« What Might Have Been | Main | Don't Give Away Carbon Permits »

March 06, 2009

Comments

Deep concept of the week: Relaunch "Teen Wolf" as a softcore series on Cinemax.

Think about it...

Sorr, but that last post was a strange therapy session. I had originally started to write a rant about Megan McCardle's infuriating post "Moral Bankruptcy" and felt my blood starting to boil. Reading the comments nearly caused a coronary.

Having an obsessive's need to finish a post I started, I erased my semi-coherent rant and wrote the very first thing which came to mind (which is worrisome in its own right)

Are you kidding? I'm pitching it to my agent as we speak. Or type as it were.

I've noticed that the Coulter/Olbermann donneybrook hasn't gotten much of a mention. Which is just as well; you might get some stupid on you.

Hi All - I'm happy to report that Ugh Jr. was born this week, all just over 6lbs of him. Mr. & Mrs. Ugh's first. Apparently, he requires some upkeep.

Virtual cigars for everyone!

Congratulations Ugh!

This is miscellaneous: feel free to vote for me in this silly award thing. (I mentioned here.)

Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Ugh!

Congrats Ugh!

Cool – open thread. I need it. Just to say – hey, I luv you guys. (Wait, that’s only my third beer.) I mean, I appreciate all your feedback. (There, that’s better. Hah!)

So – Watchmen – what the hell is that? A graphic novel is a scaled up comic book no? When the hell is Hollywood going to get creative again and stop recycling Marvel and old sitcoms?

If you have HBO – watch “Taking Chance”. It’s not political. I dare you not to cry.

Congratulations, Mr. and Ms. Ugh!

Obama's economic policies are a complete disaster.

Yay Ugh and Mrs. Ugh! Congratulations.

"A graphic novel is a scaled up comic book no?"

Graphic novels and comics are a medium, not a genre. We could go on about Maus and Perseoplis, and such, but I'm big on good writers such as Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, Kurt Busiek, Warren Ellis, and Alan Moore and others, who do superheroes, as well.

And if you have no idea about Watchmen and its place in comics history, and its differences from standard superheros, and how not "recycled" it is, well, respectfully, you have no idea what you're talking about. Go try reading it.

Some of us have been following the ins and outs of what kind of movie might get made out of Watchmen for over 23 years yet. Forgive me if I seem irritable at your suggesting that the million or so of us who have been doing so are all idiots.

FWIW, Roger Ebert, not at all a comic book fan, who has never read it, loves the movie as a masterpiece, btw.

Welcome to the world, Ugh-let! Congratulations, Ugh, and best wishes for the extended upkeep...

Supreme Court dismisses the al-Marri case now that he's facing civilian criminal charges, _and_ (the good news) vacates the Fourth Circuit ruling that allowed his detention as an "unlawful enemy combatant":

Al-Marri’s lawyers wanted the Court to go ahead and resolve the detention power issue, but they preferred, as an alternative, to have the lower court ruling vacated rather than simply having his appeal dismissed.

Jonathan Hafetz of the American Civil Liberties Union, Al-Marri’s lead lawyer, called the order vacating the lower court decision an “important step,” and added: “We trust that the Obama Administration will not repeat the abuses of the Bush Administration, having now chosen to prosecute Mr. Al-Marri in federal court rather than defend the Bush Administration’s actions in this case.”

I'm seeing Watchmen tomorrow afternoon, btw, so I'll let you know what I think of the movie after that.

Congrats Ugh, Ughess and Ughlet!

Ugh and Mrs. Ugh -- congratulations!

So many adventures in store!

All that maintenance, you blink, and all of a sudden Little Ugh is out of college, and you wonder: How in the heck did that happen?

One day at a time, that's how.

Enjoy each one.

Re Geithner: It's gonna be Obama's intelligence versus Obama's caution. For now, caution is winning.

I'm seriously disappointed in Tim Geithner thus far.

Yup.

Obama's economic policies are a complete disaster.

Says d'd'd'dave from the future, where Obama's economic policies have actually been implemented.

I'm happy to report that Ugh Jr. was born this week

Hooray! The world needs more Ughs!!

Gary: Forgive me if I seem irritable at your suggesting that the million or so of us who have been doing so are all idiots.

Forgiven. I mean, I already said I luv you dude… (OK I’m sorry – I don’t want to piss off anyone on an open thread. It’s my last safe haven here.)

So to get serious…. Hollywood is out of ideas and they have been recycling the best (and worst) of the last few decades for – a long time now. They have run through all the best comic books – many with many sequels. They have done sitcoms. If something makes a decent first weekend box office it is good for 2 sequels…

You watch a lot of movies. What is the “best of the best” you have seen in the last 20 years? For me it is “The Shawshank Redemption”.

I love some of the Marvel flicks. Usually the first one – then I say, “Oh. Jeeze – this again?...”

I will look forward to your review though. It will factor into whether I see it.

So to get serious…. Hollywood is out of ideas and they have been recycling the best (and worst) of the last few decades for – a long time now. They have run through all the best comic books – many with many sequels. They have done sitcoms. If something makes a decent first weekend box office it is good for 2 sequels…

I don't know about this. Hollywood does TV as well as movies and I think the quality of television available has increased dramatically in the last few years. I mean, when I look at stuff like Rome, Dexter, the Wire, BSG, Firefly, Doctor Who/Torchwood, I'm really impressed. Plus there's Leverage, which is awesome.

I don't know what to make of "out of ideas". I mean, any film/show, no matter how original is going to be derivative in some way. You'll be able to connect any plot to something Shakespeare or Aristophenes did if you work at it enough. So if we can always say that Hollywood is out of ideas no matter what they do, what's the point of saying it?

"Hollywood is out of ideas and they have been recycling the best (and worst) of the last few decades for – a long time now."

Really? How recycled are, say, Synecdoche, NY, Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Milk, Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Tropic Thunder, Wall-E, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Visitor, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Rachel Getting Married...?

"I mean, when I look at stuff like Rome, Dexter, the Wire, BSG, Firefly, Doctor Who/Torchwood, I'm really impressed."

That, too. (Add Deadwood.)

And "Hollywood," has been making sequels since at least the 1910s. (See "Our Gang," "Keystone Cops," etc., etc.; by the Thirties we had six "Thin Man" movies, etc., etc.)

Congratulations to the Ugh family. When's the bris?

Congratulations, and I hope it turns out to be the best of all possible Ughlets!

Well, as far as Hollywood goes, Sturgeon's Law is applicable.

As the number of big studio films go down, so do the number of good big studio films. As the number of cable outlets go up and the number of original cable TV shows go up, so do the number of good or better TV shows.

And...Leverage is cool...Parker rocks!

You watch a lot of movies. What is the “best of the best” you have seen in the last 20 years? For me it is “The Shawshank Redemption”.

You realize that The Shawshank Redemption was adapted from a Stephen King novella, right?

I actually think that was a Richard Bachman novella, from back when he was writing under that name.

Oh, and congrats, Ugh. May your new child be precociously sleep-inclined.

Oh, and enjoy every infant second, because before you know it the kid is going to be 13 years old and embarrassed to be seen with you.

"You watch a lot of movies. What is the 'best of the best' you have seen in the last 20 years?"

I missed this the first time, sorry. I tend to hate to try to make lists. I'm happy to through up an undifferentiated list of many of my personal favorites, but I don't equate those with some kind of objective "best." I don't know how to measure "best" without an objective metric lots of people agree on, and I don't know what that would be, other than the rather obvious and not very helpful one of tickets sold.

And I like all sorts of movies for all sorts of entirely different reasons; my tastes (in general) are very eclectic.

But my favorite movie of recent years is The Royal Tennenbaums for very personal reasons. And I just adored Synecdoche, NY.

And I also love Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Some other favorites of the past twenty years? Let's see: Raising Arizona, and the majority of Coen Brothers pictures. Most Martin Scorsese. Lost In Translation. Love, Actually. Contact. Broadcast News. Chasing Amy. Ghost World. The LOTR extended versions. All six of the Star Wars pictures. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Aliens. Empire Of The Sun. The Life Aquatic. The Committments. The Princess Bride.

But I also love a jillion old films, including endless numbers of black and white screwball comedies, and old classics, and lots of stuff in between then, and the past twenty years: Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Hard Day's Night, The Blues Brothers, Lawrence of Arabia, The French Connection, Apocalypse Now, The Wind and The Lion, The Man Who Would Be King, A Man For All Seasons, Crossing Delancy, and on and on.

Congrats, Ugh!

My wife bought me The Watchmen for our six-monthaversary today. I'm excited to read it. I'll be sure to report what I think.

I think American film is alive and well. There's always a lot of crap. Same with music, same with books. But think about it - we live in a place where people like the Coen Brothers and Charlie Kaufman can make movie after movie. What could be better? And people like Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, Wes Anderson, David Lynch and Tim Burton achieve real prominence. And people like Darren Aronofsky start out with a $64,0000 movie and ends up directing a movie that's nominated for two Oscars.

Not bad, I say.

If we nationalize the banks, will they be subject to FOIA?


Congrats to Ugh, and best wishes to Ugh Jr. and Mrs. Ugh! May the kid inherit a better world than we're fixing to bequeath to him at present.

To Gary, who remembers The Wind and the Lion, one of my favorite movie lines of all time is, "I am the Raisuli. They do the singing."

--TP

OC, while I think you have a point, I tend to view it by the fact that there is more stuff out there. 40 years of various permutations of network TV, comic books, and other media culture have created a whole slew of characters and plots to be recycled. I think that the hardest thing about creating fiction (be it in whatever medium) is creating characters. So when you have a store of ready made characters, people are going to exploit them. Plus you have the opening up of movies, so that any number of people can (or could, I guess) max out their credit cards to make a movie, some of those are going to hit the right audience.

And to Ugh the elder, my advice is lots of pictures and spend time now to organize them. I've taken a zillion pics of my girls, but they are spread out on so many hard drives, I really regret not being organized more.

Thanks all for the kind words and advice!

Very much going to be a heck of an adventure.

If we nationalize the banks, will they be subject to FOIA?

I dunno, but that would be a pleasant side effect.

But here's the thing, don't we already own 80% of AIG? Considering that, does FOIA apply? Why/Why not?

Given that AIG's market cap is under a billion, shouldn't we own about several hundred percent of the company by now?

Congratulations, Ugh!

As for the current obsession with sequels and remakes, a friend of mine loved The Wrestler and said he wished they would make a sequel, though he admitted that was unlikely.

Given that AIG's market cap is under a billion, shouldn't we own about several hundred percent of the company by now?

Socialist!!!!

...shouldn't we own about several hundred percent of the company by now?

At last! We can run Springtime for Hitler at the national theater.

P.S., congrats to the Ughs!

Interestingly, conservative economist Martin Feldstein comes out arguing that the Obama stimulus package wasn't big enough:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2009/03/03/2003437472

Which most likely makes him a socialist.

"To Gary, who remembers The Wind and the Lion, one of my favorite movie lines of all time is, 'I am the Raisuli. They do the singing.'"

The Wind And The Lion has been one of my all-time favorites since it came out in 1975. I saw it in first run with the love of my life, and we saw it a bunch of times again in rep houses back before there were home VCRs. It's why I'll never be able to get too worked up against John Milius. It's one of Sean Connery's very best roles.

I also love the small detail that so many scenes are filmed from the height of a small child, the POV of William Perdicaris, Eden's son.

It's also, despite the liberties taken with the facts (notably, Ion Pedicaris being a man with no children, and the rescue mission was only planned, and never actually happened), remarkably faithful to most of the actual historic facts.

But I find lots of the lines hilarious in context.

And what film better reflects American imperialism, for better or worse?

Gummere: Well, what did you, uh, have in mind exactly?
Capt. Jerome, USMC: [stands, smiling] Military intervention!
You likey speechy?

"I think that the hardest thing about creating fiction (be it in whatever medium) is creating characters."

Speaking as an erstwhile sometime minor fiction editor, my experience has been that the hardest thing about creating fiction varies from writer to writer. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses as a writer, aside from very bad writers (the majority of people), who tend to be bad at most everything.

It's likely perfectly fair, though, for you, or anyone, to observe that one of the hardest things in fiction for you to find are writers who create characters that work for you.

At the very least I'd suggest modifying your statement to "I think that the hardest thing about creating fiction (be it in whatever medium) is creating plausible characters (some) readers can care about."

(You're completely free to reject my suggestions, of course. I hope I'm not to presumptuous in making conversation on this.)

So, Steve, I'm still mulling over Watchmen, the movie, but here are some quick thoughts:

Like so many things of a particular time, this movie should have been made and come out (though it wouldn't have been remotely possible) at the time the original was created, circa 1986. Most all of the work it does is dependent on that moment in comics history, and what would have been comics movie history. It was revolutionary then, and deconstructed the idea of the super-hero in a way that had barely previously had the surface scratched (and at that, mostly by Alan Moore's own Marvelman/Miracleman).

Now: not nearly so much. Ditto the social commentary context of the film, on the cold war, on the fears of the time (it's set, as is the original, in 1985, albeit an alternate 1985), on the social tensions of the time.

I guess I'm inclined to be cautious, and suggest that if you're not much of a comics book fan, and not much of a fan of comics movies, it's probably not the movie for you. It's very long, and although the gory violence in significant chunks of it are there for a real purpose, they're there, and the characters aren't deep. I'm inclined to think that one has to be, if not a comics fan, at least a real fan of movies, to really enjoy the picture.

With the benefit of hindsight, I'd not have asked the woman who went with me to come see it, since she's not at all a comics, or sf, fan, and she mostly found it boring. (Which I'd have predicted if I'd seen it already.)

You may be more enthusiastic, and I'm being cautious here, but although the movie worked for me, because I am a comics fan, and had read the original back when it was 12 issues, I don't want to go out on a limb and suggest it's much of a movie for people who don't have an interest in takes on what the idea of a "super-hero" might be, if dealt with at least slightly more realistically than comics up to then had done, or than comic movies have done up to now.

Which is to say, the point of the original work, 100% retained in this highly faithful (overall) adaption, is that if, in real life, people wanted to dress up in masks and costumes, and go out and commit violence on criminals, they'd largely have to be pretty sociopathic, or have something wrong with them.

(That's the purpose of the graphic violence: to not shade over that, in real life, it would be that ugly).)

This was a pretty revolutionary idea, for the most part, in comics, in 1986, but less so now, and most of all, if you're not really a comics fan, probably you just won't care.

On the plus side, I'd definitely recommend the film to anyone who is a fan of the original, or to anyone who is a film buff: it's visually almost, if not quite, as dense as the original, with lots of stuff that one will have to freeze-frame on the DVD to actually spot all the details of.

I held off on rereading the original before seeing the movie mostly because I loaned my copy to someone who has yet to give it back. :-) But I'll be rereading it, certainly, now, to remind myself of what was left out (what, no giant squid?), and why some stuff was there that I no longer remember the significance of.

Oh, and I'll give one vaguely faintly spoilerish observation: there's a moment of real Super-villain Exposition Syndrome that made me laugh. (I won't say more.)

Anyway, hope that helps.

I know my copy of Watchmen is in my apartment somewhere, but I can't think where. Probably in a box in a closet. I did run across my Rorschach mask, though, which I wore to a con somewhere around the time the book came out.

At last! We can run Springtime for Hitler at the national theater.

Curses! ral beat me to it.

Still, it does seem like there's an analogy there. AIG seems to have sold an awful lot of CDS it couldn't cover.

One difference: Bialystock and Bloom ended up in jail when their scheme went awry. What about the AIG'ers?


One difference: Bialystock and Bloom ended up in jail when their scheme went awry. What about the AIG'ers?

Bialystock und Bloom's scheme went awry because Springtime for Hitler was a success. So that's another difference:)

--TP

It's one of Sean Connery's very best roles.

The other end of the spectrum from Zardoz, then.

"The other end of the spectrum from Zardoz, then."

Yes. What a frigging messterpiece that was. One of the more wtf? pictures ever made.

Gary -- a detailed and thoughtful review ... and yet no mention of the blue penis. :)

and yet no mention of the blue penis

If I had a nickel for every time...

"Gary -- a detailed and thoughtful review ... and yet no mention of the blue penis. :)"

My erstwhile girlfriend, whom I still live with (lacking alternative options for some time to come), whom isn't at all a comics or sf fan, and who mostly hated the film, did comment via instant message to me not long ago that "Well, there was a surprising amount of wang in the film. Even thought it was CGI wang."

This was in response to my just having read, and copied, this from the Wikipedia entry on the film:

[...] "Among of the more unique promotional items given away in conjunction with the film's release were blue condoms, meant as a nod to the character Dr. Manhattan who appears naked for most of the film, and whose skin is a bright shade of blue. The condoms were primarily given away at bars and came in a matchbook-like package with the bloodstained smiley face on the outside. Inside was the message "We're society's only protection."
To which I commented, along with "sheesh": "Because nothing is sexier than blood-stained smiley faces."

But my comments weren't at all detailed, so as to avoid spoilers here. :-)

(I did comment on the one trivial detail I mention above, in my otherwise almost identical to my comment above, at my faintly revised post at my blog.)

It's not a spoiler if I say there's one line of Rorschach's I'm glad they kept. :-)

One thought I'll expand on slightly is that I think it's somewhat problematic that in all the attention to being faithful to the original, there's just about no room left for character, actual human character. Not that the original really has more, but it's more noticeably missing in the context of a movie, it seems to me.

Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II, and Silk Spectre II, come as close to having any sort of human character as anyone, and they barely have any.

So if you don't really care about comics and spectacle, I suspect a lot of folks' reaction will be -- like that of my erstwhile gf -- "why should I care about these people?"

AIG seems to connect with lots of things.

Tom Lehrer's advice to Boy Scouts (hah!):

Be prepared
To hide that pack of cigarettes.
Don't make book
If you cannot cover bets

Speaking of Watchment, I really enjoyed this Scott Kaufmann post giving a reading of a portion of Watchmen. The related post about The Dark Knight is also worth a read.

Mazel T'Ugh!

Congratulations, Ugh, and best wishes to Her Ughness and Ugh Jr.

Danny was 5 by the time I became a father so I missed all of the infant and baby years of upkeep, which, I understand, are considerable. Last diaper I changed was my baby sister's (10 years age difference).

I second lj's advice about taking pictures, lots and lots of pictures. Just seeing the way Danny has changed from 5 to 7 to 10 is amazing, and there's nothing like memories captured in a photo and discovered years later. Organization, like lj said, is important as well -- we tend to have everything stashed away on discs and then forget which is on what disc. Go with old-fashioned albums.

---

"What is the 'best of the best' you have seen in the last 20 years? For me it is 'The Shawshank Redemption.'"

When I first read this, my first thought was "Dances With Wolves." Then "Glenngarry Glen Ross" came to mind. Both would make a great doubleheader.

Gary's mention of "Empire of the Sun" made me remember how much I've enjoyed that film every time I have seen it.

Also, for me, "Lawrence of Arabia" is the all-time No. 1. Can't imagine it ever being topped.

"Lost In Translation" is the wife's favorite, and I thought it was quirky and wonderful.

Glad Gary added "Deadwood" to Turb's list of TV shows. Violent and visionary. Ian McShane's Al Swearingen has got to be one of TV's all-time great characters. I miss Al -- and Andy Sipowicz of "NYPD Blue."

I've learned that there are quite a few Losties here. Don't know about the rest, but last week's show really irritated me. After the previous week proved so revealing and made you feel like things were headed to some sort of logical path (for "Lost"), last week's outing just went all trippy on us again. But I'm hanging in there and convinced, more than ever, that Ben is Baddie No. 1.

Funny, but no surprise, how movie and TV talk overshadowed Timothy Geithner in this thread. In the movie, I nominate Martin Short to play him -- and if that sounds too mean, we'll upgrade to Bill Murray.

Good Monday morning to all.

"Lost In Translation" is the wife's favorite, and I thought it was quirky and wonderful."

Dare-ni mukatte mono itten-dayo?

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Sarah

http://www.lyricsdigs.com

Based on your review Gary (and thanks for taking the time to post it) I’ll probably wait for the Blue Ray. I can pretty much get lost in any action movie with good CGI etc, but my better half couldn’t deal with the graphic violence. Movie nights (out) are date nights so I don’t think she would appreciate seeing that. ;)

"...but my better half couldn’t deal with the graphic violence."

There were a handful of brief (under 45 seconds or so each) scenes in which I covered my eyes. I'm a wuss when it comes to gore.

The two specifics I recall were the guy gettings his hands cut off, and the guy whom boiling oil was thrown on his head; covered my eyes for both those; if there were any other scenes that gruesome, I've already forgotten, other than that tere were a couple of fight scenes with fairly graphic bone-breaking, as well, though.

I was rather startled at the folks who brought a 2-year-old kid, and even more startled that she waited until the movie was almost over to begin wailing.

Gary, there were definitely others -- the scenes around Rorschach and the child murderer, for one -- though I guess I'm not as sensitive as I thought I was getting, since I'd expected a lot worse, from what people had been saying.

"Gary, there were definitely others -- the scenes around Rorschach and the child murderer, for one"

My memory is that was extremely quick, and most of it was left to the imagination behind the swinging door, but that's just my imperfect memory, mind.

To be sure, I might also add that there were a number of scenes of blood running out under doors.

Also, one scene of a flying machine ejaculating fire. :-)

Did Tim Geithner play the villain in the movie "Ghost?"

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad