September 1st, 2011 by jdsawyer
So, you want to make your work–book, movie, sculpture, whatever–perfect, don’t you? You want it to shine. And you’re going to polish it, rewrite it, re-imagine it, and retcon it every chance you get? Or maybe you just can’t resist adding those few last-minute flourishes?
Well, you’re in good company. The impulse to tinker is universal. So universal, that some people make vast fortunes just so they’ll have the ability to tinker endlessly. People like, for example, George Lucas.
Continue reading ‘Tinker, Tailor, Topple, Die’
July 20th, 2011 by jdsawyer
ITV in Britain is currently airing a show which, for my money, is one of the finest pieces of television going anywhere in the world right now. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that it’s a show built entirely around the very best aspects of human nature, and is more entertaining than almost anything I’ve seen recently (and I’ve just finished watching The Tudors , which was a fine piece of drama).
But this show isn’t drama–it’s essentially a game show. Another foray into the genre–reality TV–which the Brits perfected and which is by far my least favorite form of entertainment, as it’s neither reality nor does it frequently feature anything interesting enough to be worthy of display on a television screen. But I digress.
So, what is this amazing, magical show?
Continue reading ‘Showcasing the Best in Human Culture’
December 28th, 2010 by jdsawyer
As you might be able to tell by the title, I’m fed up with a number of the stock, boring, and stupid plots that get dressed up as “Science Fiction,” though they also show up in other forms in series drama. These tropes represent the functional equivalent of training wheels for writers, exhibit an appalling lack of creativity, and they’re really insulting to the audience.
Also, they’re fun to rant about.
So, for the first entry in this series: Plots that depend on thinly-justified character derailment.
Continue reading ‘TV SF Tropes That Need To Die, pt 1′
October 19th, 2008 by jdsawyer
On the Indamixx once again – this week I’m attempting to mix and edit Antithesis on it. Recording on it worked well already, though I am encountering issues with the thing’s root authentication – but more on that in my LinuxJournal article.
For this weekend’s foray into steampunkiness, I ordered my outfit for Steamcon. It should be quite dapper.
Now, on to Steamboy. Continue reading ‘Steampunk Education, Part 3′
October 14th, 2008 by jdsawyer
Continuing my prep for Steamcon, It’s time for round two in the furthering my steampunk education. I’m still blogging on the Indamixx – going to try recording an Antithesis episode later today to really put it through its paces — once I figure out how to get NFS working on it, that is.
As for the steampunky goodness. Today, I’m watching The Brother’s Grimm . Continue reading ‘Steampunk Education, part 2′
October 14th, 2008 by jdsawyer
So, with Steamcon coming soon, and me sitting on a couple panels, I’ve got to bone up on a genre that I’ve hereto only been passingly familiar with. This involves an extensive reading list, which I’m honestly not going to have time for. Fortunately, I’m not giving a talk on writing in the genre, I’m merely sitting on a couple of panel discussions. One of them is about Victorian science and tech, which I’ve loved for years. The other is about Steampunk film and multimedia production. The “Multimedia Production” part of this I’m well versed in. The “Steampunk” part, not quite as much.
So, this week, in between evaluating the Trinity Indamixx (initial impressions – favorable but with caveats), which I’m blogging on right now using an external keyboard (I could seriously get addicted to this thing), I learn all about Steampunk Films!
Continue reading ‘Steampunk Education, part 1′
December 31st, 2007 by jdsawyer
I took a couple hours out of my mad scramble to keep up with revisions on Predestination to sit and watch through my dearest Christmas gift. Somebody got me Blade Runner: The Final Cut.
This is supposed to be my professional blog, not so much a place for me to do art criticism, and I really should be working, but what the hell.
As a person moves through life, one encounters a handful of artworks that stand out. You can come back to them time and again and never exhaust them. I don’t mean things like The Princess Bride or Star Wars – fun movies that wear exceptionally well, that you can play with and play along with and feel like a kid again. I mean more the adult artworks that serve as symbolic wells and sources of contemplation – they hold up a mirror to the audience, sometimes a social one, sometimes a personal one, sometimes a spiritual or philosophical one, and every time you see something different. These are the kinds of stories, poems, or images that Tolkien was talking about when he said “Like a child’s clothes, books should leave room for growth. Unlike clothes, they should encourage it.”
Blade Runner is one of those artworks that has cropped up again and again over the course of my life. And why not? It has everything – it’s a noir detective story set in a dystopic future, so for a kid who grew up on Humphrey Bogart films and Star Wars, what wasn’t to like? I loved it as a teenager, then in college as I started learning about how symbolism – often subconcsious – works and connect to philosophy and cultural memory. It made for great material writing theses in school, and when I went on years later to learn filmmaking I studied the process that led to the creation of Blade Runner extensively – not to copy the aesthetic (which everyone has done since MTV started), but because Blade Runner was released remarkably unfinished. By any standards, it was a half finished film, full of flaws, but it still worked. The writing was layered and thoughtful, and it was one of the few films of its era to get away with being an “ideas” film because it did what good art – and particularly good science fiction – is supposed to do. It raised issues, it asked questions, and it always resisted the temptation to offer easy answers and easy ways out, and a lot of the issues it raises are either timeless questions about humanity and related to the human condition or are very precient issues about bioethics like we’re dealing with today with the advent of stem cells and actual honest-to-godlessness cloning.
And, of course, it’s gloriously ambiguous. It’s a two hour ride through unanswered questions – it is a Nietzsche-esque story a bout the death of God and the apotheosis of Man? Is it a Gnostic story about the redeemed redeemer, as The Matrix would later attempt to be with far less subtlety? Is it a cautionary tale about big-brotherism disguised as commerce?
It’s all of these things, of course, depending on the angle you approach the film from, and you see different pieces of it at different places in life.
So, is a lifelong love of this film enough to make the Final Cut worth buying? Particularly when most fans have copies of various versions of the film already? For my money, it’s a resounding yes. The Final Cut version finishes a film that never got finished. It’s shorter, tighter, more brutal and upsetting, it’s truer to the spirit of Philip K. Dick, the man who wrote the book upon which the film is based, and its relative brevity make the film a lot more powerful. I’ve seen the other cuts of the film totaling over thirty times, and the Final Cut is by far and away the best for a lot of very subtle reasons. If you’re studying film, or into making films, the collection of all the different versions together is a must have. If you’re interested in food for thought, a meditation, Blade Runner is a film that bears close scrutiny.
I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.