Amoeblog

The TRON Aesthetic: The Atari Age of German Expressionism

Posted by Charles Reece, October 25, 2008 01:38pm | Post a Comment
The magnificent scenes of heroism, transcendence and man dominating his surroundings should please the most masculinist among us, including Ayn Rand and Leni Riefenstahl:

Jeff Bridges Flynn Tron
Bruce Boxleitner Tron
Jeff Bridges Flynn Clu Tron
Bruce Boxleitner Tron
Tron battle Jeff Bridges Clu

The close-ups all have that overly melodramatic silent-era quality to them. Note the way Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has Valentino eyes and Sark (David Warner) looks like a Conrad Veidt villain:

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Free To Do What I Want: Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible

Posted by Charles Reece, July 19, 2008 08:01pm | Post a Comment


Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog
is a 3-act webcast musical created by Joss Whedon with his brother Zack and half-brother Jed (the latter of whom also does the score). Hurry up and watch it, as you'll have to pay iTunes for the privilege after July 20th. Or buy the dvd. Or watch the degraded YouTube version:

 
This is Whedon in top form. Anyone who's watched Buffy or Angel or read his run on Astonishing X-Men knows that he does great set-ups, but never gives himself (or his co-writers) enough time to follow through with a fitting ending. This time around, he finally creates an effective resolution, and it's exceedingly morose, given that the rest of the story is a much lighter shade of dark comedy. (Don't worry, I'm not going to give it away.) 


This is the tale of Doogie Howser all grown up in a world that doesn't appreciate his eccentric genius.   Unlike in Doogie, Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) doesn't get a preternaturally chesty girlfriend who loves him for being an outsider with a weird, greasy friend. He still has a despicable sidekick, Moist (Simon Helberg), but the best Dr. Horrible can manage is to daydream in song while staring across the laundromat at Penny (Felicia Day), the whey-faced nerd girl on whom he's fixated. Otherwise, feeling like Klebold and Harris, he plots the destruction of the normalizing cultural institutions that have marginalized him out of existence. With each nefarious deed, he gets one step closer to being allowed membership into The Evil League of Evil, run by his hero, Bad Horse. But every time he tries something, he gets pulverized by the fists of the status quo, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Things go from bad to worse when the cloddish attempts of Captain Hammer to stop a heist of Horrible's puts Penny at risk. Even though the bad Doctor is the one who saves her, it's the Captain who gets the credit and a date. When the beefcake good guy learns that Penny's the only thing his downtrodden nemesis cares about, he begins to torment him (in song, of course) saying stuff like, "normally I don't sleep with girls more than once, but I hear that the second time's when they start doing the weird stuff." Cue the chorus of Hammer groupies. That's more than the put-upon villain can take, so he plots the death of the hero. 


Some of The Evil League of Evil: Bad Horse, Fake Thomas Jefferson, Dead Bowie, Professor Normal and Fury Leika

There's nothing particularly novel about this story. In fact, it's real similar to The Villain (1979), itself a comedy Western spin on the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons. In that movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a dipstick do-gooder protecting Ann-Margaret from the villainous Kirk Douglas. Douglas' character is wittier, more charming and all-around more creative than the dullwitted hero, but the forces of order are constantly working against him, just like poor Wile E. Coyote, super-genius. The Coyote is a fundamentally repressed part of the modern psyche, which has been stripped down and mass produced by the homogeneous order. We want to side with the villain against the stifling forces of control and celebrate true individualism, until we realize that cute bird would be eaten. The Coyote cartoons maintain the agony of the paradox (between desire and morality), whereas The Villain cheats and lets Douglas get the girl.
 

What the Brothers Whedon add is that line between sadness and funny one-liners that Joss and his writers regularly managed to walk on his TV shows. Unlike The Villain, they don't let you off the hook for wishing for chaotic freedom. Dr. Horrible, therefore, sides with Wile E. Coyote and our own moral reality.  And it's nice to hear dialog from his company that doesn't sound like the Buffyverse argot, which I was beginning to think was the only dialect they could write in (the diminutive form gets old really fast). The music is similar to the Buffy musical, Once More With Feeling. It still has that Rent-burnished pop sound to it, but the lyrics are funny and the music generically catchy enough to get you through. I'd say the music and singing are, at least, an improvement over the Buffy episode. If you hate Joss Whedon, none of this will change your mind, but if you appreciate his pop virtues, this is good stuff.

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IAN CURTIS' HEADSTONE STOLEN

Posted by Billyjam, July 2, 2008 04:53pm | Post a Comment

In a creepy crime similar to an incident that happened to the late Mac Dre's resting place three years ago when the slain Vallejo rapper's headstone was stolen, the gravestone of former Joy Division front man Ian Curtis was stolen sometime between yesterday and this morning from the Macclesfield Cemetery in Cheshire, England.

As reported earlier today by the BBC, "Detectives said the stone, which has the inscription "Ian Curtis 18 -5 -80" and the words "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was taken...There is no CCTV in the area and there are no apparent leads as to who is responsible for the theft."

The local authorities went on to speculate that the recent surge in interest in the singer might have led to the unusual theft. Last year's biopic on the singer, Control, and the documentary, Joy Division, which was released earlier this year, have both undoubtedly led to an increase in interest in the talented Curtis, who hung himself in the kitchen of his nearby Macclesfield home back in May 1980 when he was 23. Cheshire police have pleaded with anyone who has information to contact them.

This incident brings to mind both the theft of Jim Morrison's headstone from P’re Lachaise Cemetery in Paris in 1990, and the aforementioned Andre (Mac Dre) Hicks graveside robbery from Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery in 2005.  Despite the fact that a large reward was posted for the recovery of Mac Dre's headstone (and a beat-down promised if the perp was ever caught), the headstone was never recovered. Eventually it was replaced with a new one that was tightly secured.

out today...6/3...joy division control out on DVD!!!

Posted by Brad Schelden, June 5, 2008 06:00pm | Post a Comment
Control is finally out on DVD this week! However there is no Blu-ray. This just might have been the movie to push me over the edge and buy a Blu-ray player. I still am not completely sure what a film looks like on Blu-ray since I have yet to see one, but I imagine that this film would look amazing in high definition. It seems like it was out in theater like forever ago, but I guess it was only last November. The film was scheduled to come out a month or 2 ago but was pushed back until this week. I am really excited-- as excited as I can be about one of the most depressing films that I have ever seen. If you are in the mood for another depressing movie you should also check out The Bridge. I had been wanting to watch this movie ever since it hit the theater last year, but I just could not bring myself to watch it until recently. I normally love intense and disturbing documentaries, but this one was especially hard for me to watch. The movie is about people who have committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Maybe it was hard to watch because I love that bridge so much. I guess this is sort of selfish, but I have spent many days walking across it and I just didn't want to associate it with death. I will for sure not feel the same next time I cross the bridge.

At least you know what you are getting with the Joy Division movie. You know how it ends. And if you are a fan of the music then you know how the music can affect you. Joy Division is a very unique band for its fans. Many of us didn't even start listening to the band until after Ian Curtis killed himself. I was still too young to be listening to anything but Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Club records when Ian Curtis took his own life, so I never had that period of enjoying the band while he was still alive. At least with bands like Nirvana there was a significant period when Kurt Cobain was still alive for his fans to still enjoy him. So Joy Division is always associated with death in my mind. I always can hear his depression and confusion in all of his songs, but for some reason I can completely disassociate New Order from that feeling, maybe because they ended up sounding so different.

If you did not have a time to watch this movie in the theater. Now is the time. Just get it over with it. I guarantee that you will like this film if you like Joy Division even a little bit. The film is shot so beautifully that you could even appreciate it without liking the movie. I was a bit worried about the movie since I knew it was based on the book by the wife of Ian Curtis. Deborah Curtis consulted on the film so I really worried that the film would not be completely accurate in regards to the relationship between Ian and his wife. While I am sure that it is not really completely accurate, the film does not exactly portray Deborah Curtis as a saint. I tend to always side with the female character in movies, but this was not the case in Control. The movie really made you side with Ian and feel bad for him. I really just wanted to jump into the movie at certain points and tell him that it was going to be OK. We all have had our own relationship problems. Of course, it becomes a bit more serious when you throw marriage, kids, fame, drugs, and epilepsy into the mix. While the movie ends like you would expect with his suicide, I was surprised at how they portrayed his final moments with his wife. It almost seems like it was her fault and as if it could have been avoided...but even if she had acted differently in these final situations, it also seems like he would have eventually killed himself regardless.

The film is cast perfectly. Sam Riley is absolutely amazing as Ian Curtis. He seriously amazed me by how fantastic he was in this film. The whole film just looks like one continuous amazing black and white photograph. They managed to find four guys that looked very similar to the actual guys in Joy Division, if not a bit more attractive and movie-like. The film somehow captures the feeling of a Joy Division song. It seriously gave me shivers as I was watching it. I ended up forgetting that this was a cast of actors and not the actual people.

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joy division reissues out 10/30...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 30, 2007 08:05pm | Post a Comment
So it's now only one more day until Halloween and I finally got around to watching the Paul Lynde Halloween Special. The special originally aired over 30 years ago in 1976. But it is now rescued from obscurity and released on a nice little DVD. I knew it was going to be ridiculous and hilarious. But it really is hard to even explain. You must simply watch it. The guest stars include Billie Hayes (Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf), Tim Conway, Betty White, Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch of the West), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch), Billy Barty (Legend, Willow, Sigmund & the Sea Monsters), Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero of Happy Days), Donny and Marie Osmond, and Kiss! I know what you are thinking....amazing. Yes it is. And with the brilliant Paul Lynde as the host and Bruce Vilanch helping out with the writing this special was bound to be amazing. Kiss perform the amazing song "Beth" on the special.  The show includes ridiculous skits and musical numbers and the network debut of the band Kiss. I sort of wish they still made specials like this today. There really was nothing like Paul Lynde and he paved the way for many who came after him in Hollywood.

Here is a clip from the special...


There are some very exciting things out today. First of all in the land of TV on DVD there are two very exciting releases. Twin Peaks the Complete Series comes out today. The definitive Gold Box Edition is really amazing. Not only does it include the recently released Season 2 but also the out of print Season 1. Also included is the original and European version of the pilot for the first time on DVD domestically! It is finally all together in one box. The 10 disc set includes new interviews and special features all supervised by David Lynch. This show was amazing and nothing has ever come close to its brilliance. I have been waiting for years to watch the whole series over again in anticipation of this release. If you have never seen this show in its entirety, I highly recommend it. For my review of Season 2 you can go back and read it here.  I can't even begin to explain how much this show means to me. Also out today is My So-Called Life on DVD. The complete series gets a better more deluxe treatment than the previous release on DVD. This show started a couple years after Twin Peaks in 1994. But it was just as important and nothing has really come close to this show except for maybe Freaks & Geeks. This new release comes with a book with photos and special things from the show. It also has interviews with cast members including Claire Danes and 7 audio commentaries. These are exciting times.

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