Friday, January 09, 2009

Camera Obscura: Best of '08 Awards Roll Out; Ray Dennis Steckler, R.I.P.; The Empire Wants You

The Golden Globes will air Sunday, the People's Choice Awards loved "Dark Knight" and two Hollywood guilds provide a peek at what movies are likely Oscar contenders for Best Picture nominee.

The Writer's Guild announced nominations for Best Original script:
Burn After Reading (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), Milk (Dustin Lance Black), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen), The Visitor (Tom McCarthy), and The Wrestler (Robert Siegel). The Coens won WGA awards for Fargo and No Country for Old Men, and Allen has won four times, most recently for 1990's Crimes & Misdemeanors. For Best Adapatation, the nominees are: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Roth), The Dark Knight (Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan), Doubt (John Patrick Shanley), Frost/Nixon (Peter Morgan), and Slumdog Millionaire (Simon Beaufoy). Roth previously won this award for Forrest Gump, and Shanley won for Moonstruck. If you're wondering, The Dark Knight counts as "adapted" because it uses pre-existing characters.

The Director's Guild meanwhile usually tags most of the nominees and their selections are:Danny Boyle,
Slumdog Millionaire. This is his first DGA nomination. Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight. Nolan was previously nominated for Memento. Gus Van Sant, Milk. Van Sant got a nod for Good Will Hunting, too. David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon. Howard won DGA Awards for A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13.

For info on the Golden Globes, their website has all the details. All the award shows are thankful there is no writer's strike this year. Will viewers care at all?


One of my picks for the best of 2008 is also my pick for the best horror film of 2008 - "Let The Right One In". It's the very subtle and powerful story of vampires and children from Sweden and a most original take on the vampire genre. A young boy named Oskar, lonely and isolated in a Stockholm apartment building, makes friends one evening with a new tenant, a strange and barefoot girl named Eli. She connects with him one evening as he is stomping about the courtyard as he pretends he is fighting and threatening the bullies who terrorize him by day at school. Is it his violence that attracts her attention?

There's very few special effects here, no coffins, no checklist of vampire cliches. Just a steady and understated march towards a confrontation with the adult world and the world of vampires. The acting too is subtle and powerful and both children act far wiser than their years. The movie is haunting both for the way it shows how children are unimportant and isolated and for the quiet threat of a vampire trolling the locals. It also has a real sweetness as these two lost souls create a friendship.

It's an amazing movie, already earning many awards and rave reviews, and is simply top notch work in any language. Any Hollywood remake would never, repeat, never, provide the intelligence and the sly approach of horror to be found here.


The AMC Channel is prepping a mini-series remake of the British sci-fi classic "The Prisoner", which will air later this year.

In the meantime, AMC is offering all 17 episodes of the original show online - uncut, no commercials, and loads of great fun. Check them out.


Legendary low-budget director/actor/writer Ray Dennis Steckler passed away this week. Acting under the name of Cash Flagg, he made history with his 1964 movie "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies". He was fearlessly independent, shooting on location, often without any sound equipment and looping the dialog later, playing both the crazed and haunted killer or the comic sidekick in his movies. He was a shameless promoter and his movies show influences from Fellini, John Ford, Hitchcock and even Ed Wood. The dream sequence from "Incredibly Strange Creatures" shows off his daring and his ultra-low-end production designs. And that's Ray having the dream and scooting about in his hoodie.

I doubt there was any job in a movie or tv show the man did not do on his own. Not that he did them well.


From the web site io9 a post about designer/artist Feng Zhu, who has created a line of "recruitment posters" for the Empire, as in "Star Wars". More samples are at their websites.

Darth Vader and General Grievous never looked anything like this.

And I won't mention that the Empire's army was made of clones, so why the heck would they need to recruit anyone?

As with most things SW-related there's a disconnect of logic or reason. The Lucas Rule is "if it looks good, it's in the official canon".

1 comment:

  1. The Empire did have clone troops, but not all the troops were clones. Most of the clone troops died in the Clone Wars, and the cloning process was more expensive and difficult than just letting poor people sign up. The events of the Holy Trilogy begin 20 years after the Clone Wars. A bunch of 50-year-olds isn't the most effective army, and the Empire was more interested in building very expensive weapons than in buying something they could otherwise get for free from Tattooine.