Just look at it. (Sugary sweet J-pop goes death metal) (via Mefi)
The Ladybird Book line still exists, but in the traditional sense, the name refers to a line of British children’s books that were published from the 1940s through 1970s. The had a standardized format including a listing of key vocabulary words on each page.
Miriam Elia, a writer and artist, has released the book We Go to the Gallery. It's a satire on modern art that in the form of a fake Ladybird book:
“I thought it would be humorous to see Mummy, Peter and Jane going to a really nihilistic modern art exhibition”, she says. Among the works confronted by the trio on their cultural outing are pastiches of Emin, Creed and Koons, through which they learn about sex, death, nothingness “and all of the debilitating, middle-class self-hatred contained in the artworks.”
You can see more a few more pages at The Independent.
-via American Digest
by Chris Klimek
Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a Detroit cop brought back from the brink of death — as a cyborg supercop built for reducing crime and increasing profit.
The Retouchables is a column examining the recycling of pop-cultural properties. Future installments will discuss remakes in development, or that should be, or that were made but should not have been, or for which I have written several script treatments. Did you not get them? Call me.
Our inaugural dispatch deconstructs a long-in-development remake that has finally come to semi-sweet fruition.
The Past Of The Future Of Law Enforcement
"It takes money to make money," one sadistic but enterprising outlaw tells another early in Paul Verhoeven's answer to Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, the pungent 1987 sci-fi satire RoboCop.
That's certainly the rationale behind the long-threatened, oft-delayed remake, which finally opened last week. Adjusting for inflation, RoboCop Redux cost between four and five times what Verhoeven's scrappy American debut did, and lavish visual effects and geek-baiting A-list cast aside, it's between one-fourth and one-fifth as inspired.
Even though the original got more out of its premise than anyone could've reasonably expected — even the studio, Orion Pictures, thought themselves generally above this sort of thing, at least until James Cameron's The Terminator became the picture that kept them solvent — a RoboCop remake was probably as inevitable as Judgment Day.
Briefly: RoboCop 2 (written by the hottest guy in comics at the time, Frank Miller, and directed by Irvin Kershner, who'd made a little sci-fi movie called The Empire Strikes Back that did okay) reprised the original's gruesome bloodletting and sardonic humor but underperformed, mostly because it was terrible. Next, a foundering Orion Pictures decreed that RoboCop 3 would be a kid-friendly picture, thereby insuring no kid would ever want to see it. It sat in the can for two years, was dumped in theatres in 1993, and tanked.
The rusted-out RoboCop brand sputtered on in a bizarre series of cartoons and made-for-TV — Canadian TV! — miniseries. The parent-approved tone of the early spinoffs was such an affront to my tween dignity that I swore off any and all non-theatrical RoboCop exports. However, noted critic and "filmatist" Outlaw Vern — author of the best and only critical study of the Steven Seagal ouvré — has been doing a very deep, very funny dive into the more outré corners of the Robo-verse with his RoboCop History Week posts.
José Padilha, the Brazilian director of the documentary Bus 174 and the pair of Elite Squad action pictures, was a sound choice to revive RoboCop on paper: He's made a string of arresting, controversial pictures outside of the U.S., and now he wants to crack the English-language market. That's precisely where the Dutch provocateur Verhoeven was a generation ago.
But now there's just too much money at stake for RoboCop '14 to be permitted an R rating or an actual point of view — two key assets Verhoeven had in abundance. (Depending on which report you believe, Verhoeven had to submit between six and 11 edits of RoboCop to the MPAA before the watchdog group would let it off with an R rating. That's what I mean when I say its R was "abundant." Verhoeven's preferred, unrated cut is the one the Criterion Collection issued on DVD, splattery ultraviolence intact.)
Part Man. Part Machine. All Cop.
The new movie isn't a insult to those of us who like this stuff, like the 2012 PG-13 remake of Verhoeven's follow-up R-rated sci-fi, Total Recall, was. It's just inert. It feels like what happens when someone with a conventionally melodic singing voice covers a song by Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan – it's sensually nicer than the original, but less expressive.
Padilha's movie does time-strapped viewers a favor, I guess, by putting its best scene right at the top. The cold open is a televised op-ed from right-wing demagogue "Pat Novak" (Samuel L. Jackson) about the infallibility of the robots that've made possible the glorious U.S. occupation of Tehran, without a single American casualty! Shouldn't we deploy them at home, too?
We see civilians forcibly subjected to airport-style body scans in the street by towering Transformers, while an Army General — I forget his name, but it's probably Ripper or Kilgore or something like that — proffers the Cheneyesque opinion that "the honest ones" are grateful for this violation.
Then the suicide bombers, whom we're told in hedge-betting subtitles want to kill no one but themselves, show up and blow up, and a little boy "threatens" a truck-sized Armybot with a knife. It's all tense and chaotic and committed, and it primes us to expect an argumentative movie that never arrives.
There're a pair of other early scenes that manage to one-up the operatic quality of Verhoeven's original. When Murphy, the cop who gets robo-ed — in this telling, he remembers his human past the moment he wakes up in the lab — has a panic attack and runs out of the plant where they've built him, which turns out to be in the middle of a rice field in China. We see everything that remains of his organic body: His head, his right hand (the same one Clarence Boddicker shot off of him way back when, trainspotters!) and a pulsing, dewy, pink pair of lungs. That's the last inventive or surprising thing that happens, and there are still 75 minutes of movie left to go.
There are a handful of nods to the original that the diehards will laugh at, rather too loudly and knowingly, and no one else will notice.
This movie relates to the original RoboCop in the same way the Christopher Nolan Batman pictures relate to the Tim Burton Batman pictures (though it's not nearly as weird or personal a vision as either iteration of Batman): There's a sincere, honorable attempt by screenwriter Joshua Zetumer to make everything at least sort of plausible, which takes away the fever-dream quality that made the original so memorable.
For example: The RoboCop looking ahead from 1987 cannily avoided telling us what year it was taking place, though we can infer it was probably supposed to be earlier than 2014. The scenes of Murphy's transformation — resurrection, to use Verhoeven's word — are all shown from his POV, a sort of primitive version of Google Glass, as the development team tinkers with him. He's in and out consciousness, and he doesn't know how much time is passing, so we don't get to know.
But unless your name is Christopher Nolan, a nine-figure budget permits no such ambiguity. Test audiences do not like to be confused! Not for one minute! Even though confusing the audience for a brief spell is a fair and useful storytelling tool! So it's 2028 in this movie. The distance between one scene and the next is exactly THREE MONTHS LATER, the title cards reassure us. A shot of the U.S. Capitol is accompanied by the onscreen legend, WASHINGTON, DC. Thanks, movie.
The same goes for the performances: Yes, they're more naturalistic than the stylized, quotable, all-exclamation-points line readings the original gave us. There is crying in this one, and it's very believable crying. That's an improvement? Says you.
OmniConsumer products' hostile takeover of the Detroit Police Department has been dropped. OCP is now a robotics company, instead of an outfit that seems to dabble in everything (it's in the name, people!) that develops a cyborg marshal seemingly on a lark. Although they lie about to what extent he is or isn't a slave to his programming, they never deny that their new device is Alex Murphy, the policeman critically injured in the line of duty and whom they've outfitted with an advanced prosthetic body, instead of simply not addressing whose face they've just grafted onto their new machine. It all more or less makes sense, which blunts its effect as satire.
It's unclear if the filmmakers even wanted this film have a sardonic edge. It seems like an element they were forced to incorporate because it's part of the RoboCop brand.
RoboCop was far ahead of its time, but the times caught up and kept right on going. The sour subversion that seemed so unpredictable and dangerous in 1987 is ubiquitous now.
And save only for cyborg lawmen, everything it foretold has come to pass. Private contractors and unmanned drones fight our wars for us. We never go anywhere without our smartphones within reach. A generation of war veterans relies on advanced prosthetics made of strong, lightweight metals. People are on waiting lists to test Google glass. The physical transformation from man to machine that RoboCop '87 regarded with operatic horror now seems almost desirable.
The new RoboCop also succumbs to contemporary action-picture fashion by ending, and then ending some more, and then ending again. (When James Cameron's pre-Titanic movies did this, it was like a calling card, and each ending really was progressively more thrilling. But then James Cameron won an Oscar and went diving for 10 years, and everyone else in Hollywood tried to become his replacement.)
The original RoboCop has one of the punchiest, pithiest kickers ever: The Old Man fires evil schemer Dick Jones, Robo shoots Jones two or three or twelve times, exeunt Jones pursued by glass shards of what was the 80th-story window. The Old Man congratulates Robo on his marksmanship and asks his name.
"Murphy," says our guy, cracking a faint smile. Love that guy. Blackout. Credits.
It always reminded me of the ending of Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, when Jack Lemmon-in-drag finally confesses to his admirer that he's a man. "Nobody's perfect," the guy shrugs. Well, not always. But once I saw Some Like It Hot, some years after my 25th or 30th VHS viewing of RoboCop, it reminded me.
SPOILER: The end titles of feature The Clash's cover of "I Fought the Law." It seems subversive and cheeky because, hey, it's that band that wrote that M.I.A. song! Then you remember that cover was already a decade old when the original film came out. It was written when President Eisenhower was in office, the very guy who warned us in his farewell address that we should never, ever hand over control of of our public institutions to companies that build armed robots.
There is a punk-rock RoboCop out there, though, a film that speaks to the trepidation the prospect of tinkering with a classic has inspired in enterprising geeks everywhere. It's called Our RoboCop Remake, it's a fan-made scene-by-scene retelling by about 50 teams of filmmakers connected via the Channel 101 network, it runs just a hair longer than the original movie, it probably counts as Fair Use, and it's streaming right here.
Even the tagline is perfect: If anyone's going to ruin RoboCop, it's going to be us.
Phil Toledano for The Atlantic magazine.
One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis Hughes stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole.
"The Dark Power of Fraternities" [The Atlantic]
I related to these graphic design posters a great deal. Except replace “kids” with “cats.” Art Nathan Ripperger is the father of four boys and finds some peculiar phrases coming out of his mouth around them. He writes:
These posters entitled “Things I’ve Said to My Children” feature a phrase that I believe the only reason they left my mouth was due to my children. After hearing the demand of so many that I need to make them available for purchase, I opened shop. Since then it’s been a great creative outlet and lets me share the joy of parenting with like minded people from all of the world.
If you’re interested, he’s selling prints on Etsy.
(via The High Definite)
Previously in Graphic Design
There have been 13 incarnations of the title character in the BBC series Doctor Who since 1963. Although it may be hard for fans to imagine any other actors playing those parts from the past, they do have to get used to someone new in the role every few years. An even more jarring shift would be to see the Doctor as an American. The Tumblr blogger Smug Mode came up with some interesting casting of American actors in each of the Doctor Who eras. Do you agree with the selections? See them all, in order at Geeks Are Sexy.
According to Chicago Tribune, actor and comedian Joel McHale will be the featured performer and host of the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. The event will be attended by members of the media, celebrities, and the U.S. president.
McHale is the star of NBC's comedy "Community" and is the host of E! network's "The Soup." "He's sharp, funny, and just the type of comic who can navigate the unique challenge of our dinner, making fun of Democrats, Republicans and especially the news media," WHCA President and McClatchy Co political editor Steven Thomma said in a statement.
In a Twitter post after the announcement, McHale said: "My material will be equally offensive to all & over within 30 min - just like a Congressional work year."
Submitted by: Unknown (via Chicago Tribune)
Still haven't gotten enough of Will Arnett's LEGO Movie Batman? He has even more goofy one-liners in this "blooper" reel, and even bonds a bit with Emmet.
This typing game was put together by cocoalasca. Created in HTML5 and Processing.js, you have to type words as fast as you can to hit the opponent, but the stronger the character, the harder the vocabulary.
Try out the game for yourself here!
Submitted by: Unknown (via cocoalasca)
Viewing images of people hanging out quite comfortably in perfectly manicured trees may fill you with a sense of envy, perhaps even inspire you to seek out your own tree and prepare for a good perching.
We urge you to think twice before doing so, because dwelling in a tree may cause photographer Erwan Fichous to take your picture and include you in his series Miradors, and you don't want to be known as one of those tree dwelling weirdos, do you?
Erwan once mistook a person standing in a tree for a UFO, which prompted him to hire some gardeners, manicure some trees and encourage passers by in Mexico City to stand in them and have their picture taken. But what does it all mean? Only Erwan and the UFOs know...
The wondrously grim and epically bloody comic book series Preacher, is filming a pilot for AMC. Hell yes.
Reggie Watts is a star in so many fields — comedy, music, funny voices — but who knew teaching science to high school students (in the '70s, apparently?) would be one of them? So take a few to minutes learn with these kids about the wonders of single-celled organisms, protons, dimensional space, and day drinking.
Lego bricks are generally awesome, and by all accounts The Lego Movie, opening this weekend, is as well. So we thought we'd make sure the folks at Lego didn't get too full of themselves by reminding the world of the worst toys, figures and building sets they've unleashed upon the world. Warning: Construction ahead.
Delta Airlines is taking us back to the good old days of air travel with their new 80s themed in flight safety video. It features all the typical stuff you’d expect to see in anything themed after that most radical of decades, the 1980s- breakdancing, an Atari console, a cameo by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Teddy Ruxpin, crazy neon clothes, totally grody hairstyles, and that beloved alien cat eater ALF.
What this video doesn’t discuss, however, is the fact that you could smoke on a plane in the 80s, and even though the smoking was kept to designated areas there was nowhere for the smoke to go so everyone got a lungful as they flew! Okay, now I see why they left that part out…
Via Geek Tyrant
You’ve probably heard all the gossip about the 2014 Grammys by now- Pharrell’s ridiculous Arby's looking hat, the godawful outfit worn by Madonna, Trent Reznor’s middle finger to the whole award show, and the Grammys in general, and of course the hilarious way Taylor Swift reacted to losing the Album of the Year.
But Taylor’s "react like I just won then clap awkwardly when I realize I didn’t actually win" moment was overshadowed by her piano rocking performance, which was totally hardcore thanks to a little help from Street Fighter’s Ryu. Watch as he kicks the young singer into action, keeping the beat with the bottom of his feet!
Via Gamma Squad
Lego is releasing a new line of Star Wars sets called Microfighters, where characters get awesome mini-versions of ships like the Millennium Falcon and Star Destroyers to jet around in. The reason you care besides the fact that Star Wars Legos are great, is because this new commercial for them rules.
Abandoned places are brightened up, made even creepier and more atmospheric, or otherwise transformed into massive works of art with installations that use entire buildings as creative tools. Whether calling attention to blight in urban areas or making use of a structure before it’s demolished, these 12 (more!) abandoned building art projects make already-fascinating spaces even more of a visual delight.
A curving brick facade gives an abandoned eyesore of a building a bit of a backwards facelift. With the new addition by artist Alex Chinneck, the abandoned building almost fits in with its neighbors – but not quite. As it slides down toward the street, it reveals the mess that remains on the top floor. The temporary installation turned an ugly building into a tourist attraction, calling attention to the need for restoration.
A sad little shotgun cottage, filled with the former owner’s personal possessions, was left to rot, gaping holes in the walls letting in the elements. Artist Chris Larson spent a winter in sub zero temperatures pouring thousands of gallons of water onto the home to let the ice build up, and then created sculptures that are casts of actual shotgun blasts to honor the ‘shotgun house’ design of the cottage, in which all doorways and hallways are in one straight line.
A spider worthy of J.R.R. Tolkein’s imagination seems to have taken up residence in an abandoned stock exchange building. This stunning project by Viennese/Croatian design collective For Use/Numen is made of nearly 100 pounds of packing tape and includes a tunnel that’s strong enough for people to crawl through.
Master of perspective Georges Rousse creates incredible illusions in abandoned places that seem to cut out a geometric shape of the building and utterly transform it. Painted across various surfaces and angles, they look like random markings from most viewpoints, but stand in just the right spot and it all comes together.
(Via Rudy Coby)
(Image: Universal Pictures)
Frank Herbert's novel Dune is one of the most respected science fiction novels of the Twentieth Century. David Lynch's 1984 film version did not acquire such acclaim. It was an expensive film that utterly bombed at the box office.
I've never understood why. Since I first saw it in 1988, I've loved the movie. It's one of my favorites. Here are 13 bits of trivia that you might not know about it.
(Photo: Lionel Allorge)
1. Trying to condense a long book into a movie is always a challenge. Film director Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to make the movie in 1975, but among other problems, his script would have been 11-12 hours long.
2. Jadorowsky wanted Orson Welles to play Baron Harkonnen, Salvador Dalí to play the Emperor and David Carradine to play Dr. Kynes.
3. Kyle MacLachlan, who played Paul Atreides, was a devoted fan of the novel. He said, “I first read Dune when I was fourteen years old. I’ve read it every year since that time. It’s almost been my bible.” (Naha 44)
4. Paul Smith, who played Rabban, is a big man. To keep his costume from splitting, designers made his costume out of tire rubber.
5. Kenneth McMillan, who played Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, wore a 250-pound costume. The fleshy protrusions are made of colostomy bag rubber. It was tremendously hot and the designers worried that McMillan would overheat. So they built a duplicate costume that was water cooled with tubes that ran inside.
6. To add visual effects, the directors used what was, at the time, the largest blue screen in the world. It measured 35 feet high and 108 feet wide.
7. The desert scenes were filmed in the Samalayuca desert in northern Mexico. It’s a dry place, but not as lifeless as the waterless Arrakis. So producers hired 200 workers to spend 2 months stripping a section of all rocks, plants and animals.
8. The smoke in the desert battle scenes, such as in the one embedded above, was made by setting piles of tires on fire.
9. Alicia Roanne Witt, who was 8 years old, played the character Alia, who was 2 or 3 years old. To make Alicia look smaller, they had her perform her scenes while kneeling on a little wheeled platform that would be pulled with wires when she needed to appear to walk in a scene. They also occasionally used a young stunt double.
10. When Paul pries open a sandworm segment (embedded video and screenshot above) with his maker hook, the audience sees the guts of the sandworm. These consists of thousands of condoms filled with gelatin.
11. During the movie, Lady Jessica takes the Water of Life during a Fremen rite. It was supposed to be water. But before shooting, someone had switched the water out with vodka.
12. The Third-Stage Guild Navigator was 15-foot long animatronic prop with 40 points of movement. Special effects modeler Carlo Rambaldi designed it to look like both an an alien and a human fetus.
13. An actor prerecorded the Navigator’s dialogue, which was then played back during rehearsals. Director David Lynch especially enjoyed this feature. He joked:
The Guild Navigator is a joy to work with. He’s a great actor. He’s better than human actors, in fact, . . . ‘cause he always says his lines right time after time after time.” (Naha 257)
Naha, Ed. The Making of Dune. New York: Berkley Books, 1984.
Brian Herbert. Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert. New York: Tor, 2003.
On the off chance you’ve forgotten how violent and gory the 1987 movie Robocop was, this Honest Movie Trailer will remind you. I’d also forgotten how much it relied on defenestration. There’s no way the remake, which is rated PG-13, could ever live up to the original, except that it will be legal for teenagers to see it. Thanks, Screen Junkies, for making the new movie something we might just avoid. This trailer contains blood, gore, and NSFW language, just like the movie. -via Tastefully Offensive
The Robocop remake is scheduled to open in the United States on February 12th.
Did you miss the wildly colorful hell we glimpsed in Terry Gilliam's Brazil? The first official trailer for The Zero Theorem brings classic Gilliam back, and we welcome the return of the plastic-jacketed doctors.
The latest "Everything Wrong With" video takes aim at Joel Schumacher's infamous Batman movie, and uncovers a whole plethora of forgotten blunders and ridiculous inconsistencies we didn't even pick up the first time we saw the film. Watch!
I don't know if you have any inclination to watch DC's next direct-to-DVD feature, Justice League: War, but I can assure you this: The above video contains the absolute best scene in the movie, in which Green Lantern meets Batman, and then learns a very important lesson about DC's superhero hierarchy.
In this literary quiz at Buzzfeed, you’ll be given the opening line to a novel, and you decide which of three books it came from. I guessed right on the books I’d actually read, but since I’ve always preferred nonfiction, that wasn’t many of them. The scoring seems pretty generous. I only had 9 out 17 right, but then it said, “Not bad! You took AP English didn’t you?” Ha! There wasn’t any such class when I was in school. Try the quiz yourself and let us know how you scored.