Thanks for this. I'm looking forward to the movie, but I realized a long time ago that the Coens are not the ingenious planners I initially imagined them to be. They do a lot by feel and hope the ending comes together intellectually as well as emotionally. When it works, that's great, but I no longer expect their movies to be amazing. Barton Fink, for example, is one that I would argue works emotionally but which I can't make sense of intellectually.


(642 replies, posted in Creations)

I'm just amazed you could take it apart like that and then get it back together. I'd have a really nice looking pile of painted parts in a grocery bag in a corner.

I've only seen one Final Destination movie, so pardon my ignorance. What little I do know is that a kid has a vision that lets him/her and friends escape death, then Death comes knocking. Tony Todd is around being weird, at least sometimes.

In this reboot, a college student ditches a psych experiment after the ethical questions trigger a vision. A Gypsy TA (or whatever; maybe some strange artifact in the prof's office) curses him to face moral dilemmas over who lives and who dies. Instead of him and his friends getting splattered sequentially, the main character has to actively decide between horrible alternatives for other people, including the friends he saw in his premonition and, eventually, himself.

I'm thinking of stuff like the famous thought experiment about what if you were in charge of a railyard switch, and a runaway car was coming, and you had the choice of throwing the switch and killing one person on a siding or doing nothing and killing five people stuck on the main track. The follow up (because most people say throw the switch) is what if instead of a switch there was a fat guy you could push in the way to stop the car? One life for five again, but active this time.

I think that sort of thing is more interesting than people just getting hit by falling equipment or stumbling into saw blades. There are plenty of books and Web lists to draw inspiration from. Here are some:

sellew wrote:
Zarban wrote:

The de-aging effect on Michael Douglas for early scenes is stunning

And in ironic contrast to the terrible old-age makeup/effect on Martin Donovan (Mitchell Carson), who really is almost 60 years old, but basically hasn't aged a day since his films with Hal Hartley in the 90's.  He must have a painting in an attic somewhere.

Ha ha! Every time he was on-screen, I was thinking "Something's weird here. Is he old and they made him look young, or is he young and they made him look old?" I guess that's success?

An ex-con electrical engineer with a social justice bent is recruited by rich inventor Hank Pym to take up his mantle as the new Ant-Man, the world's smallest superhero. Pym's former protoge has, as most proteges in movies do, gone bad, and Pym wants to stop him from selling his own tiny-warrior technology called Yellow Jacket.

"Won't this lead to the same climax as 75% of all superhero movies: the hero fights a guy just like himself?" you ask. "Didn't Hulk fight other hulks? Didn't Iron Man fight other iron men? Didn't Cap the super-soldier fight other super-solders? Didn't Spider-Man fight an alien version of himself? Didn't Wolverine fight a female version of himself? Didn't the Man of Steel fight another Kryptonian?"


Okay, so beyond the plot retread—which, to be fair, often worked fine in those other movies—was it fun?


I like Paul Rudd in general, and the supporting cast was great. Rudd and the script bring just the right amount of humor and everyman pathos to the Scott character to let us feel engaged. This is not a Batman-style ink-blot psych test or Avengers-style world-threatening armageddon. As they say in the commentary, it's basically a heist movie, and it's therefore lighter and more fun.

Scott's goofy friends bring more humor and a bit of Mission: Impossible atmosphere. Scott has a sweet little daughter that somewhat mirrors Hank's complicated relationship with his daughter. And there's a nice bit where Scott must retrieve something needed for the finale and the Falcon stands in his way. They have a nice tussle that shows off both their characters and powers well. The de-aging effect on Michael Douglas for early scenes is stunning, and the suit looks terrific. Ant-Man's powers of controlling ants and of shrinking and growing things other than himself are used well, and sometimes humorously.

There are minor plot problems, tho. Scott's recruitment is overcomplicated, and most of the skills he displays are never seen again. This film does do the Ghostbusters "don't cross the streams" scene right (unlike Inception).

The third act involves infiltrating an office building, and the characters genuinely worry about how the tiny superhero and some ants—including ones he can ride while they fly—are going to get in. There's lip service to the bad guy "closing the external vents", which is silly for an office building, but he also invites some of our heroes in thru the front door. They even somehow get a crony hired into a security guard position at the last minute! Even with "full-body scanners", are you telling me Scott and his ants can't get in hidden in the crony's shoes or flashlight? Hank smuggles an Abrams tank in! It's not a new building; it's Hank's old building. Doesn't he have a back door just for Ant-man? Isn't there a misaligned window frame? A stuck vent? A slim crack in the foundation? Bugs get into buildings all the time; just follow them! Infiltrating a building isn't a problem; it's your specialty!

Scott decides to go in via "the water main", which is okay, but the Effects team decides he goes in thru the out door, and he jumps into a storm drain. Nevertheless, he comes out a restroom faucet, suggesting the villain can't keep storm runoff out of his drinking water, let alone Ant-Man out of his office building. Worse: a faucet turned off is water tight. What kind of entry point is that?

There's some inadequately explained action (characters survive a multi-story fall inside the tank; the building explodes and then implodes; the villain puts on his suit in a few seconds during a fight inside a helicopter), but the pacing and humor keep the audience entertained, and i had more questions and beefs with The Force Awakens despite liking that as well.

In short, i liked it a lot and look forward to more of Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and how he mixes with the Avengers and with the promised Wasp.

Rob wrote:

This is true. But Campbell's probably still making like a rotisserie about the prequels.

Is he, tho? Anakin was born in mystery, raised by rustics, secret greatness revealed in a contest, trained by a wizard, falls for a princess, rides a giant tick, slaughters a bunch of children, and gets his arms and legs chopped off. I think that's all in Hero With A Thousand Faces.

A discussion in a bar? Personal invention? A flashback moment? Joseph Campbell is turning in his grave. Heroes need to be trained.

Maybe we'll get some interesting backstory about Rey in the next film that mitigates it, but for now being able to use the Force with no training is a major break with canon. The prequels make it clear that Jedi normally trained intensively for years before even becoming knights. Luke got some training but more important he got guidance from Obi-Wan's ghost WHILE trying to destroy the Death Star.

It's the difference between being coached on making a souffle while you make the souffle vs spontaneously making a souffle after someone hits you with a souffle pan.

BigDamnArtist wrote:
Zarban wrote:

Also, does JJ Abrams not know how maps work? To find the Statue of Liberty, you don't need the part that shows how to get from my house to Pittsburgh.

There is a line in there that hand waves it away. But the hand wavey in and of itself is kinda...."thaaaat's not really how this works JJ". But whatever, Star Wars is full of those.

Yeah, we've seen that JJ doesn't mire himself in little details like this... or like how field promotions work in a quasi-military organization (*cough cough* STAR TREK).

Next summer: JJ Abrams' SUPERHEIST. A ragtag group of con men and thieves steal a fortune in blank credit cards. "Ha ha ha! I've never SEEN so many credit cards! There are thousands for each of us!"

Summer 2017: JJ Abrams' WINDCAR. An eccentric inventor and his beautiful daughter overcome great obstacles to invent a car that runs on wind. "And THIS... this is the key: it has a fan mounted right on it, pointed at the wind turbine so the car MAKES ITS OWN WIND."

Summer 2018: JJ Abrams' VENGEANCE IS MINE. A retired assassin seeks out the thugs who almost--but didn't actually--hurt his family. "There's so little to go on!" "That's because nothing happened! They just drove past us!"

avatar wrote:

Luke got drunk around the bonfire on Endor and knocked someone up.

Well, we'll know, if Rey takes off her top and reveals a luxurious coat of fur.

/yub nub

Saw it this afternoon and really liked it. The only real disappointment was the rehash of "the baddies have a giant death ray, so protect the droid with the diagram". The characters were great; the humor was on target; the melodrama was pretty solid.

Minor disappointments:

  • The story rambled (rewatched ANH afterwards and it is TIGHT by comparison; characters state a goal, make a plan, then execute the plan)

  • There's zero motivation for A LOT of what the characters do, good and bad (your fan theories notwithstanding)

Also, does JJ Abrams not know how maps work? To find the Statue of Liberty, you don't need the part that shows how to get from my house to Pittsburgh.

I'm reminded of my friend who worked at a gas station for a while in college. His coworker was an oddball who mentioned having spent time in the nearby mental hospital "on the Brown level". Other stories as well, but this was a college area, so the drunks and weirdos were pretty reasonable.


(116 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Writhyn wrote:

2015 Ford Focus SE, 6-speed manual.

Nice choice. Those are great cars. And a manual. Every car of my own I've owned has been a manual. I just like that level of control.

Writhyn wrote:

I operate on the assumption that there is only one actual timeline, and if someone goes back and changes anything, we will all remember things as having happened that way.
Basically, travelling back to change something is never going to happen. Because if someone were capable of travelling back to change something, they would know they wouldn't succeed, because otherwise they wouldn't be thinking of changing it, because it would have been changed in the past...........

Pssh. I got that figured out for my time travel TV series. The guy who picks the missions knows history. The travelers don't. Lots of fun implications.

I recently watched Austin Powers 1 & 2 back-to-back and revised my assessment of the second one. I really loved the first one (altho not enough to quote it like a frat boy) but the second one left me cold originally.

The second one has some great stuff in it, but it throws away Vanessa as well as most of Austin's emotional development (and dental work) in the name of reviving the attitude he renounced in the first film--despite the fact that the film mostly throws that attitude away by robbing Austin of his mojo.

Assuming that Liz Hurley didn't WANT to reprise the role, okay, they have to get rid of Vanessa, altho we've got maybe a day of shooting with her.

IMO, Vanessa should have been replaced by a second-generation fembot shortly after the wedding by Frau Farbissina as an act of revenge.  There needs to be that distance so that the end of the first film (and our emotional satisfaction with it) isn't invalidated. Austin is heartbroken, not thrilled, but primed for vengeance.

The film proceeds pretty much as written until he meets Felicity. Austin is tempted by her but ultimately rejects her because he "may never love again" (after all, he's lost his mojo). The somewhat over-complicated ending gets shortened a bit and Felicity discovers that Dr Evil and Frau Farbissina didn't kill Vanessa in 1999 but rather took her captive.

Austin and Felicity jump to 1999 and rescue Vanessa and proceed to have a much groovier three-way than the ending as filmed.

Or whatever, Felicity meets a handsome football player (cameo) or something.


(538 replies, posted in Creations)

But the children.... Think of the children...


(538 replies, posted in Creations)

Any movement on this lately by chance?

A straightforward name will draw listeners searching iTunes. A website with a blog entry for each episode will allow you a place to put show notes and draw listeners searching Google; do not change the permalinks ever.

Don't use cutesy episode titles; they get wearisome to think up and are annoyingly opaque to people trying to decide whether or not to listen to an episode. Do have some video and photos of the podcasters on the site so listeners can put a picture to each voice, and it offers a treat to those who visit the site.

Try to include a lady person and/or person of color and/or non-American at least sometimes. Get a talented person to make a cool cartoony logo and another to make a cool theme; keep the opening and closing themes super short and get to the point quickly (that is, don't start with a bunch of "how was your week, Evan?" chit chat).

Invite feedback on the blog. Keep your audio quality up and volumes eaqualized. Don't let speakers talk over each other very much. Don't murder or steal, or covet anyone's anything. If you separate the show into semi-regular segments, it will give you natural edit points and allow you to shift content meant for one show to another episode if necessary, as well as provide a point for ads to go, if you choose to go that route later.


(6 replies, posted in Off Topic)

I suspect a fair part of the crowdfunding is sheer goodwill for Joel. The guy only made a decent basic cable host living for a few years.


(7 replies, posted in Movie Stuff)

Anastasia (1997) is clearly in the Pocahontas (1995) realm. But, man, the art direction is radically un-Disney. It's just sumptuous.


(7 replies, posted in Movie Stuff)

For the record, this film was on the "I'll allow it" side of the "Why animate humans?" question for me, unlike Polar Express. The villains and Kelsey Grammer's character put it there.

Disney has always been smart about that. From Snow White and Cinderella to today, they pepper the cast with non-humans or weirdo humans. Eventually, they went full cartoon, so even their humans don't seem human.

I bet the Rapunzel and Frozen characters aren't much more than (a childlike) 6 heads high while the Cinderella characters are close to eight heads tall (they were rotoscoped from real actors).

EDIT: Yep.


(2,056 replies, posted in Off Topic)

I watched a few minutes of 7 Colombian Kilos. I want an video specifically explaining why this looks like a YouTube video and movies look like movies. That's something that fascinates me about film making. Is it just lighting?


(6 replies, posted in Off Topic)

It's very strange that Joel, Trace, and Josh seem to want nothing to do with Mike, Bill, and Kevin. Rifftrax had a standing invitation for them to join, and Cinematic Titanic didn't quite have the mojo. Now this, with Joel apparently "getting the band back together" with all new members? I'm full of mixed feelings.


(7 replies, posted in Movie Stuff)

For some reason probably involving a niece, I saw this in the theater and was suitably impressed. It felt more grown up than Disney movies but also less fairy-tale-like. Most of the characters are humans, for example, which always bugs me. (Why not make it live action then?) But it had strong villains, which helped a lot. Cusack is probably miscast, IMO. He has a bland voice and wouldn't have been known by the children in the audience. The character should have been written more as a Bob Hope-type fast-talking, wise-cracking huckster, but IIRC he's kind of wide-eyed and gee-whiz from the start.

In his early films, Bob Hope played genuinely funny cowardly wiseacres. Don't watch the Road to... movies with Bing Crosby, tho.


(81 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Here are some ideas:

  • A plucky girl from a planet that is oddly similar to 21st century Earth is offered the opportunity to travel aboard a starship that drops her off at home again from week to week, and she has trouble balancing school and intergalactic adventure.

  • A bounty hunter hitches rides on starships in search of an escaped convict shape-shifter... and finds love and laughter all along the way.

  • A ragtag crew of a small freighter has to steer clear of Federation starships while conducting a business of semi-legal trade and salvage.

  • The return of Gary Seven, star adventurer.

  • An all-girl band travels the galaxy performing for Starfleet audiences and any other gig that pays the bills.

  • I actually tried to think of good ideas and couldn't.