Ode to a Joker

January 28, 2008

Heath Leder as The Joker in  ‘The Dark Knight’I heard the news today, oh boy
About a talented promising lad who made the grade
The news was horribly sad
He was destined to make The Joker laugh
All too soon the camera stole his last photograph
He blew my mind out in a role about a mountain
Everyone noticed that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
But now we were sure his talent would take him to an actor’s house of lords.

Heath Leder 1979-2008I saw an interview today, oh boy
An uncomfortable Aussie charmed the publicity whore
Crowds seemed promised to queue his way
I just had to look
Having all ready read the end of that book
I would loved to have seen him onward

(By way of Lennon and McCartney)

Heath Leder
1979-2008

Why Cloverfield’s the YouTube Generation’s Movie

January 20, 2008

imaginedworlds.us imagines CloverfieldAfter a yearlong highly crafted campaign of viral marketing, the much-hyped J.J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield arrived in movie theaters. The result is a film experience that is familiar, wrapped in proven Hollywood convention and also innovative and genre twisting.

Cloverfield is essentially a Godzilla movie without Godzilla. After the dismal 1998 Roland Emmerich Americanized adaption who can blame the franchise’s owners wanting their Gojira copyright to remain in Japan.

To be more accurate, Cloverfield is a classic 1950’s era rampaging monster movie very much in the tradition of the great B-movies like The Blob, Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Tarantula. It is dressed in 21st Century clothes.

The classic monster movies of the ’50 tapped into Americans’ collective fears of Communism and nuclear war; fueled by that generations’ anxiety that a malevolent Other will attack and wipe the U.S., freedom and consumer-driven democracy from the face of Earth, with unchecked scientific advancement often an unwitting accomplice.

Cloverfield taps present-day Americans’ collective xenophobia that malevolent foreign forces they don’t understand and cannot reason with are poised to descend on them and wipe the U.S., freedom and consumer-driven democracy from the face of the Earth.

Images of debris clouds and a devastated New York City skyline evoke the terror attacks of 9/11 all too clearly. In case anyone in the theatre had any doubts, Cloverfield punctuates its understanding of Americans’ internalize 9/11 wounds by loping off the head of the Statue of Liberty. An ineffective military bravely and courageously unleash everything in their arsenal at the beast, but really they are clueless as to what the creature is or where to came from or how to combat it. IEDs are replaced in the film by vicious “flies” or baby monsters that overrun ground troops and innocent bystanders. The film’s characters spend the movie equally clueless as to the origins of the monster and its intent. These subliminal horrors are as potent and present in filmgoers’ minds today as the Red Scare was interwoven into filmgoer consciousness in the ’50.

Cloverfield may also be described as The Blair Witch Project Meets Godzilla.

Cloverfield’s Hud watches and so does imaginedworlds.usPlaying out the drama from the first person view through a camcorder or film camera is not new. Like Blair Witch, Cloverfield chooses to make its extreme cinema verite the entire movie and all filmgoers know is what the character holding the camera sees and experiences in the film’s contrived “real-time.” The difference between Cloverfield and Blair Witch and how this camera -narrative approach has previously been used is that Cloverfield simultaneously taps into the current emergent culture shaped by YouTube and a generations’ access to high-quality consumer video technology. In the few years since Blair Witch premiered, families have grown up in front of the camcorder, video clips are snapped off on mobile phones and no one thinks twice about capturing any mundane moment to share with the world whether anyone cares or not (and we do it all the time). First person experience is the new entertainment.

Cloverfield may be the first major studio movie to successfully take current Internet sensibilities and commit them dramatically to film. It is likely not the last instance in which a major studio production mimics the type of filmmaking experience for dramatic affect that people do for themselves.

Am I completely happy with Cloverfield as film? No. Do I want to sit through 85 minutes of shaky camera work? Let’s say thank God it is not Blair Witch. Could the third act have been stronger? Maybe.

Faithfulopedia Index

January 12, 2008

Compendium

  • Bloodlines
  • Clan Wars
  • Education and Gender
  • History
  • Marriage and Sex
  • Men
  • Naming Conventions
  • Politics
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexuality
  • Women
  • Principle Characters

    It’s a girl, it’s a machine, it’s the new Terminator

    January 12, 2008

    Summer Glau (Cameron) and Thomas Dekker (John Connor): The TV remake comes with an ominous tone and a high body count. (Jill Greenberg/FOX)ANDREW RYAN
    From Friday’s Globe and Mail

    Arnold Schwarzenegger warned us that the Terminator would return.

    Along with several other catchphrases, the actor-turned-politician flatly informed moviegoers “I’ll be back” in the original 1984 film version of The Terminator and repeated the message in two successive sequels.

    And the Terminator has come back, but on television, and this time the killing machine from the future is a sullen high-school girl with a wardrobe from Gap. Hasta la vista, baby.

    Currently engaged in his role as Governator of California, Arnold is nowhere to be found in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Sunday on Fox and E! at 8 p.m. and Monday at 9 p.m.), but he’s there in spirit. In keeping with the movies, the TV remake comes with an ominous tone and a high body count.

    Replacing 24 on Fox’s Monday-night lineup for the foreseeable future, The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the most ambitious launch of this strike-decimated TV season.

    Large of budget and grand in scope, the midseason series revisits characters from the Terminator movies, with sharp focus on the mother-daughter relationship between the new Terminator named Cameron - an obvious nod to franchise creator James Cameron - and the strong female character of Sarah Connor, arguably the toughest single mom in cinema history. Meet the new Gilmore Girls.

    Sticking closely to Terminator movie mythology, the two women are united in their fierce protection of John Connor (Thomas Dekker of Heroes), the supposed future leader of the human resistance that will rise up against the machines. [read the full article at Globe and Mail]

    Galactica’s Aaron Douglas headlines Dallas All-Con

    January 8, 2008

    Battlestar Galactica’s Aaron Douglas plays Chief TyrolFans of Science Fiction, Anime, Renaissance Arts, Costuming, Collecting, Film, Television, and even Women’s Roller Derby will be converging on the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison (Dallas) Texas on March 7th-9th, 2008. Only one event can draw such an eclectic group together; Dallas’ extraordinary convention: All-Con.

    All-Con’s three-day event schedule features Hollywood celebrities and caters to ranges of interest from the general public to fans of the exotic.

    Aaron Douglas headlines the line-up of stars from television and film. Battlestar Galactica’s season finale revealed four of the Cylon “final five” humanoid models… all aboard the Galactica! As fans prepare to watch the final season, Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) makes one of his final convention appearances before the action begins on the Sci-Fi Channel. Come and meet this remarkable actor at All-Con in Dallas. After season 4 of Battlestar Galactica begins, you may never be able to look at him in the same way again.

    Also appearing all three days are Star Wars: Return of the Jedi actors Sean Crawford who portrayed “Yak Face” on Jabba’s sail barge and Tim Dry who was the Whiphid in Jabba’s palace. Tonya Kay who became “Creature” for season one of televisions Who Wants To Be A Super Hero, and Burton Gilliam (instantly recognizable for the characters he portrayed in epics such as Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles and Back to the Future III) round out the celebrity line-up. All the celebrities will be speaking in discussion panels throughout the weekend and convention attendees will have the opportunity to chat briefly one-on-one with the actors during scheduled sessions. Fans may bring their own comic books, action figures, posters, DVDs, etc. for stars to autograph and every actor will also have photos available.

    Participation events at All-Con for 2008 include a Cosplay Competition, 4th annual Ms. Star Wars Pageant, Model and Diorama Contest presented by Wilco! Models, Rocky Horror shadow cast performance, Super Hero Sunday Pageant, Women’s Roller Derby Fan Dinner, Discussion Panels, Workshops, Game Shows, Droid Hunt, and the traditional Saturday night Costume Contest which offers a $200 cash prize for the Best-of-Show winner.

    Special activities and programming geared for kids aged 15 and under are scheduled for mornings and mid-days. (Persons under the age of 17 must be accompanied by their parent or guardian at all times during the convention.) Families who might not have ever considered attending a fan convention will be treated to a family friendly environment. After 5pm, parental guidance is encouraged.

    Among the customary convention events attendees may find themselves in the Art Gallery, gazing into the Video Theater at either Anime or independent films, cheering on their favorite stormtrooper in the Imperial Olympics, discovering newfound treasures in the Dealer’s Room, watching late-night Burlesque, or captivated by demonstrations put on by costumers, women’s roller derby teams, renaissance reenactment groups, or exhibiting organizations with a myriad of interests. Always a treat, Artist Alley is populated with artisans ready to demonstrate their crafts for your entertainment, amusement, and education.

    Participating organizations and clubs for 2008 include Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival, Assassination City Roller Derby League, Wilco! Models, Mu Epsilon Kappa (UNT) Anime Club, Los Bastardos Rocky Horror shadow cast, 501st Legion’s Imperial Star Garrison (Star Wars costuming), the 6th Fleet Colonial Defense Fleet (Battlestar Galactica club), the Austin Browncoats (Firefly / Serenity club), and Galactic Productions (celebrity bookings). Prize support for the weekend is supplied in part by Lucasfilm Ltd., the Sci-Fi Channel, The Sabre Vault, and ADV Films. The registration sponsor for 2008 is NVidia.

    For those who desire the full convention experience, the hotel has reduced its rates for rooms booked before February 15th using the booking code of: “ACN”. (Friday and Saturday nights the scheduled content runs through 2am, making an on-premise room to retire into a recommended plan.)

    All-Con is an annual convention open to the public to attend, experience, and participate. Advance tickets for access all three days are only $25 for adults and $12 for children aged 3-12. Tickets may be purchased at Titan Comics, 3701 W. Northwest Highway in Dallas, or using a credit card at http://www.All-Con.org/tkt.html

    Registration forms for the competitions (Ms. Star Wars, Cosplay, Model/Diorama, Super Hero Sunday, Saturday Night Costume Contest), art gallery, and independent film submission, and remaining dealer space may all be found at the main website: http://www.All-Con.org under the heading “Forms”.

    All-Con, Dallas’ extraordinary 3-day convention is March 7-9, 2008 and takes place at the Dallas Crowne Plaza, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, Texas 75001. The doors open at 10am on Friday morning (for 11am seating at the first event) and content runs through 5pm on Sunday with brief closings after 2am Friday and Saturday night for next-day preparations. Celebrities charge a nominal fee for autographs to cover their costs to travel and to appear.

    All media contacts, advertising requests, event sponsors, exhibitor inquiries, and general questions should be sent to: info @ All-Con.org where they will be routed to the correct department and responded to within 24 hours.