Thursday, May 12th, 2022
At 1:03, this transcendent moment of moviemaking, John William’s theme counterpointing Alec Guinness’s delivery of George Lucas’s creation. “It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”
So right now all the James Bond movies are available on Amazon Prime, and with the sudden plethora I was stumped which I’m due next to rewatch. When in doubt, it’s back to Goldfinger, just the first few minutes this time. Once again I’m blown away by just how good it is; it’s definitely arguable that both preceding and all subsequent movies lead to and emanate from it. The post-credit opening scene with the swoop down to the diving board and the cut to Felix watching the dive from the glass window — what delicious glamorous filmmaking. “Into Miami / Pigeon Game” is the 1-minute musical accompaniment.
Monday, February 14th, 2022
Oh, the minor yet multitudinous wonders of our age! I just discovered Yarn, where you “search by word or phrase for TV, movie and music clips”. What a fun business to have created!
Tuesday, February 8th, 2022
Wednesday, January 12th, 2022
In the very-nicely-titled online review Crooked Marquee, Jason Bailey does justice to Wes Anderson’s fabulous new The French Dispatch:
Charmingly, this film that loves writers is also one of Anderson’s most lavishly directed – which is, I know, saying something … Anderson’s films have also become a welcome opportunity for serious actors to let their hair down – Tilda Swinton is clearly having a blast.
Yes indeed, The French Dispatch is a box of supercandy for grownups. Modern works seem to take it as part of their mission to be the supreme work; even if doomed to fail, there’s an understanding that a serious attempt elevates everything. (Or, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I don’t design a house without reimagining the social order.”) The French Dispatch is a contender for one thing it is an ode to other mediums: typography, cooking, France, the written word. All that and the title triggers “The French Mistake”…).
And looking around again at reviews, actually again it’s David Brody who treats it most appropriately, so bloody enthusiastic that he retells parts of it, which seems rather a faux pas for his critical stature. Brody reminds us at the end that yes, it is a screenplay that flows with noble emotion, exquisitely portrayed. And in the end he compares Anderson with Hemingway. See, what did I tell you…
Sunday, January 9th, 2022
Don’t Look Up — to the flaming comet or one’s sorry betters? Two of the worst things I read about this movie phenomenon were the risible Guardian collectivist sharing and the lazy Financial Times piece (why do they even bother, it just lowers the tone of an expensive subscription) and there’s plenty more drivel in this wide vein. Yet paradoxically it is two American outlets usually so generous in spreading the infection of orthodox moronicism who published two of the best: in The New York Times, no surprise that it’s Ross Douthat:
Art … has a way of escaping the intentions of its creators. McKay’s tweets notwithstanding, his comet scenario is a lousy allegory for the climate challenge, for reasons painstakingly elaborated by New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz in one of the best responses to the movie as a would-be policy intervention. But the pandemic that arrived before production started turned out to be a better fit for the allegory.
Who would have thought that an apparently intentionally pro-climate-alarmist movie would produce a sober backlash in such pro-climate-alarmist publications. That is why America win: it contains multitudes. And that’s what makes this movie worth talking about: it escapes the artist’s apparently feebly pious intentions. Why has Adam McKay, no stranger to exposing boondoggles given that he made such a great movie out of The Big Short, not read J. Storrs Hall?
Oh yes, and the other piece: film critic Richard Brody in The New Yorker:
The movie lives by its place in the discourse, such as that discourse is. It satirizes the trivializing flow of celebrity gossip and light-toned frivolity, of clickbait pushing aside investigative reporting and of tech moguls not only usurping government power but commandeering public discourse. Yet its own anti-aesthetic of neutral images and predigested narrative efficiency, its celebrity feast of star turns and flashy performances, and its simplistic anger-stoking and pathos-wringing mask the movie’s fundamental position of getting itself talked about while utterly eliding any real sense of politics or political confrontation.
All that said, I appreciated the movie quite a lot, and I think both these guys did as well.
Wednesday, January 5th, 2022
Writing in The Guardian, Martin Pengelly is a real oozing 007 fan, managing in this paean to Roger Moore to link to a smorgasbord of great Bond-related cultural relics of recent years, from Alan Partridge’s clang-a-lang-a-singsong to Christopher Hitchen’s “Bottoms Up” and back again to Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s “They looked old. Because they are old.”
Bond is about sex as well as violence and to a seven-year-old boy in 1985 that was almost enough, appropriately given the fate of Kananga in Live and Let Die, to make my head explode.
Wednesday, December 8th, 2021
The Man with the Golden Gun
Surely I’ve read The Man with the Golden Gun before, given that this mangy old paperback has been on my bookshelves since 2006? Perhaps, but I remember nothing.
Some scenes that seem somewhat vivid for now:
- The middle: James Bond meets kind-hearted Tiffy, the manageress of a Jamaican cathouse, before finding Scaramanga, who promptly does something totally awful
- The end: As Scaramanga’s temporary assistant, James Bond machinates and maneuvers around the underfunded hotel that the assassin is building
- The beginning: M ruminates over his decision to send Bond after Scaramanga
Right now the best part seems to me M’s internal monologue after a brainwashed James Bond, back in London after imprisonment in Russia, fails to assassinate him at his desk (a glass screen plummeting down from the ceiling to block the poison Bond has fired, foreshadowing the spirit of gadgetry to come in the movies).
In wake of this domestic excitement, as M calls it, he decides to send Bond after Scaramanga, who has killed some British agents, figuring the Double-O will either succeed in killing the fellow and thereby redeem himself, or conveniently die trying.
Chief of Staff Bill Tanner thinks this cold-hearted, as Scaramanga is so dangerous. M takes a solitary lunch at his club Blades, troubled presumably over both the event and his subsequent decision, but we are only privy to his thoughts once on the ride back to the office, when he reassures himself that his decision really was wise — indeed he almost can’t believe that his instant instinctual choice stands up so well to scrutiny. This is our glimpse at leadership. The rest of the novel — and the entire series — is our exploration of manliness.
In the movie we lose this brief inner turmoil from M, but we gain a more impressive (though not sufficiently so) Scaramanga in Christopher Lee, who is as suave as Fleming’s assassin is lunky; and we get fabulous Thailand instead of, yet again, Fleming’s Jamaica. To make a long story very short, we’re rather missing Nick Nack.
Sunday, December 5th, 2021
Because the Marvel intro music is replaying in my mind’s ear (composed I believe by the great Michael Giacchino), I went to YouTube and found Every Marvel Intro. Turns out the first time we heard this brief yet potent bit was Dr Strange.
Wednesday, November 10th, 2021
The best Star Trek starships by Josh Tyler at Giant Freakin Robot.
Monday, November 23rd, 2020
Saturday, November 21st, 2020
Sunday, November 15th, 2020
Two more Frank Lloyd Wright films planned by the maker of the new Unity Temple film, the one with the voice.
Sunday, November 8th, 2020
Hokey religions don’t seem to hold much sway in the Outer Rim. MaryAnn Johanson the FlickFilosopher loves The Mandalorian. Yes indeed, Star Wars lives!
Thursday, August 13th, 2020
2020: an isolation odyssey by (in case you miss her name in the credits) Lydia Cambron. [Via DF]
Friday, July 31st, 2020
Sunday, July 5th, 2020
Poolside.FM, the lovely Mac throwback to 1997.
Sunday, May 17th, 2020
The Making of Prince of Persia
Video game maker Jordan Mechner wrote a rich diary of his life in the mid-1980s. This book covers the creation his second hit game, Prince of Persia, so we gain access of unique immediacy to the heroic tale of producing a universe-dent-making hit.
I wanted this book, which I discovered via Tyler Cowen’s most recent What I’ve been reading, as inspiration during a small lull in morale as I work on a digital product of my own.
Thirty years on there is some poignancy in that this early period of Mencher’s life was the peak: after graduating Yale, already dreamily successful, he shuttles between San Francisco and Hollywood creating video games and pushing screenplays, a digital Orson Welles (in his later game The Last Express, Mechner combines these passions, relying on cinema to produce an impressive commercial failure).
That said, perhaps it is no failure at all that one can point to the creative peak of a life — Mechner’s arguably was working within the memory constraints of the Apple II to create a foe, Shadow Man, based on the hero character. Here I’m reminded of Ken Kocienda’s not dissimilar Eureka moment when up against a constraint, that of using a dictionary to help create the iPhone keyboard.
Perhaps it would have been a better book if he had fleshed out the journal with an italicized retrospective written now, but count me a late-arrival Jordan Mechner fan. And don’t get the Kindle edition lacking the illustrations; I think I’m gonna need to buy the actual book.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell
Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).
It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.
One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.
Thursday, February 20th, 2020
Mike and Rich of Red Letter Media do a re:View of Star Trek: Picard. I hadn’t articulated to myself why I chose not to watch beyond the first episode — they explain it. One criticism though: they mock the term positronic, seeming not to know it comes from Asimov’s robots.
Tuesday, December 31st, 2019
In r/saltierthancrait and posted by u/yellowdawg299, In your opinion, who is the worst character in Star Wars?. Great stuff.
- “I tell you what, if Rose had killed Leia in TROS and monologued about what idiots the Rebels were for buying her ‘save the people you love’ bullshit, I’d be dragging everyone I knew to the theatre.” —rothbard_anarchist
- “Snoke continues to shrink in intrigue until he is in a fetal position in a jar.” —Wiffernubbin
- “Replace Holdo with an emotionless machine that locks their escape behind a passcode/override that no one but Leia knows after the bridge destruction, and the story becomes more coherent since that’s a matter of procedure rather than a person making active decisions that contradict themselves and their own goals.” —Hylian-Highwind
- “Jar Jar, because the others aren’t in Star Wars.” —JBlitzen
Thursday, November 7th, 2019
A view to the best bit of Bond fan art I’ve seen maybe ever: David Reed’s 007 film title anagrams.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
Monday, September 9th, 2019
You’re a very talented young man, with your own clever thoughts and ideas. Jeffsum, a text placeholder generator of Jeff Goldblum lines.
Saturday, August 31st, 2019
Thursday, March 21st, 2019
James Bond: 50 Years of Main Title Design at Art of the Title. It’s by Ben Radatz, a partner at MK12 and co-director of Quantum of Solace’s.
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Premieres for the Rams doc by Gary Hustwit (of Helvetica) are being held all around America. The only cities where it’s sold out are: NY, LA and SF.
Monday, May 28th, 2018
Having just seen Sam Smith on a televised weekend concert, I was reminded of Spectre and went and found a podcast episode where they satisfyingly eviscerate his lazy theme song, “The Writing’s on the Wall”.
Revenge of the Audience. In the comments after this Variety article about Solo, people consider why this movie is a box office disaster.
Watching Carrie Fisher tell her son about his Dad in Catastrophe, s3e6, she removes her glasses and her bitter old character eccentricities and we see just her face and eyes and she is as glittering onscreen as ever. Yet in the two new movies they gave her static scenes, which I think is a significant reason for Star Wars fatigue: what they did to the original troika in these new movies is distasteful.
I know why I didn’t see Solo: because The Last Jedi.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
Joss Whedon on making The Avengers: “There’s very little that I didn’t look at. It’s like, This is a Dr. Strangelove moment. This is The Abyss. This is His Girl Friday. It’s constant. You have to have all that stuff sort of in a blender in your head.”
“Jon [Favreau] said, ‘Look into his eyes. If you look into his eyes you will know. Is he being asked a question or is he asking the question?’” On the making of Iron Man’s HUD.
Sunday, March 25th, 2018
Vincent Gallo Sings by one Vincent Gallo. “I know what I look like. It’s certainly not how I would have made myself look. Don’t blame me.”
Saturday, March 17th, 2018
Check it out, How We Made, a weekly series by The Guardian interviewing two collaborators on a seminal work of art — from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Swatch watch.
Wednesday, February 28th, 2018
Paglia on #meToo: “Treating women as more vulnerable, virtuous or credible than men is reactionary, regressive and ultimately counterproductive.”
Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson’s bullshit and everyone else’s too. Oh and famous friends.
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018
Another Tim Ferriss Show link, this time a joyful 2-hour interview with Terry Crews, artist, athlete, movie actor, taboo-dispeller, celebrity, self-help book aficionado.
Sunday, December 24th, 2017
Mark Hamill on The Last Jedi: He’s not my Luke Skywalker. My prediction: this movie will be what elevates the reputations of the prequels. And Poe Dameron that of Jar Jar Binks.
Friday, November 3rd, 2017
Drew Pierce, Iron Man 3 co-screenwriter with director Shane Black, discusses the writing of the Trevor Slattery reveal in this Vulture article. There’s also a jpg of the screenplay! This is one of my favorite Marvel movie scenes. And jeez, I just discovered All Hail the King — where have I been?
Monday, October 9th, 2017
Reflections on Tarantino by Tom Shone, film critic and author of a new book about the director.
Saturday, August 26th, 2017
According to this meretriciously entitled New York Post article “Millennials don’t really care about classic movies”, the only 4 overlapping movies among the top 10 most common movies that both millennials and over-50’s have seen are: 1) Forrest Gump, 2) Back to the Future, 3) The Silence of the Lambs, and 4) The Godfather. That’s Zemeckis in 1994 and 1985, Demme in 1991, and Coppola in 1972. No Spielberg, Hitchcock, not even James Cameron. Interesting.
Thursday, August 3rd, 2017
Sunday, July 30th, 2017
Slant Magazine is once again in Jerusalem, this time for Jerusalem Film Festival 2017. By Greg Cwik.
Monday, July 17th, 2017
Now this you should see. Via Andy Serkis the motion capture king, Gollum reads a couple of Trump tweets as his own. Ah, excellence. [via motherjones.com]
Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
Just the insight I was seeking on Jim Carrey as a performer.
Thursday, June 15th, 2017
David Arnold speaks to collaborating with Chris Cornell on “You Know My Name”, the theme song for the James Bond movie Casino Royale: “We needed someone who could sing the way Daniel acted…” This has become my #3 favorite, after Carly Simon’s Marvin Hamlish number and Nancy Sinatra’s John Barry one.
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
“Yesterday we had a fight about whether I’d been dismissive about him saying his feelings had been hurt by my dismissing his feelings during a previous fight…” From the amusing but very dark Narcissism: a reflection by Laura Kipnis in Spiked.
Monday, January 30th, 2017
It seems to be a deceptively hard song to cover, but here’s a good one with a man, a woman and a ukulele on a living-room sofa, deceptively casual, deceptively perfect. Nobody’s done it better, not even Radiohead. And for something completely different: a great ‘Nobody Does it Better’ series montage by Rik Moran.
Friday, January 13th, 2017
At Den of Geek is Max Williams’ revisit of all 24 James Bond movies.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
David Cripps, the London Symphony Orchestra’s horn soloist, on playing the Star Wars music, and particularly “Leia’s Theme”. Seems clear from this and an interview I read on “Rey’s Theme” that John Williams is inspired by charismatic actors.
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016