rj2n

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Why was 1982 the best year ever for Sci-Fi/Fantasy films?

    What did the films, E.T., Blade Runner, Wrath of Khan, Tron, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Poltergeist, The Secret of the NIMH, Dark Crystal, and Conan the Barbarian all have in common? They all had their US premiers during summer of 1982. This article would look at why 1982 as coincidence, or convergence became a legendary year in science fiction.

    • Special effects! I really think the 1980's were a kind of sweet spot for practical Hollywood effects. It was the last decade in which most filmmakers absolutely HAD to rely on their wits and cinematography skills instead of shipping the footage to a CGI studio. – Simon 5 years ago
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    • It's a neat idea, but most of the films mentioned above, the special effects were not handled by the directors or their main production crews. Rather the footage came from special effects firms that were contracted to produce them. ILM for example did Poltergeist, Wrath of Khan, E.T., Dark Crystal, and even a small segment of Conan. Rob Bottin with help from Stan Winston oversaw all the effects for The Thing and four different firms worked on Tron's effects. If anything the historical evidence suggests the 80s was the decade when visual effects really changed from being under the purview of the main filmmakers and moved into the purview of externally contracted firms. – rj2n 5 years ago
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    • Based on that, maybe the sweet spot existed because the directors let technically-minded effects people work on the effects and those people had to be creative with their methods (e.g. animal training, animatronics, puppetry) instead of just being good at programming and graphic design. – Simon 5 years ago
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    • Considering CGI was only first used in 1982 (Tron, Wrath of Khan), this is necessarily true. But I think focusing on just special effects doesn't explain why 1982 is so great. Star Trek, the Motion Picture had much more extensive effects work then Wrath of Khan and is generally considered the inferior film. Also most of the great effects work of the 90s utilized all these techniques at much more mature level. (e.g. Jurassic Park, Terminator 2) – rj2n 5 years ago
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    How Fast and Furious beat Marvel to the finish line in the race to make a cross-over film

    Universal Studios, one of the more venerable studios still around since the early era of film had never achieved a "billion" dollar film until Furious 7 crossed that threshold this summer. The Fast and Furious series never seemed to be destined for the financial and critical acclaim it is currently celebrating. What started out as a bland remake of Point Break, that somehow justified three sequels of debatable quality, ultimately led to the first major Hollywood cross-over franchise film in the 5th one. This article would look at how luck, circumstance, casting conflict, and one determined director created the first successful cross over movie, taking disparate elements of stories by other people and fashioning them into a coherent whole.

    • I would love for someone to talk about why Spidey hasn't been included in an Avenger film yet. I suspect it has less to do with narrative arc and more to do with contract and copyright law. – Jeffrey MacCormack 5 years ago
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    • It is contract law. Sony has the rights to Spider-man's on film, which it leased from Marvel. Marvel can get it back if Sony never makes a Spider-man film within a certain amount of time. But now that they've made some sort of peace and agreed on revenue sharing, so Spider-man's going to show up in Captain America 3 and probably others down the line. – rj2n 5 years ago
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    • ^Exactly. To add onto your point, last year's ASM2 suffered from critical and commercial underperformance. The damagingly revealing Sony hack late last year also probably pushed Sony into closing a deal with Marvel. – BradShankar 5 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    So is the theme here that Ballet wants to be inwardly looking, (e.g. eager to drop its history as a class signifier) but its attempts to do so make it impossible because the directions tries to demonstrate that claim ultimately embed it in the broader world it is a part of? (e.g. Male dancers have to deal with masculinity concerns, selection into it has to deal with class/privilege, etc)

    It was a bit difficult reading this to figure out what was progressing, being ignorant of the practice. I get the feeling, well, Ballet was like this, then it became that, and now people want to make it this. Was this supposed to be a narrative or a collage?

    Ballet as a Progressive Art: Expectations and Perceptions

    Man that actually makes me more queasy about Mann then. I can teach a young person who depends on me for their well being all sorts of attitudes, since what else do they have to compare with and what would would they if they disagreed with me?

    I have no reason to believe Mann had any malicious intent, but going with theme of perspective and judgment, it’s not hard to see why some might see the acclimation you describe as her being responsible or perhaps being manipulative.

    It’s a wilderness of mirrors.

    The Controversial Art of Sally Mann

    A good line from a bad movie I always remember fondly is, “Indecency is just a question of geography.” That seems to be the nature of these photographs, prior to actual discussion of their content. Intimate portraits for general public browsing and perusal.

    But the (rhetorical) question, I’d like to know is who, if anyone, did Mann want to see her work? The lay public, critics, art dealers, future parents, her own family, etc? To be read at home, in a gallery, on the subway, in a library?

    I wondered what her children think of all this, being the focus of the work, but I get the sense that’s an irrelevant question. This isn’t about them; it’s about us.

    The Controversial Art of Sally Mann

    Did you think the little revelation at the end of Sy’s own personal history took away from the film? I always thought Sy worked better as a bit of a blank slate that we develop. Actually knowing something about him takes away from that, I felt.

    One Hour Photo: Viewing Humanity Through a Camera Lens

    Projecting our own qualities onto others isn’t just something we do to animals but inanimate objects as well. People “talk” to their GPS’s and early users of computerized devices, e.g. CT scanners, like to treat their equipment as fickle co-workers.

    Sometimes we do it to our physical selves. Individuals operating in high stress, emotionally, and/or physically taxing work environments such as athletes or investment bankers see their own exhaustion as their body “rebelling” against them and having a “mind” of its own.

    This is obviously not to say, computers, machinery, our left quads, and right wrists are sentient, just that we live in an era where people are inclined to see “agency” wherever we are. I imagine if we were the middle ages, we’d see more of God all around us.

    As W.I. and D.S. Thomas once observed, things perceived to be real become real in their consequence. They were writing about children but there is no age restriction to its applicability. Not surprising people see their pets as agentic and desire to extend rights to them. No less surprising we want to give them our other qualities as well, whether they want them or not.

    Jurassic World: Human Psychology and Animal Behavior

    The studies brought up here seem to suggest a slightly more subtle point. Namely, video games have mechanics that incentivize certain forms of behavior. Some times that behavior is competition and aggression. Those effects are short term in the lab, but what would happen with repeated exposure over an extended period of time? (Since no IRB in the country would ever sign off on that sort of study, the debate will never entirely die down)

    The key mechanism under debate is that while we recognize certain behavior is appropriate in certain settings (dominance behavior in video games), we do not entirely shed those behaviors when we enter a new one, especially if they have been conditioned as heuristics and routines useful in some way. In fact, this is also the argument in favor of video games as having salutary benefit. (Being more sensitive to environmental cues in problem solving, improved coordination, etc)

    It doesn’t take a lot to recognize that playing a lot of competitive Call of Duty and then picking up an assault rifle to shoot up a school is farcical but playing a lot of competitive Call of Duty and then acting more like a d-bag is believable. It is the difference between saying eating a large steak will cause you to die from a heart attack, versus saying eating a large steak will increase the cholesterol and fat in your blood stream after consumption.

    In fact, Craig Anderson, the most cited researcher in this article is essentially distinguishing between all these points in the studies on video game exposure being quoted here. Essentially, playing a lot of video games is going to affect us and some of the ways in which we are affected is outside our control.

    Saying video games do not cause anything deleterious effectively requires us to assume they do not matter and/or we can always compartmentalize our experiences perfectly from one another. It is a variant of the broader argument that media does not affect us, unless we want it to. That we are in full control of how we engage with the world. If you believe that to be true, then the article will sway you of its merits. If you don’t, then articles like this sound more like preaching to a choir. (That’s what it felt like to me in a red-meat-isn’t-bad-for-you, in-fact-it-has-nutrients, sort of way)

    As someone who grew up playing video games and continues to enjoy them (As well as a lot of steaks), the most compelling account for the relationship of video games and violence is Randall Collins take on the Sandy Hook shootings.

    http://sociological-eye.blogspot.com/2013/12/sandy-hook-school-shootings-lessons-for.html

    The relationship is more complex than many of us may want to acknowledge.

    Really, I don’t think we’ve “blown away” anything about this debate. Even this article ends on the conclusion that perhaps the evidence isn’t there rather than claiming it is categorically wrong. More that the smoke hasn’t cleared and depending on who you are, you may or may not like what you see when it does.

    The Effects of Violent Video Games: Blasting the Myth

    Sounds like they’ve successfully tapped into Flow psychology with a bit of social exchange in their game design. It’s a winning combination.

    Dark Souls: What Makes Gamers Endure the Pain?

    This is an excellent analysis of 14 sai. Great job of pointing out the deft storytelling and character work that Mizutani is deploying.

    14 Sai no Koi: The Manga Manual to Puberty