Feature Friday: “Dark Star” (1974)

I caught up with Dark Star only a few years back, at one of the Music Box‘s science-fiction marathons. I was pleased to discover that Dark Star ranks among John Carpenter’s best, while at the same time standing out due to its odd, grim humor. (Kubrick’s influence hangs over the picture, which pokes lovingly not only at 2001—just look at the opening scene—but Dr. Strangelove.) Much of the comedy is also due to the presence of writer/star/production designer/editor Dan O’Bannon, the brilliant screenwriter behind Alien and Total Recall and Lifeforce. Appropriately, Dark Star contains lots of swipes from Philip K. Dick, as well as some ideas that would later infiltrate Alien: the cramped and tedious corporate working condition, an ornery alien creature running amok…

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The Overlook Hotel – the best resource for The Shining

This is how they did it.

The Overlook Hotel is simply the best site about The Shining on the internet. There are dozens of never before seen photos from the making of the film (including how Nicholson was propped up frozen in the snow at the end), new posters, artwork, tattoos, copies of screenplays, anything you can think of. Lee Unkrich is the caretaker of the site and I salute him.

Just in case you need more ephemera on The Shining here is that little article On Newfound Footage.

The Barthelme Problem

[This post is something of a response to John's recent post, and some of the comments made there by Darby, John, and me.]

Back in high school/college, my favorite filmmakers were Terry Gilliam, Stanley Kubrick, Peter Greenaway, and Martin Scorsese:

As you can see, I gravitated toward a visually spectacular cinema. Everything else looked so boring! So mundane!

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It’s Not Time to DeListify

Moodyson's film "Together"


Andrei Tarkovsky’s Top Ten List :

  1. Le Journal d’un curé de campagne – Bresson, 1951
  2. Winter Light – Bergman, 1962
  3. Nazarin – Luis Bunel, 1959
  4. Wild Strawberries – Bergman, 1957
  5. City Lights – Charlie Chaplin, 1931
  6. Ugetsu Monogatari – Mizoguchi, 1953
  7. Seven Samurai – Kurosawa, 1954
  8. Persona – Bergman, 1966
  9. Mouchette – Bresson, 1967
  10. Woman of the Dunes – Teshigahara, 1964

More info on that list at Nostalghia.com, the best site about Tarkovsky on the internet

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Style as Imitation

Leonardo #1, page 17 (1987) (detail; First Publishing reprint). Art by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

1.

My father, who once trained as a baker, taught me when I was a kid how to bake an apple pie. I don’t know where he got the original recipe from; I highly doubt that he invented it. Certainly he didn’t invent the idea of baking pies. And he didn’t invent the idea of baking an apple pie.

He was very clear about certain instructions:

  • always use Granny Smith apples;
  • always use ice-cold water;
  • touch the dough as little as possible.

Since then, I’ve baked several apple pies, and over time I’ve modified the recipe slightly, but it’s essentially the same (and I never violate his prime instructions).

When I make a new apple pie, I’m not doing anything new.

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There Will Be 2001

This is somewhat late to the party, but three years later I still haven’t seen this argument made anywhere else, so here goes.

Many critics have noted that Daniel Day-Lewis‘s performance in There Will Be Blood (2007) drew heavily from his fellow Irishman John Huston‘s turn in Chinatown (1974). See, for instance, here, here, here, and here. Or just compare for yourself:

…But that is only one level of mimicry. Paul Thomas Anderson’s feature itself is loosely based, structurally, on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Now, I’m not claiming that Anderson consciously aped Kubrick’s masterpiece. And I don’t want to suggest that the films share identical or even similar plots (although there are some points of comparison). Rather, it is the manner in which There Will Be Blood presents its respective story that it borrows from 2001.

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