Tag Archives | Movies

Get Ready For The Mirage Men

MM-AD-336x280-preThe new movie Mirage Men‘s subtitle is: “How the US government created a myth that took over the world.” A promising topic for any disinfonaut, surely, but it really has some bona fides that make us recommend it to you.

Way back in the dark ages of the year 2,000 an insatiably curious and cool alternative journalist arrived in New York to cover an all-day marathon of counterculture called disinfo.con, featuring the likes of Robert Anton Wilson, Marilyn Manson, Grant Morrison and Kenneth Anger, among many, many others. His name was Mark Pilkington and he has gone on to write for numerous newspapers and magazines and has published several books including our own Far Out: 101 Strange Tales From Science’s Outer Edge. Mark’s been working on Mirage Men for years; nominally he’s the writer, but believe me he was an instrumental part of the team that made this film, and you should check it out.… Read the rest

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Almost Everything In ‘Dr. Strangelove’ Was True

Dr strangelove peter sellersRemember Eric Schlosser, the Fast Food Nation author? Well he’s also a great journalist and this week  in The New Yorker he takes a look at the command and control of nuclear weapons, positing that the nuclear craziness of the classic Peter Sellers movie Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was actually pretty much true:

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about nuclear weapons, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Released on January 29, 1964, the film caused a good deal of controversy. Its plot suggested that a mentally deranged American general could order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, without consulting the President. One reviewer described the film as “dangerous … an evil thing about an evil thing.” Another compared it to Soviet propaganda. Although “Strangelove” was clearly a farce, with the comedian Peter Sellers playing three roles, it was criticized for being implausible.

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The Politics of the Oscars

long walkThe whole world recognized and paid tribute to South African icon Nelson Mandela when he died at age 95. Ninety-one Heads of State attended his funeral. The UN General Assembly organized a special tribute. His legacy is secure in official circles, and in the hearts of South Africans, but will there be recognition in the place that seems to matter to the media even more: Hollywood?

The Oscar nominations are due any day, and early on, it seemed, as if the epic movie about the world’s most revered icon was a sure thing for Oscar consideration. Most of the main big newspaper reviewers loved it and, and its American distributor Harvey Weinstein has specialized in influencing Academy decisions.

But of late, it lost its buzz, and is appears buried by the hype machine, almost being treated as an also ran. The entertainment media no long seems to take it seriously. All the focus is on other films and the big US  stars.… Read the rest

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Kung Fu Movie Genre Inventor Run Run Shaw Dies At 106

run run shawVia the New York Times, pretty much all you could ask for in an eccentric billionaire movie mogul:

Run Run Shaw, the colorful Hong Kong media mogul whose name was synonymous with low-budget Chinese action and horror films — and especially with the wildly successful kung fu genre, which he is largely credited with inventing — died on Tuesday at his home in Hong Kong. He was 106.

Born in China, Mr. Shaw and his older brother, Run Me, were movie pioneers in Asia. In 1924 Run Run and Run Me turned a play called “Man From Shensi” into their first film. In Hong Kong, Run Run Shaw created Shaw Movietown, a complex of studios and residential towers where his actors worked and lived.

Mr. Shaw enjoyed the zany glamour of the Asian media world he helped create. He presided over his companies from a garish Art Deco palace in Hong Kong, a cross between a Hollywood mansion and a Hans Christian Andersen cookie castle.

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Singularity Goes Mainstream With Johnny Depp’s ‘Transcendence’

Via Slate:

This may be the singularity’s mainstream moment. Popularized by sci-fi author Vernor Vinge, the term refers to a theoretical point at which machines eclipse humans in intelligence, and beyond which pretty much everything changes. Kurzweil is its preeminent latter-day apostle, and he was recently hired as an engineer by Google to work on hastening its arrival by teaching computers to understand English. Now we’ve got Captain Jack Sparrow explaining it in a voiceover.

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Scott McCloud’s Four Types of Artists

artquadHere’s a fun scheme of classifying different types of artists. The scheme is Scott McCloud’s, mapped onto Ken Wilber’s quadrants. Can you think of any more examples?

From FC Student Blog:

In his book, Making Comics, Scott McCloud created a chart categorizing artists according to four intentions — what artists are most interested in, in creating art. His categories are:

  • Formalist — The Formalist is interested in examining the boundaries of an art form, stretching them, exploring what the form is capable of. The Formalist is interested in experimenting, turning the form upside-down and inside-out, moving in new, bold, untried directions, inventing and innovating. Formalists are the cutting edge, the avant-garde, the ones willing to break tradition and established ways. Strict narrative or craft is not as important as trying something new and unexpected, playing with and breaking traditional concepts, getting to the heart of understanding what art itself is.
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‘The Great Beauty': High Culture Without the Highbrowness

The Great BeautyYears ago, while a student at USC’s Cinema Production Department, I took a class taught by Arthur Knight, whose The Liveliest Art: A Panoramic History of the Movies was a standard textbook at colleges and universities all over the world. In it he argued that cinema was the liveliest art because it incorporated all arts. It’s a notion that was dear and sacrosanct to all of us cinephiles. For centuries it was cathedrals that incorporated all arts; then it was opera; in the 20th century, supposedly, cinema. Nowadays that’s hardly the case. Hollywood blockbusters are made for the PG-13 audience, except for a few “serious” movies that aim at Academy Awards recognition and, under the pretense of being socially or culturally relevant, are generally platitudinous. Then there are the inevitably marginal “independent” movies that, far from incorporating all arts, are minimalistic not only in production values but above all in content.… Read the rest

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Nelson Mandela’s Life, Coming To A Big Screen Near You

long walkIt has been said that this is the year of the black film. Three have stood out as the Oscar buzz begins in earnest.

First, there was The Butler, later Lee Daniels’ The Butler, after a studio pissing-match about who owned the title. The heavily rewritten and sanitized story of a black butler in the White House became a platform for celebration as a cast of Hollywood heavyweights led by TV Queen Oprah Winfrey offered a praise poem to civil rights victories in which they included the election of Barack Obama.

Some critics like one at the Daily Mail felt the film was over the top: “It has been given a rather overly generous dashing, as if by a nervous butler, of dramatic license. Not historic license, though. No, every major development in the civil rights story is ticked off…what you might call the Forrest Gumping of Forest Whitaker.”

The Guardian said it “plays fast and loose with the facts” as the “central character becomes a cipher for the changing fortunes of African Americans in the 20th century.”

The underlying idea: turn civil rights into a feel-good story.… Read the rest

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Swedish Movie Theaters To Display Films’ Gender Equality Rating

theaters

This is probably more helpful than the current MPAA rating system in use here. Via the Washington Post:

Four Swedish movie theaters touched off a heated debate across Stockholm last month — and in the English-language media this morning — with the announcement that they plan to begin publicly labeling films that pass the so-called “Bechdel test.” The metric gauges whether a film meets a bare minimum standard for developed female characters.

Promoters are encouraging theaters to stamp its “A” logo on the movie posters and pre-roll screens of any film that (1) has at least two female characters who (2) talk to each other (3) about something other than men. A surprisingly high proportion of films fail this test.

In the weeks since, it has been covered in a dozen newspaper columns and earning the endorsements of Equalisters, Women in Television and Film and a popular cable movie channel and, controversially, the blessing of Anna Serner, who presides over Sweden’s state-funded film institute.

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