Doohickamabob

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About Doohickamabob

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    TOTAL NEWBIE
  1. I haven't heard anything back from CGC, and it's been a month or so since I wrote to inform them that Overstreet and many other noteworthy dealers/publishers have fixed the spelling of Fox Feature Syndicate. If anybody gets any submissions back with Fox as the publisher, let us know how it comes back on the label.
  2. Just heard from Gemstone Publishing that the Overstreet Price Guide will fix the spelling of "Fox Feature Syndicate" in future editions of the guide.
  3. Man, you had a lot of good examples there! I can look at most of those movies and think of reasons they wouldn't have made the cut for "Best Picture." It isn't that I don't personally think they're terrific films; it's just that I can see where they would be considered as either too formulaic, or too niche-like, compared to movies that are about social issues or real-life dramatic scenarios, which seems to be what the Oscars voters prefer -- since it makes them feel good about their industry being an important and influential part of society, or whatever. I would point out that "2001: A Space Odyssey" did get several Oscar nominations, including Director and Screenplay. It won for Visual Effects -- a win that I don't think anybody, anywhere, for any reason, could dispute... I definitely agree that science-fiction has always been somewhat of a not-taken-seriously-enough genre, both in the writing world and in the movie world (and in the theater world, ha ha, because there are so many plays about artificial intelligence and interstellar travel). Part of that is no doubt connected to its roots in pulp fiction. There aren't a lot of Oscar movies in the true-crime and other pulp-fiction categories either. To me there are two areas of science fiction: (1) Sci-fi used as a metaphorical basis to address serious social issues or explore ideas that can't be explored in other ways; (2) sci-fi used as pure escapist fantasy/adventure, or to dress up another genre formula and give it a new spin. Perhaps there are some works that are a hybrid of each. There is also one very serious disadvantage that science-fiction movies have in terms of being turned into effective movies: To be done well, they require much higher budgets than a movie set in the existing world, so there's likely to be less of them produced in general, and even then, the people making them expect to make some money so they default toward formula types of stories much of the time. Down your list for movies that could have been Best Picture contenders: -- "Alien." Of course it's great, but the plot is essentially a horror-movie plot. So Oscar voters might not think of it as a Best Picture. "Alien" DID win for Best Visual Effects -- very deservedly, thank you Mr. Giger... It was nominated for Best Production Design. The movies that were contenders that year included stuff like Kramer vs. Kramer, Norma Rae, The China Syndrome, All That Jazz, Being There, Apocalypse Now... I can see how "Alien" wouldn't seem socially important against movies about divorce, nuclear power, the Vietnam war, etc. -- "Blade Runner"... It was up against Gandhi, Tootsie, E.T., The Verdict, Sophie's Choice, many others. It was nominated for Art Direction, which at least is something (it should have won). I would think that the nomination and almost-win of "E.T." suggests some willingness to take science fiction seriously. A lot of people thought "E.T." was robbed of what should have been a clear win, and looking back it seems even moreso that it was robbed. It's fairly obvious why, though, since Gandhi is such a big historical and cultural figure. Steven Spielberg apparently took the loss in stride, hiring Gandhi's director, Richard Attenborough, to play the creator of Jurassic Park. Anyway, regarding Blade Runner, it is fairly clear that the story of Blade Runner is part genre formula, and the sci-fi spin of the movie -- the question of what makes people human, the question of why artificial emotions or memories would be any less meaningful or valued than genuine ones, and the sympathy toward escaped slaves by somebody who himself is a form of slave -- all of these elements are handled very tersely by the movie, as opposed to them being robustly dramatized or something. I happen to like the way the movie handled its themes/ideas, but I can see how a 1983 Oscars voter would not think of the movie seriously in the same way as Gandhi or something. -- "Forbidden Planet" -- That movie probably went WAY over the heads of Oscar voters (or under their heads, if they didn't see it to begin with). Though maybe if somebody told them it was parallel to Shakespeare's "The Tempest" they would give it more consideration. -- "Invasion of the Body Snatchers": Great movie. Probably went over Oscar voters' heads that the plot tied in with the psychology of the Red scare and such. -- "Gattaca." I didn't like this movie as much as many did. Just seemed like an other take on Orwell, with a DNA element regarding personal privacy and social stratification based in genetics and such. Good ideas, but as a movie I didn't think it worked that well. Also, didn't think the cast was fully as effective as should have been. Everybody's mileage varies... -- "The Thing." I'm tired of looking stuff up, but did it at least get nominated for visual effects or special effects? Its oozing, gory effects are still some of the best of all time. Being a remake probably put it at a disadvantage, awards-wise. Also it is more of a horror nightmare than something that could be seen as metaphorically thematic, though psychologically it sure does nail feelings of suspicion and paranoia. I kinda hate the ending, because it denies you so much information about what happens in the final scenes, leaving you with two giant question marks about the last survivors. Of course that is also one of the reasons the ending is great... -- "Children of Men" and "Gravity." The former should have (and maybe it did) get a Best Director nomination. The same director (Alfonso Cuaron) did "Gravity" and did win as Best Director. "Gravity" almost won Best Picture, but lost out to 12 Years a Slave, because come on, a slavery movie versus a lost-in-orbit movie, in a year when the Oscars had been getting slammed for being too white? One movie is about an extreme historical social injustice, and the other is about loss and existential meaning and orbital inertia and such, so.....you know which one the Oscars voters are going to go for. Though I thought 12 Years a Slave was freaking boring and made me feel practically nothing other than, "Yep, it really did suck to be a slave, just as I already knew it did." As for "Children of Men," the problem with that movie is that its main science-fiction "ideas" (such as they are) boil down to two main things: A dystopian, socially restricted future world; and a world where women can't make babies, for reasons nobody really understands. If there's one thing that is NOT a problem in our actual world, it is women's ability to make babies! We as a species are QUITE GOOD at making babies, with 7 billion and counting, thank you very much. (Great movie, though. P.S. Pull my finger.) -- "Clockwork Orange." Obviously a great movie, but also probably way too out-there for Oscars voters, in terms of its protagonist having no redeeming virtues at all (besides excellent taste in music). Take another movie from the time period, which also goes into raunchy territory, "Midnight Cowboy," and you have a protagonist who is very sympathetic, and he has a friend who dies, as well, so boom, that's an Oscar. Not going to give an Oscar to a movie about a guy who kills a woman with a weenie sculpture! Give the Oscar to the movie about the stud in boots who gets blown in a movie theater! -- "The Matrix." Not an Oscar movie, because humans-as-batteries isn't perhaps the best science-fiction idea. Though the world as a matrix is a wonderful idea. I watched "The Matrix" recently and its premise is so great, and it has such great style setting up the premise. But when you finally get to the payoff for the premise, you have to admit that some aspects of the movie are stupid. For example: Neo figures out that he has great power to warp the fabric of reality, and he can learn just about any skill, so he capitalizes on this situation by....drum roll...storming a lobby with a bunch of guns. Wow, how imaginative! Slow-motion, some jumping around to dodge bullets, a little ballet-style mid-air twisting, and bullet casings flying everywhere, with chunks of concrete exploding in slo-mo. That's not science fiction, that's a Sam Peckinpah shoot-out scene with black leather trenchcoats and sunglasses. "The Matrix" has cool ideas about questioning reality and taking the Red Pill to see beyond the premises that people take for granted. But when you look deeper it turns into a melange of "There is no spoon" and "Is he The One?" and "Love and Faith conquer all," which are fairly standard Power of Myth and Messiah-prophecy and pseudo-mystical approaches to storytelling. Still it's a fun movie and if it's on I have to watch it. -- "Metropolis." I agree, if they has Oscars then, that movie should have won, hands down.
  4. I don't consider "Mad Max: Fury Road" to be a science-fiction film. More of an apocalyptic western. What is this "sea of quality sci-fi films"? There's maybe a handful of sci-fi films that are in the Best Picture realm, story-wise, with most of them usually more on the side of formulaic genre movies. ("Interstellar" and a few others are exceptions.) It's easy to see why the "Fury Road" movie was nominated for Best Picture. It is remarkably inventive and well-made. Though it clearly wouldn't have been nominated if it were only 5 films. If somebody were to point out that there's not a lot of story to the story, that's a fair observation, but doesn't mean it isn't a great film. For the Oscars race, it seems "Dunkirk" is a shoo-in, unless there are some amazing movies released during the holiday season. Somebody mentioned "Get Out," but given that it's sort of a suspense-thriller type of movie (albeit one with an undercurrent of sharp racial commentary), that puts it at a severe disadvantage.
  5. Just saw the movie. I thought it was great! Much better than anticipated. No gripes with the plotting, cast, etc. Not sure why anybody would have any gripes. Great movie.
  6. Saw the new Blade Runner movie. A couple weeks ago, they released the "Final Cut" of the original Blade Runner at one of my local theaters (only one showing!) and I managed to catch it. I don't think I ever saw that version before, but it was really satisfying. It didn't have the voice-over narration (which does help with exposition for those who don't know the story yet), but it did seem to be better paced than the "Director's Cut" version. It was so cool to see the original on a big movie screen, with excellent sound. Anyway -- last week I saw the new "Blade Runner 2049" movie. I think I liked it, though the movie is so long, and so flatly paced, it really does ask a lot of the audience. I feel like much of it was unnecessary, as others have pointed out here. That is, they could easily have edited it tighter and made it 30 minutes shorter, with more forward momentum etc. I feel like the director was either (1) trying to get his money's worth on sets/locations, or (2) trying to make the movie trance-like, with a slow pace ala Andrei Tarkovsky (of "Solaris" and "Stalker" fame) though whatever it was, it didn't work for me. The movie is just cool enough that it didn't annoy me sufficiently to make me give the whole thing a thumb's-down for its length. Here are some random thoughts about "Blade Runner 2049": *** PROS: *** -- Compositionally, the movie looks amazing. Every shot looks like frame-able art. The movie doesn't cut around with choppy edits and too many close-ups; it looks like the cinematographer (Roger Deakins) and production designer put care into every moment on screen. -- The movie expands the "Blade Runner" world: We get to see not just the original city (which the movie doesn't break out in full nighttime "Blade Runner" style until the final act), but the protein farms and solar-power zones (huge expanses of land that are all used to feed/power the world, and probably also the off-world colonies). We also see a city-sized junk yard, which is what San Diego is turned into (ha ha, it's San Diego!) -- just a giant expanse of all the left-over machines and metal junk from civilization, in mounds and mountains. Then there's Las Vegas, which is an abandoned playground full of malfunctioning holographic stages and such. -- The story expands on the role of replicants, and how they were changed after the Nexus 6 replicants rebelled. It also shows how the new replicants are given very narrow areas and options with which to satisfy their deliberately limited emotional capabilities. Ryan Gosling does a good job of keeping things minimal and simple while still being interesting -- he shows small, subtle expressions suggesting minute amounts of emotion, curiosity, confusion, etc. under the surface. -- The scene with Gosling and his "girlfriend," and how they figure out a way for him to, uh, consummate physically, is one of the most original scenes I've seen in any movie in a long time. Just on the basis of that scene alone, the movie is worth a recommendation. -- The female actresses in the movie are waaayyy above average, and there are several of them. I'm not just talking about them being pretty -- though they are quite attractive. They're also really interesting, well-cast, strange, and to me they're almost all new faces. I get tired of the same people showing up in movie after movie, and I felt like the filmmakers took a chance with a bunch of relative unknowns and let them all shine in their own ways. There are four standouts: The woman playing Gosling's "girlfriend," the streetwalker type (shades of Daryl Hannah) with the reddish hair and predatory eyes, the girl in the giant holographic bubble (she really conveyed a lot with very little dialogue), and then of course there's the ruthless one (who reminded me of a young Mary Tyler Moore with a vindictive streak). The casting went a long way to making the drawn-out scenes more bearable. -- The detailed plotting surrounding the "blackout" and hidden files, etc., kept the story mysterious and eventually much of it did tie together very well, considering the interplay of concepts about memory, conscience, meaning and purpose to life, etc. I was surprised how much the movie ran with the idea of memory, as a theme, and did something of its own with the idea rather than just repeating the basic ideas from the first movie. -- Really glad to have some of the original cast members show up in the sequel. I won't say who (though you might have already heard), but obviously Harrison Ford is back so that's not a spoiler. I will say, though, that the way one of the original cast members shows up seems somewhat forced, though the technical methods used to bring that cast member back (CGI finessing) are remarkably good, and better than similar methods used in another recent movie. -- The sound design of the movie is pretty amazing, and the soundtrack takes a real risk in that it is mostly devoid of any recognizably melodic themes, and is built largely around atmospheric sounds, ambience, and large, unsettling zapping types of noises. The thick, echoey drum that marks the beginning of the first "Blade Runner" movie makes a return here as well. The sound and feel of the movie is very primal, which kind of goes with the visuals since they seem to focus on primal elements like dust, air, and water. *** CONS: *** -- My god is this movie long. It's nearly 3 hours long. The last movie I saw in a theater that was 3 hours long was "Cloud Atlas," but at least that was 6 interlocking individual stories. I think "The Hateful Eight" was 2.5 hours but its pacing methodically built up to something, so the time flew by. This movie's pacing just moves along like a Rumba with low batteries. Good thing I didn't drink a large soda or anything, though I will give the movie some credit in that you can be pretty sure if you do run off to pee, you won't miss much dialogue or anything (since there's often several minutes without dialogue). -- Ryan Gosling: I like him, he's a cool-looking chap, he's not a bad actor... BUT... He's on the screen almost the entire movie, and he only occasionally speaks. That's a lot of burden to put on one actor, to maintain a sympathetic protagonist connection to the audience for 3 hours. Even if I thought he was the best actor in the world, I would get tired of looking at him for that long. There are scenes where it seems like 3 minutes go by with Ryan Gosling walking in to a new environment, looking around, walking up a staircase, looking around some more, looking pensive, turning his head, and then walking forward to look more closely at something. On and on. If we don't see the front of his head, we see the back of his head. Too. Much. Ryan. Gosling. (Though I'll watch "Drive" again anytime.) -- Robin Wright plays the police detective who is in charge of Ryan Gosling's character, giving him assignments and such. I like her as an actress (she's the Princess Bride after all), but for some reason, I didn't like her much in this role. Maybe I'm too spoiled by M. Emmet Walsh's utterly strange and compelling turn as the man in charge during the first "Blade Runner" movie. I didn't think Wright was bad; just somewhat lacking in the kind of grit and gravitas that I think the role called for. Eh, maybe I'll change my mind if I see the movie again (which won't happen for a while). -- Jared Leto -- I really felt he was ineffective in his villainous role. Again, there's a lack of substance or something. I feel like maybe they were going for a Millennial-style, Silicon-Valley CEO type of effect. He wasn't that interesting to me, though the way he augmented his senses was fairly inspired. -- The motivation of the female villain... I was confused about what was going on in her noggin. -- Harrison Ford. Long, long wait to get to Harrison Ford. And then, not enough for him to do. Maybe that's a shallow concern... But I thought I was seeing a Ryan Gosling/Harrison Ford movie, not a Ryan Gosling movie with an extended cameo by Harrison Ford. (Ford did look great and had the chutzpah lacking in others' performances.) -- Not a lot of memorable lines or quirky details like there were in the original. The first movie had stuff like, "Wake up -- time to die," or "My mother....let me tell you about my mother!" or "Are you testing to find out if I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?" Plus many other completely memorization-worthy lines, and bits. "Home again, home again, jiggity jig!" ... I can't remember any dialogue from this movie. (Then again, I haven't seen it 15 times like I have the first movie.) -- Wanting to be an artistic, visionary director is one thing; putting a direct reference to Stanley Kubrick in your movie is a bit too much. There's a sculpture that is almost a direct replica of the kneeling-women sculpture in the Korova Milkbar scene of "A Clockwork Orange." No need to wink that hard just to pay homage to your inspiration. Distracting. -- The ending is a bit "yeah....so?" I mean, I get what they were going for, but I didn't feel as much about it as I would have liked to. (I also don't feel any need to see somebody strangled underwater for the full amount of time it would take for them to really asphyxiate.) It didn't have the brilliance of "tears in rain," in any case. (It had its own take on precipitation...) *** CONCLUSION: *** I dunno. I'll rent it in a year, maybe watch it 2 or 3 times. Hopefully find a reason to like it more. Or maybe I'll just watch "Mad Max: Fury Road" 5 more times (which would take about the same amount of actual time). It is not a bad movie -- I'm glad I saw it. I wouldn't expect everyone else to like it, though. I give the filmmakers credit for trying something that was not formulaic, and takes many risks with its approaches.
  7. Where are the Mad Magazine collectors?

    Yeah, I should scan a cover and post some close-ups. It's interesting that several of the Mad rip-off magazines used similar borders (such as early Cracked issues). I wonder if Mad itself was copying the border style of some earlier publication?
  8. Astronauts are winners!

    I'm loving this thread.
  9. This is terrific! I was worried that my post might be too much of me just venting/whining, but now I see that other people also want this sort of stuff to be as accurate as possible, and I'm very glad I took the time. I hope eventually CGC comes around and fixes the spelling as well.
  10. I'll give it a try. Thanks, and thanks for hacking and slashing your way through my verbosity.
  11. That's great! At least one entity appreciates the chance to incrementally improve its accuracy.
  12. Love 'em! Would have commented had I looked sooner.
  13. Haha.... (You okay?) I did take a look at this thread on a smartphone, and wow, that turns the wall of text into a skyscraper of text. Normally I read/write on a home computer with a wide-resolution monitor. I appreciate everybody's responses, even the ones that lean toward disagreement. Not trying to make a case about this; just wanted to share my experience. I can take "no" for an answer, but it does change how I feel about CGC.