Tag Archives | Movies

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.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

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.
Read the rest
Continue Reading

‘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

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

All Is Lost—And Who Was Doing the Thinking?

All_is_Lost_posterWarning: This article contains spoilers.

The film All Is Lost has been released to unanimously raving reviews. Critics are greatly satisfied with both the film itself and Mr. Redford’s performance, which is wonderful since he is the one and only actor in it. A seasoned gentleman leisurely crossing the Indian Ocean all by himself on an elegant sailboat faces a number of contretemps. Things go from bad to worse until he’s forced to abandon ship and board the lifeboat. More tribulations await him there.

It’s a good man-versus-the-elements yarn, and I found myself rooting for the mariner (we never get to know his name) because, as a fellow human being, I certainly wouldn’t like to be in his predicament. Having said that, my rooting for the mariner wasn’t nearly as wholehearted as it should have been, because a simple but essential detail kept nagging at me.

Years ago, while doing research for a novel of mine, Leeward & Windward, I studied a book by Don Biggs entitled Survival AfloatHow to Prevent Disasters on the WaterOr Survive if One Occurs, copyrighted in 1976 and published presumably then (there is no release date in my copy).… Read the rest

Continue Reading

David Cronenberg’s POD Implant For Your Brain

david cronenbergDavid Cronenberg has a new multimedia project involving a fictional mobile body-add-on gadget called "Personal On-Demand," or POD for short, ostensibly created by biotech startup firm BODY/MIND/CHANGE. Are you ready for your fitting?
MEET POD (PERSONAL ON-DEMAND), THE ULTIMATE RECOMMENDATION ENGINE. POD IS AN EMOTIONAL SENSORY LEARNING AND DATA-MINING ORGANISM. WE’VE REDESIGNED THE RECOMMENDATION ENGINE TO MAKE DISCOVERING THE THINGS YOU NEED, LOVE OR DESIRE EFFORTLESS. POD GROWS WITH YOU TO BECOME AN INTUITIVE COMPANION, FULFILLING YOUR DEEPEST DESIRES ON DEMAND.
Continue Reading

The New South Africa Bans a Major Film Festival Entry as Protests Mount

Durban, South Africa: It was Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and the international day of service in his honor. The reports were that the man they call Madiba was recovering, according to upbeat accounts from his wife of 15 years and daughter Zindzi from his marriage to Winnie.

Happily, on that night, it was also a time of celebration as film fans packed into the annual opening of the film festival in Durban.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 8.36.48 AM

For 34 years, the Durban International Film Festival  (DIFF) has brought a world of cinema to the East coast of South Africa with an impressive range of films, filmmakers and related events. The screenings are often packed with over 150 films or more on display.

The Festival is organized by the Center for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, up on the big hill overlooking Durban. In recent years, its setting went from the academic to the commercial, from a mountain to a beach, with the opening this year, once again, based in cinemas at the Suncoast casino where it is attended by a multi-racial, and multi-generational crowd.… Read the rest

Continue Reading