Cinecast Episode 148 – Top 10 Actresses of 2009; Avatar

Episode 148:

SPOILERS ALERT!
Anticipated for many months now, James Cameron’s Avatar is finally upon us and all we can muster up is a lot of bitching. Maybe not fair to a guy we have grown up with and loved over the years or to a movie that is not based on a video game, remake or previous existing property, perhaps. The criticism is as valid as the heap of praise for the last monster-sized blockbuster of 2009. We switch gears from negative to positive rather abruptly with our top ten picks of best female performances in 2009 and even reminisce on some Mike Judge and other DVD releases this week. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below and by all means post your own top ten. We’d love to see it.
Thanks for listening!

Click the Audio Icon below to listen in:

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://www.rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_09/episode_148.mp3


show content


show content

TIME LISTINGS:
Intros/Opening: :00
Avatar: 2:03 SPOILERS!!
Top 10: 1:20:43
DVD picks: 2:30:14
Closing thoughts: 2:39:30
Outro music: 2:39:00 – 2:42:51

REVIEW:
Avatar (R3 review)

TOP 10 FEMALE PERFORMANCES IN 2009:

Andrew:
10) Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies)
9) Allison Janney (Away We Go, Life During Wartime)
8 ) Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces)
7) Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom)
6) Julia Ormond (Surveillance)
5) Kelly MacDonald (The Merry Gentleman)
4) Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist)
3) Carey Mulligan (An Education)
2) Hiam Abbass (Lemon Tree)
1) Mo’Nique (Precious)
– – honorable mention: Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Rosamund Pike (An Education), Mariah Carey (Precious)

Kurt:
10) Gabrielle Rose (Grace)
9) Isabelle Huppert (White Material)
8 ) Carey Mulligan (An Education)
7) Eva Green (Cracks)
6) Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies)
5) Rachel Weisz (The Brothers Bloom)
4) Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist)
3) Kim Hye-ja (Mother)
2) Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
1) Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)
– – honorable mention: Rachel Weisz (Agora), Gina McKee (In the Loop), Anna Faris (Observe & Report)

DVD PICKS:

Andrew:
Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side

Kurt:
District 9 (Andrew’s review)

 

BLU RAY:
Andrew:
It Might Get Loud (Andrew’s review)

Kurt:
Grizzly Man

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Hmm…do I want to listen to 78 minutes of Avatar review? Do you say stuff we didn't say in the review comments?

For now I'll just look over your actress lists – very nice. I haven't even thought too much about putting together performance lists for the year, but Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Melanie Laurent, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Vera Farmiga would definitely all be on it. And Penelope Cruz for Broken Embraces, but not for Nine. Also, Katie Jarvis for Fish Tank and Emily Blunt for Sunshine Cleaning. There, I guess I just made a list. I should go back to your last show and do one for actors, too, huh?

Kurt
Guest

My lord, did we really go on for 78 minutes on the film? Yie, most people who loved the spectacle of the film are going to be pulling their hair out and swearing, most likely.

Row Three Cinecast takes no liability for any listeners looking like raving lunatics whilst on public transit or in other public spaces as a result of listening to the show!

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Sunshine played a lot of festivals in 2008, but got its limited/art-house US release in March 2009.

Emily Blunt seems to be also generating some love for her turn in YOUNG VICTORIA as well. Haven't seen that one yet.

Marina Antunes
Guest

Kurt gets awesome bonus points for Gabrielle Rose love. I had a nice chat with her about that role. She probably thought I was some crazy stalker woman since I kept bumping into her at the film festival. Just shows she has great taste.

I'd put Maria Bello at the top of my list. Her performance in Downloading Nancy is astounding. It's too bad no one had a chance to see it.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Andrew, yeah, what Kurt said. It was a Sundance 2008 film, but didn't get theatrically released until 2009. I saw it in 2009, so I count it this year. And my girl Amy Adams is good in it, but Emily Blunt was fantastic. Blew me away.

Marina, Downloading Nancy is hitting Netflix Instant Watch soon – they just added the "coming soon" tag in my queue yesterday, and usually they come within a month of that. Maybe more people will catch it then. I heard it was really disturbing though.

J
Guest

I cannot understand why did this movie earning so much. Too thin on plot too loud on cosmetic.

rot
Guest

Just listening to this now as I went on a hiatus from podcasts over the holidays. I don't think I will fully understand your position on Avatar Kurt, the argument you are making about how generic the characters are in the film and yet in the same conversation you are trying to make a point that Aliens was any different? You also rail against the amped pacing of some of these franchises like Avatar and Star Trek as somehow losing narrative integrity, whereas I see it as an advantage for these kinds of stories.

I think there is a place for simplistic allegorical storytelling, and it does not require a Wire-esque upgrade to the narrative, it requires, at least I think, a reappraisal of pacing and spectacle enough that the formula, while there, is never there long enough to make itself belabored. If anything I see Star Trek and Avatar as a huge improvement on the 80's dopey pacing… sorry but Aliens sucks. These are not the stories you want to hold on, contemplate every beat, nor does every story have to be original, Avatar is an experience not a practice in nuanced screenwriting.

rot
Guest

Also rewatched Star Trek and it is even better than I remembered.

rot
Guest

from listening to this discussion on Avatar I am pretty confident that Kurt is not going to like Lost. You need to accept a certain conventional narrative storytelling to the parts to let the bigger picture elements take hold, and if it is all about how a narrative is told and how it conforms or deviates from formula, than forget it, you will not enjoy Lost. To enjoy Lost or Avatar or Star Trek a part of you has to lighten up, I don't see it as dumbing down because that presupposes the fixed hierarchy with ever more sophisticated experiences being the goal. Sophistication is great but it is not everything, Westerns appeal to something primal, they are cliche as shit and yet they probably get more of a pass than something equally cliche in the fantasy realm.

I guess my bar for what is intolerably formulaic is higher than yours.

Goon
Guest

I still havent gotten through this episode, I tore enough hair out during the Avatar 'discussion' which was around 75 minutes Kurt and 5 Andrew. SOme of the nitpicking showed a lack of attention being paid, and other things were simply irrelevant and even kind of hypocritical considering other things you like and apologize for, and its clear that Kurt still doesnt get what we were talking about in regards to "surrogates"

We've gone from mocking the trailer as the movie looking like cut scenes to a video game and not being entertaining, to turning it into the movie being entertaining but since the story is not better than the visuals therefore there was no story, or if the story is similar therefore sucks. I guess Magnificent Seven sucks then, right? A lot of angles I could hit, I hit some of them on the FJ podcast.

But I couldnt go in much more detail, because when you've listened to someone crap all over something for 75 minutes its hard to knwo where to start and stop without completely rambling and losing focus, theres a temptation to just skip past it and start mocking and whaling on the other guy, making grand aspersions about their taste in general, leading to the Great Film Culture War of Ought Ten

Rusty James
Guest

LOST wouldn't be ironic enough for Kurt.

Henrik
Guest

Well LOST is also shit.

SPOILER

SPOILER

SPOILER

SPOILER

SPOILER

From what I hear the last season actually ended with a nuke? What a fucking cliffhanger, bore me to death.

Rusty James
Guest

Yeah! And when I opened The Road and read the last chapter it was totally fucking lame!!!

Rusty James
Guest

Kurt is much better at describing why he does like something than why he dislikes it.

He always seems to couch his criticism in some kind of Armond White-esque comparison.

Henrik
Guest

Yeah Lost is pretty interesting. Time jumps. MY MIND IS BLOWN.

Avatar has good acting, or at the very least, acting on par with a movie like The Magnificent Seven. The story is also just as deep and insightful. Are you really going to say that The Magnificent Seven, has more STYLE than Avatar

"And I always get a kick out of it when people slag on art that they’ve never seen or experienced or really know anything about at all."

What, like comic books?

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

"Kurt is much better at describing why he does like something than why he dislikes it."

Fair enough, i wouldn't disagree with that assessment (and take it as more of a compliment!) I did manage to catch Avatar last-night in in 3D Imax, and while the 3D is certainly well done 90% of the time, the other 10% kills the movie. On the whole it looked far better in 2D. And the movie would have been best in 2D Imax. Heck, the portions of The Dark Knight filmed in Imax blew Avatar away.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

To Goon. Yea, If I could take those 75 minutes of Avatar Bashing back I probably would, not that I enjoy the film anymore, but it is rather embarrassing that I can't articulate why I reacted to the film that way. I still cannot articulate why the film never did it for me, even though I was carried along for the most part during watching it. It boils down to the same thing with Iron Man, far too paint by numbers for the genre and a waste of all the talent behind and in front of the camera to simple, facile enterainment. There is no reason why a hamburger should cost $350 Million, even if everyone wants to take a bite out of it…

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Rot; "Westerns appeal to something primal, they are cliche as shit and yet they probably get more of a pass than something equally cliche in the fantasy realm."

I think you may be right here. I tend to be ridiculously forgiving with westerns from Ride the High Country to Open Range. But westerns still have more humanity on display (yea, even the Leone Comic Books like Fist Full of Dollars and The Good The Bad and The Ugly) than your average fantasy flick. Somehow (for the most part) this shone thru in The Lord of the Rings trilogy far better than something like Avatar (or the Star Wars Prequels). The strange thing is that in my youth I was somewhat of a fantasy novel connoisseur and never read western novels, but the films (western) punch me in the gut stronger emotionally than fantasy. Something more primal at play in the western indeed.

Henrik
Guest

I'm not ragging on Lost as a medium either. I am ragging on it based on what I have seen and what fans have told me.

Goon
Guest

Id be offended by your writeoff of Lost Henrik, but as far as TV goes its just another on the pile of acclaimed stuff you quit on extremely quickly

Goon
Guest

“Westerns appeal to something primal, they are cliche as shit and yet they probably get more of a pass than something equally cliche in the fantasy realm.”

Indeed, but fantasy usually doesn't bug me. I mean you can't write a long essay about the ideas and story in The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, you can fill a book with the things "Not explored", but if someone talked about them the way some do about Avatar I'd be just as annoyed and feel they're missing a lot.

Henrik
Guest

The reason I brought up the nuke thing specifically, is actually because for years I have been telling people that these shows, with Lost being the main one and the one people usually say is the best one, are the shows that start by blowing up a bomb, and then expect me to care about why it blew up. I always hated this nonsense, trying to build tension without any consequence and just giving the audience something unexplained without context, and then expecting them to be intrigued enough to follow along. I am not intrigued, let alone impressed. So when they actually did resort to the nuke, it just confirmed everything I ever argued about it, and confirmed that it is actually shit.

Henrik
Guest

"here is no reason why a hamburger should cost $350 Million, even if everyone wants to take a bite out of it…"

Again, all I can say to somebody missing the mark so massively, is why the fuck did you go to the burger restaurant?

Goon
Guest

"But westerns still have more humanity on display (yea, even the Leone Comic Books like Fist Full of Dollars and The Good The Bad and The Ugly) than your average fantasy flick. Somehow (for the most part) this shone thru in The Lord of the Rings trilogy far better than something like Avatar (or the Star Wars Prequels)."

I'll agree on the Star Wars prequels, but I still disagree about Avatar. You're looking for humanity in details like coffee cups and cigarettes, but as I say often I think its always relative to the world the director creates. And besides, Jake is essentially giving up his humanity, as humanity apparently is mostly shit in his time, and there's nothing left for him but the promise of new legs. The Na'vi have their own 'humanity', their own rituals, rites, sense of respect, pride. of all the images in Avatar the first ones I think of are of Neytiri hissing, the look in her face when she sees her dragon, the devastation in the ashes.

I can buy the love story from Jake's end at least as he can watch that character and the way she loves this world, its what he wants too and she is his path, and although its not the greatest love story every told by any stretch, I can buy her end by her joy of bringing this world to him. And so much of that is shown from the way they're experiencing things together, looks in the eyes, etc, rather than our own senses of "humanity". Woody and Diane are not Jake and Neytiri, its a different animal, a different world.

So its with this I reject all these ideas that there is no subtlety. Without a detail driven world building freak like Cameron, without the obsession over biology and zoology and the CGI details of the face, I can't embrace that world and see how Jake comes to love it and reject his humanity. With more of what you see as a full on plot (what, do a murder mystery on Pandora or something? Example anyways on what people wanted from it) you just sacrifice one thing for another, less time with the training and gradually giving up on his other life for the new one, and something else is boom rushed instead.

Its weird to me to request more 'humanity' out of them, just as it would be weird to request more humanity out of those western villains. Why further handicap the story of a hero rejecting his humanity for an alien race by making the villains someone more your speed? Why does Ribisi and Lang have to be complex? The coffee cup isn't about that character being more human anyways, its another layer of cartoon evil, this guy cares so little that it doesnt even interrupt his coffee, and he even walks away right as he gives his kill order. Its like a freaking Bond villain who won't supervise the laser sharks finishing their meal.

Avatar is an archetypal story that still gives a shit about how it tells the story, and that main story is about Jake falling in love with that world. Its blunt, its cartoony, and nobody denies that the story isn't as impressive as the effects, but that isn't some admission that there's no story or that the story is shit, as some seem so willing to run with.

Goon
Guest

"the shows that start by blowing up a bomb, and then expect me to care about why it blew up. I always hated this nonsense, trying to build tension without any consequence and just giving the audience something unexplained without context, and then expecting them to be intrigued enough to follow along. I am not intrigued, let alone impressed. So when they actually did resort to the nuke, it just confirmed everything I ever argued about it, and confirmed that it is actually shit."

I dont think you have any idea of what you're talking about in regards to Lost and that bomb. Why it came to be, why it was set off and what it means for the characters everyone had invested over 100 hours with.

For as "type" driven as many of Lost's characters can be, the way they are written ties in so well with the story. For a show with a lot of random ideas, not much stuff happens to them randomly, almost everything is a result of something someone else did. The storytelling is beyond reproach. there is no point that the show has "resorted" to a nuke. The characters did, they effectively all committed suicide hoping through the fucked up sci fi story Lost has been telling, that it would solve all of their problems. it was never "lol, nuke".

Seriously Henrik, among the R3 Lost crowd, there is absolutely no chance in hell someone with as little log time as you could make any case whatsoever that you know how Lost works.

Goon
Guest

Talking to the Lost folks here:

I mean seriously guys, how funny is it to hear someone say that the show 'resorted' to a nuke, when The Incident is something we've known about for years, and that they have been this patient in finally getting to?

Henrik
Guest

"The Incident"

Masterful indeed.

Henrik
Guest

Example of LOST:

Guy visits his mother and tries to explain personal stuff, but wait – CUT to: Two guys being attacked in an apartment for 5 minutes WHY DID THIS HAPPEN – CUT to: Conspiracy buildings, main characters talking OMG THEY KNOW EACHOTHER? – CUT to: Survivorsetting with flame arrow attack why did this happen TIMEJUMP to people at a hatch, talking to a guy telling them they must do something vague to sort out mystery – CUT to: Guy with his mom for comic relief – CUT to: Same guy at hatch, this time nobody there – CUT to: guy on boat doing something irrational alluding to earlier instructions to other people at hatch LOST.

Goon
Guest

Just keep digging holes, maybe eventually you'll hit oil

Henrik
Guest

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0SnKk3eqJ8&fe

The sentiment expressed in the first scene of this clip, is why Lost, and other stylistic shows like it, fail miserably.

Goon
Guest

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to glean anything from that TNG clip, or if you posted the wrong youtube link.

Henrik
Guest

It has to do with meaning. Picard is talking about opening your mind to things that actually matter, so that things may mean something.

Henrik
Guest

Shitty acting… I know Patrick Stewart is no Greg Grunberg, but still…

Goon
Guest

Andrew, Sarah Silverman was a character on Star Trek: Voyager

http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Rain_Robinson

Goon
Guest

lol, 90s

Dave
Guest

"Just keep digging holes, maybe eventually you’ll hit oil"

He'd be doing better than the Saudis.

Mike Rot
Member

This is my music analogy for Avatar:

There is sophisticated music like Radiohead's Kid A, and there is simpler yet I would say equally effective music like Beattles' Rubber Soul – what I felt Kurt was you were trying to say Avatar being simple was like American Idol's Compilation and that to me anyways is unfair, I see it as more Rubber Soul than the equally simple yet more derivative Idol.

My feelings are that we should be able to adjust to the universe presented to us enough to let it have a chance, and not require of it a kind of polish owing to one kind of cinema. Not all cinema need conform to a rigid expectation of, for example, nuanced storytelling or subtext. In your defense Kurt you did make that point that you know this is a kid's film and that is fine, but I guess it was the 72nd minute of berating it that got a lot of our back's up.

and, Dave, a Saudi oil joke… where did that come from? 🙂

Mike Rot
Member

@Andrew

The underlying premise of Lost IS awesome but if you get hung up on episode by episode storytelling techniques, Kurt will hate it because, especially in the first season which I just rewatched there are episodes that are far more egregious than anything in Avatar. They hammer home character development, and I have always had a problem with that in the show, but yes, what it all adds up to is something that is great, that is fun, and at times pretty clever.

Goon
Guest

In retrospect I think the first season of Lost is the weakest. If you know whats coming it becomes an exercise in patience, counting the episodes until Ben arrives.

I like your music analogy, but for kicks I'd maybe sub out Rubber Soul for Andrew WK. Frequently so loud and obvious and ready to party that people overlook his passion and craftwork. When people show more consideration they go from the shit list:

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/184-i-get-wet

to their best of decade list:

"It's a poet who knows shouting "SHE IS BEAUTIFUL" is more effective than, you know, poetry."

🙂

Jandy
Guest

This is my music analogy for Avatar:

There is sophisticated music like Radiohead’s Kid A, and there is simpler yet I would say equally effective music like Beattles’ Rubber Soul – what I felt Kurt was you were trying to say Avatar being simple was like American Idol’s Compilation and that to me anyways is unfair, I see it as more Rubber Soul than the equally simple yet more derivative Idol.

I don't have an issue with simplicity. I loved Sin Nombre early last year because its simplicity worked – I seem to recall you thought it was too simple, rot. Simple things work if they're allowed to be simple, if simplicity/minimalism is treated as an intentional feature. In Avatar, I feel like it doesn't know it's simple – it thinks it's groundbreaking and important on every level, not just the level of 3D technology.That's what bothered me – it thought its environmental and humanitarian message was new and important and told in a new and important way. It wasn't. Having a simple, archetypal story isn't the issue. Acting like you have something more that is the issue. (I realize I'm personifying a film – I do that because that feeling isn't really based on James Cameron hype or interviews, because I didn't read any of them before seeing the film.)

My musical analogy would be more like Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown. It's an enjoyable album on its own, but it's basically an even-more-earnest retread of American Idiot. I enjoyed my listen through 21st Century Breakdown, it has some pretty tunes. But next time I feel like listening to Green Day, I'm going to listen to American Idiot instead.

Goon
Guest

So we've got people complaining that Cameron didn't care at all about his story and its just a glorified tech demo, and we've got other people complaining it wallows in its own sense of importance, which by comparing to the new Green Day album says "Tried too hard"

I think both of you are way off base, it has a simple hero story that goes about telling itself in a new way through the details, both visually and conceptually. I think we've been over the pro- view of those concepts, the surrogate, the environmental network and how it is like a human brain, the way this guy is both in that world and spying/reporting back.

When I think of movies that are very impressed with themselves and think the tired cliches they are using are new, only one truly sticks out to me: Equilibrium, and its mishmash of Orwellian symbols and endless inane twists, buoyed by gunkata or whatever it was called. It was like a child wrote a sci fi movie for class assuming the teacher had never heard of 1984. I hate that fucking movie so much.

On a visual level I'd say Wanted plays as if its very impressed with itself and thinks its visual style was new and novel.

Kurt
Guest

"Equilibrium, and its mishmash of Orwellian symbols and endless inane twists, buoyed by gunkata or whatever it was called. "

I totally get and agree with what you are saying here (And quoting Yeats should be official be banned as emotional short-hand in movies also!) I think a lot of the cult love that springs for Equilibrium is that it never really got a proper release (see also: Repo! The Genetic Opera, Idiocracy) and these sorts of films tend to pick up the standard 'underdog' narrative because they were not released anywhere near wide, amongst film-geeks….

I'm happy to agree with you that Avatar is a better film than Equilibrium! (And for that matter WANTED, which is a pretty shitty movie for the most part as well)

Jandy
Guest

I also hated Equilibrium, Goon, so we agree on that! 🙂 I haven't seen Wanted – but I've heard people claim it's on the "so bad it's fun" scale.

I'm willing to try Avatar again after a year or so has gone by and see what I think. I'll concede there's probably a fair portion of backlash (to the backlash to the backlash) in my current response. It's not that I disliked the film, I just didn't think it was all that. If I was writing in a vacuum, maybe I'd say I enjoyed it and then forgot about it an hour later, which is pretty much what happened.

Goon
Guest

"I think a lot of the cult love that springs for Equilibrium is that it never really got a proper release (see also: Repo! The Genetic Opera, Idiocracy) and these sorts of films tend to pick up the standard ‘underdog’ narrative because they were not released anywhere near wide, amongst film-geeks…."

See I think I could swap out Repo or Equilibrium for your pet blockbuster duo of DayWatch/Nightwatch as well.

But I dont know, cult is cult, I can appreciate the feeling of your own little secret thing. I don't appreciate so much when people insist the cult is better simply by nature of its cultness, and I think we can agree with a lot of people that happens more often than it should.

"Is it so amazing visually that it warrants a 3rd, 4th, 5th trip to the theater?"

I've seen it twice and would go again if I wanted to hit the theater (and there was nothing else out yet, which could gve the case for a bit). I also think this movie is going to be rereleased every couple years so people can get the theater experience again.

"Really?"

Yes.

Jandy
Guest

I would go see Nine again before I'd see Avatar again.

rot
Guest

I agree with the Mamo guys when they said after ten minutes they ceased to focus on the CGI and get involved in the story and treat these characters as real, in which case, mission accomplished… I can't even ever remember not being aware of CGI as it is happening, it broke the uncanny valley and became a real immersive experience, for me anyways. That is worth the hype alone, but on top of that I feel it is an enjoyable immersive package, not something you write an academic paper on, something you experience, and that is good enough.

Sin Nombre, Avatar is not, spectacle has a rightful place, and that kind of pleasure doesn't need to be meta a la Starship Troopers. As for your ability not to be impressed with the visuals of Avatar, Andrew, so be it… I do not understand your headspace, clearly, and you, mine.

rot
Guest

Oh and Spike was playing over and over the Star Wars Prequels over the holidays and I couldn't believe how awful they looked.

Goon
Guest

This is starting to remind me of Kurt on Enchanted, he couldnt enjoy it and despite everyone warning him not to had to attach (i believe i said) a Yoke of Subversiveness standard upon it for it to have any merit as entertainment.

Goon
Guest

"Oh and Spike was playing over and over the Star Wars Prequels over the holidays and I couldn’t believe how awful they looked."

WIth the exception of that lizard think Obi-Wan rides, I think Revenge of the Sith still looks really good.

Goon
Guest

I'll say this about Star Wars, if it was released today, it would suffer the same if not worse nitpicking.

You'd see "Pssh, they paid no attention to their writing. Luke reacts more about the death of Obi-Wan than the people who raised him" and every other thing fans have lovingly nitpicked for 33 years.

Goon
Guest

"There are parts in that movie that look totally terrible."

I think it looks mostly fantastic still, but its some of the shots in the one dinosaur chase that stick out in peoples minds.

rot
Guest

The comparisons I made were between Return of the Jedi and Attack of the Clones… Rancor looks just as awesome now as then, he looks menacing, but the end scene of Clones the monsters that chase our heroes around looked silly and flat and not intimidating

Matt Gamble
Guest

My feelings are that we should be able to adjust to the universe presented to us enough to let it have a chance, and not require of it a kind of polish owing to one kind of cinema.

I think you've hit Kurt's primary viewing flaw right on the head. He constantly demands the film adjust to his taste and steadfastly refuses to adjust on the fly to the film he is actually being presented. I mean, how often have we had discussions where Kurt treats the trailer as if it is the movie and sticks to that even when the movie is something else?

The only times he ever seems to break out of this is when it is a pet director of his that he enjoys, and only then he will allow the film to dictate how he should approach it (think David Gordon Green and Pineapple Express).

SW was just as dense with plenty of shit going on and it looked fab (from solely a visual perspective).

The leap in technology has nothing to do with how dense the atmosphere looks, but with how integrated the CGI is with live action. It is a massive leap forward to finally make an entirely CGI world actually look like it is a real environment that the actors are reacting too. The SW prequels fail miserably on this, as has every other CGI heavy film.

Henrik
Guest

I rewatched Revenge of the Sith recently, and it's by far my favorite Star Wars film. I think it looks amazing, and when you fast-forward the two or three Anakin/Padmé scenes, it's fucking amazing. But I like CGI quite abit, I think it can be awesome, and I love it when these nonsense-movies go overboard with shit. I'm all for subtlety, but not when you are not a genius, then you're better off bombarding me with hyper-exagerated emotions, music and visuals in a real spaceopera, overwhelm me with all of your wares, instead of pretending you can impress me otherwise.

Henrik
Guest

That being said, I was very impressed with Avatar, and felt it definitely blew everything out of the water. Maybe it requires a brain to actually 'get it', but seing an environment as accomplished and creative as Lucas' Star Wars movies, plus the almost-mindblowing integration of a real human being into a CGI character takes it up a couple of notches.

BTW; I fucking love the lizard Obi-Wan rides. It comes out of nowhere, and is colorful and extravagant, has great sound design etc. etc. Just awesome playfulness, not logical bullshit like "They dug so deep they dug up the firelords".

Matt Gamble
Guest

When they are simple backgrounds yes, but the moment anyone tries to interact with a part of the CGI environment in the SW prequels the entire facade shatters.

Kurt
Guest

I recall the compositing being particuarly awful in Attack of the Clones in the Diner, and that was just a simple conversation between Ewan MacGregor and some CGI beastie, but when they hug or shake hands or whatever, it is terrible.

swarez
Guest

Cartoonishness of Avatar? Please there was nothing cartoony about the CGI of Avatar. And comparing animation of dead inanimate objects to living characters is just silly.

swarez
Guest

The dude is actually live action, along with the doves and the clouds.

But that being said the short looks fucking amazing, incredibly well designed, lighted and rendered. Incredible that only one guy did it all. Fucking nerd.

The reason you feel Avatar is cartoony is because of the giant blue people in it. It's because it's something that you know isn't real and thus your mind is always telling you that it's fake. The stuff in the short is all things that you are familiar with and know from first hand both by sight and touch.

But to say that the Navi movements and expressions are cartoony is insane.

Jay C.
Guest

I can't remember which episode this was on, so I'll just post here…Andrew, you'd mentioned watching a movie on someone's brand new LED television recently and commented on how it looked like video. This is something that is a quality of certain types of TV's and not representative of HD in general. It's a result of a television with a faster refresh rate, something that is a selling point for some (I think it helps for people who watch sports and what not) and a disadvantage to others (people who watch movies). I've seen one of these sets on display in store and yes, it looks pretty bad. A friend described it as looking like a UK TV show. This is why people need to actually research what they're paying for when buying a new TV.

Mike Rot
Member

I thought Kurt's argument in the podcast was that Cameron didn't stylize enough in Avatar, going for a more realistic bent, although to be honest I don't agree with either extreme, too real or too cartoonish… it is just right.

Kurt
Guest

Only major gripe in the visual look of the film is the 'seance scene' in which most of the Na'vi are gyrating in unison at the foot of the spirit tree…it looks cartoony (and a bad choice of shot…would be more powerful (or at least less ridiculous) seeing it from the ground than the sky. EVERYTHING else looks pretty damn photo-real, blue skin or not there is ZERO uncanny valley in Avatar.

Jay C.
Guest

"Kashyyyk and the lava planet look awesome and flawless."

Andrew, when you talk about Kashyyyk in SW, are you referring to the environment alone? The wookies throughout that battle are man in suit and I always thought the clone troopers in those films (full CG) looked pretty stiff and terrible.

"WOW! This is CG animation!? I can hardly believe it. This is much more impressive to me than the cartoonishness of Avatar:
http://vimeo.com/7809605
"

I agree with Swarez that this comparison is not really valid. To put it into a pre-CG FX context, it's the equivalent of comparing spaceship model work to a man-in-suit creature. They're completely different things. Or are you comparing the inanimate objects in this video to the inanimate objects in Avatar? If you're claiming that the environments and ships in Avatar looked cartoonish, I would simply have to disagree.

Jay C.
Guest

"The dumb thing is that it is factory defaulted to ON position when you buy the TV. That freaks people out; understandably."

A friend talked to me today about this. He's staying at a cottage and asked me why the TV looked funny. I told him why and suggested he play around with the menu to find the refresh rate settings. Hopefully he found this option as well. The last thing you want when staying in a cottage up north is a TV that makes your movies look like video.

Mike Rot
Member

I bought a LG plasma tv last year and none of the preset settings I thought were any good, including the standardize THX settings, which made the image look darker than it needed to be. Online I found someone who had his own manual settings and it looks great now. anyone buying a new hd tv I would say don't suppose the settings they give you are the best or any indication of what your tv can look like.

Henrik
Guest

Does anybody know what Auto Motion Plus is called on a Sony TV? My parents bought a Sony flatscreen, and I think it looks great, but have noticed the video-esque quality at times, it looks like Public Enemies,

Jay C.
Guest

Henrik, I think if you just look for anything with 'motion' or 'smoothing' in the name you might resolve it. Either that or any numbers with Hz. If it's set at 120Hz or higher, that's probably the issue. (I may or may not have any idea what I'm talking about)

swarez
Guest

"If that’s enough to hang it on the rack of best films of the year for you, fair enough."

I don't know if you thought that me defending the CGI in Avatar means that I liked the film then no, Avatar was nowhere near my top choices. I do however acknowledge the insane quality of the CGI in it and am willing to defend that.

swarez
Guest

I don't think it will win anything else than tech awards. I think the Sci-fi nature of the story and that nobody in it speaks with a British accent will keep it from winning the major awards at the Oscars.

Dave
Guest

Guys, I don't have time hitting F5 to refresh Row Three threads every 15 minutes, which is why you don't see me responding too much here. I leave a comment, come back in a day and see 30 new comments threaded under my own. So I apologize if I don't participate too much here but it does seem like there are enough voices to go round.

That being said, I think it's pretty obvious where my Saudi oil joke came from.