kottke.org posts about movies

The Good Dinosaur: "A Stunning Masterpiece"Oct 09 2015

Charlie Jane Anders of io9 has a great preview of Pixar's upcoming film, The Good Dinosaur, including some juicy details on how the film was made. Because the film uses many big landscape shots, which would have been impossible to render in a timely fashion using their usual processes, the filmmakers needed to come up with another solution. They ended up using real topographical data and satellite images to render the landscapes.

Enter the U.S. Geographical Survey, which posts incredible amounts of topographical data to its website-including the height above sea level of all of the land features, and lots of satellite images. So Munier and his team tried downloading a lot of the USGS data and putting it into their computer, and then using that to "render" the real-life landscape. And it worked: They were able to take a classic Ansel Adams photograph of the Grand Tetons and duplicate it pretty closely using their computer-generated landscape. And with this data, they could point a digital "camera" anywhere, in a 360-degree rotation, and get an image.

Hail, Caesar!Oct 09 2015

Hail, Caesar! is the name of the Coen brothers' new movie. It stars George Clooney as a movie star (what casting!) who is kidnapped during the shooting of a epic Roman gladiator picture called Hail, Caesar! This one looks fun. And with the exception of The Big Lebowski, the Coen's fun movies are underrated,...I quite enjoyed both Intolerable Cruelty and Burn After Reading.

Kubrick: more like music than like fictionOct 06 2015

How many videos can we watch about the films of Stanley Kubrick? If you're anything like me, the answer is never enough. This montage hinting at connections between his films is particularly well done.

Hell's Club, a place where all fictional characters meetOct 06 2015

Mashups are so ubiquitous and overdone that the bar for actually watching one is pretty high. But this one, no joke, might be the best visual movie mashup I've ever seen. Hell's Club is a tour de force of film editing, seamlessly combining scenes from dozens of different films -- Austin Powers, Cocktail, Star Wars, Terminator, Staying Alive, Boogie Nights -- into one cohesive scene. Give it 30 seconds and you'll watch the whole thing.

Whistleblower Edward ScissorhandsSep 30 2015

HLN (which used to be CNN Headline News) needed someone to talk about Edward Snowden, US government whistleblower. They meant to invite a gentleman named John Hendren, a journalist for Al Jazeera, onto the show but instead invited funnyman Jon Hendren, who goes by the username of @fart on Twitter. Hendren, Jon used the opportunity to defend both Edward Snowden, briefly, and then sexy-but-misunderstood barber Edward Scissorhands.

Well, you know, to say he couldn't harm someone, well, absolutely he could. But I think to cast him out, to make him invalid in society, simply because he has scissors for hands, I mean, that's strange. People didn't get scared until he started sculpting shrubs into dinosaur shapes and whatnot.

The best part is that anchor Yasmin Vossoughian just keeps on plowing right through her script like they're not talking suddenly about a man with scissors for hands, deftly demonstrating what a farce these TV news "conversations" are. (via nymag)

Hitchcock/TruffautSep 30 2015

Kent Jones has directed a documentary on the 1962 meeting where a young François Truffaut interviewed a seasoned Alfred Hitchcock about his films (the output of which was a beloved book). As the narration from the trailer says, "[Truffaut] wanted to free Hitchcock from his reputation as a light entertainer", to which Peter Bogdanovich adds, "it conclusively changed people's opinions about Hitchcock".

In 1962 Hitchcock and Truffaut locked themselves away in Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets behind the mise-en-scène in cinema. Based on the original recordings of this meeting -- used to produce the mythical book Hitchcock/Truffaut -- this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plummets us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo. Hitchcock's incredibly modern art is elucidated and explained by today's leading filmmakers: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader.

Truffaut's recontextualization of Hitchcock and his work reminds me of the point Matt Daniels recently made about younger generations deciding how work from older artists is remembered in his post about timeless music:

Biggie has three of the Top 10 hip-hop songs between 1986 and 1999. This is a strong signal that future generations will remember Biggie as the referent artist of 80s and 90s hip-hop. And there's No Diggity at the top -- perhaps it's that glorious Dr. Dre verse.

Hip hop heads will lament the omission of Rakim, Public Enemy, or Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt. It's a depressing reality that exists for every genre and generation: not every artist will be remembered. The incoming generation will control what's relevant from the 90s and carried into the future, independent of quality and commercial success. For rock, that might be Blink-182. For electronica, that might be Sandstorm.

Take Star Wars as another example. I've had conversations recently with other parents whose young kids are really into the series. The way they experience Star Wars is different than my generation. We saw Episodes IV-VI in the theater, on VHS, and on DVD and then saw Episodes I-III in the theater accompanied by various degrees of disappointment and disregard. Elementary school-aged kids today might have watched the prequels first. They read the comics, play the video games, and watch the Clone Wars animated series. To many of them, the hero of the series is Anakin, not Luke.1 And Generation X, as much as we may hate that, there's not a damn thing we can do about it.2 Unless... there is... another... (via subtraction)

  1. Thanks to Anil or David for this insight...I can't remember which one of you said it.

  2. You know, the Anakin-as-the-true-hero view has its merits, despite how it was presented in the prequels. Anakin was a good kid who fell because he couldn't handle the power given him but, in the end, was redeemed by the actions of his children. That's a solid heroic narrative arc. And, glad you noticed, it ties neatly into what I'm trying to say about younger generations rehabbing older ones.

70s cocaine paraphernalia advertisingSep 29 2015

Before the Reagans cranked up the War on Drugs in the early 80s due to the massive influx of cocaine from Latin America, advertisements offering all kinds of coke paraphernalia could be found in magazines. The World's Best Ever collected a bunch of ads offering spoons, mirrors, straws, knives, and the like for America's coke sniffers.

Cocaine adsCocaine ads

I am an episode and a half into Narcos on Netflix. Pretty good (but not great) so far.1 (via adfreak)

  1. They should have found a way to do it without the voiceover. Too much telling and not enough showing. (I have a thing about voiceovers. My first exposure to Blade Runner was Ridley Scott's Director's Cut, which omitted Deckard's voiceover, and when I started watching the original version on TV a few months ago, I nearly threw the remote through the screen...so grating and entirely unnecessary.)

Human, the filmSep 24 2015

Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand is known for his aerial photography of the Earth's landscapes, but in his film Human, he blends his trademark overview style with simply shot interviews with people from all over the world.

Humans made its debut earlier this month and is available in its entirety on YouTube in three 90-minute parts; start here with part one. (via in focus, which is featuring several photos from the film)

Mad Max: Fury Road as a silent B&W filmSep 23 2015

In an interview with Slashfilm, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller stated that "the best version of this movie is black and white" and that the purest version of the film would also be silent (which it very nearly is anyway). Miller wanted to include the B&W version on the Blu-ray, but the studio decided to delay the release of that until a Super Special Ultra Gimme All Your Money Blu-ray Edition can be arranged at some later date. Until then (or, more probably, until Warner's lawyers get around to taking it down), we have this fan-made edit of the film in B&W without dialogue. (via @SebastianNebel)

Update: Well, that was fun while it lasted. Good thing I totally didn't grab a copy to watch later using a Chrome extension. (And before you ask, no I won't.)

Vancouver Never Plays ItselfSep 21 2015

In the latest installment of Every Frame a Painting, Tony Zhou talks about the different techniques filmmakers use to make shoot locations like Vancouver (Zhou's hometown) look like New York, India, Chicago, Shanghai, and San Francisco in the finished films.

Edward Burtynsky, WaterSep 18 2015

With California in the midst of a particularly intense multi-year drought and 2015 looking to be the warmest year on record by a wide margin,1 Edward Burtynsky's "Water" series of photographs is especially relevant.

Burtynsky WaterBurtynsky WaterBurtynsky WaterBurtynsky Water

Many of photos in the series are on display in Berkeley through February and are also available in book form.

Update: Burtynsky also collaborated on a documentary about water called Watermark. Here's a trailer:

The film is available to watch on Amazon Instant and iTunes. (via @steveportigal)

  1. I mean, look at this chart from the NOAA of the warmest years since 1880...2015 is a Lionel Messi-esque outlier. And Eric Holthaus says that with the strong El Niño, 2016 is forecast to be even hotter.

Alice in a Neural Networks WonderlandSep 17 2015

Gene Kogan used some neural network software written by Justin Johnson to transfer the style of paintings by 17 artists to a scene from Disney's 1951 animated version of Alice in Wonderland. The artists include Sol Lewitt, Picasso, Munch, Georgia O'Keeffe, and van Gogh.

Neural Wonderland

The effect works amazingly well, like if you took Alice in Wonderland and a MoMA catalog and put them in a blender. (via prosthetic knowledge

Hidden connections in Tarantino filmsSep 17 2015

The worlds in many of Quentin Tarantino's movies are connected; here are ten of the biggest connections, including the Vega brothers, Red Apple cigarettes, and Big Kahuna Burger. Tarantino has even said that some of his movies are watchable within others...e.g. the characters in Pulp Fiction could have watched From Dusk Till Dawn in the theater.

A supercut of all Wes Anderson supercutsSep 16 2015

Posted here purely for the sake of completeness, here is a supercut of every1 supercut, parody, analysis, and compilation of Wes Anderson and his movies, the whole twee ball of wax.

  1. I don't know if every single one is in there, but there are a lot. I've probably linked to at least half of them.

The effect of choosing and changing aspect ratios in filmSep 16 2015

The aspect ratio of a movie can have a significant effect on how the scenes in the movie are perceived by the viewer. Changing the ratio during a movie (as in Interstellar, The Dark Knight Rises, etc.) can be an effective way to signal a thematic change.

Children of Men: Don't Ignore the BackgroundSep 15 2015

The Nerdwriter takes on Children of Men, specifically what's going in the background of Alfonso Cuarón's film, both in terms of references to other works of art & culture and to things that push the plot along and contribute to the tone and message of the film.

Donald Trump on Citizen KaneSep 07 2015

Many years ago, Errol Morris interviewed Donald Trump about Citizen Kane as part of a project called The Movie Movie.

The table getting larger and larger and larger with he and his wife getting further and further apart as he got wealthier and wealthier, perhaps I can understand that.

Trump acquits himself pretty well on Kane and its lessons -- although I would not characterize Kane's fall as "modest" -- and his commentary about the film is probably the first actually interesting thing I have ever heard him say. But I watched all the way to the end and he shoots himself in the foot in the most Trumpian & misogynistic way -- it's actually perfect.

The Movie Movie, according to Morris' web site, was based on the idea of putting modern day figures like Trump and Mikhail Gorbachev into the movies that they most admire. So Trump would star as Kane in Citizen Kane and Gorby would be in Dr. Strangelove as who, Strangelove himself? Man, what a fantastic idea. Joshua Oppenheimer used a variant of this idea to powerful effect in The Act of Killing, a film executive produced by Morris.

Morris himself turned a bit of the original The Movie Movie idea into a 4-minute clip for the 2002 Oscars of people -- some of them famous: Trump, Gorbachev, Tom Brady, Christie Turlington, Keith Richards, Philip Glass, Al Sharpton -- talking about their favorite movies.

Star Wars Episode IV: Laser Moon AwakensSep 04 2015

The Auralnauts provide an alternate soundtrack and dialogue for Star Wars.

(via @waxpancake)

Making NemoSep 03 2015

From 2003, a 25-minute documentary (plus a few extras) on how Pixar made Finding Nemo.

How far does Pixar go to get a movie made correctly? Far. For instance, everyone on the Nemo team got certified in scuba diving. (via @drwave)

The Danish GirlSep 02 2015

The Danish Girl is an upcoming film starring Eddie Redmayne as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe, who was one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. It's based on a novel of the same name which presents a fictionalized account of Elbe's life.

The film may well net Redmayne another Oscar nomination, but I don't know how the transgender community will react. From a quick look on Twitter and the past reception of Oscar-hopeful films dealing with similar issues (see The Imitation Game's portrayal of Alan Turing's sexuality), I'm guessing it may not be so well-received.

The Wolfpack, the lost tribe of the Lower East SideSep 02 2015

The Wolfpack is a documentary that follows the six Angulo brothers, whose father kept them sequestered (along with their sister and mother) inside a four-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for fourteen years because he thought the city unsafe, allowing only annual or semi-annual trips outside. The boys' only access to the outside world was through movies, which they recreated in their tiny apartment. The trailer:

With no friends and living on welfare, they feed their curiosity, creativity, and imagination with film, which allows them to escape from their feelings of isolation and loneliness. Everything changes when one of the brothers escapes, and the power dynamics in the house are transformed. The Wolfpack must learn how to integrate into society without disbanding the brotherhood.

They did not mess around when it came to their filmmaking...this is a surprisingly realistic Batman costume made out of cereal boxes and yoga mats:

Wolfpack Batman

The Wolfpack won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year, and the brothers made a few videos to thank the festival for their prize. Here are the Clerks and The Usual Suspects thank yous:

They also filmed a scene from one of their favorite movies of 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel:

The Wolfpack was out in US theaters earlier this summer and is now on Amazon Instant...I think I'm going to watch this tonight. (via @quinto_quarto)

Mad Max: Fury Road as an ancient Egyptian paintingSep 01 2015

From illustrator @takumitoxin, a wonderful rendering of the events of Mad Max: Fury Road in the style of an ancient Egyptian painting.

Mad Max Fury Egypt

Fury Road is out on Blu-ray today (and streaming). This movie was the perfect summer entertainment.

ConcussionAug 31 2015

Concussion, starring Will Smith, is about Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the link between football and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and will be out in December.

The movie is based on the 2009 GQ article, Game Brain.

Let's say you run a multibillion-dollar football league. And let's say the scientific community -- starting with one young pathologist in Pittsburgh and growing into a chorus of neuroscientists across the country -- comes to you and says concussions are making your players crazy, crazy enough to kill themselves, and here, in these slices of brain tissue, is the proof. Do you join these scientists and try to solve the problem, or do you use your power to discredit them?

Saw someone on Twitter saying that maybe this will be football's The Insider. Let's hope it moves the needle.

Update: From the NY Times, Sony Altered 'Concussion' Film to Prevent N.F.L. Protests, Emails Show.

In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the N.F.L. by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league.

"Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn't planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn't be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge," Dwight Caines, the president of domestic marketing at Sony Pictures, wrote in an email on Aug. 6, 2014, to three top studio executives about how to position the movie. "We'll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet's nest."

(via @masterofn0ne)

The art of sound in the moviesAug 28 2015

Skip Lievsay is one of the best sound designers in the business, having won an Oscar for his work on Gravity and worked on such films as Goodfellas, Silence of the Lambs, Do The Right Thing, and all of the Coen brothers' movies. Jordan Kisner recently profiled Lievsay for The Guardian.

It is a central principle of sound editing that people hear what they are conditioned to hear, not what they are actually hearing. The sound of rain in movies? Frying bacon. Car engines revving in a chase scene? It's partly engines, but what gives it that visceral, gut-level grist is lion roars mixed in. To be excellent, a sound editor needs not just a sharp, trained ear, but also a gift for imagining what a sound could do, what someone else might hear.

Maybe Daniel is the real bully in The Karate Kid?Aug 25 2015

Everyone knows that The Karate Kid is the story of Daniel LaRusso, an undersized new-kid-in-school who, with the help of a wise mentor and unconventional training in the martial arts, is able to triumph over a gang of bullies picking on him. What this video presupposes is, maybe Daniel is the real bully?

To no one's surprise, Johnny advances to the final round and karma catches up with Daniel when his leg is injured by the boy he wantonly attacked on the soccer field. However, just as Johnny is about to be awarded his trophy, Daniel is granted unnatural strength by the demon sorcerer Miyagi, enabling him to defeat Johnny and win the tournament in an upset.

See also more revisionist history of beloved media: Hermione Granger as the real hero of the Harry Potter books and Tim Carmody's The Iceman List, which is about "classic movie antagonists who were actually pretty much right all along".

A total clustercussAug 24 2015

I hadn't realized there was so much cussing swearing in Wes Anderson's movies. Here are some damn examples:

Just realized what the world is missing: the "fuck fuck fuck" scene from the first season of The Wire, but done in the style of ("cuss cuss mothercusser") and with the characters from Fantastic Mr. Fox.

J.R.P.G. Torkelson's Lorne of the Rings trilogyAug 24 2015

This is a guide to the famous Lorne of the Rings trilogy of movies. All your favorite characters are here, from Samsclub Gunjeans to Starman to Flowbee the Haddock to Aerosmith, daughter of Lord Efron to Gumball, son of Groin.

This is one of those that goes from "oh how can this predictable thing actually be funny" to "oh my pants are wet because I peed in them because laughing" very quickly. (via waxy)

The Sunshine HotelAug 20 2015

Two weeks ago, 99% Invisible broadcast an audio documentary from 1998 about one of the last remaining flophouses on The Bowery in NYC called The Sunshine Hotel. It is an amazing time capsule from a Manhattan that just doesn't exist anymore.

The Sunshine Hotel opened in 1922. Rooms -- or really, cubicles -- were 10 cents a night. The Sunshine, like other flop houses, was always a men-only establishment. In 1998, the hotel had raised it's rates to 10 dollars a night and it was managed by resident Nathan Smith. He sat behind a metal cage at the front desk, answering the phone and doling out toilet paper to residents for 35 cents. Smith had once worked in a bank until he was injured, and then fired. His wife left him and he ended up in the Bowery, and eventually at the Sunshine Hotel.

The interviewees sound like they're characters in a play, not real people. It's so good. There is also a documentary film released in 2001 about The Sunshine Hotel which is available on Amazon Instant; here's a trailer:

"Pixar is bulletproof, assholes"Aug 17 2015

John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, writing in The Onion: I've Got You Dumb Motherfuckers Eating Right Out Of My Hand.

Yes, after the success of our first few movies we had a hunch you'd continue to enjoy the wonderfully designed animation and our smart, lyrical writing, but I didn't think we'd create a horde of drooling morons ready to drop everything just to watch a fucking rat cook dinner. Time and time again, though, there you chumps are, lined up around the block with your stupid little kids, eager to have your stupid little hearts filled with whimsy.

See also Disney's Lasseter: Woody will find love in 'Toy Story 4'.

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of The National LampoonAug 14 2015

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is a documentary about National Lampoon coming out this fall. Here's the trailer:

From the 1970s thru the 1990s, there was no hipper, no more outrageous comedy in print than The National Lampoon, the groundbreaking humor magazine that pushed the limits of taste and acceptability -- and then pushed them even harder. Parodying everything from politics, religion, entertainment and the whole of American lifestyle, the Lampoon eventually went on to branch into successful radio shows, record albums, live stage revues and movies, including Animal House and National Lampoon's Vacation. The publication launched the careers of legends like John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Christopher Guest and Gilda Radner, who went on to gigs at Saturday Night Live and stardom.

Director Douglas Tirola's documentary about the Lampoon, DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON, cleverly chronicles its founding by two former Harvard students, its growth, demise and everything in between. Told thru fresh, candid interviews with its key staff, and illustrated with hundreds of outrageous images from the mag itself (along with never-seen interview footage from the magazine's prime), the film gives fans of the Lampoon a unique inside look at what made the magazine tick, who were its key players, and why it was so outrageously successful: a magazine that dared to think what no one was thinking, but wished they had.

(via subtraction)

Homme LessAug 13 2015

Mark Reay is a former model, actor, and fashion photographer who was homeless in NYC for six years. Homme Less is a documentary on Reay; here's a trailer:

So began a period of my life sleeping rough. It was pretty tiring, and I didn't have much luck with the photos, but I stuck it out. I've never let the lack of money stop me having a good time, and I still had (dwindling) savings from my modelling. It was a happy time. At night I would always treat myself to a rotisserie chicken, but I always wanted a chilled rosé with it. So, in the afternoon, I would sneak into a minimarket, get the cheapest one from the shelf and hide it under the frozen peas. Then, at night, I would put on a fresh shirt and go to one of the fancy bars with my wine in my bag. Again, maybe because I had a certain look, no one ever checked my bag. I'd just go in, nick a glass off the counter and drink my wine surrounded my millionaires.

You can get away with anything if you're confident. Oh, and male, white, and good looking.

The Hateful Eight teaser trailerAug 12 2015

Here's the teaser trailer for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. (This one was certainly not the trailer.)

overshare: the links.net storyAug 11 2015

Justin Hall has been sharing his life online for over 20 years at links.net. Justin's Links from the Underground was one of the first sites I found and read regularly, back in the mid 90s. Now Hall has made a documentary about his time online, overshare: the links.net story.

Starting in 1994, my personal web site Justin's Links from the Underground has documented family secrets, romantic relationships, and my experiments with sex and drugs.

overshare: the links.net story is a documentary about fumbling to foster intimacy between strangers online. Through interviews, analysis and graphic animations, I share my motivations, my joys and my sorrows from pioneering personal sharing for the 21st century. In 2004 the New York Times referred to me as "perhaps the founding father of personal weblogging." I hope this documentary reveals that I was a privileged white male with access to technology who worked to invite as many people as possible to join him in co-creating an internet where we have a chance to honestly share of our humanity.

The movie is available in various formats, including as a digital download with extra footage from VHX for $11.99.

The speed of sci-fi ships, rankedAug 05 2015

From Back to the Future's DeLorean to Dr. Who's Tardis, here's a listing of sci-fi vehicles ranked from slowest to fastest.

Sci-fi spaceships speed

In the ongoing struggle of Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Wars is the clear winner in the speed category: the Millennium Falcon is thousands of times faster than the Enterprise. Also, I didn't know the Death Star was so fast!

Why movie CG sucks (except that it doesn't)Aug 04 2015

Are computer generated special effects ruining movies? Freddie Wong says no; CG is so good these days that we only notice it when it's bad and in bad movies.

My biggest concern with CG is with unrealistic camera movements, e.g. like when the camera is following Spider-Man swooping all over NYC. I can't not notice it and it almost always takes me out of the experience, which is the opposite of what I want. (via @tonyszhou)

Star Wars: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm BoyAug 03 2015

Lucasfilm is coming out with a set of books about the first three Star Wars movies written by authors of acclaimed teen and preteen books. The first is Star Wars: A New Hope. The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy.

Star Wars Kids Books

The other two are called Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. So You Want to Be a Jedi? and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (via dooce)

The Making of Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'Jul 31 2015

Making of 2001

Last year, Taschen came out with a limited edition book on The Making of Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Only a couple thousand were made and one of them is selling on Amazon for $1750. This year, they're releasing a regular edition for a much more reasonable $47. (via @michaelbierut)

Powers of Ten flipbookJul 27 2015

Using images found on the internet through Google's visually similar images feature, NASA, U.S. Geological Survey, and various mapping services, Kelli Anderson recreated part of the Eames' iconic Powers of Ten as a flipbook. Watch a video here:

Or play around with a virtual flipbook at Anderson's site. This could not possibly be anymore in my wheelhouse. Here's the nitty gritty on how she made it happen.

The inspiration for making discontinuous-bits-of-culture into something continuous goes back to 2011. Some of my friends camped out on a sidewalk to see Christian Marclay's The Clock. Like a loser with a deadline, I missed out-only catching it years later at MoMA. In the day-long film, Marclay recreates each minute of the 24-hour day using clips from films featuring the current time-on a clock or watch. It runs in perfect synchronization with the audience's day (so: while a museum crowd slumps sleepily in their chairs at 6am, starlets hit snooze on the clocks onscreen.)

Trailer for a Steve Jobs documentaryJul 27 2015

There's a documentary on Steve Jobs coming out called Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. The director is Alex Gibney, who directed the excellent Going Clear (about Scientology), We Steal Secrets (about Wikileaks), and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. The trailer:

The origin of sci-fi movie soundsJul 24 2015

From Aaron Reese at Hopes&Fears, a piece on sci-fi movie sound effects. It's chock full of interesting tidbits, like where King Kong's chest-beating sound came from:

Initial attempts hitting a fixed kettle drum with paddled-drumsticks didn't work, with Spivak saying the sound wasn't "fleshy" enough. An experiment beating the floor failed as well. So Spivak decided to beat one of his assistant's chests with drumsticks instead, saying "If wood will not take the place of flesh, then let's use flesh." Sure enough, this was the sound used for production.

The stabbing noise in Psycho is a knife plunging into a melon:

In a recording studio, prop man [Bob] Bone auditioned the melons for Hitchcock, who sat listening with his eyes closed. When the table was littered with shredded fruit, Hitchcock opened his eyes, and intoned simply: "Casaba."

And my favorite, from Terminator 2:

In Robert Patrick's T-1000 prison break scene, the robot phases through the cell bars with a slurpy metallic sound. Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom revealed the effect was achieved by a simple solution from the sound of dog food being slowly sucked out of the can.

See also a short video tribute to the sounds of Star Wars.

The Art of the Car ChaseJul 24 2015

Casper Christensen cut together footage from dozens of movie car chases into one big coherent chase. Well, as coherent as you can get when you're dealing with car chases.

There's some fun and clever editing in here...I particularly enjoyed the stitching together of Indiana Jones and Axel Foley. And I loved the brief clip of C'était un rendez-vous, which if you haven't seen it, is a quick and thrilling watch.

Magic Mike XXL embraces strip club classicsJul 23 2015

In Pitchfork, Susan Shepard writes about how Magic Mike XXL uses strip club music to full advantage.

MMXXL functions more like a musical in that it uses the dance sequences deliberately to advance the plot; Mike doesn't talk about wanting to get the band back together, he dances about it when "Pony" comes on in his workshop. Big Dick Richie finds the heart of his stripper character dancing to "I Want It That Way". Malik challenges Mike to "Sex You". And ultimately, they all find out something about themselves when they create new routines to new songs for the finale. It could transition seamlessly to the stage. They're even already acting out the lyrics, which are for the most part of "this is what I want to do to you" tradition of R&B.

The film gets at the heart of strip club culture with its scenes at Domina, the exclusive club run by Mike's former lover and working partner, Rome. All the best strip club ideas come from black clubs, specifically those in the South. Every good innovation in strip club dancing, music, and costume styles started in Atlanta or Houston or Miami clubs. The way the Florida dancers feel when they walk in and see Augustus, Andre, and Malik outdance and outperform them is exactly what it feels like to walk into Magic City from the Cheetah. Here is the future, here is how far behind it you are with your fireman routines and Kiss songs.

Having never been to a strip club in my entire life (WHAT?!! I know! I know!), I had no idea that Nine Inch Nails' Closer was a strip club staple.

My very first stage performance was to the Revolting Cocks' version of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and Nine Inch Nails' "Closer", about a month after it had come out. It is one of those songs strippers fight over performing to because it's that good and gets such a crowd response. "Closer" might as well be strip club furniture.

But it makes sense. Closer is one of the catchiest pop songs ever made. Shortly after it came out, I remember going to an on-campus party at which a friend of mine was DJing. He was playing mostly dance music -- some club, some top 40ish, and some electronica -- but threw on Closer for the benefit of a friend of ours who was a big industrial and NIN fan. Everyone loved it and got out onto the dance floor: the jocks, the ravers, the sorority girls, the physics club geeks. Our friend wasn't too happy about it though. Somehow, Nine Inch Nails now belonged to everyone. Cultural appropriation is a biiii....

Ultimate commentary on Raiders of the Lost ArkJul 23 2015

If you are a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark -- and who isn't? -- then this is your holy grail: a feature-length commentary on the movie by Jamie Benning that includes seemingly every tidbit related to the film, including deleted scenes, audio commentary from the cast and crew, behind the scenes video, and much more. An incredible resource in understanding the film.

Benning has also done similarly excellent commentaries for Jaws, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. (via @drwave)

Star Wars-style opening crawls of the day's newsJul 23 2015

Every day, a program written by Julien Deswaef selects a war-related news item from the NY Times, formats it in the style of the infamous Star Wars opening crawl (complete with John Williams' score), and posts the results to YouTube.

Published yesterday, the crawl for Episode XXVII was taken from a NY Times article about an Obama speech about the Iranian nuclear deal.

Here's how the project was made and if you'd like to try it yourself, grab the source code. (via prosthetic knowledge)

The top 10 most beautiful movies of all timeJul 23 2015

Ok, so narrowing down all of the beautifully shot movies in the world to a list of just 10 is absurd, but to their credit, the gang at Cinefix manage to mention more than 50 or 60 movies in their top 10 review. If you've only seen even a few of these, you're doing well.

Manhattan, Citizen Kane, The Fall, 2001, Hero, The Tree of Life. Damn.

"It's a Unix system, I know this"Jul 22 2015

Jurassic Park OS

Hold onto your butts, gang... I just found out, via Pixar's Michael B. Johnson, that the 3D file manager that Lex uses in Jurassic Park -- "It's a Unix system, I know this" -- was a real thing. FSN (File System Navigator) was a demo tool for Silicon Graphics' IRIX operating system that you could download from their web site.

P.S. In that same thread, Johnson shares that his office was the inspiration for Dennis Nedry's work area.

The Good DinosaurJul 22 2015

For the first time since 2005, Pixar didn't release a movie last year but are doubling up this year with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. Here's the trailer for The Good Dinosaur, which looks like much more of a just-for-kids movie than Inside Out.

How to make a Hattori Hanzo sword from Kill BillJul 21 2015

Man at Arms is a YouTube show in which real-life weapons from movies and TV shows are recreated. Recently they made the Bride's Hattori Hanzo sword from Kill Bill. They started from scratch by building a furnace from before the Edo period (before 1603) to smelt the iron ore.

I know zero about swords, but it looks like these guys really did their homework in making as close to a traditional katana blade as they could. (via devour)

The worst movie special effects everJul 17 2015

A compilation of some of the world special effects ever to make it to the big screen. Some of these are almost too bad to believe.

(via devour)

A musical journey away from EarthJul 14 2015

Lightyear FM

Taking inspiration from the opening sequence of Contact, lightyear.fm is a musical journey away from the Earth. As you get farther out (say, 10 light years away, just past star Ross 154 in the constellation of Sagittarius), you hear music that was broadcast on the radio at that time (Gold Digger by Kanye West).

Radio broadcasts leave Earth at the speed of light. Scroll away from Earth and hear how far the biggest hits of the past have travelled. The farther away you get, the longer the waves take to travel there -- and the older the music you'll hear.

This is the coolest.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Comic-Con 2015 ReelJul 11 2015

They showed this 3 minute 30 second behind the scenes video of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Comic-Con yesterday.

Fans at San Diego Comic-Con's Hall H were treated to a special look behind the scenes of Star Wars:The Force Awakens by director J.J. Abrams, producer and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan. The filmmakers were joined on stage by cast members Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford to the surprise and delight of fans.

At the end of the Hall H presentation, the entire Hall H audience of more than 6,000 fans were all invited to continue the celebration and join cast and filmmakers at a surprise Star Wars Fan Concert. The San Diego Symphony performed the classic Star Wars music from John Williams at the Embarcadero Marina Park South.

I have zero interest in Comic-Con, but that would have been pretty cool to see.

The science of Pixar's Inside OutJul 10 2015

Psychologists Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman served as scientific consultants during the production of Pixar's Inside Out. Keltner studies the origins of human emotion and Ekman pioneered research of microexpressions. In this NY Times piece, they discuss the science behind the movie.

Those quibbles aside, however, the movie's portrayal of sadness successfully dramatizes two central insights from the science of emotion.

First, emotions organize -- rather than disrupt -- rational thinking. Traditionally, in the history of Western thought, the prevailing view has been that emotions are enemies of rationality and disruptive of cooperative social relations.


Second, emotions organize -- rather than disrupt -- our social lives. Studies have found, for example, that emotions structure (not just color) such disparate social interactions as attachment between parents and children, sibling conflicts, flirtations between young courters and negotiations between rivals.

I've thought about Inside Out every day since I saw it. Pixar clearly did their homework on the emotional stuff and it paid off.

The Art of the Opening ShotJul 09 2015

The opening scenes from dozens of movies, including 2001, There Will Be Blood, Lost in Translation, Seven Samurai, and Star Wars.

(via devour)

Highlighting Hollywood's race problemJul 09 2015

On his YouTube channel, Dylan Marron is cutting down films to only include dialogue spoken by persons of color. Under those conditions, Moonrise Kingdom is 10 seconds long. Her is about 40 seconds. Noah is 0 seconds.

(via @riondotnu)

Remaster of The Iron Giant coming out in theatersJul 08 2015

Iron Giant

The Iron Giant has been remastered and burnished with a pair of extra scenes for a re-release in US theaters scheduled for the end of September.

Warner Bros. and Fathom Events are teaming up to bring The Iron Giant back to life. The beloved 1999 animated film is being remastered and augmented with new footage, and it's coming to select American theatres as what the studio's calling the "Signature Edition" on September 30th. There'll also be an encore presentation in select theatres a few days later on October 4th.

The movie earned a respectable $23 million at the box office and critical acclaim, but failed to recoup its $70 million production budget. After reading a bunch of positive reviews, including one from my cinematic divining rod Roger Ebert, I was one of the brave few souls to see The Iron Giant in the theater. Hope to catch it again in September. (via @anildash)

The Dissolve dissolvesJul 08 2015

Bummer, film site The Dissolve has shut down. They burned bright for a short time.

For the past two years-well, two years this Friday -- it's been our pleasure to put up this site, a site founded on and driven by a love for movies, alongside a company with passion and talent for creating thoughtful, important work. Sadly, because of the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise, today is the last day we will be doing that. We've had this opportunity thanks to Pitchfork, which has been incredibly supportive of our vision. We couldn't have asked for a better partner.

I've linked to a few of their things over the past few months, and the quality was always high. Tony Zhou has collected a few of his favorite pieces from the site.

Wes Anderson color palettesJul 08 2015

Color palettes derived from Wes Anderson movies.

Wes Anderson PalettesWes Anderson Palettes

Young Han Solo movie announcedJul 07 2015

Disney is proceeding at full steam in delivering more Star Wars to your eyeballs. Today they announced that Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the duo behind The Lego Movie, will direct a movie about a young Han Solo.

The screenplay is written by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan. The story focuses on how young Han Solo became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley.

Release date is May 2018. As Princess Leia once said, "Disney, I hope you know what you're doing."

Books in the films of Wes AndersonJul 06 2015

Books loom large in Wes Anderson's movies. Several of his films open with opening books and Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on an actual book. Here's a nicely edited selection of bookish moments from Anderson's films.

In the work of Wes Anderson, books and art in general have a strong connection with memory. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) begins with a homonymous book, as does Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) begins and ends with a book. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) ends with a painting of a place which no longer exists. These movies have a clear message: books preserve stories, for they exist within them and live on through them.

Saul Bass' best film title design workJul 03 2015

Saul Bass designed the opening sequences for dozens of films, including North by Northwest, Psycho, West Side Story, and Goodfellas. Here's a look at some of his best work:

(via art of the title)

I Am Chris FarleyJun 29 2015

I Am Chris Farley is a feature length documentary on the comedian and movie star. Here's a trailer:

The film is out in theaters on July 31 and will be available as a digital download in August. (via buzzfeed)

Update: I caught I Am Chris Farley the other day on Spike TV and it was great. Worth seeking out. (FYI, it's on Amazon Instant.) Ian Crouch has a review of the movie for the New Yorker.

A new documentary, "I Am Chris Farley," which d'ebuts Monday night on Spike TV, frames the sketch as an unqualified triumph, the moment when Farley became a national star. But in the book "The Chris Farley Show," a rich and illuminating oral history compiled, in 2008, by Tanner Colby and Farley's older brother, Tom, it is the source of controversy among those who were there. Jim Downey, who wrote the sketch, insisted that Farley's dancing ability elevated it, so that the audience was celebrating his audacious performance rather than merely mocking his appearance. People were laughing with Farley, not at him-that distinction being one of the essential tensions of Farley's career. Bob Odenkirk, though, who was a writer on the show, recalled the entire thing as "weak bullshit," and said that Farley "never should have done it." Chris Rock, a cast member at the time, viewed it as a dangerous turning point for Farley. "That was a weird moment in Chris's life," he said. "As funny as that sketch was, and as many accolades as he got for it, it's one of the things that killed him. It really is. Something happened right then."

Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive ThinkingJun 25 2015

Antidote Book

"Success through failure, calm through embracing anxiety..." This book sounds perfect for me. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman.

Self-help books don't seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth -- even if you can get it -- doesn't necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can't even agree on what "happiness" means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way?

Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it's our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty -- the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent person's guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.

I learned about the book from Tyler Cowen, who notes:

[Burkeman] is one of the best non-fiction essay writers, and he remains oddly underrated in the United States. It is no mistake to simply buy his books sight unseen. I think of this book as "happiness for grumps."

Given Cowen's recent review of Inside Out, I wonder if [slight spoilers ahoy!] he noticed the similarity of Joy's a-ha moment w/r/t to Sadness at the end of the film to the book's "alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty". Mmmm, zeitgeisty!

Inside the Making of Dr. StrangeloveJun 25 2015

Inside the Making of Dr. Strangelove is a 45-minute behind-the-scenes documentary about Stanley Kubrick's kooky masterpiece (and one of my two favorite movies).1

And speaking of Kubrick, director Marc Forster is making a trilogy of films based on Kubrick's script for The Downslope, a movie about the Civil War. *tents fingers* Interesting...

  1. The other is Rushmore.

10 most controversial movies of all timeJun 24 2015

Brown Bunny, Cannibal Holocaust, The 120 Days of Sodom, and The Last Temptation of Christ... they are among the most controversial movies of all time.

Perhaps a little NSFW. (via devour)

Shopping with movie trailersJun 23 2015

ThetakeTheTake identifies products and places in movies so you can purchase or visit. For instance, there are dozens of products listed from Jurassic World...you can even play the trailer and product matches will pop up. (via @pieratt)

All 15 Pixar movies rankedJun 18 2015

Tim Grierson and Will Leitch did a pretty good job in this list of All 15 Pixar Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best.

We went back-and-forth on the top two here, but we ultimately had to go with [Wall-E], the most original and ambitious of all the Pixar movies. The first half-hour, which basically tells the story of the destruction of the planet and the devolution of the human race without a single line of dialogue, is total perfection: It's almost Kubrickian in its attention to detail and perspective, though it never feels cold or ungenerous.

Piece-of-shit Cars 2 is rightly parked at the bottom of the heap, Wall-E is obviously #1, and they correctly acknowledged Up as overrated. I would have rated the original Toy Story lower and Ratatouille higher, but overall: well done.

Zookeepers posing like Chris Pratt in Jurassic WorldJun 17 2015

Actual zookeepers taking photos of themselves doing Chris Pratt's Jurassic World velociraptor taming move is a thing. Here's the original:

Jurassic Zoo

And the imitators:

Jurassic ZooJurassic ZooJurassic Zoo

Found them here and here. If you find others, send them along!

Update: Laurel sent this one in from the California Academy of Sciences:

Jurassic ZooUpdate: Several more zookeepers being awesome via @ohmygoat1, @susiethefivetoedsloth, @parrotman_jon, and @kati_speer.

Jurassic ZooJurassic ZooJurassic ZooJurassic ZooUpdate: Ok, a few more via @MrDABailey, The Minnesota Zoo, The Georgia Aquarium, and Reddit.

Jurassic ZooJurassic ZooJurassic ZooJurassic ZooUpdate: One last photo brings this meme to a fitting close. This is Chris Pratt himself, taming some children during a recent visit to a local children's hospital.

Jurassic Zoo

(via @alexcarvalho)

Update: Ok, ok, one more and then that's it, America needs to move on. Here's the Dinosaur Curator of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History taming some actual dinosaurs, long-dead though they may be:

Jurassic Zoo

(via @thanland)

All six Star Wars films at onceJun 16 2015

All six films1 from the Star Wars series played at the same time, superimposed on top of each other.

Watch this while you can...I imagine it'll get taken down in a few hours/days.

  1. Until Disney decides to reboot episodes 1-3 in another 10 years, we are stuck with six Star Wars films in the canon. As Yoda once said, "Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force."

DerelictJun 12 2015

Derelict is a feature-length black & white film that splices about an hour of Alien and 90 minutes of Prometheus together into a single narrative.

'Derelict' is an editing project for academic purposes. 'Prometheus' wasn't exactly an Alien prequel, but this treats it as such by intercutting the events of Alien with Prometheus in a dual narrative structure. The goal was to assemble the material to emphasize the strengths of Prometheus as well as its ties to Alien.

(via ★interesting)

Get with The ProgramJun 11 2015

The Program is an upcoming film about the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity). It's based on David Walsh's book, Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong.

Amy Winehouse documentaryJun 10 2015

Amy is a documentary film about the life and career of singer Amy Winehouse. The director is Asif Kapadia, who also directed the excellent Senna, one of my favorite documentaries from the past few years. Here's the trailer:

The film studio behind the movie, A24, has been making some interesting films: Ex Machina, Bling Ring, Obvious Child, A Most Violent Year, The End of the Tour, Spring Breakers, Under the Skin, etc.

The Jurassic Park dossierJun 09 2015

As a kid, Michael M collected a notebook full of information related to Jurassic Park, as if he worked in the computing department of InGen, the company that built the park.

The dossier is fairly thick and contains numerous completely made-up documents like dinosaur tooth records, DNA diagrams, and correspondence between myself, my imaginary colleagues and some of my friends from school whom I'd somehow managed to rope into my delusions.

Broadly, the dossier consists of the impossibly dull minutiae of park admin leading up to the events of the movie. I essentially gave myself a boring office job in my spare time outside of school. If nothing else, it's a fascinating insight into the mind of the type of pubescent idiot who never had a sun tan.

Jurassic Park DossierJurassic Park DossierJurassic Park Dossier

Love this. I definitely did stuff like this when I was a kid, but not nearly as elaborate. (via @robinsloan)

The Earth MovesJun 09 2015

Filmmaker John Walter is making a film called The Earth Moves about Einstein on the Beach, the 1976 opera composed Philip Glass and directed by Robert Wilson. Walter and his team are soliciting funds to complete the film on Kickstarter.

In 2011, the original creators of Einstein on the Beach brought the opera to life again for what will most likely be its last presentation in their lifetime. Einstein on the Beach is an opera like no other. Telling its story requires a documentary like no other.

We completed shooting and editing The Earth Moves and we are all working very hard to finish the film for upcoming film festivals this fall. Now we need your support to fulfill the costs of color correction, media licensing, and sound mixing. Time is of the essence and every contribution helps our mission to complete this film.

Any additional support beyond the goal will go towards expanding the distribution of the film through educational markets and independent theaters nationally.

Bridge of SpiesJun 08 2015

Steven Spielberg is directing Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies, a movie about the negotiation to release U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers from Soviet custody. Here's the trailer:

The script was punched up by none other than the Coen brothers.

The Martian trailerJun 08 2015

I have not read the book it's based on, but the movie version of The Martian, starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott, looks quite promising:

I am going to have to science the shit out of this.

Apollo 13 with a touch of Interstellar...I can do that.

Update: A second trailer has been released:

And I have since read the book, which was good. But it will make a better movie.

Theory: the Harry Potter series is about mental illnessJun 08 2015

This is an interesting theory about the Harry Potter series: the whole thing is about a mentally ill young boy (Harry) who is institutionalized by his parents (the Dursleys) in a mental institution (Hogwarts) and the contents of the books are Harry's fantasy.

In the Harry Potter series, his parents are famous wizards, who were famous in all the world for their unparalleled love for the boy Harry, which set the whole series in motion, killing them and leaving the boy a scarred orphan. (This is a fantasy, crafted as the direct opposite of the way in which children usually end up scarred -- through abuse and neglect.)

If we interpret the story as Harry's fantasy, then the Dursleys are Harry's real parents, and the Potters are imaginary. The Durselys either can't cope with the increasingly-delusional boy living with them, or perhaps they are merely abusive, and it's the abuse that's making him delusional. In any event, the parent-figures constantly mistreat him, favor the brother, and inflict endless cruelty and humiliation on him. One day, Harry snaps, and Dudley (who is really Harry's brother) is severely injured, in a way requiring repeated hospital treatments. (In the delusion, Harry imagines that a pig's tail is magically grown from Dudley's buttocks.) As a result of this incident, Harry is taken away to a "special school."

In praise of chairsJun 03 2015

Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting looks at the use of production design in movies. Specifically chairs. Chairs can tell you something about the world the film is set in, the characters who use them, or a specific situation.

Salad days: the gentrification of the selfJun 03 2015

Gen X was never supposed to get older. But a pair of recent essays by Tim Carmody and Choire Sicha show that the second third Greatest Generation is not immune to pivoting one's emotional startup when midlife approaches. In The Iceman List, Carmody reevaluates 80s movie heroes and finds the more traditionally Reagan-esque characters might have had a point.

But today, in the 2010s, Top Gun is a treat. It's as clean and shiny as a new dime. The cliches that later action films overloaded with world-building and backstory here present themselves unadorned, in all their purity. Cruise is just so charming, brimming with so much energy, it doesn't matter that he doesn't really know how to act yet. A bunch of Navy aviators singing Righteous Brothers in the bar looks like fun. Now that pilots, airmen, and aviators can serve in the US military openly without anyone asking who they sleep with, it's super that Iceman and Slider might be gay. And guess what?

Maverick is kind of a jerk. Iceman is totally right about him. In fact, Iceman is right about almost everything. We didn't notice this in the 1980s because everything about how the film is constructed tells us to sympathize with Maverick and hate Iceman's guts.

My God, we've become Ed Rooney. We are eating it. (Well, Ferris was a dick.) Sicha started smoking as a teenager in the 80s but after quitting recently, desires to "make a senior citizen's arrest" of his younger smoldering self, the Iceman to the Tom Cruise of his youth.

It's like KonMari, except easy, because the only things you throw out are your cigarettes and your entire sense of self.

My friend Emily said she was happy for me, but wistful, too. The last smoker quitting seemed like another kind of gentrification. Now I'm gone, too, along with the gas stations and all the stores that aren't 7-Eleven. But the emotional rent was just too high.

Quitting smoking is the khakis of existence. Quitting smoking is the Chipotle on St. Marks Place. I am totally not cool. I may as well be someone's stupid Brooklyn dad. My hair is its natural color. Most days I'm just wearing whatever. I do yoga endlessly. What am I now?

I can feel this gentrification of the self coming in my life. As someone who watched TV and used the internet 23 hours out of every day for the past 30 years, I'm wary of how much screen time my kids get. All that TV in my youth probably wasn't a good idea and the internet these days isn't what it used to be, right? In a talk at XOXO last year, Hank Green said:

You have no obligation to your former self. He is dumber than you and doesn't exist.

Ok! Pivot I will. Get off my lawn, younger self!

Tarantino's film homagesJun 02 2015

From The Flintstones to Band of Outsiders to Miller's Crossing, here's a look at some of the films referenced in Quentin Tarantino's movies.

(via devour)

The TribeJun 02 2015

The Tribe is set at a Ukrainian high school for the deaf. The film employs no subtitles or voiceovers; all communication is sign language and non-verbal acting. Here's the trailer...somewhat paradoxically, you'll want to use headphones or turn the sound up.

Winner of multiple 2014 Cannes Film Festival Awards (including the coveted Critics' Week Grand Prix), Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's The Tribe is an undeniably original and intense feature debut set in the insular world of a Ukrainian high school for the deaf. The Tribe unfolds through the non-verbal acting and sign language from a cast of deaf, non-professional actors -- with no need for subtitles or voice over -- resulting in a unique, never-before-experienced cinematic event that engages the audience on a new sensory level.

(thx, paul)

Trailer for Wes Anderson's The ShiningJun 01 2015

If you take Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel and mix in elements of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, the result is pretty good.

(via devour)

"Where are the solar powered cars?" and other questions about Mad Max: Fury RoadMay 29 2015

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road yesterday (enjoyed it) but have a few questions.

1. With gasoline in such short supply, I'm surprised the various groups in the movie didn't take more advantage of solar power to generate energy for electric vehicles and such. Sunshine is obviously abundant in post-apocalyptic Australia and from the looks of what was scavenged from before the nuclear war and the ingenuity on display in getting what they found to function, they should have been able to find even rudimentary solar cells and get them to work.

2. Speaking of energy scarcity, I wonder if the troop-pumping-up and opponent-intimidating function of the flamethrowing guitar player was worth all of the fuel spewed out of the end of his instrument and energy consumed by the incredible number of speakers on his rig.

3. The roads in the movie were in remarkable shape, aside from the swampland. Who was responsible for their upkeep? Even dirt roads need maintenance or they develop potholes and washboarding. And for what reason were they kept in such good condition outside of the Citadel/Gas Town/Bullet Farm area? Aside from Furiosa's Rig, the chase party, and two smallish motorcycle gangs, I saw no other vehicular traffic on the roads...and who would have been semi-regularly traveling out past the canyon anyway? To where? For what?

4. What was the political and economic arrangement between the Citadel, Gas Town, and the Bullet Farm? Did the Citadel trade their water and crops for gas and bullets? Or was Immortan Joe, as the defender of the lone source of abundant fresh water in the region, the defacto leader of all three groups? The People Eater and Bullet Farmer certainly came a'running when Joe needed help retrieving his wives. There were obviously other sources of water in the region -- how else did the biker gangs survive? -- so you'd think that Gas Town and the Bullet Farm could have teamed up to squeeze Joe into giving them a better deal or even overthrowing him. Point is, there seemed to be a surprising lack of political friction between the three groups, which seems odd in an environment of scarcity.

5. Surely land was plentiful enough that large solar stills could have generated enough fresh water for people to live on without having to rely on the Citadel for it.

Update: Reddit has a go at answering some of these questions. (via @pavel_lishin)

Mad Max vs. Buster KeatonMay 29 2015

Turns out, if you take Junkie XL's soundtrack to Mad Max: Fury Road and pair it with a train chase scene from Buster Keaton's silent film masterpiece The General, it works pretty well.

Trailer for The End of the TourMay 27 2015

"The more people think you're really great, the bigger the fear of being a fraud is." That's the most resonant line for me from the first trailer for The End of the Tour, the story of a five-day interview between reporter David Lipsky and David Foster Wallace that takes place in 1996, just after Infinite Jest came out.

The movie is based on a book Lipsky published called Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which I read and thought was great.1 Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky and Jason Segel does as much justice to Wallace as one could hope for, I think. I am cautiously optimistic that this movie might actually be decent or even good. (via @jcormier)

  1. I even took place in a roundtable discussion for Vulture about it.

Dior and IMay 27 2015

Dior and I is a fashion documentary about the first haute couture collection designed by Christian Dior's new artistic director. But from the looks of the trailer, you don't have to know or care about the fashion industry to get something out of watching a group of people accomplish something creative, difficult, and political under extreme time constraints.

The film is playing at select theaters around the US and should be available next month for streaming and digital download. (via russell davies)

Movie intro megamixMay 22 2015

A cleverly constructed mashup of all the major Hollywood studio intros -- MGM's roaring lion, Disney's castle, Paramount's flying stars, Miramax's skyline -- into one mega-intro.

(via @pieratt)

An oral history of Industrial Light and MagicMay 19 2015

Star Wars was a film that literally couldn't be made; the technology required to bring the movie's universe to visual life simply didn't exist.

So George Lucas did what any enterprising young director who was destined to change the movie business would do. He invented a company to invent the technology. Wired's Alex French and Howie Kahn take you inside the magic factory with the untold story of ILM.

America's bias against the common goodMay 19 2015

In The Plot Against Trains, Adam Gopnik muses about how infrastructure in America has become dilapidated in part because we (or at least much of we) believe little good can come from the government.

What an ideology does is give you reasons not to pursue your own apparent rational interest -- and this cuts both ways, including both wealthy people in New York who, out of social conviction, vote for politicians who are more likely to raise their taxes, and poor people in the South who vote for those devoted to cutting taxes on incomes they can never hope to earn. There is no such thing as false consciousness. There are simply beliefs that make us sacrifice one piece of self-evident interest for some other, larger principle.

What we have, uniquely in America, is a political class, and an entire political party, devoted to the idea that any money spent on public goods is money misplaced, not because the state goods might not be good but because they would distract us from the larger principle that no ultimate good can be found in the state. Ride a fast train to Washington today and you'll start thinking about national health insurance tomorrow.

The ideology of individual autonomy is, for good or ill, so powerful that it demands cars where trains would save lives, just as it places assault weapons in private hands, despite the toll they take in human lives. Trains have to be resisted, even if it means more pollution and massive inefficiency and falling ever further behind in the amenities of life -- what Olmsted called our "commonplace civilization."

The way he brings it back to trains at the end is lovely:

A train is a small society, headed somewhere more or less on time, more or less together, more or less sharing the same window, with a common view and a singular destination.

Well, except when you're on that Snowpiercer train. Although in the end (spoiler!), Curtis brought the train's segregated society back to "a common view and a singular destination" by crashing it and killing (almost) everyone on it. Hopefully America isn't headed toward the same end.

Steve Jobs movie trailerMay 18 2015

I have been doing a poor job keeping up with my Steve Jobs-related media. I haven't had a chance to pick up the new Becoming Steve Jobs book yet. And I had no idea that the Aaron Sorkin-penned biopic was still in the works, much less that Michael Fassbender is playing Jobs and Danny Boyle is directing. Here's the trailer:

The trailer debuted during last night's series finale of Mad Men, which was possibly the most appropriate venue for it. [Slight spoilers...] Draper always had a Jobs-esque sheen to him, although the final scene showed us that, yes, Don Draper actually would like to sell sugar water for the rest of his life.

Update: A proper trailer has dropped. I don't know how much we'll learn about the actual Steve Jobs from the movie, but it looks like it might be good.

Update: Another trailer. This is looking like a strong film.

Beyond CluelessMay 13 2015

Beyond Clueless is a full-length documentary movie about teen movies made between the release of Clueless in 1995 and Mean Girls in 2004. A trailer:

The film was financed in part through Kickstarter.

Beyond Clueless will be the first major study -- in any medium -- of the teen movie revolution that occurred in the ten years that separated the releases of Clueless in 1995 and Mean Girls in 2004. Part historical account, part close textual analysis, part audiovisual mood piece and part head-over-heels love letter to the teen genre, the film will examine more than two hundred films released during this decade-long idyll, in terms of their characters, themes and what they had to say for themselves.

According to the Art of the Title, who did an interview with the filmmakers about the opening title sequence, the is constructed entirely of clips from other movies.

What if all those American teen movies from the '90s and early 2000s took place in the same universe? What if Crash Override and Cher Horowitz and Laura Palmer all went to the same high school? In the cleverly cut opening to director Charlie Lyne's essay film Beyond Clueless, their worlds are brought together in one long hallway of jeers and sneers, smug smiles, and adolescent longing.

Made entirely of clips, Beyond Clueless does with editing for film what the album Endtroducing... did with sampling for music. Shepherded by the voice of Fairuza Balk, the film is a bricolage of footage meticulously collected from over 200 films, weaving together an era of cliques and hierarchies, baggy pants and chokers, beepers and laptops, with a dash of apple pie and occultism.

A short video tribute to the sounds of Star WarsMay 12 2015

Watch all the way to the end for some sounds that didn't make it into the movies.

Star Wars x Star Trek: The Carbonite ManeuverMay 12 2015

From an alternate universe in 1985, a Star Wars crossover with Star Trek that never happened in which Lord Vader has the Genesis Device.

Paging JJ Abrams. Mr. Abrams to the white courtesy phone please. (via @khoi)

All movie trailers are the sameApr 30 2015

The other day, I made a reference to a trailer for a TV series being "a little too trailery for my taste". What I meant was that it too much like every other trailer (in that genre) and didn't show enough of the character of the particular show being advertised. Action movie trailers are perhaps the worse offenders in this regard, as this meta-trailer shows:


Build up to silence, then BAM!

Like I was saying, too trailery. (via devour)

Black Mass trailerApr 27 2015

Black Mass stars Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, real-life Boston mobster and FBI informant. The trailer is damn good and I'm hoping the rest of the movie lives up to it.

Tomorrowland trailerApr 21 2015

Ok, even though George Clooney's character says "you ain't seen nothing yet" in the trailer, I am cautiously optimistic that Tomorrowland won't actually suck. Brad Bird is directing, for one thing.

Interesting thing about Clooney: even though he's one of the biggest movie stars in the world, aside from Gravity, he's never really had a big summer blockbustery sort of hit. Only six of his films have grossed more than $100 million...compare that with Will Smith or even Matt Damon, both of whom are younger.1 Perhaps Tomorrowland will be Clooney's Pirates of the Caribbean or Bourne.

  1. The list of actors sorted by box office gross is fascinating, btw. The top five: Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson, Harrison Ford, and Eddie Murphy, three of whom are black. The first woman on the list is Cameron Diaz at #13 (and then Cate Blanchett at 21, Helena Bonham Carter at 22, Emma Watson at 25, and Julia Roberts at 26). Sorting by average gross isn't working for me, but I scanned through and found the top five (who have been in 6 or more films): Emma Watson (whose movies gross $191.6 million on average), Daniel Radcliffe, Taylor Lautner, Rupert Grint, and Liam Hemsworth.

Make your own Star Wars BB-8 rolling ball droidApr 20 2015

When the first trailer for JJ Abrams' new Star Wars movie came out, we all assumed the rolling ball droid was CGI (and perhaps based on this 2008 xkcd post). Then an actual working model of the droid, called BB-8, showed up on stage at Star Wars Celebration. Minds blew. Industrial design student Christian Poulsen figured out how to make his own version of BB-8 by hacking a Sphero:

Update: It looks like Sphero will be manufacturing an official BB-8 droid toy, which will likely be a massive success.

Update: Sphero is selling a smartphone-controlled BB-8 droid. This is the droid you're looking for.

Authentic Movement: Guide your BB-8 with a smartphone or tablet

Listens & Responds: BB-8 recognizes and reacts to your voice

Holographic Messaging: Record and view virtual holographic videos with BB-8

Autonomous Behavior: BB-8 has a mind of its own - explore the Star Wars galaxy together

Adaptive Personality: Your BB-8's unique attitude and actions evolve as you interact

It's also available at Amazon, although they are currently out of stock.

The Hateful Eight teaser trailerApr 17 2015

This is the teaser trailer for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, the movie whose script leaked, was cancelled, was planned to be released as a book, and then uncanceled.

Update: I'm getting emails and tweets saying this trailer is fake. And if it is fake, is there a non-fake leaked trailer out there or...?

Update: Just to be clear, this is totally fake and constructed from bits of other movies, etc.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer #2Apr 16 2015

Ok, this one gave me goosebumps. I hope this is good.

Ex Machina soundtrackApr 14 2015

A new listen-while-you-code/write/design favorite.

I really liked the movie. Matt Zoller Seitz's review captured it well.

The Directors Series: Stanley KubrickApr 13 2015

From Cameron Beyl, a three-hour video essay on the films of Stanley Kubrick. The essay splits Kubrick's career into five parts: the early independent features (Fear & Desire, Killer's Kiss, The Killing), the Kirk Douglas years (Paths of Glory, Spartacus), the Peter Sellers comedies (Lolita, Dr. Strangelove), the Master Works (2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining), and the final features (Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut).

Beyl has just begun his second extended essay, on David Fincher. (via openculture)

The 100 best films of the decade (so far)Apr 09 2015

From the AV Club, a publication by The Onion, a list of the 100 best films of the decade (so far). Good to see Her, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Tree of Life, and Upstream Color on there, among others.

Modern day VHSApr 07 2015

Modern Day VHS

Someone pretending to be a Parisian hipster who only watches VHS versions of modern shows & movies like Game of Thrones and Interstellar created these VHS covers as an April Fools joke. These are actually pretty great. (via subtraction)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Apr 02 2015

For the one-year anniversary of Every Frame a Painting, Tony Zhou goes meta and talks about how to structure a video essay, using South Park and Orson Welles' F for Fake.

Happy anniversary EFAP!

The sounds of HollywoodApr 01 2015

A profile of Gregg Barbanell, who is a Hollywood Foley artist responsible for the ambient sounds (walking, clothes rustling, gunshots, etc.) in Breaking Bad, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Walking Dead. The best bits are about how specific sounds are made.

Popular apocalyptic zombie TV series The Walking Dead has no shortage of gore -- and as the show's Foley artist, Barbanell is tasked with creating most of its gruesome "blood and guts" sounds. "They're pulling organs out of bodies, they're slicing heads off, reaching into bodies, pulling out things," says Barbanell, with disgust. "So, we get creative."

For "gushy, squishy sounds" like oozing blood, Barbanell uses chamois (a leather cloth made from the skin of mountain sheep). "You soak it, then lay into it, and it just oozes -- it's something you can control really easily," he says. "And when you put pressure on it, you get these amazing, gory noises." Sometimes, when that extra oompf is needed, he'll go out and buy a whole, raw chicken to stuff the chamois inside of.

For "breaking bones," big, full stocks of celery are employed -- not merely individual stocks, mind you, but HUGE bunches capable of producing layered, complex snaps. "They give you this huge, sinewy stringy sound," adds Barbanell. "It's very effective."

Oh, and his collection of shoes for making different walking sounds, some of which are shown here:

Foley Shoes

I love that Foley is still something done by hand, but sometimes it's a bit too much, less like ambient noise and more like these exaggerated Wordless Musicvideos.

Cloud tank special effectsMar 25 2015

To simulate unusual cloud formations in movies (like Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Independence Day), special effects artists injected paint into tanks containing water with two different densities.

A cloud tank consists of a bottom layer of salt water and a top layer of fresh water and when various forms of liquid are injected into tank, clouds are produced. This was the common technique that Hollywood used for decades to capture supernatural weather.

The developer of the cloud tank effect, Scott Squires, wrote a post detailing how it was accomplished.

Next white liquid tempra paint is injected in the fresh water portion (top), usually just a few inches from the dividing line of the fresh and salt water. Think of a large syringe with an aquarium tube going into the water. When the tempra paint is injected it billows outward like cumulus clouds and will tend to sink a bit. But the salt water prevents it from going lower so the 'cloud' tends to flatten it's base on the salt water line and and billow outward, similar to real clouds based on air pressure levels. Avoid going below into the saltwater since the clouds will just drop to the bottom of tank.

The opening boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost ArkMar 25 2015

The Art of the Scene looks at how Raiders of the Lost Ark came to be and how the opening scene is the perfect introduction to the main character and the "look and feel" of the rest of the film.

I love that Lucas got the idea for the boulder from a Scrooge McDuck comic book. (via devour)

The sameness of Pixar's womenMar 24 2015

For years, one of the knocks on Pixar was the lack of main characters who are women in their movies. 2012's Brave and this summer's Inside Out have addressed this criticism to an extent1. But Alex of every flavored bean noticed that, in contrast to the diversity of male faces, female characters in Disney/Pixar's recent movies all have the same face.

Pixar Female Faces

Boys in animated movies have faces that are square, round, skinny, fat, alien-looking, handsome, and ugly. The only face that girls get to have is some round snub-nosed baby face. That's not right.

Great observation.

Update: This piece has generated some interesting comments on Good, including this one from Dan Povenmire, co-creator of Phineas and Ferb.

This is idiotic and obviously written by someone who (A) can't draw and (B) has an axe to grind. The female characters they show have very varied faces. Yes the face shapes are all softer feminine shapes, but they purposely didn't include female characters from those same movies with less feminine faces, like Edna Mode in The Incredibles, or the Witch or the Cook in Brave, or any of the older female characters, like the fairy godmother, or... whatever. All the princes and male romantic leads in these movies have the same face shape as well but NO, she takes old men and villains and comedy relief characters to "prove" how sexist animation is. This is just stupid.

If you want literally dozens of examples of other characters omitted from the list see the other comments below.

(via @ckoerner)

  1. Although the gender stereotypes on display in the first trailer for Inside Out is not helping matters.

Mike Tyson's crowdsourcing his best knockoutsMar 23 2015

Martin Scorsese is reportedly set to direct a biopic on Mike Tyson with Jamie Foxx in the title role. Tyson has compiled a video of each of his 44 knockouts and wants his fans' help in choosing his top 10 for Foxx to study.

The top 10 from this video are definite contenders.

Akira Kurosawa, a master of movementMar 23 2015

New Every Frame a Painting! In this installment, Tony Zhou shows how Akira Kurosawa used movement in his films to terrific effect.

The first and final frames of 55 filmsMar 20 2015

I really love this video featuring the opening and closing shots of fifty-five movies presented side-by-side, "First and Final Frames." Created by Jacob T. Swinney.

My favorites: "Tree of Life," "Raging Bull," "Melancholia."

Update: Swinney has released a second installment of First and Final Frames.

Mad Max: Fury Road international trailer drops, explodes in your faceMar 19 2015

The "Mad Max: Fury Road" international trailer features fire and blood, colorful explosions, and Charlize Theron screaming. What a lovely day, indeed. BRB, I gotta go get in line.

(via This Isn't Happiness)

Tony Montana is selling his Scarface mansionMar 18 2015

Have you always dreamed of owning the home where Tony Montana married Elvira Hancock? The "Scarface" estate known as El Fureidis can be yours for only $34M.


But many of the classic features of the mansion are still in place: an 18-foot-high central dome adorned with 24-karat gold leaf in the Byzantine-style alcove, as well as a formal dining room ceiling depicting a scene of Alexander the Great conquering Persepolis in 330 B.C. (also designed with 24-karat gold leaf).

NB: The house isn't in Coral Gables, FL. It's in Montecito, CA.

Here's a relatively exhaustive exploration of "Scarface" shooting locations, including the elevator scene and the chainsaw scene. (via Damon Brown)

Fury end title sequenceMar 16 2015

I finally got a chance to watch "Fury" last weekend, and the part of the movie that was the most compelling to me was the end title sequence. The sequence terrifyingly captures the slamming chaos of war. (Contains graphic imagery.)

The main title sequence and the end title sequence were created by Greenhaus GFX.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of HeckMar 12 2015

HBO will premiere the critically acclaimed authorized documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck later this year on May 4. Here's the trailer:

Looks promising. The film is directed by Brett Morgen, who also did the excellent The Kid Stays in the Picture documentary about Robert Evans. And the name comes from a late-80s mixtape made by Cobain.

Back in Time, a Back to the Future documentaryMar 10 2015

2015 seems like a pretty good year to do a documentary about Back to the Future. Here's a trailer:

The scope of the film has changed since the project started -- it was originally just about the DeLorean Time Machine -- and so the production team has gone back to Kickstarter to fund completion of the film. (via @ystrickler)

New trailer for Inside OutMar 10 2015

Ok, I'm starting to feel better about Inside Out, Pixar's upcoming animated feature that takes place mostly inside the mind of a young girl. The first trailer featured a bunch of gender stereotypes and mostly left me scratching my head, but the second trailer is solid:

Zoolander and Hansel walk the runway at Paris Fashion WeekMar 10 2015

First the actual Michael Bolton pops up in Office Space and now Derek Zoolander and Hansel are walking an actual runway show during Paris Fashion Week:

A video posted by @erindoherty_glamour on

A video posted by @erindoherty_glamour on

Is this what we have to look forward to for the next 10 years, late-90s/early-00s media remixed for an aging and increasingly wealthy Generation X? Bring it on?

Update: Here's the video of the whole show; the Zoolander appearance happens right at the beginning.

And as if there were any doubt, the stunt was a promo for Zoolander 2, which will come out in 2016.

Update: At one point, Zoolander grabbed the phone out of someone's hand and walked with it. Here's the video of that.

The someone turns out to be Jerome Jarre, a big Vine star who gets paid by brands to do this sort of thing all the time so chances are it was staged. Sorry, there are no more genuine moments left, it's all fake from now on.

No-talent ass clownMar 10 2015

Funny or Die digitally inserted the singer Michael Bolton into Office Space, where he plays Michael Bolton, the Initech programmer.

(via devour)

The Century of the SelfMar 10 2015

From filmmaker Adam Curtis, a four-part documentary series on "how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy". Here's part one:

And continue with part 2, part 3, and part 4. Here is a good review:

This is a powerful and arresting documentary series -- I ended up watching all four episodes back to back in a marathon effort. It was that gripping. I had felt similarly about his more recent documentary about the rise of neo conservatism and arab fundamentalism and the similarity in their techniques for recruiting followers (and their mutual need of each other in that project) -- but 'The Century of the Self' (TCS from now on), is much grander in its scope. It seeks to analyse the different conceptions of the self in the twentieth century, and how these conceptions were ultimately used by corporations to manipulate consumers into purchasing their products. Curtis takes large swipes at corporate capitalism in this documentary, but his target is even wider than this -- he seeks to tell a story about the relationship between the differing conceptions of individualism and the capitalist, democratic institutions (corporations and governments) which organise themselves around these conceptions.

(thx, kyle)

Mr. HolmesMar 05 2015

In Mr. Holmes, Ian McKellen plays a post-retirement Sherlock Holmes who has moved to the country to take up beekeeping. Here's the trailer:

Update: Not that the first trailer was bad or anything, but this new one provides much more of a sense of what the film is about.

I'm going to watch the shit out of this movie.

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