Category Archives: a motion picture is worth a couple of words

If There’s One Thing I Hate, It’s the Movies

Salinger Paris Theater

More Salinger news from Time Online:

Less-than-stellar reviews of the recent documentary exploring the life of The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger haven’t stopped Harvey Weinstein from plans to turn it into a scripted feature-length film.

The movie will be written by Shane Salerno, the man behind the current documentary and book. Regarding that:

Penning an entirely new Salinger movie, while already well researched, isn’t the only thing going on for the former Armageddon writer. Even while promoting his documentary and book of the same name, Salerno has continued work on one of the three Avatar sequels.

Let’s just hope Salerno’s depiction of Salinger’s postwar struggles is more nuanced than his previous portrayal of mental health challenges:

Previous Salinger coverage herehere, and here.

- Michael Moats

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Filed under a motion picture is worth a couple of words, The Real Holden Caulfield

Not Your Tom Cruise’s Oblivion

For everyone who was disappointed that the Tom Cruise vehicle “Oblivion” was not based on the David Foster Wallace story and/or collection of the same name, now is your chance to turn that frown upside down! That is, until you see the new “Oblivion” movie, which, as the recently launched Kickstarter campaign describes it, is “story of marital strife, sleep deprivation, and hallucination” and is not likely to be very uplifting.

The only way to find out for sure is to support the campaign and help crowd-fund the movie. There are a few perks to giving, beyond seeing the film completed. Depending on your pledge level, you can get a copy of the movie — which is good since “there are no plans for a digital or online release” — or an edition of the shooting script, an “Oblivion” poster with original artwork by Alex Passapera, or some other goodies.

More details here.

While we’re pretty sure Tom Cruise is not in the movie, we can make no guarantees that there won’t be some weird correlation or fewer than six degrees of separation.

Again, the only way to find out for sure is to throw the guys a few bucks and see what happens.

- Michael Moats

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Raiders of the Last Book

Ravenwood

The more we fear that printed books are dying, the more we revere them in the abstract. I’ve already noted the imaginary books that carry the weight of gospel in movies like American Pie and TV shows like How I Met Your Mother. Now the University of Chicago has found a real package addressed to the fictional Indiana Jones. It contains a book, of course—a facsimile of a fictional notebook written by Professor Abner Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The book itself is a ruse, a collection of scraps and scribblings designed to make the movie feel authentic. But no one can deny that it’s physically real. That’s why it’s so exciting.

It was easy to believe in Abner Ravenwood’s notebook on the big screen, where it was part of a rich tradition of movies in which an imaginary book holds the key to everything. But at a time when print is said to be dying, everyone is pleasantly shocked by the thought of this book as a physical object.

- Brian Hurley

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Everything But the Batman

The crowd that assembled on Saturday night for a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Sheepshead Bay, a remote and fairly diverse part of Brooklyn, could be described with only some exaggeration as a mob. I was instructed to wait outside in a loose throng, clutching my ticket to the sold-out show, because there was not enough room for us in the theater lobby. An employee searched my bag before I could enter—I was at first relieved, and then disturbed, to realize he had bigger concerns than the Sprite Zero and Pretzel M&Ms I was sneaking in—and two New York City police officers stood watch at the door. This was no ordinary movie. One day earlier a man walked into a screening of the same movie in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 58. That was a crime straight out of a Batman movie—a brutal attack on random citizens, motivated by a kind of insanity that challenges the very notion of a civil society. The Aurora screening had its real live supervillain–the shooter described himself as “the Joker.” In Sheepshead Bay we had real live cops—the New York City police who frisked me with their eyes provided the basis for the Gotham City police. And at every screening—The Dark Knight Rises earned $162 million over the weekend—there was a Gotham-style mob. The viewing of this movie creates a set of circumstances in which someone like Batman ought to emerge and tilt our society back toward order and civility. But there was only one Batman, and he was stuck on the screen.

- Brian Hurley

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Filed under a motion picture is worth a couple of words, how fiction explains the world

Suzy Bishop’s Books

Did you have the same thought I had after seeing Moonrise Kingdom?

What was Suzy Bishop reading!

She’s lugging that suitcase full of YA books all over New Penzance. We see their titles, and we hear a bit of the text when Suzy reads them aloud. But for the most part they’re a mystery—another bespoke item created for Wes Anderon’s bespoke universe, hinting at some deep meaning but confined to a few brief moments on screen.

Well, here they are.

According to the producer of Moonrise Kingdom, these animated shorts were originally planned for the movie itself, but Wes Anderson decided to shoot the characters’ faces as they read the books instead.

“I think it’s kind of nice that rather than just doing one whole story, [we're] doing these little snippets,” says Dawson. “They’re about imagination — it’s just more like a spark of this story.”

Personally I’m fascinated when books are invented, but never actually written. There’s a history of artists making fake books to serve as a source of wisdom or inspiration within an invented world. For Suzy Bishop’s books, this is a double-edged sword: the books are totally secondary to the film, but the film treats them with reverence.

What do you think of Suzy Bishop’s fake books?

- Brian Hurley

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Filed under a motion picture is worth a couple of words, Hooray Fiction!

Meryl Streep Is A Busy Lady


Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius Beauvier in Doubt (2008)

Meryl Streep as Glenn Close as Patty Hewes as in Damages (2007 – )

Meryl Streep as Nicolas Cage as Balthazar in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

Meryl Streep as Philip Seymour Hoffman as Steve Carrell as Phil Foster in Date Night (2010)

Meryl Streep as Hillary Rodham Clinton as Steve Buscemi as Katharine Hepburn as Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State (2009 – )

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The “Weekend at Bernie’s” Effect

1989: Weekend at Bernie’s opens in theaters, grossing over $30 million and leading to a sequel, Weekend at Bernie’s 2.

1993: Bill Clinton hosts the Oslo Accords between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. A UN investigation reveals that Arafat and Rabin were both hit by a “freak airstrike” at Camp David hours earlier, and died before the signing ceremony.

1995: Nicolas Cage drinks himself to death while filming Leaving Las Vegas—for which he wins an Academy Award. His agent resurrects him in a voodoo ceremony and commands the zombie to star in The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider, and G-Force.

1996: The Spice Girls top the Billboard charts. The group includes four live girls and a dead one, whose inanimate flopping is commonly mistaken for a “Scary” new dance move.

2001: Michael Jordan returns to professional basketball with the Washington Wizards, carrying the corpses of his teammates—all borrowed from Pat Riley’s basement—on his back.

2005: The voice and hand gestures of Chief Justice Rehnquist are supplied by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, respectively, until Ruth Bader Ginsburg finally complains about Rehnquist’s “less than alive” smell.

2008: George Lucas and Steven Spielberg drag the remains of Harrison Ford through the filming of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Lucas and Spielberg are digitally removed in postproduction.

2010: Glenn Beck exhumes 80,000 deceased American voters. Their bodies populate his Restoring Honor rally in Washington DC.

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Filed under a motion picture is worth a couple of words, Original Fiction

Full Text of the Movie Poster for “The Next Three Days”

What if you had 72 hours to save everything you live for? Do you need some time to think it over? Are there any tea leaves or astrological charts you would like to consult before tendering a response? Do you require any verification—say, a stack of blurry photos, a video with a date stamp, or an Excel spreadsheet where everything is itemized in neat, color-coded rows—that everything you live for does, in fact, need to be saved, or are you willing to just go with it? Are you surprised that anyone, let alone someone other than you, can pinpoint exactly what you live for? Are you flattered?

Do you happen to bear a striking resemblance to a certain Hollywood actor who’s famous for assaulting a hotel concierge with a telephone? Would it help, in this situation, if you did? Why didn’t you become a famous Hollywood actor, anyway? Are you going to sit there and whine about it? Have you ever accomplished anything more impressive in a 72-hour span than hauling your ass out of bed three times in a row? Is all of that going to change right now?

Are you beginning to wonder if “everything you live for” is really all it’s cracked up to be? Do you think you could learn to live for other things? For the campaign to pass new federal legislation that encourages sustainable farming, for instance? Or so you can raise a pair of beautiful, brand new kids, who, for all you know, might be even more precious and promising than your current kids, if kids are what you live for?

Does your answer change if one of your favorite TV shows is on during the next 72 hours? Does it change if saving everything you live for might require you to perform an emergency tracheotomy without adequate medical training, or drive a luxury speedboat into a crowded restaurant, or get naked in public? Does all this talk make you crave a cigarette? How long would it take you to learn some useful martial arts moves? Would you go to extreme lengths to make sure you have enough 5-hour energy drink to last the full 72 hours?

Given the choice, and the means, and barring any serious impediment in your schedule, and taking it on faith that these are, indeed, the things you live for, and that you will, in fact, get them back in a fair and timely and fashion, with no funny stuff, would you consider trying to save everything you live for? No harm in trying, right?

Would you ask for an extension?

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