memories of utah

Mon Feb-7th-2011 // Filed under: Celluloid,Random Crap

So, yeah, Sundance.

I was invited as a guest, so it was a working trip, albeit not a super busy one. Actually, when I first read the e-mail, I thought it was a joke or a scam, simply because I don’t work in film — why would they care, right? Then I found out that Sundance has this thing called New Frontier, which ”celebrates the convergence of film, art, and new media technologies as a hotbed for cinematic innovation”. Video games fit that bill pretty well, and since they had a panel on storytelling and video games, suddenly things started to make a lot more sense.

So I went over, partly for work reasons and partly because it’s Sundance — that’s a kind of a no-brainer for anybody who loves cinema. It’s a kind of a rough trip when you’re flying from Finland to Utah — I timed it, and it took almost exactly 24 hours from the time I left my home to the moment I stepped into my hotel room at the other end. I was beat, but the trip itself went pretty smoothly.

The only minor bump in the road was the Immigration guy at O’Hare in Chicago, who peered at me suspiciously and thought it important to make sure I knew that I couldn’t just dance into his damn country as I please. It was kind of ridiculous; it was obvious he wasn’t going to detain me or anything, but he had me for a few minutes and he was going to make me sing for my supper.

Which is what I did, of course. Getting clever with those guys just isn’t worth the aggravation. All you can do is play along.


watching watchmen

Mon Mar-23rd-2009 // Filed under: Celluloid,Word Balloons

I first read Watchmen when I was a kid. I’m not quite sure how old I was — probably somewhere around 13 or 14 or so, so it was around 1990. One of my best friends, a fellow comics geek, got me the trade paperback as a birthday present. It pretty much blew my mind… even if I didn’t quite get it, at first.

The language barrier was a part of it; at that age, my English was getting pretty good, but Watchmen didn’t make it easy on my vocabulary. More importantly, though, I was a kid, and it was Watchmen. That’s a kind of a challenging combination — a lot of the American politics, for example, went right over my head at that time. But I got the gist of the story, and as I read it over and over again — and I don’t want you to think that Watchmen was somehow special in that, actually, because that was the way I read all of my comics back then — I got more and more out of it as I got less stupid over time.

Also, there was a blue guy with his dick hanging out, which was an obvious bonus. An early lifetime of reading European comics ensured that this certainly wasn’t my first penis sighting on the printed page, but even so, I was a kid reading a superhero comic with a nekkid blue guy in it. You bet it left an impression. I still read it once or twice a year, because not only is it a great story, its storytelling techniques are groundbreaking, something that you couldn’t really do in any other form.


stupid in disguise

Sun Jul-27th-2008 // Filed under: Celluloid

I have just finished watching what I believe may very well be the worst movie I have ever seen.

I’m going to qualify that statement a little before I get into this. I mean, there are movies that are so badly done that they aren’t even ridiculous, they’re just incomprehensible messes, created with so little skill on any front that they fail to entertain even on the most basic “let’s laugh at stupid crap” level. Those are in a league of their own. I’m not talking about movies like Plan 9 or Manos, either — those’re movies created by people who were obviously earnest, yet just about completely devoid of skill or any real understanding of art. You laugh at them, but they aren’t really comparable to “real” movies any more than the doodles of a toddler are comparable to the work of an artist. There’s just a kind of a quantum leap of difference there.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that this was probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen created by people who had the money and even the basic artistic understanding to know better. I’m talking about Transformers, by Hollywood shitmeister Michael Bay, and it’s an awful, awful film even by Bay’s admittedly low standards. I felt plain embarrassed watching the movie; I was by myself, and I had to pause the movie several times to just swear out loud at how incredibly stupid the entire thing is.

I find myself at something of a loss for words, which doesn’t happen a lot. I call the movie stupid, and it’s true, but that’s like saying that the sun is hot. It doesn’t really convey the magnitude of what I’m talking about, the absolute absence of quality in the movie’s content and storytelling. I mean, okay, fair enough: it’s a movie about alien robots that transform into vehicles and household appliances and fight each other, so I’m not exactly expecting the greatest story ever told in a film, but even by that standard it’s idiotic. It’s not so much full of plot holes as it is a collection of incoherent scenes that follow each other, contrived moments that fall apart at the slightest touch of logic or consistency. So you have captured a giant robot that you are scared to death of and is literally kept on ice, but you have no backup plan — I’m thinking heavy-duty explosives here, kids — in case you have a power failure and it starts to heat up? Or even just a huge tank of liquid nitrogen to keep it frozen a little longer or something? The location of the MacGuffin is, uh, somehow coded in the glasses of a guy who saw where it was? And why doesn’t Scorponok just kill the soldiers right away instead of waiting long enough for them to reach a phone and call in air support, even though we know he could attack at any time, when the entire point of his attack is to suppress evidence of the Decepticons’ existence? Oh yeah, because then they couldn’t call in the air strike and move the plot forward! That’s great writing, guys. Awesome storytelling, and you stick to that standard throughout the entire piece of shit of a movie.

Sure, the robots look pretty cool, I’ll give you that. I mean, they don’t look much like Transformers and they have no personalities, but a cool robot is a cool robot. Even if you do have trouble telling them apart — not that we see a lot of them, because for some goddamn reason the movie about giant robots is actually a movie about some fucking teenager’s girl problems and a bunch of special forces guys’ wacky desert adventures and utterly ridiculous computer stuff. Speaking of which, I loved the part about the “spider-bot virus” that “hacked the Pentagon’s firewall within 10 seconds”, which was pretty awesome because “even a supercomputer with a brute force attack would take 20 years to do that.” Because, y’know, a brute force attack is the most efficient way to breach computer security. Of course, then our NSA analyst concludes that it could be a quantum mechanics-using DNA-based computer, because, hey, she’s smart as a whip or something.

And it goes on and on and on, and all of it is completely irrelevant to a Transformers movie, which — lest we forget — is about cool robots doing cool shit. Instead, we get some of the most cringe-worthy and idiotic dialogue ever heard in a movie and protracted scenes of the Autobots playing Three Stooges in suburbia. The numerous, terribly unfortunate attempts at comedy and slapstick make for some of the most uncomfortable viewing moments in the movie. Haha! They’re trying to hide from Sam Witwicky’s parents, but they’re so clumsy!! Oh, and look at that, a dog takes a leak on Ironhide’s foot! It’s hilarious! And later on Bumblebee pisses — I’m sorry, “leaks lubricant” — on a government agent!

Yeah, let me run that one by you again, Buckaroo: In this movie, there is a scene in which a giant robot pisses on a human.

Guess you found your calling as a thespian there, John. That sequel is probably gonna be great, huh?

There are dumb movies that are still fun, or dumb in a fun way, or dumb in a self-aware way, or clever enough to make the dumb irrelevant. Transformers isn’t one of those movies. It’s a torrent of idiocy that is all style over substance, made by people who don’t really understand how stylish movies are made. I was squirming in my seat throughout the whole goddamn thing simply because watching it was so awkward. It made me feel bad in ways I find difficult to articulate.

an expensive insult

Wed Feb-1st-2006 // Filed under: Celluloid,I Rant!

I recently purchased the complete box set of Jeeves and Wooster, by Granada, and contentwise, it is exactly as good as it should be. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are in amazing form, the dialogue is crisp and does justice to P.G. Wodehouse, the soundtrack is downright enchanting — all in all, it’s easily some of the best TV in the world.

However, all is not well. I am not pleased.

Why? Why am I not pleased?

Because the box set has a certain attribute that offends me. It assaults my sensibilities. Without putting too fine a point on it, it fucks me hard and rough and laughs at my tears. No reach-around is available.

Many of us are undoubtedly familiar with the “you wouldn’t steal a car / you wouldn’t steal a handbag / you wouldn’t steal a movie / movie piracy is a crime” crap we’re shown in movie theaters, among other places. I’m doubtful as to how effective it can possibly be, given that those who are seriously into downloading things are already aware of its illegality, they just don’t care. Perhaps it scares the occasional dimbulb into realizing that good lord, getting all this stuff from the net just might not, in fact, be entirely legal, but on the whole, I remain unconvinced that it does the trick. Just the same, I understand why they chose to make it and continue to choose to show it.

What I don’t understand is why some evil piece of shit decided to slap it on every single one of my eight Jeeves and Wooster discs and made it so that when the disk is inserted, the clip — clocking in at about 42 seconds — has to be watched. I can’t fast forward through it, I can’t skip it — I can’t even stop the fucking horrible and condescending thing; all I can do is switch off the power to the DVD player.

Yes, thank you, Granada, you’ve now explained to me that pirating movies is a crime. You have just eaten up 42 seconds of my life and much of my patience and goodwill with your inane crap, and there’s no way I will ever get any of them back. And it’s particularly insulting, because I paid for these episodes of Jeeves and Wooster. I did not steal them, I paid for them. I worked hard for the money, I received the money, and then I spent it. And when I think about the money I spent on your product, I certainly feel that your subtle and friendly reminder to not steal from you is very much justified.

What, is this going to make me sympathetic to the cause? Or, to put this more bluntly — why did I pay perfectly good money for this crap when I could get a pirated copy of the very same content, only without the annoying eyesore? For the nice box? Sure, sure, it’s only 42 seconds per disc, but it’s my 42 seconds. I paid for them; you’d think they’d at least let me fast forward through them so I can get to the goddamn main attraction.

dr. brown fingers

Wed Jan-11th-2006 // Filed under: Celluloid,Games

As we all know, Uwe Boll is physically unable to make even a halfway decent movie, let alone a good one; yet he keeps on pumping out one game-based turd of a movie after another. His latest movie, BloodRayne, is a mind-numbingly shitty adaptation of a thoroughly mediocre action game about a vampire chick and her two friends, Large Breast A and Large Breast B. (It’s a game for mature players, you see.)

No, I haven’t seen the movie, which, under ordinary circumstances, would make me unable to actually comment on its quality with any degree of accuracy — in fact, to do so at all would be somewhat unethical. But not in this instance! It’s Uwe Boll, people. We must never underestimate the magical powers of Dr. Boll, his seemingly unparalleled ability to turn anything he touches into shit — what I like to call his Feces Touch. The Feces Touch never fails. The Feces Touch guarantees that BloodRayne, like every other game-based movie Boll has made or ever will make, sucks with such fearsome force and unwavering conviction that every little shred of quality that might somehow end up being mixed in it is buried under a veritable landslide of unadulterated stupidity, never to be seen again.

Perhaps some day, after we’re all dead and gone, representatives of an alien culture will establish a dig on Earth and uncover an Uwe Boll movie, and — thanks to their vastly different perceptions, brought on by their incomprehensible physique and completely alien cultural indoctrination — be only able to hate the movie a little bit and enjoy said shred of quality. Perhaps, but I kind of doubt it.

Anyway, the point of this tirade is not only that Uwe Boll hurts my brain by alarmingly increasing the mass of collective stupidity on our fair planet whenever he even breathes, never mind makes a movie, but that a colleague of mine just recently sent a part of the .NFO file from a pirate rip of BloodRayne. This is what it says:

So with that enjoy this movie from hollywoods numero uno hack director uwe boll. We’re proud to pirate this peice of shit to save you people from being ripped out of ur hard earned money. Note to hollywood cuz we know u track these. Seriously stop financing crap like this. The money you save will enable bob the carpenter and the teamsters to stay in work for at least another year. Piracy doesnt hurt you SHIT fucking waste of money movies like this do.

Christ, I dunno. Yeah, sure, your average net pirate is a semi-illiterate idiot, but these guys have heart. Makes me all weepy.

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share my dread

Sun Jul-17th-2005 // Filed under: Celluloid,Word Balloons

Tonight, I saw Batman Begins and found it lacking. I realize that as an established and experienced comics geek, I’m hard to please with superhero movies, but just the same, I was displeased with the treatment — displeased, and disappointed; Christopher Nolan directing a good cast sounded like something that would actually yield worthwhile bat-themed entertainment, but the movie fails on almost every front. It’s not a dismal failure, even; it’s simply empty, meaningless and clumsy.

Spoilers ahead.


i will eat brett ratner’s liver

Tue Jul-5th-2005 // Filed under: Celluloid

According to IMDB’s news, Brett Ratner — the director of the upcoming third X-Men movie after Bryan Singer abandoned it so he could play with Superman — is busy at work, trying to his damnedest to make sure he fucks everything up after Singer gave us two excellent X-Men movies. Or as IMDB puts it: “Ratner is spicing up the new X-Men 3 movie with the addition of his very own fantasy — a sex siren mutant who seduces her opponents rather than battles them. “ You’ll excuse me for getting a sinking feeling of certainity that of all the excellent, interesting and downright good ways to realize that concept, Ratner will choose not a single one. Sure, maybe my glass is half empty, once again, but as the new character is described as an “unbelievably hot and sexy hooker,” I’m running kinda low on optimism here.

Buckle up, boys and girls, we’re heading deep into Daredevil country. Yeehaw!


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