We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, February 9. 2011
Doc's List Of The Toughest-Talkin' Hombres In All Of Western Moviedom:
5. John Wayne in The Alamo
4. Clint Eastwood in Hang 'Em High
3. Kurt Russell in Tombstone
2. Gene Hackman in The Quick and the Dead
And #1 on Doc's List Of The Toughest-Talkin' Hombres In All Of Western Moviedom:
1. Little 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
I mean, wow. Write some tough lines for any of the above heavyweight dudes, then stick a dainty 14-year-old girl wearing her daddy's big floppy hat in front of the camera speaking them, and watch the sparks fly. Poor old Rooster never knew what hit him.
Neither did this poor slob:
Nor did Jeff Bridges, who said in an interview that he was full of trepidation at the thought of giving the lead to an unproven 14-year-old, but the first scene they filmed was when she walked in while he was sleeping and proceeded to verbally kick his ass all over the room, at which point he never had another doubt.
What was particularly impressive about the movie was that it had a nice unhurried feel to it, as befitted the times, yet it never dragged. I had complained in my Jonah Hex post a few weeks ago how slow and boring Westerns had become, and while there wasn't a lot of gunplay in Grit, it sure never felt boring. Even the 'quiet' scenes, like around the campfire and saddling up the horses, had a sharp edge to them because of the ever-present tension between Marshall Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, played to perfection by Matt Damon.
Another nicety is the way they stick to the language of the day and don't use contractions — a purely modern convention. I'm sure it felt a little awkward and unnatural for the actors at times, and it's a little jarring to hear, but its authenticity made up for any disjointedness. They also use 'full' sentences, unlike the clipped way we speak today.
"I do not know of that which you speak!"
A truly enjoyable movie. Notes on Toy Story 3 and Shrek 4 are below the fold.
If you enjoyed the first movies in these series but lost interest in the finales because you figured they'd just be more of the same, oops!
Since I don't want to give away any spoilers, let me just say this:
In the first two Toy Story movies, the toys never actually faced death. There were certainly times when they were close to buying the farm but — in their toyish innocence — they didn't even recognize it at the time, like the scene in Toy Story 2 when they're crossing the big boulevard and Mr. Potato almost gets turned into Mr. Mashed Potato by the runaway pipe. Never knew a thing.
But that's not true in Toy Story 3.
Not true at all.
The first three Shrek movies all took place in the same land and time, so, without even thinking about it, you'd expect the fourth would as well.
I'm sure that's what the writers were counting on.
I actually stopped the movie around the 20-minute mark and started all over.
You may not remember, but when the first Shrek came out, it was absolutely jaw-dropping in its realism. I even claimed in my Doc's Not-Even-Close-To-Official All-Shrek Trivia Quiz that they used real people in the filming, then ran it through some kind of 'cartoon filter' to give it that animated look. No wonder this fraud won 'Best Animated Feature Film' at the Oscars! (further undeniable proof is in the post)
And at the end of the first Toy Story, when Buzz and Woody are riding the rocket, the realism of the street and trees below was another breakthrough moment in movie animation. All I could do was sit there staring with disbelief that a computer could turn out anything so mind-bogglingly realistic.
For those of you who have already seen Toy Story 3 and would like to see the climatic fire scene again, I have it in my Bag O' Clips.
To those of you who dismissed these two series as 'cartoons' and never watched them, you could not have been more wrong. Those reading these words who took these characters into their hearts and recognized the myriad ways this new genre was unfolding before our eyes know of what I speak.
To Dreamworks and Pixar, thank you for two marvelous journeys that will never be equaled.
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So that's the girl huh? Speaks too fast - couldn't understand half of what she said.
With respect to animation - I agree. Some of the new computer generated movies are simply outstanding. Think about "Avatar" - almost everything in that movie other than one or two fixed sets was computer generated and was about as real as you could ask for.
Of course the movie sucked, but you can't have everything.
They will eventually get to photo realistic - in fact, they are close to it now - the "Halo" sequel is supposed to be state of the art featuring new photo realistic tech. We'll see.
Then again, I am a huge anime fan - something about these Japanese animations that are very artistic and intriguing - to me anyway.
This version of True Grit was not a "re-make". It actually stuck pretty close to the book....sorry fans of the Duke.
I found it to be a very good film. Not excessively gory. The language, as was pointed out in the review, was refreshing to listen to and the acting was good. I especially liked the ending.
I did not read the other two reviews because I couldn't care less about any sequel #2, #3 or whatever. I will admit both Toy Story and Shrek first editions were mildly amusing. As a general thing though I don't watch cartoons anymore.
Sorry - "re-imaging" then. (Same damn thing though). :>)
Sorry to hear about your animation affliction. Unfortunately we all have our crosses to bear. :>)
Did you notice the tie-in between his last sentence -- and the second-to-last paragraph of my post?
I can't remember which one it was (I think Shrek 2), but in the 'Making of' they were talking about having to tone down the realism somewhat, just because people expect a certain cartoonishness to a digital production of animated toys or big green ogres. It might actually be kind of weird seeing them in a real-life setting, like a cross between the 'Chuckie' movies and 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'.
As far as 'Avatar' goes, I was too entranced by the digital effects (and checking out the hot titty action) to remember that the poor oppressed natives were being threatened by the ruthless corporate mercenaries, thereby symbolizing the-, anyway, I forgot. I thought the dragons were friggin' awesome.
Why didn't the miners just tunnel under the goddamn tree?
1 - Because that would ruin the narrative of the industrial/military complex being the root of all evil.
2 - Unobtainium? Really? Un-freakin'-obtainium?
1 - I always have a hard time remembering which side are the good guys. I feel for the brave, noble Na'vi, but, by the same token, if it weren't for the aforementioned military-industrial complex, I'd be eating sauerkraut right now -- and I don't like sauerkraut. No offense meant to any sauerkraut lovers out there, of course. I'm just a steak & taters guy.
2 - Yes, unobtainium. From an article I wrote the other day:
"But a key element here is that rare metals, be they gold, iridium or unobtainium, reside in veins, and are easily missed in a sweep sample."
And yes, it would be hard to think of a daffier word. But it works in context. :)
"unobtainium" is an old racer's term for high grade titanium, then carbon fiber, and other magical materials and high speed parts available to factory sponsored race teams and not ordinary racing privateers. As in, "unlike stock Yamaha 250s, which weigh 215 pounds dry, the mostly unobtainium factory 250 is rumored to weigh less than 187 pounds."
Useful term for any special stuff not commonly available.
Forgot to mention:
"talking about having to tone down the realism somewhat..
One of my long time friends is an computer graphics animator and has worked on some of the biggest movies to have hit the big and small screen. He was the lead imager/animator on "Babylon 5", did a lot of the stuff on "Farscape" and most recently "Ultramarine: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie".
When he was working on the Warhammer movie, he showed me some stuff for a different movie that he was also working on at the time which was literally scary. You could not tell the difference between real and fake the rendering was that good. What floored me wasn't the backgrounds, but the characters - as life like as a real actor.
His processors are also incredible which is how they are really managing to do this imagery. His workstation alone is ten times as powerful as any high end computer on the market and the computer they dump this stuff into to put it all together is just shy of being a Cray.
1) Google "Uncanny Valley" for a discussion of realism in computer animation.
We've already had a reconstructed motion-capture version of a live actor (Tom Hanks). You can bet that the studios are eagerly awaiting liberation from the tyranny of physically beautiful airhead acting talent - for entire genres, the current technology's not-completely-nuanced result is more than enough.
These stars will not negotiate expensive deals, embarrass studios, need rehab - or sag and wrinkle. Ever.
2) Take a look at films of the 20s-50s and you'll see a lot of heavily stylized films at almost every point along the realism dial. The collapse of the studio system and the rise of TV made creation of fantasy worlds prohibitive - lenses and lighting were used to heighten reality and on-location filming. Now the computer makes it easy for directors to dream again.
Your right about that. Then agian "state-of-the-art" is always changing, advancing (sometimes not for the better) and replacing that which went before.
I have a collection of photographs, actually first time prints, that you would swear were Photoshopped, but they were all taken in the mid to late '30s with what would be considered primitive equipment today. It was all about technique, lighting, and the Photoshop of the day - a good enlarger with a complete set of lenses and filters.
As somebody who really enjoys black and white photography, I miss the old days of the darkroom where magic reigned.
I'll have to have them professionally scanned after we move south and show them here - amazing images.
On Miss Steinfeld as a talented actress, I can agree. But I found myself a half hour in going "Why am I here?" (Beside the fact my first wife wanted a date.) Then a day or two later the original was on TV. The next day I realized I actually felt violated for having gone to the theater.
Great post. LaBoeuf was a Texas Ranger though, Cogburn was the US Marshal.
Oooh (slapping forehead), I goofed there. Thanks much for the correction, and glad you liked the post.
Speaks too fast
That was also my first reaction. My relatives from the area don't speak anything like that.
Well, hey, she's 14 -- and kids are excitable and talk fast. Plus, she's trying to keep the guy on his heels, and talking fast is part of that. For what it's worth, things are slower out on the trail. Or, to be more precise, to get through Cogburn's booze-laden skull, they have to be slower.
I thought it was a pretty stunning re-envisioning of a revenge story, contrasting the old & new testament versions of justice, making the case that the new testament kind (leaving justice in God's hands) is less costly to the victims, the punished and the avengers. "Nothing is free in this life, except God's grace." Then think about what vengeance costs all the avengers...
Halfway through their haggling, I was asking myself," I thought Strother Martin was dead! How cool that he was able to do this part!" Wow, talk about channeling a character. This actor, Dakin Matthews, WAS Strother Martin, as far as I could tell.
--i absolutely LOVE the Coen Bros' work --they're really in a class by themselves. Haven't seen the new one yet as my agoraphobia's been kickin' in lately, but do note in your clip the shot of the camera as the girl's eye approaching the man behind the desk.
Question, how many times in their work have you seen this shot?
There are so many, they can actually be classified. My fave is --i guess it would the shot's baroque phase --the Clooney's eye camera approach toward the old founder of Clooney's law firm in ''Intolerable Cruelty'' --but there's so many more --
also, just for fun, wanted to mention that the courtroom scenes in the new True Grit were filmed right down the highway a few miles from where i sit, in Blanco, Texas. The reason Blanco has an available courthouse id that the long north/south axis of the county crfeated a sort of bidding contest, back in the olden days, between Blanco (the town) and Johnson City (LBJ's hometown a day's hossback ride away in the north part of Blanco County). Johnson City built a courthouse too, having won the battle, and since then, what is now locally and imaginatively called ''the old Blanco County Courthouse'' just sort of anchors the town square in a more or less empty condition. Anyhoo, that's it in the movie.
I remember going to Siggraph back in the 70s. Each year, Pixar would move the bar higher.
Realism is just one milestone in computer animation. They still need artists like John Lasseter to be able to bring a Luxo lamp to life.
I read the book when I was a kid, liked the Kim Darby version OK, and will happily go see the new one. I didn't think the girl talked too fast at all. But people say I talk too fast -- professional stenographers can't keep up with me when I testify.
I liked all of the Shrek movies, even III. I particularly liked the scene where all the princesses adopt their "rescue me" poses in a crisis.
I liked True Grit, but since I've read the book and scene the 1969 version of the movie, I think I was a little bored as I new what was coming. Performances were awesome!
I tried to watch the first toy story movie, and i just couldn't make it through it. Do I need to watch the first two movies to watch this one?