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1. Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

CBA TNG1 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

Here’s a new movie about cartoonists and comic book making: Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation, which spotlights creators Raid Studios in Toronto, including Ramon Perez, Francis Manapul, Kalman Andrasofsky and Marcus Antony To. Some promising up and comers named Stan Lee and Jim Lee also appear—I believe they are unrelated. It’s a nice look at the artist’s studio and the collegial spirit that evolves from it.

You can watch for free at AT&T’s Uverse Buzz site. It’s produced by Boom!’s Stephen Christy, FJ DeSanto and Bradley Cramp and directed by Chris Kasick. On his FB page, DeSanto wrote:

After months of hard work, here’s our documentary, COMIC BOOK ARTISTS: NEXT GENERATION, which premiers today on AT&T Uverse Buzz. I produced it with Bradley Cramp and Stephen Christy and is directed by the supremely talented Chris Kasick . Brad’s amazing team at Digital Kitchen brought this all to life (especially Leslie, Paul and of course Nik) and we are so lucky to have such a high quality show.

Showcasing the talented creators from The Raid Studio, the doc takes you through the trails and tribulations of being a modern day comic book creator. Besides the awesome Raid guys, Marcus Anthony To, Ramón K Pérez, Kalman Andrasofszky, and Francis Manapul, the energetic duo Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly make a cameo. To share their perspective on the history of the industry and how it has evolved over the years, we were fortunate Stan Lee, Jim Lee, and Filip Sablik appear as well. If you love super heroes like Batman and Spider-Man or just comics in general, you’ll appreciate this unique look into this world.

And here are some screen shots:

CBA TNG2 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free CBA TNG3 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free CBA TNG4 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free CBA TNG5 Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

1 Comments on Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free, last added: 10/22/2014
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2. Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free

Here’s a new movie about cartoonists and comic book making: Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation, which spotlights creators Raid Studios in Toronto, including Ramon Perez, Francis Manapul, Kalman Andrasofsky and Marcus Antony To. Some promising up and comers named Stan Lee and Jim Lee also appear—I believe they are unrelated. It’s a nice look at the artist’s studio and the collegial spirit that evolves from it.

Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free was originally published on The Beat

0 Comments on Watch Comic Book Artists: The Next Generation for free as of 10/21/2014 9:23:00 PM
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3. Noelle Stevenson, Mark Millar and others comment on the Civil War movie

civil war mark millar tpb Noelle Stevenson, Mark Millar and others comment on the Civil War movie

With this week’s epochal news that the Marvel Cinematic UNiverse will be adapting the Civil War event storyline, many are wondering…why? Few of the superheroes introduced in the MCU even have secret identities—which were the crux of the kerfuffle between Iron Man and Captain America. Some just think it’s a bad idea on other terms.

Noelle Stevenson, of Lumberjanes and Nimona fame, is one of the sharpest commentators on Twitter, with incisive character analysis delivered in short 140-character bursts. Her thoughts on Avengers characterization are below.

Librarian Ivy Noelle Weir suggested Dear Marvel: Literally No One Wants a Civil War Movie:

Let’s be real: Civil War was a hamfistedly allegorical post-9/11 pseudo-intellectual machoist posturing slapfight between Tony and Steve.

Okay, maybe I’m editorializing a bit. But it is true that Civil War has long been one of the most contested and disliked events in Marvel history, with the major critique being that the behavior of all the characters involved was way off the map and that it dismantled years of continuity for what ultimately was not that compelling of a story. In my experience as both a fan and a retailer, Civil War is often cited as the reason a lifelong reader dropped Marvel for a while.

Mark Sampson at ScreenCrush suggests how all the movie and comics storylines might tie together. In addition, all the rumours about Spider-Man joining the MCU for a bit in a deal with SOny would suggest that he could be recruited to play the cenral role in a movie he plays in the comics.

Finally, what about Mark Millar, who wrote Civil War? Millar is very busy with his own cinematic universe, including the upcoming The Secret Service., When the news broke he tweeted


Before sensibly adding:


Civil War is currently the #2 graphic novel on Amazon and #235 in Books.

11 Comments on Noelle Stevenson, Mark Millar and others comment on the Civil War movie, last added: 10/16/2014
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4. Robert Downey Jr. added to Captain America 3 for Civil War

tumblr n8u7fxxXIY1s7seuvo1 500 Robert Downey Jr. added to Captain America 3 for Civil War

WHOA. It turns out that Civil War tease Marvel sent out was just the prelude to the real blockbuster news: Robert Downey Jr. will play a major role in Captain America 3 which will feature the Civil War storyline.

Variety has all the details. It seems RDJ was negotiating for Iron Man 4, and a smaller role in Cap 3, but now it’s war:

The new pact is significant for the Marvel cinematic universe considering the plot will pit Stark against Captain America’s alter-ego Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, as they feud over the Superhero Registration Act, which forces anyone with superhuman abilities to reveal their identities to the U.S. government and agree to act as a police force for the authorities.

Stark supports the program, but Rogers does not, saying it threatens civil liberties, causing sides to be taken and Rogers, among others, to go on the run to avoid arrest. The moral question and battle with his Avengers teammate essentially makes Stark a villain of sorts in “Captain America 3,” providing Downey with a meaty role he could play out into future Marvel films, including a fourth “Avengers.”

Captain America 3 comes out on May 6, 2016.

According to Variety, Downey’s larger role in Cap 3 riled up Ike Perlmutter, who didn’t want to pay Downey a hefty salary. Ike ordered Iron Man written out of the script completely, until Kevin Feige insisted on staying the course with his plans for the MCU.

It’s worth noting that RDJ is th eonly person in Hollywood who is brave enough to publicly call Ike out, as he did over the summerwhen commenting on negotiations for his return.

“It’s down to Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studios president] and Ike [Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment] and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is, and that’s on us to agree or disagree,” Downey said. “When things are going great, there’s a lot of agreement.”

 

Devin Faraci at Baddass Digest has more on the story, including how the Russo Brothers will not only direct Cap 3 but are the favorites to pick up Avengers 3 and 4 which will continue the Ultron and Civil War storylines.

I’m not clear on how the Civil War story will play out, since the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t have secret IDs to reveal, but I can tell you this: the fallout of Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be huge in this movie. There is a lot of destruction in that film. It makes an impact. 

More than that, Marvel is looking at Cap 3 as Avengers 2.5. It’s going to be another ensemble picture, and it could feature Cap’s new team from the end of Age of Ultron. Last I heard (and they haven’t shot this scene yet, so it could change) that team is Falcon, War Machine, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Black Widow, as well as probably The Vision (although I have been told Black Widow will not be much of a presence in Cap 3). And once again the events of a Captain America movie will reshape the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Could the Marvel Cinematic Universe get any more like a comic book?

As I noted in my previous piece, Civil War, in which Iron Man and Cap butt heads over whether individual freedom should be surrendered for the greater good, is very much a product of the post 9/11 mindset, but the comic itself remains a Marvel best seller. t would certainly make for an interesting movie storyline, although it would be interesting to see how the context changes.

All that said, Mark Millar, you’ve done it again.

3 Comments on Robert Downey Jr. added to Captain America 3 for Civil War, last added: 10/15/2014
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5. Books At The Movies

Use the promo code “atthemovies” and get FREE postage. Offer ends 20th Oct. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn The most addictive page turner of the decade! Nick returns home of his 5th wedding anniversary to discover that his wife Amy has gone missing. He contacts the police and reports her missing. Meanwhile you read portions of […]

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6. How to make a book trailer

The Birth Of a Book Trailer

I knew I needed a book trailer to help promote my debut YA novel Winnemucca. First of all, I love movies. Heck, I live in Los Angeles. And, I worked in the entertainment industry. I knew the power of the trailer. Plus, how much fun would making my own trailer be?

But still, I didn’t know how to make one. Hmmm. I’d incorporated videos in my designs for years at E! Entertainment Television and at The Los Angeles Times. But they were provided to me by amazing teams of award winning videographers. And the photos I worked with were shot by Pulitzer Prize winning photographers. Who did I think I was trying to do this all on my own?

Well, that’s the best part. We aren’t on our own! Writers are some of the most generous people. And so I kept my eye open for trailers that I loved. Enter the wonderful writer Rebecca Rasmussen [@birdsisters] author of The Bird Sisterspublished by Crown/Random House. I was surprised to find out she made her own trailer. Rebecca was very generous with her support and advise. Thanks Rebecca!

So after a load of conversations I managed to conjure up a recipe for book trailers:

  • iMovie application.
  • A killer soundtrack.
  • stock videos.
  • stock photography.

and WaaaaLaaa! You have your book trailer.

A Recipe For Book Trailers

iMovie is a very easy application to work with. It’s drag and drop so no worries there. And it comes with every Mac.

A killer soundtrack is so important. I don’t mind book trailers where the author reads their work. There is something very pure about that. But, like I said, I love movies. Music that evokes your story is compelling and can draw a viewer into the trailer in a unique way. I used www.productiontrax.com. Most of the audio clips are very reasonable priced. [I splurged on this and purchased sound for $60 because I loved it and am a music junkie.]

Stock Videos. I’ve seen a lot of trailers that try to tell the story with static images and scrolling or rolling text. It’s a great effect. But, the medium is meant for video. And, if you don’t have any that you’ve shot yourself, stock video sites are great ways to add some punch to your trailer. Sites I like include istockphoto.com andpond5.com. Both have great selections and great ways to save multiple videos for your consideration so if you are busy, like who isn’t, you can come back later and make your final cut. Again, most videos are very reasonably priced, but watch it, some aren’t. And don’t worry if your video has a soundtrack with it. iMovie let’s you separate the audio channel out and you can use whatever audio you want with any video. My average purchase for a video was $15.

Stock Photography. I use the same sites I recommended above to find images for book covers and for book trailers. Again, stock photography is reasonably priced. But be sure you check prices.

As always, have a budget in mind and stick to it, mine was under $90. It’s really important to get the word out about your book, but what’s more important is how much fun you have doing it!

The Book Trailer

Winnemucca is a young-adult small-town fairy tale about a teenage girl awakening to her own intuition on an enchanted road trip. One lie will change Ginny’s life forever. The truth will will set her free.

Over To You

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tips or tricks from making your own book trailers? If you have anything to add to this article, or even just want to share your own book trailers, then please add it to the comments below…


1 Comments on How to make a book trailer, last added: 10/13/2014
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7. Seth’s Dominion documentary is showing in Montreal

unnamed 2 Seths Dominion documentary is showing in Montreal

A film has been made about Seth, the single named Autuer of Clyde Fans, It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken, Palookaville, and countless illustrations. It’s called Seth’s Dominion, it’s directed by Luc Chamberland and it is described as “a hybrid documentary/animation film exploring the life of master cartoonist Seth.”

Given that Seth is a perfectionist, you’d expect no less of a film about him, so to no one’s surprise the film has won the Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival.

The film will be shown this week in Montreal as an official selection of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.

Saturday, October 11th, 4:30 pm: 
Auditorium Alumni H-110, Hall Building 
Concordia University, 1455 boul. de Maisonneuve Ouest 
Tickets available here. 
Seth will be present and signing at this screening only!

Thursday, October 16th, 3:00 pm: 
Pavillion Judith-Jasmin Annexe 
UQAM, 405 rue Sainte-Catherine Est 
Tickets available here.

Add this to Root Hog or Die, the John Porcellino movie, Rude Dude, the Steve Rude movie—ON SALES TODAY, I might add— and some others in the works and you have a nice library of in depth films about comics makers beginning.

0 Comments on Seth’s Dominion documentary is showing in Montreal as of 10/7/2014 1:45:00 PM
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8. Hoist your flagons!

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Heave on your futtock-shrouds and don’t leave your swashes unbuckled! ‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Don’t forget: If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, shape a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates this evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again tomorrow morning 10:00 – 11:00ish (we need to clear the decks before noon—when some poor lubber’s wedding takes place).

MoviePirates

As promised, here are the answers to yesterday’s M is for Movie Pirates Quiz:

First row: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean (2006). Second row: (left to right) Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926); Robert Newton as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950); Sherman the parrot; Errol Flynn as Captain Blood (1935). Third row: Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd (1945); (Charlton Heston as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1990); Dustin Hoffman as Hook (1991); Walter Matthau as Captain Red in Pirates (1986). Fourth row: Maureen O’Hara as Prudence ‘Spitfire’ Stevens in Against All Flags (1952); Laird Cregar as Sir Henry Morgan in The Black Swan (1942); Kevin Kline as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1983); Graham Chapman as Yellowbeard (1983).


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9. A Deadpool movie has been announced! Here’s what you must know to survive in this new world!

Rob Liefeld was right!

The co-creator of Deadpool has been hinting about a movie for the “merc with a mouth” for years, and he’s finally been vindicated, as Fox has announced a Deadpool movie for February 12, 2016. While Ryan Reynolds—who portrayed Deadpool in Wolverine: Origins—hasn’t been signed yet, given his decade long opsession with making a Deadpool movie, and his presence in leaked test footage, we’re guessing he won’t take too long to hop on board. More facts you must know in order to fully appreciate this amazing movie news!

ryan reynolds 4 1024 A Deadpool movie has been announced! Heres what you must know to survive in this new world!
Tim Miller is definitely on board to direct—Miller is best known for doing visual effects on Scott Pilgrim vs The World and the title sequence for Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He also directed the test footage. More on that in a minute.

• There is a finished script by Rhett Reese and Paul Warnick who wrote Zombieland (Yay!) and GI Joe: Retaliation (eh) but apparently this has been floating around for a while, and has garnered positive response from those who have read it.

• Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, started as a bit of a joke but over the last few years has developed into one of Marvel’s most popular characters—so popular he has a whole month of variant covers to his name. A loose-cannon type who frequently breaks the fourth wall, while he’s killing people with alacrity, he’s a versatile, anarchic presence.

• Deadpool was killed off in Wolverine: Origins, however a post credit scene showed that he had resurrected himself. That entire mutant continuity was once again killed off in X-Men; Days of Future Past but when has that ever stopped a comic book movie?

• Test footage directed by Miller and starring Reynolds was shown at Comic-Con and leaked soon after to good result, which helped get the green light going. Back in July Reynolds told the Niagara Falls Review (yes) “There was such an overpowering reaction to the footage, you sort of feel like, ‘Oh, so we weren’t crazy for our reasons for loving this character, for loving this role.’ It’s interesting to see the power of the Internet. It’s awe-inspiring, actually. And it’s neat that Twitter and Facebook and Instagram can move mountains when used in the right way.”

• The footage shows a crazy, wise cracking Deadpool slicing and dicing his foes, with a CGI Deadpool doing most of the stunts. It seems a bit fresher and more up to date than Marvel’s previous wisecracking hero Spider-Man, who has been benched by Sony following disappointing results earlier this year.

• The February release date—and barely a year production schedule—is a pretty low expectations time frame. Fox will probably expect this to be a toe in the water, can it grow beyond a cult movie. But hey if it tests well, who knows? Fox has similarly shuffled its release dates for one of its other 2016 superhero movies, with Fantastic Four pushed back a skotch from June to August because of an Assassin’s Creed movie starring Michael Fassbender, be still me heart, that ran into some problems. Fox also has X-men Apocalypse on tap for Summer 2016, and another Wolverine-ish movie coming out in 2017.

• Reynolds has always wanted to play Deadpool! And it seems a more natural fit than Green Lantern, let’s be honest. So there’s enthusiasm on that side,

• Maybe THIS will be the quirky superhero movie that we’ve been waiting for? Certainly Deadpool is the least serious of superheroes and if there’s going to be Bugs Bunny type fourth wall busting this is the place.

3 Comments on A Deadpool movie has been announced! Here’s what you must know to survive in this new world!, last added: 9/19/2014
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10. Tomorrow be the big day, belike!

Aye, Friday: the day we’ve been waiting for all year, International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Polish your hooks and sand your peg legs! If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, set a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates Friday evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again Saturday morning 10:00 – noon.

To celebrate the big day, here is an illustration from P is for Pirate—a theater full of movie pirates. They range from freebooters of Hollywood’s Silent Era to today’s swashbuckling sea dogs.

How many can you name? I’ll post the answers tomorrow, by the powers!

MoviePirates


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11. Here’s the new Batmobile…it’s dark and will make a great Lego


Director Zack Snyder tweeted the new Batmobile from Batman V Superman last night. He lated added a photo credit: Photo Credit @ClayEnos RT: iPhone photography is great but some things deserve more. (Nikon D800 ISO 500 24mm f/11 1/25th sec)

The image cme after a fake batmobile has circulated on the nets earlier in the day.

I’m no expert in Batmnobile design but this one looks like even more of a tank than the one from the Nolan films.

What do y’all think?

BxN9u AIgAIq qp.jpg large Heres the new Batmobile...its dark and will make a great Lego

3 Comments on Here’s the new Batmobile…it’s dark and will make a great Lego, last added: 9/12/2014
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12. Is Matter Eater Lad coming to the movies? WB is rumored to be developing a Legion Of Superheroes movie

 

258 2 Is Matter Eater Lad coming to the movies? WB is rumored to be developing a Legion Of Superheroes movie

A report at Latino Review suggests that the Legion of Superheroes, DC’s long running cult comics about a futuristic group of space faring 31st century teenagers, created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, is being developed for a film at Warner Brothers:

According to sources, Warners is quietly sending out the DC comic book Legion Of Superheroes to screenwriters & their reps for takes. For non-industry folks, what that means is that screenwriters check out the comic book and come up for a movie idea involving the characters from that comic. Those writers then go to the studio to pitch their idea. The studio then hires the screenwriter they feel has the best idea or take for the film.

Is Legion Of Superheroes part of the unannounced nine upcoming DC films Warners is planning? Not sure. With Guardians Of The Galaxy officially making more money domestically than Man Of Steel it’s probably under strong consideration. Post Guardians Of The Galaxy, studios are hot for space properties. Disney not only has Guardians Of The Galaxy, but the rumored Inhumans under the Marvel banner. Let’s also not forget the upcoming Star Wars films. Fox got Avatar  sequels in the pipeline and Paramount got the upcoming Interstellar.

Given the success of the quirky Guardians film, it’s clear that any comics property, no matter how obscure, can find success if its handled correctly.

Latino Review stresses that this is just preliminary—pitches are being taken.

296669 124883 legion of super hero Is Matter Eater Lad coming to the movies? WB is rumored to be developing a Legion Of Superheroes movie

The Legion would definitely fit into the post-Guardians space-film race, but in many ways it’s classic DC—a continuity-heavy series that has a smallish but rabid following, and a huge cast of character who are sometimes oddballs. While the story mentions Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl as possible characters, there’s also, in addition to the great Matter Eater Lad, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel and Phantom Girl. Modern takes on the characters have dropped the “lass and lad” titles. And of course Superboy took time out from his busy adolescence to go forward in time to the 31st century and lead the team.

Confession: I never got the Legion. Never. But even I can see how this could be a charming and exciting film.

11 Comments on Is Matter Eater Lad coming to the movies? WB is rumored to be developing a Legion Of Superheroes movie, last added: 9/12/2014
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13. The Rock Tweets that he’ll play Black Adam


For months, nay years, The Rock, Duane Johnson, has been hinting that he would love to play either Shazam or Black Adam in a not-really-announced-but-we-kinda-know-they-are-going-to-do-it Shazam movie. I guess Hercules just wasn’t enough for him, movie-wise. And now via Twitter, he announced that it’s Black Adam, an older version of Shazam from the days when Egypt was the center of civilization. Black Adam is often a villain these days but he’s a classic anti-hero.

rock black adam

Here’s a fan-made version of Johnson as Black Adam that seems fairly representative.

Still known where and or when Black Adam will debut in the DC Cinematic universe — maybe the Bats v Supes pre JLA launch?

Also, one more thing. If you’re going to make a Shazam movie—a Shazam Movie WITH THE ROCK IN IT—good luck not having any humor in it, Warner Bros.

7 Comments on The Rock Tweets that he’ll play Black Adam, last added: 9/4/2014
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14. Video Essay: "What Is Composition?"


My latest video essay is now available at Press Play. It's the first in a new series by various hands on cinematic terminology. My term was "composition", and so I made an essay creatively titled, "What Is Composition?"

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15. Jamie Marks Is Dead

  
Jamie Marks Is Dead is based on a book I love by a writer I love: One for Sorrow by Christopher Barzak. I realized recently that I think of it as the first novel of "our" generation/group of writers — Chris is a few months older than me, and originally introduced me to probably half the writers and editors I know. I read One for Sorrow in manuscript, exhorted Juliet Ulman to buy and edit it for Bantam, and celebrated its publication. Chris sent me a copy with the kindest inscription penned onto its title page that any writer has ever given me. I feel like a kind of distant (crazy) uncle to the book, and thus also deeply protective toward it. I didn't read most of the reviews when it was released for fear that I would seek out any negative reviewers and do terrible things to them that would get me arrested.  When I found out it was being made into a movie, I was both excited for Chris and for the higher profile the book would likely gain, and terrified that the movie would just be awful. I mumbled to myself for weeks about the change of title before coming to accept it.

The movie was officially released in some major US cities today, and the distributor is also doing a simultaneous release on video-on-demand (Amazon, iTunes, etc.), so those of us, at least in the US, who can't get to one of the cities it's playing in can still see it. I watched it this morning.

The movie is not awful — far from it — and though at first I had my crazy-uncle fists clenched, ready to pounce on anything that even touched a hair of my beloved nephew's head, it was soon clear that this was a movie made from not only a general understanding of the book, but a profound sympathy with it. They're very different creatures, but if you love One for Sorrow, I think you're likely to love Jamie Marks Is Dead, too.



It begins in a style I've come to think of as "digital somber", a style common to a lot of artsy low-budget movies these days: muted colors; the clarity of light peculiar to a certain kind of digital lensing; long takes and fluid camera movement; dreamy music. It's become a familiar enough style that I now find myself skeptical of it at first, because too often it screams out, "Serious Movie!" before it earns its mood. (But at its best it can be devastating. See, for instance, The Snowtown Murders.)  In this case, it's a good fit to the material, and director Carter Smith, cinematographer Darren Lew, and the various designers and decorators (Amy Williams, Steven Phan, Nora Mendis, Rachel Dainer-Best) do a superb job of uniting the elements into a whole that sustains a mood impressively. The production design and decoration in particular deserve notice, because the details are exquisite — though the movie makes absolutely no effort to drawn attention to it, the setting is not contemporary, but rather seems to be late '90s, early '00s (the time of the book). Further, though the novel is explicitly set in and around Youngstown, Ohio, the movie is more general in its setting: somewhere northeastish, somewhere working class, somewhere rusty and full of industrial and commercial ruins. (It was shot in New York state. Chris says it looks plenty like Ohio. It looks plenty like places I know in New Hampshire, too, the places the tourists don't go.)

Smith's background as a photographer serves him well, as he and Lew sustain a difficult look for the film without strain. Shot after shot is evocative but not ostentatious. One example (a screen capture doesn't do it justice, or I'd place a picture here): a high-angle long shot of a yellow ribbon of crime scene tape snaked across the wet ground of a grey riverbank on a moonlit night. The tape, though muddied, is the brightest object in the image, rivalled only by the white of driftwood and fragments of light rippling on the water. The image evokes mood and meaning, but most importantly it provides a perfect introduction for a ghost.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like Noah Silver as Jamie, because I had such a clear idea of Jamie in my own mind, an idea that has congealed over a decade of living with the novel, and the soggy-Harry-Potter styling of the character was very different from the lighter, whispier Jamie in my head. (Adam was always less defined for me, more an aural than physical image, since the novel is written from his first-person POV.) But Silver's performance won me over, especially in the second half of the film when he must be alluring, mysterious, innocent, and menacing all pretty much at the same time. In his first scenes, the lighting and make-up make him seem almost like a plastic mannequin, but as the scenes progress, he becomes more and more human — an odd and very effective choice for the representation of this ghost.

All of the performances are strong, and the film demonstrates quite well the adage that finding the right cast (and crew) is 90% of the success of a production. In pre-release photos from the film, I thought Cameron Monaghan as Adam looked a bit too much like a human Kewpie doll, but he gives an impressive performance. His physique is remarkably variable — he can play vulnerability and sensitivity as well as sharpness and hardness, with his face seemingly changing shape depending on the needs of the scene: at one moment, his face is soft and a bit round, at another, it's all cold angles. (Some of this is also the responsibility of the cinematographer and his lighting team.) Monaghan has excellent instincts, and Smith is smart enough to bring those instincts to fore by encouraging him to hold back: Monaghan's eyes tell entire stories.

Where Silver and Monaghan were not immediately in sync with how I'd imagined the characters, and thus had to (and did) win me over, Morgan Saylor was the Gracie in my mind's eye. I've rarely seen an actor so perfectly fit how I'd imagined a character when reading the original material. A big part of it is her voice, which is deeper and huskier than you might imagine if you just looked at her. It would be easy to make the character of Gracie into a cliché of the adolescent "bad girl", but the movie thankfully doesn't do that — as Saylor plays the role, Gracie is very much an individual, not a type. We don't actually learn a lot about her in the movie, but there is a richness to the performance that allows us to imagine so much that the film itself doesn't have time to convey.

Smith made some excellent choices with his screenplay and direction, particularly in how he focused the story. There's an epic quality to the second half of the novel that just couldn't be conveyed well in a 2-hour movie, never mind a 2-hour movie without a big budget. As any good artist does, Smith turns his limitations into opportunities. The close focus on Adam, Jamie, and Gracie (with some other folks wandering in and out of the story to create and complicate tension) allows the film to build a slow, careful emotional resonance. It's seductive, this movie, and it sticks its hooks in when you're not expecting it. Partly, this is because Smith decided to keep the dialogue to a minimum and to not explain everything. It's a movie of glances and glimpses, of possibilities more than answers. That will, I'm sure, bother plenty of viewers, viewers who want explanations for the logic of the ghost world (as if the supernatural must follow a logical system!), who will want some of the plot's mysteries solved more neatly, who will want some of the side stories tied up or justified — but this is a different sort of film, and its commitment to suggestiveness, its willingness to allow possibilities to linger, enhances the fundamental effect. Give yourself over to it, and this is a movie that will haunt you. The novel does this some, but as a novel it has the space to answer questions without closing off possibilities. Two-hour movies are more like short stories, and at its best moments this one reminded me of the effect of reading my favorite writer of ghost stories, Robert Aickman.

For all its many great moments, the most extraordinary is the very last. Since the movie goes in a different direction for some of its later parts than the novel does, I had no idea how or where it would end. (Figuring out the end was, I know, one of Chris's biggest challenges when writing the novel.) What could it possibly do? How could it find the resonance it needed to be satisfying?

I'll just say this: the moment the credits started rolling, I was in tears. Tears not only because of the profound effect of the absolutely perfect choice of ending, but also of relief that this beloved novel had been translated with such care and love to a very different medium.



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16. Amy Adams & Henry Cavill Accept Ice Bucket Challenge on ‘Superman vs. Batman’ Set

amyhenry

Here’s a scene you might not see in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman film. Amy Adams and Henry Cavill accepted the ALS Ice Bucket challenge in full wardrobe on the set of the Man of Steel sequel. Adams challenged all the siblings names she could remember.

I don’t want to ruin the end for you, but I hope you like your Man of Steel soaked.

They just dumped load, after load, after load…

Click here to donate some money to ALS.

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17. David Yates to Direct "Fantastic Beast" Films

Director of the last four Harry Potter movies, David Yates, has officially taken on the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy. As reported previously, J.K. Rowling will be working (along side Yates), writing the screenplays for the films, ensuring the film series spin off stays true to the Potter Universe. The first film is set to hit theaters November 2016, and no production schedule or cast list has been set. Variety reports:


According to sources, the studio had always wanted to approach a person who was familiar with the “Harry Potter” landscape and Yates, director of the last four films in the franchise, was a no brainer for WB. The move draws comparisons to other filmmakers like Peter Jackson returning for “The Hobbit” and Sam Mendes on “James Bond,” who, after insisting they were done with a certain franchise, ultimately came back to a piece of material they were comfortable tackling again.

More of Variety's exclusive article can be read here.

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18. Disney releases first, enormous picture of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, who WILL save the world

ant-man-paul-rudd-600x337.jpg
Well it wasn’t really enormous, but it is bigger than an ant. Yet it does not show star Paul Rudd as Ant-Man but rather as brooding hoodie man.

A white man in a hoodie. Safe as houses.

Anyway, according to an UNUSUALLY excited press release from Disney, Ant-Man just went into production with Peyton Reed (“Bring it On,” “The Break-Up”) directing. The departure of director[mastermind Edgar Wright., and subsequent desperate search for a director , put everyone in a bad mood over this movie, but after Guardian’s stunning success Wright will soon be but a footnote, I’m afraid, and all will be forgiven.

The rest of the Ant-Man cast includes Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Hank’s daughter, and Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Abby Ryder Fortson, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Wood Harris, John Slattery, Gregg Turkington and rapper T.I..

Btw the way, in case you were wondering “Will the tiny Ant-Man save the world just like every other Marvel hero thus devaluing the difficulty of saving the world while proving that even someone as small as an ant can be a big hero with heart and determination” the answer is YES, Ant-Man WILL save the world!
 

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.


We shouldn’t complain; saving the world is to Marvel heroes as meeting Prince Charming is to early disney Princesses.

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19. The Decay of the White Savior

Snowpiercer
Let's talk about white saviors, emotions, and endings.

Daniel José Older has an interesting take on Snowpiercer, particularly its ending, likening it to Children of Men:


Children of Men
But both Children of Men and Snowpiercer come crashing down to almost identical final moments. When the smoke clears and the countless bodies are carted off, what we’re left with is the same take-away: Bearded white dude saves humanity, in both cases represented by a woman and a child of color, both helpless and in need of saving, at the cost of his own life.
Basically, Older says, Snowpiercer and Children of Men are white savior movies. He proposes an alternative: "Imagine if the desperate rebels paused and elevated Tanya to leadership instead of Curtis. Snowpiercer would’ve become something truly subversive, a story some of us have been trying to tell for a very long time."

I think Snowpiercer is already pretty darn subversive, so I would replace the "truly" there with "even more", and I wouldn't call Yona in Snowpiercer helpless, really (she's smart and even seems to have some super powers). But yes, Snowpiercer could have offered an alternative to white supremacy (both the structural white supremacy of the train and the apparently internalized and patriarchal white supremacy of the rebels) instead of something closer to a satire of white supremacy ending in its own destruction — a futile destruction if you consider the likelihood of Yona and Tim's survival or the likelihood that some disease would kill off their ancestors. (For more along this line, and for thoughts on the implications of the film's take on revolutionary politics, and much else, see Aaron Bady's "Snowpiercer Thinkpiece".) It could have been a more deeply subversive, even utopian movie. It is not.

But as a savior, Curtis is pretty crappy. He's wrong about the revolution, most of the tailenders he's trying to liberate end up dead, and though he may have sacrificed his life for a woman and boy, the woman and boy are in all likelihood only going to outlive him by a day or two at most. And it's not like he set out to sacrifice his life for them. Nam and Yona caused the explosion. He just chose, along with Wilford, to see if his body might shield Yona and Tim's bodies from the blast. If you're going to die, you might as well make your death a potentially useful one, and that's what he does.

I've already proposed one way of thinking about the racial politics of the ending, and this is at least somewhat at odds with Older's reading, but I like texts that can be interpreted richly, and it's entirely likely that soon I'll think my first take was wrong. I like thinking about the lineage of white savior movies, because when I do, they give me a little bit more hope for progress than the ending of Snowpiercer does, because if we can see such stories as white supremacy talking about itself, then it's having a crisis of confidence and thinks it's going to die pretty soon.

(Obviously, it is the nature of white supremacy to make itself the center of conversation, and I am perpetuating that here. White supremacy's representations interest me. But I entirely agree with Older that we need additional storylines. Please please please somebody give Danny Glover the money to make his Toussaint L'Ouverture movie, for instance!)

There are some noticeable differences between the ending of Snowpiercer and the ending of Children of Men, but before getting to those, I want to bring up one other white savior movie, Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino, which I once called "a white savior movie that questions the whole idea of a white savior movie, or, at least, that wants to put an end to itself."

Gran Torino

One of the things that I think is important to consider when viewing a white savior movie is its desired emotional effect. Where does it want the audience's sympathies to fall? What does the film seem to want us to feel, and how? In a classic white savior movie — think Dances with Wolves or The Blind Side or [insert your own title here] — the white savior becomes ennobled through their encounter with the non-white supporting character(s). They learn to be more caring, less bigoted, etc. (Yay, white people can be better! Hooray for White Guy 2.0!) The journey is fundamentally that of the white protagonist, and the audience's greatest interest should be in the white character. (This is one of the things I thought was so excellent about 12 Years a Slave, which is in the end, yes, literally a white savior movie — without Bass [Brad Pitt], Solomon Northup might never have been freed — but not at all about the redemption of white people. But that's tangential to this discussion...)

Though Gran Torino is at least partly about the end of the old white savior, it nonetheless sticks with the redemption narrative. The future is given to nonwhite characters, and those characters are shown to be the closest to a traditional (conservative) sense of American values, but grumpy old racist Walt ends up not just learning to care deeply for people he'd previously spurned, but sacrificing himself for them. And not just any sacrifice. He lands on the ground with his arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross. Like Snowpiercer, Gran Torino proposes that the future will not be white, but in Gran Torino the white savior is still pretty awesome, even if he's a relic.

In Children of Men, Theo is much less heroic than Walt. He's pointedly unheroic in his presentation. But his character arc is toward heroism — through helping Kee, he discovers something to live for, something to fight for, and he becomes somebody worth shedding a tear for when he dies. For me, it's not as big a tear as Gran Torino seems to want us to shed for Walt, but that's partly because it's not hard to imagine Theo going back to being a cynical or apathetic drunk even if he lived. Walt's death feels momentous, like a tremendous (if necessary) loss; Theo's death is sad for a moment, poignant more than devastating.

With Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón did make interesting changes to counter the whiteness of the source material (a P.D. James novel), but the character we follow from beginning to end is, indeed, a white guy who saves a pregnant black woman and her child. Here, though, Kee is, like Thao and Sue in Gran Torino, a kind of representative of the future — if humanity is to survive, it's surviving because of a black woman, and the white savior is gone from the picture. (Although everyone we see on the Tomorrow ship that picks her up looks white, so who knows what will happen later...)

Snowpiercer also kills off the white savior(s) and proposes that the future of humanity does not lie with white people, but here the journey of the white savior is even less heroic than that of Walt or Theo. At least Walt and Theo are successful saviors.

Curtis's journey is in many ways the opposite of Walt's and Theo's. Walt and Theo begin cynical (or worse) and come to see the value in being a savior. We end up feeling good about them, and proud of them for their sacrifices. Curtis starts out at 2nd in command of the revolution (though Gilliam repeatedly suggests that Curtis is really in charge, even if Curtis doesn't want to face that fact) and ends up finding out that the revolution was a sham and that his actions all served to help Wilford's overall goals. Curtis has helped lead everyone he most cares into death for an illusion. Oops.

Do we shed a tear for Curtis?

I don't know about you, but I certainly didn't. Sure, there was the monologue toward the end where he talks about how he became a savage and then couldn't cut his arm off, etc., but it's important to remember what comes next: Nam's deflating reaction — Curtis clearly thought he was sharing his deepest, darkest secret, and Nam's response was little more than, "Uh huh." He's not bowing down to this white savior, not giving in to his emotional tug.

Curtis was interesting as a protagonist, as a figure to carry the force of the action, but my own emotional commitment was far more toward Nam, Tanya, Yona, and then Tim. (Tanya's death was, for me, the most affecting.) Curtis just isn't a very interesting character; he's a foil for the other characters and a device to get the story out. The relatively bland main character is an old tradition in narrative, and it serves a similar function to a straight man in comedy. So Curtis's death is not a moment that is, for me at least, more powerful than the deaths of so many other people on the train. It's easy for my plot interest to shift to Yona and Tim because that's where my affectual interest has been all along.

Gran Torino gives us the white savior who wants to end all white saviors, but it wants to us to pause and feel real sorrow for his death. Children of Men gives us an unheroic white savior who finds some shreds of heroism and dies to save the (at-least-partially) nonwhite future; we end up sort of sad for him, but the stronger emotion is likely happiness that Kee and her child lived. Snowpiercer gives us a white savior seeking the wrong revolution, ending up a savior as much by accident as intent, and the movie drains much of the emotional power from the savior figure, while proposing that if humanity has any future (unlikely), its future isn't one with white people in it.

The white savior is in trouble.

Well, at least until the next Avatar movie.

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20. Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: August 1

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include authors and illustrators, book lists, diversity, growing bookworms, events, summer reading, summer slide, literacy programs, kidlitcon, writing, movies, and schools.

Authors and Illustrators

Wild Things! Funky Buddha Parties to Children’s Books: Before They Were Authors + Illustrators http://ow.ly/zLu55 @SevenImp @FuseEight

Fun! Books the @growingbbb family's favorite Children's Authors Liked When They Were Kids http://ow.ly/zG4qs #kidlit

Book Lists

A timely list! 3 on a YA Theme: Summer Camp | @catagator @bookriot http://ow.ly/zB0pU #yalit

100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime from @Amazon is a pretty nice list http://ow.ly/zJ66c via @PWKidsBookshelf

A Tuesday Ten: SF-based Time Travel in #kidlit | Views From the Tesseract http://ow.ly/zLujJ #BookList

Books to Help Your Child With Common Kid Problems | @BookishHQ http://ow.ly/zL2xS #BookList #kidlit

From @CoffeeandCrayon | A List of Books About Starting Kindergarten http://ow.ly/zLtEQ #kidlit

New #BookList from Stacked: #YAlit involving Hacking, Gaming & Virtual Reality http://ow.ly/zIkwh

Picture Books for Young Writers | Lit For Kids Blog via @ChoiceLiteracy http://ow.ly/zGeOb #kidlit

A Top Ten Featuring the Coretta Scott King Book Awards by @medinger @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zG9wo #kidlit

Nice list of Middle Grade titles for #WeNeedDiverseBooks from @girlsincapes http://ow.ly/zG8aO via @charlotteslib

Stacked: Censorship, Challenges, and Other Forms of Protest: A Reading List from @catagator http://ow.ly/zG6hd

Diversity

Congratulations to #WeNeedDiverseBooks for incorporating + having a great advisory board http://ow.ly/zOh8A @sljournal

Go Doc McStuffins! Race in Toyland: A Nonwhite Doll Crosses Over @NYTimes http://ow.ly/zJ5G6 via @PWKidsBookshelf

Sigh! Infographic: The Diversity Gap in Sci-Fi & Fantasy Films. @bkshelvesofdoom @leeandlow http://ow.ly/zJ5aI

Events, Programs, and Research

Very cool! School Librarian Fights Summer Slide with School Bus-Turned-Bookmobile | @sljournalhttp://ow.ly/zOh3J

FirstBookSummer_ReadingEncouraging news from @FirstBook blog: How Kansas City Kids Beat Summer Slide http://ow.ly/zAYTP #SummerReading

Neat idea! Richmond mom brings literacy to laundromats | @KALW in SF http://ow.ly/zJ6do via @PWKidsBookshelf

"This summer, the streets of London have been filled with 50 book-shaped benches, celebrating a range of books" http://ow.ly/zB11c

Mind the Gaps: Books for All Young Readers | @HornBook Colloquium sounds neat http://ow.ly/zOhGA #HBAS14 http://ow.ly/zOhP1

Press Release: A Conference on Censorship in #kidlit and a Call for Proposals @fuseeight http://ow.ly/zG5Nv @ArneNixonCenter

Learning To Read May Take Longer Than We Thought @NPR via @PWKidsBookshelf http://ow.ly/zJ5Xd #literacy

Growing Bookworms

This is awesome! I want one! Sneaking Books in at breakfast: toast racks as book storage | @playbythebook http://ow.ly/zOz5C

The Maze Runner: Hooking Teachers + Reluctant Readers Since 2009 – Review by @shkrajewski @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zLtQZ

Keep calm + read to your child, @JGCanada advises parents worried about their kids not yet reading http://ow.ly/zLte8

Don't miss: Getting Boys Excited About Reading: Ideas & Resources from @TrevorHCairney http://ow.ly/zAZw0

Kidlitosphere

KidlitCon2014_cubeWendie Old has all the links you need to learn about this year's #KidLitCon http://ow.ly/zIkPb #kidlit #yalit

#KidLitCon 2014 Still Wants YOU! says co-organizer @aquafortis | She just registered. How about you? http://ow.ly/zGsup

Children's + YA BOOK blogging friends! This is the last week for Session Proposals for #KidLitCon14 http://ow.ly/zGczI

Lots of good stuff in this week's Fusenews, including a plug for #KidLitCon14 from @fuseeight http://ow.ly/zIfpG

A Little Shout-Out to #KidlitCon from co-organizer Tanita Davis: The more we talk about things like #diversity... http://ow.ly/zG9ec

"My best memories of #KidLitCon are getting to meet people in real life" | @LizB on why you should attend http://ow.ly/zG79Q

How I presented at #Kidlitcon, and how you can too! from this year's Program Organizer @charlotteslib http://ow.ly/zG6LI

What Do We Mean When We Talk About Diversity + How Can YOU Contribute to the Conversation at #KidLitCon http://ow.ly/zAWvU Tanita Davis

On Reading, Writing, Publishing

Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line? (+ where to shelve the books in the store) http://ow.ly/zJ5qf @PublishersWkly #kidlit

I feel like this too: Books as Traveling Companions through life by @AmericanClassrm @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zG5op

"Read-alouds can sometimes be just as important to the teacher in the classroom" @rantryan @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zG8GC

I collect bookmarks, too. Loved: Handmade Mini Bookmarks + Books About Reading from @momandkiddo http://ow.ly/zAZzz

Movies and Video

I am intrigued... The Famous Five are headed to the big screen, via @bkshelvesofdoom http://ow.ly/zIdfY

Wild Things! Tar Babies + Cannibals: Children’s Literature + Problematic Cinematic Adaptations http://ow.ly/zIkcm @FuseEight + @SevenImp

#KidLit Film Adaptations: The Good, The Bad, and the Traumatizing at Wild Things! http://ow.ly/zG63c @SevenImp @FuseEight

Who would have thought? 8 Reasons Why @momandkiddo Loves Pokémon http://ow.ly/zIean

Schools

At Literate Lives, suggestions from a dad to his daughter, a first-time first-grade teacher http://ow.ly/zLtmw

The plot to destroy education: Why technology could ruin American classrooms — by trying to fix them @salon http://ow.ly/zODY5

An idea for teachers: Battle of the Books by Sherry Gick @LibraryFanatic @NerdyBookClub http://ow.ly/zAZWV

Summer Reading

RT @ErinMargolin: SO GOOD! 10 Tips on How to Avoid the Summer Slide http://www.bonbonbreak.com/avoiding-summer-slide/ … via @bonbonbreak

National Book Foundation Launches New #SummerReading Program in NYC http://ow.ly/zODjU via @PWKidsBookshelf

#SummerReading Tip33 @aliposner | Have a lemonade stand…and, tie it to #literacy! | http://ow.ly/zG9DI

#SummerReading Tip35 from @aliposner | Parents, participate in a READING IN THE WILD scavenger hunt! | @donalynbooks http://ow.ly/zLvcE

Nancy Howe and Rosanne Macek: Keep our kids off the summer slide w/ #SummerReading programs @MercuryNews http://ow.ly/zAPIA

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.

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21. How Not to Write a Review, Unless You Want to Sound Like an Insufferable Prig


I know it's been all Snowpiercer all the time here lately, but this time it's not so much about that particular film as about how one reviewer has chosen to write about it, since his choices are ones that I detest in reviews, despite (or perhaps because of) how common those choices are.

I am, in other words, simply here to register a complaint.

There is a good argument to be made that we should not expend any time or attention on bad writing. Life is short, and there's plenty of great writing out there to read. But I am ignoring that argument for the moment, despite all it has to recommend it. Because sometimes something is just such a perfect model of What Not To Do that I can't help but want to scream against it.

The item in question is a review at The Los Angeles Review of Books by Len Gutkin. It is a negative review, but that's not the problem. I'm glad there are negative reviews of Snowpiercer, even though I loved the film, because I am suspicious of anything that seems to garner universal acclaim.

It would be nice, though, if the negative reviews could be something more than, "Waaaaa! I don't like this movie and other people do! I'm right, they're wrong! Waaaaaa! Pay attention to me!"

You think I exaggerate? Let me do something the review does not, and offer a bit of evidence...



The first paragraph is mostly summary, but the term "critical darling" is obviously there to let us know that this will not be an altogether positive review. Critical darlings are one step above warm piles of wombat dung, after all. Not only are they darlings (which we all know must be killed, not loved), but they're also the darlings of that most disgusting of creatures, the critic. (Critics who proclaim their distaste for all those other critics are the best, of course, because they're on Our Side. They're One of Us. We the people.)

The second paragraph begins with an overview of director Bong Joon-Ho's career, with The Host praised for its satire and wit, but the review quickly plunges into invective. "Snowpiercer, too, has moments of satirical wit, but it is mostly an incoherent slog, a tendentious allegory punctuated by overproduced fight scenes meant to be virtuosic but that are, in fact, merely busy — glossy object lessons in the asininity of action-movie convention."

Here's where we begin to see the problem with this review. The reviewer wants to universalize his own taste, prejudices, inclinations, ignorance, etc. He wants to become Us. He could not write, "I found Snowpiercer to have some moments of satirical wit, but mostly it seemed to me to be an incoherent slog..." No, it must be stated more categorically: It is this.

Of course, you might argue that since this is a review written by one person, the fact that it is one person's opinion is obviously implied, and saying, "It seems to me..." or "I found it to be..." over and over is annoying. That may be true, but writers find ways around it without declaring themselves God Of All Truth. And yes, certainly the omniscient pose is, we all know, just a pose. It's the choice to take such a pose that I object to, because it leads to an astounding arrogance of tone, a tone of absolute faith, utter certainty, pure infallibility.

Perhaps I so bristle at it because I've fallen into such a tone myself at times. It's hard to avoid, I know. But worth the effort. The pieces of writing that I most regret having published are reviews composed with such a tone.

I could complain about the inaccuracy of Gutkin's adjectives, or the factual inaccuracy of his "in fact" ("merely busy" — no, that is, in fact, wrong), or the blithely dismissive phrase "the asininity of action-movie convention" — but let's instead look to how he justifies his opinions. After such assertions, there must be evidence, no? "The entire movie looks, somehow, both very expensive and frustratingly cheap." Another assertion. Followed by a comparison to a video game and another assertion: "which would have been impressive 17 years ago." Oooh, snap! But not evidence. (How does it look like that? Point to specific elements. Describe.)

"Snowpiercer is about class revolt, a theme whose timeliness has tricked critics into admiring it." More assertions and more arrogance: All those other people have been tricked! Our reviewer is the only one who can see the truth! This sentence is followed by a snide contradiction of David Denby's review: "'Is revolution being hatched in the commercial cinema?' The New Yorker’s David Denby was moved to ask. No, David, it’s not." This is a contradiction, not an argument. Also, it's puerile. (Why not just call him Dave? You're at Yale, Lee, you could, you know, jump on MetroNorth and hang out with Dave in NYC. I'm sure he'd love to chat with you. He might even offer you his job, because obviously you're so much smarter than he is!)

This is followed by some more snide summary in which the writer works hard to declare himself superior to the work he is reviewing.

(Have we found evidence for Gutkin's assertions yet? I'm not seeing much. But let's continue...)

There's commentary on Chris Evans's performance as Curtis. "Has there ever been a well-known actor so pitifully without any of the requisite gifts as Evans?" Yes, I'm sure there has been. But maybe he meant the question as hyperbole. No matter. It completely misses the idea that perhaps the performance is exactly what was needed, because perhaps there is a critique of heroic action movies built into this movie. I don't require a reviewer to agree with such an idea, but it's always worth considering that perhaps the item under review is doing what it is doing on purpose, and perhaps your job as a reviewer is to look for that purpose, and, before you reject the item as simply "bad", to consider this possible purpose and adjust your critique accordingly. But no, as any blowhard can tell you, it's much easier and more fun to hurl insults.

The review continues: "To be fair, he’s given some pretty hopeless material. Recounting to Namgoong the traumatic early days of life on the train, Curtis fights back tears (I think that’s what he’s doing) and asks, 'You know what I hate about myself? I know what people taste like.' After several seconds of grimacing: 'I know that babies taste best.' I laughed so hard I thought I’d be asked to leave the theater." Again, skipping over the snotty tone, maybe that's the point.

(But let's not entirely skip over that snotty tone. Gutkin presents himself as one of those people who likes to stay above it all, distantly judging anyone who might find the scene actually moving. I can see him at the theatre, laughing away while some poor schlub next to him wipes away a tear, and Gutkin turns to said schlub and whispers, "What a little crybaby you are. You probably watch the Hallmark Channel, don't you?")

He moves on to Tilda Swinton. To Gutkin's credit, he recognizes that Tilda Swinton is a god. He then references Coriolanus, to show what a real writer can do with similar themes, and Joan Didion, who long ago sneered down her sneery nose at Dr. Strangelove — and so Gutkin decides that because he, too, likes to sneer, he has rights to Didion's nose, and he uses it to sneer down at Snowpiercer, which is, in fact, worse than Strangelove. (Imagine that! The horror!) But Swinton's good: "Only when she’s onscreen does Snowpiercer completely hold one’s attention."

The above sentence is yet another example of the arrogance that oozes from this review. What if somebody said, "There actually are other moments that completely held my attention." How would Gutkin respond? He has left himself only two choices. He could say, "In that case, I am wrong," or he could say, "You may think your attention was completely held, but you are a victim of false consciousness, and I, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, know more than you, and therefore I pronounce you wrong. Return to the hole out of which you crawled, worm!"

The next paragraph is, surprisingly, all praise for various actors, ending with, "And as Wilford, Ed Harris is as good as you’d expect him to be."

Just as we're beginning to think that Gutkin is maybe not the total creep he seemed to be, he doubles down: "But not good enough." Ohhh, feel the burn!

The final paragraph continues: "Snowpiercer wouldn’t, really, be worth writing about at all, except that a number of prominent critics — and not just David Denby — seem inexplicably convinced of its virtues." If the egomaniacal shallowness of this sentence isn't obvious to you, just look at that inexplicably there. According to this sentence, none of the critics who have praised Snowpiercer have explained their praise. None of them. Instead, they've just written thousands and thousands of versions of, "Snowpiercer, Snowpiercer, rah rah rah! Yadda yadda yadda! It's great, great, great" Meanwhile, Gutkin has offered the devasting and incontroverible evidence of, "No, David, it’s not."

We're not quite done yet, so maybe there's some evidence in the final sentences. Gutkin actually quotes two reviewers, Dana Stevens and Andrew O’Hehir, but he doesn't quote their reasoning, he just contradicts their opinions, and quotes O'Hehir on Harvey Weinstein's initial desire to cut the film's length, which then leads to the final sentence: "Weinstein should have been allowed his cuts — the thing would at least have been shorter." (The thing. It's not even a movie, it's just a thing, something easily dismissed. Get this thing out from under my Didion nose! Such things are not allowed at the Yale Club! Go away, thing!)

This made me wonder if the reviews he quotes are as vapid as his own.

Here's a paragraph from Stevens (and not an entirely positive one, at that, despite Gutkin's accusation that Stevens gushes):
Unless you have a huge appetite for gnarly fight sequences, this seizing-control-of-the-train section gets a bit long and structure-less, though I will say this for Bong: His action scenes never build or resolve according to familiar Hollywood formulas. Any character, no matter how narratively important or beloved, can get the ax (often literally) at any time, which gives the battle scenes a palpable sense of emotional as well as physical suspense.
The qualifier at the beginning of that first sentence is an interesting contrast to Gutkin's arrogance. As someone who does, in fact, have a pretty good appetite for "gnarly fight sequences" (an accurate description of some of the central scenes in the film), I appreciate Stevens's caveat. Indeed, I can see how somebody less interested in cinematic mayhem than I might get bored during a lot of Snowpiercer, just as I could see they might get bored with any action movie, no matter how accomplished. If you don't like that sort of thing, you don't like that sort of thing, and you'll have a hard time telling the good stuff from the mediocre or even bad. (It's like me trying to tell you if a football player is any good. Amateur football games look just like professional ones to my eyes. But I'm not writing reviews of football games.) Further, Stevens makes an assertion about those action scenes (they "never build or resolve according to familiar Hollywood formulas") and then follows that assertion with reasoning.

The O'Hehir review is more descriptive and also full of assertions without evidence, and, truthfully, doesn't do a very good job of explaining its praise.

It's easy to write negative reviews. It's fun, in a nasty, trivial sort of way. It lets you blow off the steam that built up from being subjected to an experience you didn't enjoy. I've done it. I get it. But a negative review needs to offer something more than just its negativity.

I've come to expect, perhaps foolishly, a little bit more of the L.A. Review of Books. Shouldn't an editor say, "Hey, you've clearly had fun writing this, but you should know that you come off sounding like an ass, and it might help to put a little bit more explanation in there to give some evidence for your criticism. You disguise the lack of substance with a tone of omniscience, as if the obviousness of your complaints isn't worth the effort of explanation. I mean, have you ever considered that maybe the problem isn't the movie? Maybe, really, the problem is ... you?"

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22. Emma Thompson "Save the Arctic"

Emma Thompson (Professor Sybil Trelawney) has joined the Greenpeace "Help Save the Arctic" campaign. The campaign calls for legal protection of the arctic against deprivation by oil drills and industrial fishing. As Emma Thompson says on her petition, savethearctic.org/emma, "it is not to much to say our future depends on it". Harry Potter costar Emma Watson, showed her support for Emma Thompson's efforts by sharing a pic of her electronic signing Emma Thompson's Save the Arctic petition (as seen below) with the caption "GO EMMA T!!!! :) <3". When one signs the petition, they receive an automated email from Emma Thompson, written with her wit and humor, that reads: 

Dear -------,

Thank you so much for joining me by adding your name to protect the Arctic.

I don’t normally use the internet to communicate in this way, but on this occasion I made an extraordinary exception.

The Arctic is essential to all of us, and with your help we can make sure it is protected in perpetuity.

I wrote this message as a thank you for you, but feel free to pass it on to anyone you know who might also be interested in helping.

savethearctic.org/emma

Very best wishes,

Emma Thompson

P.S. In spite of my allergy to social networking, I will be guest tweeting on @savethearctic. Please follow my journey there or at intothearctic.gp.



If anyone is interested in signing the petition, they may do so here, with a fine picture of Emma Thompson standing on the North Pole. One may also visit this site, to see the progress of how many signatures have been collected (six million thus far), as well as add their name to the petition.

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23. 5 Things I Can't Wait to See in THE GIVER Movie {+ A Book Recap}

  I'm super excited for The Giver movie coming out August 15th. These are my top five things I really want to see come to life on the big screen; 1.  The way the Giver transfers the memories to Jonas. It was cool to read and I bet it'll be awesome to see put on the big screen. 2.  Jonas' first flashes of color. It was hard to picture in the book and now I can put pictures to words. 3.

0 Comments on 5 Things I Can't Wait to See in THE GIVER Movie {+ A Book Recap} as of 8/13/2014 3:34:00 PM
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24. Dude Looks Like a Lady!

doubtfire
“Dear Mrs. Doubtfire,

Two months ago, my mom and dad decided to separate. Now they live in different houses. My brother Andrew says that we aren’t to be a family anymore. Is this true? Did I lose my family? Is there anything I can do to get my parents back together? Sincerely, Katie McCormick.”

Oh, my dear Katie. You know, some parents, when they’re angry, they get along much better when they don’t live together. They don’t fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don’t, dear. And if they don’t, don’t blame yourself. Just because they don’t love each other anymore, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months… even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you’re going to be all right… bye-bye.  ~Mrs. Dountfire

 

Remembering Robin Williams.

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25. I Should've Read the Book First {IF I STAY Movie Review}

Chloë Grace Moretz stars as comatose teen who has an out-of-body experience following a car accident that kills her entire family.  She then has to make the incredibly difficult choice to let go, and join her family, or to stay. I was fortunate to be able to get an advanced screening pass to the IF I STAY movie, and I was incredibly excited to see it. I'd been putting off reading it because

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