Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Imitari Simia

To prepare for a viewing of Peter Jackson's King Kong, I decided to do some research into the whole Kong phenomenon from 1933 to the present.

My first step was to rent the original "King Kong" from 1933, as well as "Son Of Kong," "Mighty Joe Young" and the 70's version of Kong as well. The older movies were interesting slices of film history. Watching classic cinema is similar to listening to classical music--you really have to watch/listen to the items uninterrupted. This is evidenced by the Turner Classic Movies channel--very few commercials.

Everyone seems to know little pieces of old movies by sight, and can recognize major themes from overtures and concertos. It is the in-between stuff that is often skipped. I refrained from chapter surfing. "Mighty Joe Young" had the most polished stop-motion animation, along with a slightly more upbeat storyline. The 70's Kong was a bit more painful to watch, but I did notice Carlo Rambaldi's name in the credits. He also worked on "E.T.", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and the original "Alien." I was really won over by his extraterrestrial work, but the gorilla was not as convincing. What was it about E.T. that I connected with?

I skipped the Japanese takes on Kong (battling Godzilla and such). The newer "Mighty Joe Young" was rented out by someone else, but I have heard it contains passable CG work.
I feel slightly guilty about judging a movie's versimilatude based on something as petty as effects. What about the story, acting quality of the stars and overall message? Why is watching the original "Terminator" so distracting now? What about the original untouched "Star Wars" (if you can find it)? The movies haven't changed, I have.

I ordered "King Kong--Jean-Luc Ponty plays the music of Frank Zappa" from the library. Very jazzy. After listening to it, I didn't have any enlightenment about giant gorillas. But I do want to hear more of Zappa's work. Ponty plays a mean electric violin!

I hooked-up my ColecoVision and played a few levels of "Donkey Kong." There was a time when videogames were ruthlessly hard yet graphically simplistic, and I was instantly transported back to that age after about five minutes. Would a "gamer" from 2005 appreciate the historical significance? Who thought up that little mushroom joystick anyway? Pure evil.

I have read many reviews of the new "King Kong," and it seems that the current version contains a more believable main character, due to life-like CG work and performance capture.
I really liked Jackson's "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, and have high hopes for his new film.

Perhaps in 2077 the world will look back and scoff at how unrealistic the 2005 ape seems, just as some have done about the 1933 original. Have we reached a point where if something is less than perfect, it isn't worthy? I remember feeling excited/distraught/joyful throughout many parts of "E.T." in 1982, but now when I watch I think: "big rubber turtle". What was I bringing to the movie that wasn't there back then? Do filmmakers now have to use sharper and sharper CG scalpels to excise their audience's disbelief?

Some people listen to classical music, and they're bored. Some viewers of older movies are quick to criticize the "cheesy effects" or "wooden acting". When I watched George Lucas' Episode III, it reminded me of a 1930's movie as seen by hundreds of computer animators and a couple actors. Maybe his next project could be a remake of "Metropolis."

I am guilty of not being able to let something just "be" what it is. I have lost the ability to believe in something that doesn't seem real. Even videogames and TV shows are feeding into the "ultra real" mentality. But doesn't reality TV feel fake now?

Why do we demand so much from our illusions?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Moment Of Shill

Usually the weekly ads are very mundane, but I had to post this item from a recent Target flyer. If I had all the quarters back from the arcades I spent them in twenty years ago, the amount would probably cover the cost of this beast.

My first reaction was, "I would take this over an XBOX 360," but that's probably just my nostalgia talking.