A history of Industrial Light & Magic by those who were there

Wednesday, 27 May, 2015

While it’s possible you may not have heard of film visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, you’d have witnessed dozens of instances of their work in the movies you’ve seen. I sometimes wonder how some films might look had ILM not come along… for example, would film producers still be using mattes today?

To mark the forty years since the inception of ILM, film directors including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron, plus many others who were part of ILM, talk through the company’s history.

As it turns 40 this year, ILM can claim to have played a defining role making effects for 317 movies. But that’s only part of the story: Pixar began, essentially, as an ILM internal investigation. Photoshop was invented, in part, by an ILM employee tinkering with programming in his time away from work. Billions of lines of code have been formulated there. Along the way ILM has put tentacles into pirate beards, turned a man into mercury, and dominated box office charts with computer-generated dinosaurs and superheroes.

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Together we’ll break the stigma of doing things alone

Monday, 25 May, 2015

Back in the day when I used to write far more film reviews than I do now, I’d often be going along to the movies by myself. Often these would be morning, mid week screenings, and numerous times I’d just about be the only person in the auditorium, but I’d still make sure my notepad and pen were prominently visible.

After a time though, I became less concerned by the apparent stigma of being alone at the movies, even it were for work purposes. Even so, it’s still unlikely that you’d see me at the movies on Friday or Saturday nights, alone. Any other day, any other time, no problem.

But that’s where I might be letting the team down. You see, if more people did more things by themselves, such as going to a film solo, the easier it becomes for everyone else to do likewise. Put another way, it’s better to go and do something, even if that means doing so alone, rather than staying home potentially doing nothing.

But the best way to get rid of the stigma of doing things in public alone is probably for people to just start doing it more. “We need the norms to shift a little. We need for people to think it’s a gutsy cool thing to have fun on our own,” said Ratner. “Someone needs to start the new trend.”

And regarding film screenings in empty auditoriums, and why bother showing them if no one’s there, the cinemas are obliged to feature a movie as advertised, regardless of how many people are, or aren’t, seeing it. I have it on good authority that film distributors actually go around at random to make sure that’s happening.

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So, which is better, Star Trek, or Star Wars?

Wednesday, 20 May, 2015

The truth is they’re both pretty lousy, but together they’re better than all the others… with apologies to Keith Richards. Presenting The Carbonite Maneuver, a fan made trailer that blends elements of both realms. Non-canonical, obviously.

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Are action trailers all the same, or are action movies all the same?

Friday, 8 May, 2015

All trailers are the same. For action films, that is. Or could it be that all action films are the same? Pretty much. Different character, similar sort of story?

It may be sacrilegious to say, but I’m steering clear of superhero type movies for the moment, on account of their sheer quantity recently. Batman, Iron Man, Spiderman, Superman, The Avengers, Thor, Transformers, and X-Men. They’re fast becoming one inextricable blur.

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Once is a joke, twice is not, that’s why comedy sequels aren’t funny

Thursday, 30 April, 2015

Why are some, or should that be many, sequels to comedy films, simply not as good as the original? Long story short, because once is funny, but twice, or more thereafter, quickly becomes both silly and tedious.

Recycling occurs when writers just regurgitate the same plots, with the pitiful hope that lightning will strike twice – or, sometimes, thrice – without audiences realizing that they’re being fed the same meal over and over. The Austin Powers series is a chief offender, though at least there was a little effort there to change up the plot lines a bit.

The two sequels to Back to the Future are also a case in point of recycling, maybe not quite with the plots, but certainly some of the gags. Nonetheless I still like Part II and Part III, I just look passed these repetitions.

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While We’re Young

Tuesday, 28 April, 2015

3 and a half stars
While We're Young scene

Growing old is a gradual process. It’s not as if anyone ages twenty years overnight. Hopefully not, anyway. Yet the vestiges of youth, those that we might once have fervently vowed never to relinquish, quietly slip away, and who knows, we wake up one day realising we’re old. How then to reclaim our lost youth? Meet some younger people, perhaps?

That’s what happens to jaded forty-something New York City couple, Josh (Ben Stiller), and Cornelia (Naomi Watts), after they make the acquaintance of spirited twenty-somethings Darby (Amanda Seyfried), and Jamie (Adam Driver), who also happens to be a filmmaker like Josh, in While We’re Young, trailer, the latest feature from Noah Baumbach.

The question is, who really has the most to gain from such a partnership? The answer may surprise as this story of faded dreams and lost opportunities, youthful aspiration and unbridled ambition, unfolds. Witty and sharp at first, “While We’re Young” meanders off the path though as it pushes towards its less than convincing finale.

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A list of the… best disturbing novels

Tuesday, 21 April, 2015

Richard Eyre’s 2006 film, Notes on a Scandal, starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, could certainly be classified as disturbing, but the book of the same name, by Zoë Heller, upon which the movie is based, is, by all accounts, even more so.

Novels that invite you inside the minds of dangerous obsessives, unaware of their own toxic natures, always leave me very unsettled when done well. I wasn’t expecting that the narrator of Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal to be quite as malign as she is, and the hatred lurking inside what she thinks is love for her beautiful young teacher colleague left me rattled for days.

It is one of twelve novels deemed by The Guardian to be most disturbing, a list that also includes “American Psycho”, “Blood Meridian”, and “Beside the Sea”.

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the second teaser/trailer

Monday, 20 April, 2015

Behold, the second teaser for the new “Star Wars” film, The Force Awakens. I’d say it’s aimed more at fans of the original movies, with its nostalgic overtones, the Mark Hamill voice over, and a brief appearance by Han Solo and Chewbacca.

Feel like weighing into the discussion as to what Luke Skywalker means when he says his father has the force, rather than had it? Hmm.

I suspect the arrival of the first trailer, as opposed to the two teasers we’ve seen so far, is going to be quite the event, whenever that happens.

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When movie recommendations become new job recommendations

Friday, 17 April, 2015

Netflix, an online movie download service, recently arrived in Australia. While its impact on cinema attendances, if any, remains to be seen, the workplace may be another matter.

And, no, I’m not talking about people watching movies, or TV shows, from their laptops when they’re supposed to be working, but rather the Netflix algorithm that recommends films for viewers based on, presumably, things like past downloads and search histories.

Seemingly this technology has been adapted, and will somehow bring employees who appear to be considering jumping ship, to the attention of management.

For example, it sifts through years worth of HR data, ranging from time between promotions, time at current job, and number of job functions. It then combines that with job posting data from sites like Indeed.com to gauge the market demand rate for certain employees. Based on that, Workday can come up with the employees at risk of leaving and how much it would take to replace them.

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Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, you better believe it

Friday, 3 April, 2015

Possibly the best thing to come from the forthcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, due for release in 2016, is the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, the story’s villain.

Eisenberg might not be the first person you’d think of to play the supervillain, but he did have experience portraying a morally challenged billionaire in The Social Network. And this edition of the follicularly challenged megalomaniac taps into a similar hyperintelligence mixed with malignant straight shooting. “Our Lex is disarming and he’s not fake,” says Snyder. “He says what he believes and he says what’s on his mind. If you can unravel the string and decipher what he means, it’s all there.”

Don’t underestimate Eisenberg’s ability to play the bad guy, I say. The streak that featured in his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in The Social Network, was dark. Deceptively dark, if you ask me.

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