Glenn Fleishman on a crowdfunded journey into the history of comics in AmericaRead the rest
A problem crops up when filmmakers try to adapt epic fantasy worlds to the big screen—particularly beloved, richly-imagined literary ones. Sacrifices must be made. Characters are cut, and plotlines are re-routed. Scenes and places don’t match what readers have pictured with their minds. Fans of the original book cry foul.
In the case of director Alejandro Jodorowsky, his vision for Frank Herbert’s masterwork Dune was so over the top, so surreal (and, at times, so absurd), it probably would have blown the minds of critics before they had a chance to grumble.
That is, if Jodorowsky’s translation and transmogrification of Dune had ever been made. It never was.Read the rest
Remember this incredible video above? In the new issue of BusinessWeek, I profile the brilliant minds behind it, creative robotics studio Bot & Dolly, whose astonishing technology was also instrumental in the special effects of Gravity:
Behind a small cafe in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood stands an unmarked warehouse where the future of human-machine interaction is taking shape. Inside this sprawling maze of soundstages, machine shops, and computer labs, artists collaborate with engineers, cinematographers brainstorm with coders, and everyone has a collegial relationship with the small army of industrial robots stationed here. This is Bot & Dolly, a boutique design studio that specializes in combining massive mechanical arms with custom software for movies, architecture, digital fabrication, and entertainment installations. “We’re a culture of makers, of creators with open minds,” says Tobias Kinnebrew, Bot & Dolly’s director for product strategy. “We work on things that don’t seem possible and try to make them possible.”"Bot & Dolly and the Rise of Creative Robots"
I never thought I’d say this, but Justified could really use Arlo Givens back. Without his father, Raylan Givens has meandered throughout the season, unmoored from his family connection to Harlan County, and detached from his ex-wife and infant daughter now residing down in Florida. He’s truly the lone wolf now, with barely any professional connection to the other Marshals in his office, a Cold War standoff with Art, and a clean break from Alison. There was a time when a lonely Raylan made for some fireworks—as recently as last season, with him living above the bar, getting into trouble with the owner downstairs. But now, as he ticks closer to his breaking point of frustration with the area, with the office, and with the long lonely existence ahead of him, Raylan has become a lethargic quip-machine. It’s still a joy to watch Olyphant in the part, and his drawl is intoxicating, but he’s now been around the track one too many times, rounding up criminals who are just a spectral repetition of more interesting characters from previous seasons.
A new Peanuts movie will come to the big screen on November 6, 2015, produced by Charles Schulz's son Craig Schulz with a screenplay co-written by his son Bryan Schulz.
"It's about a round-headed kid and his dog, and that's about as far as I'm willing to go," Craig Schulz told USA Today.
Imagine a world... where film trailers have emerged as their own art form. Where today, we learn that one of the greats of that genre has passed on. Hal Douglas, the familiar narrator of thousands of Hollywood trailers, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 89 years old. (New York Times)
True Detective ends its first season as it began: with two indelible performances [Recap: season 1, episode 8]
It’s helpful, I think, to look at True Detective through the lens of Nic Pizzolatto’s career before the bidding war for this show reached astronomical levels. He was an English professor, teaching creative writing and literature at schools like UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago, and DePauw. But he left academia in 2010, the same year his first novel Galveston was published, to work as a screenwriter, first on the staff of AMC’s The Killing (he’s co-credited along with showrunner Veena Sud on the infuriating first-season finale) and now with a presumably lucrative overall development deal at HBO. I’ve heard many people from various universities argue, dismissively, that this is the route to go in order to make something more than a paltry living as a fiction writer in the current market. But plucking out his work as a novelist is the key to looking at True Detective as an eight-hour story. That sounds about right for the amount of time it would take to read a crime novel on the denser side.
Never let it be said that Community goes halfway in its genre homage episodes. “App Development And Condiments” is a full-on dystopian meltdown that pitches Greendale into a disastrous state of rigid social classes determined by an upstart social network. It’s not as airtight as some of the show’s other clear homage episodes, nor is it as coherent as some of the more sprawling, cafeteria-homage episodes (like the David Fincher Ass-Crack Bandit episode earlier this season), but at least it has a kernel of a clear message. If I’m placing this on my scale of Community styles, this is a batshit insane, throw-everything-at-the-wall stylistic extravaganza, but not everything sticks.
Hannibal’s premiere hit the ground running, but it felt like half of an episode. We barely even met the “artist” behind the giant corpse-eye mural, because there was so much fallout from Will’s incarceration. And this new artist still isn’t much of a big deal in “Sakizuki,” despite racking up the show’s largest tableau to date. It's more of an elaborate metaphor.
And that’s perfectly fine. Because this show isn’t about a killer of the week. It’s about Hannibal. And Will. And how both intelligent psychopaths manipulate the people around them to paint their own reflections. Of course, one is doing it to protect his terrible secrets (and the contents of his fridge.) The other is trying to prove his innocence. But make no mistake – Will must know that by directing attention onto Hannibal in his own way, he will be putting his friends at risk. As viewers, we saw at least Crawford’s confrontation with Hannibal, but I’m most concerned about the immediate safety of Beverly and Alana.
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On its 40th anniversary, iconic splatterpunk film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been restored with a new 4K transfer from the original 16mm film shot by director Tobe Hooper in 1974. A production of Dark Sky Films, the new print premieres at SXSW on Monday, March 10 with wide theatrical release over the summer.
"I haven't seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the big screen for many, many years," Hooper says. "This 40th anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The color and clarity is spectacular, displaying visual details in the film that were never before perceptible. The newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack breathes new life and energy into the film. I am very much looking forward to audiences experiencing this film as they never have before".
Leatherface had no comment.
Mikkelsen’s civilized serial killer returns for another season of Hannibal. Theresa DeLucci takes a bite out of the show’s mad metaphors.Read the rest
Scouting New York visited the New York filming locations of The Godfather (1972) to see how they look today. Top, Don Corleone gunned down outside Genco (128 Mott Street), and that location now. "The New York Filming Locations of The Godfather, Then and Now" (via Laughing Squid)
“Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing, if that long.”
Sharing a defining event links people together for life. Rust Cohle and Marty Hart have the covert assault on Reggie Ledoux’s cookhouse, the seemingly culminating event in the worst case they ever drew as detectives. For better or worse, landing that Dora Lange case has defined nearly 20 years in the lives of these men, and there’s still lingering guilt and emotional damage because of it. The pilot opened with a few shots in the darkness: someone carrying what turned out to be a body, a bit of burning brush, and then a field of crops engulfed in flame. That left the first sign of a sinister undercurrent running throughout the bayou. But the total confusion of those first moments—meeting Rustin Cohle and Martin Hart, discovering their work in Louisiana, peeling back the first few layers of a complex and perplexing series of disappearances and murders—is now almost by the wayside. All that’s left is the present-day conclusion.
The fifth season of Community isn’t breaking new ground, but it’s a perfectly satisfying addition to a catalogue of episodes that now breaks down into a number of categories. Right now, I think there’s a bit of a gradient along which episodes fall: Conceptually ambitious and serious (“Virtual Systems Analysis,” “Critical Film Studies”), the lightly serious (“Mixology Certification”), the lightly comedic (“Introduction To Teaching,” basically most of the first season), and the structurally adventurous joke factories (“Epidemiology,” “Paradigms Of Human Memory,” “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics”).
Episodes fall into or between those categories, but largely that’s what the show is working with at this point. “Bondage And Beta Male Sexuality” falls into that second list. It’s not structurally overambitious, nor is it a consistent laugh-fest. But it’s an earnestly serious episode with many laughs examining two male relationships—a pair of old friends out of touch and a student/teacher interaction—that haven’t been featured previously on the show. Read the rest
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Justified’s fifth season reaches the midpoint by firing a round of narrative buckshot [Recap: season 5, episode 7]
As Boyd and Johnny Crowder sit outside of a Mexican cartel house south of the border, hands zip-tied behind their backs, Boyd’s “silver tongue” doesn’t talk his way out of the predicament he set up, but he does offer some sage advice about the criminal life he and his cousin have chosen. He says he made peace with the idea that his lifestyle wouldn’t allow for him to have a peaceful death at the end of a long natural life. That’s the risk entailed in attempting to make a better life through ill-gotten gains instead of working in the coalmines.
Cheyene Randall's Tumblr of "Shopped Tattoos." (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)
True Detective drops more hints about the possible identity of the Yellow King [Recap: season 1, episode 6]
In the rapturous aftermath of the “oner” from the end of True Detective’s fourth episode, Alyssa Rosenberg wrote the most astute pushback against all the hype. In her analysis, the show went into a project in the New Orleans area and didn’t reveal anything about the lives of the people there. That long take depicted all of the minority characters as some kind of criminal, either as residents of a stash house full of drugs, or toting automatic weapons and running through the streets to fend off the biker gang in the robbery-gone-wrong. Read the rest
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Our standards betray us, leading to action movies (particularly remakes of Paul Verhoeven's) which "trade subversive carnage for sanitized violence that asks fewer moral questions." James Orbesen:
"Research has shown that depicted violence does not necessarily lead to real-world violence. But depicted violence can say a lot about the appetites and attitudes of audiences. The Verhoven approach—bloody, unsettling, and confrontational—seems more and more like a relic. What people want now is violence that is clean and quick, provoking no questions."
Great stuff from Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith on the former's first time in charge at The Tonight Show. The best line from the new king: "I'll be your host ... for now." [YouTube]
2013's House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey as a ruthless politician on his way to the top, was based upon 1990's House of Cards, starring Ian Richardson as a ruthless politician on his way to the top. They are both brilliant shows (catch a scene from the earlier version above), and an excellent illustration of the differences between American and British politics, drama and humor.
The comparison between the U.S. and U.K. versions of this program shows something about why I feel so profoundly American (rather than British), but also why the Brits excel at just this kind of thing. There are lots of tough breaks in Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, but in the end there is a jauntiness to it. People kill themselves; politicians lie and traduce; no one can be trusted -- and still, somewhere deep it has a kind of American optimism. That's us (and me). USA! USA! It's different in the UK version. Richardson's Francis Urquhart reminds us that his is the nation whose imagination produced Iago, and Uriah Heep, and Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim" Dixon. This comedy here is truly cruel -- and, one layer down, even bleaker and more squalid than it seems at first.
Both editions are on Netflix—the UK one is only a four-hour miniseries, too.
Delaying the resolution of a cliffhanger can be tricky business. It risks rendering the previous chapter less enthralling, taking credit for a sometimes unexpected leap in the plot, and disappointing viewers by feinting one way then pulling back on boldness.
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Shirley Temple Black, child movie star and adult diplomat, has died. She was 85. Above, Temple sings "On the Good Ship Lollipop" in the 1934 film Bright Eyes. (New York Times)