Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scott's Links June 2012

Scott roams the internet far and wide to ply his trade as a link dealer. Fortunately, Scott provides links free to us. Check these out. . . share your thoughts! And away we go. . .

Screenwriter/novelist William Goldman's epic takedown of Saving Private Ryan

Andrew, this one's for you. Your mileage may vary but I recall hearing about this essay years ago and I finally found it. (PLEASE NOTE: I got a weird audio-only advertisement of some kind the first time I accessed this site. You may not, but I'd adjust the volume accordingly.)

The literary roots of Prometheus (spoilers!)

To say Prometheus has received mixed reviews would be an understatement. While I was disappointed with the film, I've had the pleasure of reading several thoughtful analyses (seriously, this could've been a Prometheus-themed link page) including this one which traces the material back to Lovecraft and Kubrick.

Why movie blockbusters need to get their act together

I'll quote the tweet that inspired this article: “If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.”

Classic TV actors that never got proper recognition

Typecasting sucks but just consider all the talent that was on display in the sitcoms we now consider classics. Despite being buried under Frankenstein make-up, Fred Gwynne was also a very good actor. Ditto guys like Don Knotts and Alan Hale Jr.

5 scientific ways watching movies effects you

Pretty much what you'd expect though I don't like the idea of filmmakers hooking up test audiences to MRI machines in order to make them feel the same way at the same time. Sounds like something out of science-fiction. While we're on the subject...

Ray Bradbury's predictions fulfilled

It's always interesting to see how much of our present was predicted in the past but, sadly, Fahrenheit 451 seems to be the most prescient.

Star Trek II and the case of the missing baby

The Internet never ceases to amaze me. [smile] Did you know Khan had a baby son? I only found this out in the last year or so. A couple of still photos exist but I'd be surprised if the footage is still around.

Celebrating 45 years of The Dirty Dozen

You're mileage may vary but it's interesting to see just how ahead of its time this movie was. Blood? Anti-heroes? I especially love the New York Times review quote that opens the article. Any movie described with the word "hooliganism" can't be all that bad!

Come on, Hollywood, give us more practical effects!

Forget creatures and cityscapes. The one thing I really miss is exploding blood squibs. Today's filmmakers use CGI blood because it's easier to clean up, but I have yet to see it done 100% realistically. (David Fincher's ridiculously underrated Zodiac is an exception.)

The other great performance in the movie

Very good article. We're usually so focused on iconic performances that we often neglect "the other guys." Sure, Pacino and Brando are excellent in The Godfather but so is John "Fredo" Cazale. (Interestingly, Cazale only made five films, all Best Picture winners or nominees - he passed away too soon at age 42.)

The 22 rules of storytelling according to Pixar

I'll quote rule #4: "Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___." It's just that simple!

10 reasons we don't want a Batman reboot after The Dark Knight Rises

The Superman films declined in quality and a reboot was inevitable. But the Batman films are a little different. The first four films went downhill at the end but Christopher Nolan has set the bar so high that any future Bat filmmaker would be wise to continue where he left off instead of staring from scratch. (Do we need to see Bruce's parents killed again?)

Last night's listening:

Instead of geeking out over my latest film score purchase, I'd like to show you something instead. For my Color Fundamentals class, I edited together a montage of movie clips to illustrate the color wheel (red, orange, yellow, etc.). It's seven minutes long and features three cues by James Horner. I hope you enjoy it!


AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've read the Goldman article several times and it's a brilliant takedown of Saving Private Ryan. It's well worth the read!

Kristina said...

Scott, love these roundups, always check them out, never til now stopped long enough to say thanks for doing them. fixed!

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

I'm sure I had mentioned it before but for some reason, I was convinced you'd never read the Goldman article. I guess I thought I had discovered some kind of holy grail. :-)

Anyway, I'm glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

Kristina -

Your welcome!! I only wish I got to do these more often. Maybe one day when Commentarama Films is a huge website with hundreds of regulars and a dozen contributors, I can be the resident link guy. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

OT: Let me ask again, anyone who wants to review Without A Hitch and hasn't, I would really appreciate it. I am so close to the top 100 and more reviews could help with the momentum! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've read it many times actually. I think the Goldman article is a brilliant takedown of the film and really exposes some incredible flaws.

DUQ said...

Scott, Excellent list as always. That would be great if Commentaram Films grew to the point where you guys were putting out multiple articles each day! :D

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

It's always interesting when filmmakers openly criticize other filmmakers' work. I imagine most of the time they choose not to, out of fear or something. But Goldman's never worked with Spielberg and by the late 90s, his place in film history was already well-established. Plus, when it comes to Spielberg, there's probably a certain amount of "I don't want to lose my seat at the cool table" going on.

I know I've seen Terry Gilliam criticize Spielberg but... well, he's Terry Gilliam. :-)

Anonymous said...


Thanks! For every link I use, there are three more that I don't. And this is the first list I've compiled from scratch - all of the other ones were simply recycled from Big Hollywood.

I eagerly await Commentarama 2.0. To quote Ghostbusters: "The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams." :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, CommentaramaFilms 2.0! LOL! I would love to expand, but I think that would kill me honestly.

Gilliam will criticize anyone without fear, I just don't think he's right all that often. In any event, you are right that few in Hollywood will criticize anyone else. I think that makes sense, but it would probably help them a lot if they did start offering more criticisms.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, needless to say, Kevin Smith doesn't seem to have a problem with criticizing other filmmakers. During one of his Q&As years ago, he discussed his work on Tim Burton's ill-fated Superman movie. Smith takes no prisoners and doesn't seem to be a fan of either Burton or producer/oddball Jon Peters.

But then again, he's Kevin Smith.

Watch at your leisure. (NSFW, naturally.)

P.S. Presumably, if the site ever took off, you'd be able to quit your day job. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That would be pretty cool. :)

rlaWTX said...

I was expecting the Bradbury stuff to be all dark and depressing things that have happened - but they aren't! :)

The Private Ryan piece - I have to admit that I was blown away by the first - no - by the battle scene when I saw it at the theater. But I haven't watched that part in full since. as I was reading through the criticism, I kept agreeing with it... potential squandered. And I wouldn't have put Spielberg in the "crazy patriot" category anymore...

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm off to class. I'll be back in a few hours.

rlaWTX - Yeah, I felt the Bradbury stuff was a nice mix but mostly good things.

I haven't seen SPR in its entirety in years but I'm sure if I watched it now, I'd focus more on the flaws.

T-Rav said...

Michael Bay....ugh. I didn't really have an opinion on him until those monstrosities that were the Transformers movies, but he really needs to be banned from directing any film in which an explosion might even potentially occur.

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, Michael Bay should be banned from directing, for the good of humanity.

tryanmax said...

Yippee! Scott’s links are always fun.

Hyping Private Ryan: Hard to believe this movie came out in '98. Makes me feel old. More than the film itself, I

remember the big to-do over whether the film could/should be aired unedited. (This was the same year that Janet Jackson

had her infamous "wardrobe malfunction.") My forgetfulness alone should be testament that this film isn't the "high art"

it was purported to be. Paring it down to 120 min and dubbing the profanity with "shoot" and "heck" would be no great

tragedy. Maybe some clever editing could bring it closer to Goldman's suggestions.

Prometheus: I'm intentionally skipping this one because I plan to see the film tomorrow.

Raiders of the Lost Ending: A very good point. I think it is more than well understood that a bad ending ruins

and otherwise good movie (or a good anything for that matter). Yet that is precisely the principle that is cast aside

with so many blockbuster films. Not that the endings are bad per se, but they are largely generic. In other

words, the quickest way to make an original movie seem generic is to give it a generic ending. I'm going to tuck that

one into my writer's cap.

Top TV Talent: I'm really happy with the amount of love shown for Bewitched, just because Dick York's Darren Stevens is the man who showed me what I wanted to be when I grew up. The fact is, I can barely stand most modern sitcoms, but I often find myself turning to MeTV and watching the old classics. (Sadly, Bewitched is not among them.)

Blinded with Science: Yeah, a lot of this article is "well, duh." The question that always comes to my mind when reading about studies that "prove" something that we all already knew was true is, "Who's paying for this?" I probably don't want to know the answer.

Bradbury's World: Bradbury is perhaps the best futurist since Jules Verne. Impressive foresight.

Oh, Baby!: I wonder how much the cutting of the baby bears on The Search for Spock's storyline?

Ridin' Dirty: Never seen The Dirty Dozen, and it sounds like I'm the worse for it.

Practical Magic: I don't work much with motion graphics (outside of the occasional GIF and web-animation) but my rule-of-thumb when it comes to Photoshop is that the results are a whole lot better when you start with a decent photograph. I think the same probably applies tenfold to motion pictures. The major problems I see with CGI is it's being used from the base on up. Big mistake. From what I can follow, the base of good CGI seems to be a practical effect. This makes sense, when you think about it, because then the CGI guy has an in-frame base to work from. Instead of trying to meld two completely separate worlds (the camera vs. the computer), you are using the computer to touch-up the camera.

The Other Guys: Nothing much to say to that. Let's hear it for the support!

Da Rulez: I'm printing this.

No more Bat-boots: If I could offer two more reasons; 11. We'll never get a Superman/Batman movie if they keep rebooting the damned characters! 12. The Amazing Spiderman. Didn't need it. Don't want it. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Color Wheel: I really like how you kept going back to 2001 to make the color transitions. No surprise at the abundance of red, or that fire featured prominently for orange. I might quibble over some interpretations of blue, indigo, and violet. Did you consciously edit the montage to synch with changes in the tone of the score, or is that just pure talent showing through? A listing of the films sampled in the YouTube description would be useful.

tryanmax said...

Sorry about the crazy formatting. Don't know what that is about.

AndrewPrice said...

We almost canceled the links articles for lack of public response. I'm glad to hear people enjoy them!

Kit said...

Liked the action movie one, though I did enjoy both AVENGERS and DARK KNIGHT. (Saw each at least 3 times in theaters)

Kit said...

Michael Bay's ARMAGEDDON was fun. TRANSFORMERS was both awesome (Optimus Prime's voice) and just bad bad bad (Megan Fox).

Never saw 2 or 3 so I will not pass judgement upon them.

Kit said...

Already seen the Pixar list and it is brilliant.

Much like Pixar.

EricP said...

Were he not one of the very few directors of any note to consistently portray the military in a positive light, I'd be more behind a Bay-banning. Peter Berg's another one, but Battleship's tanking not helping his cause.

Kit said...

Here is a tribute to 25 Years of Pixar Animation. Quite fun.

5 min 24 sec

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, That's true and that's a solid mitigating factor. What frustrates me is that he had a great eye for images, but his storytelling skills completely suck!

I haven't seen Battleship yet, but then I'm not alone in that. It didn't look very good from the previews.

EricP said...

Great seeing the mighty John Ritter's name on that TV list. Amen to the Bad Santa nod (RIP both he and Bernie Mac) and Ritter's job in Sling Blade still floors me in its awesomeness.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Pixar has done really strong work for a very long time now. They are impressive and they deserve the praise they get.

EricP said...

Yeah, Andrew, it would be better if not-so-quiet conservative Jerry Bruckheimer had a better muse than Bay to keep giving his blockbuster bucks. Till then, though, we're stuck with Bay.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Maybe even just a supervisor would help. But that's wishful thinking.

I am glad that Bruckheimer is making money though! Conservatism sells!

Kit said...

I love me some Pixar. I have seen all of them but CARS 2 and BRAVE.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

The question is, is Michael Bay attracted to movies that lend themselves to explosions, or is he liable to simply throw in explosions regardless of the film's subject matter?

At the end of the day, I think Bay simply feels he's giving people the most bang for their buck. The problem is, we've seen it all before and bombast can't substitute for a good story.

Kit said...

I think the TOY STORY Trilogy is one of the consistently best, if not THE best, film trilogy of all time. (No Ewoks!)

UP shot dust into my eyes in the first 10 minutes.

Kit said...

Also, "For the colony! And oppressed bugs everywhere!"

Michael Bay said...

That's a good question, ScottDS. Did I mention that my next movie is Pride and Extreme Prejudice: Darcy's Revenge. There are only 2,700 explosions in that one. Hardly worth mentioning.

Kit said...

"This is nothing compared to the twig of '93."

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -


Re: Private Ryan - Yeah, it makes me feel old, too! (Minority Report turned 10 last week!) I forget if Goldman touches on this or if I saw it elsewhere but someone said the film is pretty much a conventional war movie with all the cliches therein. The only thing that made a difference was the D-Day sequence. After that... more of the same.

As for the film's TV airing, I think some people freaked out a tad too much after the SuperBowl and forgot about context: an important R-rated movie and an "accident" during a live event watched by families are not the same thing!

Re: Prometheus - I hope you like it better than I did! I'm looking forward to Andrew's review once the film hits Blu-Ray.

Re: Raiders - When it comes to endings, the best endings seem inevitable, but so many of these big summer movies are cut from the same cloth, we can see the gears turning and we shouldn't.

Re: Top TV Talent - I don't think we get MeTV but I've heard about it. I still think we need a TCM for television with a host who can put things in context.

Re: Oh, Baby! - I doubt the cutting of the baby had any bearing on the following films. Once the scene is cut, it's cut. It's not part of the canon; only a weird curiosity. :-)

Re: The Dirty Dozen - It's not the best movie ever but it's pretty dang entertaining!

Re: Practical Magic - You're correct in that CGI artists work best when they have a practical reference.

I've mentioned to Andrew that Cinefex magazine did a big round table discussion about effects and I finally found a transcription. Please read this.

Re: The Other Guys - I agree!

Re: Da Rulez - I once took a screenwriting class in LA and the teacher managed to come up with a movie plot in 5 minutes using something bery similar to these rules. Sheer elegance in its simplicity.

Re: Bat - I'm afraid with all the reboots, they're gonna go through what the Trek people referred to as "franchise fatigue." Wait a decade!

Thanks for the kind words re: the color wheel. In terms of the music, 95% of it was a happy accident! As far as the colors, I found that the montage had to work on its own, as well as within the parameters of the assignment. So I'd put orange-yellow closer to orange but I'd put yellow-green closer to green, etc.

Anonymous said...

Kit -

I thought The Avengers was a lot of fun! I consider it a miracle since so many other big summer movies are a chore to get through. I'll admit Armageddon is borderline guilty pleasure material but I had it on TV a few months ago and, man, the movie is stupid! (But in an entertaining way.) :-)

rlaWTX said...

Kit, Up was pretty amazing. I really liked the 1st Toy Story, the others were just good.
And what's with the Ewok hating?? They were pretty cool back in the day! :)

I have to admit, I really liked Battleship. Now everyone here knows that I am an easy audience member, but the story was interesting, the characters believable, and the use of active military and vets was AWESOME.

[I thought it was interesting that they used Hong Kong instead of NYC (they always flatten NY, don't they?)to destroy at the beginning - then as they showed the destruction, and it was very reminiscent of 9-11 scenes - the billowing dirt through the streets and running people, and I was glad it was Hong Kong.]

Anonymous said...

Eric -

I love John Ritter. Speaking of Bad Santa, I remember watching it and wondering if it was okay for me to be laughing. I'm no prude but I've literally never had that feeling before. My favorite gag is still "It's a wooden pickle!"

As for Bruckheimer and Bay, Bay seems to need a muse more so than Bruckheimer. Bay worked with him, then the first film he did "solo" bombed (The Island), then it was back to Bruckheimer and lately he's been doing Transformers with Spielberg. Some filmmakers just need a benefactor.

tryanmax said...


RE: Khan's baby, I wasn't really considering canon at all with that comment. I was just wondering aloud if perhaps ST II & III were developed concurrently and whether, earlier in the process, there was some idea of the Genesis planet springing up humanoid life on its own by virtue of the baby getting in the way of the device. It may well be that they pared the baby's role down but didn't realize he was wholly superfluous until reaching the editing room. Just a speculation.

But as the

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

Your comment cut off but by the time you read this, I'm sure you will have realized that. Weird...

Andrew and I were talking about it the other day but II and III were not developed concurrently. In fact, Nick Meyer was against the idea of bringing Spock back which is why he didn't come back for III. The "remember" gag was thought up on the day and the torpedo shot on the surface was added at the last minute.

I assume the baby was cut way before any of this happened. However, I don't recall Meyer or anyone else ever talking about it.

For III, Harve Bennett started with "Spock comes back" and worked backwards.

T-Rav said...

Okay, I just got around to reading the Private Ryan piece, which I agreed with for the most part. I didn't agree quite so much with the argument that Ryan wanting to stay with his buddies was implausible. Given that soldiers tend to form pretty tight bonds with the other people in their unit, I think his reaction was a believable one. Not every soldier would have reacted the same way, but some would, I think.

My main quarrels with the movie are this:

-The entire premise. Given the dangerous situation in Normandy in the immediate aftermath of D-Day, NO WAY should a squad of soldiers been sent cross-country on an irrelevant mission like that; especially not some freaking Army Rangers. If I were FDR, I'd have wanted to can Marshall for that alone.

-The German prisoner. In reality, he would have been shot right off the bat and no one would have said boo. The acclaimed "Band of Brothers" from the 101st did that and worse, and admitted to it later.

-Tom Hanks' character's death, when he grabs Ryan and gasps to him, "Earn this." What the @#$% does that mean, "Earn this"? How do you earn someone dying--was he even dying to save Ryan or from fighting the Germans? I forget--so that you might live? You can't. You can try and be an upstanding citizen and all, but you can't literally pay off something like that. What a ridiculous thing to say.

Look, this will always be a moving film in certain ways, and I agree that the opening battle scene is top-notch. But for God's sake.

(rant off)

Kit said...

I think the "Earn this" was intended to be a message to the viewers. "Earn this" sacrifice by the American soldiers who fought in Europe.

Anonymous said...

T-Rav -

I always understood the "Earn this" comment, as in "Others died so that you may live" or some such thing. However, I can't disagree with Goldman either. The scene is rather mawkish (to say the least!).

I believe the actual plot itself was loosely based on the Niland brothers though I don't believe the Army actually sent a team to get one of them.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, My beef with the film was that Spielberg tried to insert a Vietnam sensibility into a World War II story. He made these guys thuggish, cynical and indifferent. They don't seem to know or care why they're fighting. None of that is true of American troops of the era.

And then all the other things Goldman lists are very valid too. The film is incredibly cynical in its manipulation of the audience.

I took the "earn this" comment as Hanks letting Damon know he had sacrificed himself and his men to give Damon a chance at life and he wanted Damon to remember that so he tried to live for more than most people. That said, it's a rather cruel thing to do to someone.

T-Rav said...

Scott, yeah, I've read about the Nilands and always figured that's where the idea came from. But come on. These are Army Rangers, for Pete's sake. You're not going to pull them away from the action to go looking for one little private.

As for "Earn this"--no. I still find it ridiculous.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I was under the impression (not researched) that this was based on the Sullivan brothers, who all died on the same ship. I know the Navy has been very squeamish since about putting to many relatives together. ... but I could be wrong. The Wikipedia says so at least.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's exactly the problem. Damon's character is now going to have that hanging over him every day of his life; he's always going to be asking himself, "Have I done enough?" No wonder the old guy had such an emotional breakdown on finding the grave.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

I also read it was based on the Sullivan brothers. Oddly, some articles list the Sullivans, others list the Nilands, others mention both as influences. That's the Internet for you.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I get the "nobility" of it. It's kind of old-school Classical Greek in a way. "Honor me!"

But I agree with you that it's really kind of sick when you think about it. It's a major, major guilt trip he laid on Damon, something Damon will never be able to live up to.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Either way, it is truly heartbreaking to realize that this mother is going to hear that so many of her sons are dead. I can't think of anything more tragic.

tryanmax said...

I didn't realize my comment had cut off, but for the life of me I can't recall what I wanted to say next. "But as the" isn't much help. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Perhaps you were censored by DHS?

T-Rav said...

I think DHS has gotten in and scrubbed tryanmax's mind of that comment, and we should investigate.

The TSA said...

They also took out all the dirty images and gave those to us to look at. For security reasons. We don't mind telling you, because there's nothing you can do about it. Sleep well.

AndrewPrice said...

Yes, I'm sure that's exactly what happened.

Thank you TSA, it's good to hear we're in such steady hands!

Tennessee Jed said...

just got home to see this. Scott, now you've ruined my all time great trivia questions (John Cale's short but highly regarded career) :)

tryanmax said...

Ha, ha! Joke's on you, TSA! My mind is so polluted, you'll all be dead in a week. My plan to take down DHS is unfolding nicely.

Anonymous said...

Jed -

Sorry about that. I Googled John Cale but I assume you meant Cazale. :-)

We were asked this question in film school but it was the one day I decided to sleep in. Had I been there, I would've been the first student to correctly guess, "Which actor has only been in five films, all Best Picture winners or nominees?"

Anonymous said...

Jeez, I spend time writing my next review and I come back to see DHS and TSA plastered all over the place? :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Just like Lando Calrissian, we've made a deal to keep them off our backs.

Sadly, like Vader, they broke the deal.

T-Rav said...

Scott, you have to keep an eye on these threads or they get out of hand pretty fast.

AndrewPrice said...

Man, Isn't that the truth!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Andrew, my color wheel montage is up to 125 views on Youtube, along with 1 like and a comment.

Someone's watching it and it's not just me! My teacher said it was my masterwork.

We rarely get opportunities in which we can use our gifts (such as they are). I hope I get to do one for every class I have.

And I finished the rough draft of my next review. It's gonna be a doozy. (Thankfully, every thing I talk about has a YouTube clip so there will be plenty of hyperlinks on this one. And hopefully, some laughs.)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm glad to hear it turned out so well! I'd say that perhaps you found your talent, only I'm not sure there's much of a market for color-wheel technicians? ;)

Anonymous said...

None. One classmate actaully said to me, "Have you thought about film school?"

Uh, yeah... why do you think I'm back in college!

I'm not interested in being a film editor though I'd love to get the opportunity to, say, edit a montage for the Oscars. Truthfully, I always thought I could do a better In Memoriam montage than the Academy. The Emmys, the BAFTAs, TCM... they all do better montages!

AndrewPrice said...

You should go to film school! LOL!

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