Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Perhaps I've been doing these a bit too often lately, but here are a few interesting links I've seen lately:
Posted by Mark on March 31, 2010 at 09:34 PM .: link :.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I may have posted about this before, but I'm not a very astute music fan. Don't get me wrong, I love music, I just don't understand it the way I do with something like, say, movies or books. I gather I'm very unusual in most respects when it comes to music, especially when it comes to lyrics. In short, I rarely pay attention to them. My focus is generally on the music and the way the sound of the voice plays into that, which I know is a crazy way to listen to music, but it's what I generally find myself doing. When I really get into an album or a band or something and I spend a lot of time listening to their stuff, I will eventually get around to the lyrics. Sometimes I'm very pleased with the experience and it takes me to the next level. Other times, I find out that I've been listening to German anarchists (and I suppose there's a next level there too).
Part of the issue is that I really have no technical knowledge of music. Tune, chords, notes; I have a general idea of what these things are, but I'm not a musician. I treat music much more subjectively than I treat movies or books. I can recognize when I like the pretty sounds coming out of the speakers though, and that's good enough most of the time.
Anyway, I've lately come to realize that my music catalog is becoming outdated and rather stale. I'm getting sick of listening to the same stuff, so I thought it was time to branch out. Even when it comes to my preferred genres of music (i.e. Rock), I'm not a terribly knowledgeable listener. So in an attempt to broaden my musical horizons, I got a book called 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon. So far, I've made my way through 38 of the albums listed, which is pretty slow going. At the current rate, it would take me a many years to listen to all of these at least once, but it's still been fun. Here are a few highlights (The book has a website, but not all the albums have the descriptions posted yet):
Posted by Mark on March 28, 2010 at 05:35 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
A while ago, Steven recommended that I check out an Anime series called Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. It turns out that it's a sequel to the original series. Opinions differ on whether or not to start from the beginning, the crux of the matter being that the start of the first series can be a bit of a difficult watch. However, I've found myself to be something of a completist these days, and prefer to start from the beginning (this also holds true for Crest/Banner of the Stars - I'd recommend people to start with Crest even though Banner is the better series overall.) So while I was recommended the second series, I decided to start with the first.
This is probably a good topic for another post, but I've found this completist impulse to be interesting because I can remember when I was young and had no problem turning on a series or a movie even when it had already started. I'm not sure if it's just because I take the idea of watching a movie more seriously these days or what, but I rarely put on a movie that's already begun (unless it's something I've seen before). When it comes to series, a big part of it would have to be that when I was young, most series didn't feature an overarching story arc, instead consisting of mostly one-off episodes. That sort of series is obviously much easier to start watching than something more tightly plotted like the shows common today. Technology may be part of it too, as devices like my DVR or services like Netflix make it easier to watch a series or a movie from the beginning. But I digress!
Having just finished Disc 2 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, I have to say that despite some major reservations after the first Disc, the show has really turned the corner and become something I'm looking forward to finishing. Indeed, when I got home tonight and put in Disc 2, I had only planned to watch 1 episode. 4 episodes later, I hopped on my computer and pushed up Disc 3 in my Netflix queue and then started writing this post.
The story concerns a young girl named Nanoha whose life is changed when she runs across a magical ferret who gives her a stone called the "Raging Heart" (there seems to be some confusion in translations here, it sometimes being referred to as "Raising Heart" - I gather there's some sort of story there, but I don't want to read too much about it until I finish the series). The stone unlocks Nanoha's magical powers and she decides to help the magical ferret recover powerful but unstable Jewel Seeds (magical artifacts from another dimension). Soon it becomes apparent that they're not the only ones after the Jewel Seeds, and Nanoha gets caught up in the middle.
A sizeable portion of the premise feels a lot like a Japanese version of Harry Potter, what with the young protagonist and the discovery of a magical world, but despite the sometimes fluffy tone of this series, it does seem to delve rather frequently into darker territory. Indeed, while Harry Potter never really had a choice but to confront his destiny, people like Dumbledore at least attempted to protect him. Nanoha, on the other hand, seems to freely choose her fate. Yuuno, the magical ferret, seems to feel bad that he got Nanoha involved, but doesn't really do much to discourage Nanoha. I found this a bit odd, but then again, Yunno is apparently around the same age. For that matter so are Fate and Chrono.
I'm not necessarily opposed to a story that features young characters in such a way (for example, I like Enders Game a lot), but given the dark nature of the story, it's hard to imagine this appealing to young children. In particular, there's a scene where Fate meets with her mother that is brutal. I guess I'm just not sure why the characters aren't older (I speculate below, but I find that reason kinda creepy). There doesn't seem to be any story-related reason for it, and it can sometimes lead to rather odd tonal shifts. These tonal shifts didn't impact me nearly as much as they did in Trigun and indeed, seem to be something common in a lot of Japanese entertainment (I've also seen a few Yakuza flicks lately that feature this sort of thing, and certainly Kurosawa was no stranger to it either - this, too, is probably a good topic for a separate post).
There is one thing that really did bother me about the series though, and that's the fan service. I'm sure there's probably another name for it, but a show that features fan service with 9 year olds is pretty emphatically not my thing. I'm not a big proponent of fan service in general, but I can tolerate it in something like Ghost in the Shell, where it's pretty tame. Here it's just creepy. In particular, there are scenes where Nanoha transforms from her regular clothing to her magical armor, and the transformation is just disturbing. I seriously considered stopping the series after the first disc because this made me so uncomfortable. At this point, I'm glad I continued, but it's enough to hold me back from truly loving the series.
I suppose it helps that the creepiness factor seems to be waning a bit since episode 5 (the one with the hot spring). There have even been a few transformation sequences that aren't cringe-inducing, so perhaps it's something that will lessen as the series goes on (which may be too much to hope for, but still). Also, it seems that Yunno and I have pretty much the same reaction to these types of scenes.
In any case, I'm looking forward to how the first series ends, and I recognize that the second series is what I was really recommended, so I'm looking forward to that too. More thoughts (and screenshots) to come once I've finished the series.
Update: More thoughts here.
Posted by Mark on March 24, 2010 at 09:36 PM .: link :.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Another installment of links I found interesting on the internets:
Posted by Mark on March 21, 2010 at 04:31 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
In Sunday's post on Remix Culture and Soviet Montage Theory I mentioned in passing that the BSG Sabotage video wasn't an especially great example of "Remix Culture" and that this video would be a much better example:
Like the BSG Sabotage video, all of the audio and visual components of the video come from pre-existing works of art. The "creativity" here is in the way the video is edited together. Unlike the BSG Sabotage video, which is entirely reliant on its source material for its entertainment, the Shining video is much more creative in its appropriation. It's a funny video, but there's more to it than that. It's also insightful and even a little subversive. Don't believe me? Want me to ruin the video by pointing out the obvious in an attempt to explain it? Great! Let's take a look at a few different ways a viewer can decode the meaning of the Shining video.
Robert Ryang, 25, a film editor’s assistant in Manhattan, graduated from Columbia three years ago with a double major in film studies and psychology. ... A few weeks back, he said, he entered a contest for editors’ assistants sponsored by the New York chapter of the Association of Independent Creative Editors. The challenge? Take any movie and cut a new trailer for it — but in an entirely different genre. Only the sound and dialogue could be modified, not the visuals, he said.Ryang won the contest, and posted the video to a "secret" link that he sent only to 3 of his friends. But you can't stop the signal, and even in the days before the broad adoption of internet video sites like YouTube (which had launched only 6 months or so before this video caught on), the meme spread quickly.
Indeed, the video has spawned many imitators, skewering the likes of Mary Poppins (as a horror movie) to Top Gun (as a love story between Maverick and Iceman) to countless Brokeback Mountain parodies. Most of these are cute or funny in their own way, but none seems to quite recapture the brilliance of Shining. But was that only because Shining was the first video of that kind that I'd seen?
The big difference between Shining and its predecessors was technology. I can't imagine that the contest Ryang entered was the first of its kind, but Shining was the first one posted to the internet during a time when high bandwidth connections were becoming more and more common. Personally, I think the video is a valuable addition to pop culture, and it's the sort of thing that wouldn't really have been possible 10 years ago. It's also worth noting that Ryang is a professional editor who created the video in an attempt to hone his talents, so there's value there too. I think that's a good thing, even if it has spawned lots of uninspired imitations. Is it the only thing? Or the most important thing? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it's not valuable. I'd be curious to see what Sonny thinks of the video.
Posted by Mark on March 17, 2010 at 08:33 PM .: link :.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Remix Culture and Soviet Montage Theory
A video mashup of The Beastie Boys' popular and amusing Sabotage video with scenes from Battlestar Galactica has been making the rounds recently. It's well done, but a little on the disposable side of remix culture. The video lead Sunny Bunch to question "remix culture":
It’s quite good. But, ultimately, what’s the point?These are good questions, and I'm not surprised that the BSG Sabotage video prompted them. The implication of Sonny's post is that he thinks it is an unoriginal waste of talent (he may be playing a bit of devil's advocate here, but I'm willing to play along because these are interesting questions and because it will give me a chance to pedantically lecture about film history later in this post!) In the comments, Julian Sanchez makes a good point (based on a video he produced earlier that was referenced by someone else in the comment thread), which will be something I'll expand on later in this post:
First, the argument I’m making in that video is precisely that exclusive focus on the originality of the contribution misses the value in the activity itself. The vast majority of individual and collective cultural creation practiced by ordinary people is minimally “original” and unlikely to yield any final product of wide appeal or enduring value. I’m thinking of, e.g., people singing karaoke, playing in a garage band, drawing, building models, making silly YouTube videos, improvising freestyle poetry, whatever. What I’m positing is that there’s an intrinsic value to having a culture where people don’t simply get together to consume professionally produced songs and movies, but also routinely participate in cultural creation. And the value of that kind of cultural practice doesn’t depend on the stuff they create being particularly awe-inspiring.To which Sonny responds:
I’m actually entirely with you on the skill that it takes to produce a video like the Brooklyn hipsters did — I have no talent for lighting, camera movements, etc. I know how hard it is to edit together something like that, let alone shoot it in an aesthetically pleasing manner. That’s one of the reasons I find the final product so depressing, however: An impressive amount of skill and talent has gone into creating something that is not just unoriginal but, in a way, anti-original. These are people who are so devoid of originality that they define themselves not only by copying a video that they’ve seen before but by copying the very personalities of characters that they’ve seen before.Another good point, but I think Sonny is missing something here. The talents of the BSG Sabotage editor or the Brooklyn hipsters are certainly admirable, but while we can speculate, we don't necessarily know their motivations. About 10 years ago, a friend and amateur filmmaker showed me a video one of his friends had produced. It took scenes from Star Wars and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and recut them so it looked like the Millennium Falcon was fighting the Enterprise. It would show Han Solo shooting, then cut to the Enterprise being hit. Shatner would exclaim "Fire!" and then it would cut to a blast hitting the Millennium Falcon. And so on. Another video from the same guy took the musical number George Lucas had added to Return of the Jedi in the Special Edition, laid Wu-Tang Clan in as the soundtrack, then re-edited the video elements so everything matched up.
These videos sound fun, but not particularly original or even special in this day and age. However, these videos were made ten to fifteen years ago. I was watching them on a VHS(!) and the person making the edits was using analog techniques and equipment. It turns out that these videos were how he honed his craft before he officially got a job as an editor in Hollywood. I'm sure there were tons of other videos, probably much less impressive, that he had created before the ones I'm referencing. Now, I'm not saying that the BSG Sabotage editor or the Brooklyn Hipsters are angling for professional filmmaking jobs, but it's quite possible that they are at least exploring their own possibilities. I would also bet that these people have been making videos like this (though probably much less sophisticated) since they were kids. The only big difference now is that technology has enabled them to make a slicker experience and, more importantly, to distribute it widely.
It's also worth noting that this sort of thing is not without historical precedent. Indeed, the history of editing and montage is filled with this sort of thing. In the 1910s and 1920s, Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov conducted a series of famous experiments that helped express the role of editing in films. In these experiments, he would show a man with an expressionless face, then cut to various other shots. In one example, he showed the expressionless face, then cut to a bowl of soup. When prompted, audiences would claim that they found that the man was hungry. Kuleshov then took the exact same footage of the expressionless face and cut to a pretty girl. This time, audiences reported that the man was in love. Another experiment alternated between the expressionless face and a coffin, a juxtaposition that lead audiences to believe that the man was stricken with grief. This phenomenon has become known as the Kuleshov Effect.
For the current discussion, one notable aspect of these experiments is that Kuleshov was working entirely from pre-existing material. And this sort of thing was not uncommon, either. At the time, there was a shortage of raw film stock in Russia. Filmmakers had to make due with what they had, and often spent their time re-cutting existing material, which lead to what's now called Soviet Montage Theory. When D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, which used advanced editing techniques (it featured a series of cross cut narratives which eventually converged in the last reel), opened in Russia in 1919, it quickly became very popular. The Russian film community saw this as a validation and popularization of their theories and also as an opportunity. Russian critics and filmmakers were impressed by the film's technical qualities, but dismissed the story as "bourgeois", claiming that it failed to resolve issues of class conflict, and so on. So, not having much raw film stock of their own, they took to playing with Griffith's film, re-editing certain sections of the film to make it more "agitational" and revolutionary.
The extent to which this happened is a bit unclear, and certainly public exhibitions were not as dramatically altered as I'm making it out to be. However, there are Soviet versions of the movie that contained small edits and a newly filmed prologue. This was done to "sharpen the class conflict" and "anti-exploitation" aspects of the film, while still attempting to respect the author's original intentions. This was part of a larger trend of adding Soviet propaganda to pre-existing works of art, and given the ideals of socialism, it makes sense. (The preceeding is a simplification of history, of course... see this chapter from Inside the Film Factory for a more detailed discussion of Intolerance and it's impact on Russian cinema.) In the Russian film world, things really began to take off with Sergei Eisenstein and films like Battleship Potemkin. Watch that film today, and you'll be struck by how modern-feeling the editing is, especially during the infamous Odessa Steps sequence (which you'll also recognize if you've ever seen Brian De Palma's "homage" in The Untouchables).
Now, I'm not really suggesting that the woman who produced BSG Sabotage is going to be the next Eisenstein, merely that the act of cutting together pre-existing footage is not necessarily a sad waste of talent. I've drastically simplified the history of Soviet Montage Theory above, but there are parallels between Soviet filmmakers then and YouTube videomakers today. Due to limited resources and knowledge, they began experimenting with pre-existing footage. They learned from the experience and went on to grander modifications of larger works of art (Griffith's Intolerance). This eventually culminated in original works of art, like those produced by Eisenstein.
Now, YouTube videomakers haven't quite made that expressive leap yet, but it's only been a few years. It's going to take time, and obviously editing and montage are already well established features of film, so innovation won't necessarily come from that direction. But that doesn't mean that nothing of value can emerge from this sort of thing, nor does messing around with videos on YouTube limit these young artists to film. While Roger Ebert's valid criticisms are vaid, more and more, I'm seeing interactivity as the unexplored territory of art. Video games like Heavy Rain are an interesting experience and hint at something along these lines, but they are still severely limited in many ways (in other words, Ebert is probably right when it comes to that game). It will take a lot of experimentation to get to a point where maybe Ebert would be wrong (if it's even possible at all). Learning about the visual medium of film by editing together videos of pre-existing material would be an essential step in the process. Improving the technology with which to do so is also an important step. And so on.
To return back to the BSG Sabotage video for a moment, I think that it's worth noting the origins of that video. The video is clearly having fun by juxtaposing different genres and mediums (it is by no means the best or even a great example of this sort of thing, but it's still there. For a better example of something built entirely from pre-existing works, see Shining.). Battlestar Galactica was a popular science fiction series, beloved by many, and this video comments on the series slightly by setting the whole thing to an unconventional music choice (though given the recent Star Trek reboot's use of the same song, I have to wonder what the deal is with SF and Sabotage). Ironically, even the "original" Beastie Boys video was nothing more than a pastiche of 70s cop television shows. While I'm no expert, the music on Ill Communication, in general, has a very 70s feel to it. I suppose you could say that association only exists because of the Sabotage video itself, but even other songs on that album have that feel - for one example, take Sabrosa. Indeed, the Beastie Boys are themselves known for this sort of appropriation of pre-existing work. Their album Paul's Boutique infamously contains literally hundreds of samples and remixes of popular music. I'm not sure how they got away with some of that stuff, but I suppose this happened before getting sued for sampling was common. Nowadays, in order to get away with something like Paul's Boutique, you'll need to have deep pockets, which sorta defeats the purpose of using a sample in the first place. After all, samples are used in the absence of resources, not just because of a lack of originality (though I guess that's part of it). In 2004 Nate Harrison put together this exceptional video explaining how a 6 second drum beat (known as the Amen Break) exploded into its own sub-culture:
There is certainly some repetition here, and maybe some lack of originality, but I don't find this sort of thing "sad". To be honest, I've never been a big fan of hip hop music, but I can't deny the impact it's had on our culture and all of our music. As I write this post, I'm listening to Danger Mouse's The Grey Album:
It uses an a cappella version of rapper Jay-Z's The Black Album and couples it with instrumentals created from a multitude of unauthorized samples from The Beatles' LP The Beatles (more commonly known as The White Album). The Grey Album gained notoriety due to the response by EMI in attempting to halt its distribution.I'm not familiar with Jay-Z's album and I'm probably less familiar with The White Album than I should be, but I have to admit that this combination and the artistry with which the two seemingly incompatible works are combined into one cohesive whole is impressive. Despite the lack of an official release (that would have made Danger Mouse money), The Grey Album made many best of the year (and best of the decade) lists. I see some parallels between the 1980s and 1990s use of samples, remixes, and mashups, and what was happening in Russian film in the 1910s and 1920s. There is a pattern worth noticing here: New technology enables artists to play with existing art, then apply their learnings to something more original later. Again, I don't think that the BSG Sabotage video is particularly groundbreaking, but that doesn't mean that the entire remix culture is worthless. I'm willing to bet that remix culture will eventually contribute towards something much more original than BSG Sabotage...
Incidentally, the director of the original Beastie Boys Sabotage video? Spike Jonze, who would go on to direct movies like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Where the Wild Things Are. I think we'll see some parallels between the oft-maligned music video directors, who started to emerge in the film world in the 1990s, and YouTube videomakers. At some point in the near future, we're going to see film directors coming from the world of short-form internet videos. Will this be a good thing? I'm sure there are lots of people who hate the music video aesthetic in film, but it's hard to really be that upset that people like David Fincher and Spike Jonze are making movies these days. I doubt YouTubers will have a more popular style, and I don't think they'll be dominant or anything, but I think they will arrive. Or maybe YouTube videomakers will branch out into some other medium or create something entirely new (as I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of room for innovation in the interactive realm). In all honesty, I don't really know where remix culture is going, but maybe that's why I like it. I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads.
Posted by Mark on March 14, 2010 at 02:18 PM .: link :.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Blast from the Past
A coworker recently unearthed a stash of a publication called The Net, a magazine published circa 1997. It's been an interesting trip down memory lane. In no particular order, here are some thoughts about this now defunct magazine.
Posted by Mark on March 10, 2010 at 07:19 PM .: link :.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
It's become something of a tradition around here to liveblog the Oscars, and this year will be no different. For an idea of how it will go, check out the previous installments: [2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004] Check back for frequent updates (starting around 8 pm EST), and feel free to hang around and leave comments to play along...
Anyway, here are my predictions for the major awards:
Update 7:12 pm: I always forget that 8 pm marks the start of the Red Carpet BS, which I don't think I can stomach (even with the drinking), so updating will probably start around 8:30 when the actual ceremony starts. Oh, and Barbara Walters special? Maybe I'll put that on in the background, but I'm so happy she's retiring from that gig. She's a terrible interviewer. Then again, probably better than me (who'd end up producing something like the Chris Farley Show).
Update 8:24 pm: First beer of the night, Westmalle Dubbel. Tasty and kinda dry, makes me want to drink more. Could be dangerous. Anyway, show is about to begin. Let's do this thing.
Update 8:30 pm: Well, that's a different way to open the ceremony - trot out the best actor/actress nominees and... then just announce their names. This is a kinda dull opening, is it not? Oh wait, NPH! Oh fuck, a musical number. Shit! I thought we got this crap out of our system last year. Where's my beer?
Update 8:34 pm: Seriously, what's up with all this musical bullshit? It's not like there are any musicals that were nominated (except Nine, but that one won't be winning or anything), and indeed, it's not exactly a popular genre these days. Why?! Ok, finally, Alec and Steve. Let's hope they're actually funny.
Update 8:39 pm: Ok, I laughed a few times. Not bad, Aleve Martwin. It's a bit scripted and stiff, but still fun.
Update 8:43 pm: The Avatar bit was funny, but not as funny as this would have been. George Clooney doesn't look like he likes this... but there's no real joke there, so I guess he's fine. Basterds jokes are great.
Update 8:48 pm: After a relatively restrained opening act, we've got our first award. They're really stretching out these nominee announcements... Woody Harrelson looks shockingly not high. I was reading a book recently where a young con-girl was stringing along a perverted old man - and the whole time, I was picturing Christopher Plummer (that doesn't mean anything, but still). Best Supporting Actor goes to Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. And I'm 1 for 1...
Update 8:50 pm: Uber-Bingo! Bearded Waltz threw me for a moment, but it fits. He clearly had his speech prepared.
Update 8:52 pm: Ryan Reynolds is channeling Rod Serling while reciting the plot of The Blind Side. Seriously, I'm expecting Sandra Bullock to sprout a tiny third arm out of her forehead or something. Hey, I just noticed, not a single montage yet. What's the over/under this year? Let's call it 10.
Update 9:00 pm: Aha! Montage #1! Right? Heh, but it's a great use of animation. The best two were even the best two movies (Fantastic Mr. Fox was my favorite though). If crowd clapping was how they judged this, the winner would be Up. And it is, in fact, Up, making me 2 for 2. And a pretty good speech too. Well done.
Update 9:05 pm: Ohhhhh, awesome, does this mean I don't have to suffer through live performances of the best song category? Thank God! And Crazy Heart song wins! I'm 3 for 3 (incidentally, having listened to the snippits of all the nominees, this one probably deserved to win too). Speech is just straightforward Thank Yous... and only one of them talked. Weird. Must have been told to keep it short.
Update 9:05 pm: Best picture nominee District 9, introduced by Chris Pine from Star Trek. It's kinda amazing that District 9 got nominated at all. Check out John Scalzi's notes on how SF will fare tonight. I pretty much agree with his thoughts...
Update 9:16 pm: Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr are doing well here. Good stuff. And Best Original Screenplay goes to... The Hurt Locker? What the fuck? That's the worst written of the nominees. Tarantino has to be pissed, and deservedly so. This is bullshit. Speech is mildly political, and obviously prepared. I'm 3 for 4. This does not bode well for either Inglourious Basterds or Avatar when it comes to best picture.
Update 9:18 pm: Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick are still alive? But this is a nice tribute to John Hughes, and let's see if there's a montage. Yep, Montage #2! Score.
Update 9:20 pm: Interesting that Hughes gets his own montage instead of just getting shuffled into the annual Dead People Montage. Not saying he doesn't deserve it (and it's not like the other dead people can complain), but it's still interesting.
Update 9:24 pm: Jeeze, even the 20 second recap of the first 20 minutes of Up is undeniably effective.
Update 9:27 pm: Devin Faraci is also liveblogging over at CHUD. Regarding Samuel L. Jackson's presentation of best picture nominee Up, "Get these muthafuckin' balloons off mah muthafuckin' house!" Classic.
Update 9:32 pm: Zoe Saldana looks a lot like a human version of a Na'vi! Oh, wait. Nevermind. Ok, so this Montage (#3) is all about Hollywood trying to convince us regular schlubs that the short films categories are important... and pretty much failing. Some of these do look great though. Logorama apparently has 2500 copyright violations in it's short running time... and hey, it wins! Score. Ohhh, he's French. Huh. "3000 non-official sponsors whose logo appeared in the film." Hehe. Funny. I wonder when they'll get sued.
Update 9:43 pm: Awesome, I'm glad someone sacrificed their dignity to make fun of Avatar. Ironically, he's presenting the award for best makeup, which Avatar isn't even nominated (and yep, Ben Stiller just mentioned that fact). And the winner is... Star Trek. Score, I'm 4 for 5. Alas, probably the only award for Trek. Speech is pretty much straight thank yous. Referred to Paramount as "that robot" which will probably get them fired. Hey, it's one of the winners' anniversary. Hope his wife is in the audience.
Update 9:45 pm: I feel like A Serious Man is getting better in my mind. Some movies get worse as you get further away from them. A Serious Mind gets better. Of course, I want to rewatch it, but I have this feeling that it will be even better the second time around. Definitely glad it got nominated (and I don't think it would have made the cut in a 5 nominee field)...
Update 9:52 pm: Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Precious (I refuse to type the subtitle to this film, and will type even more explaining that I won't than I would if I just typed the subtitle). Well, I suck this year! 4 for 6. Guy seems very heartfelt in his speech - I don't think he expected to win. Good on him, though.
Update 9:55 pm: Oh wow, a Bringing Down the House reference. Sweet. And... Montage #4. Hey Roger Corman! Wait, is this some sort of series of lifetime achievement awards? Or are they different. Well, Here comes Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall. Wait, they're not going up to the stage. I don't think anyone understands what's going on. What is going on? Oh shit, Robin Wiliams. Run!
Update 10:01 pm: Best supporting actress goes to... Mo'Nique for the movie I won't type out. And I'm 5 for 7. What is she talking about with the reference to "politics"? Another speech that seemed well prepared. Hrm, never saw An Education, ut I probably should at some point.
Update 10:08 pm: Sigourney Weaver looks la lot like a human version of a Na'vi! Oh, wait. Nevermind. Art Direction goes to Avatar. Shame I didn't pick this award. I think James Cameron might be more excited about these tech awards than he is for director or best picture. Whoa, heavy acceptance speech. Doctors told him he wouldn't survive, and now he has an oscar. And the third guy doesn't get to say anything.
Update 10:12 pm: Now Keanu Reeves. He looks high. And Costumes, another award I don't pick, goes to... some movie I never heard of! Yay! Whoa, "I already have two of these." You stay classy, Sandy Powell.
Update 10:15 pm: I didn't see Precious, but I actually do want to at some point. In other news, I've moved on to Allagash Fluxus and have opened a bag of Gibbles, the official thin pretzel of Kaedrin.com.
Update 10:19 pm: Sweet. Paranormal Activity parody is hysterical. And they're finally acknowledging that horror is underappreciated by the academy... by showing us a montage (#5). Good stuff though...
Update 10:25 pm: Awesome use of Morgan Freeman voiceover. Hehehe. I didn't pick this award though. This intro is surprisingly informative. Again, the Oscars are trying to convince us that the next award is legitimate (but more successfully this time). And the award goes to... The Hurt Locker. It's looking like it will be a sweep for Hurt Locker, which is a shame. I mean, it's a fine film and all, but if it wins all the awards, I'll be a bit disappointed.
Update 10:28 pm: How the fuck did Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen get nominated for anything? Well, the award goes to Hurt Locker. Again. These guys just won the other sound award. Huh. Again, bodes well for Hurt Locker's chances later in the night... and wow, Elizabeth Banks looks gorgeous. And of course, she's presenting the nerd sci-tech awards. Nice.
Update 10:30 pm: If I had my way, Inglourious Basterds would win every award it was nominated for. I'm still ticked off that Tarantino lost in the original screenplay award. Travesty!
Update 10:37 pm: I was a little worried about this Allagash beer I mentioned earlier, but it's great. It says on the label that it's "Ale Brewed with Sweet Potatoes & Black Pepper" which gave me pause. But again, it's awesome. Ahh, Sandra Bullock takes the stage for Cinematography award. And the award goes to... Avatar! Go me, I'm 6 for 8. For a speech that is primarily Thank Yous, it was actually pretty good. I dunno, maybe I'm delirious at this point. Or drunk. These beers are strong, after all.
Update 10:39 pm: Yay Dead People (montage #6)! And crap, a live musical performance.
Update 10:49 pm: What the hell is going on with Sam Worthington's glasses? By the way, he looks la lot like a human version of a N... yeah, that joke's pretty much played it's course, hasn't it? YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Interpretive dance! Please hold, whilst I drink my beer.
Update 10:53 pm: The winner for best score is Up, and I'm 7 for 9. Another speech that feels prepared, but actually pretty cool.
Update 10:58 pm: Outstanding visual effects goes to Avatar, and deservedly so. Again, Cameron looks overjoyed. Hey, Jason Bateman! Presenting Up in the Air. Good, solid movie. But not a best picture.
Update 11:05 pm: Best documentary goes to The Cove, and I'm 8 for 10. Is it that Fisher Stevens? Yes, it is that Fisher Stevens. Wow. Anyway, I never saw The Cove, but from what I can tell, this was well deserved.
Update 11:08 pm: Editing award. Again with the explanation of the award, but again it's actually pretty good. And the award goes to The Hurt Locker. And I'm 8 for 11. I drastically underestimated the Hurt Locker, I guess. Does this bode well for Hurt Locker for the big awards, or are these all consolation awards? Hey, these winners gave thanks to Sam Raimi! Cool...
Update 11:10 pm: Keanu Reeves: War is a drug, kinda like the stuff I just did before I came up on stage. Hehehe. Still don't know if Hurt Locker will win the best picture award, but it looks more likely than it did this morning. Ooooh, stay tuned for humorless dick, Sean Penn! I will, Oscars!
Update 11:19 pm: Pedro and Quentin, an interesting pair. And I'm pretty sure Tarantino is high too. This really is shocking. I never would have pegged Tarantino and Reeves as looking more high than Harrelson. And best foreign picture goes to... The Secret in Their Eyes. Well, I'm 8 for 12. Ohhh, he makes a Na'vi joke, that falls completely flat, but I like it. And this guy is funny because he's trying to speak English but he clearly is flustered. I don't think he expected to win.
Update 11:21 pm: Depending on who you talk to, Avatar is the most profitable movie of all time, or the accounting is so twisted that it didn't make anything. Sorry, but the 3D bump, while important, certainly didn't account for all of the money this film made. The truth is, despite how much it's gotten on my nerves, it did make going to the theater a necessity again, which is more than you can say for most movies.
Update 11:34 pm: What the hell is this motley crew of presenters for the best actor award? Really random. Jeff Bridges so knows that he's going to win. Vera Farmiga is awesome. Her dress... not so much. I guess I see where they're going with these presenters. Great anecdote by Tim Robbins (or is it Ted). And a S.W.A.T. reference. Classy. "Good Luck Jeremy" translates to "You're probably not going to Win." Best actor goes to...shit, they'r e announcing the nominees... for the third time. Ok, Jeff Bridges wins, and I'm 9 for 13. Congrats Jeff. And I thin he's high. Yeah, definitely high. The Dude abides.
Update 11:37 pm: Jeff Bridges has been married for 33 years, certainly an oddity in Hollywood. Probably because he and his wife were high the majority of the time.
Update 11:51 pm: Another random accumulation of presenters for best actress, though like best actor, they are all related to the nominees in some way. Humorless dick Sean Penn presents the winner... Sandra Bullock. And I'm 10 for 14. "Did I really earn this, or did I just wear y'all down?" Heh. It's funny because it's kinda true (I shouldn't say that since I haven't seen the movie, but still). But her acceptance speech is quite classy.
Update 11:58 pm: Barbara Streisand has won as many Oscars as Meryl Streep. Just noting that without comment. And best director goes to Kathryn Bigelow. Good on her, well deserved! First female to win best director. She looks sooo appreciative. Don't sell yourself short, the script had nothing to do with your win. And she dedicates the award to the military. Congrats to her, it's a well deserved award.
Update 12:03 am: And Hurt Locker wins best picture. That was quick! Not much of a surprise at this point. And I'm 11 for 16. Or maybe not, I apparently missed an award at some point. . Apparently I'm 12 for 17. Must have been drinking too much. Anyway, that works out to around 70%, which isn't my worst ever, but it was close...
Update 12:09 am: And that about wraps everything up. An interesting year, but overall, an uninspired ceremony. Which is pretty much the usual...nothing especially memorable about this year, except that Hurt Locker won more than it deserved... On the other hand, I certainly liked Hurt Locker better than Avatar, so what am I complaining about...
Update: For those overseas or who haven't seen the ceremony, check out Alex's last-minute overview...
Posted by Mark on March 07, 2010 at 11:36 AM .: link :.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Various and Sundry
I must get back to being an inadvertently incompetent FBI agent in Heavy Rain (in fairness, my private eye is doing a stellar job), so just a few short notes:
Posted by Mark on March 03, 2010 at 08:54 PM .: link :.
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This page contains entries posted to the Kaedrin Weblog in March 2010.
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