Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Give me my ball. I'm going home.

Variety is reporting that Disney has decided to pull it's support for the annual Annie Awards, run by ASIFA Hollywood.

The contention is the judging for the awards, which are voted on by everyone with a paid-up ASIFA membership. But since Dreamworks buys memberships for all their employees that theoretically allows them to stuff the ballot box, even though Pixar has won top honors 6 of the last 10 years.

I can't claim to be a big follower of the Annie Awards, or any other film awards for that matter, but if Disney is so concerned about Dreamworks buying up memberships, why not buy memberships for its employees as well?

In doing so you're supporting a non-profit organization that aims to preserve and promote animation as an artform while preserving your chances to continuously win an award that no one outside the animation industry cares about.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I've been Incepted

I finally got around to watching Inception which I really enjoyed. Reading other people's opinions it seems to be both a pretty divisive film with a lot of respectable people either loving it or hating it, and also a film that's perfectly suited for over-analyzing. It takes about 10 seconds to find over a dozen theories and allegorical models as to what really happened and what it all means.

Damn you, toy top. Once again you've shattered my delicate grasp on reality.

All this cinematic navel gazing reminded of the Pop Culture and Philosophy Series, books featuring 15 or so essays that each explore philosophical ideas in the guise of a certain movie, TV show, etc....

This list has 40 of these books, but there are a good 10 or so more than that. I have the one on baseball and really liked it, though it's been about 5 years since I read it so I cite anything specific that I liked. Probably wouldn't kill me to read it again.

Some I can buy more than others. The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia seem far more fertile ground for philosophical introspection than say Family Guy or Harley-Davidson motorcycles. And judging by the review score people are far more accepting of waxing philosophical on Quentin Tarantino movies than Jimmy Buffet songs.

Not pictured: Immanuel Kant

I fully expect Inception to get one of these books in the next 6 months or so.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The 11 cartoon you can't show on television

Check out this article from The Root calling for a DVD release of the so-called Censored 11-a group of Looney Tunes shorts that have been kept under wraps for the past 40+ years because they contain black caricatures and stereotypes.

Run for cover! That rubber nose is loaded!

Much in the same way Disney balked on the idea on releasing Song of the South as part of the more collector and historian-oriented Disney Treasures DVDs, apparently some of the best animation the Golden Age has to offer is off limits because there are black characters in it.

I can see not wanting to air these cartoons for kids on mid-day television, (not that Looney Tunes get aired on TV anymore) which was the main idea of the Censored 11, but on DVD it can easily be marketed to the adults that want to see it.

As the article mentions, Charlie Chan grossly caricaturized Asians as much as (probably more than) these cartoons caricaturize African Americans. And there are dozens of DVD releases for those films.

Left: Completely offensive and should never see daylight. Right: A-Okay!

Plus, none of these cartoons were hateful or mean-spirited toward blacks, and compared to WWII cartoons aimed at lampooning the Japanese they're downright quaint.

I'm against outside censorship and believe all media should be readily accessible, even if it's the stuff giant media conglomerates would rather people forget.

Warners already has their Warner Archive site that sells print-on-demand DVDs of old and obscure movies from the Warner Bros. catalog. Why not dump those and any other unreleased Looney Tunes on there where you can make a buck off the cartoon nerds and the squares are none the wiser?

I'm sure the lure of profits can soften even the grip of decades of over-zealous censorship.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

20 Minutes into the Future is here

When I was in high school my favorite shows were often old reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel, (before they all 80's hair metal and started spelling their name wrong) and my favorite of them all was the cyberpunk drama Max Headroom.

It definitely says something about my teen years that my favorite show was one that had been canceled 10 years earlier.

With it's rather prescient take on the future of technology and media in society, it's amazing more hasn't been made of a show so ahead of it's time.

It's also amazing that the creators behind Max Headroom never really did any major after that.

Nothing you can mention in polite company, anyways.

However I never really expected Max Headroom would ever be released on DVD. Fortunately, I was wrong.

As for the show itself, the picture looks as good as mid-80's TV can be expected to look, which is actually pretty good.

Plus the episodes are the full cuts that ran on ABC and later on Bravo and I always went to great lengths to track down tapes of those instead of the cut-down ones that ran on the Sci-Fi Channel and the butchered ones on Tech TV.

The special features are more than thorough; more than 2 hours of interviews with writers and producers and actors. The big disappointment is that they couldn't get an interview with Matt Frewer, which casts rather gray shadow over the whole ordeal. You couldn't get Max Headroom for your Max Headroom DVD?

It's also too bad they couldn't have put the original British movie on this set as well. I doubt it'll get it's own release so I'd have gladly paid a few extra bucks to have tossed it in here.

If you've never seen Max Headroom, give it a rent. The future isn't as distant as you think.