January 2, 2016

When the action was real — 100 years ago.

Beautiful, perfect...



... and funny/frightening in a way that can never be in today's CGI movies, where you don't need bother to ask yourself — a question asked at 3:27 — "What are the rules of this particular world?"

That made me think of this, from a review of the new movie"In the Heart of the Sea"
The pacing here is certainly forceful, as it is during the harrying and the slaughter of a sperm whale, and yet the force lacks clarity. This is partly because computer-generated waves never quite buffet us with the slap of the real thing, and also because, in the twenty years since [Ron] Howard made his finest film, “Apollo 13,” something has happened to the editing of action sequences. No longer, it seems, are we required to know who is doing what, and where, at any given point. What matters is that the frenzy of the occasion should be matched by the drubbing of the images, which must pelt us without pity or interruption. Just to crank up the turmoil, “In the Heart of the Sea” can be seen in 3-D, so that masts and braces keep poking you in the nose....

15 comments:

traditionalguy said...

And they actually blamed Herman Melville for their deceit. He was covering up for the original Oil Industry.The "real" is now being filmed by Cartoonists using digitally generated tricks. The only reality we are permitted to see now is raw TV footage as it happens and in a 30 minute window before it can be edited into deceiving snippets accompanying a Marxist narrative.

Gahrie said...

Movies have never been the same since they introduced sound.....

sydney said...

What matters is that the frenzy of the occasion should be matched by the drubbing of the images, which must pelt us without pity or interruption. Just to crank up the turmoil...

Yes! This is what I have noticed in movies. It's the one area where the new Star Wars movie fails to improve over the original. It's also why I couldn't stand the Mad Max remake.

Ann Althouse said...

"Movies have never been the same since they introduced sound....."

In the video, there's discussion of how Keaton worked to reduce the number of title cards. Without sound, you could put the words in writing, but it was worth it to develop the visual so that the words were unnecessary. Once you have sound, that pressure is gone. It's easy to have spoken word. The pressure today is, I think, the foreign market. That leads to big visuals and words of little importance, like "Hey, look!" and "Let's get out of here."

whitney said...

That was fascinating. And terrifying. It's a wonder he survived

MountainMan said...

That was a great video. I was aware that Keaton was regarded as a genius but this is the first thing I have every seen that explains it so clearly.

With regard to "In the Heart of the Sea", I was really looking forward to that movie. It's a great story, Philbrick's book was terrific, the trailers looked great, and this is usually the kind of movie you can count on Howard to pull off. But the reviews have been terrible, most have been along the lines of what you quoted. I won't waste money at the theatre but might take a l look when it makes it to Netflix. Unfortunately that is my opinion of too many movies these days.

Phil 3:14 said...

Ditto Whitney. But they were funny!

uffda said...

Action replacimg tension is the main reason I rarely see movies in the theatre anymore. The frenetic editimg and ridiculously exaggerated CGI is just intolerable. Even comedies and dramas overuse quick cuts. With Netflix I can just pop out the boring things and try another. I used to walk out of maybe two percent of movies. These days it would be 20-30%. Way too much wasted time and money.

FullMoon said...

I read Tom Cruise refused to do TopGun sequel if cgi was used . Hoping it is true, I do not investigate.

Trashhauler said...

For me, the worst example of CGI is found in movies having a climactic dogfight scene between aliens and humans or empire and rebels or what have you. The battle always has a scene in which spacecraft or airborne fighters are all engaged in a thickly-packed, giant furball where seemingly no one entering it could escape a collision, nevermind avoid all the weaponry being employed.

No realistic dogfight looks anything like that. No one in their right mind would engaged in such a mess unless they had an actual death wish.

Bill Peschel said...

"In the twenty years since [Ron] Howard made his finest film, “Apollo 13,” something has happened to the editing of action sequences. No longer, it seems, are we required to know who is doing what, and where, at any given point."

This is true, but also sort of nonsensical. I saw this in Joel Shumacher's "Batman and Robin," where the characters were battling the bad guys, and, watching in the theatre, I couldn't figure out who was doing what where to whom.

But last night, I was watching Edgar Wright's "Hot Fuzz," and the climactic firefight at the end was taut, gripping, and easily understandable.

I still see examples of both in various movies. Which means, as always, that there are going to be good editors and bad editors, good movies and bad movies.

I cant even say that before MTV became really popular, movies were cut at a much slower pace. While that may be true in some instances (say, "Adventures in Babysitting"), I can also see the same slow pace in "Batman Begins" (which on a second viewing displays clearly its creaky structure and glacial pacing).

Saint Croix said...

Althouse, this is awesome! Thanks so much. Huge fan of Buster.

BN said...

Sorry I just like the juxtaposition here...

"What are the rules of this particular world?"

"People, people, this isnt even my dog."

I am imagining the short story those lines would be found in. H.S. Thompson or Vonnegut? Kafka?

Which makes me wonder if they'd all be bloggers today instead of literary "geniuses."

Perfesser! In a different day and age, you coulda been somebody! Actually, I guess you are. Yer a postal-modern version of a literary genius!

BN said...

Heh... "postal-modern."

The Godfather said...

I'm sorry that the movie of In The Heart Of The Sea wasn't better received, but I'm not surprised. A lot of what made the book interesting was the depiction of the culture in which the whalers lived, on land and afloat; it would be hard to show that effectively on the screen, even with 3-D. Also, the previews made such a connection to Moby Dick that I think a lot of people thought that this movie was another remake of that story, and so they were surprised to find it wasn't.

I hope, though, that they paid Philbrick handsomely for the rights to his book; it was a really good book, and he deserves to be rich. The Mayflower and Bunker Hill were also excellent books (and can be ordered through the Althouse Amazon portal).