Cap’s PR

Somewhere down the line I do hope Disney find the time – in between building up whichever cosmic-scale threat is going to close out Phase Six of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – to fill in some of the gaps in the story they’ve shown us so far.

Tell me this fanfic about life as Steve Rogers’ publicist wouldn’t work well as at least a short set in the wake of the Battle of New York, when the world has just seen Steve Rogers being the hero his nation needed:

[…] Eva lived in fear of the day a reporter thought to get Steve’s opinion about abortion. Or, God and all the angels forbid, gun control.

She breathed a sigh of relief when he was invited to speak at an anti-bullying conference; what could be more of a crowd-pleaser than siding against bullies? The sigh was short-lived, however. Steve kept to his prepared remarks for about a sentence and a half, and then spent the rest of his allotted time railing about the need for better protections for LGBT kids.

“How is this a hard job?” Yumi said that weekend over drinks. So many drinks. “C’mon, Steve Rogers, he’s such a boy scout.”

“Oh god,” Eva muttered, rubbing her temples, “don’t get him started on the Boy Scouts.” […]

I know Chris Evans claims to be done with the role, and Avengers: Endgame gave his character a send-off that worked pretty well, but come on: this is an open goal, surely?

[Via jwz]

Tactical Evaluation

An essential read as the Marvel fan base prepares for Avengers: Endgame, courtesy of The Angry Staff Officer:

The world is blessed that Steve Rogers never made it past captain. The Battle of Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War is a master class in how not to use an infantry battalion. However, from his failure, we can extract some fundamental lessons[…]

[On Steve Rogers’ willingness to send his vehicular support away before battle was joined…] It is true that the transport craft were unarmoured and open-topped. If fighting an adversary with strong anti-armour or indirect fire capabilities, sending them away would be reasonable. However, the Thanosian forces lacked this entirely. Their troops were incapable of using ranged weapons, or indeed, higher brain functions. They traveled on foot and bit the opposition to death.

Captain Roger’s disregard for vehicles is perhaps excusable as being on brand for a career light infantry officer. […]

Excellent, level headed work.1 The thing is, I’m not sure any of the Avengers are terribly good generals: not unless it’s revealed at the end that everything has transpired according to Doctor Strange’s grand strategic plan.

[RT via Charlie Stross]

Before the smartphone

Coming soon (with any luck) to a screen near you: General Magic, A Documentary Feature:

Judging by the trailer, John Sculley is not going to come out of this smelling of roses.

General Magic, the upcoming documentary, is a tale of how great vision and epic failure can change the world. The film features members of the original Mac team along with the creators of the iPhone, Android and eBay.

These designers, engineers and entrepreneurs saw the future decades before it happened. General Magic captures the spirit of those of us who dare to dream big and the life-changing consequences when we fail, fail again, fail better, and ultimately succeed.

I realise it’s not going to be showing up in my local multiplex: I’ll settle for it eventually turning up somewhere I can (legally) pay for it, download it and watch it.

[Via Cake, via Extenuating Circumstances]

Best Films of 2018

David Ehrlich’s latest annual medley of imagery from The 25 Best Films Of 2018 demonstrates once more that there’s plenty of good work out there every year, it’s just a question of how hard you have to look to find it.

By virtue of this list being published towards the end of the calendar year, there’s invariably a bunch of the films on Ehrlich’s list that either haven’t opened in the UK yet or that I didn’t catch during their relatively brief release window outside London. Some I know I’ll not get to see any time soon because I refuse to fork out £10 a month to every streaming service out there, but a list like this at least focuses my attention on what might be worth making some effort to track down.

[Via kottke.org]

Alien(s)

I knew that there was a long-standing strain of fandom built around the core concepts of Alien vs. Predator, but I had no idea it was set in stone like this:

I do love this response from @tafkao:

In 800 yrs time, architectural historians will be locked in furious debate over whether the sculpture is Alien school or Predator school.

11:30 am · 10 Jun 2018

(Further reading: see, for example, this.)

[Via Sentiers #43]

Dancing in Movies

When I first saw a link to Dancing In Movies a week or so ago I wasn’t all that impressed: yes, someone had put a lot of effort into stringing together clips from nearly 300 films but I wasn’t getting a thrill from it. But now I’ve taken (several) further looks at it and I love it! I think on the first viewing I was too obsessed with identifying the sources of the clips, and as they’re such short clips I found myself overwhelmed by the need to try to mentally catalogue them in real time and was too busy to get round to appreciating the art of the compilation itself.1

Fortunately – perhaps it caught up with me on a day when my case of trainspotter’s syndrome was in remission – I saw it again the other day, and this time I just settled back and enjoyed the quirky spectacle of it all. Magnificent stuff, strongly recommended.

2001 remembered

Stephen Wolfram, on the legacy of seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey when he was eight years old:

It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 50 years since I first saw 2001. Not all of 2001 has come true (yet). But for me what was important was that it presented a vision of what might be possible-and an idea of how different the future might be. It helped me set the course of my life to try to define in whatever ways I can what the future will be. And not just waiting for aliens to deliver monoliths, but trying to build some “alien artifacts” myself.

[Via Sentiers No. 37]

Punish David with Marvel Movies to Help End Gun Violence!

Film critic David Ehrlich, who is a significant part of the reason Fighting In The War Room is my favourite film podcast, as well as the author of some glorious end-of-year YouTube video countdowns, but who is not a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is organising Punish David with Marvel Movies to Help End Gun Violence! If you’re wondering how badly this could turn out for David Ehrlich, let me point you to MGK Ranks Every Live-Action Marvel Movie Since 1998 (2018 Remix Edition), in which even someone generally well-disposed towards big-screen superhero epics finds himself admitting that some of them are, well, pretty shitty.12

If you can afford to throw a few dollars David Ehrlich’s way, please consider doing so.

Getting the picture right

In case you were wondering, Netflix go to great lengths to select the most enticing preview image possible for you when you’re presented with a list of possible viewing choices:

For many years, the main goal of the Netflix personalized recommendation system has been to get the right titles in front each of our members at the right time. With a catalog spanning thousands of titles and a diverse member base spanning over a hundred million accounts, recommending the titles that are just right for each member is crucial. But the job of recommendation does not end there. Why should you care about any particular title we recommend? What can we say about a new and unfamiliar title that will pique your interest? How do we convince you that a title is worth watching? Answering these questions is critical in helping our members discover great content, especially for unfamiliar titles. […]

My experience is that some of the time I already have an idea of the image I associate with a film and it just adds to my confusion if I see the same title being represented by a completely different image a few weeks or months later. Perhaps once I’m in their record as having watched a film, they should have a field which notes that and locks in the ID of whatever image was shown to me at the point when I viewed it.

[Via The Overspill]

Quiet!

So, it turns out that Peter Watts had less tolerance than I did for the plot holes in A Quiet Place:

[Spoilers follow, especially if you click on that link to go to the original post.]

I really wanted to like this one.

I did, too, at first. The layered, multidimensional, never-quite-silence of the movie’s soundscape grabs you from the first scene. The sight of the Abbott Family creeping through the aftermath of whatever wiped out the rest of us effectively builds suspense and curiosity. [Spoiler omitted]

Five minutes in— wholesome ‘Murrican nuclear family focus notwithstanding— you knew this was no Spielberg movie.

But the further we got into “A Quiet Place” the less goddamned sense it made. […]

[Lengthy list of inconsistencies snipped…]

Quite a few of the points Watts makes occurred to me, and arise from the way the film enters the story months after the aliens arrived. There’s the odd allusion in an old newspaper headline here and there to difficulties encountered when the humans tried to shoot their enemies’ spaceships down and suchlike, but it seems unlikely that the entire world’s armed forces would have given up so easily.

If the individual aliens were as physically vulnerable to fire from shotguns as they seemed to be, wouldn’t someone have noticed this when some suicidal patriot took a potshot at the enemy on the ground? Even if the aliens generally didn’t open up their soft, squishy heads to enemy fire that often, it’s hard to believe that some unlucky bastard with a death wish and a sub-machine gun wouldn’t have explored their options at some point along the way. Unless the aliens accepted humanity’s surrender when they were still in the sky and only emerged from their ships once the human race had agreed to bugger off into the woods and stay far enough away from their conquerors to resist the temptation to loose off a potshot now and again…

Of course the real answer is that the film chose to open the story after the fighting was over so they didn’t have to present us with a plausible scenario for how the aliens ended up yomping around in the woods without any protective armour. For the duration of the film their cunning plan mostly worked, but ten minutes afterwards I’d be pretty surprised if most of the audience weren’t thinking Wait, but… about the entire experience.