Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: So where to now?

I’m not through examining the oughts or the naughts or whatever the last decade is called—either personally, or on here. Then again, has there been a decade in which movies have existed ever reached a point where it’s no longer worth examining? Time changes and so do we and our perceptions. Lists and assessments are interesting, but at best they offer a snapshot in time. A list such as the one Justin Souther and I made last week is—even by our own subjective standards—by nature imperfect. Some of those films we’ve known for ten years. They’ve stood some kind of test of time. Others are newer acquaintances. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus has only been a known quantity for a few weeks. Who can say how these films will seem in ten years?

I’m not making a case against lists.They’re fun and they’re useful for discussion. For that matter, even the snapshot in time aspect has its purposes.  In fact, this week’s column was going to be something of a list—albeit not in list form. Unfortunately, time and a few other factors intervened and that will have to wait. In its place, I’d like to pose a question—or at least ask for some prognostication from readers—as concerns where we’re headed cinematically speaking now.  So break out your Tarot decks, brew up those tea leaves, don your turban and polish up the the crystal ball and weigh in on what the future holds.

I think most of us can agree—no matter how much money it’s made—that Avatar probably isn’t going to change the face of movies. It will impact the way certain types of movies are made, but as far as it becoming the standard of movies or its technology being assimilated into everything we see? I’m at least skeptical. It’s early days yet, but I have seen little sign of it entering pop culture consciousness. There was a Coca-Cola tie-in before the film came out, but it’s got a long way to go before it gets the iconic value of, say, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) where the earthrise set to Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” was turned into hawking frozen breakfast entrees and the “star ride” sequence was remonkeyed to become to lead in for ABC’s Movie of the Week

The previous decade was a pretty broad mix. For every breakthrough or landmark or even daring film, there was a pretty good run of mediocrity and worse. While we might celebrate the accomplishments of the decade and the rise—and partial fall—of independent film, let’s be honest. This was also the decade of the rise of the lame PG-13 horror film, the PG-13 remakes of R rated horror films, the invention of the term “reboot” (a remake that attempts to jump-start a limping franchise)—and that’s not even factoring in the antics of the Wayans Brothers and, worse yet, Messrs. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Even much that was often prized about the decade had its downside. The much vaunted indie films may have started out as a reaction to the formula films of the mainstream, but far too many of them quickly fell prey to their own indie formula.

We also saw movie studios trying to retain 20th century marketing models in a world that had no place for those models most of the time. The process of platform releasing—opening a film in a few markets and slowly widening it—can sometimes still work, but it doesn’t work as well as it did thanks to the immediacy of information and communication. It will work with smaller movies, but audiences who saw promos and talk shows devoted to Dreamgirls (2006) and Across the Universe (2007) on Thursday wanted to see those films on Friday—not four to six weeks later. At the same time, we saw small studios kill many of their own limited interest titles by attempting saturation bookings into markets that couldn’t support more than one screen.

I say none of this to speak ill of a decade that I actually have a lot of praise for. I merely want to point out that it wasn’t all skittles and beer. The lowest common denominator is still with us—and if it wasn’t Michael Bay and Robert Zemeckis would doubtless go out and find it. And a lot of this will still be the case in this decade. These things require no psychic powers or the ability to read entrails.

But what are we looking forward to? We know some things already, of course, and I rattled off some the titles coming during the first few months of 2010 a couple weeks ago. Those things are more in the nature of coming attractions—as, for that matter, is anything we know is coming down the pike. What I’m after here is more nebulous. What do you expect to see more of? Less of? Whose work do you think will “define” this new decade? What filmmaker or filmmakers are you watching most closely? What—apart from Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture remake of Yellow Submarine (1968)—are you most dreading?

OK, this is all pretty much going to be nothing but guess work. At this point in 2000, I would never have guessed that Baz Luhrmann would make a film that, for me, would best signify the decade. I would have, on the other hand, predicted that Bill Condon would make more than two movies over the ten year span. I would never have thought Leonardo DiCaprio would become a solid actor. There were all manner of filmmakers and actors I hadn’t heard of yet, or who had not registered on my radar as worth consideration. Of course, that’s what keeps the whole business of going to the movies lively and interesting.

Without trying to put too fine a line on anything, I expect to see more of the same in some areas. We haven’t seen the last of effects-driven movies, even if I’d like to think so. And though it sometimes seems like it, the comic book movie (by which I mean the superhero kind) isn’t dead, though I fully expect it to have to evolve or die off. The “important” (or pompous) comic book movie was dealt a pretty serious blow by Watchmen (2009).

The unexciting box office returns and enthusiasm for most musicals that followed Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Chicago (2002) suggests another genre that is going to need a shot in the arm, especially after the dismal performance of Nine (2009).  Until that happens, I’d expect to see more quasi-musicals like John Carney’s Once (2006) than full-scale extravaganzas. (Yes, I know Julie Taymor has talked about another Beatles-based film as a follow-up to Across the Universe [2007], but much as I’d like to see that, I’ll believe it when it’s fully in production and not before.)

Despite a few worthy attempts in the last decade—Open Range (2003), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Appaloosa (2008), come to mind, and in their way, The Proposition (2006) and Australia (2008) qualify—no one was really able to crack the market for westerns in the last decade. Doubtless, someone will take a whack at it in this one—and maybe if the mood is right (that can play an even more significant part than quality), that will change.

As for filmmakers I’m expecting to mark this decade, that’s a mixed bag. I fully anticipate worthy films from Danny Boyle, Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Paul Thomas Anderson, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, Julie Taymor, the Coens, Michel Gondry, Richard Curtis, Quentin Tarantino—and quite possibly Neil Jordan, Mike Nichols and Stephen Frears. But as much as I’m looking forward to their films, I’m perhaps more interested in seeing just where some of the newer voices with slighter credentials will take us. Rian Johnson probably stands at the top of that list for me. Brick (2005) and The Brothers Bloom (2009) are pretty darn remarkable works to start off with. And what about Martin McDonagh? His In Bruges (2008) suggests some wonderful things could follow. John Cameron Mitchell certainly made a mark with two films last decade—Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) and Shortbus (2006)—so his upcoming Rabbit Hole is high on my list of actual upcoming titles.

I’m sure I’m overlooking more than a couple possibilities—and I’m sure (and hoping) other people will fill in the blanks—but the thing is that none of this factors in filmmakers we’ve yet to hear from, whose names we don’t even know. Therein lies perhaps the most tantalizing prospect of all. We shall see.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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108 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: So where to now?

  1. Tonberry

    Like you, I have a hunch that the super hero movie is going to die off (but before it does, be prepared for a few reboots), and in its place will be the video game movie. I swear it is going to happen, there will be one decent video game to movie adaptation that will become a craze. Whatever franchise that will be, I don’t know.

  2. Me

    The mumblecore films are getting better and better maybe we’ll see them get more attention this decade.

  3. I think it’s interesting to suppose about who will become the big movie stars of the next decade – the sex symbols and movie stars I grew up with (Clooney, Depp, Will Smith, Pitt, Halle Berry, etc.) are in their mid to late 40s now – who will take their place? Is Shia LaBouf really going to become the new action star? Is Megan Fox going to supplant Angelina Jolie? I sure as hell hope not.
    Who’s the next George Clooney? He’s one of the few ‘Movie Star’s of our era, is there a replacement? Jon Hamm has the same old-school good looks and charisma, but he’s yet to make Clooney’s transition from TV success to movie success. I’m very interested to see what Robert Downey Jr. does next – he’s got two big franchises going, and an impeccable set of performances over the last few years, so he can pretty much do what he wants.
    As for comic-book pictures, will this be the decade the lesser-known (read: not Batman or Spiderman) characters get their due? There’s a Green Lantern picture in production with Ryan Reynolds which could turn out alright, a Wonder Woman project’s been in development hell for years and there’s a Captain America movie being made, although the title ‘The First Avenger: Captain America’ doesn’t instill me with much confidence. As a general rule, movies with colons in the title stink – Twilight: New Moon, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, etc. This could be an exception (ala Lord of the Rings).
    Sony is rebooting Spider-Man, which frankly doesn’t bother me at all after the last one. Maybe they’ll cast some people who are believable as high school students this time around, rather than 30-somethings.
    I’d like to see a Superman picture get off the ground – one that isn’t a quasi-sequel to the middle movie from a series of pictures made thirty years ago. And please, can Superman look like a Man this time, instead of a 19 year old.
    We’ve got sequels to Sherlock Holmes to look forward to – at least one, with Professor Moriarty as the villain, hopefully played by Tom Waits (no, I’m not giving up on this).
    We’ve got Guillermo del Toro’s two Hobbit pictures to look forward to, featuring (yay!) Ian McKellen back as Gandalf. After this, Del Toro has about nine hundred announced projects on the go, including a new adaptation of Frankenstein (hey, if anyone can pull it off…).
    Hopefully, the Bond franchise will right itself after the letdown of Quantum of Solace. They are unlikely to go with my idea of period adaptations of the books, but Casino Royale proved they can still do stylish, thrilling action pictures featuring the character, and they have a great lead in Daniel Craig.
    This will almost certainly be Clint Eastwood’s last decade as a director. He’ll be 89 by the end of it, so if he’s still around, he’ll certainly be retired.
    Like Ken, I’m tremendously excited about what Rian Johnson has to bring forth in the future. His sci-fi picture, Looper, is in preproduction now, and if it’s anything like as good as his first two movies, I can’t wait.
    Chris Nolan will likely make one more Batman picture before leaving the franchise, which suits me just fine – his non-Batman pictures are way more interesting and I’d like to see someone else have a crack at the Dark Knight – maybe I could apply for the job (I should be about 22 when the next Batman picture comes out, is that too young to think about helming a major Warner Brothers film franchise?).
    What I really want to know is whether Richard Curtis can make another film that could possibly top THE BOAT THAT ROCKED?

  4. Ken Hanke

    I swear it is going to happen, there will be one decent video game to movie adaptation that will become a craze.

    Personally, I’d call Silent Hill a decent video game adapatation, but it has the double whammy of two genres that are generally ghettoized — horror and video game. I’m not a player so I have no clue what might make that leap. It’s certainly not impossible. If a movie based on a theme park ride can become a hit — and a pretty well-deserved one — and spawn a franchise, then there’s no reason this couldn’t happen. And there’s no immediate reason to think it has to be a bad thing.

  5. Ken Hanke

    The mumblecore films are getting better and better maybe we’ll see them get more attention this decade

    Personally, I’d rather sit through a Wayans Bros. movie. I’ve yet to see a mumblecore film that I thought had much, if any, merit. Granted, I haven’t had to see a lot of them because they’ve yet to make much of a dent — at least in their pure form. The appeal completely eludes me.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Is Shia LaBouf really going to become the new action star? Is Megan Fox going to supplant Angelina Jolie? I sure as hell hope not.

    I could do without Angelina Jolie if it comes to that, but unless the two you name are hiding their talent very well, I don’t see this happening.

    Sony is rebooting Spider-Man, which frankly doesn’t bother me at all after the last one. Maybe they’ll cast some people who are believable as high school students this time around, rather than 30-somethings.

    At one point, they were talking about casting Robert Pattinson as Peter Parker. That ought to cheer you up.

    I’d like to see a Superman picture get off the ground – one that isn’t a quasi-sequel to the middle movie from a series of pictures made thirty years ago. And please, can Superman look like a Man this time, instead of a 19 year old

    I’d be okay (as I’m sure you know) with the whole superhero comic book thing just dying out, but that aside, I don’t think you can make a good Superman movie because the character’s just not that interesting. There aren’t any real shadings and he’s too lacking in weaknesses. The 19-year-old thing probably isn’t going to change until the perceived demographic does.

    We’ve got Guillermo del Toro’s two Hobbit pictures to look forward to, featuring (yay!) Ian McKellen back as Gandalf. After this, Del Toro has about nine hundred announced projects on the go, including a new adaptation of Frankenstein (hey, if anyone can pull it off…).

    Personally, I’m so over the whole Tolkein thing that I wish del Toro was doing just about anything else. I have no problem with the idea of him doing Frankenstein, though I really hope it doesn’t attempt to be the book.

    Hopefully, the Bond franchise will right itself after the letdown of Quantum of Solace.

    I still say Bond needs retiring — or he needs to be done in period, if he’s going to be done at all. But then I think the 1967 Casino Royale is the pinnacle of Bond, so I’m coming at this with the wrong attitude.

    Like Ken, I’m tremendously excited about what Rian Johnson has to bring forth in the future. His sci-fi picture, Looper, is in preproduction now, and if it’s anything like as good as his first two movies, I can’t wait.

    Now, here we’re in perfect accord. If nothing else, I expect the results to be interesting — and I’m hoping for a lot more.

    Chris Nolan will likely make one more Batman picture before leaving the franchise

    This is probably inevitable. The real question in my mind is what he’ll end up with — especially in terms of popular success — when he hasn’t got Ledger’s Joker as a draw. The dour tone of his Batman pictures needs some sort of balance.

    I’d like to see someone else have a crack at the Dark Knight – maybe I could apply for the job (I should be about 22 when the next Batman picture comes out, is that too young to think about helming a major Warner Brothers film franchise?).

    Let’s say that’s possible for the moment. Where would you take it? What can be done with the character that hasn’t been done?

    What I really want to know is whether Richard Curtis can make another film that could possibly top THE BOAT THAT ROCKED?

    I’d probably be pretty happy if he simply equalled it, but it’d be interesting to see him top it.

  7. At one point, they were talking about casting Robert Pattinson as Peter Parker.
    The word ‘Aieee!’ comes to mind.

    I don’t think you can make a good Superman movie because the character’s just not that interesting. There aren’t any real shadings and he’s too lacking in weaknesses.
    Well, that all depends on how you write it. A common thread in a lot of the comic book movies is that they often seem to remove the most interesting elements of the characters because they think the character’s the costume. It’s not. The key to Superman is Clark Kent. He’s the ultimate immigrant, the last of his race. He’s a wise-ass farm boy rubbing up against the biggest, most technologically-advanced city in America. His relationship with Lois Lane is classic screwball comedy stuff. You’ve got a wonderful villain in Lex Luthor, the cultured thug who built himself up as the most powerful man in Metropolis through his own brains and ambition, only to see ‘his’ city latch onto an alien as their new favourite son. Plus, your main character can fly. I think you should be able to make a pretty entertaining movie out of that.

    The 19-year-old thing probably isn’t going to change until the perceived demographic does.
    I just miss the days when action stars were men, not boys. Bruce Willis in DIE HARD, that’s my idea of an action star. He was in his 30s when they made the first one. These days they’d probably cast Taylor Lautner.

    I still say Bond needs retiring—or he needs to be done in period, if he’s going to be done at all.
    Well, period would be my preferred option, but it ain’t gonna happen. As much as I get your reasons why you wouldn’t miss 007 if they let the franchise die, I just plain like James Bond. It’s a formula, but when it’s well executed, I have a lot of fun with the results. I like the idea of a suave Brit in a tuxedo, dolling out quotable one-liners, the veneer of sophistication hiding a government assassin underneath. I like the great cars, the glamorous women, the glorious theme music. And maybe most of all, I like that he’s in his 40s, and this is seen as a requirement for the part – no one’s seriously suggesting 20-something Bond. So I don’t want the Bond franchise to die, I just want it to be entertaining again.

    The real question in my mind is what he’ll end up with—especially in terms of popular success—when he hasn’t got Ledger’s Joker as a draw. The dour tone of his Batman pictures needs some sort of balance.
    Well, the first one didn’t really have much of a balance, which is why I preferred THE DARK KNIGHT. I imagine he’ll probably draft in Catwoman, which will be interesting, as Nolan doesn’t seem to like writing romantic relationships in his movies. God knows, it hasn’t been the strong suit of his Batman pictures so far. He used up the two best villains in THE DARK KNIGHT, so as for a next step there – The Riddler isn’t a threat on the necessary scale, same for The Penguin. Mr Freeze would probably be deemed too ‘unrealistic’ for this franchise (a ridiculous requirement for a world of this nature). I don’t know where he’ll go, but he’s got a big set of expectations to meet, considering the popularity of the last one. The hype will be staggering by the time 2012 rolls around. I would imagine slightly lesser numbers. My biggest hope is that he steers the film away from this structure: Scene A: Two characters stand around and discuss the movie’s themes. Scene B: BIG CHAOTIC ACTION SCENE! THINGS GO BOOM! (Repeat until 140 minutes are gone).

    Let’s say that’s possible for the moment. Where would you take it? What can be done with the character that hasn’t been done?
    In an ideal world, I’d set it in 1939, the year the character was created and really belongs in, get away from all the gadgets and superdupercars. But as with Bond, never gonna happen.
    I’d love to a Batman picture with the visual stylisation of THE SPIRIT or SIN CITY, with Batman being swallowed up by the shadows of Gotham at night. Not gonna happen.
    The thing I would do differently that immediately springs to mind is – no more f*cking rubber suits. I can suspend my disbelief a long way, but I can’t buy that Batman could run a 100 yards in one of those things, let alone scale rooftops and fight people in them. I’d find it much easier to buy that he’s really good at dodging bullets.
    I’d definitely cast Alfred much younger – someone like Pierce Brosnan would do well in the part. I’d beef up Jim Gordon’s character, give him a bit more attitude and action role – in the comics he’s a special forces vet. George Clooney would be my ideal choice for the part.
    Oh, and Batman should talk in a voice that doesn’t sound like Tom Waits with bronchitis.
    Otherwise, I’d have to think about it more before I could come up with a clear vision.

  8. Jim Donato

    It seems like the “holy grail” that H’wood is forever tilting at are films without actors, props or sets.

    You just KNOW that George Lucas has recorded the full run of phonemes from the Star Wars original cast so he can whup up completely CGI sequels in the coming dark times. Once he has their voice phonemes, he can in theory construct viable dialogue to match the already flawless visuals of actors who will by that time be elderly geriatrics, if not dust (George won’t be looking too good himself). The next BIG growth area in software won’t be 3D rendering and animation (that’s pretty much cracked except for traversing the Uncanny Valley) but voice synthesis software. There are countless ways to say a line of dialogue but far fewer ways to walk across the floor, so this has the potential to be a much steeper hill to climb than rendering and animation. There will probably be a proprietary in house tool that Lucasfilm develops that will get to produce the emerging defacto standards in voice synthesis inflection markup. Heck, let me define the acronym right here – VSIML: Voice Synthesis Inflection Markup Language. Now all we have to do is map and codify human emotional expression as it affects human voice synthesis and code the bejeebers out of it. Where’s my check?

    That’s the “light at the end of the tunnel.” The first intermediate step will be voice inflection capture which will act like realtime digital voice changing. Lucas/Spielberg/Zemeckis/Cameron/Bay would direct a Faceless Actor to say the line reading how a master director would – what comes out of the loudspeakers in the looping studio will be Han Solo, digitally speaking the deathless Lucas-written line with the exact emphasis of the Faceless Actor to flawlessly synch with the animation being rendered in a server room deep within the Lucasfilm lair.

    Needless to say, I find these notions repellent.

    Fortunately, all of this will cost a king’s ransom up front, limiting the number of techno-hacks able to perpetrate these abominations. Hopefully, the hip kids will make old fashioned films that speak to the human condition because that’s all they can afford to do.

  9. davidf

    My crystal ball is looking opaque, and I don’t know what to expect. I am expecting more superhero movies for a few years, especially in the vein of IRON MAN. Something tells me that that’s going to fizzle out, though, when a lot of the Avengers franchise turn out to be stinkers (NICK FURY, THOR, THE AVENGERS, etc.) While this is one of the only things that seems pretty certain to me, it doesn’t interest me very much compared to what I don’t know (like what Rian Johnson might accomplish in the next decade, for instance.)

    If I made a list of directors whose future work I’m anticipating, it would look nearly identical to the list you made, Ken. So I won’t reproduce that. I would add Tarsem Singh to the mix, because I loved THE FALL, and, while I see it as an imperfect film, it gave a glimpse as to what he’s capable of imaginatively. I’m excited about his upcoming WAR OF GODS. Since the hero of that film will be named Theseus (who was the one who got to deal with the minotaur in the labyrinth) I’m expecting some visually impressive architectural fantasy. I just hope there’s a story there to match it.

    I’m also anticipating what Richard Linklater will be capable of as he continues to mature as a director. I don’t really expect him to cross over into broad popularity, but I’M excited. I’ve been looking forward to the “UNTITLED 12-YEAR RICHARD LINKLATER PROJECT” for a while.

    Another auteur I’m looking forward to seeing more of is Darren Aronofsky. I’d like to see him explore more sci-fi and fantasy.

    And I think we’ll see some more films of interest from David O. Russell. One note of interest here: Russell is set to direct a film adaptation of the NYTimes best-seller PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the book includes the entire original text of the Jane Austin novel with new zombie action seemlessly inserted. This seemingly limited gimmick has spawned a small but growing new genre of books that revamp original classic texts with added zombie, monster, or vampire action. I’m curious if we’ll see this new genre trend spill over into film for a few years, for better or worse.

    Like I said, my crystal ball is looking pretty cloudy, but one game I like to play is this: if you were granted the power to force any director to pair himself up with any particular story/project/genre, for the sake of experimentation, what would you want to see?

    Some of my thoughts are:

    Michel Gondry makes a sci-fi mind-bender! (Perhaps this is already in the works with MASTER OF SPACE AND TIME?)

    Quentin Tarantino makes a musical!

    Wes Anderson makes a war epic!

    Baz Luhrmann directs THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE!

    Terrence Malick makes a road movie! (Well, that one looks a little silly with an exclamation mark)

    Darren Aronofsky adapts Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’!

    I remember playing this game sometime in the mid-90’s, imagining how perfect Tim Burton would be to direct Alice in Wonderland, so, you know… here’s wishing.

  10. Ken Hanke

    The word ‘Aieee!’ comes to mind

    That word comes to mind when I think of any further pearls of cheerful smiling-through-the-tears wisdom from Aunt May (or whatever her name is), too.

    The key to Superman is Clark Kent. He’s the ultimate immigrant, the last of his race. He’s a wise-ass farm boy rubbing up against the biggest, most technologically-advanced city in America. His relationship with Lois Lane is classic screwball comedy stuff. You’ve got a wonderful villain in Lex Luthor, the cultured thug who built himself up as the most powerful man in Metropolis through his own brains and ambition, only to see ‘his’ city latch onto an alien as their new favourite son. Plus, your main character can fly. I think you should be able to make a pretty entertaining movie out of that.

    Parts of that are inherent in the Richard Donner era films and, for me at least, they don’t work either. A lot of people disagree, but they’re too jokey for me. I just can’t get excited over Superman no matter what, I think.

    So I don’t want the Bond franchise to die, I just want it to be entertaining again.

    For me, this reaches a point where it’s like indulgent adults dressing up at the urging of some children to do something “one more time.” For me, Bond movies reached that about 40 years ago.

    The thing I would do differently that immediately springs to mind is – no more f*cking rubber suits. I can suspend my disbelief a long way, but I can’t buy that Batman could run a 100 yards in one of those things, let alone scale rooftops and fight people in them

    I understand the idea behind the Playtex Rubber Girdle Suit, but it isn’t believable — even within the confines of the reality of the stories. For that matter, I always wonder when Batman finds the time to remove the black greasepaint around his eyes when the cowl comes off. (Does he carry cold cream in his utility belt?)

    Oh, and Batman should talk in a voice that doesn’t sound like Tom Waits with bronchitis

    A reasonable description, I suppose. I spent most of Gran Torino expecting Clint Eastwood to say, “I’m Batman,” if it comes to that.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Once he has their voice phonemes, he can in theory construct viable dialogue

    Well, he’s never done that before.

    Needless to say, I find these notions repellent

    I find them terrifying.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I’m also anticipating what Richard Linklater will be capable of as he continues to mature as a director

    After Me and Orson Welles, I can express interest, too. The fact that maybe 15 people saw Me and Orson Welles, however…

    Michel Gondry makes a sci-fi mind-bender! (Perhaps this is already in the works with MASTER OF SPACE AND TIME?)

    Perhaps. His The Green Hornet is in post-production — and even with Seth Rogen, I’m interested.

    Quentin Tarantino makes a musical!

    That doesn’t seem that far-fetched to me.

    Wes Anderson makes a war epic!

    I’m less thrilled with that, but trenches could make great shaved sets. (My notions of war epics seems stalled at WWI.)

    Baz Luhrmann directs THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE!

    Change it to The Mikado and I’m there. (I just prefer the show.)

    Terrence Malick makes a road movie! (Well, that one looks a little silly with an exclamation mark)

    Malick and exclamation marks just don’t seem happy together, no.

    Darren Aronofsky adapts Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’!

    Since I don’t know the source, I can’t weigh in on this.

  13. Me

    Yeah none of them are going to have big musical productions or anything which i guess is what your into. But there are some good ones out there Funny Ha Ha, Humpday, Bees Wax, Mutual Appreciation, The Puffy Chair, Hannah Takes The Stairs to name a few. Im also a huge Cassavetes fan which might make a little difference.

  14. Me

    Maybe Mark Duplass will get some due this decade too hes got some great potential.

  15. Me

    I had now idea about the Master Of Space And Time film and Dan Clowes is the writer WOW!

    Hopefully David Fincher can make a faithful adaptation of Black Hole this decade.

    Terrence Malick road movie? Didn’t he already do that with Badlands?

    Ken have you heard anything about Asheville getting Fish Tank or The White Ribbon anytime in the future?

  16. GoodGrief

    I really enjoyed “Book of Eli.” It had a very different texture to it, very raw almost, with an interesting twist towards the end. Its the kind of film that you really feel like you are in it, sweating in the desert with Eli. Hopefully, we will see less of the ‘franchise film’ and more of the original, deeply philosophical film experience that makes you actually think about it afterwards. But thats just me.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Yeah none of them are going to have big musical productions or anything which i guess is what your into.

    Like the only alternative to movies with musical productions is mumblecore? That’s a little bit absurd, don’t you think?

    Of the titles you listed, the only one I’ve seen all of is Humpday, which I gave a grudging three stars to, even thought I thought it was one giant cop-out. The further away I got from it, the more I disliked it, so I tried to watch it again. I can now categorically state that I found the film to be a gigantic waste of my time.

    I suppose you may be right that a fondness of Cassavetes might help, because I have little use for his movies, though I kind of liked Gloria, but that had a screenplay, if I recall. I have yet to be sold on improvisitional film. I know to some people it looks realistic. To me, it just looks amateurish and meandering.

    Ken have you heard anything about Asheville getting Fish Tank or The White Ribbon anytime in the future?

    Not really. The White Ribbon is the kind of film that gets a lot of good reviews, but almost no one — at least locally — ever goes to see. This makes local theaters hesitant to book it. Fish Tank is a better bet, but it’s not etched in stone. A lot is going to depend on how well it does this weekend in other cities.

    Right now, it looks like the Fine Arts is likely to have Broken Embraces and A Single Man for two weeks — probably longer on Single Man. The Carolina is slated to open The Messenger on the 29th. That’s as much inside info as I have.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I really enjoyed “Book of Eli.” It had a very different texture to it, very raw almost, with an interesting twist towards the end.

    I haven’t seen it, but Justin liked it sufficiently to see it twice — and to tell me I needed to see it.

  19. davidf

    “Terrence Malick road movie? Didn’t he already do that with Badlands?”

    Ahh, well, I haven’t seen BADLANDS, but see, already my wishful thinking is paying off.

    I’ll another one to the list:
    A mumblecore picture with big musical numbers.

  20. Ken Hanke

    A mumblecore picture with big musical numbers

    Featuring that stirring ballad “My Ennui Is Turning to Malaise.”

  21. Jim Donato

    My goodness. I had heard about John Cassavetes for many years. After hearing Seymour Cassel talk at the Central Florida Film Festival, we thought we’d finally check out some JC cinema. We rented “Faces” and had to turn it off about 40 minutes in. It was a one-note oppressive stream of people screaming at one another that in its own way, was as synthetic to me as an explosion movie. After that we have given the cinema of Cassavetes a wide pass. Admittedly, Gloria seemed to have some potential when it came out and the fact that it was not improv was probably to its benefit.

    Improv is a double edged sword. I can see how it can be a valuable tool for the writing process, but to rely on it completely must be thrilling for the actor; not necessarily for the audience. Having said that, I’ve never acted but I have read Del Close’s improv manual and I would think anyone reading through those exercises would think, yeah, this could be very exciting stuff. Does that excitement translate to the audience? Maybe, but there’s no guarantee.

  22. Ken Hanke

    Improv is a double edged sword. I can see how it can be a valuable tool for the writing process, but to rely on it completely must be thrilling for the actor; not necessarily for the audience.

    There are, of course, any number of improvised or nearly improvised scenes in movies — and a great many more ad libbed lines — but I can’t think of an entirely improvised film that really works for me. A case could be made for some of Chaplin’s work, but he was writing with his camera and the final product was the result of finely-honed takes of material that worked. There’s the legend that Gregory LaCava’s My Man Godfrey was mostly improvised on the set, but I’m not sure that that’s anything more than a legend.

  23. Ken Hanke

    I can’t imagine how many people that little girl will offend with her foul mouth.

    Since I was never able to get the trailer to play, I’ll just have to imagine.

  24. Ken Hanke

    Strike that. I got it to play, but I never found a red band trailer.

  25. Me

    Not really mumblecore but Dancer in the Dark is probably the closest film like that with musical numbers.

  26. Ken Hanke

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a 12 year old girl say that word before.

    I’m guessing you mean the dreaded “c word” since I’ve certainly heard a few say the other one. I can’t say I have either, but then I’m not around 12-year-olds much. Of course, both Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman are English and that word doesn’t cause people to faint over there. Then too, no guarantee this will be in the final film.

  27. Ken Hanke

    Seymour Cassel is great in Minnie and Moskowitz it might be a more accessible Cassevetes film to check out

    It’s less mean-spirited than most of these improv things of Cassavetes, I’ll give it that. I watched it only because I’d liked Cassel in Valentino, where I’d liked him a lot. Like him a lot in Rushmore, too. Those also have scripts.

    The thing is, I think this is a type of filmmaking you either respond to or you don’t. I’ve tried various of these several times over the past 40 years. They always ultimately bore me or annoy me or both.

  28. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a 12 year old girl say that word before.
    I have. I haven’t been twelve for seven years now, but by the time I was, myself and all my friends – both male and female – had heard and used every permutation of every invective under the sun.

  29. davidf

    So I broke out the old Tarot deck tonight, and it revealed to me that in the next decade the Golden Globes will continue to be a poor measure of quality filmmaking.

  30. Tonberry

    Tonberry’s Food for Thought

    Menu
    Appetizer: Super hero Stuff

    For certain, the first few years of the new decade we can expect super hero movies still making their mark as summer blockbusters. As far as Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie goes, whoever the villain is, please, just keep it to one. Superman has never had any kind of appeal to me, however, I once read an article about how the Coen Brothers should reboot the movie franchise. Interesting, but I doubt this will ever happen.

    Speaking of reboots and directors taking on that material, let’s delve into the Marvel side of things. I really, really, don’t want another high school Spider-Man movie. I maybe losing my imagination, but I can’t really think of any new refreshing way to spin that particular story of Spidey. Let’s have the character already established, throw in The Fantastic Four, and have it directed by Wes Anderson.

    I want a good Daredevil movie this decade and would be thrilled to see Frank Miller direct it. Mind you, I don’t have any love for “The Spirit” (perhaps I was just in a bad mood when I saw it) but Frank directing a movie based on some of his best comic book work, ah, that could be quite good.

    Main Course: Video game stuff

    My, I’m being rather geeky today. I still predict that video game adaptations will replace the super hero movie extravaganza we had last decade. Now I’m sure there have been some pretty decent adaptations already (I still haven’t seen “Silent Hill” yet), I’m just waiting for that one video game movie that will reach the level of success of what “X-Men” did, and open the floodgates for a whole lot more franchises to be adapted. And adapted well enough.

    But what I’ve been thinking about all day, is that, as a casual video gamer myself, what can I expect from these movies? Games themselves have become more and more cinematic in structure. Some franchises so much, that there is more time watching cut scenes than actually playing the game. If I was going to watch a “Metal Gear” movie in the theaters, I’d feel that I already spent ten hours doing that while playing the game.

    Long ago, at the age of 8, I attempted to write a movie based on “Zelda.” I wanted to see my favorite game on the big screen, but now a days, I am not so sure. Would I ultimately be bored, because I’d rather play as Link cutting up a cuckoo, than watching him do so? And what about movies that have inspired games? If a “Grand Theft Auto” movie comes along, we’ve practically already seen it–as the games story is practically a mash up of gangster movies.

    So personally speaking, no, video game movies in the future are not an immediate bad thing. I just feel unsure about it. Who knows, there could be a trailer for “Ms. Pacman” that might just blow me away.

    Dessert: Kick-Ass

    The red band trailer for this thing. Quite tasty.

  31. Parts of that are inherent in the Richard Donner era films and, for me at least, they don’t work either.
    I can’t say I care much for them either (which apparently impunes my comic book nerd credentials). I find them badly dated, lacking a compelling antagonist and while they’re faithful to a certain version of Superman, it’s not one I’m that fond of.
    I think the gee-shucks nerdy Clark Kent person gets old very quickly – it’s essentially a lame recurring gag that wastes a whole element of the main character’s… character. And Margot Kidder is no prize as Lois Lane.
    Chris Reeve was perfect for the Superman of the script, but again, it’s not the Superman I want to watch. My conception of the character is more in line with Harrison Ford’s screen persona circa Indiana Jones. Likeable, a bit of a wiseass and distinctly American.

  32. Steven

    I didn’t expect the Golden Globes to be [i]that[/i] bad. Good lord..

  33. Ken Hanke

    So I broke out the old Tarot deck tonight, and it revealed to me that in the next decade the Golden Globes will continue to be a poor measure of quality filmmaking.

    Some things never change.

    I didn’t expect the Golden Globes to be that bad. Good lord..

    They’re given out by the Foreign Press Association, which is about the least credible thing you can say — short of saying the Weekly World News was making the calls.

  34. Me

    “My goodness. I had heard about John Cassavetes for many years. After hearing Seymour Cassel talk at the Central Florida Film Festival, we thought we’d finally check out some JC cinema. We rented “Faces” and had to turn it off about 40 minutes in.”

    He was known for screening his films early and if they got a positive response he would go back and edit them because he thought they weren’t challenging the audience enough.

    Any plans for an Eric Rohmer article? I guess if Cassavetes isn’t your taste Rohmer would really be boring.

  35. Uncle Charley

    I swear it is going to happen, there will be one decent video game to movie adaptation that will become a craze.

    Believe it or not, there is a reason why a number of film makers have begun signing contracts with the likes of Electronic Arts and Activision to produce games: they’re storytellers. Some stories just aren’t told well in a 90-180 minute timeframe, and when it’s time to get lengthy games are now a perfectly reasonable alternative given their sensory sophistication. The reason they’ve reached such heights of quality in sound and visual design is because many have done all in their power to mimic film, such as the recently lauded Uncharted games, which by all appearances is a film…that lasts about 15 hours. The problem with turning such things back into the films they’ve tried so hard to copy is that in the end, there’s no point. So much information has been pressed into the fiction of each game that one might as well attempt a filming of Proust’s work. If we’re very lucky, games will continue to contain untold depths of content, with a far more fragmented form. Films (as a result of our own attention spans) will still be forced to forgo content in lieu of a vastly more accessible format.

    It does bear stating though, that since screening it with the rest of the crew from The Carolina, we’ve all been shocked and amazed that no one mentioned the Fallout series of games when commenting on The Book of Eli. True, those games were inspired by the likes of Mad Max and A Boy and His Dog as much as the film itself was, but so was The Road, which bore absolutely no resemblance to Fallout whatsoever due to its lack of humor or improvised civilization. Had one mention of an irradiated “ghoul” or one of the infamous “Vaults” come up in The Book of Eli, I assure you we would have been watching it under the header Tales from the Wasteland: A Fallout Film, if only for copyright reasons. Those that want to see a fine adaptation of a game need only look to Denzel Washington now, whether that was anyone’s intent or not.

    On a completely unrelated note, did Avatar really win best picture at the Golden Globes tonight, or was I suffering another of the acid flashbacks that remind me I have no need for pretty little pictures like Avatar in my life ever again?

  36. GoodGrief

    Those of us, a minority I’m sure, who don’t waste our time playing video games or reading comic books are praying that there will be a future of film that actually has real human beings in them with real plots and cerebral, philosophical drama and good actors. But since society is more inclined to be entertained by a train wreck of ‘super heroes’ or visual orgasma, I guess I’ll stick with TCM. It would be lovely if Hollywood could do something original.

  37. Sean Williams

    Chainsaw, you’re implying incorrectly that comic books and video games are incapable of “cerebral, philosophical drama” and “real human beings”.

    The idea that particular media are somehow incapable of treating the same subject matter in the same depth as other media is frankly absurd. It means, essentially, that if I adapt a Shakespeare play into illustrated panels and put the dialogue into balloons, it has become something less than a Shakespeare play despite containing exactly the same content.

    I would remind you that when novels first became a popular form of entertainment, they were regarded in many circles as crass and artless. As were movies. As was rock and roll…. All were believed to be the exclusive province of the young or the moronic, and all were believed to cause psychosis in impressionable boys.

    Some historical perspective, please. Censorship always begins in media that are regarded as less respectable.

  38. Andrew

    I have to admit that whenever I think about the future of movie-going, I tend to get overwhelmed by my cynicism. Such as: I paid $16.75 for a non-IMAX screening of ‘Avatar.’ I think that’ll become the standard price of a ticket before long. Whatever its demerits, I did think Avatar was a kind of technical accomplishment (the 3D being the least of it) that’s likely to set off new ‘arms races’ in the technology of big-effects moviemaking, story and other considerations be damned. But these kinds of movies are going to be marketed with global markets in mind, as Cameron suggested in his speech at the GG last night, and some measure of blandness is going to be the norm.

    But more seriously, my guess is that fresh aesthetic talents pop up in spaces where they’re given some flexibility and freedom to take risks: is that going to be in the independent circuit, Hollywood, or cable TV? For the last few years I’ve been engaged by some of the stuff on TV (where there’s a lot of dreck, too, admittedly) but I can’t remember a new cinematic idiom over the past ten years that’s really wowed me. I too find mumblecore to be a non-starter, and I agree that ‘Watchmen’ really did some damage to the comic-book movie; the more I think about it though the kind of skill and discipline Nolan showed in the ‘Prestige’ really makes me excited.

  39. Jonathan Barnard

    So why doesn’t Ang Lee make the list of directors from whom you expect “worthy films” this decade?

  40. Ken Hanke

    Let’s have the character already established, throw in The Fantastic Four, and have it directed by Wes Anderson.

    Oh, I fervently hope not. I can’t actually express how much I hope not.

  41. Ken Hanke

    Any plans for an Eric Rohmer article?

    I don’t know his work well enough to do an article.

  42. Dread P. Roberts

    One note of interest here: Russell is set to direct a film adaptation of the NYTimes best-seller PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

    This could be either really great, or really god-awful. Either way, thanks for bringing this up.

  43. Dread P. Roberts

    Believe it or not, there is a reason why a number of film makers have begun signing contracts with the likes of Electronic Arts and Activision to produce games: they’re storytellers.

    I agree; video games are really starting to evolve into a serious medium for storytelling. Due to the potential with sheer scale, it’s an interactive book, more-so than an interactive movie.

    On a side note: I would love to see Bioshock turned into a movie by a viable director. That plot was better (and deeper) than a good deal of movies and/or books that I’ve seen or read in the last few years.

    Those of us, a minority I’m sure, who don’t waste our time playing video games or reading comic books are praying that there will be a future of film that actually has real human beings in them with real plots and cerebral, philosophical drama and good actors.

    If you wouldn’t mind, would you please elaborate on why you believe so strongly that video games and/or comic books are such a “waste of time”, as opposed to the act of watching a movie? These other mediums are every bit as capable of presenting ‘real’ human beings with just as credible of a script. It’s a process that has simply needed a little time to evolve, but it is happening. To look at video games as mere artless kiddy fodder, is to look through ignorant, close-minded eyes. I would very much like to understand why you would (as it seams) believe otherwise.

  44. Ken Hanke

    It does bear stating though, that since screening it with the rest of the crew from The Carolina, we’ve all been shocked and amazed that no one mentioned the Fallout series of games when commenting on The Book of Eli.

    Well, that works on the assumption that everyone knows that series of games. I suppose a case could be made that we all should, but for a lot of us that’s just not going to happen. I mean I don’t play videogames, so unless the film tells me that’s its source I’m not likely to see any connection. I think I can say the same of Justin, so it’s not entirely an age thing, though that certainly enters into it in many cases.

    This is not an anti-videogame statement per se, though I find being trapped in a room of gamers talking about games utterly mind-numbing. It’s simply that not everyone is a gamer. I’ve nothing against videogame movies — as witness Silent Hill, which I’ve never played and have no interest in playing — but unless it’s a game that’s really entered the general pop culture consciousness, I’m not likely to know it.

  45. Ken Hanke

    On a completely unrelated note, did Avatar really win best picture at the Golden Globes tonight, or was I suffering another of the acid flashbacks that remind me I have no need for pretty little pictures like Avatar in my life ever again?

    I’m afraid it wasn’t an acid flashback. I think you can spot those if you hear “In a Gadda da Vida” for no apparent reason.

  46. Ken Hanke

    It means, essentially, that if I adapt a Shakespeare play into illustrated panels and put the dialogue into balloons, it has become something less than a Shakespeare play despite containing exactly the same content.

    Personally, I’d say, yes, it is less, but you already know I am not sympathetic to comic books and have yet to encounter one that I didn’t think would be better served by any other medium (except perhaps on ice).

    However, let’s be a little specific here and note that there’s a difference between the superhero comic — which is mostly what’s been talked about here — and things like From Hell, V for Vendetta and Road to Perdition.

  47. Dread P. Roberts

    I would add Tarsem Singh to the mix, because I loved THE FALL

    I think it’s kind of funny that people keep randomly bringing this up. I don’t know how true this is, but I always have this image of this driving Ken crazy, because he hasn’t seen it yet. This is turning into something of a running gag. At this point in time it would almost be a shame if Ken did see The Fall; because that would be the end of such silly amusement.

  48. On a side note: I would love to see Bioshock turned into a movie by a viable director. That plot was better (and deeper) than a good deal of movies and/or books that I’ve seen or read in the last few years.

    BIOSHOCK would be the only game I would feel worthy of a movie adaptation right now. Everything else right now is derivative of something else. Even as great as UNCHARTED 2 is, it is just an Indiana Jones knockoff.

    I think it’s kind of funny that people keep randomly bringing this up. I don’t know how true this is, but I always have this image of this driving Ken crazy, because he hasn’t seen it yet. This is turning into something of a running gag. At this point in time it would almost be a shame if Ken did see The Fall; because that would be the end of such silly amusement.

    My advice for Ken is to not see THE FALL now. There’s no way it would live up to the high praise that we have all lavished upon it.

  49. Dread P. Roberts

    Even as great as UNCHARTED 2 is, it is just an Indiana Jones knockoff.

    Very true. To me that is the big appeal of the Uncharted games. The fact that this deliberate knockoff is actually (arguably) better written than the majority of Indiana Jones stuff (especially recent stuff) is really just a plus. That would probably just get lost in a screen adaptation, where people would simply wonder why they didn’t just do another Indiana Jones movie instead.

    My advice for Ken is to not see THE FALL now. There’s no way it would live up to the high praise that we have all lavished upon it.

    Or…we could all create alias usernames, login, and say that the movies sucks. (Oh wait, perhaps I shouldn’t reveal such evil genius master schemes in the comments section.)

    I believe I’ve avoided lavishing such praise for this very reason (though I could easily be mistaken). As much as I really did enjoy the movie, I agree that it would probably be rather anti-climatic at this point in time.

  50. Ken Hanke

    If you wouldn’t mind, would you please elaborate on why you believe so strongly that video games and/or comic books are such a “waste of time”, as opposed to the act of watching a movie?

    Boy, this is a minefield to even try to traverse. I’m going to stay out of the comic book end of it — and leave it at what I said (again) to Sean, “I am not sympathetic to comic books and have yet to encounter one that I didn’t think would be better served by any other medium (except perhaps on ice).” I’d add that I find it a very awkward medium.

    I won’t say that the videogame is a waste of time, though it is for me personally. It’s a huge time-eater. Where a movie or a book is finite, this is a medium where you can easily find you’ve just spent four or six or more hours. I have played enough videogames to know this is a problem for me. Personally — and this may simply be me being an elderly curmudgeon sort — I have no interest in interacting with a work of art except intellectually or emotionally. Again, that’s a personal objection and isn’t a criticism of anyone else’s taste in the matter. My broader concern — and I expect an amount of disagreement on this — is that I find them to be much more of an isolation issue than movies, which ideally are a communal experience. I find this troubling. I find much modern technology troubling in this fashion, though.

  51. Ken Hanke

    So why doesn’t Ang Lee make the list of directors from whom you expect “worthy films” this decade?

    An accidental omission that comes from him not popping into my mind when I was writing that. I’ve liked most of Lee’s work — including The Hulk — though I found Lust, Caution curiously inert.

  52. Ken Hanke

    My advice for Ken is to not see THE FALL now. There’s no way it would live up to the high praise that we have all lavished upon it.

    That smells at least faintly of reverse psychology. I don’t actually think it’s been oversold to me — or maybe it’s just that it’s been touted to me by people whose opinions I respect one way and another and I suspect they can’t all be wrong. Strangely, for a movie I’ve been told to see, it’s also a movie I know very little about. I really have no idea what I’d be getting into.

  53. Dread P. Roberts

    Where a movie or a book is finite, this is a medium where you can easily find you’ve just spent four or six or more hours.

    That’s precisely why in my previous comment I said, “Due to the potential with sheer scale, it’s an interactive book, more-so than an interactive movie.” There are games that take up a considerable chunk of time, but in my experience, a typical game takes about as long to get through as a typical novel. Granted, I believe your point is addressing the amount of time being spent in one set period of time. To that I controvert, one must simply practice a little self-control; it’s a good thing to work on. It’s not like someone can’t ‘waste’ an equal amount of time in any of these other mediums, regardless of what medium one is more prone to invest in.

    My broader concern—and I expect an amount of disagreement on this—is that I find them to be much more of an isolation issue than movies, which ideally are a communal experience.

    The problem with this statement isn’t in the lack of truth, but rather in the narrow, limited outlook that this presents. There is such a huge variety of different types of games. There are a great many games that not only encourage a communal experience, but might even require it to do certain things. Do to the interactive nature of a game, I would argue that it has the potential to be even more of a communal experience than a movie. Of course, there are always exceptions. I wouldn’t ever want to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show by myself. That would just be sad.

  54. Dread P. Roberts

    Strangely, for a movie I’ve been told to see, it’s also a movie I know very little about. I really have no idea what I’d be getting into.

    And I genuinely hope it stays that way. You certainly won’t be getting any hints at what the movie is about from me. I suspect that the less you know, the better.

  55. Ken Hanke

    It’s not like someone can’t ‘waste’ an equal amount of time in any of these other mediums, regardless of what medium one is more prone to invest in.

    True enough, but videogames seem more likely to generate that in my experience of playing and in my even greater experience of people who are always late to everything because they had to get to a certain spot in some game they were playing.

    There are a great many games that not only encourage a communal experience, but might even require it to do certain things.

    Are we talking people in the same room type of communal experience?

    I wouldn’t ever want to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show by myself. That would just be sad.

    That actually tends to be one where I prefer not seeing it communally — at least not too often. There’s a communal experience and then there’s a communal experience.

  56. Dread P. Roberts

    Are we talking people in the same room type of communal experience?

    ABSOLUTELY! And that is a good point to bring up. When speaking of scary tech-trends of the future, the thing that really bothers me is the direction in which social interaction is heading – and I’m not just referring to games. I didn’t even think of your point because I my mind I don’t associate online gaming as a communal experience. To me that’s the equivalent of us talking online about a movie that we just recently saw. We interacting, and communicating, but not in a communal fashion. I guess this is where I start to sound a bit curmudgeonly-ish; because I don’t really like playing games with online friend networks. I only like social networking crap like Facebook, etc. if I don’t have any other choice/option for communicating with the said individual.

    These things are a convenience, but they should not become the standard.

  57. Jonathan Barnard

    “BIOSHOCK would be the only game I would feel worthy of a movie adaptation right now.”

    Barring horrible reviews from trustworthy critics, I’d see that. I’m a sucker for sci-fi dystopian films with art deco and mid-century industrial elements. Brazil comes to mind, actually.

  58. Uncle Charley

    If ever there was a way for me to witness the Fantastic Four without tearing my teeth out, it would be because they were directed by Wes Anderson. I feel better about life and myself saying that. Moving right along.

    Those of us, a minority I’m sure, who don’t waste our time playing video games…

    Don’t be so melodramatic. There are literally billions of you and you can all have a cup of coffee with one another whenever you find the time.

    …or reading comic books…

    Are you referring to those things that look suspiciously like storyboards? You know, the ones film makers have always idolized and drawn inspiration from as a medium that stimulates both visually and through the written word? Those which can be composed and distributed for a fraction of the cost of producing even the basest film when “Hollywood” does not approve of producing anything other than the twelve stories they’ve now told ad nauseum? Those silly little things?

    …are praying that there will be a future of film that actually has real human beings in them with real plots and cerebral, philosophical drama and good actors.

    It’s good that in spite of the venom welling up inside of you, you maintain enough faith to pray. We’re a dieing breed, you and I. Shame about gems like Up in the Air coming around to turn our hope to affirmation. Tends to cut down on time spent kvetching.

    Personally…I have no interest in interacting with a work of art except intellectually or emotionally.

    Now this is something interesting, and the gaming community concerned with promoting certain properties as art has been on it for some time. Here we must ask if it is even possible for a person to approach any work of art of any medium without interaction. You have granted here already that there is an intellectual and emotional interaction that is present and even desired, so I am now curious as to what other forms of interaction you (personally) find less desirable or detrimental to the consideration of an artwork.

  59. Tonberry

    Oh, I fervently hope not. I can’t actually express how much I hope not.

    I almost feel like I have offended you with that statement, if so, I am not exactly sure why–unless you are thinking that he directs it with the same cast featured in the abominable Fantastic Four movies. Then we could share a barf bag together.

    It has been rumored that Wes Anderson could possibly direct the Spider-Man reboot. I doubt this will ever, ever happen, but if there was a possibility– I think he’d be more suited to direct a Fantastic Four movie. Stripped down, it’s about a dysfunctional family, and I can’t think of anyone else who can currently do that better.

    Honestly, this can’t be so bad a thought?

  60. Tonberry

    Those of us, a minority I’m sure, who don’t waste our time playing video games or reading comic books are praying that there will be a future of film that actually has real human beings in them with real plots and cerebral, philosophical drama and good actors. But since society is more inclined to be entertained by a train wreck of ‘super heroes’ or visual orgasma, I guess I’ll stick with TCM. It would be lovely if Hollywood could do something original.

    God, who invited the nerd!?

  61. Ken Hanke

    ABSOLUTELY! And that is a good point to bring up. When speaking of scary tech-trends of the future, the thing that really bothers me is the direction in which social interaction is heading – and I’m not just referring to games.

    Nor, in a broader sense, was I.

    I didn’t even think of your point because I my mind I don’t associate online gaming as a communal experience. To me that’s the equivalent of us talking online about a movie that we just recently saw. We interacting, and communicating, but not in a communal fashion

    A lot of people, however, would. Actually, from what I’ve seen of people in online games, what we’re doing is considerably more communal — and even it is not truly communal.

    I guess this is where I start to sound a bit curmudgeonly-ish; because I don’t really like playing games with online friend networks. I only like social networking crap like Facebook, etc. if I don’t have any other choice/option for communicating with the said individual.

    I have mixed feelings on this that stem from logistics. I pretty much detest Facebook, though I’m on it (and if anyone wants to “friend” me please tell me what I know you as on here). Maybe my columns and these comment sections do the same thing to a degree, but I don’t feel the need to “live” in public as Facebook encourages. I have people I know locally who will start message conversations with me — and my response is always the same, “We live in the same town. Arrange to meet me or call me, for Chrissakes. I’m not going to type back and forth with you.”

    However, there are exceptions. Jeremy, for example, lives in Australia. Sean lives in Colorado. It would be unlikely to communicate with them — or even to “know” them — without this sort of thing. I would miss the interaction. I believe you’re local, but I’ve no clue as to whether or not personal interaction would be viable, and I would miss interacting with you, too. And so on.

    Still, more and more, I see technology — Facebook, online encounters, IMing, text messaging (which I refuse to do) — as something that is isolating us more than it is bringing us together. None of this actually has anything to do with what we were talking about.

    I might note that some of this comes down to not much liking games in general — maybe the odd game of chess, but not often. I’d far rather simply talk or watch something or listen to something and discuss it. Few things will instill more ennui in me than an invitation to play cards, for example.

  62. Ken Hanke

    Here we must ask if it is even possible for a person to approach any work of art of any medium without interaction. You have granted here already that there is an intellectual and emotional interaction that is present and even desired, so I am now curious as to what other forms of interaction you (personally) find less desirable or detrimental to the consideration of an artwork

    Well, I don’t want it to be a game for starters and I have no interest in impacting the outcome. That, to me, is the responsibility of the artist. I want to respond — emotionally or intellectually — to his or her thoughts and images. I’ve nothing against discussing the results obviously, but I don’t want to control them.

  63. Ken Hanke

    Are you referring to those things that look suspiciously like storyboards? You know, the ones film makers have always idolized and drawn inspiration from as a medium that stimulates both visually and through the written word?

    Well, that’s a little on the overstated side, isn’t it? Filmmakers have not always used storyboards and some still don’t. I’m not sure what you’re saying they idolize and draw inspiration from. Storyboards or comic books? I don’t think either statement would be true in any broad sense.

  64. Ken Hanke

    I almost feel like I have offended you with that statement, if so, I am not exactly sure why—unless you are thinking that he directs it with the same cast featured in the abominable Fantastic Four movies. Then we could share a barf bag together.

    Offended me? No. But I find the idea appalling, since it truly strikes me as a waste of a unique talent. Would I see an Anderson version of Fantastic Four or Spider-Man? Yes, but I’m really hard-pressed to imagine that I wouldn’t wish he’d spent the same time and effort making something else. It’s like I like the Tim Burton Batman pictures, but I prefer nearly everything else he’s done. I liked Hellboy II a lot, but I’d have prefered a Pan’s Labyrinth or even a Cronos or Devil’s Backbone. I just have no significant interest in superhero movies as such.

  65. davidf

    “I pretty much detest Facebook”

    Isn’t facebook pretty much and multi-player online video game with a mumblecore storyline? From the little I’ve gathered about you, Ken, I don’t think I’d be able to come up with something I’d expect you to detest more.

  66. Ken Hanke

    Isn’t facebook pretty much and multi-player online video game with a mumblecore storyline? From the little I’ve gathered about you, Ken, I don’t think I’d be able to come up with something I’d expect you to detest more.

    I’ve never thought about it that way, but it’s not a bad description. I kind of got suckered into it by a friend who wanted my opinion on whether someone on there was real or not. To find out, I had to join. Then my friend was all enthused, telling me, “We can send messages to each other on here,” the advantage of which was — and is — lost on me, since we already had/have each other’s e-mail. I did reconnect with a couple of people through it (and we promptly took it to e-mail and telephone), so it has that going for it, but I hardly ever go there unless something ends up in my e-mail that makes me think I need to respond. And I have been known to make snarky comments to people I know well enough to make snarky comments to.

  67. Dread P. Roberts

    I believe you’re local, but I’ve no clue as to whether or not personal interaction would be viable, and I would miss interacting with you, too. And so on.

    First off, I’m glad that you enjoy the interaction; I (obviously) wouldn’t want to be an annoyance. Secondly, yes, I’m local. I live in Weaverville (the north side of Asheville), but I completely see your point.

    I might note that some of this comes down to not much liking games in general—maybe the odd game of chess, but not often.

    I love playing chess on occasion. For my efforts, I want a game that will stimulate and challenge me mentally. I have an aversion to games that rely on the element of luck, which seems to oust a majority of games. I just don’t like not having control of the outcome. That is not fun to me. If I loose I want it to be my fault.

    I’d far rather simply talk or watch something or listen to something and discuss it.

    I can agree with that, on the basis that I usually derive more pleasure from an intellectually stimulating, and/or humorous conversation. Perhaps it is because (in theory) one is merely sharing the experience, without the addition of competing for some form of superiority.

    Movies can challenge us without competition.

  68. irelephant

    Where to now, you ask? I don’t know. But what I’d like to see is a 9 hour LOTR style adaptation of Ulysses directed by Alfonso Cuaron in three long continuous takes…

    It will be interesting with more movies being shot with digital video to see what becomes of films…er, movies in the next ten years. If Avatar is any indication of where we’re headed then headaches will be the rule for the 10’s.

    For this year I’m anticipating Julie Taymore’s Tempest and Burton’s Wonderland, among others.

    Rumors of an Across the Universe sequel are titillating. And I just read something about Burton possibly adapting the Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty for the screen, that I would be excited about.

    I’m hoping Burton gets the Dark Shadows adaptation off the ground, even though you can’t throw a blood drained corpse in this town without hitting a new vampire film. jeez! And let’s not even start talking about the vast quantity of vampire books taking over your local book store.

    So, really, what’s next…perhaps after the vampire fad there’ll be a huge surge of interest and obsession for movies that center on the fantastic and dashing lives and loves of octogenarians…that is, real octogenarians, not vampire octogenarians that look youthful because they’re immortal, and hang around high schools and hit on teenagers – then preach abstinence. Creepy, truly creepy…where’s Peter O’Toole when you need him? Now, there’s an Octogenarian has the courage of his convictions when hitting on teenagers, and isn’t afraid to show his age.

    And, with a bow, Goodnight…

  69. davidf

    “what I’d like to see is a 9 hour LOTR style adaptation of Ulysses directed by Alfonso Cuaron in three long continuous takes…”

    I would watch that.

    Also, I’m with you on Taymor’s TEMPEST and Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but I have to admit, I’m getting more and more nervous about ALICE. Only recently did I venture to look up who wrote the screenplay. Before, I had assumed that Burton had written it, but now I see it was Linda Woolverton. As far as I can find, her only solo work on a screenplay was for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and even then, the story was written by commitee. I don’t know how that makes me feel. I’m starting to worry that this is going to be like AVATAR: visually stunning with a crappy script.

  70. Ken Hanke

    First off, I’m glad that you enjoy the interaction; I (obviously) wouldn’t want to be an annoyance. Secondly, yes, I’m local. I live in Weaverville (the north side of Asheville), but I completely see your point.

    I don’t believe we’ve ever met, which isn’t all that surprising, I suppose, but it’s kind of regretable. Still, it’s part and parcel of the whole logistics thing, which is to say that one way and another all of us seem to have time restraints — and that’s what makes the ability to interact on here kinda nice.

  71. Ken Hanke

    But what I’d like to see is a 9 hour LOTR style adaptation of Ulysses directed by Alfonso Cuaron in three long continuous takes…

    Something tells me you’d get more out of imagining such a thing than actually experiencing it.

    Now, there’s an Octogenarian has the courage of his convictions when hitting on teenagers, and isn’t afraid to show his age.

    I don’t think O’Toole has much choice about showing his age. What’s he going to do? Try to pass for 70?

  72. Dread P. Roberts

    Before, I had assumed that Burton had written it, but now I see it was Linda Woolverton.

    I don’t know, I can’t imagine that Burton would direct a movie if the script didn’t meet his standards, and satisfy him completely. He’s just not that kind of a director. We shall see.

  73. Ken Hanke

    I don’t know, I can’t imagine that Burton would direct a movie if the script didn’t meet his standards, and satisfy him completely. He’s just not that kind of a director. We shall see.

    I’m reasonably certain that Burton has never written the screenplays for any of his films. (The stories or characters are sometimes his.) That does not mean that he the screenplays weren’t written to his specifications and required his approval. The largely unified tone of his body of work certainly suggests that.

  74. davidf

    “I’m reasonably certain that Burton has never written the screenplays for any of his films.”

    I guess that’s true. Thanks for the encouragement. I really WANT to be excited.

  75. irelephant

    “I don’t think O’Toole has much choice about showing his age. What’s he going to do? Try to pass for 70?”

    True enough. Tongue in cheeck or no – I still admire his bravery on that account. ‘twould be so easy theoretically for him to tell those blushing high school girls he’s only 71. What I’m saying is that he’s so refreshingly un-hollywood despite being British.

    “Something tells me you’d get more out of imagining such a thing than actually experiencing it”

    You may be on to something. I can’t really imagine that anyone could adapt Ulysses sucessfully, making it compelling and entertaining while at the same time being its own work of art. But I’m open to being wrong.

  76. Me

    The films im looking forward to this year so far are Chris Nolan’s Inception, Noah Bombauch’s Greenberg, and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island.

  77. Sean Williams

    I won’t say that the videogame is a waste of time, though it is for me personally.

    I actually avoid videogames for the very reasons you describe below. But I’m not convinced that interactivity and artistry are mutually exclusive.

    And believe it or not, I do sympathize with your difficulties with comics. I can imagine their graphic design in motion just as cartographers can see three-dimensional shapes in the squiggles of topographical maps, which are to me unintelligible. Both faculties are difficult to teach.

    But I find the idea appalling, since it truly strikes me as a waste of a unique talent.

    I tend to agree for the simple reason that I dislike superheroes, but my inner auteurist feels that no film is a waste of talent if the director is passionate about it, since his talent is largely defined by his facility in creating the films he wants to create.

  78. Ken Hanke

    You may be on to something. I can’t really imagine that anyone could adapt Ulysses sucessfully, making it compelling and entertaining while at the same time being its own work of art. But I’m open to being wrong.

    I’m holding out for an All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! version of Finnegan’s Wake.

  79. davidf

    “I’m holding out for an All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! version of Finnegan’s Wake.”

    I would watch that, too. Paging Mr. Gondry, I think we have a project for you.

  80. irelephant

    “I’m holding out for an All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! version of Finnegan’s Wake.”

    Now that is an idea I can get behind. They really should use that idea as a template for Transformers 3. I for one want to see Optimus Prime dancing while singing some cracked out joycean songs. Just take Rob Marshall off the next pirates flick and stick him on that project and we may have something for next years top ten list. Hell, even Oscar couldn’t ignore that.

  81. Me

    Someone already turned Ulysses into a film in 1967 and it won an Academy Award. I’ve never seen it so i couldn’t say one way or another if its any good.

  82. Sean Williams

    I can’t really imagine that anyone could adapt Ulysses sucessfully, making it compelling and entertaining while at the same time being its own work of art. But I’m open to being wrong.

    Does The Brothers Bloom count?

  83. Ken Hanke

    But I’m not convinced that interactivity and artistry are mutually exclusive.

    Neither am I, but I’m equally unconvinced that it’s desirable.

    And believe it or not, I do sympathize with your difficulties with comics. I can imagine their graphic design in motion just as cartographers can see three-dimensional shapes in the squiggles of topographical maps, which are to me unintelligible.

    One of my largest problems with comics is that they are never — so far as I’m concerned — a true blending of words and images. Yes, you have the words and, yes, you have the images, but do they ever actually fuse into a unified whole? Not really. You can read the words or you can look at the image, but you really can’t do both at the same time. This drawback — and it is a huge one for me — is not one I find in any other medium.

    I tend to agree for the simple reason that I dislike superheroes, but my inner auteurist feels that no film is a waste of talent if the director is passionate about it, since his talent is largely defined by his facility in creating the films he wants to create.

    Let us say a “squandering” of talent then. I’m a pretty solid auteurist (though I don’t believe the auteur is invariably the director), I have a hard time buying that John Ford’s The Informer isn’t a considerably better use of his time and talent than Wee Willie Winkie with Shirley Temple.

  84. Ken Hanke

    Just take Rob Marshall off the next pirates flick

    After the box office dud that was Nine, I’m surprised he is employable in any capacity.

  85. Me

    Someone made Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake into films in the 60’s. I cant say if they’re worth watching or not i haven’t seen either. According to allmovie though Finnegan’s Wake is 4 stars and Ulysses is 3 stars and won an Academy Award.

  86. Ken Hanke

    Someone made Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake into films in the 60’s. I cant say if they’re worth watching or not i haven’t seen either. According to allmovie though Finnegan’s Wake is 4 stars and Ulysses is 3 stars and won an Academy Award

    Ulysses got a very limited release — from one of those short-lived distributors that tried to go head-to-head with the big companies — and I think it was only nominatetd for an Oscar (screenplay). It’s unclear whether Finnegan’s Wake actually ever found a distributor. I’ve never seen either one, but I remember the reviews for Ulysses as not being very enthusiastic. It, however, is available on DVD if anyone’s interested. Finnegan’s Wake seems not to be out on any video format.

  87. davidf

    “You can read the words or you can look at the image, but you really can’t do both at the same time. This drawback—and it is a huge one for me—is not one I find in any other medium.”

    Have you ever seen the work of Eric Drooker? His books FLOOD! and BLOODSONG are graphic novels without works. You might find them interesting in light of this discussion. That’s not necessarily a defense of comics, though, because doing comics without words is a very limited art form, but one with interesting possibilities that may interest you more that the average comic.

    I know that I’ve seen comics that incorporated the words as part of the artwork instead of just separating all of the words into little bubbles, and done so in a way that would only work well in that medium, but I unfortunately can’t think of any good examples at the moment.

    Dave McKean strikes me as a comic artist whose work comes off better on the page than it does on film. He’s done a lot of work with Neil Gaiman (MR. PUNCH, VIOLENT CASES, WHITE NOISE) and put out at least one graphic novel that he wrote called CAGES. He also made the film MIRROR MASK, which replicated a lot of his visual ideas in a film medium, and I was left feeling like those ideas worked better on the page.

    I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan, and I always loved THE SANDMAN series for its storylines when I was a kid, but I’ll be the first to admit that the series often had crappy artwork. The artists rotated, and sometimes it was good, sometimes not. I think a lot of the unevenness to comics results from the monthly deadlines. Too much comic art is crap because it is rushed.

  88. davidf

    Also, making a film out of Finnegans Wake doesn’t make any sense to me. It can only exist in the written form with all elements of sound and sight and atmosphere left to the mind of the reader. At the same time, if anyone attempts such an impossible task, I’d want to see what they came up with. I enjoy seeing people attempt the impossible.

  89. Uncle Charley

    I know that I’ve seen comics that incorporated the words as part of the artwork instead of just separating all of the words into little bubbles, and done so in a way that would only work well in that medium, but I unfortunately can’t think of any good examples at the moment.

    I know I’ve seen some of the same, and for the life of me I can only find a few examples in older issues of Heavy Metal magazines. Not exactly the classiest examples given Eastman and company’s penchant for stories that are composed of hallucinations on a page, borderline pornography, and bestial devastation…or some combination of the three. The Requiem series that depicts Hell with a caste system based on one’s former sins comes to mind, but there are few enough who’d have the stomach to give it a chance. That’s really not something I’m going to mock the rest of the world for, it just means they’ve still got a moral foundation.

    Still, the whole words-as-picture bit of comics is something interesting when integrated properly, but not necessarily good for me. I’ve yet to find a work of art that didn’t seem richer upon repeated viewing, and the separate nature of comics’ words and visuals forces the reader into them. Whether one reads the words or considers the drawings first, the consideration of each panel with both in mind gives a better context to each moment that nothing else can provide with such immediacy. At least, that’s the case for me. I glare with pure vitriol at those who attempt to hit my rewind button and tell them they should have been paying attention the first time so as not to interrupt the flow of the action.

  90. davidf

    “[Dave McKean]’s done a lot of work with Neil Gaiman (MR. PUNCH, VIOLENT CASES, WHITE NOISE)”

    Correction: it’s not WHITE NOISE. I meant to write SIGNAL TO NOISE. It’s definitely worth checking out if you can find a copy.

  91. Tonberry

    I forgot to mention (plus I like to see this screening room hit 100 posts, cause why not?) that I suppose I am in the minority with it comes to this whole argument about video games are more isolating than movies. I don’t quite disagree with that statement, because I have met people who are pretty socially inept at video game conventions (and it is quite amusing to be honest). However, I usually play video games socially (never got into online gaming, guess I’ve always been an arcade kid) and watch movies by myself. Don’t know why, I’ve always been like that. It’s either my friends are busy working, or I don’t have friends who quite share my enthusiasm for film as much as I do. That is actually quite frustrating for me.

  92. Ken Hanke

    I’ve yet to find a work of art that didn’t seem richer upon repeated viewing,

    As long as we’re using the term “work of art” as signifying some level of quality, I agree with you up to this point.

    and the separate nature of comics’ words and visuals forces the reader into them. Whether one reads the words or considers the drawings first, the consideration of each panel with both in mind gives a better context to each moment that nothing else can provide with such immediacy.

    And you completely lose me here — especially that last bit, since so far as I’m concerned a film does this with far more immediacy and effectiveness than something with two parts that never make a single entity. What you describe has no flow whatsoever, and for me is clunky, halting and unappealing. A film — a good one — reveals more of its mysteries on a subsequent viewing, but I cannot think of too many films that can’t be processed on some level in a single viewing — actually blending words and images and, for that matter, music and actual movement into one single experience. I certainly would not much care for movies where I had to back up each scene — or more correctly, each composition — and watch it again in order to follow it. If I have to read the text and then look at the picture or look at the picture and then read the text, that’s close to having to view the same thing twice in my mind.

  93. Ken Hanke

    I don’t quite disagree with that statement, because I have met people who are pretty socially inept at video game conventions (and it is quite amusing to be honest).

    It doesn’t markedly improve in that regard at movie conventions. Think Cord. Think Cord dressing up as a Star Wars character…

    It’s either my friends are busy working, or I don’t have friends who quite share my enthusiasm for film as much as I do. That is actually quite frustrating for me.

    This may or may not say something about your friends, though I grant you logistics and other factors are often to blame.

  94. Dread P. Roberts

    I cannot think of too many films that can’t be processed on some level in a single viewing

    I guess we’re not taking David Lynch’s Inland Empire into consideration? (Just kidding)

    The fact of the matter is that (for me) the beauty of cinema, lies not in one single element, but in the way all of these elements come together, and mold into one unified work of art. (The cinematography is heightened by the musical score, etc…)

  95. Ken Hanke

    The fact of the matter is that (for me) the beauty of cinema, lies not in one single element, but in the way all of these elements come together, and mold into one unified work of art.

    And that — to me — is unique to film.

  96. Uncle Charley

    If I have to read the text and then look at the picture or look at the picture and then read the text, that’s close to having to view the same thing twice in my mind.

    That is, actually, the entire point I wished to make. If such a practice is repellent to you, I certainly don’t judge you or anyone else for it. It’s simply a matter of preference. I will not, however, judge the medium of graphic novels for it either.

    You are right to point out that properly executed film blends a nearly innumerable amount of stimuli in a seamless format, and that comics are “clunky” in comparison. But there is a deliberate nature to that clunkiness that allows its authors to be explicit in their efforts to convey that though there are many moments before and after each their frames, these are the ones of pure, distilled importance. Whether you blink or not, they will remain for consideration.

    Within those moments, comics also bridge a gap between traditionally written fiction and visual art: the telling of thoughts along with the quiet relation of feelings. No black and white words on a page can ever convey a person’s rapture, devastation, indifference, or anything in between as well as a face. This is the shortcoming of the novel and short story, and the boon of film, sculpture, photography, paintings, et cetra. Conversely, the machinations occurring behind all the faces in the world are frequently spelled out with uncanny clarity by those with typewriters, but such practice in visual narrative plunges the viewer from the lofty illusion of occupying another place and time, even if only as an observer.

    The comic and its fragmentation sacrifice such illusions in favor of a more certain understanding of its subjects. Given that those subjects are nearly all susceptible to the trappings of human psychology, that is no small thing.

    With that in mind, I stand and here clarify my earlier claims that in the long run, film and comics exist symbiotically. One states the way things are with singular thoroughness. The other shows the way things got there with myriad subtleties.

    Consider, if you will, Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennett. Whether you first witnessed it on a screen or on pages (and I’m assuming most here have done both, since you seem like a well-read bunch) you certainly have your work cut out for you deciding which was the more effective delivery.

    Now imagine reading their contemplations while looking into the desolate eyes of their self-loathing and mutual misunderstanding. If it seems like too much to take in all at once, don’t be alarmed. That just means you still have feelings. Do try to show a little respect though, ’cause that’s the material the discriminating comic reader seeks out every day in order to better understand others’ perspectives on the human condition.

  97. Ken Hanke

    If such a practice is repellent to you, I certainly don’t judge you or anyone else for it.

    Repellent is too strong. Untenable is nearer the mark. I’m not repelled by it, but I’m not going to indulge in it, because I simply do not think it works.

    Within those moments, comics also bridge a gap between traditionally written fiction and visual art: the telling of thoughts along with the quiet relation of feelings. No black and white words on a page can ever convey a person’s rapture, devastation, indifference, or anything in between as well as a face.

    I might agree with that — and only might because I’ve seen words with such precision that I think images would have diluted power (emotional and intellectual) of what was being said — but I have yet to see comic book art that got anywhere near the degree of expressiveness this would require. In fact, nearly every comic book or graphic novel I’ve had thrust on me by persons interested in converting me to the cause has struck me as depicting faces in a willfully ugly manner that I find very off-putting.

    I’m not saying you don’t make an interesting case. I’m saying I don’t agree with it — or that it simply doesn’t persuade me. I’m still convinced of the inherent superiority of film (and novels and theatre).

  98. davidf

    “I’m not repelled by it, but I’m not going to indulge in it, because I simply do not think it works.”

    I’ve noticed that often when you make statements about whether or not something works artistically, Ken, you’re good at adding the words “for me” at the end. This is one of the things that I really appreciate about you as a critic. Is this one of those times where “for me” should be added to the end of the sentence, or do you not think the words and images combo of comics works at all? If it’s the latter, I’d have to disagree with you, because if it didn’t work, no one would buy comics.

    “I have yet to see comic book art that got anywhere near the degree of expressiveness this would require. In fact, nearly every comic book or graphic novel I’ve had thrust on me by persons interested in converting me to the cause has struck me as depicting faces in a willfully ugly manner that I find very off-putting.”

    I can definitely sympathize with you here. I remember realizing when I was 12 or so and was really getting into comic books that they had something special in common with another art form I was enjoying at the time: the music video. Both are forms with many inherent limitations, but when done well, they captivated me. Unfortunately, they were so rarely done well that I had a next to impossible time finding any really good ones. Most comic books rely on lame superheros fighting lame villains, both drawn with a quality that screams out “what do you expect, I had a deadline!” and most music videos rely on boring shots of a lame band all dressed up and playing their instruments in front of the camera. Despite the rampant mediocrity, comic artists like Dave McKean and video artists like Michel Gondry have made me very happy that those art forms exist.

  99. Ken Hanke

    Is this one of those times where “for me” should be added to the end of the sentence, or do you not think the words and images combo of comics works at all?

    You can put “for me” on there, since I’m obviously pretty much speaking for myself. I do question, however, if most people who read comics actually go to the lengths of carefully pondering the two elements in quite the way Uncle Charley does. I base this solely on my observations of comic readers of my acquaintance, most — possibly all — of whom only ever refer to the intellectual qualities of the story. Most of the time the only reference to the images themselves are in passing, or, worse, make excuses that the writing is better than the art work.

    I can definitely sympathize with you here. I remember realizing when I was 12 or so and was really getting into comic books that they had something special in common with another art form I was enjoying at the time: the music video. Both are forms with many inherent limitations, but when done well, they captivated me.

    I’m not wholly unsympathetic to either, though I’m definitely mindful of the limitations. Julien Temple’s “Come Dancing” video for the Kinks is, in fact, a perfectly splendid short film. But then it works from a song that lends itself to this treatment. In the main, videos remain a kind of footnote thing for me, even the ones I like, e.g. Ken Russell’s “Phantom of the Opera” video, which in many ways is more daring and original than Schumacher’s feature (and bear in mind, I really like Schumacher’s feature). Still, I’m not likely to put Ken’s video on a par with his feature length work. The same is true of his opera video of “Nessum Dora” from the film Aria, but it’s a film that only attains its full power if you’re familiar with the impetus behind it — and that’s not likely unless you know the man personally.

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