New Life Forms

Remember that ComicCon 2010 buzz about Tron: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski being “the new James Cameron“? After Tron made the rounds he began to look like the new Peter Hyams. And now Kosinki’s latest project, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic graphic novelly action-quest thing called Oblivion, has been scuttled by Disney.

Kosinski, 36, will bounce back and may even make something good some day, but it’s entirely possible that he won’t. He’s one of the gamer/comic-book generation directors (Battle LA‘s Jonathan Liebesman, 35, is another) and I just don’t trust these guys. At all. Their heads are all about hard-drive visions and jizz-flash sensations, and they all seem to have some kind of cheap CG virus running through their veins.

The rap against the early ’70s whiz kids (Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, DePalma, etc.) is that they weren’t bringing any real-life experience to their films — only love of other movies. But in retrospect their output seems quite fertile and meditative compared to that of Kosinski and Leibesman and their ilk — born in the 1970s and reared on the infantile fantasies brought about by Lucas and Spielberg, and nurtured by action figures, video games and computers, and destined to bring so much anguish to the likes of myself.

Everything that I love, admire and cherish about the Spanish and south-of-the-border fraternity (Inarritu, Del Toro, Cuaron, Lubezski, Amenabar, Bayona. etc.) is missing in sound-and-fury empties like Kosinski and Liebesman and their slick-operator elders Guy Ritchie and Michael Bay, et. al. They and the suits who support them at the studios are nothing less than a scourge, a pestilence…the spawn of Hollywood seed pods. And who pays to see their films? The ComicCon culture. This is why I’m not entirely kidding about F4 Phantoms strafing the faithful in San Diego, etc.

As God is my witness I never want to see a dystopian, post-apocalyptic graphic novelly action-quest thing ever again.

78 thoughts on “New Life Forms

  1. Ray DeRousse on said:

    AMEN!

    I grew up on all of the same stuff you mentioned, Jeff. But I must admit that I am SICK TO DEATH of all of it. I spent 20-30 years hungrily swallowing every single event film and special effects extravaganza … and now I can’t even get excited about stuff that I have an vested interest in seeing (like TRON:LEGACY, a sequel to a formative years “classic”).

    I think it’s telling that some of the best loved and most successful films of the last several years have been effects-free dramas (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, for example) or genre films that do not cater obviously to effects (DARK KNIGHT, INCEPTION). AVATAR might be the rule breaker in that theory, although the technological aspects drove a lot of that business.

  2. Michael: I know a lot of young people who yell “get off my lawn you whipper snappers” when said whipper snappers are crapping on it. Some of them very young and some of them likely to do more than yell.

    As Navin Johnson’s father tells him in “The Jerk”:

    “Son, this is shit. And this, is Shinola.”

  3. I think he turned out to be Kerry Conran.

    It’s too bad, Tron Legacy was halfway there, which is more than you can say for many things. But boy did it need a script polish to make it exciting and fun; right when it should have delivered some kicky thrills, it turned into everyone moping on a spaceship.

    But yeah, everything Jeff (and Ray) says about non-special effects movies is why I dug The Lincoln Lawyer so much, and it’s not even all that good. But god, it takes place on the actual planet I live on and has movie stars with easy charm, and it’s amazing what a relief that feels like after so many of these ponderous, headbanging special effects things.

  4. You list Del Toro, as if his filmography isn’t just vapid film after another, just so we could see what kind of monster makeup and effects he’s able to produce. And that mediocre filmography includes two comic book movies, and one that plays out like a video game.

    Legacy wasn’t a bad movie. The story was interesting, but the action was dull. Its script was fine, except for the sunshine line. Its certainly better than Black Swan’s.

    No one was calling Kosinski the next Cameron but you. And I bet if Cameron was starting out now, and put out something like T2, people would complain about it’s cheesy script and focus on the large set-pieces.

  5. “genre films that do not cater obviously to effects (DARK KNIGHT, INCEPTION)”

    So all the set-pieces in TDK didn’t happen? They didn’t use that to sell the movie? Inception’s marketing was to keep the plot under wraps, but the trailer that got everyone interested had a street folding on top of itself, a train bursting through on a city street and group of people floating in a room with wires in their arms. Avatar is more than a rule breaker, it’s exactly what you’re complaining about.

    And don’t skip over the Transformers movies which are huge worldwide. The first even garnered an A + Cinemascore, and a B+ for its sequel.

  6. Amen from me too!

    michael – you’re calling Wells and old man for not liking CG comic-con shit is like calling someone an old man for not liking Kei$ha and Justin Bieber. (“Come on, you old geezer!… Get with it!…. What do YOU like, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds and all those other stupid, old-man fossils!?)

    Also… I don’t think it’s the “suits that support them”. The suits ARE running the show. These guys are just willing dupes who’ll dutifully carry out these 2 hour toy commercials without bugging the studio about “artsy-fartsy shit”.

  7. CINEMASCORE! Ha!

    Like that means anything. The only time I’ve ever seen ANY movie get below a B on Cinemascore was “Eyes Wide Shut”… which hilariously got a D- or F from all the freaked-out mall-goers.

  8. Amen.

    Not every film has to reveal some deep insight into the human soul, but it at very least shouldn’t crush it at every opportunity. Adventure is great, but there has to be some characters and an interesting plot that eases you into the CGI.

    I’d say folks like Kosinski and Snyder are fulfilling the same role as Howard Hawks or Anthony Mann or Don Siegel were in their time. The key difference is that the new guys have no idea how to mete out the suspense and tell a coherent story.

  9. “CINEMASCORE! Ha!”

    I don’t care for it, but I’ve seen it referenced so much in the podcasts with Contrino and Stone.

    I’ve never seen someone hate something so much, yet can’t refrain from watching.

  10. To be fair to Kosinski, he’s NOT like these other guys. I don’t know if he has any storytelling acumen, but his heart isn’t in explosions, it’s in architecture. In fact, he’s currently an adjunct professor of architecture at Columbia University. That alone makes him at least as interesting as any director working today; whether that potential translates to an unique vision remains to be seen.

  11. Short version: “My readers suck.”

    So all the set-pieces in TDK didn’t happen? They didn’t use that to sell the movie? Inception’s marketing was to keep the plot under wraps, but the trailer that got everyone interested had a street folding on top of itself, a train bursting through on a city street and group of people floating in a room with wires in their arms. Avatar is more than a rule breaker, it’s exactly what you’re complaining about.

    With TDK and Inception, the marketing value of the effects was independent to the *purpose* of those effects: to tell stories otherwise impossible to tell without those effects.

    Avatar gets a *partial* pass for being a ground-breaker technologically. The cliched story wasn’t just unoriginal, it was terminally so, but as always, Cameron delivers the eye-candy unlike any other director today. However, unlike his other great eye-candy films (such as Titanic or Terminator 2), I think that once the effects outpace those in Avatar, fewer people are going to want to revisit it compared to those other films, which had far better stories (even Titanic, for being as cliched as it was, holds up because it’s an *effective* cliche, i.e. you have to be a serious curmudgeon to hate pulpy romance).

    Great effects make a great movie timeless, but great effects can’t do the same for a bad movie. The former endures, even when the effects are superseded by technological progress, because the effects *serve the story*, not the other way around. The latter *can* be effective, even entertaining, but it rarely ages well– it’s a “gee whiz” thrill ride soon rendered obsolete by the next gee whiz thrill ride.

    This distinction, no matter how many times it’s repeated in slow English, remains completely alien to Jeff, who just lumps everything into two categories, “Movies *I*Like” and “Movies *You* Like”.

  12. “With TDK and Inception, the marketing value of the effects was independent to the *purpose* of those effects: to tell stories otherwise impossible to tell without those effects. ”

    And how would you have Kosinski tell the story of Tron, without doing what he did visually? Most of the complaints I saw people have with the story were spurious. As if they didn’t even watch the movie.

    I don’t agree with the story of Avatar line but whatever. That aside, the action in it is some of Cameron’s best in his entire career. Not to mention it’s already creating outlets outside of the films (conventions, soon to be novels etc.). People will always love action movies, so they will no doubt more people will (re)visit it more than they would Titanic. (Particularly Cameron fans.)

  13. Man, Jeff phones one in using the “template” setting of the brand-new Final Wells Pro 2.0 software, and it still gets people up in arms.

  14. This is a movie blog (well, occasionally), Travis — why chastise someone for going to a multiplex and taking a chance? Sadly, the big-screen selections in many cities are quite limited. At least they went out and saw something!

    “It’s too bad, Tron Legacy was halfway there, which is more than you can say for many things. But boy did it need a script polish to make it exciting and fun; right when it should have delivered some kicky thrills, it turned into everyone moping on a spaceship.”

    Yes. This. I have a feeling guys like Kosinski, Blomkamp, and Duncan Jones will be heavy-hitters in H-Wood before you know it. They’ve already established strong visual styles in their debuts, and a genuine interest in modern themes while paying their proper respects to the “classic” cinema of the past. In particular, Jones — if early reviews of Source Code are to be believed — seems well on his way to being Christopher Nolan. Wasn’t even a fan of D9, but Blomkamp’s really young — the sky’s the limit.

    You could probably also put a few others — like Marc Webb — on this list, but I personally would like to see more first.

  15. “you’re calling Wells and old man for not liking CG comic-con shit is like calling someone an old man for not liking Kei$ha and Justin Bieber.”

    It’s Ke$ha, not Kei$ha — you thought once you put in that $ you were out of the woods, didn’t you? “Come on, you old geezer!… Get with it!” ;)

  16. He may not have been great, but none of the guys you mention are anywhere near as talented as Peter Hyams. The man has made solid, journeyman entertainment that’s put asses in seats for thirty years.

  17. Making the leap from MOVIE BRATS! (Spielberg, Coppola, Bodganovich, Scorsese, DePalma, etc) to this ODD assemblage of guys (Bay’s been directing for nearly two decades, Ritchie’s a British crime guy pre-Holmes)…

    It kind of leaves out the important connective issue of the guys who bowed in the early ’80s through the mid ’90s; There’s sort of a mini-generation in there consisting of the New Wave (mostly British) ad guys like the Scott Brothers, Lyne, Parker, and Mann; the firebrand, quintessentially American blowhard maniacs like Oliver Stone and Spike Lee (and maybe Abel Ferrara); the A-list, upscale Spielberg/Lucas disciples like Cameron, Ron Howard and Zemeckis and to some degree Reiner and Levinson; and of course indie weirdos like Lynch or Soderbergh, whom we can pretty much leave out.

    But a lot of those guys still made the American fantasy movie of the day; Just back then, it was either cop-movie thriller or serial killer drama or Stephen King adaptation; A big-ticket summer blockbuster was a mismatched buddy duo running through a subway platform or racing taxis through snowy Chicago streets for Peter Hyams, or a remote-controlled car chasing Dirty Harry, or Riggs and Murtaugh doing shtick with Joe Pesci… New hot directors wanted to make the next Year of the Dragon or Angel Heart or Manhunter, not the next X-Men.

    Much as you wanna blame the “new” crop of directors (again, Bay? For year 17?), it’s sort of a matter of what sells and what the audience wants to see. I’d MUCH RATHER every hot new up-and-comer was champing at the bit to be the next Antoine Fuqua and doing cop and military potboilers instead of more dork-ass superheroes in tights, but it’s not directors force-feeding an unwilling populace some niche fantasy version of their Atari-playing childhood in E.T.-looking suburbia…. It’s a whole country of grown men playing video games and watching FUCKING CARTOONS and, as Bill Maher awesome says, “wearing baseball hates when they go out… to GET LAID.”

    It’s amazing how QUAINT it was even 10, 15 years ago, when a nascent Bay epic might’ve been some dumb cop movie or a king-dick Tony or Ridley Scott “epic” blockbuster was some fevered shotgun action in Mexico or Japan.

    For years I was thinking this superhero/comic book thing was SOME kind of phase that would blow over, that it was some weird reaction to “THE POST 9/11 WORLD!” as Glieberman would trumpet, but no… It’s just apparently who we are and what we want from now on.

    They’re never again going to stop making comic book movies, adults are never again going to NOT see CARTOONS, and most new directors will just be biding time till they get some franchise of funny books.

    Jeff’s not going to win this, ever.

  18. So obvious I started that post thinking I was gonna make some grandiose point, then got midway through and totally lost the thread.

    What a douche.

  19. James Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar were great movies, but you can’t say the plot, characters, and dialogue were staggeringly original. It’s just that the marriage of the technical with the story was so perfect, it makes up for everything else.

    If James Cameron had directed Tron Legacy with that same cast and script, do you really think it would’ve been that much better?

    I still hold a fond spot for Tron Legacy in my heart. I thought it’d diminish, but it hasn’t. One of the rare movies where seeing it in IMAX 3-D really was worth it.

  20. Seriously.

    Joseph Kosinski, you get Olivia Wilde in a fetish wig and awesome techno music.

    Innaritu, you get Javier Bardem eating cereal for three hours while his bipolar wife talks about her giant nose.

    I rest my case.

  21. “He may not have been great, but none of the guys you mention are anywhere near as talented as Peter Hyams. The man has made solid, journeyman entertainment that’s put asses in seats for thirty years.”

    Yeah, I don’t mean to pile on here, but COME ON. At this point, I think it’s pretty fair to say we have NO idea what the ceiling of Kosinski is — he could be Tarsem, he could be Kubrick (yeah, I said it).

    I don’t think we should hold the fact that he was commissioned to be a mercenary director-for-hire — with allegedly no say over the story/script — on a reimagining of a cheesy ’80s lark. Everybody has to start somewhere (Fear and Desire, anyone?).

    Dislike it all you want, but he brought unusual something to the proceedings there. The world-building was really impressive (didn’t know about his architecture background until reading this thread, but it makes total sense), and there seemed to be a refreshing lack of pandering tinged with a sincere intellectual curiosity.

    Again, I didn’t really love the film — the script has holes that become craters by the time the flick’s over — but I’m not ready to write that dude off yet, not by a long shot.

  22. lol

    “Eloi, I’d rather have Outland, 2010, or Narrow Margin over sequels of Tron or remakes of The Black Hole. ”

    Forgot Sudden Death, which has the best mascot death put to screen.

  23. “Eloi, I’d rather have Outland, 2010, or Narrow Margin over sequels of Tron or remakes of The Black Hole.”

    Yeah, I’m gonna call foul here. If you’re going to make a comparison, at least make it a fair one: Hyams’ first two films were Busting (huh?) and Our Time (wha?). They might very well be okay flicks for all I know, but you can’t just go cherry-picking through a nearly 40 year-old filmography and compare the peaks to someone who’s just starting out and trying to make a name for himself.

    Bullshit and you know it (Keitel)!

  24. horrible script aside, i thought the action sequences in battle los angeles were outfuckingstanding. i’d see it again in the theater if i had the time just for that freeway over-pass bit.

  25. I just find it commendable and impressive that Jeff has gone to the trouble to see Lubezski’s directorial efforts, as he implies above. You HAVE done that, right, Jeff?

  26. OK Kaned, his first is Tron=fail. The second one up is supposed to be The Black Hole re-make. That sounds wonderful, maybe we’ll get a new twist on the kooky, lovable, flying robot. Third one is set to be a remake of Logan’s Run, or has that been scrapped?

    I hated Tron and his pick of follow ups is crap, so…

  27. So Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Godfather I & II and Apocalypse Now only seem “fertile and meditative” relative to Tron: Legacy and Battle LA? Wow, you must really hate movies Wells.

  28. “OK Kaned, his first is Tron=fail. The second one up is supposed to be The Black Hole re-make. That sounds wonderful, maybe we’ll get a new twist on the kooky, lovable, flying robot. Third one is set to be a remake of Logan’s Run, or has that been scrapped?

    I hated Tron and his pick of follow ups is crap, so…”

    Look, I hate remakes every bit as much as you — probably even moreso. But if this board was around in 1984, I’m sure we’d be pretty equally dismissive of anyone trying to film a follow-up to 2001, too.

    Yeah, The Black Hole will most likely suck — but who knows? I think the idea for a Tron TV series could be promising, but the flick to really keep your eyes peeled from him would be Archangels, based on an original s.f. screenplay.

    As far as I know Logan’s Run is on track with that Bronson director and Alex Garland adapting, so I’m not ready to dismiss it quite yet. Love the original, but it actually strikes me as a movie that could benefit from an update.

  29. I think he turned out to be Kerry Conran.

    It’s too bad, Tron Legacy was halfway there, which is more than you can say for many things. But boy did it need a script polish to make it exciting and fun; right when it should have delivered some kicky thrills, it turned into everyone moping on a spaceship.

    But yeah, everything Jeff (and Ray) says about non-special effects movies is why I dug The Lincoln Lawyer so much, and it’s not even all that good. But god, it takes place on the actual planet I live on and has movie stars with easy charm, and it’s amazing what a relief that feels like after so many of these ponderous, headbanging special effects things.

  30. Alex Garland should make you nervous more than anything.

    Also from the sounds of this Oblivion movie, it seemed like nothing Disney normally attaches itself too. I’m sure someone else will pick this up.

  31. Alex Garland has never written anything entirely uninteresting or without merit, whether it be in novel, screenplay, tv series, or video game form.

    And Never Let Me Go is a masterpiece.

    I’m pretty sure I like D.Z. better than Rashad.

  32. Oh brother. His insipid scripts and ludicrous almost laughable third acts really have done a number on you.

    The Island had more emotional honesty in one scene than Never Let Me Go had in 2 hours.

  33. That last citizenkaned post sounded so good, let its meaning sink in as you contemplate a picture that was almost completely and totally left out of the Awards Season hullabaloo:

    “Never Let Me Go” is a masterpiece.

    Which, jumping from the posts about the Malick film, is an object lesson worth repeating:

    Masterpieces generally aren’t very easy to sell.

    Especially if you shut down your “masterpiece” division a while back when you realized how much you needed to know and much you needed to work and care and how much less money you’d turn at the earnstiles after all that knowing and working and caring.

    “Never Let Me Go” is a masterpiece.

    If that statement is even kind of right, it’s mean one of the best films of 2010 missed its opportunity to connect with the public and was then overlooked almost completely by the critical/journo community that elevates Awards Season hopefuls and the industry voters who carve the names on the guildies and the goldies.

    “Never Let Me Go” is a masterpiece.

    If “Never Let Me Go” is a masterpiece, or even in the same area code as masterpiece, then what just happened?

    And what’s to stop it from happening again?

  34. Okay, I just realized I’ve once and for all reached my breaking point on “geek” things. I went to see Paul with my father, actually on his suggestion, and HE ENJOYED IT VASTLY MORE THAN I DID. I found it often cringeworthy, relying too much on reference jokes and geek wish-fulfillment fantasies. And then I realized I wasn’t really one of the faithful. I would never go to Comic-Con. I would never write a thousand word rant on a minor detail about Star Trek. I would never play Dungeons and Dragons. I would never even own a superhero comic book.I would never purchase action figures (hell, I never even owned any action figures outside of dinosaurs). I would never get into a discussion over which of various fictional characters from different fictional universes would win in a fight.

    And what’s more than that, I feel seriously creeped out by those people, and I’m not sure I can really tolerate them anymore.

  35. I actually saw PAUL yesterday… Agree that I don’t relate to those geek types, wouldn’t go to ComicCon… But still thought the movie was sweet and enjoyable enough (if INSTANTLY forgettable). Actually thought its “references” were mostly of the broad, formative, not-THAT-Geeky Spielberg variety– the whole second half of the movie is a pretty explicit and well-shot homage to ’77-’82 Spielberg– so it wasn’t like EVERY joke hinged on some arcane comic book bullshit I wouldn’t get.

    Actually it might be my favorite Pegg/Frost movie. I’m thinking it’s Wright who’s the element in that mix I don’t enjoy.

  36. Kaned: “Kosinski could be the new Kubrick.”

    Wow. Remind me never to pay any attention to your posts on here ever again.

    I have a lot of sympathy for Jeff’s viewpoint. Like him I feel that the current crop of action blockbusters are woeful. Of course Super 8 will be out in a few weeks and we’ll be able to thrill to “the new Spielberg” showing everyone else how it’s done.

  37. Guys, let’s not forget the elephant in the room here. In the era of the great movie dramas, the 30s and 40s, they didn’t have to contend with television. While television was around from the 50s forward, this is the first generation that has had to contend with a home viewing experience that is equal, if not superior, to the average multiplex.

    Cameron recognized this a decade ago. The reason we see so many special effects driven extravaganzas is that they are the films that benefit most from the big screen. Comedies and horror films also do well because of the communal experience.

    Smaller, character-driven dramas gain little, if anything, from the theater experience. In fact, I’d rather watch The Social Network at home, where there’s no one around to bother me and I can rewind to catch any of the rapid-fire dialog I might have missed. Jesse Eisenberg’s deposition plays just fine on a 40 inch plasma.

    The readers of this site might not recognize it because we’re mostly “movie catholics,” but theatrical presentation is in serious, serious trouble. These “theme park rides as movies” aren’t going away. If anything, they’re only going to get more prevalent.

  38. That Peter Hyams crack had me actually laughing out loud. Brilliant Jeff, brilliant. Such a deadly putdown.

    Finally saw Tron: Legacy, and yes its absolute rubbish but then I remember another commercials/music video guy who also started with a pretty awful scifi sequel – a certain David Fincher.

    Oblivion was never a good fit at Disney. Will he stay on the Black Hole? He seems totally unsuited to it.

    So while I agree Tron L was one of the worst films I’ve seen in some time, even judged on its own merits, I’ll reserve judgement on him for a while yet.

  39. Lex: Yeah, I finally saw Paul yesterday, too, and thought pretty much the same as you. Was a perfectly enjoyable, low-key comedy. The cast were all funny and it wasn’t nearly as reference-packed or strictly-geeky as I’d been led to believe. A fairly enjoyable experience overall. In fact, when you look at what’s coming up over the next few months, most of what looks half-decent is a comedy. Bad Teacher, Bridesmaids, Your Highness, etc. Certainly looking forward to those more than Thor and Green Lantern.

  40. Actionman: Also enjoyed Battle LA. The cornball script was classic cringe-o-matic, but I dug the action sequences nearly as much as that ultimate relentless combat picture, Black Hawk Down. Even though the concept of aliens hitting the beaches of Santa Monica like some evil analog of D-Day was beyond ridiculous (shoot gazillions of miles through space and then grind it out in the ground with the pissed off, desperate locals–fucknuts dumb from a military operations perspective), the visceral thrill of killing relentless, angry bugs was as good as the mass death of the spindly ones in Verhoeven’s sly Starship Troopers. Good combat scenes get me going, can’t help it. They’re the one type of movie where the “Hollywood machine gun factor” doesn’t apply, because people (things) are actually waved by the thousands of flying rounds. Battle LA, for all its many faults, was good bang-bang fun.

    Back to the subject Wells has posited here, is it possible that Wells is just burnt out? Should a movie guy who hates so many movie genres consider hanging up his boots?

  41. It’s funny how Wells puts his lists together. Like lumping Guy Ritchie in with straight out of effects school whizkids, or putting Lil Kim in his list of short top-tier Hollywood actresses.

  42. Love how Wells keeps his anti-ComicCon comments hitched to a consistent time frame by strafing the geeks with an F4 Phantom. You’d be lucky to find one that can still fly, Jeff. Gotta strafe ‘em with an F-22 and have Predator circle for a few hours to pick off any stragglers.

  43. Kaned: “Kosinski could be the new Kubrick.”

    Wow. Remind me never to pay any attention to your posts on here ever again.

    I have a lot of sympathy for Jeff’s viewpoint. Like him I feel that the current crop of action blockbusters are woeful. Of course Super 8 will be out in a few weeks and we’ll be able to thrill to “the new Spielberg” showing everyone else how it’s done.

  44. “If “Never Let Me Go” is a masterpiece, or even in the same area code as masterpiece, then what just happened?”

    It IS a masterpiece. And sadly, the same thing happened here that happens to a lot of masterpieces, especially science fiction masterpieces. Children of Men BOMBED. Blade Runner BOMBED. Soderbergh’s Solaris BOMBED (and yes, fuck you, it’s a masterpiece). A.I., for the most part, BOMBED.

    I’ll defend all of those films till my dying day. But great films of this ilk largely live in the afterlife, I’m afraid. People aren’t ready for the truly unfamiliar. They want their SF dressed up in cowboy hats.

  45. SyFy was running Children of Men over the weekend. I managed to turn it on during the amazing car scene, which still dazzles. I loved Avatar, but COM is the kind of film that renews my life-long love affair with cinema.

    To link back to an earlier thread, though it fits this topic. I watched 12 Assassins On Demand – I probably won’t get a chance to see it on the big screen. This is not a fantastical, wire-flying Asian medieval fantasy. It is, IMHO, a masterpiece, an homage to the classic samurai film, yet has unmistakable flourishes of Miike’s darker sensibilities used to move the plot. Other than a sequence that uses awful CGI, the climactic scene is a masterpiece of how to shoot and cut action without resorting to frenetic, headache inducing cutting.

  46. The exact point I’d decided I’d had enough of the references in PAUL was when Jason Bateman shot the CB and repeated Han Solo’s line “Was a boring conversation anyway.” And we had so many more to go.

  47. I agree with Well’s basic point (more the Lex version of it, actually) but I’ve got to take umbrage at the usage of the phrase “ComicCon culture.” I’ve gone to the con for the past 11 years, or so (wanted to go since 1980, when it just seemed like the best thing possible to an 11 year old reading about it in the letter pages in the back of the Marvel books) and have watched 50 some odd thousand people and affordable hotel rooms you could book the week before turn into a number artificially held at 150 thousand and no rooms in the whole city for the next year while the current year’s con is going on. Hall H, where the big production stuff is held, didn’t open till’ 2005, holds 7,000 people and, I would estimate that at any given moment greater than 90% of them are people who wouldn’t have known the con existed before 9-11.

    I’m not some geek hipster douchebag who has to hate on all the lookers off the turnip trucks, but the “crowd” you are talking about are the moviegoing public. They are poorly represented at the con by that extra 100,000 that ruined the con experience for the people who the con is for and will one day move on when they stop getting the cultural payoff from being “the first to see…” They are the guys in ball caps and Jerseys who collected sports cards before that market crashed, and want to buy exclusives, get them signed, and sell them on ebay.

    No one is as pissed of at the shitty state of superhero movies as the core comic con crowd. They are geeks, sure, but most have broad based interest sets, understand film, and know how empty these stupid power displays are. The cheering Eloi that cheesed Jeff off so much are mainstream culture parasites who go to cheer for the movie like a sports team, because if it does well, they saw it first, not “real” comic con people (OK, maybe I am a hipster douchebag, but the assholes have totally ruined the con experience, so screw them). If it does poorly, at least they were 50 feet from ScarJo.

    I’d be all for strafing the con if, Sodom and Gomorrah-like, Jeff/God could, you know, tip off the remaining faithful and tell them not to look back. Hmmm, salt. I’d just wait it out if I were you, though. Though superhero movies are here to stay, the hoi palloi dominance isn’t, the movie world will move on (probably to something far worse) and, though I think the con damage is mostly irreparable, maybe the numbers will drop back a little by 7 or 8 years from now, and make it more tolerable.

  48. Kaned: “Kosinski could be the new Kubrick.”

    Markj: “Wow. Remind me never to pay any attention to your posts on here ever again.”

    You’re being a dick, Markj, cherry picking on the last part of the sentence that allows you to put Kaned down. The sentence was “he could be Tarsem, he could be Kubrick,” which clearly means that the jury’s still out on Kosinski. That’s it. He’s a director with potential. And yeah, he could be Tarsem or Kubrick or Uwe Boll. Who knows? But go ahead and be a dick about it so you can snipe at somebody. Jesus isn’t there enough of that on HE already?

  49. Tmurry I’m with you.

    It’s very difficult being a fan of comic books and sci fi and then watch as these terrible movies get churned out, one after another.

    We need more movies like Black Swan. Small, fantasy driven films that are grounded in the real world, and featuring clever use of visual effects.

  50. I think it’s unfair to judge ANYone after one or two films. Kosinski COULD be the new Kubrick – but honestly, Kubrick’s own first two films sucked balls, generally speaking (Fear and Desire so much so that Kubrick didn’t want anyone to see it).

    Comparisons can mean anything that you want them to.

  51. Jlc: “Smaller, character-driven dramas gain little, if anything, from the theater experience..”

    Oy. Wrong. But you’re right about theatrical biz being in trouble. Mainly because good folks like u have been brainwashed into believing that statement above.

  52. there are very few filmmakers that excite me these days. and with the internet and having virtually anything I want at my fingertips, movies are becoming less relevant to my life everyday. especially comic book nonsense that has no bearing on the real world at all. like i want to sit in a theater seat and watch some childish bullshit about a viking-nerd with a magic hammer or whatever. I feel sorry for the geek-crowd, I really do.

  53. >there are very few filmmakers that excite me these days. and with the internet and having virtually anything I want at my fingertips, movies are becoming less relevant to my life everyday

    Yet there are still more good movies out there, old and new, than I have time to watch.

    Heck, I haven’t even seen a single Kiarostami film yet.

  54. If you say so, Gaydos. But then who is doing the brainwashing?

    I used to see between 50-60 movies a year in the theater. Now I’m lucky if I see 10. Once I got over the “gotta see it when it comes out” thing, I found out that very few films were worth – to me – the money and time required to see movies in the theater. Whoever the mad scientist is behind the phenomenon, it doesn’t appear I’m alone.

  55. JLC is right. The middle ground has largely disappeared. You don’t get star-driven character dramas like Jerry Maguire or Cast Away anymore; you either get mega-budget blockbusters or tiny indies. And sadly, a lot of those tiny indies really aren’t worth the extra expense to see on a big screen. Especially since they’ll be on Netflix about three months later. Is it really worth paying $26 for two people to see Win Win when you can rent it as part of your $15 monthly Netflix fee? Does it really suffer from not being able to see Giamatti’s big old face on the big screen?

  56. I agree with the bulk of JLC’s statement. Very well said.

    I will say, though, that if one of those smaller-scale indie films is sufficiently great, I always do feel better for the experience of seeing at the theater. There’s still something about that church of film that – in the right conditions – can resonate even without the 3-D exploding bosoms.

  57. I wish people could just watch movies without always delving into the state of the world in film. Some movies are good, some are bad. The world moves on.

  58. Yeah, I have BUSTING on VHS. Kinda fucked up in general that “Peter Hyams” is some punchline: Busting, Capricorn One, Hanover Street (if only for the Barry score), Outland, STAR CHAMBER YEP YEP MASTERPIECE, 2010, Running Scared, The Presidio, Timecop, Sudden Death, even The Relic… pretty good run for a guy who timeline-wise was a peer of the Landis-Carpenter-Hill-Badham gang. Always shooting his own movies, writing most of them, perfectly solid B-plus movie guy.

    Hell, for as much as David Fincher clearly aspires to be the next Alan J. Pakula, visually and temperature-wise his movies look an awful lot like Hyams’s 1978-1995 style.

    (We’ll not talk about Musketeer or Sound of Thunder or Beyond Reasonable Doubt.)

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