December 05, 2009

Agents of Chaos

This video essay was partly inspired by Todd VanDerWerff's impressive Pixar Week project back in October at The House Next Door. Sadly, I wasn't able to meet the deadline for that critical roundup, and the video sat unfinished until the first week of December. Here's hoping FFC readers get a kick out of it.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

i know this is old news but... best. banner. ever.

Patrick said...

Thanks for the post. I certainly got a kick out of it, though I wonder whether the analogue could sustain a harder look – if it did, though, that would be very interesting to read.

corym said...

Can I threadjack for a moment to complain about the ads popping up on the mothersite? I'm all for FFC paying the bills, but those may be the most invasive ads that I come across when I surf the web. Every time I visit the site my speakers start blaring and I fumble for the mute button. Your complaint mail aside, I don't think annoyance is the first thing you want your readers to feel when they visit the site.

Bill C said...

I'm glad you're all for us paying the bills, Cory.

corym said...

I truly meant that comment, Bill. Really, I thought it was crazy that FFC went as long as it did without any advertisements. I just felt that it was a valid complaint because the current ads are way beyond anything that I encounter elsewhere.

Rick said...

I just felt that it was a valid complaint because the current ads are way beyond anything that I encounter elsewhere.

I am OCD with the website and reading every single review (and have been since 2001 I believe), so I click back and forth between reviews frequently, and I have had to mute that mucus add around 100 times in the last week. Thank God I am a huge fan of talking mucus, or else I would be extremely annoyed!

Speaking of annoyance, I finally saw A Serious Man, and while I do agree that it is absolutely brilliant on every level, I do have an issue with the potential fan base of the film, who can now justify their lazy, dismissive attitude towards mathematics, because movies like this align with their ideas that math is existentially worthless. Proofs prove nothing, the Mentaculus creates chaos, and the main character gets the worst of just about everything. So basically if former students received a "C-" in Calculus back in college, they can still deem themselves geniuses, because they think on a higher level than diminutive grinders. I wish I had the security to sum up and dismiss things I know nothing about while retaining a sense of complete intellectual control of the world around me.

Bill C said...

Here's the deal: there's an editable interface for those ads that we can't use because the site's not set up for it. We were supposed to debut a whole site redesign back in July, state of the art, that would finally allow me to go in and prevent things like loud mucous commercials. Needless to say, the redesign is still simmering on the backburner; but in the meantime, I've been stalling on what to do about those auto-playing ads.

I guess they don't bother me because I'm an old-fashioned guy who uses his computer for computing and not much else, so my sound is always muted and turned up for the occasional YouTube video or trailer or Sasha Grey gangbang. But I have finally contacted the ad provider in question with a desperate plea for some editorial flexibility. In the meantime, the player itself has a mute button on it, for those who can't mute their speakers via their keyboard.

If it's any consolation, every time one of those noisy ads loads, a penny or two goes straight into Walter's pocket. The talking mucous subsidizes his reviews.

Jason said...

Congratulations on the recognition from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, guys! Looks like noisy ads from talking snot didn't bother them, so who am I to complain?

corym said...

Bill
Sorry to interrupt with what is clearly a sore subject. Believe it or not, it is a consolation that some money goes into your pocket every time that commercial is played. Like Rick, my OCD forces me to reload your pages a million times every day, so I should be making a sizable contribution to that new car you've been looking at.

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

Dan said...

http://ofcsnews.blogspot.com/2009/12/rules-for-critics.html

I'd be interested to hear how FFC's critics answer that question, as OFC members. Worth another blog post?

Rick said...

If it's any consolation, every time one of those noisy ads loads, a penny or two goes straight into Walter's pocket.

I'm all for it, too. When I was a teenager, I used to read every critic imaginable, including an entire Leonard Maltin book, which proved I was the most indiscriminatory person who existed at the time. Anywho, now the only reviews I read are on filmfreak. Walter is, hands down, the most consistent critic in regards to logic, reasoning and analyzing subtext out there. He only flip-flopped on a few films( 25th Hour, Palindromes), but despite a few lapses he is just insanely spot on. No other critics are on every single review like he is, it seems like they go with how their Bi-Polar is swinging, or they fall for the same old traps (Blind side anyone?). Anyways, my point is talking mucous would never deter me from the site. Hell, you could queue up Gaspar Noe's segment from Destricted on every page reload and that wouldn't even slow me down.

Rick said...

Oh man, how does this happen on the site of the Mr. Benetton Rainbow complex?

Alex Jackson said...

Walter is, hands down, the most consistent critic in regards to logic, reasoning and analyzing subtext out there. He only flip-flopped on a few films( 25th Hour, Palindromes), but despite a few lapses he is just insanely spot on.

Funny you say that. I just saw Drag Me to Hell and I liked it, but it's not better than Orphan. It's about as good. Drag Me to Hell and Orphan are siblings. They are cut from the same cloth.

Thinking that Walter wrote the Drag Me To Hell review, I was getting mad about his pan of Orphan for being self-aware and overusing jump scares and hating working women and milquetoast husbands and not punishing Drag Me to Hell for pretty much the exact same things. "Raimi fanboy!" I was all prepared to cry.

Turned out that Ian wrote on Drag Me to Hell though, so I guess Walt's off the hook.

Drag Me to Hell is a little overrated and Orphan is a little underrated. Not by a lot, but enough to get me frustrated. I would love to get together a group of people who like Drag Me to Hell and dislike Orphan and make them watch them again back to back and defend that assertion. I truly think that the biggest reason that Drag Me to Hell has a better reputation is because critics have been trained on how to watch Sam Raimi movies. Orphan is tonally very similiar, but they don't know how to read it because Sam Raimi didn't direct it. Somebody who comes to both films relatively fresh won't find a very meaningful distinction.

Bill C said...

@Alex: If it's any consolation, I really liked both. But I find there's more to savour in DRAG ME TO HELL--cinematically, thematically. Actually, my issues with ORPHAN are lamely discrete (Sarsgaard's character; that botch of a sex scene; the way you can tell the movie wrote itself into a corner). Also, ORPHAN is fucking stupid; so is DRAG ME TO HELL, but it gets away with it better by telling itself in the EC Comics mode.

@Rick: I don't think Walter flip-flopped on PALINDROMES. I panned it @ TIFF, then he praised it a few months later, and I suspect you're mistakenly attributing both reviews to Walt.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me Walter is reviewing Avatar, and soon. Please?

James Allen said...

Bill,

I don't know where Walter flip-flopped on 25th Hour either. That review has Walter's review which was mixed, and your DVD review, which was more positive.

Anyway, I think Alex made an interesting observation: as a long-time reader of this site I reflexively think all the theatrical reviews are done by Walter, and only after reading a review thinking, "that doesn't seem like Walt" do I check the byline and find it was written by Ian, who is writing more and more of your theatricals.

Nothing wrong with that, I like Ian's writing, it's just a natural development of your site that I've only recently started to notice. I know Walter has written in the past of wanting to take a step back once in awhile, so it's good to have someone to help lighten his load.

P.S. I'm sort of looking forward to Sherlock Holmes. I like Downey, of course, but the trailers make the film look like they are turning Holmes into an action hero, which could be cool, or an incredible train-wreck.

Rick said...

I don't know where Walter flip-flopped on 25th Hour either.

I just remember, possibly on this blog, where he said he was wrong in his initial review, and how he liked it a hell of a lot more with a subsequent viewing. That's just nitpicking anyways, but speaking of subsequent viewings, I still am suprised Alex sticks to his guns with his Dr. Giggles review on a day where he wasn't getting laid for the first time. But once again, nitpicking.

Bill C said...

Yes, Walter now digs 25th HOUR--he's said as much on this blog.

Personally, I'm okay with the odd flip-flop. It shows growth, maturity, what have you. If I'm not evolving, what's the fucking point?

Si said...

Jefferson, well done! A very good use of clips from my two favourite films of last year.

Though I wonder if it'd be possible to do something similar with my favourites from this year, Basterds and District 9... now that'd be interesting.

Re: flip-flopping, well, it's happened to me with No Country For Old Men (I hated the ending the first time I saw it, but not now), and Once (which, as I've said before, is best watched once (groan), then never again). I might even be tempted to give The Assassination Of Jesse James another chance after reading the FFC review.

As an aside, Bill, when did the inspiration come to change your picture to ALF? I genuinely choose to think of that show as something that should be left behind in my childhood, although the cliffhanger finale was genuinely sad. (I never knew the amount of trouble they had on that show until recently, either - one of the writers was a drug addict, three people were needed to operate ALF, the cast mutinied, etc.)

Jefferson Robbins said...

Apropos of video essays, I once mentioned on Twitter that I thought District 9 was The Defiant Ones with recombinant DNA instead of shackles. Dan Hassler-Forest replied that Up was essentially Gran Torino with balloons instead of an M1 carbine. Both notions delight me, and I think there's an essay/satire in each. But God knows I'm not the one to create it.

Bill C said...

No good explanation, Si--just feeling very ALF avatar these days.

Trashcan said...

Apropos of Nothing: I finished up my Christmas shopping with the blu-ray copy of Terminator: Salvation (my brother in law isn't tremendously discriminating, sad to say). It does deserve some praise for truth in advertising, at the minimum: the back packaging notes the special feature "Re-Forging the Future: See How the Filmmakers Reinvented This Franchise and Took It to Depths Never Seen Before."
I shit you not.

Anonymous said...

I've mistaken Ian for Walter several times, and I'm pretty sure it's because Walter and Ian have very similar voices as writers. I can pick out Alex, Bill and Travis very easily -- Walter and Ian, though, not so much.

Walter, for the record, corrected himself about 25th Hour at the beginning of his Inside Man review.

As for Orphan and Drag Me to Hell, I liked Orphan a hell of a lot more. Orphan has the courage of its convictions, and though it is indeed quite fucking stupid (and its overuse of jump scares in the first half is incredibly annoying), I found that I was incredibly caught up in its climax. I cared about the characters and it successfully pushed my buttons. Drag Me to Hell, meanwhile, I just couldn't groove to it, despite the fact that it has the single most terrifying and soul-scarring opening and closing scenes I've ever seen in a movie. Drag Me to Hell always seemed to me to be calling attention to its own stupidity, putting giant flashing neon lights around it, which doesn't excuse it and I couldn't ignore it. I care when a little girl is pushed into traffic; I don't care when a ghostly apparition is crushed with an anvil.

--Kim