80 posts tagged film
80 posts tagged film
Dawning of the Rise of Apes, at Breakfast (2014): I was pretty befuddled by this whole experience. Uhm. I like the original fine, but I didn’t see the last one, the James Franco movie. I just didn’t bother to— didn’t feel any urgency to. But went to see this and this thing…
1. It’s just extremely self-serious. I can’t really say much of it was fun because oh boy, is that movie serious about the story of whether or not talking apes can get along with people or not. Which— is not really a question that keeps me up at night. This movie seems like it’s just part of the same-old same-old Nerd-Thinking that “taking something ridiculously seriously" is the ultimate way of respecting a piece of material which… is just weird. I guess that’s how things are being done now— James Bond can’t just be a fun guy who fucks spy ladies in Monte Carlo and kills guy with laser-pens and makes fun of their corpses; he has to be, like, a Broken Orphan. I mean, I get it because I want to see movies that feel like Real Movies too when I go see these movies, as much as anyone, and I’ve sat through plenty of “Fun Campy” shit that does not work, but still… Why isn’t a movie about talking apes any fun???
2) The most effectively mounted action scene in the movie, we’re just watching the Bad Guy and seeing whether or not the Bad Guy will manage to defeat the humans. And there’s all these shots from the Bad Guy’s Point of View as he struggles to fight humans. It makes it really hard to care what happens in the action scenes if you’re watching from the point of view of the character you’re rooting against. I found it very disengaging. The only movies I can think of (at least tonight) where you root against the point of view character would be slasher movies…? That was the best the action ever got— a scene where I couldn’t even root for the character involved in the action…?
3) The movie spends hours setting up these human characters— Zero Dark Thirty Guy has a girlfriend and a son, and the whole movie goes through all these elaborate hoops to set up how much Zero Dark Thirty cares about his son. And none of it pays off— near the end, he just tells them “you guys wait in this house— I’m going to go deal with this whole ape thing.” And then that’s end of the movie for them! That was their last day of filming. W-h-a-t? I found that choice very weird. There’s just not a lot of scenes where the people’s goals or motivations were even remotely interesting…
4) At one point, the son tries to bond with one of the apes over their mutual love of art. But the way that manifests itself is that the boy shows an ape a copy of Charles Burns’s Black Hole… which is a comic about a sex disease. Like, the whole movie is humans trying to get apes to trust them and the kid’s, like, “You should totally trust us— here, look, here’s a comic about how we’ve *totally got sex diseases*. Riddled with them. Trust us? Trusting us lots?" Uh, weird taste in comics, this movie…
5) I don’t know what other people think this movie is about, but what I kind of immediately— and I mean during the movie, immediately— came to believe it was about— and I don’t think this was their intent— but I thought it was a movie celebrating the genocide of the Native American population of North America…? Which sounds a little weird typed out, or said out loud to the people I said that out loud to, I grant you but… The whole movie’s about these savages who meet some white people when the white folks come onto their land, right? And so, I went, oh okay, I’ve seen something like that before… Except here? The twist here is that the war between the white people and the savages….? ALL THE FAULT OF THE SAVAGES. Yep, turns out the savages start it because if you let down your guard around those spear-carrying savages, the savages will steal your guns and use them against you
and start dating your women. Also, anything about them being noble savages? Nope— the movie pretty clearly lays out that the savages’ philosophies about peace and family are just total bullshit and that the savages are really just bloodthirsty and untrustworthy unless the right dictator happens to be in charge of them. And like the whole movie is just about these misunderstood white people who are just trying to take care of themselves and are willing to share the land peacefully, and everything would have been just fine if it weren’t for the distrustful savages willfully stirring up trouble…? And the turning point for the heroic dictator’s character arc, the Big Moral Lesson for the Apes, is the heroic dictator realizing that his error was putting his people first, and not realizing that his people were really just as bad as those humans if you think about it (i.e. a “the oppressed are always just as bad as their oppressors" theme that tends historically to be a big favorite for oppressors) and …
6) Or like, Gary Oldman’s character is supposed to be the angry militant “we’ve got to fight those apes” character in this movie but… The movie goes out of its way to talk about how he’s this really great guy who’s just sad about his kids being dead from some kinda James Franco monkey-sex flu that went around (I’m assuming people are dead because Franco inappropriately fucked one of the apes…? Head-canon). Like, in any Roger Corman version of this story, the Gary Oldman character would have just been some asshole, the same way the militant ape character was a jackass, but here…. Gary Oldman did a better job seeming like he was a bad guy in REAL LIFE than in this movie, which…. The movie just couldn’t deliver kind of basic pop pleasures. I like the Military-guy who’s just a Short-Sighted Jerk as a bad guy in movies. Those are fun characters. Doing a more elaborate take on that may be more “Real” but it’s not as fun… And it’s just made weird when the bad guy Ape doesn’t get that same range of feeling. The worst person is still a person; a bad Savage is just a monster.
7) Look, I’m not asking you to agree with me because I can hear how this sounds. But what I can say is this: if you happen to find yourself watching this movie this way, through this lens, this is one of the plum craziest fucking moviegoing experiences you will likely have had in a good long while. This was a weird 2-and-a-half-hour journey into crazy for me.
8) On just a thrill level, I didn’t find most of the action very interesting because I couldn’t tell the apes apart usually. And just— I found it dull mostly as action. Or I think I was just supposed to care more about Andy Serkis and his ape-y character more than I did. I guess I just have a hard time with CGI characters, however well realized (and the ape-realizing I guess was good…? I guess? How would I know— I only hang out with humans). Avatar, same thing where most of that movie I was like, “None of these blue assholes are real. Burn all the fake trees you want! La la la, I don’t care. I will still want to get on top of Sigourney Weaver when she’s 90 years old. La la la." I guess I’m the worst-racist of all in that I will only root for humans in movies…? Well, I rooted for those dogs to make out in that movie about spaghetti though. I rooted for Lady and The Tramp to just get on each other, to just, like, lick each other all over, up and down. But besides that movie, I just tend to root for people… I never saw Free Willy. I’m not into that Pixar movie about bugs that much. In American Pie, I rooted against the pie.
Abhay is my absolute favorite person to see movies with. I probably liked it a bit better than he did, I thought the VFX work, the signing with the apes and the action choreography were well done. Much better cast than Rise of The Planet of the Apes (although Keri Russell was CRIMINALLY underused, she is killing it on The Americans).
I don’t mind my summer action movies being serious - I loved The Dark Knight. But it’s kind of weird that, for a movie that takes itself so seriously. Dawn of The Planet of The Apes didn’t seem to be ABOUT anything. Not in the way that I remember the old Apes movies being about things (I kind of think the old Ape movies - which I loved - were kind of racist and expressing fears about newly empowered minorities taking revenge on their former masters).
The message of Dawn seemed to me to be that there’s no point in cooperation because war is inevitable. Which would be fine, except that weirdly juxtaposed with a very upbeat ending where Caeser and Jason Isaacs part as friends and the sun rises for a new…well, dawn.
Where I thought Abhay really nailed this was the problem with who you’re supposed to root for. It felt like the filmmakers wanted us to root for the apes, but the minute you put human beings on film, no matter how evil they are it’s hard not to root for them.
I didn’t pick up the Native American genocide thing that Abhay did, but I find it fun in the way that all the theories about The Shining were fun. If you are going to go that route, I guess you can say that Anti-Semitic Gary Oldman putting C4 underneath the ape’s tower was code for 9/11 being an inside job (notice that all the Jewish apes got out first)!
Yeah, film criticism is fun.
Remember that video where all those strangers kissed one another on film for the first time? Could anything be more beautiful than that? Yes. Something could.
My friend Max Landis made a video of strangers slapping each other. It’s by far my favorite thing he’s ever done. Here’s Max describing what he did:
"I gathered acquaintances, friends both casual and close, paired them randomly, put them in a void, and asked them to hit each other in the face. No one was pressured, and everyone was hit as hard as THEY asked to be hit. To go beyond the parody for the full story of what happened, be sure to watch Point of Impact."
Benjamin Marra. Robocop.
Here’s my contribution for a Paul Verhoeven-inspired art show. Robocop meets Showgirls.
Got to have drinks with my insanely talented SVA colleague Ben Marra. (And, coincidentally, got to see Paul Verhoeven speak at a screening of Starship Troopers hosted by Moby at The Arclight. Moby unironically thinks Starships Troopers is the greatest film ever made, which…well, I guess I have to admit I really liked “Play” for a while but now I don’t know if I could listen to it if you pointed Robocop’s gun at my dick).
Anyway, I feel like there is no way any comic could ever live up to a cover this good.
WHAT I’VE BEEN/WILL BE UP TO:
Since my tumblr also doubles as my website/blog, I figured I’d give everyone an update on what I’ve been up to. Because I haven’t had a book out in a while, and my convention presence has been pretty light since New York Comic-Con, I sometimes feel like I’ve been off the radar. But in fact, it’s been one of the busiest years of my life.
This is probably what I get asked the most about. In the fall, FOX commissioned a pilot for my Boom! Studios comic from writer Ben Queen and producer Howard Gordon (24, Homeland). I can’t say much, but: a) it’s very much alive at Fox b) I’ve gotten to read the pilot and I thought Ben did some very cool things that I quite frankly wish I’d thought of and c) Ben & Howard’s production company have been gracious to include me in the process. I’ll update as soon as there is news I’m allowed to share.
2) DRACULA: SON OF THE DRAGON
Last year, salgood sam and I had a successful Kickstarter for what has been one of my dream projects, DRACULA: SON OF THE DRAGON. It’s essentially a prequel to Dracula, the story of how the historical Vlad the Impaler became the vampire in Bram Stoker’s novel. The first 15 page chapter of the first volume (of a projected 3-4 graphic novels) is out now in Salgood’s quarterly REVOLVER anthology, pictured above. Digital copies were sent to backers, but you can order the copies directly from Salgood or pick one up from a convention where one or both of us are at (more on that in a sec).
Salgood is drawing the next 15 pages as I write this, and the good news is that what we planned as a 60 page graphic novel will now be closer to 70 pages as Salgood and I continue to expand the story. The not so great news is that we are behind schedule. But the full graphic novel should be out by the end of the year, and in the meantime we’ve fulflilled a ton of the rewards, such as the great print by Nathan Fox. If you’re waiting on a reward, feel free to contact me and I’ll get it to you ASAP.
3) TEACHING AT THE SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS
Starting in the Fall of 2013, I began designing and teaching two courses for SVA’s (The School of Visual Arts) brand new Master of Fine Arts in Visual Narrative program. Creative Script, an overview of writing for all visual mediums, and along with jimrugg Digital Short story, where are students wrote and illustrated/photographed/filmed 12 page digital short stories.
Our students work culminated in an exhibition which is running at SVA’s Flatiron Gallery in NYC from May 27 - June 14th at 133/141 West 21st Street.
You can also read my students stories online for free here:
Teaching was an incredible experience, especially the opportunity to design my own curriculum for a program that combines art and writing and gets to nurture new talent, especially new comics talent. But it was also much more time consuming than I anticipated, forcing me to push back some of creative work which I’m now catching up on.
4) SCREENPLAY I CAN’T TALK ABOUT YET
Last year I was hired by two producers to adapt one of my recent creator-owned books into a feature screenplay. Since there hasn’t been an official announcement I can’t say which book it is, but it’s one I’m extremely proud of. At this moment that’s where I’m putting the majority of my creative energy.
An original pilot I’m also writing because of the demand for TV work from me that the UNTHINKABLE has created. Again, can’t say much more about it other than it’s like a very dark take on Quantum Leap.
6) WAR TOYS
I haven’t forgotten about comics! I’ve mentioned WAR TOYS before, it was approved by Image Comics close to two years ago. It’s a techno-thriller that’s not too far in tone from UNTHINKABLE and GRAVEYARD, about vigilantes using drones to fight crime in the inner city. It’s co-created by Jonathan Betuel, writer of THE LAST STARFIGHTER. Unfortunately, we lost our original artist, so the gestation period has been longer than I’d like. But it appears we’ve found a new artist who I can’t wait to announce (but I kind of have to).
I have two conventions scheduled so far. NEW YORK COMIC-CON SPECIAL EDITION, where I’ll be appearing for the first time ever with Salgood Sam June 14th and 15th 2014, and SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON July 24th-27th. I don’t know if or when I’ll be signing at SDCC. I’m also hoping to be at NYCC in October. I’ll post more when I get those plans finalized.
In addition to all of the above, I’m constantly working on new projects in multiple mediums. As much as I love TV and film, I’m really itching to get back to creator-owned comics, which is what made me fall in love with writing in the first place.
If you’re a fan - and particular a Kickstarter backer - I can’t thank you enough for your patience and support. While I feel overwhelmed with work at times (it’s taken me two weeks just to write this blog entry), I’m incredibly fortunate to have all the opportunities I’ve listed above, and I wouldn’t have them if it weren’t for you.
Marvel is going to have a hard time topping this version of Dr. Strange.
Standing room only at the #SVA Digital Short Story exhibition exception. So proud of my students. #comics #art #illustration #books #film
My talented SVA students are having an exhibition of their work at the School of a Visual Arts starting w/a reception Fri May 30th from 5:30-7:30 PM https://www.facebook.com/MFAVisualNarrative/posts/665160396885619 #art #comics #film #gallery #sva
…I didn’t know this somehow, I don’t think (even though gee, I’ve liked some of that’s guy movies plenty for years now) and now I’m just kind of angry Wes Anderson never made a Tarzan movie, instead of Darjeeling Limited. Wes Anderson’s Tarzan would be amazing… (via twiststreet)