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.

Yearning for Shoggoths

In the wake of Guillermo del Toro’s big night at the Oscars, here’s hoping someone will finally give him the money to show us his take on an Old One:

[From a New Yorker profile written when he was between films, having left the ill-fated effort to film The Hobbit and not yet turned his attention to Pacific Rim.]

Even though del Toro’s team had three months to experiment, the challenge was immense. The frozen city, for example, could emerge only after the artists had settled how the Old Ones moved, ate, and slept. “If you spend enough time strolling in the street—seeing a cathedral, seeing a door opening and closing in a building or a car—you understand the ergonomics of human beings,” he said. With a few key shots, del Toro needed to conjure, wordlessly, the lives of the aliens.

He could, you know. He really could.

Give him however much money he wants, send him off with Ron Perlman and Doug Jones and a bunch of creature designers to lead and see what comes back. Whether it’s a shoggoth or Baba Yaga or the ghost of Lobster Johnson or Hellboy in Hell, it’ll be worth seeing.

[Via Longform.org]