Alexander’s Dirty Little Secret

entertainment 1 Comment »

Warner Brothers has come under legal fire from a group of Greek lawyers for portraying Alexander the Great as a bisexual in the film of the same name. The lawyers are threatening to bring suit against both the studio and director Oliver Stone unless the credits of the film are altered to indicate that the film is a fictional account with no basis in fact.

Pardon me, but with all the fornicating flatware in museums and the sexual connotations of the term “greek” not withstanding, these greek lawyers need to give it a rest. I think their time would be better spent practicing law than trying to clear the name of man who died two
thousand years ago. Much of the historical texts describing the period indicate that Alexander batted for both teams, as did many of that time. It was not uncommon to have a wife and multiple lovers.

Perhaps the lawyers find the suggestion that Alexander was bisexual or gay a threat to their masculinity. How could such a man have conquered much of the known world by the age of 32 as well as taken a lover? Please. Alexander is one of many historical figures that enjoyed the
company of the same sex. And none has brought about the collapse of civilization, nor tainted the masculinity of any one man.

Go home to your husbands or wives greek lawyers. Your masculinity is intact.

Support the San Francisco Zoo

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I would like to draw your attention to a worthy cause highlighted by my good friend Mark D’Elicio with regards to the San Francisco Zoo, and the proposed legislation that would ban elephants and give the city oversight of the care and condition of the zoo’s animals.

You can read more about the propososed legislation on his blog here.

Disney Gearing Up for Toy Story 3

entertainment 1 Comment »

That Disney is pursuing the Toy Story franchise alone disturbs me on so many levels I can’t even begin to describe the terrible and awful impact Eisner has had on Disney and the sooner he is gone, the better. It is so painfully clear that Disney can nolonger develop the kind of films that formed their renaissance back in the 80s (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) so they have to latch onto the only thing that has been successful for them over the last 10 years. Pixar. I hope Steve Jobs and John Lassiter can put a stop to this. I am afraid Mickey has lost his mouse ears and sprung horns in their place.

That’s Incredible!

entertainment, filmmaking No Comments »

I’ve stopped trying to pick which Pixar movie is my favorite. They are all great. And The Incredibles doesn’t disappoint. In what I consider a relatively dull movie year, The Incredibles is a shining star, carried by a great story; great voice acting, stunning animation and guess what? They managed to sneak in a nice message too.

The Incredibles astounds visually, without falling into the same trap so many other CGI based movies do. Films like Final Fantasy and The Polar Express push extra hard to create realistic human characters, but ultimate fail. It is true that the eyes are the windows to the soul, as their CGI characters look lifeless, and downright creepy; highly mobile mannequins with a voice. As humans we know how we act, how we talk, how we convey emotion, giving us a common reference point. There are also subtleties and nuances in a performance we that we perceive, both consciously and unconsciously. Replicating that in CGI is very tricky, making suspension of disbelief all the more difficult. On the other hand characters like Gollum, and Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. are literally of a different breed, and outside our range of experience, so we are better able to buy it, despite any flaws.

Pixar’s approach to creating characters is different. Their hyper-realized characters look little like us, but have broad but universal characteristics/emotions we can identify with. They have exaggerated expressions and physicality owing more to Bugs Bunny than real life. And we are never trying to be convinced that they are real. Plus the backdrop of good story and writing helps, as no matter how good the CGI is, it cannot prop up mediocre writing or a weak story — are you listening George?

In addition to the characters, the worlds and environments they inhabit are so vivid you are frequently fooled into thinking they are real, as if you could reach out and touch them. It would be interesting to visit a world created by Pixar. I might want to even stay there. 🙂

There are many other factors that contribute to Pixar’s continued success: cutting edge technology, people who love films making films they love, a deep understanding of the importance of story, and the geography, as they’ve yet to fall under the spell of Hollywood.

There are no suits at Pixar, at least not in the traditional Hollywood sense. They have a love of good film and stories… not necessarily the bottom line. The recycling old stories and making sequels is rarely offered as alternatives to original ideas. Choices are dictated by good story telling and not demographics. I think as long as Pixar continues to make its own decision, operating outside the bubble of Hollywood, their films will continue to be fresh and unique, and ultimately successful.