Maybe Red vs. Blue: The Script Will Fare Better

But gee, people really eat this stuff up at E3…
After skimming the bullet points in Trade Show Product Launches For Dummies, Microsoft and their Hollywood assistants at CAA did a quick find-and-replace to kick off the studio auction of the Redmond-funded script for Halo.
The Halo armor-clad bike messengers who delivered the scripts looked so rad, several studio execs got confused and, thinking this was the Quicksilver 2 auction, and bid the price into outer space.
Supposedly, the script somehow manages to suck and blow at the same time, a talent Alex Garland might need when this game is over.
Halo: The Studio Stunt [defamer]
Previously: Waiting for Halo
Virtual Warriors Have Feelings, Too [nyt, my interview with rvb’s Burnie Burns]

These Are A Few Of Todd Purdum’s Favorite Things

A big sloppy kiss on the lips for The Sound of Music on the upcoming occasion of its 40th birthday, courtesy of the NY Times.
I still can’t believe the same guy edited Citizen Kane, directed West Side Story and Sound of Music, and then directed Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Robert Wise, I KISS you.
Oh, and then totally shilled for Chicago. I take it back. Kiss this, Bob.
The Hills Still Resonate [nyt]

These Are A Few Of Todd Purdum’s Favorite Things

A big sloppy kiss on the lips for The Sound of Music on the upcoming occasion of its 40th birthday, courtesy of the NY Times.
I still can’t believe the same guy edited Citizen Kane, directed West Side Story and Sound of Music, and then directed Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Robert Wise, I KISS you.
Oh, and then totally shilled for Chicago. I take it back. Kiss this, Bob.
The Hills Still Resonate [nyt]

That Guy From Interviews That Guy From The VW Commercial

Jason interviewed David Bernal, aka Elsewhere, the popping dancer who recreated Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in The Rain dance scene for a recent British VW GTi commercial: “…they had us watch the original Singing in the Rain scene so many times that I started unconsciously moving a bit like Gene Kelly. The director at one point even told me that I was moving too much like Gene and I needed to move more like me.”
Golf GTi Commercial and Elsewhere []
previously: Definition of “to be Jar-Jarred”
VW commercial shot on the same soundstage as Oliver!
Musical, Re-animated, with Xanadu references

Gene Kelly: The Phantom Edit

Update update: Just extrapolated this new definition from a Defective Yeti post about the horribly horrible X-box-game-turned-movie, Alone in The Dark:
Jar-Jar: vt. to oh-so-wrongly insert a performer or performance into a (exploitative of children? stultifyingly boring? crassly commercial? help me here) work, either through editing or the use of digital image manipulation and/or computer graphics techniques. [Jar-Jar into]
alt. To Be Jar-Jarred [Ex.: “And until I hear otherwise, I’m going to assume that Ben Kingsley was digitally Jar-Jarred into this film without his permission.”]
Also, as Wayne Bremser might say: “VW Jar-Jarred a long-since-dead and once-revered Gene Kelly into a soulless euro techno music video disguised as an endearing homage advert.”

Please Sir, May I Have Some More?


In theGuardian, Steven Brook puffs the Gene Kelly VW ad and provides a very little background, like that Kelly’s widow had to approve of the ad, as did Turner and EMI, who control the elements of the movie scene. [See, I guess at the heart of my idea of who’d decide this stuff for my dead self is that I don’t want only people with commerical interest in the outcome to make the decisions.]
Anyway, there’s an Access Hollywood-level description of the CG process, where they reshot the original scene and masked Kelly’s face over the dancer. Irrelevant press packet factoid: the ad was shot on the same Shepperton soundstage as Oliver! [what, it’s been mothballed for 40 years just waiting for a worthy freakin’ car ad to come along?]
Also, “an interactive version of the advert will launch in late February. Its content will include a video of the car, footage of the making of the ad, and the song.” Interactive? Does that mean we can all take the controls in our own version of Being Gene Kelly? Not bloody likely. “People will be able use the interactive advert to request a test drive of the car.”
Blingin’ In The Rain [guardian, via tmn]

Musical, Re-Animated

genekelly_vw_ad.jpgAfter the initial surge of self-righteous outrage-alin subsided in my veins, I decided that this British VW commercial that re-animates Gene Kelly in order to have him Breakdance In The Rain is, in fact, a rather brilliant tribute and an awesome piece of work.
Someday, we’ll all need to think about who makes decisions about who gets to decide how and when our content and likeness will be used after we’re dead. Kelly got lucky here; you wouldn’t (would you??) want heirs like Samuel Beckett’s, whose fundamentalist dictums foreclose any possible future innovations. Of course, you wouldn’t want Fred Astaire’s heirs, either, who sold him out to a freakin’ vacuum commercial, or MLK’s, who pimped one of the most important speeches of the 20th century to a phone company that probably doesn’t even exist anymore.
No, you’d want–ok, I’d want–to come up with a committee of sorts, a group that self-perpetuates, with a diverse enough membership that stays able to judge the current context, and position dead-me in it an innovative, relevant, and reputation/”brand”-enhancing way.
xanadu.jpgWho knows, the people I designate–and the types of people they’re replaced with; I wouldn’t want my committee to ossify or to get hijacked/blockaded by any one generation–might even make better career choices for me after I’m dead than I make while I’m still here. After all, Gene Kelly’s last dancing movie was the hapless Olivia Newton-John rollerdisco musical, Xanadu [here’s the DVD].
VW GTi, Gene Kelly – Singin’ In The Rain (60s) [ via via]
A generous and funny Xanadu synopsis []
A Pile of Rubble Topped by Nudes. Now That’s a Musical!

[Update: Holy crap, Xanadu was the first feature film of Robert Greenwald, who directed Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War On Journalism and Uncovered: The Whole Truth About The Iraq War]
[On the other hand: Wayne Bremser–he of the Matthew Barney vs Donkey Kong fame–sends me to the showers thus:

I disagree with you, Greg. The first thing that stands out is that the music isn’t “breakdance” music at all – it’s bad generic euro dance music. They should have done a mash up of something, would have been more interesting and perhaps there is something related to “rain” that would have been more interesting.
While I don’t think this scene is sacred, I do think there is something perverse about manipulating Gene Kelly to look like a much worse dancer than he was. It’s not that bad at the end when the camera is not so close, and they don’t have to maintain the illusion of his head, but the rest of it, the way they have manipulated the head to always look at the camera, it looks like Jim Carrey doing a dance while trying to keep up a wacky face.
With the wealth of original homegrown media mashups online (i.e. Planet of Apes remixed as a Twlight Zone episode), a commercial like this seems amateur in concept and style (perhaps more polished, but certainly amateurs would use better music).

I DID totally call it on Xanadu, though. – g.o]

Scratch Frears From The ‘I’ll Never Make A Musical’ Club

Stephen Frears, the rather gritty naturalist British director, is finishing his first musical, Mrs. Henderson Presents, which tells the story of a London burlesque-like theatre during the Blitz.
I get cheered up when I hear stories of people who didn’t want to make a musical making a musical, and in the NY Times, James Ulmer’s October visit to the set reveals a bit of how Frears did it. One key was taking a page, literally, from Hollywood:

[Frears said] “Alan Parker once told me you can wing a movie, but you can’t wing a musical. So yes, I did feel trapped.”
Until, that is, he and his team discovered a book and saw a documentary on the world of Arthur Freed. From the 1940’s to the early 1970’s, Freed’s ability to lure top actors, directors, choreographers and composers to work cheek-by-jowl in his MGM production offices delivered such classic musicals as Singin’ in the Rain, Meet Me In St. Louis and Gigi. The Freed Unit created Hollywood’s first and greatest musical repertory company, and counted Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Gene Kelly and Busby Berkeley in its fold. That model gave Mr. Frears the key he had been searching for.
“Freed had figured out that you must have all these creative people working together in the same room,” the director said. “You can’t do it right unless they’re all present and thinking the same way. So I got everybody into the same place – the writer, composer, musical director and choreographer – and worked it all out. Thank God we read that book.”

That book, I’m guessing, is Hugh Fordin’s expert M-G-M’s Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit and the documentary is probably Musicals Great Musicals by David Thompson, a global public tv-style puff piece which is not as informative, but is still pretty and entertaining.
We just caught the end of Signin’ In The Rain on TCM, so my Freed awe factor is running kinda high right now. [Musicals Great Musicals is included in the Singin’ In The Rain 2-Disc DVD, by the way.]
A Pile of Rubble Topped by Nudes. Now That’s a Musical! [NYT]

The Last Starfighter: The Musical

An ecstatic review by Jason Scott of possibly the geekiest musical possible (without disrupting the space-time continuum, I’m sure), The Last Starfighter.
As every teenage videogame addict living in a trailer park in the eighties knows, the movie, The Last Starfighter tells the story of a… teenage videogame addict living in a trailer park who is tapped by aliens to save a distant planet the universe from destruction or something.
In any case, it’s now a musical, exuberantly and complexly well-done (apparently), and playing off^3-Broadway at the Storm Theatre. Don’t procrastinate and blow it like you did Rent; go see it before it moves to the big stage.
“Geekdom, extreme geekdom, does not just have depths, my friends; it has heights…Sometimes, we think we have achieved the pinnacle, and then, slowly, we glance upward and see we have even farther to climb.” [ASCII by Jason Scott, via waxy]
The Last Starfighter: The Musical, now playing at the Storm Theatre

So What, It’s Rewritten? So Let It Be Sung!

cribbed but shrunken and credited, from the new york times article, image: robert dennisonAt last, the Hebrews have hearkened unto that voice in the wilderness, that great prophet who came down off the mountain.
Translation for the godless: The Times has a review of Ten Commandments: The Musical (“Val Kilmer IS Moses.”), which Defamer has been preaching about for days.
Figuring that Christian audiences are well known for embracing wild-ass reinterpretations of biblical texts [??], the producers of TC:TM VKIM went ahead and rewrote The Commandments: “‘Thou shalt not steal’ becomes the considerably less pithy ‘Don’t take things that belong to someone else.’ There’s also the interestingly ambiguous ‘Never lie about others.'”
Here, for your salvation in the Promised Land, are all ten of Val Kilmer Is Moses’s Ten Commandments, as revealed to me this morning while I was burning through a bushel of Crunchberries:

God says Val Kilmer IS Moses says
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. What part of “Do you know who I Am?” don’t you understand?
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. “the taking of photographs and use of recording equipment is strictly prohibited [in the Kodak Theatre].”
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. Step 1: Instead of ass say buns, like “kiss my buns” or “you’re a buns hole”
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. No, I will not use a Crackberry.
Honour thy father and thy mother. Dick Grayson : You can’t understand. Your family wasn’t killed by a maniac.
Bruce Wayne : Yes, they were.
Thou shalt not kill. ibid.
Thou shalt not commit adultery. Inexplicably dropped from the original French production.
US production: Sorry, no kissing.
Thou shalt not steal. Don’t take things that belong to someone else.
Thou shalt not bear false witness. Never lie about others.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, &c. “rules for the press line: DO NOT ASK ‘Who are you wearing?’

He Sings, He Dances, He Parts the Red Sea [Charles Isherwood, NYT]
The Ten Commandments: Val Kilmer up to his old tricks [Defamer]

Animated Typography: Not My Type IV, by The Lycette Bros.

not_my_type_iv_lycette.gifAlso worth checking out from Strange Attractors is Mark & John Lycette’s Not My Type IV. Although it dates from 2002, it’s just started getting attention and awards from festivals this year.
The Lycettes’ Not My Type series uses typographic elements to create pared down characters and landscapes. A comma becomes a teardrop falling from o-within-O eyes, for example. Very smart, not cheesy stuff; it’s the best animated typography since Donald visited Mathmagicland.
That said, the pacing drags a little; when the protagonist gets annoyed at the whining leafblower, you feel something stronger than just empathy. Very nice stuff that makes me want to see I-III.
Not My Type IV by the Lycette Brothers [Strange Attractors, ABC]
Lycette Bros. studio site
Developing a Storyboard [Note: that untraceable typewriter sound is coming from an embedded Flash image waayy down the page that looks just like the jpgs around it. Flash is the new midi, apparently.]

The Way by Qing Huang, and 11 other AU animations

qing_the_way.jpgStrange Attractors is a showcase of short films by 12 Victoria (Australia) animation artists sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. It looks very promising, in that “utter absence of commercial pressure=trippier than normal animation” kind of way.
Surfing through the offerings, bios and highly particular technical/instructional articles, the first film I decided to watch was Qing Huang’s The Way.
The Way is a beautiful 3-d cgi transformation of traditional Chinese painting that explores the Taoist’s view of art and nature. Although it’s all done in Maya, not actual stop action animation, it reminds me of the best aspects of William Kentridge’s work (i.e., the unification of technique and aesthetic, drawing/erasing and brushstroke, not the heavy-handed political melodrama.)
Watch it before reading Qing’s meticulously conceived philosophical approach to the project, if only to realize how, unlike so many of Kentrige’s works, the Big Message doesn’t overwhelm the film’s expert, enjoyable lyricism.
Strange Attractor [lo-band entry, easier than flash, via MeFi]
Painterly Effects in Maya, by Qing Huang [Strange Attractor, ABC]