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Archive for May 17th, 2011


Trailer Watch: The Adventures of Tintin

The uncanny valley rears its head in the new teaser for the motion captured Hergé adaptation, The Adventures of Tintin (previously subtitled, Secret of the Unicorn) from director Stephen Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson, sporting a script by the current Dr. Who head writer Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish. The film stars Jamie Bell at Tintin, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Gad Elmaleh, Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook.

It’s probably telling that they avoided any shots with people talking (at least with synced sound); every motion-captured effort I’ve seen to date has, at best, looked a bit dodgy once the figures are in motion. At their worst, they look like corpses with sticks shoved up their bums, bouncing around like mop puppets. And while this certainly looks better than that, I can’t say I’m crazy about the too-“realistic” character designs. But then, I’m biased — I adore the original comics, and I had hoped for a less photoreal, more stylized approach to the motion capture. I don’t think it’s an inherently bad technique, just that it hasn’t yet been used well. (Yes, I saw Beowulf.)

Those of you who aren’t as attached to the originals: what do you think?

The Adventures of Tintin hits theaters on December 23rd.

Trailer Watch: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life

Terrence Malick’s new film, The Tree of Life, was apparently booed (and applauded) at Cannes, putting it in a (probably) small group of films that includes Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Vincent Gallo’s execrable Brown Bunny, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s astoundingly beautiful L’Avventura. Manohla Dargis describes Tree as a “a beautiful if hermetic vision,” though, which — despite the many, many times I’ve disagreed with Dargis — I find encouraging.

While I can’t defend a film I haven’t seen, but I’ll point out two facts: a lot of people at Cannes get drunk (you have drink beer in French theaters, after all), and even French people can have crappy taste. Malick hasn’t made a film yet that I’ve found uninteresting. I’ve seen all of his features, and I especially love The Thin Red Line and The New World. Are his films also glacially slow and occasionally self-indulgent? Sure. But always beautiful, and always fascinating.

The Tree of Life is out in the US on May 27, 2011. You can read the film’s official synopsis after the cut.

“Synesthesia” by Terri Timely

I don’t think this short, “Synesthesia” by the directing duo Terri Timely (Ian Kibbey and Corey Creasey), really gives you an impression — exaggerated or not — of what synethesia is actually like, as Josh Rothman of the Boston Globe suggests in the post that brought this short to my attention, but it’s an awful lot of fun.

Synesthesia is “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body,” or a jumbling of senses. Vladimir Nabokov, for instance, saw letters take on colors, and physicist Richard Feynman would see colored equations. My own brush with synesthesia (and only, that I recall) was brought on by psilocybin mushrooms back in college, and I saw dancing colors in the air, sort of like a small-scale Northern Lights, connected to the music that was playing in the background.

“Micro Loup” by Richard McGuire

“Micro Loup” is a 2003 animated short by Richard McGuire. It’s about a microscopic wolf, with obvious (and hilarious) nods to King Kong, and it’s the best 7 minutes you’ll have all day.

McGuire’s entry in the Peur(s) du Noirs animated horror short anthology film is one of my all-time favorite shorts, so try to find that on DVD. You can also check out a clip from it, which is only the tip of the iceberg of the short’s full awesomeness, on McGuire’s Vimeo page.