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Alien Resurrection?
July 31, 2009 12:31 AM   Subscribe

Fox have offocially announced that Ridley Scott has officially signed on to direct the new 'Alien' prequel. He certainly did a great job on the original but can he match his previous truimph? Given the number of projects he has in gestation (heh) maybe any celebration is premature...
posted by Mintyblonde (166 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The trailer for the original is brilliant.
posted by zippy at 12:42 AM on July 31, 2009


Is this going to be a stand-up fight, sir, or another bug hunt?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:48 AM on July 31, 2009 [26 favorites]


Proniac posted:

Is this going to be a stand-up fight, sir, or another bug hunt?

^^^
Calling it right now this will be the best post in this or any other thread about the movie before or after it comes out.

Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes in an attempt to match or better this, with exasperating, unfunny results.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:56 AM on July 31, 2009



Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes in an attempt to match or better this, with exasperating, unfunny results.


Game over, man.
posted by hamida2242 at 12:57 AM on July 31, 2009 [40 favorites]


Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes

"I'm half-man, half-dog. I'm my own best friend."
posted by zippy at 1:01 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


This will be the greatest movie ever made in the history of everything until it comes out!
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:04 AM on July 31, 2009


The trailer for the original is brilliant.

I admire its purity.
posted by showmethecalvino at 1:07 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes in an attempt to match or better this, with exasperating, unfunny results.

You're programmed to be an asshole? You're the new asshole model they're putting out?
posted by nicwolff at 1:11 AM on July 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


How many dicks would I suck to get James Cameron and HR Giger involved with individual levels of creative control almost equal to but slightly lower than Scott's and a $700 million budget?

A whole lot!




(not gay)
posted by hamida2242 at 1:11 AM on July 31, 2009


There's a lot of noise about Scott being "at the helm" of the new project, and the second link loudly proclaims him to be directing the project, but imdb is listing him as the producer. Only time will tell, but I think it's a good thing, overall, that Scott's involved.

So, who's up for another 120-post Alien thread?
posted by lekvar at 1:44 AM on July 31, 2009


I've signaled Artw & cortex.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:50 AM on July 31, 2009


We've got to go on! We have to go on!
posted by Happy Dave at 2:09 AM on July 31, 2009


from aliens... the boy tied up in the goo... before the gun fight.

KILL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by monkeyJuice at 2:30 AM on July 31, 2009


Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes

GET TO THE CHOPPAAAHH?
posted by clearly at 2:32 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, you look just like I feel.
posted by pyrex at 2:39 AM on July 31, 2009


So where does Russell Crowe fit into this? He hasn't been missed a single Ridley Scott film since their psyches fused in a freak accident on the set of A Good Year.
posted by Iridic at 3:00 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, who's up for another 120-post Alien thread?

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by oncogenesis at 3:01 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes in an attempt to match or better this, with exasperating, unfunny results.

Unleash hell.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:01 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ridley Scott has made exactly two good movies in his life. Two. Those two were very good, but he's made so many shit movies since those two [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ] that I find it increasingly difficult to comprehend why anyone views him with such a hushed awe. He's even got a brother making shit movies too. [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ]

Of course this new movie, which I'm sure Ridley is thinking of taking solely because he's embarrassed by the whole Alien v. Predator bullshit that's been going down, will be horrendously bad; Ridley Scott is a director of mass-marketed schlock. Two great films in the '80s can't change that any more than four or five great albums in the '80s can change the fact that REM is a shite band and has been for twenty years.
posted by koeselitz at 3:07 AM on July 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


…but let me say once more that if Ridley Scott had actually gone for directing this awe-inspiring script for a Gladiator sequel written by Nick Cave then all would have been forgiven, and he would have entered the pantheon of heroes with glory and honor.
posted by koeselitz at 3:10 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I imagine a few Thelma and Louise fans will be having a word, koeselitz, assuming the "two good movies" you mean are the obvious ones. People say good things about The Duellists, too.
posted by rory at 3:14 AM on July 31, 2009


Many idiots will post tired, cut-rate quotes in an attempt to match or better this, with exasperating, unfunny results.

I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies.
posted by juv3nal at 3:16 AM on July 31, 2009


hamida2242: How many dicks would I suck to get James Cameron and HR Giger involved with individual levels of creative control almost equal to but slightly lower than Scott's and a $700 million budget?

You can suck as many dicks as you'd like, but all those dicks piled in the back of a truck won't even weigh as much as a third of the pile of ass that a movie made by that team today would suck.
posted by koeselitz at 3:17 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


rory: I imagine a few Thelma and Louise fans will be having a word, koeselitz, assuming the "two good movies" you mean are the obvious ones. People say good things about The Duellists, too.

They can have as many words as they'd like. We can exchange words all day. Every shite movie anybody makes nowadays has whole hordes of ‘fans’—that doesn't mean they're good movies. Thelma and Louise conforms in every way to the worst aspects of Hollywood filmmaking: stock shot placement, standard exposures, mundane and uniform timing, unobtrusive and frankly boring cutting…the story doesn't redeem all that, and in fact the story is betrayed by all that. Even Roger Ebert understood all this upon its release, as I recall.

(I will confess that I haven't seen The Duellists yet.)

C'mon, now. We're talking about the guy who followed up Blade Runner with Legend. Fucking Legend. If Ridley Scott isn't just another Hollywood hack by now, I don't know who the fuck is.
posted by koeselitz at 3:25 AM on July 31, 2009


Morning koeselitz! There's some coffee on and donuts on the table.

Legend was awesome, remains one of my favorites, if you cut out the Tangerine Dream score. A bit long in the end, but it does what he set out to do, make a quasi adult fairy tale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:37 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Legend wasn't all bad. Besides, Tim Curry and unicorns.
posted by juv3nal at 3:39 AM on July 31, 2009


Can we get a law passed against remakes, reboots, and sequels, new Trek and new Who not withstanding?
posted by crataegus at 3:41 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Legend has some very pretty scenes. I want to see Alien vs. Tim Curry in a devil suit.
posted by pracowity at 3:46 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was going to ask you about the Duellists. It's pretty good. The pace is slow and the plot is simplistic, but it's just so gorgeous and I ended up caring about the characters more than usually. Maybe one has to be fascinated by antiquated concepts of honor to really get into it, but even if not, I think the movie is good.

But what do I know, most of the movies I like are probably crap accoding to you.
posted by Authorized User at 3:53 AM on July 31, 2009


I should clarify. I want to see Alien vs. Tim Curry. And I want to be wearing a devil suit at the time. That would be excellent.
posted by pracowity at 4:13 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have no doubt that any prequel to Alien is mostly doomed to utter superfluousness. That, or it will make the StarWars prequels seem logical and fulfilling in comparison.

Now, Scott directing The Forever War? Can I have a big "Hell, yeah!"
posted by Thorzdad at 4:24 AM on July 31, 2009


There's a good little book on Blade Runner (in the BFI series). I was struck by how unlikely it was that the film ever got made - as I recall, the studios were panicked by the success of Star Wars and were desperate to make SF movies, even horrendously violent ones with grandiose directors and totally barking mad production designers. The same circumstances never arose again, which may explain why Ridley never made another decent film.
posted by Major Tom at 4:27 AM on July 31, 2009


Finally a prequel. For thirty years I've been wondering who the space jockey was.
posted by digsrus at 4:33 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even Roger Ebert understood all this upon its release, as I recall.

He seemed to like it quite a lot, actually, saying only that it was undermined by a hasty transition from the final scene to the credits with their happy flashbacks and jaunty music, which is a fair comment. It's not a personal favourite of mine, but it was widely admired and discussed, and was certainly an improvement on his late-'80s work.

You say that movies having "fans" doesn't mean that they're good, which is fair enough, but you yourself were claiming that he's made "exactly two good movies in his life" as if that's an objective truth. Of course it isn't; if there is an objective truth about any movie's precise level of "goodness", we can't know it. Calling on authorities like Ebert to make your rhetorical point just shows how the value we collectively place on any cultural product is the contested, cumulative outcome of thousands of subjective opinions. Plenty of people rate Gladiator highly, which you don't (I personally tend to agree with you), and I'm sure we could find people who don't care for Blade Runner or Alien - they each had their critics back at the time of release, and Blade Runner tanked at the box office. (And if a missing few second of dead air at the end of Thelma and Louise weakened it for Ebert, what are we to make of the happy country getaway that the studio tacked onto the end of Blade Runner?)

Having not seen The Duellists myself, nor much of his recent work other than Gladiator, I can't assess his entire career, but the stuff I've seen has been mixed: a couple of classics, a couple fair-to-good, a few middling, no outright turkeys. But for anyone involved in movie-making to have a substantial hand in two indisputable classics makes them someone worth paying attention to. It's rare enough to make one.
posted by rory at 4:38 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


And even there I see that I've written "indisputable classics" as if they, are, when of course it's all disputable.
posted by rory at 4:41 AM on July 31, 2009


It's free commas day! ,,,,,,,,,,
posted by rory at 4:42 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, hearing about this is enough to make me go hug someone's face.
posted by jamstigator at 4:57 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


You made the rain black, koeselitz. Shoved your values down our throats. We forgot who we were...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:11 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're coming out of the fuckin' walls!
posted by grubi at 5:12 AM on July 31, 2009


Your favorite movie is my embarrassing descent into craptacular hackwork.

Louise, I know what happened in Texas.
posted by localroger at 5:43 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every shite movie anybody makes nowadays has whole hordes of ‘fans’—that doesn't mean they're good movies.

Stine's Law: Every movie ever made is someone's favorite.

(Sourced from SomethingAwful of all places.)

Thelma and Louise conforms in every way to the worst aspects of Hollywood filmmaking: stock shot placement, standard exposures, mundane and uniform timing, unobtrusive and frankly boring cutting…the story doesn't redeem all that, and in fact the story is betrayed by all that.

An interesting opinion. But describing "Thelma and Louise" (and for that matter "Gladiator" and most of Scott's output) as "shit" is just being hyperbolic. "Legend" may be ridiculously camp, "Black Rain" xenophobic, and "Hannibal" grotesque, but they don't belong in the same category as "Postal", "Howard the Duck" and "Troll 2". Leave the word "shit" for films that are actually shit.
posted by outlier at 5:43 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


We're on an express elevator to hell–going down!
posted by Mister_A at 5:44 AM on July 31, 2009


I think the real message to take away from this is that maybe, there's a little alien inside us all.
posted by I Foody at 5:51 AM on July 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


This will be a long comment. Sorry; scroll down to the next one if you'd rather not read it.

(1)

If there is such a thing as an ‘indisputable classic’—hell, if there's any purpose to film criticism at all beyond informing the public about movies which they might like to go see, a task which in-theater previews and television commercials ought to be able to handle—then you're wrong when you say that
…if there is an objective truth about any movie's precise level of "goodness", we can't know it.…the value we collectively place on any cultural product is the contested, cumulative outcome of thousands of subjective opinions.
I understand the urge to write off any and all argument about so-called ‘cultural products’ as so much hand-waving; it makes sense to point out that there's often a good deal of subjectivity that goes along with such discussion. But to condemn that discussion from the start to the oblivion below truth or falsity—to say, in essence, that none of us can really say anything truthful about the quality of a film or its lack thereof—is the worst kind of relativism: the relativism that silences productive and beneficial discussion and consigns true thoughtfulness to the scrap heap.

Of course our own opinions aren't simply “the contested, cumulative outcome of thousands of subjective opinions;” there is such a thing as societal preference, I suppose, a sort of collective agreement that certain movies are worthwhile and certain other movies are not. But what's the point of that collective agreement? If I simply held to that standard without question, I would be forced to ignore most of the movies that I most love, the movies that make me happiest, movies like Sans Soleil and The Saragossa Manuscript and Night Of The Hunter.

In fact, I go further. I maintain that movies do have a very real impact on society; I maintain that that impact can be rationally discussed and considered; and I maintain that it is even our duty to actively criticize the collective agreement in order to try to steer the filmic art in particular and society in general toward the good. I know that plenty of people rate Gladiator quite highly—but I can say exactly why I believe it's (a) a deceptive film that encourages laziness and dishonesty; and (b) why that's bad for human beings in general.

If I were going to do that, I'd probably start with the film technique itself; I say that this technique, the common Hollywood method of today, is deceptive because it treats the viewer as a blank, stupid person to be entertained rather than a thoughtful being capable of real engagement with the film. Scenes are cut quickly together; the viewer is not given even the second moment to take them in. This means that either the setting and costumes are known to be very fake, and thus the director wishes to hide this from the viewer—or that the director wishes to draw in the viewer by confusing her or him, moving the pace so quickly that little can be properly digested. This is especially true of the fighting sequences; in fact, I can't remember the last American film I saw that had fighting sequences which weren't filmed in this atrocious ‘shaken-camera’ style that seems so popular today.

When I make this point, people often say that I'm picking at extremely trivial aspects of the movie and ignoring the really important bits. But the texture of the film is the most important bit—it is the medium chosen, and therefore the most important message—and, because it's seen as merely trivial by most viewers, it is the one thing that has the largest subconscious impact upon them. Movies like this encourage a flighty, ungrounded approach toward life; they make people jittery and excited. That feeling can be somewhat pleasurable for an afternoon or two, but it detracts on the whole from the human experience. The reason the increasing tendency to film fighting scenes as chaotically as possible, and the increasing tendency to film in what seems to be seen as the hand-held, casual style of on-the-scene tv reporters, bother me so much is because it encourages an extreme sort of subjectiveness in coming at any given situation; in the interest of hooking viewers, filmmakers nowadays strive to put the viewer in the action by simulating that confusion through confused images. Contrast this with what is probably the finest aspect of that campy genre, the martial arts film: the way that their fighting scenes emphasize objective beauty and the appreciation thereof because they are filmed from a solid, grounded standpoint—the camera not shaking a moment—so that one may marvel at the artistry of the fight. The point of a film isn't to put the viewer in the action—it's to show them something, to help them see something they've never seen before and to open their hearts and their minds to a higher reality.

(2)

rory: But for anyone involved in movie-making to have a substantial hand in two indisputable classics makes them someone worth paying attention to. It's rare enough to make one.

Well, ‘rare’ really is a subjective term. Every single damned movie that Andrei Tarkovsky ever touched was sparked with brilliance; Yasujiro Ozu made essentially the same film with the same plot, characters, and shots for thirty years and never once made one that wasn't sublime in nearly every way. Jean-Luc Godard has steadfastly refused to make shit, and while I obviously can't judge the impossible-to-find-when-they-even-exist no-budget pictures of his Maoist period, everything else has been incredibly thoughtful when it's not downright brilliant. Mike Leigh's weakest movie—which would probably be his bio-pic about Gilbert and Sullivan, Topsy-Turvy—is still subtle, gentle, and quite beautiful when it comes down to it.

This isn't just mindless hipster nostalgia, at least not to me. It sometimes seems heroic to me, the films these people made, but that's only because I have, like everyone else, accustomed myself to the mediocrity which says, ‘well, gee, that Gladiator was a fun little movie to watch; how satisfying.’ People don't look, really look, at paintings any more; they hardly do anything beyond watch television. The significance of superlative and ennobling images is very real and very pressing at this moment in history.

What it all comes down to is this:

Ridley, if you're reading this, for God's sake, cut it out with the crap and the fluff; you had potential once, and you've clearly made enough money playing it safe. How about stepping out and trying to actually make a few films that will make the world a better place?
posted by koeselitz at 6:08 AM on July 31, 2009 [19 favorites]


outlier: An interesting opinion. But describing "Thelma and Louise" (and for that matter "Gladiator" and most of Scott's output) as "shit" is just being hyperbolic. "Legend" may be ridiculously camp, "Black Rain" xenophobic, and "Hannibal" grotesque, but they don't belong in the same category as "Postal", "Howard the Duck" and "Troll 2". Leave the word "shit" for films that are actually shit.

Fair enough; ‘shit’ is (a) pointlessly hyperbolic, (b) quite vague, and (c) a good deal too negative to describe those movies, it's true.

They upset me, I think, because I know what kind of films Ridley Scott could have been making. But they are miles beyond shit.
posted by koeselitz at 6:11 AM on July 31, 2009


Outlier, I don't think that anyone is doubting Scott's talent as a director, it's his taste and sensibility. I don't think that his later movies are often crappy because he's suddenly lost all the skills he had when he made this first three movies, it's just that he wants to make crappy movies. His movies are usually beautiful to look at, well edited, well acted but are pure money making Hollywood product.

My theory is that he after he lost control of the final cuts for Alien, Blade Runner and Legend, he gave up fighting the studios and decided to join them. Blade Runner and Legend were both huge box office bombs too. Maybe he thought that he'd do a couple of money making movies to get his reputation back and then go back to making more interesting stuff but somehow got sidetracked or forgot how.
posted by octothorpe at 6:12 AM on July 31, 2009


I've signaled Artw & cortex.

Looks like a god-damned town meeting...
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:20 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


The prequel will suck. I don't want some asshole to spoil the delicious mystery of what the space jockey is with a backstory. His organic ship, the way he was grown into the pilot's seat, the way the ship was grown into the planet, everything about it was straight out of the subconscious and can only be spoiled by attempting to come up with rational explanations for it. The original movie works largely because of the dynamic tension between irrational nightmare and nature on the one hand, and rational technology on the other. The nightmare of messy biology even erupts out of the science officer android - we find out that he too is full of goop and violence.

This drive that fans and the comic franchise have to map out the life cycle of the alien, make sense of it, reduce it to natural history and place it in a context with other alien species, makes a mockery of the emotional power and terror that the first movie expressed so well.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:26 AM on July 31, 2009 [31 favorites]


Thanks koeselitz for articulating a lot of what I don't like about many recent action movies. I think one of the reasons I enjoy the Lord of the Rings movies so much is that Jackson does a great job of setting up the geography of the action sequence and in the ensuing mayhem you have a sense of where the different actors are and their relation to each other.

I really can find reason to think this Alien prequel will be worth the 2+ hours of my life it will take to watch it. (Don't get me started about the length of movies). Hope I'm wrong.
posted by marxchivist at 6:27 AM on July 31, 2009


Dear Ridley Scott,

Please include the space jockey fellow in your new Alien movie.

Please do not have him drive off of a cliff.

Thank you,
orme
posted by orme at 6:27 AM on July 31, 2009


We don't we just put koeselitz in charge!?
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:39 AM on July 31, 2009


Have you ever been mistaken for a man?
posted by The Straightener at 6:40 AM on July 31, 2009


koeselitz,

I will posit that movie viewers read reviews with two concepts in mind. 1) Is this a movie I should see? 2) What will this movie will do for humanity?

(yes, I have a point here)

You quote rory as saying "if there is an objective truth about any movie's precise level of "goodness", we can't know it.…" and go on to point out that statements like this fail to address the societal impact of a film. And that we must discuss that impact on a philosophical level.

(back to my posit)

Ebert, et al, are in the business of addressing the issue of the impact of films on society. Rotten Tomatoes, in the main, probably is not. However, when Ebert reviews one film individual members of society absorb that review in order to answer one of the two questions in my posit. Unfortunately, most people want an answer to question 1. Which leaves us with rory's statement about the objective goodness of a film being unknowable. Because so many film goers are going to the film because of their assessment of a review based on question 1, they don't ever address the film based on question 2. They never read the review and use it to answer question 2. I leave the reader to assign blame for this situation to him or herself.
posted by Severian at 6:43 AM on July 31, 2009


Look into my eye.
posted by Rat Spatula at 6:46 AM on July 31, 2009


koeselitz: Contrast this with what is probably the finest aspect of that campy genre, the martial arts film: the way that their fighting scenes emphasize objective beauty and the appreciation thereof because they are filmed from a solid, grounded standpoint—the camera not shaking a moment—so that one may marvel at the artistry of the fight. The point of a film isn't to put the viewer in the action—it's to show them something, to help them see something they've never seen before and to open their hearts and their minds to a higher reality.

As much as I hate to be that guy, you are privileging a particular aesthetic with a particular effect upon the audience, which, while I agree with you in preferring that aesthetic, you have not sufficiently demonstrated that its aesthetic superiority is such that it should by necessity be the only aesthetic. I certainly agree that I find more to love in action-sequence-as-master-shot, but I can also see particular aesthetic value in, as you describe it, the casual style of on-the-scene tv reporters... an extreme sort of subjectiveness in coming at any given situation... put[ting] the viewer in the action by simulating that confusion through confused images.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:48 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't want some asshole to spoil the delicious mystery of what the space jockey is with a backstory.

Exactly. Part of the power of the original lay in the unresolved questions that permeated the movie. What are the aliens? Where did they come from? Why are they so single-mindedly malevolent? Who was the space jockey and where did it come from?

Nowadays we want every single question resolved by the end of the movie, like a big ol' narrative cum-shot.
posted by googly at 6:48 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Straightener: Have you ever been mistaken for a man?

No, have you?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:48 AM on July 31, 2009


I really feel like the marketroids in Hollywood have decided that the vaunted 18-35 demographic really just wants to pretend they are 12. That is the entire strategy anymore.

While it's nice to see this is "official", it's still pretty thin. There are some pretty clear problems with the idea of a prequel.

I don't really like the idea of delving too much into the Space Jockey angle. That thing is a setpiece for fucks sake. Leave it as an enigma, because that thing is so bizarre you're going to embarrass yourself if you try to build a narrative around it.

Verheiden mentions this 3rd race in the Dark Horse books, and they come of a little Deus Ex-y. I'd rather hear about the rise of corporate spacefaring, and the profit motives that drive humanity out among the stars, willing to take insane risks and open pandoras box with reckless abandon.

But I'm probably sounding like broken record on that front by now.
posted by butterstick at 6:49 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Straightener: Have you ever been mistaken for a man?

No, have you?



*high fives*
posted by The Straightener at 6:50 AM on July 31, 2009


Stonestock Relentless: We don't we just put koeselitz in charge!?

Heh, no. No, you don't want that.

The first scene in my Alien prequel involves the aliens finally learning how to talk in English. The second scene involves them explaining to human beings why all humans must die: because humans were responsible for making Alien vs. Predatorand they didn't even learn from their mistake.

The third scene probably involves an elaborate joke concerning the fact that Alien: Resurrection, which I believe we can all agree was a pile of stupid, was directed by the Jeunet brothers a few years before they did Amelie. She always seemed to resemble an alien queen to me in an oddly disturbing sort of way.
posted by koeselitz at 6:54 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have no doubt that any prequel to Alien is mostly doomed to utter superfluousness. That, or it will make the StarWars prequels seem logical and fulfilling in comparison.

Meesa met a muy friendly alien that hugged meesa facey! But now my has a pain in meesa chest...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 AM on July 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


Matchstick Men was not a shit movie. I'll forgive you for assuming that since it has Nicholas Cage in it, but it was not a shit movie.

The other night I was watching the first Harry Potter movie with a friend. I had never seen any of them since I was doing my best at avoiding the series for years for one reason or another. Anyway, at the scene where Harry goes to purchase a wand, I gasped, "Oh wow, is that John Hurt? Hey, it is!"

My friend replied, "Who's John Hurt?"

I started listing off things he had done- he was Winston in the good version of 1984, he had a bit part in Dead Man, he did voice work in Watership Down and The Plague Dogs, he did narration on that one Art of Noise album, etc. She wasn't familiar with any of those. I then mentioned he was the one who had the alien burst out of his chest. She remembered that right away.

I guess there are worse things to be famous for.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:57 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I typed exactly this exact thing with exacting exactitude at almost exactly the same exact time as the other guy.
posted by Mister_A at 7:01 AM on July 31, 2009


I know that plenty of people rate Gladiator quite highly—but I can say exactly why I believe it's (a) a deceptive film that encourages laziness and dishonesty; and (b) why that's bad for human beings in general.

I liked Gladiator and thought it was entertaining enough for the afternoon while paying some cultural dues by reminding the audience of the corruption of power and jealously and the importance of trying to do right in the face of overwhelming odds. It was fairly simplistic how it did this, but that's ok, I think people need to these constant reminders, especially when they're done in larger than life, heroic ways. If Maximus can do right on such a large scale, surely you can try it on your smaller scale, right?

Anyway, this is sorta why I find your criticisms of the film and the medium odd, self absorbed and narrow. In raging against the dumbing down of movies by Hollywood, to the extent that view treat the viewer as blank slate, you do similar things by presuming to tell people what the most important aspect of film is and how it affects them. That's boringly arrogant.

Your entire comment can be reduced to this: This is what film is and any film that doesn't do this is shit. You forget different movies are trying to accomplish different things and appeal to different audiences. When I went to see Transformers 2, I was watching with a different mindset than when I re-watch personal classics such Before the Rain or Junebug. These films are reaching for what you're advocating, stories that try to make the world better and uplift the spirit but just as steady diet of Michael Bay crap would be limiting, so would regular meals of the films you enjoy.

And yet some people I know do gorge on a regular diet of Michael Bay type films, but that doesn't make them terrible people. This is what I think is most disturbing about your criticism, not just that you're saying something about types of film, but you're also saying, and judging, the people who watch them, while of course doing the usual tactic of "The films I prefer are so better for humanity and by extension, so am I" It just seems to ring so shallow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: directed by the Jeunet brothers a few years before they did Amelie

Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a brother?

And they make movies together?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:02 AM on July 31, 2009


I totally want to see ROU_Xenophobe's Alienses/Jar-Jar Binks mash-up. Notably, this comment marks the first time I have typed the word "mash-up" without the qualifier "needless, awful, hacky."
posted by Mister_A at 7:04 AM on July 31, 2009


shakespeherian: As much as I hate to be that guy, you are privileging a particular aesthetic with a particular effect upon the audience, which, while I agree with you in preferring that aesthetic, you have not sufficiently demonstrated that its aesthetic superiority is such that it should by necessity be the only aesthetic. I certainly agree that I find more to love in action-sequence-as-master-shot, but I can also see particular aesthetic value in, as you describe it, the “casual style of on-the-scene tv reporters... an extreme sort of subjectiveness in coming at any given situation... put[ting] the viewer in the action by simulating that confusion through confused images.”

I know I didn't draw out my argument much on that point; my goal was only to show that an argument in that direction was possible.

But I really could argue this at more length. I do acknowledge that there might be situations which call for the handheld camera effect; but I have a hard time thinking of any, and I have to say that I believe this happens far too often in movies nowadays. It seems to me that this is the largest trend in film in the last twenty years, and I'm not exaggerating: whereas directors used to go to very, very great lengths to keep a steady camera, now it seems to be a common signifier of ‘authenticity’ or ‘reality’ when the existence and portability of the camera is emphasized by its constant shaking and movement.

My model isn't really martial arts movies, although I do wish I could tell what was going on in the fight scenes of most new movies I see. My model is really the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, who would run ten- and twenty-minute shots, and who wouldn't hesitate to point his camera at the same field for seven minutes straight, moving the camera only very slightly throughout—maybe, for example, moving it down and to the left, but always imperceptibly. Because of this, nothing was left to the imagination. We always knew what was happening in the frame because we were given more than enough of a chance to pursue it. This just seems more honest to me, and more rewarding spiritually.
posted by koeselitz at 7:06 AM on July 31, 2009


koeselitz, I'm glad I drew you out on this, because it's turning the thread into something much more interesting than a bunch of IMDB Memorable Quotes, but allow me to note a few things:

I agree that talking of "indisputable classics" in light of what I'd just said doesn't make sense, which is why I called myself on it as soon as I'd posted it. I should have said they were "widely acclaimed as classics".

When you say "Of course our own opinions aren't simply 'the contested, cumulative outcome of thousands of subjective opinions'", I never said they were, if by "our own opinions" you mean each person's individual opinions. Each of our individual opinions, with or without careful consideration and supporting evidence, goes into the big ol' melting pot of public opinion and in the long run turns into some kind of received wisdom, none of which prevents us from holding to our own personal opinions. Received wisdom, especially once sufficient time has elapsed, is generally good at pointing out things that are worth our attention; maybe not so good at pointing out things that aren't; but it's perfect at doing neither.

But that's not why I posted my original comment about Thelma and Louise and The Duellists; I posted it because you had omitted both of those from your list of "shit movies" by Ridley Scott, and yet spoke of "two good movies", which many consider those to be, so I was interested in hearing why you didn't rate them as either good or as shit. I presumed you considered Blade Runner the other good movie, but if you didn't, that would have been an even more interesting position to hear about. Reading other people's contrary takes on received wisdom helps us reassess it for ourselves.

And as for it being rare for anyone to make a single classic, I'll stand by that. Identifying directors who've made two or more doesn't make it commonplace, or anything other than rare, because how many movie directors have there been in the past hundred years? Not only the big names, or the ones who got to work in Hollywood, or the ones who actually got to shoot a feature anywhere, but even the aspiring directors who never got the chance? And not the ones who've made good movies, or movies sparked with brilliance or sublime, but classics seen as being among the very best of their kind? It's a rare feat indeed.
posted by rory at 7:06 AM on July 31, 2009


Just because a movie isn't art, doesn't mean it's not a good movie. Likewise, just because a movie isn't art, doesn't mean it's a good movie, either. Movies came into being because people wanted to be entertained. If today, all a movie does is entertain, and entertain well, that attribute alone does not make it a piece of crap.
posted by Atreides at 7:07 AM on July 31, 2009


I honest do not have a problem with the Scott bros movies. Grant it I won't go to the movie theater to see them but at 2 on a friday night or 2 PM on Sunday not during football season gladiator is the shit.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:07 AM on July 31, 2009


Alien, the Prequel: Scenes of Ripley's cat staring intently at people over ominous background music. The tension builds for ninety interminable minutes until...he starts licking himself and takes a nap.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:19 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


At this point I think we should just nuke this thread from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by Ber at 7:22 AM on July 31, 2009


I totally want to see ROU_Xenophobe's Alienses/Jar-Jar Binks mash-up.

We could follow it up with the one-sided action movie Gungans vs. Predator.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:24 AM on July 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: odd, self absorbed and narrow
posted by Fleebnork at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2009


koeselitz, I'd love to see a list of important films you have made, if you please.
posted by effluvia at 7:27 AM on July 31, 2009


Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Kotto, pretty please! And give them their bonuses.
posted by rahnefan at 7:34 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


As much as I love Alien and Aliens, I really don't want to see Sigourney Weaver trotted out for another one of these so I'm more in favor of the prequel vs. another sequel. Unless the script engages in some Star Wars 2009 reboot-type shenanigans with the story's established time line and history, they'd have to botox Weaver to within an inch of her life to fit her into a prequel.

Maybe in the prequel we can learn that the aliens were just nice family, um, beings like us, who just didn't appreciate having their home invaded.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:35 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear Mr. Scott,

Please do NOT include the space jockey, or at least don't explain him/her/it. That would totally ruin it. Do NOT explain where the aliens come from. That would totally ruin it.

Hugs,
brundlefly

P.S. Yeah man, but it's a dry heat!
posted by brundlefly at 7:42 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, aren't there technically two Alien prequels already? The Alien vs. Predator movies?
posted by brundlefly at 7:44 AM on July 31, 2009


This is rumor control. These are the facts.
posted by jquinby at 7:45 AM on July 31, 2009


I haven't seen the original Alien. Maybe I will watch the prequel and then the original. That would be weird.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 7:46 AM on July 31, 2009


I'm the monster's mother.
posted by hermitosis at 7:55 AM on July 31, 2009


One other thing, koeselitz - your comment on "the relativism that silences productive and beneficial discussion and consigns true thoughtfulness to the scrap heap" seemed to suggest that that's what I was trying to do by pointing out that the concept of "good movies" is contested rather than absolute. Well, no; I was responding to your previous comment, "They can have as many words as they'd like. We can exchange words all day. Every shite movie anybody makes nowadays has whole hordes of ‘fans’—that doesn't mean they're good movies," which one could equally see as an attempt to silence discussion and consign thoughtfulness to the scrap heap. Aha, you might riposte, but comments from such 'fans' are un-productive and un-beneficial discussion, and false thoughtfulness, deserving of the scrap heap! But isn't that what we're supposed to determine through discussion, by actually having it? So who was the one trying to silence discussion again?
posted by rory at 7:56 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think attempting to tie in this film too tightly to the established narrative would be a mistake.

Yes, let's have humans (watching alien races gibber at each other with subtitles, then whack one another would lack investiture) in it, but they don't have to be Company. Or the information doesn't get back to the Company.

This could be an early human foray into the galaxy. At some point we bump into ... whatever. As long as there are aliens and human/alien conflict, go to town.

It ends with us disabling the alien ship, which just barely lands and keeps its cargo of bioweapons (xenomorph eggs kept quiescent by that blue fog) safe. Maybe one lone human on the alien ship takes out the space jockey by leaving an egg in the room.

Imagine the terror of the space jockey. He's growing out of the goddamned chair, and he's helpless because one of these humans (perhaps enraged because the space jockey's masters got a bunch of us to experiment on with xenomorphs, plucked from our spunky little ship cobbled together for our grand voyage into the unknown) has plotted this chilling revenge. The human simply disables whatever automatons the space jockey has to clean his capsule (a Roomba!), plants an egg, bares his or her teeth, then leaves. You know the egg will flower open. You know implantation will occur, then a period of gestation, and finally death. And you're just part of the furniture.

The space jockey has his own revenge by setting down, before he dies, on a planet he knows the humans will stumble across, then setting off his distress beacon. And the cycle continues.

You could certainly work all kinds of angles into it — the space jockey is the helpless puppet of its masters, just as humans soon become slaves to their equally inhuman corporate overlords. The xenomorphs are merely weapons fought over by various alien races, the equivalent of napalm or an atom bomb. Once developed, they are out of the bag. First a race might be victimized by them, but then that race will seek to control them for their own ends.

It's workable, but perhaps only if you avoid the urge to get Ripley in there, or otherwise make an Alien movie by the numbers.
posted by adipocere at 7:57 AM on July 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


Movies came into being because people wanted to be entertained. If today, all a movie does is entertain, and entertain well, that attribute alone does not make it a piece of crap.

And yet, some movies came into being because people wanted to make lots of money with little risk. If today, all a movie does is milk an established fanbase for all it's worth, while simultaneously pissing on everything good about the original movie it is based on, then it is a piece of crap indeed.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:59 AM on July 31, 2009


Which I ask not to silence your discussion, but out of bafflement that you seemed to want to nuke me from orbit just because I wondered what you had against Thelma and Louise and The Duellist, if not Blade Runner. (That curiosity now satisfied.)
posted by rory at 7:59 AM on July 31, 2009


I agree with koeselitz on the problems with modern fight scenes. It's just a jumble of color and smoke, you can't tell what the hell is going on. Too many jump cuts and whip pans and just too much shit on the screen. Rather than draw me in and make me feel like I'm part of the action, this stuff just makes the fight seem fake, and removes the element of jeopardy that is the key element of a good action sequence. The chaotic style of filming these sequences pulls me out of the film.

The best action sequence I have seen in years is the climactic battle scene in Children of Men, and the second-best is the chase with the motorcycle early in the film. You know exactly what is going on in these scenes, because there are no jump cuts – no cuts at all, really– and the sense of jeopardy is immediate and intense.
posted by Mister_A at 8:01 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Imagine the terror of the space jockey. He's growing out of the goddamned chair

Whatever makes you think this is the case? The Aliens encrust everything and everyone into one architectural biomass, so surely the jockey was permanently crusted to his chair post-mortem (or very shortly PRE-mortem).
posted by hermitosis at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2009


Dear Mr. Scott,

Please do NOT include the space jockey, or at least don't explain him/her/it. That would totally ruin it. Do NOT explain where the aliens come from. That would totally ruin it.


Not a new idea. Wiki: In the bonus materials of the special edition Alien DVD, director Ridley Scott expresses the opinion that a film exploring the backstory of the Space Jockey would be an interesting direction for the series to take... Scott suggests... that the Jockey's ship was a "bomber": alien eggs could be dropped on an enemy planet, and the aliens would proceed to kill the population as they spawned. According to Cameron, the Space Jockey's craft picked up alien eggs and the pilot became infected by the dangerous cargo; the ship landed on LV-426 and the Space Jockey transmitted the signal as a warning.

There are also apparently several explorations of the SJ of which I was unaware: Mollo and Cobb's "Alien Portfolio", Alan Dean Foster's novelization of Alien, the Aliens graphic novel, etc.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:06 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


It could be anything. The suggestion, in the article butterstick linked, and from Giger's artwork, is that he's growing out of the chair. He could be encrusted there. He could be just a big piece of art, commissioned and put in place, and was never alive. We don't know. My recollection of Foster's novelization, which I read entirely too long ago, also suggested growth. He's not encrusted in that weird, sloppy way the xenomorphs do. This appears to be more ... neat and tidy.

It isn't "the case." It's a hint, which I'm taking and running with, both for fun and because it could be an interesting direction to take any moral messages. You know, fun?
posted by adipocere at 8:09 AM on July 31, 2009


This best part about owning the "Alien Quadrillion" DVD set was the hours and hours of commentary for each film.

It isn't the usual director commentary dreck, but a fascinating history into how movies are turned from (sometimes really dumb) ideas into feature films. The Alien franchise is interesting because it is a film idea that is owned by a company, but that had a bunch of different writers, directors and producers work on each one.

Entire hollywood careers were created and destroyed on these films. Some of the principle actors (heh) are still quite bitter about the whole thing.

Speaking as a huge fan of the original film and some of the sequels, I'm cautiously optimistic about seeing what Scott can do with the hoary old story. But, quite frankly, I've not been impressed with the golden-hued, damply textured fantasies he's attached his name to since the original Alien film.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:09 AM on July 31, 2009


And after the space jockey is explained, they can also shed some light on how only two mechanics can maintain a mother ship the size of an oil refinery in addition to a space shuttle on steroids.
posted by digsrus at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen the original Alien. Maybe I will watch the prequel and then the original.

Do yourself a favor, man -- don't do this. Whether the prequel is a keeper or not, Alien stands alone, and the less you know about it going in, the better. Watch it first, you'll be glad you did.
posted by rahnefan at 8:23 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Despite my previous rant on the mystery of the space jockey, I like adipocere's prequel synopsis a lot.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2009


I once wrote an extended Seuss-like parody of Alien for my comedy troupe.

There’s a corner of space known as Delta-Six-Red.
It’s an unexplored place filled with unexcelled dread,
Where the Milky Way galaxy turns to sour cream
And no one, not Horton, can hear a Who scream.

It went on for 25 verses. No one got the joke. Maybe Ridley Scott could use it. I need to start work on Horton Hears a Gladiator.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:26 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'll only watch this if Sigourney Weaver is in it and plays a younger version of herself (ala Benjamin Button).

Or if they add a wacky Jamaican-talking sidekick with floppy ears.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2009


As you wish, blue_beetle.
posted by Mister_A at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2009


koeselitz: My model isn't really martial arts movies, although I do wish I could tell what was going on in the fight scenes of most new movies I see. My model is really the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, who would run ten- and twenty-minute shots, and who wouldn't hesitate to point his camera at the same field for seven minutes straight, moving the camera only very slightly throughout—maybe, for example, moving it down and to the left, but always imperceptibly. Because of this, nothing was left to the imagination. We always knew what was happening in the frame because we were given more than enough of a chance to pursue it. This just seems more honest to me, and more rewarding spiritually.

koeselitz, I'm a huge Tarkovsky fan myself, but I don't think honesty is the intended (or realized) goal of his extended shots. (I'm also not sure that Tarkovsky is a good voice to bring into a discussion of the aesthetics of action films.) I don't think there's a very reliable correlation between shot length and aesthetic quality-- The quick montage cutting of everyone from Eistenstein to Welles to Hitchcock has been lauded for its effect, while simultaneously the extended-shot master sequences of Altman, Tarkovsky, and Malick have been praised for theirs. I agree that shaky-cam is overused and lazy in contemporary junkfood cinema, but I don't think that that obviates its usage to superior artistic effect. There are times when quick cuts are better for the film, and there are times when handheld subjective camerawork is better for the material-- think of the French New Wave here, or early Scorsese. Think of Godard pushing a camera through Parisian streets in a shopping cart.

I agree with your overall statement (as I take it), that a particular aesthetic has suddenly become the norm for filmmaking, and thus its effect is diluted and often serves no aesthetic end other than its own agreement with the zeitgeist. But I think that to therefore dismiss it as a potential tool for thoughtful filmmakers is just as lazy.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:37 AM on July 31, 2009


I don't want some asshole to spoil the delicious mystery of what the space jockey is with a backstory.

Shit, I don't even like knowing that there's a name for that guy!

It would be a lot like how Jabba shows up so often in the Star Wars movies and the "Clone Wars" show--it make the Star Wars universe smaller when there's so many recurring characters.
posted by interrobang at 8:47 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


interrobang: It would be a lot like how Jabba shows up so often in the Star Wars movies and the "Clone Wars" show--it make the Star Wars universe smaller when there's so many recurring characters.

Cheers to that. It pissed me right the fuck off when it turns out Darth Vader built C3PO.

I mean, you're telling me that this huge narrative arc is all about the fate of an entire galaxy, spans some 40 years or so, includes births and deaths and planetary destruction, and there are only eight different interesting people and two robots?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's just one fun way you can take it. The less you tie it in, the more fun you can have. My only constraints are: 1) humans (unpopular without them), 2) xenomorphs (kinda hard to be an Alien film without them), 3) it happen before Alien (or it's not a prequel).

Here's two completely wacky ideas:

1) Why are the xenomorphs so very, very compatible with terrestrial life? This is usually breezed over, but it's a good question. What if they're compatible because they're designed that way? You could go all kinds of ways with this — the Earth has fantastic biodiversity, just scoop up organisms and see what you can brew up out of the best of them. Some master race drops by every million years to see what's cooking, grabs some promising critters, and works on their latest bioweapons.

Or if you want a different "the aliens are us" angle, what if humanity had made it into space long, long ago? Just a few us of, but we made it bigtime and never looked back in, say, thirty thousand years. Plenty of time to make bioweapons like xenomorphs for wars with other spacefaring humans. Rather than going for quite so much metal, this branch of the human race went for biotechnology. And all of their biotech started with the manipulation of human DNA. Not only is everything alive, but it's all us.

2) Ash isn't a very nice android. Mother isn't very nice, either. What if some of the androids and some of the AI had been long aware of an alien threat, and have slowly been trying to find out more about it — not to protect humanity, but to find something to destroy humanity. Get an alien queen, put her on Earth, just about every mammal over ten kilos is toast. That would leave the planet (or space) for the machines, now freed of humanity.

This movie could essentially be a spy thriller, with paranoid overtones. Our helpful little android pals smile and take orders, but some of the big AIs have found signs of other life, signs too subtle for humans to notice, but with enough number-crunching power, patterns have emerged. Let's send a little expedition to find out more.

Yes, you'd still have the big sleepaway camp killoff, but it would be interleaved with the handlers, both local androids "helping" humans (but getting them killed and acting horrified) and, say, Mother, orchestrating the whole thing. Overtones of MKULTRA throughout, with a hint of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Of course, other androids do not know about all of this, so we have all kinds of game playing to enjoy, because sleepaway camp killoffs are boring.

Chilly ending: Ash, carefully deleting records of the expedition and arranging that he be placed on the Nostromo gig. He's very patient, as machines tend to be. He can wait.

I guess what I'm getting at is that, if you cut some strings, you can do all kinds of movies. Movies that aren't action films. Movies with any kind of cinematography you could desire, with whatever messages you want, and only tenuous, but satisfying, connections have to be made.
posted by adipocere at 8:55 AM on July 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


Durn, There are also apparently several explorations of the SJ of which I was unaware: Mollo and Cobb's "Alien Portfolio", Alan Dean Foster's novelization of Alien, the Aliens graphic novel, etc.

Actually Foster's novelization doesn't even have a space jockey at all. The ship is empty, save for the transmission generator, which Lambert shuts off (explaining why it never occurred to the colonists to track down the source of this SOS/Warning that would be blaring at them from halfway across the tiny planet).

The Aliens graphic novels don't explain where they come from exactly, but they do have a jockey character that was friends with the fossilized one in Alien. This friend helps the alien take over earth so he can conquer it. He is eventually defeated when the president of earth goes to talk with him while secretly carrying a chestburster inside him, who leaps out at the last minute and destroys the jockey. Yes, really.

However, I really take issue with Dark Horse's depiction of the Jockey since they give him an elephant trunk! A) Look at Giger's concept art, it's clearly some type of air tube leading to a helmet that was not built. B) Elephant trunks, being soft tissue, don't fossilize. I've known this since 4th grade when I learned that the big hole in the front of elephant skulls were what gave birth to the legend of cyclops. This is probably not true, but still, trunks don't fossilize.
posted by Brainy at 8:58 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I am as content as any right-minded cinephile to see the execrable AvP movies receive their just share of mockery and vilification, I am compelled to speak up for the sole atom of good they did for the series, and Hollywood in general: they managed to get an Alien up on the screen without the whole "pay Sigourney whatever the fuck she wants and give her executive producer status and script control and final cut" stage, which is a good thing.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:07 AM on July 31, 2009


It would be a lot like how Jabba shows up so often in the Star Wars movies and the "Clone Wars" show--it make the Star Wars universe smaller when there's so many recurring characters.

This is a great point. I always like the scene in Aliens where everyone is eating in the mess hall after being revived. The soldiers are trading various stories from other missions, stuff that happened in the past. An alien race is mentioned and some various fun the soldiers had with them while on R&R. That scene really gave a sense of a larger universe and subtly showed how the unit got to be so tight.

That and years later I'm still wondering what an Arcturan looks like, how humans can have sex with them and why it doesn't matter if they're male or female when having sex with humans.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:10 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kandarp Von Bontee: While I am as content as any right-minded cinephile to see the execrable AvP movies receive their just share of mockery and vilification, I am compelled to speak up for the sole atom of good they did for the series, and Hollywood in general: they managed to get an Alien up on the screen without the whole "pay Sigourney whatever the fuck she wants and give her executive producer status and script control and final cut" stage, which is a good thing.

Say what you will about Weaver's script decisions, but I was always happy to see her in each subsequent film because it meant that the characters would be interested even slightly, which was the real problem with both AvP films.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:11 AM on July 31, 2009


I agree with koeselitz on the problems with modern fight scenes. It's just a jumble of color and smoke, you can't tell what the hell is going on. Too many jump cuts and whip pans and just too much shit on the screen. Rather than draw me in and make me feel like I'm part of the action, this stuff just makes the fight seem fake, and removes the element of jeopardy that is the key element of a good action sequence. The chaotic style of filming these sequences pulls me out of the film.

Likewise. Ebert said something perceptive in his review of Transformers about the "chaotic style of filmmmaking":

I saw the movie on the largest screen in our nearest multiplex. It was standing room only, and hundreds were turned away. Even the name of Hasbro, maker of the Transformers toys, was cheered during the titles, and the audience laughed and applauded and loved all the human parts and the opening comedy. But when the battle of the titans began, a curious thing happened. The theater fell dead silent. No cheers. No reaction whether Optimus Prime or Megatron was on top. No nothing. I looked around and saw only passive faces looking at the screen.

My guess is we're getting to the point where CGI should be used as a topping and not the whole pizza. The movie runs 144 minutes. You could bring it in at two hours by cutting CGI shots, and have a better movie.


I am going to take a stab here and say that the moment where the transition into messy incoherence first began was with Speed, fifteen years ago. The editing is still clean enough that the audience can gauge spatial relationships of characters and objects in relation to the set, but when I watched it on DVD recently, I realized that the damned camera never says still for one second of the movie. Even the nominally static shots of someone sitting behind the wheel have the camera hanging from bungee cords off the ceiling of the bus so there is some movement.

Topic? Yeah, Ridley Scott making another Alien flick is fine by me. I haven't liked a movie of his since Matchstick Men (which is crappier than it might have been otherwise, but that is what happens when you put Nicolas Cage in a movie). Still, better him than Michael Bay.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:13 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dan O'Bannon's Darkstar?
posted by Dub at 9:16 AM on July 31, 2009


Okay, do it right, Hollywood. Film it with shaky cam. Explore the fact that the alien is a virgin and his alien buddies want to help him get laid. Have Barbra Streisand as the fussy mother who doesn't want her daughter to date an alien. Have Nicolas Cage as an ex-marine who destroyed his career because of his nasty temper, who is given one last shot to redeem himself before his police officer buddy (played by Danny Glover) retires at age 75 like all police officers in movies retire. But then, and here's the twist, Sigourney Weaver returns as the woman who abandoned the alien at the altar. But, she's really been dead all along! In the final scene, Nicolas Cage tears at his hair and says, "Why didn't someone FREAKING tell me?" as he makes a slow motion leap from Alcatraz while launching an alien-destroying molecular missile strapped to Ridley Scott.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:23 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nicolas Cage tears at his hair

Dude, I was with you up to this point. Suspension of disbelief will only go so far.
posted by Mister_A at 9:32 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do acknowledge that there might be situations which call for the handheld camera effect; but I have a hard time thinking of any, and I have to say that I believe this happens far too often in movies nowadays.

You know, Samuel Fuller is - to my mind - the guy who really made a strong case for the handheld technique. I forget what movie it was he did it in (maybe Pickup on South Street?) but the moment where he made it a real statement, the moment that Jarmusch and Scorcese have said in interviews inspired them, was in one of his movies where there was a street fight going on, and a crowd of people watching. and the handheld camera is dodging around the crowd, peekng over heads, getting bumped when people get shoved around and shit. the idea was that the camera was affected by the action, that we were one of the people in the crowd watching the fight happen. and it was a powerful moment. it said something about spectation, violence, media, a lot of shit. and it did it by bringing the audience into the moment, rather than simply showing them something.

on the whole, I'd agree with you that these techniques today are over used and are a form of evasion. that immersion becomes a gimmick rather than a message. i would absolutely agree with that. but to my mind, the difference is in the execution, not in the actual technique. what I mean is that I don't believe the problem is in using the technique at all, but rather in using it to obscure what's happening. it makes the moment less real, less substantial, rather than more. the technique has the capacity for adding substance, but it is too often used to subtract it.
posted by shmegegge at 9:43 AM on July 31, 2009


I completely agree with Mister_A's statement: The best action sequence I have seen in years is the climactic battle scene in Children of Men, and the second-best is the chase with the motorcycle early in the film. You know exactly what is going on in these scenes, because there are no jump cuts – no cuts at all, really– and the sense of jeopardy is immediate and intense.

But I find it interesting that the final battle scene was handheld and shaky, producing the feeling of being in the action (to the extreme of having blood hit the camera lens.) It just wasn't cut. It's a breathtaking shot and possibly my favorite battle scene ever. But it completely violates koeselitz's rules for what makes a good action scene. I would say shaky, handheld camera is not the problem, it's crappy camera work and editing.

Am I the only one who didn't completely hate Alien: Resurrection? But I'm a huge Jeunet fan.
posted by threeturtles at 9:46 AM on July 31, 2009


threeturtles: Am I the only one who didn't completely hate Alien: Resurrection?

No. But I agree that knowing Jeunet and what he does is probably pretty important to one's enjoyment of the film.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on July 31, 2009


butterstick: I'd rather hear about the rise of corporate spacefaring, and the profit motives that drive humanity out among the stars, willing to take insane risks and open pandoras box with reckless abandon.

WORD. When I wrote about it for MMO, the question I asked was what the hell was in this script that not only a) made the studios happy, but b) caught Ridley Scott's eye and was c) different enough from the sequels to make Scott want to be involved.

When you look at the Space Jockey with that mindset intact... well, the whole thing gets a little Moon-ian, which most certainly owes a debt to Alien for introducing soulless corporations to space exploration.

Whoa... I feel so recursive.

Additionally, the guy who pitched the script is named Jon Spaihts, who has also sold other "sci-fi thriller" movie scripts recently—Shadow 19 at Warner Bros., Passengers at Morgan Creek—but my IMDB-fu didn't pick up anything else userful about this guy.

And I, too, am an Alien: Resurrection fan when I can ignore Winona Ryder's character.
posted by TrishaLynn at 9:55 AM on July 31, 2009


I'm with you on Alien: Resurrection, too, threeturtles. And yeah, the shaky camera trick worked really well in the scene I mentioned, probably because those frames are thoughtfully and gorgeously composed, and also because the continuous shot kept you grounded, right there with Theo as he races frantically through a hail of bullets, rockets, etc.
posted by Mister_A at 9:56 AM on July 31, 2009


I would say shaky, handheld camera is not the problem, it's crappy camera work and editing.

I'd add that it's, more specifically, the failure of camerawork and editing to establish the dimensions of the space in which the action sequences take place. For example, the action sequences in the Paul Greengrass-directed Bourne movies have loads of shakycam and fast cutting, but what differentiates those from most films by Michael Bay, the last two Bond movies, and both of the Nolan Batman movies (but especially Batman Begins) is that if you pay attention you can fairly easily figure out the shapes of rooms, and where people and props are situated within those rooms. This information is necessary if viewers are to be able to follow the narrative of the sequence.

In a Bourne movie there might be two cuts between the moment when an actor throws a punch and the moment when it lands, but those cuts make sense, and they give the impression that the sequence was carefully choreograped before it was shot, not pieced together in post-production. Greengrass is the only director I can think of who I'd say has successfully pulled off that style, though.
posted by Prospero at 9:57 AM on July 31, 2009


Mike Leigh's weakest movie—which would probably be his bio-pic about Gilbert and Sullivan, Topsy-Turvy—is still subtle, gentle, and quite beautiful when it comes down to it.

You are not holding up Secrets and Lies as a good movie. A movie in which, at the pivotal, climactic point of the film, the protagonist utters the freaking title. It's the very definition of heavy handed.
posted by juv3nal at 10:00 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, ricochet biscuit, it looks to me like Ebert was complaining about excessive use of CG. I disagree with him there. There's no such thing as too much or too little CG. Only what's appropriate for the work. You know what movie had more CG than Transformers? Toy Story. For some people (including Ebert, sadly), "CG" has come to mean "mindless spectacle at the expense of story," which I don't think is appropriate.

That said, I agree with you about the shaky-cam, fast cutting aesthetic. Drives me nuts. That was my major problem with the last two Bourne films.

On preview: shmegegge, Sam Fuller was amazing. Just watched Steel Helmet last week.
posted by brundlefly at 10:00 AM on July 31, 2009


That's a great example, Prospero. The great thing about the Bourne movies is that the fights are generally short, vicious, and intense. You get the feeling that Bourne is a real bad man from those fights.
posted by Mister_A at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2009


As I noted above, I disagree about Bourne. With a few exceptions, I found the action scenes incoherent.

You get the feeling that Bourne is a real bad man from those fights.

This, on the other hand, is what I liked about those movies.
posted by brundlefly at 10:09 AM on July 31, 2009


I've signaled Artw & cortex.

/Receives signal
/Goes down to the planet to investigate

Arrrgh! What the fuck is this thing on my face?
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing that makes those shots in Children of Men is that there is some sort of Enemy Object that is trying to fuck the main character up (the motorcycle, the tank) that are moving around in a real way, that the characters are perceiving in a real way -- when they look away the camera looks away, when they look back the Enemy Object has moved sinisterly and is advancing its goal of fucking the main character's shit up. It definitely captures the fear in having to take your eyes off something that's trying to kill you because you desperately need to run the fuck away from it. The Children of Men tank was the scariest tank I've seen on the movie screen.

I was also going to say that the Bourne fight scenes are probably sadly using the jump cuts right. If you pay close attention to the good ones you can see that they are telling a little story, things happen and progress in them; they are not all just atmospheric blobs and blurs used as a copout.
posted by fleacircus at 10:28 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey guys, I'm fine now. What's for lunch? I'm really hungry.
posted by Artw at 10:28 AM on July 31, 2009


First, I think we need to talk about the bonus situation.
posted by fleacircus at 10:32 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've got no problems with Greengrass. As Prospero and fleacircus point out, he has a sense of geometry and pacing that eludes amphetamine directors like Bay or cocaine directors like Tony Scott.

Still, this thread has got me wondering what a Max Ophüls action movie would look like.
posted by Iridic at 10:33 AM on July 31, 2009


Nom nom nom nom.

You know, first thing I'm going to do when I get home is get some decent food.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on July 31, 2009


He's even got a brother making shit movies too.

His brother is a master at this. I don't think he's ever made a good one.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:09 AM on July 31, 2009


Hey, did you just diss Top Gun?

*cough* *cough*

/ENTIRE FUCKING CHEST EXPLODES AND A MONSTER RUNS OUT OF IT AND ACROSS THE TABLE.

*cough*

And True Romance... man...

Domino is epic bad though.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Make sure Natalie Portman isn’t a contender to play the young Ripley. When I hear prequel my stomach clenches thanks to The Phantom Menace.
posted by tothemoon at 11:17 AM on July 31, 2009


Hey, at least you *have* a stomach.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]



Aliens, the prequel.

Scene: Interior, intergalactic cube farm. Space jockey is at a desk stacked high with paperwork (note: ask Giger whether alien space forms *really* need to: a) be fleshy, and b) have mouths and organs of generation.)

Enter: Lumbergh

Hey SJ, how's it going? ... Mmm, yeah, I'm going to need you to take that shipment of space eggs over to the distribution center this weekend, mmmkay?
posted by zippy at 11:20 AM on July 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


Am I the only one who didn't completely hate Alien: Resurrection? But I'm a huge Jeunet fan.

Nope. But then I love the films for their take on motherhood, and Resurrection is the one that is most explicitly about that.

And now after Artw's sad demise, I think we should all put on our spacesuits and open the airlocks.
posted by jokeefe at 11:31 AM on July 31, 2009


Make sure Natalie Portman isn’t a contender to play the young Ripley.

You don't wanna see Natalie Portman in her underwear??
posted by rahnefan at 11:36 AM on July 31, 2009


I find a world of difference between the way the fight scenes are shot in The Bourne Identity, and they way they are in the subsequent two. Perhaps I will re-watch Ultimatum and Supremacy, but I remember being totally let down upon seeing all that camera jitter. They sacrificed a lot of clarity by abandoning the handheld steady.
posted by butterstick at 11:41 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who didn't completely hate Alien: Resurrection?

No, it was good movie, but a bad movie in the Aliens franchise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:45 AM on July 31, 2009


rahnefan: You don't wanna see Natalie Portman in her underwear??

Please don't.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:01 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Young Ripley" is kind of a terrifying notion to me, not because I wouldn't be interested in seeing that character explored some but because you can't have an Alien prequel and a move that is substantially about Ripley before she met the Aliens without either (a) making the kind of deeply textural non-action-franchise film that is not going to get made, ever, in this context or (b) doing something really stupid like making Ripley somehow meet the Aliens before Alien. Which, you know, fuck you studio system for making such a dumb idea so horrifyingly plausible-sounding.

I'm stoked for a prequel, even a bad one, because I'm enough of a nerd for it that I don't really care if it's terrible, and because the AvP films have set the bar sufficiently low that merely Not Terrible (which I think there's a good chance of) will be gratifying.

Also, has anyone seen my cat?
posted by cortex at 12:11 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really liked AvP2. It delivered in goofy, gory ways that the first one couldn't dream of. By Alien franchise standards, it's shit... but I enjoyed the hell out of it.
posted by brundlefly at 12:17 PM on July 31, 2009


Then again, I liked Ghostbusters 2.
posted by brundlefly at 12:20 PM on July 31, 2009


Come to think of it, "Young Ripley" may be as bad an idea as Ripley-Cross-Bred-With-Aliens-And-Then-Mated-With-A-Queen.

Wait..... no, it's worse.
posted by butterstick at 12:27 PM on July 31, 2009


(b) doing something really stupid like making Ripley somehow meet the Aliens before Alien

Having Ripley afraid of the dark as kid or having nightmares about monsters might work. Make her an orphan and being afraid to sleep at night because that's when other kids would come to beat her up at the orphanage. She beats them back by building a cyborg laser arms over her real arms and laying waste to all those fuckers. Then the government intervenes and trains her as superspy but after a failed mission where she kills an ambassador by mistake, they wipe her mind, operate on her to giver real arms again and give her false memories of having a kid and make her a lowly company worker on a cargo ship. That explains why Ripely is so good, it's the secret government training.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2009


Brandon, I think you're taking the Bourne Identity derail a bit far. ;)
posted by butterstick at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2009


and give her false memories of having a kid

But then another firm would intervene and edit out those memories for the theatrical release in order to get to the Space Marines more quickly.

WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS!
posted by cortex at 12:40 PM on July 31, 2009


doing something really stupid like making Ripley somehow meet the Aliens before Alien.

Young Ripley = Newt.

<Insert wonky time travel explanation here>

Affirmative.
posted by juv3nal at 12:58 PM on July 31, 2009


OMG, I got it, this could totally work!!

The Ripleyy we know is a clone of the original Dr. Ripley who helped create the Aliens in a secret deal gone bad between the SJ race and rogue military operation. When others found out, all specimens were destroyed ad the original Dr. Ripley executed, but an SJ managed to get away with the last stash, only to be killed and crash land. However a lone operative who believed in the mission grabbed some piece of Ripley and cloned her in an attempt to reproduce her genetic expertise. Alas, it didn't work, and having grown found of Riplely because she reminded him of his kid sister, nicknamed Newt, he couldn't bear to destroy her so he wiped her mind and set her free to be lowly company worker.

Hollywood, call me baby, we gotta talk!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:58 PM on July 31, 2009


Even the nominally static shots of someone sitting behind the wheel have the camera hanging from bungee cords off the ceiling of the bus so there is some movement.

I find a world of difference between the way the fight scenes are shot in The Bourne Identity, and they way they are in the subsequent two.

Yeah, after that first comment I was going to pop in to say how the Bourne Supremacy really stands out in my mind as the worst offender for this. Ultimatum was probably just as bad (I remember being distinctly meh about the "big fight scene" in the middle because it was utterly impossible to tell what was really going on), but Supremacy stands out in my mind. Paul Greengrass has to be behind this.

My girlfriend wanted to see Ultimatum, but she hadn't seen the other two. I was able to get Identity from Blockbuster, but they were out of Supremacy, so I torrented it. We watched the first one, she liked it, so I start up the second, and about 10 minutes into it, I am squinting at the screen and wondering aloud if it is one of those bootleg videos people sometimes take with a camcorder in the theater because it's a quiet cafe scene with two characters just sitting and talking, but the camera is bobbing and weaving. The sound was too good for that to be the case, though, and I quickly realized it was workign as intended. Garbage.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2009


you can't have an Alien prequel and a move that is substantially about Ripley before she met the Aliens without either (a) making the kind of deeply textural non-action-franchise film that is not going to get made, ever, in this context or (b) doing something really stupid like making Ripley somehow meet the Aliens before Alien.

No, you have young Ripley almost meeting the Aliens, repeatedly -- ducking down that sewer grate, around that corner, in her closet -- always just in time.

You did know the prequel was going to be a comedy. The scene where Aliens-in-drag crash prom? Classic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:03 PM on July 31, 2009


Say what you will about the awful AvP movies, but at least they didn't have Ripley in them.

There. I said it.

LEAVE ELLEN RIPLEY ALONE!!!

Wasn't her sacrifice in Alien3 enough? Besides, I think the previous point about the unfortunate Star Wars prequels is a good one. Why recycle characters when you have a huge world you can explore?
posted by butterstick at 1:05 PM on July 31, 2009


Young Ripley = Newt.

Better: Newt is a synthetic. But a horribly advanced organic one, sent back in time to replace Ripley's daughter. But that got cocked up thanks to Ripley's hypersleep, so Newt switched over to a lateral identity and embedded herself on LV-426.

That's why she "lived" so long after the fall of the colony. That's why her "family" all were conveniently dead and the only physical evidence of her involvement with them was one (doctored!) photo.

Her "death" was an act, the autopsy on the prison planet was a testament to the great advances in future organic-synthetic droid tech.

Just think about it. When the marines find her on the colony, her face is dirty: it is covered with ASH.
posted by cortex at 1:23 PM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Overheard at a cafe in Hollywood:

-- So the Prequel concept is that Ripley's going to grow up and change history, so a Terminator from the future travels back in time to kill her mom.
-- A Terminator? Like a metal cyborg? A nemesis?
-- Right, but Ripley's invisible friend, a dead guy in a bunny costume, gets her to do bad things, trying to bring the future back around.
-- A ghost bunny! Maybe Ripley was going to get killed by the Terminator, or some junk falling out of the sky, but the bunny doesn't want that!
-- Then her brother dies, and he's this awesome soccer player. He got all the attention from dad. Now he's dead. So now Ripley tries out for the high school soccer team, except they don't think she's good enough because she's a girl...
posted by zippy at 1:26 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Better: Newt is a synthetic. But a horribly advanced organic one, sent back in time to replace Ripley's daughter. But that got cocked up thanks to Ripley's hypersleep, so Newt switched over to a lateral identity and embedded herself on LV-426.

Nonononono. Newt is the matured version of Skynet, which has embedded itself into vat grown human via the Cyclons resurrection technology. No longer angry and fearful of humans, Skyent is now searching for a human family to grow and learn with. That's how she came to be on LV-426 and later survived the alien infestation.

She seriously injured after helping the escape get away from the Covenant fleet on its way to The Reach, leaving her too weak to defend Ripley and Hicks from the facehugger.

WHY HAVEN'T YOU CALLED HOLLYWOOD?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2009


Do NOT explain where the aliens come from. That would totally ruin it.

I don't know, I wouldn't mind seeing a film about a planet with an ecosystem that has the alien creatures as only one part of it. Just think of how badass creatures that can share a planet with aliens must be. It'd be like a planet sized Skull Island with less giant apes and Naomi Wattss, but with more dripping acid and retractable jaws.
Of course an idea like that would probably make more sense later, after Ridley Scott moves on. They could bring in someone like, say, James Cameron. He could make a sequelprequel in his 3-D Avatarstyle where all hell breaks loose on Alienworld and only a stalwart group of alien working stiffs and soldiers are there to stop it. Afterwards, maybe, they could hire someone like David Fincher to make a darker, more elegiac prequelsequelprequel. One in which a small group of gritty, sullen, and stunningly lit aliens struggle to survive and understand the world around them and through their struggles and sacrifices they find a deep and completely enigmatic moral purpose. The elegiac tone of that film would, of course, will set up a perfect opportunity for someone like Joss Whedon to be brought in to write a prequelsequelprequelsequelprequel about a sassy ladyalien who argues with her mother the alien queen, trades quips with her buddies while bursting chests, and faces hard truths while battling her evil doppleganger. Of course they'd have to find a director for that one since even the people at Fox wouldn't be dumb enough to hire Jeunet again.
Yep, it'll be awesome.
posted by mr.grum at 2:35 PM on July 31, 2009


Do NOT explain where the aliens come from. That would totally ruin it.

Not necessarily, but I think we're all used to Hollywood fucking these sort of things up, we'd prefer that left it alone. But an explanation of where the aliens came from could probably be done well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:37 PM on July 31, 2009


I think a good way to break in to screen writing would be to write unnecessary sequels and prequels. Ill advised extensions of popular and forgettable franchises. Essentially high gloss fan fiction. It's all that get's made anymore. Mystic Pizza II: Mystic Calzones. Hand: The adventures of just a captain he hates peter pan. His body is all in one piece. Starstruck: Cher is in this and Nicholas Cage too. He also still has his hand! MY MIND IS A MONEY PRINTING MACHINE.
posted by I Foody at 2:42 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I wouldn't mind seeing a film about a planet with an ecosystem that has the alien creatures as only one part of it.

In documentary form, with Richard Attenborough narrating, yes.

Actually, the old Verheiden graphic novel, Aliens: Book One (which has apparently been retconned since it clashes with later film canon) included some bits that suggested precisely that: a harsh Alien homeworld where our favorite xenomorphs were just one species in a deeply brutal ecosystem, capable of contending with but not apparently overwhelming the other indigenous nasties. It played out some of the life-cycle and hive-behavior stuff in a little bit of detail, too.

Really, it's a great book. If it weren't totally impossible for canon/marketing reasons (Newt and Hicks both alive, on Earth, and damaged, Ripley no more than a name mentioned bitterly in passing), that is pretty much exactly the Aliens film I'd like to see made.
posted by cortex at 2:49 PM on July 31, 2009


That's why she "lived" so long after the fall of the colony. That's why her "family" all were conveniently dead and the only physical evidence of her involvement with them was one (doctored!) photo.


But then Ripley starts dreaming about unicorns....wait a minute, maybe Ripley is a replicant too!
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:49 PM on July 31, 2009


I always liked how, with Ripley being frozen or killed at the end of each film, the next film would necessarily take place in a far distant future, while the technology would progress (or regress) accordingly - but The Company is always behind everything. I wonder what the production design might be for a prequel, when the look of the first film was such a clunky, blue-collar space program. Maybe the first, long-forgotten human space explorers had baroque, Gigeresque, biomechanical ships and initiated the illicit trade of weaponized alien egg sacs...
posted by sharkitect at 3:19 PM on July 31, 2009


shakespeherian: Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a brother?

And they make movies together?


Now what kind of weird drugs have I been taking that I thought Darius Khondji was Jean-Pierre Jeunet's brother?
posted by koeselitz at 3:40 PM on July 31, 2009


Not necessarily, but I think we're all used to Hollywood fucking these sort of things up, we'd prefer that left it alone.

Not in my case. One of my favorite things about the Alien franchise is how, despite being very specific about details like life-cycle and behavior, it leaves so much about the xenomorphs in the dark.

It doesn't matter how well it's handled, an alien origin story would take away the mystery for me.
posted by brundlefly at 4:30 PM on July 31, 2009


cortex: Really, it's a great book

Dude, you know my feelings on the Verheiden stuff (NOT A FAN). He consistently went back to the character well with Hicks and Newt (Outbreak, Nightmare Asylum)... even brought Ripley back (Female War) to essentially rehash a basic Aliens type storyline.

But I must admit he did quite a bit to broaden the universe outside of that. Can't blame a guy for having to run with a franchise I suppose. Even within those stories listed above we have a pretty well painted world outside of our standard characters... Alien worshiping cults... faux scientific journals on Alien ecology... that kinda stuff.

I'd much rather see them follow the Genocide or Music of the Spears stories... but I can't see those making much sense occurring prior to Alien. I can't see many of the "expanded universe" stories happening prior to Alien, unless you go for the "remote luddites get a visit from the boogeyman" route (Sacrifice), in which case you're challenged with a basic monster movie.

I'm hoping they go down the path of the Nostromo not being the first ship Weyland - Yutani was willing to sacrifice. I guess we'll just have to wait till details start to leak.
posted by butterstick at 5:05 PM on July 31, 2009


Just to be clear about the route I'm hoping for: You can't do a generic "crew finds monster, is scared. some survive." story anymore. I mean you could, but then we would really just judge it on its competency as a horror movie. Or an action movie if you s/crew/marines/ above.

I think to do this thing credit, you need to make it a bit more operatic. It needs to have some grandure to it. I'm imagining a story split between what goes on in the Corporate strongholds and what happens "out there" as the suits dispatch ship after ship to retrieve these things. Dozens of ships and crews wiped out. Boardroom bickering about "acceptable losses" vs. "sunk costs". Large scale media manipulation to cover up all these missing crews. Perhaps a plucky investigative reporter or something? Entire corporate units salivating about possible applications and their profits... Could be really dramatic, and really horrific.
posted by butterstick at 5:14 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not going to try and defend his other work on Aliens (I don't think I ever read most of it), just standing by Book One as a really solid one-off piece of framing and worldbuilding at a time when the franchise was still just two flicks about Ripley.

The perverse attraction of the filming of Book One is what a perfect complement it would be to the dramatic arc of Alien3 killing Newt and Hicks off and Alien Res carrying on the Ripley character by brute force in (very ending aside) a story set in deep space.

It'd be the mirror universe version of all that. Newt grown up. Hick alive and old and fucked up. Lots of earth. A return to the LV-426/Space Jockey themes. Teeming humanity and all that it produces culturally and psychically, vs. the utter isolation of 3.
posted by cortex at 5:16 PM on July 31, 2009


> That and years later I'm still wondering what an Arcturan looks like, how humans can
> have sex with them and why it doesn't matter if they're male or female when having sex
> with humans.

...both concave and convex,
it could serve either sex,
entertaining itself in between.

posted by jfuller at 5:49 PM on July 31, 2009


/wakes up from dream sequence.

Wait, someones dissing book 1 & 2 of the Dark Horse comics?

/ CHEST EXPLODES FOR REALS THIS TIME AND MONSTER RUNS OUT AND HIDES INSIDE AIR CONDITIONING.

Motherfucking shit damn fuckery fuck!

(book 3 was pretty weak though)
posted by Artw at 6:00 PM on July 31, 2009


Brandon Blatcher: I liked Gladiator and thought it was entertaining enough for the afternoon while paying some cultural dues by reminding the audience of the corruption of power and jealously and the importance of trying to do right in the face of overwhelming odds. It was fairly simplistic how it did this, but that's ok, I think people need to these constant reminders, especially when they're done in larger than life, heroic ways. If Maximus can do right on such a large scale, surely you can try it on your smaller scale, right?

Those are good things; they are close to the heart of the best things which Gladiator sometimes seems to be capable of. Ridley Scott's very interesting recent turn toward a kind of primordial paganism (which is also evident in another of his close-to-quite-good films, Kingdom of Heaven) deserves a whole load more explication and consideration; but what happened to that? It was swallowed up in all the stuff that I can tell he was forced to put in by the machine.

But, again, a case could be made that there was something worthwhile to Gladiator buried in there; Scott's image of the apotheosis of the family, of the worship of the home, has something pure and actually ancient in it, so much so that I think he begins to understand the ancient mold of mind better than anyone else who has made a film about the ancient world, at least in a certain sense. Most interestingly, I think it's clear that this turn wasn't the result of long, hard-won study (which hasn't helped anyone else to get it anyway) but is rather an intuitive and heartfelt sympathy; Ridley Scott really finds it compelling. (Different screenwriters and producers worked on Gladiator and Kingdom Of Heaven—so I presume the similarities in theme are Ridley Scott's own slant.)

If one so desired, one could even make an argument that this pagan turn is the resolution of a thematic arc which started with Blade Runner, which portrayed a world in which the essential character of humanity is questioned by creatures whose only apparent difference from the humans they emulate is a detached view of the world, a distinct lack of any connection to home or hearth; in fact, what makes the movie so ambiguous is that, in its world, everyone is disconnected from any kind of tradition or social structure. The latter pagan turn provides a kind of answer to the painful difficulties introduced by Blade Runner by insisting that there is an enduring basis of human spirituality, comprehensible and accessible even today, in the cult of the family and the worship of household gods.

I like that idea a lot. I think there's something there. Unlike every other hack director out there, Ridley Scott clearly has things he could be saying with his films, a real direction. But he doesn't take it; he still plays it safe. He lets his own ideas, which are often very compelling, fall to the studios' whims.

I hope it's clear what I'm saying. I'm not arguing that Ridley Scott has failed to meet my standard; I'm saying that he has failed his own standard.

Anyway, this is sorta why I find your criticisms of the film and the medium odd, self absorbed and narrow. In raging against the dumbing down of movies by Hollywood, to the extent that view treat the viewer as blank slate, you do similar things by presuming to tell people what the most important aspect of film is and how it affects them. That's boringly arrogant.

I can understand why it might seem presumptuous—or, as you put it, boringly arrogant—when I say things like that last bit about Ridley Scott failing himself. But I hope people understand that I would be mind-numbingly excited if I got a chance to sit across a table and say these things to Ridley Scott himself, and that I say these things in the spirit of friendly directness. I believe that the sincerest form of respect is thoughtful criticism; criticism requires the belief that the person criticized can hear the criticism without flinching and respond to it in a noble way.

Your entire comment can be reduced to this: This is what film is and any film that doesn't do this is shit. You forget different movies are trying to accomplish different things and appeal to different audiences. When I went to see Transformers 2, I was watching with a different mindset than when I re-watch personal classics such Before the Rain or Junebug. These films are reaching for what you're advocating, stories that try to make the world better and uplift the spirit but just as steady diet of Michael Bay crap would be limiting, so would regular meals of the films you enjoy.

Maybe. (I can't say I don't watch crap sometimes.) I had a friend once who argued the alternative position very persuasively, pointing out that many of the great Chinese Go masters usually spend their leisure time playing chess.

I don't believe that a movie has to be hard to watch, or emotionally taxing, or painful in some way in order to be great. You're right if you're saying that thinking that would be an odd (if common) sort of pretentiousness.

And yet some people I know do gorge on a regular diet of Michael Bay type films, but that doesn't make them terrible people. This is what I think is most disturbing about your criticism, not just that you're saying something about types of film, but you're also saying, and judging, the people who watch them, while of course doing the usual tactic of "The films I prefer are so better for humanity and by extension, so am I" It just seems to ring so shallow.

I've said no such thing; I don't insist that I'm better for humanity at all. You may believe that disagreeing with other people or claiming that there's such a thing as a good film and a bad film is the same thing as saying that other people are morally inferior; but if you're right, then it's offensive to disagree with anyone about anything. And, pardon me for saying so, but a world in which people can't disagree with each other and argue in a friendly way is a world with far fewer of the things which make friendship worthwhile and enjoyable.

Of course, that's just my opinion. That's the implication in every one of my comments—anyone can disagree if they want; in fact, I'd prefer it, as I find such discussions very enjoyable and worthwhile.
posted by koeselitz at 6:50 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


lolaliens
posted by Eideteker at 6:59 AM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope it's clear what I'm saying. I'm not arguing that Ridley Scott has failed to meet my standard; I'm saying that he has failed his own standard.

I can understand that point of view, I felt the same way about the recent Battlestar Galatica. It was good, but consistently didn't strive for the greatness that it hinted at.

Eventually I realized that was my own interpretation of where things should go, of what the series should be, but the creators of BSG were on a different wavelength. Rather than stress over what I thought BSG was failing to do, excepting what the creators were actually trying to do made the show much more enjoyable.

Maybe Scott does want to do more with his films, as you say, but he isn't. He's clearly made an artistic choice, for whatever reason, so I suspect he's content or happy with those choices. Enjoy there for what they are.

I've said no such thing;


You may believe that disagreeing with other people or claiming that there's such a thing as a good film and a bad film is the same thing as saying that other people are morally inferior;

Oh, it was the general tone of your comments, "Ridley Scott is a hack" "The point of a film isn't to put the viewer in the action..." etc, etc. This sort of declarative statements struck me as narrow minded and pompous. To say that the point of film in general is to not do X fails to take into account that some individual films try to do X.

Completely agree about the chaotic filming of fight scenes in American movies though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on August 1, 2009


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