Archive for November, 2014

Mike Nichols reported dead

November 22, 2014

Mike Nichols reported dead

When I was in high school, I took a film analysis class.

The movie that really made the subject work for me was director Mike Nichols‘ The Graduate.

That was a case where the deliberate symbology was effective, but not intrusive. It worked wonderfully well as a movie on the surface…which is where they should work. You can get completely caught up in it, pay no attention to the technique, and have an amazing experience.

If you do look at the technique, though, it gives it a deeper value. There is a repeated symbol used that, once pointed out to you, will be obvious. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you by telling it to you (that’s the danger of film analysis) because you’ll notice it every time it happens and be pulled out of the story.

Trust me, it’s there. ūüôā

There are very few filmmakers who can pull that off: give you great story-telling without screaming about the font you used. ūüėČ

While Nichols¬†will always rightfully be known best as a mainstream director (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Silkwood), there are a few stand-out geek friendly works in the filmography.

One reason for that is that the biggest stars would go geek for Mike Nichols when that wasn’t cool. That’s¬†changed over the decades: it’s possible (no jinx!) that Julianne Moore, a four-time nominee, will win an Oscar in 2015 while still having a movie which is the third in a Young Adult science fiction series in theatres. In fact, every acting Oscar winner from 2014 either has a significant geek-friendly movie out, announced, or rumored:

  • Best Leading Actor¬†Matthew McConaughey: Interstellar
  • Best Leading Actress¬†Cate Blanchett: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Best Supporting Actor:¬†Jared Leto: Suicide Squad (rumored as The Joker)
  • Best Supporting Actress¬†Lupita Nyong’o: Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens

Why would George C. Scott star in a talking dolphin movie in 1973 or Jack Nicholson topline a werewolf movie in 1994 for Mike Nichols? While not every auteur is seen as a strong actor’s director, Nichols was. This was a cinematic master with a background in being on stage…actors weren’t just a tool to use to achieve a vision.

  • The Day of the Dolphin
  • Wolf
  • What Planet Are You From? (Gary Shandling alien comedy, 2000)
  • Angels in America (TV mini-series, 2003)

Mike Nichols wasn’t just a director, as in the cases above. He was a significant movie producer, but also worked in comedy (Nichols and May) and on Broadway (Annie, Spamalot). He was one of those rare ¬†EGOT (Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony) winners.

Good-bye, Mike Nichols: no one else has used more intelligence to produce more emotional response.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

 

Advertisements

What is a superhero?

November 20, 2014

What is a superhero?

I recently wrote about upcoming superhero movies and TV shows.

It was harder than I thought.

Not because it was difficult to find them…there are many!

It was more a case of deciding what to include.

What makes a character a superhero?

It seems like it would be a pretty simple question. It’s a compound word: “super” and “hero”.

Sure, there can be some debate about the two words.

I’ve always taken “super” in this case to mean “superhuman”. The superhero has abilities that aren’t part of the human spectrum: you can’t just train yourself up to be a superhero.

“Hero” also has some debate, but everybody would agree that a hero helps other people (whether that’s individuals or society at large). Some would argue that being a hero requires risking or sacrificing something of yours, and others might argue that a hero has to fight evil (I would not be in the latter camp).

However…

There are some characters who are pretty universally thought of as superheroes who aren’t super, and there are others that aren’t called superheroes, but seem to fit the bill quite well.

Let’s start with one where we won’t get much argument.

Superman.

Superman has “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men”, especially as the character has evolved. No matter how hard you work out, you aren’t going to be able to fly or have heat vision.

Superman definitely helps people in need. He sacrifices a personal life, and despite invulnerability, does have risks (from kryptonite and magic, to name two things).

Spider-Man? Yep, you can’t train yourself to have spider powers. If you don’t get bitten by a radioactive spider, Spider-Man is superior to you, physically.

Spidey risks a lot (and gets injured), and again, helps people.

Those two are pretty clear: they are superheroes.

However…

If I asked people to name superheroes, I would guess Batman and Iron Man would both come up pretty quickly on the list.

In neither case, though, is the person inherently superhuman.

They both have superior technology, and they both have extraordinary (but not superhuman) personalities.

What’s the hard and fast difference between, say, Airwolf and Iron Man?

They both have great technology, and they both fight evil.

I don’t think Stringfellow Hawke would come up in the top 100 if most people started listing superheroes.

You could argue that one difference is that Tony Stark built the Iron Man suit…but does that make Richard Gatling (of the Gatling Gun) a superhero?

Let’s go in a little bit of a different direction.

Superman is an alien with advantageous differences from humans. He helps people.

You know who else fits that description?

Spock.

Again, I doubt that even most geeks would list Spock as a superhero, but why not? The Vulcan mind meld, the nerve pinch…even clearly physical differences make Spock superhuman. He sacrifices to help others. He fights evil.

Is it because being a “superhero” isn’t Spock’s job?

Remember, Clark Kent probably spends a lot more time being a reporter than being on patrol.

Despite the brilliant monologue in Kill Bill 2, I think Clark Kent wakes up thinking he is Clark Kent. That’s how he grew up: that was his identity. He didn’t just say, “Hey, I need something to hide who I am, so I’ll make up this glasses-wearing dude”. He may not actually need the glasses, but he is that guy. Clark Kent is not a costume…it’s who Kal-El is, even though Clark has the secret of being Superman.

Many superheroes have “day jobs”. I would even guess that Bruce Wayne spends more time on Wayne Foundation business (and his social life) than he does as the Dark Knight.

So, why isn’t Spock considered a superhero?

What about Doctor Who? He clearly seems to work like a superhero. Again, physical (and mental) superiority, helps people, sacrificed a lot.

He even has regular “supervillains”. Of course, if you want that for Spock, you have Khan and Harry Mudd to consider.

Is Doc Savage a superhero? If so, is Harry Bosch? What about Stephanie Plum?

Is a secret identity necessary?

If so, that lets out Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, who was part of the Justice League.

Does a superhero have to be human?

Clearly not…Superman isn’t.

Can a superhero be a machine, though? Is Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation a superhero? What about the Red Tornado? Brainiac 5 is a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes…and a machine (well, at least 95%…depends a bit on your choice of continuity, but clearly not human).

What about Krypto, the superdog?

No, this is a lot more complicated than I thought at first.

I’d list Tarzan, Batman, and Zorro as superheroes, even though they aren’t super…but I’m not sure why that doesn’t extend to the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Lone Ranger, or does it?

Maybe it’s that they have to be defined as superheroes by the works in which they appear? That doesn’t seem like a very scientific classification system: “It’s a superhero when we tell you it is.” ūüėČ

I don’t have an answer on this. If you’d like to share your opinion, feel free to comment on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

 

Glen A. Larson reported dead

November 16, 2014

Glen A. Larson reported dead

TV series don’t happen without producers.

Even the general public knows that now, with names like Shonda Rhimes being as well known as those of the stars of the shows.

Geeks have always known it.

We’re very interested in what happens behind the camera…even when it’s across the hall from the shooting stage.

We’ll watch a show because of producers like Irwin Allen, Gene Roddenberry, or Ronald D. Moore.

Another name on that list?

Glen A. Larson

Sure, Larson also wrote and did music (including working on the themes for Larson shows Knight Rider,Battlestar Galactica, and The Fall Guy), but it was Larson’s ability to get high concept shows on the air that got the producer the most geek cred.

The shows tended to be high concept, adventurous, and funny. It didn’t take a lot of work to watch a Glen A. Larson show: ¬†you just sat back and enjoyed it.

Geek friendly credits include:

  • It Takes a Thief (with Robert Wagner)
  • Two of The Six Million Dollar Man movies that led to the series
  • The original Battlestar Galactica
  • Get Christie Love!
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • Manimal
  • Automan
  • Knight Rider
  • NightMan
  • Millennium¬†Man

From being a member of The Four Preps (the band appeared in Gidget) to bringing us a talking car and a morphing professor, Glen A. Larson was a part of American pop culture.

Good-bye, Glen A. Larson…the world is less outlandish without you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them

The future is super(hero)

November 3, 2014

The future is super(hero)

Tired of seeing superheroes on the screen?

Get over it! ūüėČ

In an unusual move, both Marvel and DC movies for the next several years have been announced. Those are, of course, not the only superhero movies out on the horizon.

We also know about ongoing and upcoming TV series.

Here’s a rundown…we’ll definitely see some other things added (after all, we are looking at half a decade of pop culture here). There is also some flexibility in the definition of “superhero”. After all, no one would question putting Batman in that category…despite a lack of superhuman abilities. However, would you put the Taken movies in this group? Most people wouldn’t…but how much objective difference is there between Bryan Mills and Bruce Wayne? Does a superhero need a secret identity? We would say no (Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, is know to everybody). Do they need being a “hero” to be their main occupation? Superman probably spends as much time being Clark Kent as you do at your job.

So, there will be some subjective calls here…feel free to comment if you think we’ve included someone we shouldn’t, or left something out.

TV series:

Ongoing

  • Beware the Batman, animated, DC
  • Gotham, DC
  • Arrow, DC
  • The Flash, DC
  • El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel
  • Doctor Who (we can argue about whether or not the Doctor is a superhero later) ūüėČ
  • Constantine
  • Lost Girl (is Bo ¬†superhero? Arguable…)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Lab Rats
  • The Thundermans
  • Mighty Med
  • Henry Danger
  • Sailor Moon Crystal
  • Bravest Warriors
  • Nightwing: Escalation, DC

Upcoming

  • Daredevil, Marvel
  • Powers
  • Supergirl, DC
  • LEGO: Batman Be-Leagured, DC
  • Luke Cage, Marvel
  • Iron Fist, Marvel
  • The Good Fight
  • Agent Carter, Marvel
  • Power Rangers Dino Charge

November 7 2014

Big Hero 6, movie, Marvel: this is a Disney (they own Marvel) 3-D animated movie, which will likely play well with kids

May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron, movie, Marvel

July 17, 2015

Ant-Man, movie, Marvel

August 7, 2015

The Fantastic Four, movie, Marvel

2016 undated

X-Force, movie, Marvel

February 12, 2016

Deadpool, movie, Marvel

March 25, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, movie, DC

May 6, 2016

Captain America: Civil War, movie, Marvel

May 22, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse, movie, marvel

June 3, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, movie

July 1, 2016

Tarzan, movie

July 22, 2016

Power Rangers, movie

August 5, 2016

Suicide Squad, movie, D

November 4, 2016

Doctor Strange, movie, Marvel

November 11, 2016

The Sinister Six, movie, Marvel

2017 undated

Female superhero Spider-Man movie, movie, Marvel

March 3, 2017

The Wolverine 3, movie, Marvel

May 5, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy 2, movie, Marvel

May 26, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie, movie, DC

June 23, 2017

Wonder Woman, movie, DC

July 14, 2017

The Fantastic Four 2, movie, Marvel

July 28, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok, movie, Marvel

November 3, 2017

Black Panther, movie, Marvel

November 17, 2017

Justice League Part One, movie, DC

2018 undated

The Amazing Spider-Man 3, movie,  Marvel

March 23, 2018

The Flash, movie, DC

May 4, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, movie, Marvel

May 25, 2018

The LEGO Movie 2, movie

July 6, 2018

Captain Marvel, movie, Marvel

July 13, 2018

Untitled Fox Marvel movie, movie, Marvel

July 27, 2018

Aquaman, movie, DC

November 2, 2018

Inhumans, movie, Marvel

April 5, 2019

SHAZAM, movie, DC

May 3, 2019

Avengers: Infinity War Part II, movie, Marvel

May 24, 2019

Untitled LEGO Movie, movie

June 14, 2019

Justice League Part Two, movie, DC

April 3, 2020

Cyborg, movie, DC

June 19, 2020

Green Lantern, movie, DC

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them


%d bloggers like this: