The Dinglehopper

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Looking at Remakes Side-by-Side

Hollywood loves to recycle–both foreign films and its own. Jaume R. Lloret, a video essayist I just discovered, created a short video (only 3 min!) that pairs images from a series of original films and their remakes to explore the similarities and differences. And because there is no commentary, the viewer is able to make their own evaluations on whether the original or remake is superior and how. Of course, often these things are a matter of preference for the style choices of the filmmakers, and I enjoyed noting my own responses. For instance, I have a strong preference for the originals of both Psycho and The Omen, and not always the reason to back it up. With other pairings, like Cape Fear and Infernal Affairs/The Departed, the progression towards more camera movement and faster cutting is obvious.

Definitely worth three minutes of your time.

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Kanye | Kubrick: A Video Mash-Up Comparison

Kanye West, surprising no one, exhibited the size of his ego once again when he ranted on SNL that he was more influential than many artists, including Stanley Kubrick, whom he has also said has influenced him. As far as current artistry goes, he’s probably not wrong, but if we’re looking more historically, Kanye should probably wait to take the tally of influence.

His rant, however, offered inspiration to one of my favorite video essayists, Nelson Carvajal, who has edited together both Kanye and Kubrick to deliberately explore their relationship. However, Carvajal leaves any evaluation of what that relationship is up to the viewer. For my money, it largely seems to come down to self-importance and the objectification of the female body.

Warning, this video is NSFW.


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Responding to the ‘Ghostbusters’ Trailer

The newly released Ghostbusters trailer doesn’t break a lot of new ground, except for it’s gender-swapping. In fact, I suspect it was put together to offer only that major change, because much of it is entirely familiar, calling back to the 1984 film through settings, slimings, and character types.

Considering how reactionary a large portion of the public has been concerning even switching up the gender roles, I suspect making everything else look familiar was a good bet. I ended up mostly enjoying the allusions and callbacks. The trailer knows it owes the source material too–it gives credits for the original film. Kate McKinnon appears to be an even goofier Egon, and Melissa McCarthy fits into the mold of Ray.

More problematic is the clear connection between Leslie Jones’s character, Patty Tolan, and Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddmore. Tolan, like Zeddmore, is the not-a-scientist of the group and also the person-of-color. Plenty of people have criticized the repetition, stating outright that Tolan could have been a scientist quite easily. Instead she’s an MTA worker, which is at least one step better than Zeddmore, who almost entirely lacked backstory.

Jones has spoken back to the naysayers, pointing out that the trailer isn’t much to go on. She also points out that there’s nothing wrong with being an MTA worker and shared a message she got from an MTA worker fan celebrating seeing the representation.

Although the portrayal of white women as scientists and black woman as street wise MTA worker is definitely problematic, due to the focus on similarities to the original film, I can’t help but hope that all these tropes of the first film will be twisted in the new one. After all, not turning these tropes would make the film mostly pointless. Furthermore, Leslie Jones is spectacularly funny. She exudes strength no matter what character she plays. Case in point: the muffin-missing manager on the SNL skit “Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base.”

Only time will tell, but for now, I remain hopeful in my anticipation of the new Ghostbusters.

For fun, I link for you the teaser recut with the original theme song. Enjoy!

 

 


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Hearts Going Boom Boom Boom for the New Finding Dory Trailer

Disney Pixar released a brand new Finding Dory trailer this week on, appropriately enough, The Ellen Show. This is the first new animation we’ve seen since early November. That was a sort of quiet anticipatory intake of breath. This, though, is the smile on one’s face after cheering.

The friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way.

Finding Dory Poster

This is definitely a sequel, okay. There are three migrating species in the trailer alone. We reprise the worlds apart banter between Marlin and Crush. And we meet a new character, Destiny, for whom Dory’s signature trait is a gift rather than a burden. Which is honestly fantastic. When we saw the first teaser I wrote:

Frozen explained agape. Cars articulated wisdom. And Finding Nemo demonstrated persistence. Emotional vocabulary stuff that’s stickier for younglings than Inside Out.

And I couldn’t be happier that beyond the theme of family driving the trailer, those struggles are foregrounded and celebrated. It’s one thing to impart your values to your children. It’s another entirely to see them reified and reinforced in their favorite fictions.

I’ve come around to the notion that the additional characters and broadened contexts of the Pixar sequels are almost always vast improvements. The first installments are often sweet and powerful, but the expansions wrap up more stuff in a more engaging story. It can look crass to adults, but for kids the take home is much more significant.


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Earthling Cinema Examines ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Hooray for Earthling Cinema for taking on the very recent 6 Academy Award-winning Mad Max: Fury Road. As is their usual pattern, the first part of their look walks through the plot of the film in humorous ways, often hitting on keen insights pitted within mistaken assumptions about a long dead (to them) culture.

Then they get into the meaning-making, exploring the film as part of the Dieselpunk genre and then digging into the objectification of women and men in the Wasteland. As always, the short video leaves the viewer feeling entertained and edified.


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The Coen Brothers’ Masterful Use of Shot/Reverse Shot

It’s probably the most used sequence of shot types in film: shot, then the reverse. A shot showing a character looking at something, then the reverse to show what they’re looking at. A shot to show a character speaking to someone, then a reverse to show how the other person responds. It’s a sequence practically invisible to audiences due it’s ubiquity and familiarity.

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But the nuances of it’s use will make or break a film, defining it’s pacing and tone. In his most recent Every Frame a Painting, Tony Zhou analyzes the masterful use of shot/reverse shot in Coen Brothers films. He examines their framing and timing of cuts among other things that differentiate their use from more amateurish examples, including from a film they wrote but didn’t direct. As always, Zhou’s insight and affability make his video essays edifying and entertaining. Check it out.


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The Prestige as MetaCinema

I have mixed feelings about Christopher Nolan, who lost me after The Dark Knight Rises. But his earlier work still wows me. Recently I got to thinking about The Prestige for use in my film class, and then, like magic, Evan Puschak (Nerdwriter) made an insightful video about.

In the video Puschak explores the way that the film hides its big secret in plain sight, using our desire to be tricked against us until Nolan wants us to see the truth. It’s a clever film, well-acted, and fully engaging. Puschak examines the imagery, narrative order, and editing to create an analogy to the power of cinema. This isn’t a new breakthrough exactly, Nolan has often dealt with cinema as his metaphorical subject in other films, like Inception.  Here, though, it holds extra charm, since the film works as a magic trick too, following the same design that Michael Caine’s character lays out in the opening, the three parts of the magic trick.

If you’re a fan of The Prestige or of Nolan in general, I highly recommend taking in the 7 minutes of Puschak’s analysis.