In this time of great tension, conflict, and debate related to issues of ethnicity, cultural understanding or lack thereof, and feelings of belonging to larger cultures among minority groups, a documentary released this month provides an interesting example of how these issues have been addressed in clever and innovative ways in American TV and movie history. Among the many groundbreaking moments and characters from the Star Trek universe, from the kiss of Kirk and Uhura to the positive characters of Sulu and Chekov at times of intense conflict in Asia and across the Iron Curtain, it is clear that some of the most powerful explorations of diversity and of those whom many see as “different” or “outsiders” is embodied in the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock. For the Love of Spock, a documentary by his Leonard Nimoy’s son, Adam, has been released this month, and it explores the powerful impact of Nimoy on those with whom he worked as well as the role of Spock as an “Outsider” at a time when that was rarely, if ever, seen in popular media platforms, particularly television. Here is an interview with Adam Nimoy about his work creating this documentary, along with this new article by Robert Ito: Spock: Half-Vulcan, Half-Human, All Outsider Role Model. And on these pages, there was an earlier post, To Live Long and Prosper, which celebrated the legacy of actor and multi-media creator Leonard Nimoy.
Yes, it might seem obvious, “Oh, Tim Burton is directing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” — how sweet. At mediateacher.net, we’ve explored Mr. Burton’s beguiling cinescapes before.
The powerful inspiration that Mr. Burton’s works have given to many young (and not-so-young) people for over a generation seems to renew its promise with this new feature. And here is an answer to the “not phoning it in” title above: The Making of a Film Fable, an article by Mekado Murphy.
Michel Gondry, one of the most inventive and utterly unique motion picture wizards of our time, has delivered again. In an original gesture, he went and made a video on his own for the White Stripes song “City Lights” as a gift to Third Man Records (having made a number of legendary music videos together, including the Lego classic “Fell in Love with a Girl” and the Meg White-inspired masterstroke “The Hardest Button to Button“). Lessons to learn from his music videos in general: a hefty dose of vision; planning, then planning and practice and planning; and execution. And throw in a few dashes of visual and sonic magic.
Gondry’s book The Be Kind Rewind Protocol is great food for thought for filmmakers and educators alike, and of course there are his movies, notably that one featuring Mos Def, Jack Black, and Danny Glover; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, his exceptional collaboration with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (and which I feel gets even better with age); The Thorn in the Heart, a documentary that grew out of a family story; an episode of Flight of the Conchords; and the mix of music videos, shorts, commercials, and odds and ends that have made up his twisting and turning career.
Posted in Chapter 5, Directors | Tagged Michel Gondry, Charlie Kaufman, Microbe and Gasoline, Be Kind Rewind, Jack Black, The White Stripes, City Lights, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Mos Def | Leave a Comment »
In a series of articles on mediateacher.net, the importance of how, where, and why media artifacts are accessed and preserved has been discussed from a variety of angles, not only in terms of films from the early years of cinema (or more recent examples like Lawrence of Arabia or the efforts of Christopher Nolan) but also related to students today and their own productions. An article in today’s New York Times —The Race to Save the Films We Love — provides a current update by Manohla Dargis on the state of film preservation, which includes topics related to economics, sound recording, chemistry, digital technologies, and a variety of other issues.
Posted in Chapter 2, Chapter 5 | Tagged Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences, Christopher Nolan, Cock of the Air, Film Preservation, Lawrence of Arabia, Manohla Dargis, The Film Foundation | Leave a Comment »
The new trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One debuted during the Olympics coverage yesterday, and it looked pretty amazing. (And it was even more enticing than the initial teaser, which already had fans energized.) Just one point that I feel needs to be made for teachers gearing up for a new year of media literacy: Kurosawa.
The foremost acknowledged influence on Star Wars is Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress. Any student of moving images or educators who wish to explore the vital contemporary Star Wars universe is well advised to explore the singular power of director Akira Kurosawa and his influence on George Lucas. For me, there appears to be some major inspiration from the universe of the Japanese cinematic master in the trailer for Rogue One (directed by Gareth Edwards), except in this case the references are to The Seven Samurai. Whatever the inspirations, things appear to be looking good for the realm of Jedi, Force, and Dark Side.