January 7, 2010

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski

The entire screenplay of The Big Lebowski, written as a Shakespeare play.

[THE KNAVE's house. THE KNAVE is in his bath]

I am conducted to a gentle bath.
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this Knave
Clean from the land?
[Alarums. Enter OLIVER and the two NIHILISTS, bearing a marmot]
Forsooth! This be a place
Of residence, and much a private place.--
O excellent marmot!

Anon, we crave the money, Lebowski.
We speak in neither jest nor fallacy.
We could do such stuff as dreams do feature,
Believing in nothing; empty and void.
Tomorrow if thou hast not the ransom
We shall recourse, and cut off thy Johnson.

[Exeunt severally]

We are in the presence of greatness.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:08 PM

Stupid whiny kneejerkers whine and kneejerk stupidly

Netflix announced today something that actually surprised me wasn't already the case from day one:

Now should you wish to rent a Warner Bros. flick you'll have to wait out a 28-day holding period after the film's initial DVD release date.

Of course the partnership rooted in money-making greed -- Warner Bros. wants you to buy the DVD instead of rent it --was to be expected. But the new deal is a first of its kind, and we could soon see several other studios follow in Warner Bros. footsteps.

Yes, deeply rooted in their money-making greed, Warner Bros. is daring to do what movie theaters have done since the existence of home video, and what pay-per-view did when it was still around: delay releases for a video sales window. However, because of Netflix, this now links to the Greater Internet Theory of Outrage:

  1. Something exists on the internet that everyone really, really likes.
  2. Because of its incredible popularity, the producers of that thing want financial compensation for it.
  3. That is a blatant assault on personal freedoms, a clear attempt to financially extort innocent consumers, and quite possibly unconstitutional.

The comments on the article are, of course, hilarious in their sadness.

What?!! How could netflix agree to this. The entertainment industry needs to figure out that if they don't give their customer what they want, they loose business. This is a sad sad day for movie fans like myself. Mashable, maybe you should spear head a "new movie boycot" and just tell everyone to not buy and just rent for a month.

Ah, yes, the eternal bastion of Internet Outrage™- the boycott formerly known as "doing what you were doing already, but now it's a protest against the man!" They're going to "boycott buying DVDs" as a response to an action WB took because people already weren't buying DVDs? Wow, these guys are modern day Ghandis.

And, of course, the great "I'm TRYING IT OUT!" excuse comes into play as well:

With the economy and all, I've been using Netflix as a "try before you buy" model. If the DVD is low quality or not loaded with any extras, I won't go out and buy it. But if I find a great movie, with lots of extras, I'd buy it. Way to cut off your potential customers, WB!

Man, it must have sucked during those 30 years or so of home video and 50 or so years of home audio when it was impossible to "try out" music and video and "see if it's worth purchasing first." How did all those companies ever stay afloat? Moving on.

So, let's try to interpret the logic chain here. This is unfair because you don't know if you want to buy the movie... which you don't know if you'd like, because you of course never saw in a theater. But now it's offensive to have to wait another 28 days longer to see it. Likewise, you're unsure if the "special features" are worth a purchase. For a movie you obviously aren't interested enough in to buy. And of course, you can always just buy the damn DVD when it's released if you can't wait 28 days to get it- but you can wait, because you're not that interested in the movie anyway- just really angry you have to pay to have it earlier. Which you don't want. Really.

Can someone once, just once, just say they don't like having to pay for stuff and cut out all the faux-outrage BS?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:10 PM

January 6, 2010

The one list I feel I have enough knowledge to make

My favorite animated features of the 2000s. I'm not saying the "best" because that's totally subjective, and honestly, who am I to say that. Listed alphabetically because ranking them would also just be silly.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (2007) - If there is one thing Adult Swim has done in its eight years on this planet, it's challenge the definition of "quality." Is this movie a "well-written" movie? The plot goes nowhere, makes no sense, has no continuity, and makes me laugh for 90 straight minutes. Is this a "well-animated" movie? There's nothing different than you see in the 11-minute cartoons, and yet the visuals are enjoyable and you're never sick of what you see on screen. Is this a "creative" movie? There's a bizarre fever-dream collage of multiple art and music styles, like a jam session of independent artists trying to make sense of something senseless. Is it a "funny" movie? Yes. Did I "buy the DVD?" Yes. Have I, as a result, watched it more times in the last year than any other movie on this list? Yep. Guess that answers all the questions.

Bender's Big Score (2007) - The return of Futurama was probably one of the most celebrated events in animation for the 2000's, and David X. Cohen's team pulled out all the stops for the first re-release movie. Its only crime being the requirement to chop the movie into perfect 22-minute arcs for later TV re-syndication, Bender's Big Score welcomed back Futurama in a rare way for die-hard fans: giving them most of what they wanted without overextending itself (they, sadly, saved all that for the next three movies) Despite it being only the first of four new movies, Bender's Big Score could have been a self-contained movie and a perfect ending cap to the series with only minor alterations. Meanwhile, Fry's observation of what it meant to suddenly disappear from his own time and what he gained in the future was one of the more romantic and powerful elements of the whole series, and yet typically glossed over same for "very special episodes." Here, it gets the treatment it deserves.

The Emperor's New Groove (2000) - The last great non-Pixar Disney film, I agree with one of my professors at NYU who commented that this was "the greatest Warner Bros. cartoon Disney ever made." The Emperor's New Groove is one of Disney's best uses of voice talent, with John Goodman, David Spade, Patrick Warburton, and Eartha Kitt using every second of screen time to its fullest. The story that would otherwise be tired and cliche is infused with some of the best slapstick and sight gags Disney has done in decades, and was one of the riskiest films the studio ever made. And then they made a TV spinoff that sucked. Sigh.

The Incredibles (2004) - I had convinced myself that I was only going to pick one Pixar film for the list, but I went ahead and added The Incredibles because it's probably my favorite Pixar movie. Up is a better movie, but I enjoy The Incredibles as a cartoon more than I enjoy Up as, well, cinematic art. One of the hardest things to animate, believe it or not, is humans, especially in 3D, because as humans, we have the most experience interacting with ourselves and seeing what looks "real" when it's animated on film. Yeah, I understand that the characters in the movie all have superpowers, but I'm sure there's not a coincidence that the other Pixar film I praised for the decade was the one with humans as the stars, and likewise depicted an incredible range of emotion and mannerism.

Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) - One of the best for-TV adaptations of the decade, of one of the best graphic novels of the same. Unlike the also-awesome TV series that ran during the last decade, New Frontier tells the story of DC's superheros closer to their original origin times, with the bulk of the action taking place in the Korean War era and referencing the 1940's origin of the DC greats. I suppose it's no surprise that I loved this film, since my original plan was to rate each of these films on a scale of comparison to The Iron Giant, which is of course the greatest animated feature film of all time, and there's no movie on the list that comes as thematically close to that one.

Metropolis (2001) - based on the work of Osamu Tezuka, whose infinitely more known Astro Boy inspired its own infinitely-worse movie adaptation recently. There's an overabundance of attempts to compare this to the 1927 Fritz Lang masterpiece, but I honestly feel they're two entirely separate films. If you're still reading this list, then you're aware of Astro Boy, and now imagine it in color and with deeply psychological discussions on humanity instead of wacky antics and butt-guns. That should cover it.

Shreck (2001) - Here's a bizarre analogy for you: Shreck is the Silence of the Lambs of feature animation, and by that I mean people tend to forget how amazing the original was before all of the sequels that ruined it and made it a farce of itself. Pixar is rightly credited with the success of the 3D animation genre, but with a film that was far superior to both Toy Story movies at the time, most tend to forget that Dreamworks did it best, first. Shreck is why the Best Animated Feature category was created at the Oscars, and has some of the best story and animation work for its time, and its then-infantile technology.

Sita Sings the Blues (2008) - Nina Paley's masterful blend of personal heartbreak, feminist interpretation of Indian mythology, and 1920's jazz. Self-produced in three distinct and equally enjoyable animation styles, Paley's film almost never saw the light of day thanks to a series of events that have made this film the textbook example of what is wrong with copyright law in America. The entire film is free online under Creative Commons, literally meaning there is no excuse for you to not watch it.

Spirited Away (2001) - I refuse to believe you're still reading this list and don't already know about this movie, let alone haven't seen it. Spirited Away is a safe form of crack you intake through the eyeballs.

Up (2009) - I have no qualms admitting that I have not ever cried so much during a movie in my entire life. In a way, Up is one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever seen, showing a man who devoted his entire life to giving his wife her greatest wish, even when she couldn't fulfill it herself. All the while the message of love and family saturates the story, be it from a strange bird protecting its egg, a dog searching for a loving owner, and a child slowly understanding the meaning of a missing parent.

Honorable mention: Persepolis, Is It Fall Yet?, Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, So The Drama, everything else Miyazaki did, everything else Pixar did other than A Bug's Life.

Dishonorable mention: every single Disney direct-to-video sequel. Accepting the award will be The Fox and the Hound 2, which redefines the word "atrocity."

Yep, now to sit back and wait for angry e-mails.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:57 AM

January 5, 2010

They've been doing it to your bowels for years

Kraft Foods to sponsor the implosion of a building. Really.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:16 PM

It's all an alien plot against her!

Well I guess it makes sense now: Michele Bachmann's insane tireades against the Census could cost her seat in Congress.

No, I don't mean people won't vote for her; I mean the actual seat could be eliminated.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:13 AM

January 4, 2010

Slowly we return

Hi all, I'm back. New comic will appear Monday, but for now I'm gonna try to get back into the swing of things.

Just to lock this in, to force myself to actually do it: an early resolution for 2010 will be a site redesign. I've been spending some time learning some more stuff, but even with a crappy-looking site I know there's a bunch of stuff that has been requested, the largest being easier navigation for the cartoon archives. So that'll happen. I promise.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:00 AM