (guest submission from Andrea)
- Clash of the memes: Snakes on a Sudoko (guest submission from Andrea)
- The Rolling Stones would never sell out, would they? (spotted on The Onion AV Club)
- History according to the movies. (guest submission from Dave)
- Gorillaz are screening excerpts from their forthcoming Europe-only DVD.
- Toss back a pint as the Guinness Book of World Records settles another hypothetical pub dispute: World’s Largest Coconut Orchestra. (guest submission from Andrea)
For all the negative buzz regarding Alan Moore’s total disavowal of the adaptation, I was surprised to find the film kept far closer to the book than I expected. Closer, in fact, than the two other travesties of Moore’s comics, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s better than both, if by itself still not very good.
It’s impossible for me to imagine how I would have reacted had I not read the book several times, but I suspect I would have had very mixed feelings either way. When if comes to movies based on comics, it’s the prerogative of every fanboy to obsess over “what they changed.” So let me point out a few changes I feel illustrate how the filmmakers either misunderstood or deliberately warped some key themes that make the book what it is.
First, Evey’s life (and the future Great Britain, for that matter) as seen in the film is in a far less desperate state than in the book. The book opens with her at the absolute end of hope, her parents dead and herself alone, blacklisted and unable to survive. She makes a misguided and pathetic attempt to prostitute herself, runs afoul of the corrupt police, and is “saved” (in more ways than one) by V. Her susceptibility to V’s seduction is much more plausible if she herself is already a victim of the state. In the film, she’s a rather happy person with a regular job, and her encounter with V is motivated by a redundant invented character called Deitrich. Every theme Deitrich represents is already covered by the character Valerie (which is, incidentally, lifted almost unaltered from the book).
But perhaps the biggest deviation is the very nature of the fascist state Great Britain has become. In the book, it’s something that just happens; a form of order that arises out of the chaos following a nuclear world war. In the film, the great societal disruption is a conspiracy machinated by a cabal of shadowy old white men, who then step in and profit from the reconstruction. Of course, the filmmakers are obviously reaching for an analogy to the Bush Administration, Carlyle Group, Halliburton, etc. While that may make the story of the film relevant to today, it obscures a more powerful point of the book: it’s far more scary when fascism arises out of the common consent of the people, as it did with Nazi Germany.
- Well, I don’t trust me, either. So there!
- The bizarre story of New Line’s resolutely non-ironic Snakes on a Plane continues: Snakes on a Blog and a slew of amateur marketing, most of which will probably be better than the real thing. My favorite: “Jonathan Frakes on a Dame”
- The original hand-scrawled liner notes to what is perhaps my most-played cd.
- Quotable Mike: “This is New York, and I would suggest the coyote may have more problems than the rest of us.”
- As if proof was needed that comics corrupt our nation’s youth, who would surely otherwise be reading Ranger Rick and Highlights. My favorite: Holy Boner, Batman! (spotted on Boing Boing)
- Radiohead have suddenly resurfaced: a new tour and A Scanner Darkly soundtrack. Plus, Thom Yorke won’t play ball like Bono, and is planning a solo album?
One of the best movies ever made, on one of the biggest screens in New York. What could be better?
It’s taken me many years and many viewings to realize that the movie is actually very, very funny. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, coming right on the heels Dr. Strangelove, but the sombre serious air about the film disguised some of the comedy to my young mind watching the movie every year uncut on a Philadelphia VHF channel. Just a few of the many huge “jokes” packed into the film: the entire human condition condensed as chimp pantomime, fantastic visions of the future punctured by hilariously closed-minded humans more interested in sandwiches, and the most naked human emotions shown on screen coming from apes and computers as opposed to supposedly evolved humans.
2001 On the web: Kubrick 2001 presents an elaborate, though sometimes silly, animated explication. Then there’s The Underview, in valiant opposition to the scheming dedamned’s autoguard, helpfully including the complete Zero Gravity Toilet instructions.
- A third 2,500 year-old sarcophagus found in Cyprus, with illustrations from Homer. The US and Britain each already have one; who gets to cart this one home?
- Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blogge. (guest submission by Dave)
- In what can only be evidence of cosmic karma, one cat will get to experience life as a mouse. (spotted on Boing Boing)
- If anyone can appreciate a killer attack of the absurd, it’s Neil. (spotted on Boing Boing)
- Hearteningly, Bush has been deemed unfavorable by, get this, Fox News! (since about October of last year)
- I don’t even like South Park, but Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s recent statement is a work of comic brilliance.
- The New York Times notes a trend towards nattering in feature-film animation.
- Shall I compare thee to a nerve-wrackingly insane-making scripting language? (guest submission by Dave)
- Snakes on a Mutha&$%#in’ Plane! The new teaser is rockin’ blogs all over the web, so why don’t I just post it here too. I am SO proud to work for New Line.
- It’s about time, yadda yadda. Doctor Who finally premiered in the US on March 17. Too slow, suckas! I already got my region 1 dvd from Canada! A few choice press pieces culled from the fantastic Outpost Gallifrey: The New York Times, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Hollywood Reporter, and Entertainment Weekly.
- More good examples of how bad Microsoft’s imminent patent-dodge will suck for everyone. (spotted on Kottke.org)
- Blogging 4 Books.
I vaguely recall seeing Mask when I was a kid, but only recently learned A) it was directed by Peter Bogdanovich and B) there’s a well-regarded director’s cut available on DVD. The film is very unconventional for the genre of disabled-person-beating-the-odds. Roy, doomed to die from Craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, loses his friend, his girl, and dies in his sleep never fulfilling his dream of traveling Europe. And yet, it is nevertheless moving and even uplifting. I think one reason is the sympathetic matter-of-fact presentation of a biker gang, a group often maligned or at least treated condescendingly by Hollywood.
Oops. I should have let The Dark Crystal live on in my childhood memories as a Good Movie. Seeing the brilliant Mirrormask reminded me how much this movie affected my childhood, but seeing it again as an adult I find it has not aged well. The special effects of course cannot rival contemporary digital epics, but I was surprised to find the storytelling stilted and overly dumbed-down. Recent kids’ movies are pitched at a more sophisticated level, not feeling the need to start with a lonnnnng opening expository narrative and pause every 15 minutes or so to do a plot recap.
Still, you have to admire Jim Henson’s sheer bloodymindedness at spending five years pulling off this difficult-to-make film. And it scores points for just being so weird.
And a quick word about the dvd: cheap menus and a horrendous print. What’s up with that?
- Who ever said labels were misleading?
- A surprisingly good article on the digital future of movies in Time. All the right filmmakers are interviewed, with lots of interesting (and sometimes bitchy) things to say: Mann, Shyamalan, Lucas, Rodriguez, Soderberg.
- A for Alan, Part Two. You can cut the irony with the Ripper’s scalpel: "By asking DC to take my name off V for Vendetta and stop giving me the money for V for Vendetta, all I’m asking for is for them to treat me in the same way they’ve been completely happy to treat hundreds of much greater comics creators than I over the decades. I’m asking them to say to me the same thing they said to Gardner Fox and Jack Kirby and to all those other guys, just say to me you are not going to see a penny for any kind of future reproductions of your work and we’re not going to put your name on them."
- Reported on the same site is this absurdity, which is too bizarre not to make The Dork Report. Unfortunately, it has a disappointingly rational (and capitalist) explanation.
- Not through with Alan yet. The Gray Lady covers the V for Vendetta dispute.
- Saw on Neil Gaiman’s blog that Dave McKean’s next feature film will be an adaptation of Varjak Paw for the Jim Henson Co. Also spotted this older profile on Apple.com.
- It’s a foggy day in the cosmos today, so be sure to use your lo-beams. (guest submission from Andrea – smart chicks are hot!)
- Part one of a massive interview with Alan Moore about his extreme decision to take his name off every comic his publishers own (spotted on Boing Boing). Moore makes reference to being cheated out of ownership of Watchmen and V for Vendetta but doesn’t clarify; I’ve read (can’t find the source at the moment) that they promised ownership would revert back to him and the artists when the books went out of print, which of course hasn’t happened for 20-some years.
- Um, gosh, E.
- The last thing I need: more fonts. 25 Best License-Free Quality Fonts and 15 Best License-Free Pixel Fonts. (spotted on Kottke.org)
- And in related news, the best (by leaps and bounds) font manager for the Mac is finally finished. And FREE.
- Speaking as both a designer and as one also afflicted with Apple Lust himself, this is a really clever marketing idea.
- Here we go again. Is it a tablet, a proper video iPod, or a typically frenzied buildup of increasingly unfounded rumors and speculation?
I think, but I’m not sure, this is supposed to be a comedy. Honestly, The Ice Harvest is one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. It apparently aspires to be a comedy of villainies along the lines of Bad Santa, extending even into the casting of Billy Bob Thornton, but it decidedly lacks the x-factor that can twist violence & mean-spiritedness into satire.
No matter how much I hated it, it nevertheless narrowly misses a one-star rating, which is reserved for TRUE crimes against humanity, like Polar Express.