July 06, 2015

How Small Is An Atom? Spoiler: Very Small

Roger Rabbit

Let’s go through everything that’s going on here.

1. With Roger’s voice actor standing off camera, Bob Hoskins acts into empty air and frantically sawing at his handcuff, continually looking up and down at different visual marks of various depths. Look at the slow pan up of his eyes in gif 4, and then the quick shift to his side. Think about how, on set, he was looking at nothing.

2. Starting in gif 2, The box must be made to stop shaking, either by concealed crew member, mechanism, or Hoskins own dextrousness, as he is doing all of the things mentioned in point 1.

3. In all gifs, Roger’s handcuff has to be made to move appropriately through a hidden mechanism. (If you watch the 4th gif closely you can see the split second where it is replaced by an animated facsimile of the actual handcuff, but just for barely a second.)

4. The crew voluntarily (we know this because it is now a common internal phrase at Disney for putting in extra work for small but significant reward) decided to make Roger bump the lamp and give the entire scene a constantly moving light source that had to be matched between the on set footage and Roger. This was for two reasons, A) Robert Zemeckis thought it would be funnier, and B) one of the key techniques the crew employed to make the audience instinctually accept that Toons coexisted with the live action environment was constant interaction with it. This is why, other than comedy, Roger is so dang clumsy. Instead of isolating Toons from real objects to make it easier for themselves, the production went out of its way to make Toons interact more with the live action set than even real actors necessarily would, in order to subtly, constantly remind the audience that they have real palpable presence. You can watch the whole scene here, just to see how few shots there are of Roger where he doesn’t interact with a real object.

The crew and animators did all of this with hand drawn cell animation without computerized special effects. 1988, we were still five years out from Jurassic Park, the first movie to make the leap from fully physical creature effects to seamlessly integrating realistic computer generated images with live action footage. Roger’s shadows weren’t done with CGI. Hoskin’s sightlines were not digitally altered. Wires controlling the handcuff were not removed in post.

Who fucking Framed Roger fucking Rabbit, folks. The greatest trick is when people don’t realize you’re tricking them at all.
This movie will be studied and analyzed and revered and worshipped for generations because, not only of the ground breaking techniques they used to make the magic happen but, for those of us that grew up with Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry, for 2 hours we were able to believe that they all really existed.

All of that, all of that, PLUS the gag. “Only when it was funny”. The philosophical physics of the Toons. He truly means it. Toons are beholden to such rules. Prior to that moment, he could not remove his hand from those cuffs.

July 03, 2015

The Final Shot - A Farewell to Boardwalk Empire

Personally this series falls into my Top 5 Best television shows of all time.

Boardwalk Empire has always been something of a mystery in the crowd of paid-cable prestige dramas. Its creative and production pedigree was unparalleled when it premiered nearly 6 years ago, with a Martin Scorsese-helmed pilot that carried a $4 million budget and was studded with movie talent. It’s never suffered from a particularly large viewership, perhaps because the slow-burn pacing and occasional unevenness of some of the many meandering subplots kept Boardwalk from becoming the compulsively watchable hit HBO must have hoped for. But it’s remained a show incredibly rich in details, both aesthetic and narrative.

Its returning stable of directors (familiar enough that it’s fitting Tim Van Patten turned the lights off) offered a distinctly cinematic aesthetic, and the ensemble of writers (including Winter, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, and Christine Chambers) handled a daunting ensemble, who from the leads to the day players were one of the most impeccable casts on TV.

It wasn’t always a smooth road; many of the series’ women petered out after strong introductions, sidelined or ground under the story wheels, and this season in particular has often felt as if loose threads were getting caught in the breeze thanks to a time jump, a shortened season order, and the flashbacks that never quite paid their rent. But perhaps it’s best to leave a show with things left unsaid. The grief of life is inevitable; some of it can wait.

In its characterization and dialogue, in its shots of the lonely shore or a smoky nightclub, in the moments of dry humor or unexpected tenderness, Boardwalk Empire was an often-fascinating portrait of an age. It came and went quietly, but at its best, it told one hell of a story.

It's an amazing series, if you're a lover of film, you'll appreciate this series, if your love in depth and layered characters, this show is for you! I highly recommend it to anyone (though it does have harsh language and some brutal violence at times). I watched the finale 6 months ago, and just now stumbled upon this HBO special, if you haven't seen the series at all, I guarantee you won't be disappointed, but this video does have SPOILERS:

Film Analysis Friday - Neo Noir: The Modern Day Film Noir

Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential) discuss the modern day Neo Noir - a genre-bending response to the Film Noirs of the 1940s and 50s – and dissect the basic styles, impulses, themes, and tones that embrace this form of storytelling.

Some of the Best Neo-Noir films out thee: