It’s dangerous to go alone

September 30, 2002

It seems I had the wrong addresses for the projects listed in the sidebar on the front page. I didn’t get any complaints, so I hope no one was inconvenienced. I’ve fixed that, and I’ve recoded it as a list using some techniques in a recent article at A List Apart. Let me know if your browser shows something bizarre (unless you’re still using Netscape 4, in which case you’re screwed in general). #

MovieMask: Huh?

My father pointed out this discussion of MovieMask, a company which offers to mask-out offensive/undesirable bits in movies, so that a wider audience can enjoy it. For example, they can add clothes to Kate Winslet’s nude scene in Titanic in a pretty seamless fashion or make the fight scenes in The Matrix more cartoony by transforming the blood into green sparks (giving it a video game feel that works surprisingly well with the premise). The problem, of course, is that these techniques don’t seem like they would be useful in, say, a shower scene or a realistic depiction of combat.

What truly makes this fascinating is the transformation of the sword-fighting in The Princess Bride into a lightsaber fight. Yes, you read that correctly. Lightsabers. I’m guessing that was intended more as a technical demonstration (look! we can do this!), as it makes no sense otherwise. After all, wouldn’t a battle with lightsabers be even more dangerous? #

A recent glut of culture

I’ve seen a few good movies lately, and they’ve all been somewhat surreal. The first, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, is possibly the strangest film I’ve ever seen—and I’ve seen Catnapped and Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie. Mulholland Drive is weird on more fundamental levels, such as narrative arc. I have to agree with Roger Ebert, who compared the experience to a dream, where individual bits make sense but can’t be pieced together into a coherent whole and elements resurface in unexpected ways.

Much more normal by comparison is the recent animated film Metropolis, inspired by the comic by Tezuka which was in turn inspired by the silent film. Both films are worth seeing, in my opinion, and they’re different enough to be considered separate stories with a similar setting. The character designs show their origins in Tezuka’s cartoony style, but the backgrounds are full of stunning, computer-generated vistas. The integration of 2D and 3D animation techniques is smooth, and I regret not seeing it in a theater.

I did get to see Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film in the theater, though, and it’s good enough that I’d pay to see it again. Known in the U.S. as Spirited Away, it tells the story of a young girl whose parents blunder into the sprit world, leaving her to rescue them. I’m evidently much too sleepy to describe the film in any more detail, but it really is fun. I had a great time.

Just yesterday, I saw Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase at the Theatre Project at Union County College. A mixture of comedy, mystery, tragedy, and commentary on modern art, it was presented in an unusually intimate setting—the set was built on the front of the stage facing backward and the audience was seated in front of the back wall. Good stuff, but I’m beginning to realise that I suck as a reviewer, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Next week, it’s off to MacHomer at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. I had heard of this before, but had never expected to see it. I’ll try doing my write-up when I’m more awake, in the hope of saying something coherent. #