Posts Tagged ‘Indiana Jones’

The Best of 2008, 3: Film and Film Posters

December 31st, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

Somehow I went a full year without seeing many films, so the competition wasn’t all that steep, though I’m still relatively happy with most of my top picks. Remember that they count if I saw them in 2008, hence some of the 2007 entries.


10. Enchanted. Silly but fun, and ideal for the second 9 hour leg of a trip to Malawi.

9. Sweeney Todd. I like Tim Burton’s aesthetic. Odd, dark, kinda cool.

8. The Bourne Ultimatum. If only I could move and fight like Bourne, my subway commute would be so much less of a hassle.

7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Admittedly, in other years, the movie that gifted the phrase “nuking the fridge” to movie criticism wouldn’t make the list, but it was fun, and it was great to see Harrison back in action. I spent a lot of playtime trying to be him as a kid, so he has a long leash.

6. Quantum of Solace. Not quite Casino Royale, but I’m intrigued by the decision to serialize the Bond films, and Daniel Craig is still easily the best Bond.

5. There Will Be Blood. By the time Daniel Day Lewis was drinking from the other dude’s milkshake, I was a little tired, since I also saw this on the way to Malawi, but it was gripping stuff. I wish I could’ve seen it on the big screen.

4. Cloverfield. A great ride. My sense is that New Yorkers liked this film more than others. I loved it. Wouldn’t want to own it or see it without a full theatre, but I really liked it.

3. No Country for Old Men. I have a real weak spot for totally dark, badass villains, so this movie hit all the right chords with me. And I love the Coen Bros. stuff.

2. Iron Man. Like Batman Begins, Iron Man has a brilliant first two acts, then falls quite flat. But its first two acts were really fun.

1. The Dark Knight. I know I’m not supposed to like it, because hype is bad, right? Well, much of Dark Knight‘s hype was really bad (a Gotham pepperoni pizza from Domino’s? Come on!). I think much of its marketing sucked. To the point that I was ready to dislike the film, and especially Heath Ledger’s performance. Instead, I really liked it. The IMAX screen helped, no doubt. But it was great fun. Let the haters hate, but I won’t. I’m even one of the only people I know who actually likes Christian Bale’s Batman voice.

Now for movie posters after the fold. Yes, I get to the extratextuals eventually …

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Promising a Sequel, and Myths of the Hero’s Becoming

May 31st, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

indy poster

Recently, I saw both Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (funny how a sequel allows you the right to such a long title, eh?) and Iron Man. I was interested by how both dealt with the prospect of a sequel, and it got me thinking about how films announce a forthcoming sequel, and how sequels work. (NO SPOILERS YET, BUT I’LL WARN YOU LATER OF A COUPLE, IN CAPS).

To start, I’d argue that if sequels so often stink, or are at least very silly and fluffy, it’s because many sequels aren’t really about the hero who supposedly started the franchise.

More after the fold

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John Williams is my Religion

May 28th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

I am a Jedi, like my father before me. Seriously.

When I lived in England in 2000, there was a movement to claim “Jedi” or “Jedi Knight” as one’s religion on the census. Some did this because they’re a little odd and actually think they can move things with their mind (like Silent Bob?). Some did it for a joke. Some did it to protest the dearth of available options on the census. The Church of England likes the question there so that they can convince people that they’re still relevant in what is often called a “post-religious” nation. But agnostic is not the same as atheist is not the same as Satanist … though the “Other” category lumps everyone in together. Add to this the rumor that was making the rounds, that any write-in answer offered by enough people would become a bona fide option on the next census, and in the end, an impressive 390,127 listed themselves as Jedi, my father and I among them.

jedi council

To contextualize this, by the way, the same census found that only three religions claimed more followers in England and Wales – Christian, Muslim, and Hindu. 0.7% of the English and Welsh population are Jedi, a greater percentage than Sikhs, Jews, or Buddhists. In Scotland, a lower number (14,052) and percentage (0.277%) identified as Jedi, though enough to make it the third largest religion in the country. Meanwhile, true to their epic trilogy roots, the people of New Zealand boast 53,000 Jedi, or 1.5% of the population, making it the second largest religion.

Now, being married to a demographer, I’m in a household in which census “games” aren’t at all kosher. All the same, I could wax political and express my hope that one day, the United States will be led by a Jedi President. Jedis, we learnt in Phantom Menace, are the intergalactic diplomats, Jedis don’t give in to fear or hate, and Jedis actually feel others’ suffering. However, if the Jeremiah Wright controversy is anything to go by, I’m guessing the Anakin Skywalker or Count Dooku controversies could prove devastating.

Instead, though, after watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull today, I think I must be honest that Jedi is not my religion. More accurately, John Williams is. The Indy movie was fun, sometimes stupid, yes, though sometimes very good, and it was a joy to see Harrison back in action and having fun. But the highlight was hearing Williams’ soundtrack in a theatre again. All week I’ve been humming it in my head. When I used to drive to exams as a student, I’d play it and the Superman theme to get me in the mood. I was proud and yet also touched to hear both Luke and Leia’s Theme and Yoda’s Theme at my friend’s wedding (before the ceremony) this last week. When I play the Hallowe’en clip from E.T. in my Mass Media and National Identity class, strictly speaking I don’t need to keep it playing to the Flying Theme, but I always do. I find it hard to leave a room with the Star Wars theme playing. And so on.

john williams

John Williams may not be God, but he is a musical deity. And hearing his music play in a theatre is a form of communion. Moreover, while there may only be a few hundred thousand Jedi in the world, I wonder how many millions of childhoods the world over were in effect scored by Williams?

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Snippets, 2/18/08

February 18th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray
  1. Ken Levine’s blog tells the very amusing story of numerous prominent writers getting rejection letters from the studios now that everyone’s back in business. So efficient are the studios, though, that their rejections (along with criticisms for, for instance, not being female-friendly enough) are going to writers who didn’t actually submit pitches. David Lavery and Angela Hague have an amusing book called Teleparody with academic reviews of television studies books that were never written, but now the studios seem able to reject pitches that were never even written. Welcome to Hollywood, I guess.
  2. Wanna know when your favorite shows are back on air? A few helpful links here and (for CBS) here. I’m fascinated to see if the hiatus has any effect on quality – did writers have more time to think through plot points? Will Samantha Who actually be funny when it returns? Do Cuse and Lindelof now know what the numbers mean? Stay tuned.
  3. When Jericho was cancelled, fans sent nuts en masse to CBS to demand its reinstatement. Inspired by this, Friday Night Lights fans are sending mini footballs, light bulbs, and/or eye drops to encourage NBC to renew the show, as Sam Ford explains over at the Convergence Culture Consortium blog. All of which makes me wonder what fans of other shows would send should their show face cancellation. Horn-rimmed glasses for Heroes? Old pieces of pie for Pushing Daisies? Thank you letters for Grey’s Anatomy? Dexter fans might worry me the most.
  4. Speaking of Dex, a fun Dexter-related bit of transmedia can be found here: enter your name and details, then watch as a news clip announces you to be the next likely victim of Miami’s Dark Defender.
  5. The Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trailer is now out, with the final line a great one for any adjunct faculty member. Consider me well and truly excited.

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