In Film and Television on October 24, 2009 at 12:52 AM
If you visit this site, and you enjoyed Sam Rockwell’s performance in Moon earlier this year…you’re probably me. Or maybe Tom. (He doesn’t love you like I do, Mr. Rockwell!) But if you’re anyone else: apparently director Duncan Jones has thrown his support behind an online campaign to score Rockwell an Oscar nomination. The petition’s here–wouldn’t hurt, right? (While you’re at it, people are FED UP with the Hillsboro, IL McDonald’s.)
In Comics on October 20, 2009 at 1:08 AM
Motion comics are the comic book industry’s most visible foray into new media since, well, maybe ever. These items, playable in iTunes or on most internet browsers, are more viewed than read. True to the name, characters in motion comics move around in panels, and word balloon dialogue is performed by voice actors.
Of all the major comic book companies, Marvel has invested the most in motion comics. A few months ago, popular writer Brian Michael Bendis‘ new Spider-Woman series was launched simultaneously via motion comics and print issues. Spider-Woman is available via iTunes, and can be found on Hulu and YouTube for a limited time as well. Spider-Woman is a curious choice for such a large-scale push–the character has a backstory so convoluted that I can’t see non-comic readers warming to the title, and Bendis’ name is only a draw among confirmed Marvelites. Marvel’s next motion comic series, an adaptation of Joss Whedon’s tenure on Astonishing X-Men, seems like a more lucrative move (even if all Whedon’s dialogue reads like Gilmore Girls for geeks).
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In Film and Television on October 16, 2009 at 10:24 PM
The Intangible Fancy
What We Know: The Intangible Fancy is a criminal who presumably can alter his state of matter. He’s closely modeled after the Shadow Thief, enemy of D.C. Comics’ Hawkman, and most likely marks the only time anyone has bothered to parody the Shadow Thief.
Great Name or Great Costume: Great Name.
Likelihood of Reappearance: Low. Like Power Plug (see below), Intangible Fancy has helped fill the background in a few Venture Brothers episodes, but there’s no indication the character will be developed any further. Nor should he be, probably.
The Power Plug
What We Know: Very little. Power Plug typically appears when a group of villains is seen doing unvillainlike things, such as attending the Venture family yard sale.
Great Name or Great Costume: Great Costume.
Likelihood of Reappearance: Medium. The Power Plug is and will remain a background character, but has a better outfit than any other background characters.
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In Just Graduated on October 12, 2009 at 8:15 AM
From the Abstract: The properties of knits come from the nonlinear, three-dimensional kinematics of long, inter-looping yarns, and despite significant advances in cloth animation we still do not know how to simulate knitted fabric faithfully. Existing cloth simulators mainly adopt elastic-sheet mechanical models inspired by woven materials, focusing less on the model itself than on important simulation challenges such as efficiency, stability, and robustness. We define a new computational model for knits in terms of the motion of yarns, rather than the motion of a sheet. Movie Link.
Who: Jonathan Kaldor, Doug L. James, and Steve Marschner.
Real World Application: When Toy Story 8 comes around, following Woody and Buzz Lightyear as they go to the local Salvation Army resell it store, the second-hand sweaters and cardigans they’re thrown against will look so real you’ll think that you might have once owned the sweaters.
In Film and Television on October 6, 2009 at 12:35 AM
A Serious Man is the most unrelentingly bleak movie Joel and Ethan Coen have made. This is not why it’s a great film, though the film is great. Throughout A Serious Man–filmed in the Coens’ native Minnesota–they follow Larry Gopnick, a middle-class Jewish academic, as he faces accumulating marital, professional, and financial problems. Although the movie’s setting is awfully specific (it’s also a period piece, set in 1967), most of the major concerns of the last decade-or-so of “mainstream indie” filmmaking are touched on at some point (family, suburbia, academia, death). But the Coens avoid the miserablism of Tood Solondz’s Happiness, the heavy-handedness of Sam Mendes’ American Beauty, and the cluelessness about how families (and professors) talk found in Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages. Their film is an odd synthesis of darkness and humor–not something unique to the Coens’ filmography, but executed with particular gracefulness here. Read the rest of this entry »
In Games on October 5, 2009 at 8:24 PM
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! purports to be a lot of things–a board game, a role-playing game, a morality play. More than any of those things, though, it stands out as one of those rare works that doesn’t just defy such classifications; it redefines them. It’s influences are numerous and easy to spot, yet it never plays like any other game, or unfolds like any other story. It’s a portrait of a bygone era, a celebration of female power, and a condemnation of the societal forces that try to cork that power. Oh, and it’s really, really good.
At its heart, DHSGIT is a Scoob n’ the Gang coming of age story along the lines of Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At the beginning of the game, the player selects a primary avatar, or “queen”, from a list of available characters, and is plopped down in 1920’s-era Brighton High School to build up her “gang” of henchwomen. The school seems dysfunctional enough, but Brighton’s problems run much deeper, and extend much farther, than the girls (or the player) could possibly expect. As the girls leave the schoolyard, mysteries of malfunctioning bleachers give way to malfunctioning police forces, marriages, and social mores. It’s a dark and sordid tale, for sure, (one online retailer even refused to carry it due to its content) but the game’s winning sense of humor cuts through all the black. Like all the best comedies, DHSGIT frees author and audience to stare down some seriously ugly demons, and laugh. Read the rest of this entry »
In Film and Television on October 1, 2009 at 1:04 AM
Three great scenes, from three very different Coen brothers movies:
No Country for Old Men – Downstream Chase
This scene is fun, more than anything else, but it’s an amazing balancing act, too. No Country‘s river chase is fundamentally scary, and fundamentally goofy–suspense is maintained, some levity creeps in, and that dog head keeps bobbing along in the water.
The Hudsucker Proxy – Inventing the Hula Hoop
Ignoring that one character’s contemplation of suicide is a framing device for the whole film, The Hudsucker Proxy might be the most plainly optimistic work the Coens have made. Not their best, but at least a movie by and for people who love movies. This scene is also the Coens at their showiest, but it’s all in the service of glee. (It even makes hula hoops look like fun.)
Barton Fink – “You don’t listen” (specifically 4:55-5:00)
*SPOILERS* John Goodman is never better than when he’s in a Coen brothers movie, and maybe never better than here.