Picking Apart Prometheus: Part 1 — Missing pieces

Released in the summer of 2012, Prometheus is director Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to sci-fi and to one of the most intriguing and enduring film legacies. One of the most common problems levied against Scott’s film is that its events don’t connect with the derelict spacecraft from the first Alien film. Everyone just naturally assumed the Engineer was going to get impregnated, waddle into this chair and give birth, cut to 70 years later and the Nostromo is setting down. While the connection would have been ideally suited to the plot of Prometheus, Scott has certainly earned the right to chart his own territory in the universe he helped create. And besides, there’s nothing suggesting he won’t make such a connection with a later film in this new series. The problems with Prometheus that this video will discuss exist solely within the realm of narrative technique and structure. This is not going to be fan-fic speculation. There are great sources for that material if that’s what you’re looking for, but this will not be one.

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The State of the Art

New York Observer’s film critic Rex Reed has been making the rounds on twitter and the blogosphere recently as the subject of a revolving litany of abuses and defamations. Some are asking for his head, others, like this reasonably cool-headed piece by Jason Bailey, are only asking for his job, not simply for their disagreement with his negative review, but for the admission that he walked out. Heinous though that sin may be, I want to examine Reed’s review of V/H/S 2 (the particular film is irrelevant to my discussion) in more detail and consider what it might mean for the state of film criticism: Continue reading

How to Make Midi-chlorians work in Star Wars (AKA The Anakin Clone Method)

The piece suggests how to make midi-chlorians work (besides cutting them completely) starting with one tiny little change in numbers that could have drastically altered the entire Star Wars franchise. (Portions of this discussion appeared in a previous video analysis, and based on the ensuing discussion and feedback, I’ve decided to expand my conclusion somewhat and provide it separately here.) Continue reading

How Star Wars Episode II Could Have Saved Everything

Full disclosure, this post was inspired by Belated Media’s fantastic video, “What if Star Wars: Episode 1 was good?” If you haven’t already seen it, it has about 1.2 million views (so you’re probably the only one). Go check it out. After mine, before mine, whatever. Just watch both (or neither).

Ok, so I have this killer headline “How Star Wars Episode II could’ve saved everything”. What follows are my thoughts on how a few changes to the story and structure of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones could have salvaged the film, the prequel trilogy, and even re-invigorated the Star Wars franchise. (No small feat, I realize.)

I think it’s fair to say at this time that the prequel trilogy falls short not only for fans of the series, but for casual moviegoers as well, people who don’t know the difference between an AT-AT and an AT-ST walker, couldn’t care less about midi-chlorians and whose eyes glaze over when you mention Han shoots first. But it didn’t need to be this way. There are a few but significant changes in the structure and story of Episode II that could’ve transformed the Star Wars into the most ambitious saga to ever grace the cinema screens–instead of one really great trilogy, followed by a not so great trilogy, and ending with serious hope for the future (no pressure J.J.). People have already mentioned ways of cutting the movie to make it better—removing the droid factory scene on Geonosis, removing much of the coliseum battle, but there’s a larger, more fundamental problem with the movie, a giant missed opportunity, that no amount of trimming can fix. Continue reading

Why Is Netflix Secretly Cropping Movies?

Yet another reason why I’ll hang on to my blu-rays for now.

Flavorwire

Like a lot of film writers, I spent a good deal of my life working in video stores. Some of that occurred in the time frame (2000-2002, roughly) when DVDs began to replace VHS, and as a result, I was on the receiving end of much anger and confusion over widescreen formatting — “letterboxing,” as we called it, which began on LaserDisc, appeared on a few VHS tapes, and became the standard on DVD (luckily, since widescreen televisions were also becoming ubiquitous). “I’m not seein’ the whole picture!” customers would complain. “It’s got these lines on the top and bottom!” And I would patiently explain that getting a widescreen movie frame into a television was a case of putting a rectangular peg into a square hole, and the black bars actually showed you more of the picture, and preserved the original image. And customers would nod and smile and understand…

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Debut of Japanese Trailer for Yurusarezaru mono

Pardon me, Mr. Lee Sang-il, but I believe that’s my jaw you’ve got in your directorial lap there.

A remake of 1992’s genre-defining Western, Unforgiven, this isn’t the first time Ken Watanabe and Clint Eastwood have crossed cinematic paths. Name that film!

Can’t wait to get this jidaigeki stateside (it premiers September 13 in Japan).

2008: A Southland Odyssey (Part 5 of 5)

Part 5: Southland Tales and the re-Birth of the Gonzo cinema

hunters460

So far I’ve only engaged this film from an academic, literary level, but there are countless sides to this puzzle. Southland Tales is like looking at a fractal reflected through a mirror, and good luck if you can see the whole pattern in one viewing. So I figured for my final piece I would approach the film with the same kind of anti-sense and byzantine logic which propels it. I can think of no better way to summarize anti-logically a stroll down the American nightmare without at least stopping to get directions from the master tour guide, Hunter S. Thompson. Continue reading

2008: A Southland Odyssey (Part 4 of 5)

Part 4: Richard Kelly, The Anti-Whitman

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1857-1925)

Shantih shantih shantih

The Upanishad

“Come, said my Soul, / Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one),” the great American poet Walt Whitman wrote in the preface to his 1874 Leaves of Grass. Whitman would frequently slip between the voice of the one and the many. For Whitman, who viewed poetry as a means of national unity, the soul of the poet connected to the soul of all men through the power of the word. “One’s-Self I sing, a simple separate person,” he also wrote, “yet utter the word democratic, the word En-Masse.”  Leaves of Grass was to be his symposium of the American identity, a sprawling collection of poems to form a rich tapestry of America. Kelly’s project with Southland Tales is not so different, using the language of cinema in place of poetry, trading stanzas for scenes. Continue reading