My name is Charlie, but if your looking for my work, I go by C. E. Dorsett. I write scifi, fantasy, and a touch of horror. I like to play with gothic, steampunk, decopunk, epic fantasy, and wuxia. I love to tell stories and talk about books, movies, series, and music.
Headlines for January 29th through February 3rd
These are my links for January 29th through February 3rd:
- SCI FI Wire: Steampunk Cylon: Design your own and win! -
- Has Production on Astroboy Shut Down? | /Film -
- SCI FI Wire: Why Prince of Persia's Jake Gyllenhaal will surprise you -
- Apparently Ghost Rider 2 is Officially Moving Forward « FirstShowing.net -
- Topless Robot - Seriously, Stop It, or Alan Moore's Going to Kill Somebody -
- The Haunting in Connecticut Trailer - Project: Shadow HQ -
- Aviary - Creation on the fly / blog / Famous Art, Simpsonized -
- Battlestar's Ronald D. Moore Scripting The Thing Prequel « FirstShowing.net -
- Cryptomundo » Nigerian Were-Goat - Were-goats are my new favorite thing. I must find out more about them.
- Warner will retell Samson and Delilah, but in the future! -
- Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter stunt double seriously injured -
- Ice storm 2009 | Secret Dot - My diary of the power outage
- Doctor Who Theme by Orbital - Project: Shadow HQ - Crimson Shrine's right, it would be cool to have a new big budget Doctor Who flick, just so long as it is better than the last one. Yikes. It is a cool video and remix of the Doctor Who theme song.
- Star Wars Imperial March Techno Remix: Darth Vader Special - Project: Shadow HQ - This makes me want to see a video for the Imperial Justice mashup. Interesting use of the song, and the video is well done. It's like the shiny happy part of the dark side :) Thanks, Crimson Shrine
- Depeche Mode "Suffer Well" -- Set to "Tron" - Project: Shadow HQ - I love this song, movie, and video. Thanks, Crimson Shrine
These topics and more covered in our daily podcast, Project: Shadow Informant.
Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still
This is a group review of The Day The Earth Stood Still. Brian, Emerian, and I each watched the movie and developed separate opinions about the film. As Progressive Speculative Fiction movie:
Overall Rating: 10
I am a huge fan of the original, in fact, it is my favorite SF movie. I was surprised how well they pulled off the remake.
Brian: It’s not very often that I get a chance to write a review of a remake movie where I can give my praises for a job well done. As the final credits began to roll I knew with great joy in my heart they gave me this opportunity with The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008). This movie was a brilliant remake of the classic film, an excellent example of what speculative fiction should be, and poorly promoted film that will unfortunately get it many bad reviews.
I must give my kudos! to Director Scott Derrikson when I read about how he tried to update the movie yet stay true to it’s core message I was very skeptical but he nailed this one and deserves our accolades for a job well done! You can read about his approach in Exploring: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008).
Emerian: I have never seen the original 1951 version of this movie. I have to assume it had a better ending than this one. When seeing the title The Day The Earth Stood Still I have to wonder if it meant the moment that the credits rolled and everyone in the theater stared motionless at the screen thinking, "Huh?"
Even Roger Ebert, who I usually agree with about SF movies didn’t like the movie. He like many of the reviewers missed the point of the movie. He like most reviewers took the movie as little more than a film with an environmental message, when it is so much more.
The Day The Earth Stood still is an “Idea as Hero” story. The idea behind the story is evolution, and whether or not humankind is capable of evolving before we destroy the all life on earth.
Throughout the film, Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) witnesses the senseless violence humans perpetrate on each other. The vehicle for the idea is Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith) who through out the movie is engrossed in violent video games and who constantly argues that the aliens need to be killed.
Our violence to ourselves, the other animals, and to the world itself is why Klaatu has been sent to earth to preserve a life sustaining world from us.
This message is made clearer when Klaatu and Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese) are talking. Barnhardt argues that people can change, but Klaatu is unmoved. He believes that humankind is too lazy and mired in its ways to even try to change. That is the real question. What would it take for people to be willing to change?
Brian: Speculative Fiction is supposed to ask a “what if.” To be even better it should also maintain the tradition of making a social commentary of some sort and aspire to humankind’s better nature. Star Wars and Star Trek do this brilliantly it is why those franchises inspire it’s fans to be better then what they originally are. The Day The Earth Stood Still classic also did this with it’s warning about humans violent cold war nature in the 50’s. With great pleasure the 2008 remake also does this by asking what if we are not alone in the universe and how would advanced alien societies see humankind’s behavior. The social commentary is that they would view us as a violent, delinquent child who treats each other as poorly as we treat our surrounding environment.
Unfortunately this movie was promoted poorly. Their promotion lead the public to expect an action packed, aliens invade earth and attack us. Kind of like the modern War of the Worlds movie. The actual movie is a much more thoughtful exploration of human nature, with most of the tension occurring in the mind rather than visually. There are some great effects and action sequences but not nearly as much as what should have been. If only they had described the movie like this:
The Day The Earth Stood Still is about how human society lives in a solipsistic state of mind where they treat each other as poorly as they treat their environment and give into their terrible and violent nature. The collection of other alien societies decide that they must save the earth from the humans since there are so few planets in the galaxy that can support complex life forms. Now Helen Benson and her son Jacob must convince Klaatu that humans do have the will to change but only after they are brought to the precipice by a tragedy.
Minor Spoilers between the lines:
Emerian: This film was well cast and I think the majority of the film was worth seeing, but the ending was flat and made little sense. Keanu played a good alien with his emotionless responses. We also get to see him naked and covered with mucus again, which is always a strange but somehow addictive thing to watch. Jennifer Connelly played an adequate smart lady. Jaden Smith showed his ability to stand with his adult counterparts and not be overshadowed in the least. It was also a pleasant surprise to see John Cleese and Kathy Bates.
As far as visuals, the orbs are rather interesting and the fly shaped nanobots that go about devouring the land are worth the price of your theater ticket. However, I would advise waiting to see it on DVD.
The ending was a big let down and not just to me. As we sat, wondering what had gone wrong, I heard comments from exiting audience members that ranged from unconvincing to anticlimactic.
The end of the movie was a call to action. A challenge to the audience. I will deal with the ending of the movie more in a separate post.
So who is right about this movie?
Was it good or anticlimactic? Honestly, we post are. This film is like music in a particular genre. If you like this sort of movie, you will love it. If you don’t, this movie is not for you.
I have read many reviews, and in the majority of them, the reviewers either rejected the message, missed the message, or thought the film should not have been updated.
Roger Ebert approached the movie with certain preconceptions that kept him from seeing the message of the movie. It is clear from his review that he did not want to like the movie, and mocked Klaatu for having to learn the lesson of the film.
I would not recommend this movie to everyone, but I would say that there is a couple simple tests to see if you will like this movie:
- Did you understand and enjoy the ending of Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
- Did you enjoy Grave of the Fireflies?
- Did you enjoy the work of Akira Kurosawa?
- Have you ever enjoyed a book by James Joyce?
The fourth one is most important. Joyce believed that a good story should just hold up its object to be beheld by the audience neither pushing them towards or away from anything, and Kurosawa said that a film should have an immaculate reality, allowing the story to just happen without and over abundance of exposition.
For more info on The Day The Earth Stood Still: Theater or Renter: December 2008
- Brilliant remake of the original movie:
- Maintains Immaculate Reality
- It’s true art where they bring us to static arrest and hold us there.
- the message was not so much about ecological concerns but about societies solipsistic attitude (behaving like a spoiled little child with a me me me attitude) leading them to treat their environment as badly as they treat each other.
- The great balance between the warning about societies current state and the hope of our capability of change.
- Gort was really well done including a little joke about how he got his name.
- The Ending: it shows the solution but does not show nor tell the audience that the solution happened it just ends leaving that conclusion up to the audience.
- The acting was well done.
- John Cleese was brilliant in his role, I wish they would have advertised this fact.
- Keanu Reeves did a good job playing Klaatu
Dislikes / Concerns
- the ending: I would have liked to hear Klatu give the ultimatum “It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.” Unfortunately if he had given this then there would have been complaints about it being cliché
- The intro could have done without the first five minutes and just started with the present day. problems of the well written story.
- The promotion of this film was poorly done, they advertised an action aliens bringing about the end of the world film when in reality this was a thoughtful Science Fiction social commentary film where a lot of the tension is cerebral instead of visual.
- I could not hear the other classic line “Klaatu barada nikto!” They left the background noise too loud only Keanu Reeves’ mouth moves.
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Interview: Chris Cowan and Lex Randleman from Elseworlds
I interviewed Chris Cowan (Cyborg/Cameraman) and Lex Randleman (Mister Teriffic/Writer) from the brilliant new webseries Elseworlds.
Why did you choose to make webseries in the Elseworlds setting? While it is one of the most fascinating DC setting, it is not as popular as their other setting?
Lex Randleman (LR): Elseworlds provided a malleable way to craft a story about a universe I, otherwise, wouldn't have been able to depict. Knowing I could twist and turn things however I wanted gave my imagination some room to wander. We (Cowan and I) would never be able to make a DC Universe like what's seen in comics and other media.
Also, I get a sense of ownership out of this that I couldn't get from another kind of story. Sure, these aren't MY characters, but this is MY vision of them. It's funny to me that your review mentions casting (Praise I TOTALLY appreciate) and what kind of process that must have been for us. It's funny because we didn't match the cast to the characters--we matched characters to the cast. The characters we were confident we COULD portray well are the characters we chose to play out the story. They ARE the story. That was our jump-off point.
Chris Cowan (CC): We’re only planning to do 6 episodes for this story. As much as we love doing this, we also have MANY more projects planned (mostly all original and a few being fan fiction works). But I mean if DC/WB would want to fund a project like this then I’m sure we could do quite a few more episodes <wink> <nudge>
LR: Yeah, 6 episodes. That's not because I couldn't make this story stretch, no. It's because we've set a pace that I can't completely halt. Given free reign, I would basically restart and show SO much more of the action and events that preceded the present action in this story. Cowan can attest to the fact that I've built up a whole history for this world and all of its characters, but reality (a.k.a. $) dictates that I must exercise some restraint.
Are all of the episodes written ahead of time or are they being written as the series progresses?
LR: The episodes have been written one by one as my time allows. I put episode 2 in Cowan's hands. He filmed it. I put episode 3 in his hands. He filmed it. He just got episode 4. I took my time with that one. And he'll film it soon. It's played out that way because this whole project was sprung on me by Cowan (Yes, man, I am taking a dig at you) with the release of the 1st episode (incomplete, at that!) a YEAR after the project had been conceived. Since then, I've had to rethink a lot of the things I had originally intended.
I know it sounds like I'm blaming Cowan like he did something awful. That's not the case. He actually challenged me in a way that I just hadn't expected. In the end, I can't be mad at that. After a long period of not writing the way I should have been, I can feel my blood pumping again. This project has reawakened some of my dormant creativity.
CC: Hey, It’s not my fault that he liked the cut of the first episode. I edited it randomly out of the blue a few months ago and showed it to him and he said “Cowan, that was hot.” Haha. So I said lets keep going with it – and we have. Besides, if I hadn’t, Lex might have never came up with the story that he’s created (which I think is a really good and original one).
But yeah, the episode scripts are given to me one by one. In fact, the Episode 2 script was put in my hands not even 5 minutes before filming hah. We’ve always been a sort of run & gun crew of filmmakers though (when budgets not involved – because it usually isn’t for our personal projects ha).
Episode 3 is over 8 minutes as opposed to the 2 - 3 minute length of the previous episodes, what is the target length for the remaining episodes?
CC: At first, we thought it’d be a good idea to keep the episodes under 4 minutes. One reason being that we were gearing this towards youtube and usually 2-4 minutes is the avg. length of most videos – and I figured that’d be the avg. youtuber’s attention span (because it is for me ha). Not to mention, it would have been a smoother editing flow for me. Now, after seeing how episode 3 came out, we realized that we prefer the 8-10 minute run time. There was a thought to break up Episode 3 into two parts but we liked how it ran all together, so we kept it – and the response towards the runtime was a positive one.
LR: The thing about targets is that you either miss them or they get shot... That's my way of saying I don't know. Even after I write the script and we "should" know how long an episode will be, it all gets muddled in the production. A lot of last minute changes and improvements happen ON SET. That's our creative process.
Do you have any plans to make them available for download/ podcast? (with the abundance of companies like Mevio who offer free hosting I hope you do)
LR: I don't know. Cowan, do we have plans like that??
CC: Haha honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t thought about doing that already. I’ll definitely make them available for download.
What software are you using to make the special effects?
LR: I have this awesome special effects program called Triple C...Christopher Clark Cowan.
CC: Hah and I this awesome special effects program called Adobe After Effects. In terms of any other technical questions that anyone might have – I edit on Final Cut Pro and shoot on the Panasonic DVX100a. I’m hoping to be able to shoot the finale in HD – More on that to come though.
How long does it take you to produce an episode?
CC: It always depends. Script writing and scheduling are the biggest time consumers – even more so than with the shooting an editing. Shooting is fairly easy because after reading the script, I can already see what I want to do (let me rephrase – I can already see what I’m able to do haha). Editing usually takes me 2 days because after we have it all shot, I clear my schedule and sit in front of my computer for 2 days straight and edit. There’s usually food/sleep and some Xbox 360 spliced throughout those 48 hours.
LR: That always varies because of the time I might take to write the script and the scheduling that needs to get worked out for the actors and such. When everyone works for free, it's hard to put a demand on anyone's time-- except, of course, for mine. Cowan is always making demands on my time... I'm so disrespected...
What is your production schedule like?
LR: What's a schedule?
CC: Yeah we don’t really have one. It all depends on all of our work schedules. I call a friend and ask “can you film today?” they say “no.” I say “what about tomorrow?” they say “sure” and then we film. That seems to be the extent of our “schedule” ha.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to make their own webseries?
CC: Just go out and do it. You don’t need a huge budget to do everything (it helps – but it’s not always necessary). One of the most fun parts for me is reading a script and challenging myself to come up with ways to achieve a certain shot and/or effect that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do with out a lot of money. Even if you do have the funds, it’s always nice to keep a “that look for less” type of mindset.
LR: Don't be afraid to do take the time to make things RIGHT. There's no profit to be made, really, but the chance to share your passion and your vision. If you compromise those two things, then you've wasted your time and your project will suffer. I find that when I look back onto our older projects, the things I regret are the decisions we made for any reason other than "that's how we want it." Compromise = Regret.
Also, embrace your dorkdom. I don't write for the masses. I write for myself. I write for other comic book nerds like myself. They're the only people I hope will truly "get me." Everyone else can catch up. That's what Google is for.
LR: Have we thought about it? We did it! X3i is the name of the series we produced in college at The Ohio State University. We diverted our attentions from that series to do a feature based off of the series...Long story short...We didn't finish either the series or the movie.
Don't look at me! The scripts were written! The culprit is always the same: RESOURCES. Resources in the form of money (or lack thereof), casting, sufficient time, and ALL of the stuff that can derail a zero-budget project. It also goes back to our policy to not deliver crap. If it wasn't going to get done RIGHT, why do it?
Here's some good news: even though the project was never finished, I'm sure my dearest buddy Cowan can provide you with some fancy footage of our stuff. ;)
CC: Yeah, we’ve definitely done that already ha. X3i was our first shot at an original webseries – And one of the most fun filmmaking experiences I’ve had. Our crew is actually doing another webseries called “Komikarate” which is a sketch comedy based show (dealing with original skits and fan spoofs). All of which can be found on youtube. If you’d like to know more about X3i, you can visit: www.myspace.com/X3i
Aaaand lastly, to keep updated with the Elseworlds project, you can go to: http://dcelseworlds.blogspot.com
No more links haha.
I am enjoying the series, and will have a review of the first three episodes up shortly.
LR: I'm happy you've enjoyed our work! Your interest and excitement is what makes it all worthwhile.
CC: Many thanks to everyone for viewing and supporting! Also big thanks to Eric and Project: Shadow for the review, interview and overall interest. We’ll have episode 4 out to you all shortly!
Thank you for your time.
LR: If you made it through all 3 episodes, we should be thanking you for YOUR time.
Two nice guys and amazing artists. If you haven’t read it yet, check out my review of Elseworlds. I think we can expect great things from them in the future.
Take My Book, Liquid Sky for Free
With Fear and dread, I have decided to offer Liquid Sky to You all for free... Why did I do this? I believe that people support what they love, so if you all like my work, you will buy the book, a T-shirt, or donate to the cause of keeping this fiction coming.
Tell me what you all think.
Evangelical Taliban v ACLU before the Supreme Court
by C.E. Dorsett Okay actually, the cases are Van Orden v. Perry, 03-1500, and McCreary County v. ACLU, 03-1693 [full story]. They are both cases involving those ghastly Ten Commandments monuments on Government Land! Now I hope the Court follows the tradition and law of the United States and continues to say that these displays are patently unconstitutional, but three justices have already made up their mind, and they are not on the side of the people, they are on the side of the Evangelical Taliban.
I have a strong opinion on these issues. I recite the Ten Utterances every week as part of my prayers, and just look around the site for a while and you will notice that I am a kind of religious person, but what these evangelicals are trying to do is wrong morally, religiously, and politically.
The Moral Argument (1)
It is wrong to force your religious opinions on others using the force of law. We are fighting a war against people that did that in Afghanistan, and are attempting to do it globally. It is amoral at best, and immoral at worse to wage a war to defend democracy from the encroachment of anachronistic, intolerant, solipsistic religion in the world only to allow it to thrive and take over our government here. It is simple: do you support the Taliban or not?
I, for one, believe that a religious state is always a dangerous state, to its citizens and to the world. We where right to topple the Taliban, and we mustn't allow one to entrench itself in this country. (Oops... a little late for that... I guess we'll just have to take this country back from the extremists too.)
The Moral Argument (2)
The double standard: if you want to post a message supporting of ethical conduct, why not post the five precepts of the Buddha?
- To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings.
- To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given.
- To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct.
- To undertake the training to refrain from false speech.
- To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness.
There is nothing objectionable in these five precepts. Nothing to even identify them as being from a particular religion at all. No Sectarian God to obey, no magic words not to say, no holy days to keep... just pure simple morality/ethics. Why not use these or come up with five, or even ten complete no sectarian sentences that will provide moral clarity to our fellow citizens?
Because morality is a front! This has nothing to do with the moral character of society, or acknowledging our history. It is a way for these evangelicals to propagate the myth that they are persecuted for their beliefs. It is about fear and power, because if they were Christians they would know that Christ himself condemned what they are trying to do.
The Religious Argument
To be honest, these “evangelicals” practice some strange New Age religion that claims to be Christian, and claims to be historic, but it relies on dangerous heresies and sociopaths (Darby, Wigglesworth, et al.) to connect itself to Christian history and tradition. I have nothing against a little heterodoxy from time to time to keep the faith on its toes, but you have to be honest. They are not Christian, and what's worse they are in clear violation of the teachings of Christ!
Holding a roman coin in his hand, “he said to them, 'Whose head is this, and whose title?' They answered, “The emperor's.' Then he said to them, 'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's (Matt 22:20-21).'“ I have ask, in a secular democracy, does your faith belong to God or to the state? Where do the Ten Commandments belong? [Let me remind you that the first four are regulations dealing solely with religious faith (Exodus 20:2-17)] It is blindingly obvious that they belong in the church, not on state ground.
This is the doctrine of the two kingdoms (sometimes referred to as the kingdom of the left, and the kingdom of the right). It is one of the reasons we have separation of Church and State in this country. The Church should not interfere in the Government, and the Government should leave the Church alone.
The Political Argument
It is politically dangerous to validate anything with a seal of divine authority. There is no way to prove or disprove divine inspiration (and many have tried). To tag something as sacred in politics is simply a way to state: “We are too cowardly to debate this issue in the realm of ideas, so I will create an argument that you cannot debate at all.”
In a democracy, this is wrong, and must never be tolerated. What an individual or group believes is on thing, but in civil discourse, religious arguments have no place. Even the Vatican basis its Gospel of Life (anti-abortion/anti-death penalty) on the argument they human life is special, and as a result humans should never kill other humans in any way. They make both a religious and a secular/philosophical argument for their position. One for the church, the other for the state! That is the way it must be.
To mix Church and State in any way is a dangerous and destructive activity for both institution. For the best of both, they should be kept at a safe distance from each other