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SFFH in NonTextual Modes

Monday 28 May 2001


§ Yeah, maybe Shrek is a great movie [Entertainment Weekly's chart of reviewers' grades gives it one B+, two A-'s, and eight A's], but it's not William Steig's subversive original.

Has no William Steig fan noticed that "Shrek" is not Shrek? ... [T]hat the film doesn't feature a single line of Steig's crotchety dialogue? Not even Shrek's masterful ode to his blue-lipped mistress: "Your horny warts, your rosy wens/like slimy bogs and fusty fens/thrill me."
Salon, May 24

Of course, its send-up of Disney icons is all in good fun, right?

"Fairy tales and Disney are virtually synonymous," says Andrew Adamson, who directed "Shrek" with Vicky Jenson. "They created so many of the images people know. When we parodied the tales, we found the fairy tales we grew up with offered the greatest comedic opportunities."
Los Angeles Times, May 27


§ Animator and graphic designer Maurice J. Noble, died May 18 in La Crescenta, California. He worked on Disney classics "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Bambi," "Dumbo" and "Fantasia", and on Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons for Warner Bros.

New York Times, May 25
— much longer: Los Angeles Times, May 23
— official website and filmography:


§ From Entertainment Weekly:

  • The John Travolta hacker film Swordfish invites you to crack passwords and key codes to access portions of its site
  • At Absolut Director you can edit your own film, or re-edit The X From Outer Space (you need fancy plug-ins and lots of cache space, though)

SF on TV

§ James Patrick Kelly's Hugo Award-winning novelette "Think Like a Dinosaur" will be dramatized on the SciFi Channel The Outer Limits series on Friday, June 15, 2001.

Friday 18 May 2001

Myst III: Exile

§ The third installment of the popular computer game series -- so unlike typical shoot-'em-up adventure games that their success is resented in some quarters, says NYT -- has more beautiful images of fantastic, deserted worlds full of intricate steampunk (or biopunk) puzzles to solve.

Myst games are for people who like ghost towns. They are for those who would like to wander through a deserted city, walking into people's empty homes and figuring out how to get their 40-year-old televisions working. ... These worlds are visually striking and full of complex machinery and unusual devices that you must learn to work without an instruction manual.
New York Times [scroll down], 17 May
Like all "Myst" games, "Exile" places a premium on slow-paced exploration. Standing in the pagodas of Amateria, the age of dynamic forces, it's tempting to just stop and watch the electrical storm brewing over the endlessly undulating sea.
Los Angeles Times, 17 May


§ Great reviews for the animated film about an ugly green troll, based on a book by William Steig, and in part a not-so-subtle parody of Disney icons.

This is not your average family cartoon. "Shrek" is jolly and wicked, filled with sly in-jokes and yet somehow possessing a heart. (Four stars)
Roger Ebert, 18 May
Beating up on the irritatingly dainty Disney trademarks is nothing new; it's just that it has rarely been done with the demolition-derby zest of "Shrek."
New York Times, 16 May

The animation techniques are the latest and greatest...

New York Times, 13 May

But does computer animation, no matter how good, leave us cold?

Salon, 18 May


The labyrinth of promotional websites for the movie A.I. are so good, says Douglas Wolk, they risk upstaging the film.
Slate, 14 May

Sequels and Remakes

§ The secret to success is coming up with as good a story as the original... or maybe just bigger special effects.

Initially, [Jurassic Park] animators were scrupulous about creating dinosaurs that were as scientifically accurate as possible in height, look and behavior. [For JP3], he said, if a certain scene calls for a creature to be bigger or faster or meaner than it actually was, scientific slack is cut in the cause of heightened thrills. "This time," he said, "coolness rules."
Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (due July 27) isn't a remake; it has "an entirely new plot, new look, new characters and new premise. ... There is no Statue of Liberty at the end."
New York Times, 13 May

Saturday 12 May 2001

Spielberg Speaks A.I.

§ Film director Steven Spielberg spoke at length with the Los Angeles Times (taking a break from the set of Minority Report) last week, talking about his version of Stanley Kubrick's project A.I., due for release next month. Spielberg had agreed to the direct the film with Kubrick as producer, years ago, before backing out and urging Kubrick to direct it himself; but Kubrick decided to do Eyes Wide Shut first.

Kubrick had left a brilliant first, and third act, but the middle section had "pieces of a dream, but was scattered." Working from notes that [Jan] Harlan sent on to him, Spielberg "assembled these fragments into a living organism." In shooting the actual film, he wound up using, he estimates, some 600 of [Chris] Baker's original storyboards. "I did a lot of Stanley's shots. I wanted to get as much of what Stanley wanted upon the screen as I possibly could," he says, although he does not normally shoot from storyboards. In fact, Spielberg works in a diametrically opposite fashion than Kubrick. While Kubrick liked shooting in continuity, with a skeletal crew, at the pace of slowly drying paint, Spielberg loves speed, moving almost three times as fast as most directors.

Maybe on Video

§ Here's the New York Times review from 30 March of Simon Magus, the film that played briefly in New York and LA. of the boldest fairy tales to come to the screen in years. If the film's gothically gloomy ambience recalls Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," its allegorical story of an Eastern European village where Jews and Christians compete for the soul of a half- mad visionary has the vividly fanciful quality of a Yiddish folk tale. Although the movie has hardly any singing and dancing, it's not all that far from "Fiddler on the Roof" territory. And its biggest weakness is a screenplay that has the stiff, cut-and-dried quality found in the sort of musical-comedy libretto that has to spell everything out in stilted, quasi-mythical language.

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