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"Directing is about deciding - when you direct, DECIDE."
June 28, 2013 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Stuart Cohen on when The Thing became John Carpenter's The Thing. [via]
posted by brundlefly (33 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Best film has best stories.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on June 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Neat essay. Shame about the apostrophes'.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:28 PM on June 28, 2013


Great article.

John Carpenter does excellent movie commentaries, by the way. Funny and insightful.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:35 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The DVD commentary on The Thing is perhaps the best commentary of all time.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hmm. One of the Related Posts *isn't* by me.

/warily grasps flamethrower.
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on June 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh yeah, the commentary for The Thing is up there. I think my favorite part is when Carpenter talks about how the worst, and most difficult, scene for any director to make work is "a bunch of dudes standing around a table." It's a pain to block, it's a pain to shoot, it's a pain to pace, it's just a pain all around. It really makes you appreciate when a director can make that sort of scene work.

I also remember Carpenter saying that Wilford Brimley might not even really be an actor. Everything he does just plain looks like how Wilford Brimley himself would react to that thing actually happening.

As for the article, it's always interesting to see how seemingly minor choices can add up to a very different film. Moviemaking is neither simple nor easy. Very small choices can make all the difference between a bland protagonist and a great protagonist, or between no suspense and oodles of suspense.

It's also interesting to point out how one must often be brutally lean when telling a story. It doesn't matter if a scene is basically well done, if it doesn't advance the story. This can get touchy if the script wasn't already tight to begin with.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:42 PM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


That article was fantastic. Getting a copy of the DVD with the audio commentary is now a priority for me. Thanks for this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:45 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


THE THING is one of those films that gets better with every watch.

Ebert gave it 2.5 stars in 1982. And unfavorably compares it to The Thing From Another World, which very loosely adapts Campbell's story, losing all the fear and tension in the process. Perhaps more of the reactions are predicated on the viewers, and what occupies their minds, rather than the inherent qualities of the film.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:10 PM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


An intellectual carrot!

The Thing manages to be much closer to the original story, Who Goes There, and be the closest we'll see to a film version of that story's likewise Antarctic-set contemporary, At The Mountains of Madness.
posted by Artw at 5:40 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wilford Brimley

I've been meaning to see this for awhile. I didn't know Wilford Brimley was in it. I think this just moved it up on my priority list.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:13 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Carpenter does excellent movie commentaries, by the way. Funny and insightful.

It might have something to do with how INCREDIBLY HIGH he and Kurt Russell get when they do commentaries. Big Trouble in Little China is also great.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:28 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been meaning to see this for awhile. I didn't know Wilford Brimley was in it.

GO NOW AND WATCH IT BEFORE YOU READ ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT IT.

GO.

NOW!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:28 PM on June 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Priority number one, all other priorities rescinded!
posted by Artw at 6:30 PM on June 28, 2013


It might have something to do with how INCREDIBLY HIGH he and Kurt Russell get when they do commentaries. Big Trouble in Little China is also great.

You know what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like this?
posted by Artw at 6:31 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love both the original Thing From Another World and John Carpenter's The Thing although, yes, two very different movies. My dearest DVD wish is for Criterion to one day release both in an extras packed double feature.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:38 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, just realized I have the Thing on DVD and I don't remember listening to the commentary. Alright, got my entertainment lined up for the evening. And I even have popcorn!
posted by LoraT at 6:58 PM on June 28, 2013


I love inside stories like this. The Thing seems so cohesive and tight as narrative, it's wild to find out that it was half made up as they were filming and editing. Great post. Now I need to watch it again.
posted by octothorpe at 7:24 PM on June 28, 2013


You know what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like this?

Who?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:08 PM on June 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


The best part of the Big Trouble In Little China commentary is the thirty minutes in the middle of the film where Kurt Russell and John Carpenter bullshit about their kids, and then realize they haven't been paying attention to the movie for a half hour.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:18 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was good commentary, thanks for the rec!
posted by LoraT at 8:54 PM on June 28, 2013


Artw: "Hmm. One of the Related Posts *isn't* by me.

/warily grasps flamethrower.
"

Hey, there. Art, buddy, can I get a quick blood sample?
posted by Samizdata at 9:31 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


SpacemanStix: "Wilford Brimley

I've been meaning to see this for awhile. I didn't know Wilford Brimley was in it. I think this just moved it up on my priority list.
"

Priorities shimorties.

Watch it.

NOW.
posted by Samizdata at 9:32 PM on June 28, 2013


Artw: "It might have something to do with how INCREDIBLY HIGH he and Kurt Russell get when they do commentaries. Big Trouble in Little China is also great.

You know what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like this?
"

Yes, sir, the check is in the mail.
posted by Samizdata at 9:33 PM on June 28, 2013


I have said this before in many places and many threads, but MacCready's line in the finale is, in my less than humble opinion, is the most awesomely wonderful badass line EVER.

You think about all the stress, all the horror, and what you know of MacCready as a character, and of what anyone would be thinking at that precise time, and his last line is so deliciously virtuoso, it is a triumph of writing.
posted by Samizdata at 9:36 PM on June 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "You know what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like this?

Who?
"

LOAD "INTERNETSMACKTOTHEBACKOFTHEHEAD", 8, 1

OK

You know, the fact you missed that reference SHOULD engender pity, but I can't, because YOU MISSED THAT REFERENCE.

RUN
posted by Samizdata at 9:39 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Lo Pan Style
posted by Artw at 9:49 PM on June 28, 2013


Carpenter is amazing to me because he doesn't have much of a middle ground. His films are either amazing or so very meh. Like, there's no ranking them. There's a bunch tied for first and a few tied for last.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:07 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Samizdata, I think you missed a reference back.

It's all in the reflexes
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:59 AM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been meaning to see this for awhile. I didn't know Wilford Brimley was in it. I think this just moved it up on my priority list.

He's in it, but his moustache isn't. He's almost completely unrecognizable.

(Bonus fun fact: When he starred as the lead old guy in Cocoon, he was still in his forties.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:58 AM on June 29, 2013


Brimley is one of those actors like Gene Hackman or Robert Duvall who seem to have been born old.
posted by octothorpe at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: "When he starred as the lead old guy in Cocoon, he was still in his forties."

I mentioned this in a recent thread, but he was the same age that Tom Cruise is now.
posted by brundlefly at 4:41 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Elementary Penguin: "Samizdata, I think you missed a reference back.

It's all in the reflexes
"

Not so much.

When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye, and asks you if you paid your dues; you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have you paid your dues, Jack? Yessir, the check is in the mail."
posted by Samizdata at 5:56 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should cop to an unfair advantage as I just HAD to watch it again a couple of nights ago, BTW. Gotta have a periodic dose of young Kim Cattrall every so often. And it is SO SO SO much better than Mannequin.
posted by Samizdata at 9:57 PM on June 29, 2013


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