Avengers as Art?

Matt Zoller Seitz writing for rogerebert.com

It would be silly to position Marvel or Whedon or their fan army as underdogs. Once a niche genre, superhero films are now practically the official culture of the United States, and this entry will make a fortune no matter what anyone says about it. Still, I hope that even as people buy tickets out of habit, they'll see that there is, in fact, art happening on the screen, maybe for the first time since Marvel's march through American cinema started. "Age of Ultron" proves that a movie with stealth fighter jets, levitating cities and Hulk-on-robot fisticuffs can be as freewheeling as a no-budget indie. It's a shame to think that this film will be dog-piled for its imperfections rather than applauded for trying to prove that a seemingly inflexible genre can bend into strange and surprising shapes.

A Guilty Pleasure - Ang Lee's Hulk

Really enjoyed this look back at Ang Lee’s Hulk from The Dissolve. I must admit to having a bit of a soft spot for that film, there’s a hell of a lot wrong with it, but I remember enjoying the fact it wasn’t just mindless Michael Bay style action and spent time with the characters and their respective motivations. Even though the film didn’t achieve what it set out to do (some dodgy performances, CGI which has dated (but at the time was well received) and Nick Nolte's cloud thing). I have to embrace the fact they tried. It is refreshing when usually with this type of film the closest we get to character introspection is Megan Fox’s midriff.

Even though they get so much hate now, I'm on the record for really liking the comic book style transitions. Looking at some of it with fresh eyes today, yes they are a bit OTT and scream 'Hey this is a comic book adaptation!', but there is some cool work there and as one of the posts from The Dissolve mentions, it was at a time when you could easily do this in post-production, so is an interesting reflection of filmmakers just trying stuff with available technology.

Taking comic book panels too far?

Taking comic book panels too far?

Art of the Title actually have a nice write up of the graphic treatment in the film, which is worth a read.

Bravo to The Dissolve for taking such a deep look at this film with three seperate posts, it’s a film blog for film nuts which apart from being beutifully laid out with great typography they write with great knowledge and insight on films new and old.

At my most cynical though, I would have to agree with a lot of what Honest Trailer say about Hulk

Comparing hops to apples - How BrewDog are taking a leaf out of Apple's playbook

Since getting into craft beer last year, it’s been easy to keep an eye on what BrewDog is doing, especially when there is a BrewDog bar very close to where I live. The beers are delicious, the branding is great (since the recent re-brand) and the experience in their bars really helps pervade the idea that beer can be elevated to something way beyond Stella/Carling/Fosters.

The moment I first went into a BrewDog bar it really reminded me of going into an Apple store. Not the way it looked or the products they sold (obviously). But the approach.

Reading this article in Marketing Week today - BrewDog’s co-founder on how it matured beyond marketing stunts (Beware Paywall!), it struck me again that there is a similarity in the approach and attitude to Apple.

We’re still tiny. We’re less than 0.1% of the UK beer market. Craft beer overall is less than 1% of the beer market. For us it’s not about the size. We’ve always said to people: ‘Judge us on our beer.’ We’re selfish and we make the beers we want to drink ourselves – if we make 100,000 bottles a month or a million, it all comes back to the quality of what is in those bottles. James Watt, Co-Founder BrewDog

Without going into the well trodden exposition of how Apple works, they are a company completely and utterly focused on the quality of their product. Uncompromising some would say. But it is this focus which has brought them tremendous success. When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the now infamous (and probably most flawless) Keynote at MacWorld 2007, he said this, when talking about the mobile phone market:

Mobile phones, just about a billion last year, worldwide. So what does this tell you? What this tells you is, that 1 percent market share equals 10 million units. This is a giant market. If you just One percent market share, you’re gonna sell 10 million phones. And this is exactly what we’re gonna try to do in 2008, our first full year in the market, is grab 1 percent market share and go from there. So we’re gonna enter a very competitive market, lotta players, we think we’re gonna have the best product in the world, and we’re gonna go for it and see if we can get 1 percent market share, 10 million units in 2008, and go from there.

It’s like they’re saying the same thing. BrewDog are a much younger company than Apple, so of course they are a little more tenacious with the choice of words, (it helps get traction too!) but it’s the same thing.

You know Steve Jobs was saying much worse off camera about the competition. But it’s a fantastic strategy. Pick a massive well established market, make a product that is fundamentally better than the competition, and aim for a sliver of that market, knowing damn well that that sliver will deliver you the success you need to progress to the next level.

Time to invest in BrewDog I think.

That single take fight scene in Daredevil

Last month I posted a great little video essay, from Chris Stuckmann, called The problem with action movies today, one of the standout points, which is a frequent annoyance of mine, is the editing style of fight scenes.

(Skip to 10:10)

In Netflix’s brand new original series, Daredevil, there is a great scene of him in Ep#2 “Cut Man” in pre-costumed-origin-story-mode fighting a load of hoods in order to save a child. We see the entire scene in a locked off shot for nearly 4 minutes. That is 240 seconds. When compared to some of the shakeycam, and even more shakily edited action films, where one cut could last less than one second, this is standout.

I wish the fight scenes in all the Nolan Batman films were shot and edited like this. There are some fleeting moments in the series where this does happen, but mostly Nolan veers into shakeycam territory.

The last time I remember seeing anything like what ‘Daredevil’ did was in ‘Oldboy’. It is clearly an homage to that scene, and a great one at that. Similar geography, dark and dirty grade, slow painful fighting where you feel every punch and that voyeuristic watchful camera, almost casually watching this violent story unfold in front of itself.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2

Last night the new Star Wars teaser landed on YouTube, and I was blown away, so good. The feel is so right, and the look of everything is perfect. There seems to be a bit of a Marmite reaction to the Han Solo & Chewie end shot, but I loved it. It immediately brought light to the serious and imposing tone, which is exactly what they did in Episodes IV-V-VI. Can't wait.

I think my reaction wasn’t far off McConaughey’s…