Monday, March 12, 2012
This Week's Links, Yo
“Silent House”: One movie, one shot
For the moviegoer who finds the rushed tempo, blunt force, spatial disorientation, and general Michael Bayishness of movie editing these days depressing, it’s worth remembering that, in the beginning, the movies didn’t even have edits—they came to an end after the train had entered the station or the men had finished dancing or (more importantly) the film had run out. It wasn’t until filmmakers like Edwin S. Porter started making longer films with actual stories to tell that the idea of cutting from one action or shot to the next, changing points-of-view or scenes or locations, became part of the filmmaking vernacular. This was the custom for decades, but periodically, directors would decide to flex their cinematic muscles by removing from their toolbox the filmmakers’ single greatest source of audience control—the cut—and seeing how long they could make a scene go without one (while still maintaining action, movement, and fluidity). Over time, long takes became an unspoken competition, each director’s long, unbroken tracking shot a little longer and a little more complicated than the last, each filmmaker proudly and breathlessly pushing further into the editless abyss.
From The Atlantic:
Film's Greatest Comedy Cliques, From the Rat Pack to Team Apatow
With Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, and Chris O’Dowd reuniting for Friends with Kids, we may be witnessing the formation of a new (and thankfully estrogen-infused) cinematic comedy “clique.” These groups have always been a part of the film comedy landscape, though there seem to be an awful lot of them these days—primarily because the DIY nature of the current comedy scene lends itself to working with friends and regular collaborators. (There’s also a fair amount of cross-pollination between these groups, which makes classifying them a bit challenging. Crafty, these comedians.) To be clear: we’re not talking so much about actual declared comedy teams, like the Marx Brothers, the Bowery Boys, or Monty Python; we’re more interested in loose collectives that come together in varying combinations yet still craft a distinctive and recognizable comic style. We’ll take a look at a few of the biggest after the jump.
12 Things We Learned from Joss Whedon’s SXSW Talk
Exactly fifteen years ago today, the upstart WB network aired the first episode of a program that few, if any, viewers or critics were feverishly anticipating. It was the first show created by an all-but-unknown writer; he’d adapted it from his screenplay for a film that had been, charitably speaking, unloved when it hit theaters five years previously. But when “Welcome to Hellmouth,” the inaugural episode of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aired on March 10, 1997, a Geek God was born. This morning, Whedon took the stage in front of a standing-room-only house at the South by Southwest Music, Film, and Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas for a conversation with Whedon, moderated by Adam B. Vary of Entertainment Weekly. They discussed his TV successes and failures, his new film Cabin in the Woods (which had a smash premiere here at SXSW last night), his upcoming big-budget blockbuster The Avengers, and some future projects. A few highlights from that talk after the jump.
Patton Oswalt on Acting, Stand-Up, and Evolving
Randy Stevens, the Boy Scoutmaster played by Patton Oswalt in the new comedy Nature Calls (which premiered this weekend at South by Southwest), is a funny character with a sadness about him; beaten down by the disinterest of the boys in his troupe, living in the shadow of his successful brother (Johnny Knoxville), with little in his life but his love of Scouting—yet tirelessly dedicated to his self-appointed mission of bringing nature into the lives of his young charges. Though Oswalt’s most high-profile acting roles to date have been in an intense, low-budget indie (Big Fan) and an acid-tongued, big-studio comedy/drama (Young Adult), the leading role in this dark comedy isn’t too far removed from those seemingly disparate turns. “He’s very much a true believer in what he loves, even though he might not have the most amount of skill to realize its execution,” Oswalt told me in a phone interview last week. “So I think there’s a lot in common with some of the other characters that I’ve played: they’re sort of dreamers, they’re almost lethally optimistic about their chances in life.”
Video Essay: “The Martin Scorsese Film School”
For the past couple of weeks, movie buffs have been tweeting, discussing, and analyzing this piece from Fast Company, which distilled a four hour interview with Martin Scorsese into a list of 85 films “you need to see to know anything about film”—Mr. Scorsese’s mini-film school, if you will. If Marty is like us—and we’d like to imagine he is—there’s also a very good chance that these are just the 85 movies that were on his mind that day. Your list of favorite films is a living thing, always changing and amending, growing and revising; we’d bet good American money he thought of five films he should’ve included the second he walked out the door. But this is the list he made on that day, in that room, and it’s worth looking at; there are some really interesting choices here, titles worth seeking out if you haven’t seen them. In the interest of helping you sift through the list and load up your Netflix queue and Amazon cart accordingly, we've put together a video essay of clips and stills from the “Scorsese 85,” using his own words when possible. Check out our latest video essay after the jump.
Open Thread: Let’s Talk About Misogyny at the Movies
Over the course of the past few days, I’ve found myself reading a quite a bit of hand-wringing, and even engaging in a few spirited Twitter conversations, with regards to the number two movie of the weekend, Project X—specifically, the picture’s attitude towards women (towards anyone who’s not a young white male, really). If there’s a buzzword for the Project X’s opening weekend, it’s misogyny. “Project X is the male gaze substantiated and concentrated into ninety sweaty minutes,” writes Badass Digest’s Meredith Borders. “The way these guys talk about the girls, the way they look at them, the way Dax's camera presents them, validates every misogynistic tendency a high school boy may be capable of feeling. Project X celebrates and rewards that misogyny.” The L Magazine calls it “ a misogynist fantasy of high school wildness,” while View London says it’s “ultimately let down by some appalling misogyny and a deeply unlikable central character.” The reviews that don’t explicitly drop the “m-word” at least echo these sentiments (The best one-liner comes via the AV Club’s Keith Phipps: “It would be easy to say Project X objectifies women, if the word ‘object’ didn’t imply too much dignity”). For the most part, your author agrees with these criticisms, for reasons I’ll expand on presently. What’s curious, though, is how thinking through my feelings on this film and these ideas have led me to second-guess some ideas I’ve had about teens and pop culture and “responsibility” for decades, and that’s where I’m curious to know what you think.
12 TV Shows We Can’t Believe Aren’t on DVD
Taking a glance at today’s new DVD releases (as we do on many a groggy Tuesday morn), we noticed the continuation of a disturbing pattern. Happily Divorced: Season One. The New Adventures of Old Christine: The Complete Fifth Season. Transformers Prime: Season One. “Fan Favorite” collections featuring the “best” of Hogan’s Heroes and Macgyver—since every season of those shows has already been released. And the question we ask (aside from “who the hell is buying this stuff”) is this: How is it that we get every single episode of Fran Drescher’s new Nick at Nite sitcom a mere seven months after they aired, but we’re still waiting for our Wonder Years DVDs? After the jump, we’ll take a look at a dozen great (or at least interesting) TV shows that are inexplicably unavailable on DVD, and try to figure out why.
This Week in Trailers: “Men In Black III,” “ParaNorman,” “Ice Age,” and More
Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best—while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. We’ve got seven new trailers for you this week, including new looks at the Men in Black and Ice Age sequels, as well as the latest from the creators of Coraline. Check ‘em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.