Like parents, like children.
Marital dysfunction is getting passed down to the next generation in a sequel to "The War of the Roses." Deadline reports that Warren Adler’s follow-up novel is being adapted for a sequel to the 1989 black comedy starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
"War of the Roses" pitted Oliver and Barbara Rose against each other in a bitter, brutal, house-destroying divorce battle. "The War of the Roses: The Children" focuses on their son and daughter, Josh and Evie, who are not living in wedded bliss as adults. Josh is a serial adulterer, while Evie is a promiscuous overeater, and both bear scars from their parents’ divorce.
Permut Presentations and Grey Eagle Films are producing the film and are looking for a writer to adapt Adler’s book. It’s unclear if Danny DeVito, who directed "War of the Roses," would be involved with the sequel, or if the original movie’s stars would make cameos.
Computers need to be put in their place. They really do.
That’s why I’ve been looking forward to the DVD release this week of Andrew Bujalski’s cult Sundance hit Computer Chess. Computer Chess finally spills the beans about where these little monsters came from in the first place.
Every time I pick up a newspaper these days — I’m one of the twelve people left who still read physical newspapers — I read about how computers are spying on us, destroying jobs, or infuriating health insurance customers. Like a hungry Rottweiler off its leash, computers are getting out of control and tearing up the neighborhood.
If you believe what you read, computers are also in the process of wrecking the book publishing and music industries, eliminating celluloid photography — and just this week computers claimed their latest victim, one near and dear to my heart: the local video store, as Blockbuster finally succumbed to laptops, smartphones and tablets as the preferred ways of renting all those movies you couldn’t afford to see (or were too embarrassed to see) when they were in theaters.
No more video stores — who would’ve believed it, even just ten years ago? That means no more pimply teenagers to recommend midnight horror movies to me ("Sir, I definitely recommend C.H.U.D. over TerrorVision"), no more aimless browsing or listening to neighbors argue over which Steven Seagal movie to rent, no more cheap licorice sticks at the checkout counter.
I never thought I’d miss those things so much — but suddenly I do. And it’s all because of our ‘friend’ the computer. Computers are becoming like the Yankees during the ’90s: gobbling up everybody else’s talent, then telling us how good it is for baseball.
The propaganda over the wonders that computers supposedly bring to our lives is getting out of hand. In the very least, it’s out of proportion to the destruction computers are simultaneously causing — that ‘disruptive’ effect Silicon Valley gurus salivate over, like vampires at a blood drive.
So as Twitter — the company currently reducing our public discourse to snarky, 140-character outbursts — celebrates its gaudy IPO right now, I’d like to recommend a new movie out on DVD this week that casts digital technology in a very different light: Computer Chess.
You probably haven’t heard of Computer Chess. After all, it has no stars in it. Neither Disney nor Sony are building spin-off franchises around its characters. Chris Hemsworth doesn’t swing a hammer in the film, and Kate Upton wasn’t invited to the premiere (although it would’ve been funny if she was).
What Computer Chess has going for it, though, is that it tells the unvarnished, gawky truth about the early days of this public menace we’ve come to know as the ‘computer.’
Actually, Computer Chess isn’t all that obscure a film. Written and directed by mumblecore auteur Andrew Bujalski, the film debuted to critical acclaim earlier this year at Sundance (where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize), where I had the pleasure of seeing the funky little movie in a packed house with an appreciative crowd. It was a total hoot, especially for people like me who remember how uncool computers used to be before Steve Jobs arrived on the scene. In fact, you arguably can’t appreciate Jobs’ legacy properly unless you’ve seen Computer Chess — and witnessed what a clunky, nerdy, socially maladroit computer world Jobs inherited.
Computer Chess is set around 1980, in a shabby suburban motel that serves as the film’s entire setting over the course of one weekend. The aristocracy of the computer science world – the geek gods of Cal Tech, MIT, Bell Labs and elsewhere — have gathered for their annual computer chess tournament, with the winning machine getting the chance to face off against the pompous tournament host, who has never yet lost a game to a computer.
So it’s game on, as Apple IIs and Tandy TRS-80s — and their nerd jockeys — take each other on for all the marbles.
The film follows the impossibly awkward programmers as they compete with each other for the (slightly dubious) title, haul blocky computer mainframes around on push-carts, debate the future of computers in late-night bull sessions, and make cringe-inducing attempts at romance and/or sexual conquest with the tournament’s lone female competitor, a hopelessly bespectacled programmer named Shelly. The programmers also have a few droll encounters with a New Age group that shares the motel with them, who try to open up the nerdy programmers’ repressed emotional lives.
Good luck with that.
The performances Bujalski gets out of his mostly non-professional cast are uniformly natural and believable — with special kudos going out to Patrick Riester and Wiley Wiggins as the no-nonsense leads, Myles Paige as the egomaniac/would-be lothario ‘Michael Papageorge,’ and Robin Schwartz as the sweet, ungainly female programmer.
Indeed, Bujalski’s strategy of keeping things real (several cast members are actually programmers themselves) is the best thing Computer Chess has going for it. It’s easy to see how this film could’ve been botched by importing a Michael Cera or Jonah Hill into the mix with their pre-packaged nerd schtick. Computer Chess is too austere and genuinely indie for such Hollywoodisms — to the point that the movie was actually shot in low-res, black-and-white 4:3 analog video using a Sony AVC-3260 camera, dating from the late 1960s.
Bujalski clearly intends Computer Chess to feel like a ‘found object’ of the era — and the film does seem incredibly authentic as a depiction of early-80s geek culture.
The special kick of watching Computer Chess, though, is knowing how the awkward misfits depicted in the film — and the big, blocky, semi-functional machines they cart around — will someday conquer the world. Today’s gods of Silicon Valley (who are apparently getting pretty full of themselves these days) — the slick young guys in hoodies who debut their stock offerings with multi-billion dollar valuations, or who get played by Jesse Eisenberg or Justin Timberlake in the movies are of course no longer the introverted weenies of yesteryear, as depicted in Bujalski’s film. Today’s techies are more likely to drive Porsche 918 Spyder-hybrids, date swimsuit models, or eat granola parfait at Palo Alto’s University Cafe.
What a difference 30 years makes.
Computer Chess is probably not the kind of movie these newer guys — and they’re still mostly guys (with all due respect to Sheryl Sandberg) — want to watch, because it doesn’t suit their current self-image. Computer Chess is like that embarrassing family album from the ’70s you keep in the attic, filled with horrid images of bad hair, braces and bell-bottom jeans — where everybody looks like they just stepped off the set of The Hardy Boys. It’s the kind of thing your relatives pull out during the holidays to keep you humble.
And this is actually why Silicon Valley’s geek aristocracy — and you know who you are – should embrace this film, because it does something vital: it humanizes them, at a time when a lot of us feel that what they’re doing to our society is, well, inhuman. Reading about the NSA and Healthcare.gov these days is depressing enough, but it’s even worse after years of reading about how companies like Google and Facebook have been undermining our basic sense of privacy, which is the delicate foundation of our freedom.
By the way, Computer Chess actually hints — in a sly, fun way — that the Cal Tech team’s fictional TSAR chess program might be the forerunner of dystopian supermachines of the future, like Skynet from the Terminator films. But the movie is pretty gentle and non-conspiratorial about these things. It could get much worse.
For example, Computer Chess could’ve more been more hard-edged, like Panos Cosmatos’ dystopian cult thriller Beyond the Black Rainbow, released here in the U.S. in 2012. Similarly set in the early 1980s, Black Rainbow depicts a young woman’s escape from a controlling, futuristic New Age research institute. The film’s high-tech ‘Arboria Institute’ — led by a psychotic, permanently disfigured scientist — harbors pretentions of harnessing technology in the achievement of higher spirituality. (By the way, the ‘Arboria Institute’ could easily have been the forerunner to the sinister, New Agey internet company ‘The Circle’ from Dave Eggers’ new novel of the same name.) Black Rainbow‘s Dr. Barry Nyle — along with his mentor, Dr. Mercurio Arboria – represents the dark side of the early ’80s tech and self-actualization gurus depicted comedically in Computer Chess.
Of course, even Black Rainbow doesn’t compare to a film recently unearthed by Criterion: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 sci-fi classic World on a Wire, which originally aired on German television as a two-part miniseries. In World on a Wire (based on American author Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3), an ‘Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research’ develops a computer simulation program featuring an artificial world — based on the real one — with over 9,000 avatars living as human beings, unaware that their world is only a simulation subject to manipulation. The purpose of the simulation? Advanced market research, of course. Things get dicey when the movie’s hero, Dr. Fred Stiller (actor Klaus Löwitsch), begins to suspect that this simulation may actually have multiple layers — and that he himself might be one such avatar.
Such dark visions suggest the will-to-power, the urge to control and manipulate, that many people now associate — with good reason — with a fully computerized society (what Neil Postman back in 1992 called a ‘Technopoly‘). Whether that society is controlled by unseen government bureaucracies or huge and indifferent corporations hardly seems to matter anymore.
So the honeymoon is now over. Computers just aren’t that cool any more — mainly because of all the precious things in our lives that they’re destroying. That’s why a lot of us are now looking at the fine print when we buy in to the latest gadget or app, as we ask ourselves this basic question: as shiny and empowering as this new piece of digital technology is, what is it going to destroy that I don’t know about?
All of this stuff seemed a lot more innocent back in 1980, when Computer Chess is set. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Computer Chess is basically about the race to create a machine that can outperform and (thereby replace) a human being. Back in 1980, that premise just seemed a lot funnier and more charming than it does right now.
Right now computers just don’t know their place.
Putting Computers in Their Place: Computer Chess and The Nerd Origins of Today’s Technopoly
email@example.com (Jason Apuzzo)
Fri, 08 Nov 2013 21:47:01 GMT
Thanks to computer graphics, movies no longer have any limits when it comes to what they can create with special effects. However, I have a bit of a soft spot when it comes to movies with sci-fi or magical aspects that use little or no special effects at all, since who the characters are and how they react to and use these fantastical details should be more interesting than what they look like. Maybe that’s why I had some more-than-warranted optimism for About Time, a film about a young man named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) decides to find a girlfriend (Rachel McAdams) using a hereditary ability to travel back to any point in his life he can remember.
However, About Time is a romantic comedy — a genre I feel is fading in quality and relevance as repetition, the modern realities of relationships, and the myth of couples living "happily ever after" have exposed the shallowness of the genre’s clichés. Is a bit of time traveling magic the thing to help About Time rise above its increasingly cloying ilk? Watch my ReThink Review of About Time below (transcript following).
If you’re a straight male moviegoer, you have reason to fear Richard Curtis. Not only did he write Four Weddings and a Funeral, which launched stammering pretty boy Hugh Grant into a galaxy of smarmy romantic comedies, but he also wrote the screenplays for other offenses to movie date night like Notting Hill,
Bridget Jones’ Diary and its sequel, and Love Actually, which arguably started the trend of saccharine multi-star romcom shitstorms like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. His latest romantic comedy, which he also directed, is called About Time, where a young man uses his ability to travel back in time to land his perfect girl while learning about the pains and pleasures of life’s onward march. But another way this movie made me contemplate the vagaries of time is because it made two hours
FEEL LIKE A FUCKING ETERNITY.
Domhnall Gleeson, who vocally seems to be doing a Hugh Grant impression, plays Tim, a perennial loser in love who learns on his 21st birthday from his dad James (played by Bill Nighy) that the men in their family are able to travel back in time to any moment in their lives they can remember by simply going to a dark space, closing their eyes, and clenching their fists. Tim vows to use his power to get a girlfriend, mostly by traveling back in time to avoid mistakes, be more suave, and use knowledge from the future to make himself seem like a more impressive, compatible suitor.
The main focus of Tim’s efforts is Mary, played by Rachel McAdams in yet another of her long line of aggressively, relentlessly adorable characters that are so syrupy, unrealistically sweet that they seem like an experiment to give moviegoers diabetes. But Tim soon learns that if he’s not careful, he could change his life in unforeseen ways, including a life where he and Mary never meet or the makeup of their eventual family together is drastically altered, while also learning that some bad outcomes can’t be avoided.
Now there’s already been a movie about a guy who can go back in time to do things perfectly, and it’s called Groundhog Day, and a reason why it’s a classic is that not only does Bill Murray’s character eventually learn to use his ability for self improvement and the greater good, but that’s only after indulging himself, as I’m sure all of us would, by using his prior knowledge to do a number of fun, questionable, or downright lousy things. However, Tim never does that, not even using his power to play the stock market or bet on sports to make his and his family’s life a little easier, making this perhaps the most boring movie About Time travel I’ve ever seen.
I’m willing to forgive the fact that a lot of the mechanics of how time travel works in the film don’t make sense. But like I said, About Time is two hours long, which is long for a movie like this, and so much of it is just some scenario going badly, Tim stammering "Excuse me a minute," running to a closet, and reliving the moment better, which gets really tedious, as McAdams keeps pushing your cuteness gag reflex. By the time the movie gets to some more interesting themes about letting go and appreciating every moment, it was too late, where the only time travel I cared about was getting to a future where the movie was over.
As a final insult, About Time ends with what I consider a very British resignation (or maybe it’s defeatism) that you should not only accept but embrace your station in life, regardless of its shortcomings. But in the case of About Time, it’s even worse since Tim has practically endless potential to change and improve life not just for he and his family, but potentially for the world. What kind of shitty ass message is that? Though About Time did fill me with a feeling of resignation and defeat that I had wasted two hours of my life on such cloying junk, and a wish that I could travel back in time to avoid it, as you should in your future.
ReThink Review: About Time — How to Make Time Travel Boring
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jonathan Kim)
Fri, 08 Nov 2013 07:33:10 GMT
WATCH: Gay Man in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Trailer
The clueless ’80s team mistakes a gay man for a vampire
WATCH: Gay Man in ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ Trailer
Mon, 28 Oct 2013 13:47:08 GMT
The Channel 4 news team is headed to New York! That seems to be the central concern of the new "Anchorman" sequel, "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." After a hilarious trailer released early this week featuring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner reprising their roles from "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," a new poster has debuted on Empire, which is scheduled to hit theaters this Christmas. And by the looks of the poster – it’s going to be big.
It’s a fairly simple design, with the Channel 4 news team looming large as Godzilla-sized titans in ’70s New York City. Quite frankly, it’s been so long away from these guys that it’s just great to see them in their polyester finest once again. We also like how sun-dappled the design is, and the vintage cars are a nice touch.
Matthew and Kate, go for the gold (and the diamonds, emeralds and rubies) as a just divorced couple who bicker and banter their way through an adventure and laugh packed undersea treasure hunt. McConaughey is Finn, in love with his ex (Hudson) and in deep with gangster Bigg Bunny. After eight years of searching, Finn gets a clue to the whereabouts of the Queen’s Dowry, a fabulous fortune that mysteriously disappeared in the Caribbean in 1715. Now all he has to do is get the gold, get the girl and get going before Bigg Bunny get him. Directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch), Fool’s Gold glitters with danger, action, romance, comedy, great one liners and a great time to be had by all.
IMDB Information Page.
Chris Cole was born to rock. His longtime girlfriend Emily believes his talent could take him all the way – but Chris worships at the altar of Bobby Beers, the fiery front man for heavy metal legends Steel Dragon. By day, Chris still lives at home with his parents and spends his days repairing copy machines. But when Chris takes the stage, fronting Pennsylvania’s premiere Steel Dragon tribute band, all of that disappears. Chris Cole is Bobby Beers – mesmerizing audiences with his perfect imitation of Beers’ electrifying vocals. The night his band mates boot him out of the group, Chris is devastated – until an unexpected phone call changes his life forever: He, Chris Cole, has been tapped to replace Bobby Beers as the lead singer of Steel Dragon. In an instant, Chris rockets to the dizzying heights of sudden stardom, rising from devotee to icon, from rock fan to rock god – the want to-be who got to be…Written by Sujit R. Varma