Usually, Pixar wraps its keen observations of human foibles around the plight of their victims: neglected toys in Toy Story, unappreciated superheroes in The Incredibles, maltreated marine life in Finding Nemo, and so forth. But WALL·E’s own abandonment never grows into an issue against the humans here…
So what exactly was I expecting from Pixar? I wouldn’t have known, of all things, that the geek webcomic XKCD would provide the answer:
Randall Munroe, XKCD’s author, writes: “On January 26th, 2213 days into its mission, NASA declared Spirit a ’stationary research station’, expected to stay operational for several more months until the dust buildup on its solar panels forces a final shutdown.”
Like many others, I had not heard of Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc just more than two weeks ago. He, a Filipino movie critic; she, a Slovenian film journalist. In 2007, they met at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and fell in love.
I know sometimes you may think that it was the fact that we worked in the same field that attracted me to you, but I must tell you that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Why? Because one of the greatest joys I believe one can feel is to share that which they find beautiful with someone who otherwise wouldn’t have noticed it, and to see it appreciated. This is the main reason why I love teaching and why I refuse to show Lord of the Rings to my students (no matter how fervently my co-teachers insist). It is also the evidence that cinema isn’t what brings us nearer to each other: because in this regard, we are on equal footing, and I must instead find other things in me to share with you. For anyone who knows me, they know how difficult that is…
My dear Nika,
If there has been a single cause of strain that has stuck out in our relationship it is this: the idea of my attachment to the Philippines, the strong desire you see that I have to live and work here, and the way that, perhaps, you see this as a matter of misappropriate priorities. Does a place mean more than a person? Does my work in the Philippines mean more than the possibility of a life with you, somewhere, anywhere else? Must it be you that moves, makes the (I know you hate the word, but let us use it) sacrifice of moving? And what, if anything, does that say about us—that the scales of our love weigh more heavily on your chalice?
I know you’ve come to terms with the idea of moving here, hopefully next year, we discuss—but I still feel the need to talk a bit more about some of my reasons for wanting to stay, at the very least for the meantime. I’m not attempting to compare my affection for Manila with yours for Slovenia, but only to explain the thoughts that go through my head, the things I feel I must do, things that, perhaps, we can do together.
She moved to the Phillippines to live with him, and they shared a home in Quezon City, Manila. But it was to be short-lived. On September 1, 2009, they were shot and killed by robbers who broke into their home.
It’s an upsetting story, one that I could not come to terms with quickly enough to write last week’s Links Roundup instalment, and not just because they were young, in love, shared a passion for the movies, and had been full of promise; but all the more because I am awestruck by Alexis’ undying love for his countrymen’s movies. (I am guilty, having been bred in an America-centric film blogosphere, to be concerned largely with the movies therein.) I hope it is worthy of his memory that thanks to him, I am now inspired to dig deeper into Singapore’s cinema for the riches I may find there, and champion them where I can. Indeed, Alexis was the editor of Criticine, which I have discovered is probably the foremost resource on Southeast Asian cinema.
Cinephilia: Hilariously mean skit of Brad Pitt getting the phone call for his role in Basterds (with well-observed sideswipes at Angelina Jolie and Tim Burton).
Scanners: Jim Emerson reviews Basterds through the lenses of its auteur Quentin Tarantino’s perspectives on story, character, emotion, dialogue and the movies. He also directs us to a Village Voice interview with Quentin (thx).
Antagony & Ecstasy: Tim Brayton backs up the theory that Basterds is a movie about WWII movies:
A direct riposte to the predictable howls of outrage from people wondering when the hell Tarantino is going to grow up and start addressing the real world, anyway, the film as much as argues, “what movie was ever about the real world? And with that in mind, why can’t I just go balls-out crazy?” Besides, he already demonstrated in Pulp Fiction that movies and television have replaced the real world as our model for reality; to call something “real” actually means that it’s reminiscent of “realist” films.
Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino praises fellow auteur Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, comparing their mutual inspirations to Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift’s (thx):
Classic film actress Lauren Bacall delivers a Twitter smackdown on Twilight (thx):
Yes, I saw Twilight – my granddaughter made me watch it, she said it was the greatest vampire film ever. After the “film” was over I wanted to smack her across her head with my shoe, but I did not want a book called Grannie Dearest written on me when I die. So instead I gave her a DVD of Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu and told her, “Now that’s a vampire film!” And that goes for all of you! Watch Nosferatu instead!
The New York Times expounds on the easy pleasures of the Final Destination movies, ending up comparing them to Bergman:
Their first innovation is the casting of Death itself as the antagonist, which turns out to be quite pleasing from a design perspective. These are remarkably streamlined, clutter-free movies, unencumbered by the need to identify the killer or his motivation, let alone explain why he appears to die at the end of one film only to be revived at the start of the next. There is no supernatural or psychological back story and — a rarity in this most charged of genres —no sociopolitical subtext to speak of. At most, for those so inclined, the movies function as memento mori, posing cosmic questions about fate and mortality. The arc of any “Final Destination” film — a futile, movielong negotiation with Death — echoes that of the Bergman classic “The Seventh Seal.”
The Auteurs: Panel discussion on the future of movie criticism in the blog-and-Twitter era. On a more optimistic note, Film Studies for Free offers an extensive collection of free online scholarship on movie criticism.
Sunset Gun: Kim Morgan and Quentin Tarantino discuss Inglourious Basterds and their shared love of movies. Most of the allusions whoosh over my head, but I love that they’re there, and I can’t wait to know more.
The New York Times: Profile on Christoph Waltz, the little-known Austrian actor who won the Best Supporting Actor prize at this year’s Cannes for his portrayal of Col. Hans Landa, the villain of Inglourious Basterds.
Asked when he knew he wanted to act, he had a ready rejoinder: “Still don’t.”
“The basic reason why anyone wants to become an actor is arrested development,” he continued. “Which is great when you’re 18. Becoming an actor is like becoming a father. It’s not hard to become one. Making a life of it is the challenge.”
If he wants it, Mr. Waltz could probably go on to a lucrative career playing Euro-villains in Hollywood thrillers. But as he put it, “I’m open to working anywhere, but not on anything.”
And here’s a QT interview with David Letterman back in 1997, nearing the release of Jackie Brown (via Kris Tapley). Observe how temperate he used to be:
The L Magazine: Matt Zoller Seitz and Keith Uhlich’s essay (with accompanying video) on the appeal of QT’s “profane, rococo dialogue”:
It once struck me as wildly hit-or-miss – either brilliantly florid and theatrical (sometimes revelatory) or else redundant and navel-gazing, dragging the filmmaker’s characters into a quagmire of telling when the films could have been showing instead (Tarantino is very, very good at showing). I’m taking the second part of that characterization back.
Scanners: Overheard after the apocalyptic 2012 trailer:
The House Next Door: Sheila O’Malley profiles Cary Grant as conscious shaper of his leading-man persona, and picks his five career-best performances. See also Pauline Kael’s old essay on Grant, The Man from Dream City.
Scanners: In 1995, a group of Danish directors (among whom Lars Von Trier was the most notorious) came up with the Dogme 95 Manifesto, limiting the use of special effects and post-production techniques to refocus the film-making discipline on narrative and acting. Fourteen years later, Jim Emerson updates it with his Dogme 09.8 Manifesto, suggesting ten limitations that modern movies need to get back on track:
Get a tripod.
Location-recorded sound isn’t the finished product.
Shoot the movie so that it can be assembled in as few well-planned shots as possible.
No more than three consecutive shots should last less than one second apiece.
If you can tell it’s CGI, don’t use it.
Don’t fall back on overused scenes, subjects, images and superficial action.
Don’t scramble chronology just to make dull material less linear.
Know your genre and filmmaking conventions.
Fit the format to the film.
Remember that every single thing in your movie reflects a decision.