Friday, October 4, 2013

Shilling for the Movie "Gravity" While Reminiscing about Siskel and Ebert Discussing Video Games

I just saw a late night screening of Gravity. See this film in 3D--and I generally do not watch 3D movies--but I am very glad that I made the exception. Trust me. It is well worth the extra expense.

Moreover, do not buy Gravity from the bootleg man to watch at home on some crappy transfer which is not even blu ray quality. Simply do not do such a thing as the real life equivalent is eating great filet mignon sold by McDonald's and cooked on a dirty garbage can lid; alternatively, a comparison would be bedding the person of your dreams on some cheap polyester sheets that still smell like the cardboard packing material they were mailed to you in by some discount website. 

Yes, the film is very different from Alfonso Cuarón's previous movie The Children of Men. Gravity is an experience...and I will be intentionally vague about how and why.

After my great conversation with Corey Mead for WARN's podcast about video games and the military (which I do encourage you to share, download and tweet about, especially if you are NOT interested in video games and their history as you will learn a great deal), I began to think back about my own personal journey from early computers to arcades, pinball, Atari, Nintendo, and then to PC gaming. 

[My request is also self-interested and mercenary. Getting great guests is easier when you can demonstrate a deliverable, i.e. a good number of listeners.]

The hip hop generation is also the video game generation: in so many ways we created the present/future. 

I am sure that every generation offers some version of the above claim; but, some generations can make a more secure argument in favor of such a fact. The reality is that few folks among any large group of people actually make history or develop new technologies that revolutionize day-to-day life. However, we all want to credit claim. As temporally limited entities, to borrow from Deep Space Nine, is there anything more "human" than undeserved and unearned pride?

In doing research for my interview with Corey, I came upon the wonderful and irreplaceable Siskel and Ebert discussing video games--what were then years ago the newest and hottest toys for the holiday season. 

1980's babies will see many familiar things in these two clips. I smiled at the green Nintendo strategy guide which is still somewhere in my childhood bedroom. The power of such inside knowledge is hard to explain to a generation spoiled by Google, and who did not have to go through many unspeakable and disgusting rites of initiation in order to learn the many secrets of video games from seedy high school seniors or adult burnouts who hung out at the arcade and bowling alley. Alternatively, you could just call the Nintendo Powerline for 2 dollars a minute. But such plain facts do not make for compelling or interesting storytelling.

Siskel and Ebert were Renaissance Men. They had a genuine curiosity about the world, serious smarts, and a love of learning which transcended their nitch as film reviewers. 

Thus a question: Are there any similar folks on mainstream TV today? Conan O'Brien? Maybe. 

I would nominate Anthony Bourdain:

Another favorite Bourdain moment. He is my kind of people:

I do not watch everything. Therefore, my sample size is quite small. 

Who do you nominate as heirs to the Siskel and Ebert crown? Alternatively, were they true American originals who are never to be replaced?


Black Sci-Fi said...

When I want a movie review I go to Rotten Tomatoes. I don't think you can replace Siskel and Ebert with one entity at this point.
I scan all the review headers in RT for the movie I'm interested in and look at the reviews offering best and worst review ratings. The access afforded by the internet changed the game.
BTW, Canadian Sci-Fi TV series production still dwarfs the efforts of American film production. My latest "A-OK" goes to "Continuum", Many of the same actors from SG-!, et al are working on this production.
It is simply top shelf acting, directing and SFX. Season 2 is now available on Netflix and it surpassed Season 1 in production values and plot/character development. So, here's one for your Netflix Streaming que.

Scopedog said...

Thanks for these, Chauncey. Seeing these clips of Siskel and, I really miss them. True, there were times I did not agree with them, but I grew to respect them immensely--which is a far cry from many "critics" today, who seem to only to wail on about how horrible movies are today and spend more time insulting people. I honestly do not know who I would nominate as heirs to Siskel and Ebert; maybe I'm just being cynical.

And THANK YOU for recommending that people see GRAVITY in the theater. I do plan to see the film, since I was very impressed by the trailer I saw (in IMAX 3D) while watching PACIFIC RIM--another film that had to be seen in the theater. I'm sure that people are going to nitpick GRAVITY, but as my niece would say, "Whatever, man." I liked CHILDREN OF MEN, and I'm very interested in seeing what Cuaron has done here.

chauncey devega said...

Children of Men is a very different movie. Both are great on their own terms. Siskel and Ebert are irreplaceable. Such chemistry and smarts and sincerity.

chauncey devega said...

I watched season 1 of Continuum. I sort of dropped it. With your suggestion I will pick it up again.

mayceegreene said...

I would hate to make Gravity sound like nothing more than a
technical achievement. The film does have a theme, and uses the marvels of its imagery to drive that meaning home.

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