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Archive for the ‘Double Features’ Category

Juxtaposition Blogathon: Double Features: CE3K = Jaws with BEMs instead of Bruce

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Don't be fooled! These posters are really for the same movie.

This post is an entry for the Juxtaposition Blogathon which is being held September 12-16, 2011 and is hosted by the Pussy Goes Grr blog.

Have you ever thought that Close Encounters of the Third Kind is really nothing but a remake of Jaws? No? Well, what’s the main difference? Instead of a giant shark that keeps popping up and killing people, CE3K has giant flying saucers that keep popping up and abducting people.

Still skeptical? Please continue.

1. Just like the shark, we see the saucers bit by bit. In Jaws, instead of seeing the shark all in one go, we see signs of the shark: bodies and buoys that are pulled down below the waves, shark bites on bodies, giant shark jaw skeletons. Most ominous of all, a shark fin. It’s well into the film before we see the whole shark. (“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”) It’s the same for the flying saucers and aliens in Close Encounters. We see a giant ship in the desert, pots and pans shake and rattle in a kitchen, blinding lights, smaller flying saucers, etc. before we see the mother ship itself near the end of the film. (For what it’s worth, the fancy words for this sort of thing, showing the parts instead of the whole, or showing something that’s related to the thing instead of the thing itself, are synecdoche and metonomy.)

2. Both films have characters who represent science and expertise. In Jaws, it’s Richard Dreyfuss. In CE3K, it’s Francois Truffaut. Both films also have an everyman character who in the end wins out in some way over the expert. In Jaws, it’s not Dreyfuss who kills the shark; it’s Sheriff Brody, who not only knows little about sharks, he doesn’t even like water. In CE3K, it’s not Truffaut who is chosen to go with the aliens, but Dreyfuss, a simple lineman for the county.

3. Many people are called, but few are chosen. In Jaws, the shark affects many people, and there are many who attempt to claim the shark bounty reward, but in the end only three make the journey that destroys the shark and only two of them survive. It’s the same in Close Encounters: many people throughout the world have images seared into their minds and are drawn to the Devil’s Tower landing site, but only one, Richard Dreyfuss, is rewarded with a cosmic journey with the aliens. (I like to read this as a metaphor for movie marketing: we are drawn by images planted in our brains by movie marketing to movie theaters where we are transported to another world by films made by aliens from planet Hollywood. It also works as an allegory for Spielberg’s escape from suburbia to Hollywood where the stars live. Then there are those who see the shark in Jaws as a symbol of Hollywood, but that’s another matter.)

4. Some critics think that CE3K is a remake of Firelight, a film that Spielberg made when he was a teen. I haven’t seen Firelight, so I’m sticking with Jaws. It’s more fun.

So there it is, my little compare and contrast exercise proving that:

Jaws minus shark + flying saucers + aliens = CE3K.

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Written by pronountrouble2

August 27, 2011 at 10:23 am

Juxtaposition Blogathon: Double Features: King Kong and The Searchers

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Do not be fooled! These posters are for the same movie!

This post is an entry for the Juxtaposition Blogathon which is being held September 12-16, 2011 and is hosted by the Pussy Goes Grr blog.

 

You don’t often find King Kong and The Searchers linked together, but this is an oversight which I intend to correct here. Consider these points:

1. In King Kong, aborigine Kong abducts a woman. In The Searchers, aborigine Scar abducts several women.

2. In King Kong, a rescue party is formed to save the woman, but eventually this search party dwindles in size to one. In The Searchers, a rescue party sets out to rescue the women, but eventually dwindles in size to two.

3. Kong is killed, and the woman is saved. Scar is killed, and the woman is saved.

Perhaps you think these broad similarities are pure coincidence. Did you know that one of the producers of The Searchers was the main force behind King Kong?

King Kong was co-directed and co-produced by Merian C. Cooper. Cooper is also credited with the story idea, which he said originated in one of his dreams. (There’s the Surrealist connection.) Years later, Cooper was executive producer on The Searchers. Several years earlier, in fact, during the thirties, Cooper had formed Argosy Films with John Ford, and it was Cooper who convinced C. V. Whitney to put up the money to produce The Searchers. I have not been able to determine who it was that “found” the source novel by Alan Le May, but I would not be surprised if it was Cooper. The Searchers was the last film that Cooper and Ford made together, but one of their earlier collaborations was Mighty Joe Young (not directed by Ford, but produced by Argosy Pictures), which has an obvious link to King Kong.

Written by pronountrouble2

August 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

Alternate Endings: Inglourious Basterds

I was disappointed with the ending for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, so I wrote my own ending.

Here it is:

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

Everyone know that Tarantino’s concept for Inglourious Basterds was a spaghetti western set in WWII. Likewise, everyone knows that the opening scene is an “homage” to a scene in Once Upon a Time in the West. However, few, if any, have pointed out that the ties between the two films extend well beyond this “homage.” Hence, this brief edition of Double Features.

Double Features: Inglourious Basterds and Once Upon a Time in the West

Mélanie Laurent’s character in Inglourious Basterds combines the Charles Bronson and Claudia Cardinale characters of Once Upon a Time in the West. Family massacres and revenge connect them. Laurent inherits her cinema from her massacred family just as Cardinale inherits property when her family is slaughtered.

Christoph Waltz is the equivalent of Henry Fonda’s character. Waltz works for Hitler; Fonda works for railroad baron Morton. However, there is no scene featuring Waltz in Basterds that matches the shock caused by the revelation that blue-eyed Henry Fonda was responsible for the massacre of the McBain family in Leone’s film.

Brad Pitt and his gang are the equivalent of Jason Robards and his gang.

Just as Inglourious Basterds is derived from another film, i.e. Once Upon a Time in the West, Once Upon a Time in the West is derived from Johnny Guitar.

Double Features: 2001: A Space Odyssey & A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Is it a coincidence that the endings of both 2001: A Space Odyssey and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence have confused people since these films were released? (I first wrote about that in 2001 here.) Thanks partly to Clarke’s novel it’s generally accepted that the room at the end of 2001 is created by aliens from the images in Bowman’s brain.

However, here’s what Arthur C. Clarke, co-creator of 2001, said about these “aliens” in an interview with Gene Youngblood published in Youngblood’s book, Expanded Cinema:

So perhaps the “aliens” of 2001: A Space Odyssey are in fact machines or “mechas.”

The ending of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is similar to 2001‘s in that the mechas recreate a room from David’s memories.

The mechas at the end of A.I. have been mistaken for “aliens” even by people who should know better.

For example, in an interview published in 2002 on urbancinefile.com, the interviewer asked Spielberg:

“Did you make a conscious decision to show the aliens looking all alike at the end of the movie?”

Spielberg’s answer was clear: “…they are not aliens…”

Here’s a clip on Youtube where he says the same thing:

What the interviewer should have asked was this:

“Did you make a conscious decision to show the mechas looking  like aliens at the end of the movie?”

For example, why do they look so much like this alien in Close Encounters?”

Suppose that the resemblance to aliens is intentional. Suppose that the aliens in 2001 are in fact mechas. Suppose that the mechas/aliens in 2001 that plant the black monolith at the beginning of the film are from the future. That would mean that the mechas that were created by man in the worlds of both 2001 and A.I. evolve into mechas who create man. Perhaps they travel back into time to plant the black monolith, or perhaps they find other apes with which to conduct their experiment creating new homo sapiens. In either case, by combining 2001 and A.I. in this way we end up with a classic paradox: the human’s creations become the creators of the humans that created them.

I like how linking A.I. and 2001 in this way creates an alternative ending for A.I. without having to imagine changing a thing in that film. Read more alternative endings here.

UPDATE: 4/1/2013:

More evidence that there may be a connection between the “aliens” in 2001 and mechas in A.I.:

At one point Kubrick and Clarke planned to show the aliens in 2001. According to Brian Johnson, special effects assistant on the film:

Stanley wanted something that was really different [for the aliens], but did not know exactly what. At one point he wanted something similar to a sculpture by Giacometti – humanoid in shape, but very thin and crooked. (Cinefex No. 85)

A sculpture by Alberto Giacometti

A sculpture by Alberto Giacometti