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April 26, 2005

The Serenity trailer
Posted by Teresa at 04:21 PM * 194 comments

I’ve now seen it. It hasn’t increased my desire to see the movie, but that’s because that dial was already cranked all the way over to “max.”

The visuals are great. The special effects are judicious and expensive. I care about neither so much as I care about the characters and dialogue, which were spiff. There’s just something reassuring about hearing Mal say, “I aim to misbehave.”

Comments on The Serenity trailer:
#1 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:21 PM:

Ditto that. It looks like it'll be great.

My only (tiny!) reservation comes from the fact that they've got sound in space now, but if that's the price we have to pay to get Serenity on the big screen, I'll happily endure it.

#2 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:22 PM:

Can't hear it until this evening, as we don't have sound cards in the store. Agreed that it's unlikely to make me more excited, only because I'm already jazzed.

#4 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:37 PM:


#5 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:41 PM:

Eeee! equals doublesquee squared.

#6 ::: Red ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:42 PM:

Drat. Spent thirty minutes investigating that two-frame logo flash at the end, only to discover it's the processing and color house. Not nearly as interesting as I'd hoped. Doggone it, if they're gonna be all sneaky they could at least hide goodies!

#7 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:43 PM:

Waah. Five whole months yet. Waaah. And I didn't see The Preacher. I was hoping to find out who he really was and why the Alliance guy snapped to when presented with his ID.


#8 ::: Pamela ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:48 PM:

Yeah, I'd certainly like to know more about Book. But it kind of looks River-centric. A kick-ass River, though. And maybe the preacher thing is in the movie, but they had enough sense not to spoil the secrets in the trailer.

(or maybe that's wishful thinking.)

#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:57 PM:

I am so there that "there" is somewhere else by comparison.

#10 ::: JamesG ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 05:57 PM:

Oh, my! I have goosebumps. I can't wait to see it.

#11 ::: David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:00 PM:

I thought the whole faux-"wild west" accents and such fell quite flat, and I'm not wild about the morality of the worldbuilding, either.

But then, I didn't like _Bridge of Birds_ and everybody else loves that, too.

#12 ::: Graydon finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:18 PM:

Zzedar would appear to have committed comment spam. The link goes to a software sales tool site.

#13 ::: Carolyn Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:29 PM:

It's amazing what you can do in a computer lab full of geeks by saying, "My God! The Serenity trailer!" where everyone can hear you. This made my day.

#14 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:40 PM:

Didn't see much (any?) of Kaylee either - I'm wondering if we're going to see a few trailers, each emphasizing various characters.

#15 ::: David Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:40 PM:

Ooh! Ohh! When can I get the trailer on DVD?

#16 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:51 PM:

Jewel Staite and Ron Glass are both listed in the cast up at the movie site.

#17 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:52 PM:

I wish I was in space. That way my office mates wouldn't hear me scream in delight.

#18 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:54 PM:

It went boom in space.


(Also, niggling worries about Joss making the jump from long-form slow cookin' to bigscreen goshwow, but I think it's my job sometimes to sit around and hmm and tch. Won't keep from the theater opening night.)

#19 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:56 PM:

"Won't keep me from the theater..."

Hmm; tch.

#20 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 06:56 PM:

Another movie I'm looking forward to seeing is "Night Watch." Originally adapted from a series of three Russian horror/fantasy novels. The trailer is equally amazing; though in an entirely different way.

Does anyone know if the novels are out in an English translation--or even available in the States in the original Russian? They're by Lukyanenko.

I'm also very excited about the possibilities for Russian mythology popping up in unexpected places in this one, as the other two in the series are the other two aspects of the day from the old, old myths: "Day" and "Dusk."

#21 ::: chopper ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 07:00 PM:

JVP: nice

#22 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 07:09 PM:


I am going to be severely disappointed if this isn't better than the Buffy movie.

#23 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 08:27 PM:

Sundre, "better than the Buffy movie" isn't that high a bar, imo.

My dream is that Joss puts out a podcast (similar to the one for Battlestar Galactica) when Serenity opens. If he does, I'll have to buy tickets twice: once to just watch the movie, and again to watch the movie with the alternate soundtrack. Sounds to me like that ought to motivate him a little, because I'm sure I'm not the only one.

#24 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 08:33 PM:

River with a sword! Not dueling for the Rose Bride, but you can't have everything.

This looks *way* cool.

#25 ::: Jack Foy ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 08:37 PM:

Kip: I have the same worries regarding the format transition -- especially since his filmwriting record has been rather spotty, compared to his work in other media.

#26 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 08:45 PM:

Is that the guy from Numb3rs? I think it is.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 08:52 PM:

Carolyn, you should see what you can do with that news at a science fiction publishing house. Constance, our keeper of databases, schedules, and ISBNs, received simultaneous emails from Patrick in Editorial, and Little Theresa in Ad/Promo, telling her that the trailer was available. All of us plus the Art Director wound up watching it (some of us several times over) on the computer in Patrick's office. Consensus was pretty much what Jim just said: We are so there that "there" is somewhere else by comparison.

We did the same thing for all the LOTR trailers.

#28 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 09:16 PM:

Is that the guy from Numb3rs? I think it is.

That would be a yes, it's David Krumholtz. Or as I think of him: Wednesday's boyfriend from Addams Family Values, all growed up.

#29 ::: Carolyn Davies ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 09:18 PM:

Teresa, add me to the list of people who desperately want your job (I'm sure there must be one somewhere).

#30 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 09:25 PM:

Oh well, I may be alone here:

While I'm happy to have seen the trailer, I now have wildly mixed feelings about the movie.

I hate to see Zoe and Inara look so much like wallpaper. I know that you can't necessarily give dialogue to every character in a trailer, but still!

And was Shepherd even in the trailer?

The point of the movie is River, certainly the most enigmatic character of the show, but...

And, as much as I've enjoyed Nathan Fillion on TV, he just comes across as so flat in the trailer.

Oh well...

Still, I hope Worldcon is able to get a rough cut
of the movie, and I hope I have the time to see it.

#31 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:07 PM:

OK, that's five months to find some time to sit down and watch those DVDs I got last week.

#32 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:30 PM:

No suffering, Avram.

#33 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:45 PM:

"River with a sword! Not dueling for the Rose Bride, but you can't have everything."

Along similar lines, last night's episode of 24 showed:


Geeky Girl With Gun. I gave the TV a thumbs up.

#34 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2005, 10:47 PM:

And now I've watched the trailer a number of times over, and feel safe in retracting my earlier hmm and tch: things do not go boom in space. They go whoosh on the soundtrack, and occasionally thump and crunch when the POV's inside, but given the quickcut trailer edits, one can be left with the unfortunte but, upon further reflection, incorrect impression that space suddenly developed sound waves. So there's that.

But using Papyrus as the logo font for the official poster? And the trailer? "Imparts a warm and friendly ambience to everything from restaurant menus to book covers," and oh God, does it ever; it never stops! —We'd all assumed it was an ill-considered but rushed choice for Comic-Con collateral last year. Hmm. Tch.

#35 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 12:25 AM:

River with a sword! Not dueling for the Rose Bride, but you can't have everything.


River-lutionary Girl Utenafly. I guess River is certainly confused enough to be Uten'ish

#36 ::: Luthe ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 01:03 AM:

Kate Nepveu

River with a sword! Not dueling for the Rose Bride, but you can't have everything.

Kate, are you referring to a certain gigantic panfandom RPG set at the End of the Universe?

Because if you are, Anakin waves hi.


River-lutionary Girl Utenafly. I guess River is certainly confused enough to be Uten'ish

In a certain RPG mentioned above, it happen. It was very cool. There were gunslingers, also.

#37 ::: Zzedar ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 01:06 AM:

"Zzedar would appear to have committed comment spam. The link goes to a software sales tool site."

Not my intention. "Jing-tsai" is Chinese for "Brilliant," and it was used in "Our Mrs. Reynolds." The URL went to that site because it's actually the closest thing I have to a homepage. I'll leave it out of future posts.

#38 ::: Lois Aleta Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 02:11 AM:

Serenity trailer and new Springsteen album on the same day! Total squeeness.

#39 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 02:26 AM:

I guess I'm the only one who was underwhelmed by the tv show. It was not a bad show, but the pieces never seemed to fit together.

Trailer looks like it would be a fun movie. It'd smell of cheese if Joss Whedon's name wasn't attached.

But I expect I'll see it.

#40 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:29 AM:

Okay, now I've heard it, and I want to see this film. Want, Want, Want.

No Book, no Kayley in the trailer -- only River as a female kickass artist -- but still, it's only a trailer. They're not trying to sell this to the fans, but to the newbies. We fans are already on board.

Harry, did you see the original TV versions or watch the DVDs? The first episode turned me off watching it, despite being a Joss-fan, but the DVD set converted me to a real fan of this show. And actually getting to see the proper set-up episode was a major part of that. "The Train Job", the first episode aired, was quite possibly the weakest episode of all.

#41 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:35 AM:

Kip: I do hope you're correct re: the things going "boom" in space issue. But doesn't ships swooshing as they go past kind of imply an atmosphere? Or am I getting overly pedantic over here again?

#42 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:11 AM:

Not necessarily, Alec -- if they establish that there's an audio component to the detection apparatus used on the ship, that "swoosh" could be related to "we're coming from the viewpoint of the bridge of Serenity, where the local computer includes an audio warning component that indicates how close something has gotten to us". And I actually think Joss might use such a mechanism.

#43 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:12 AM:

Aha! Quick check around shows that it seems the TV series mentioned is "Firefly" - which may possibly have been shown (or half-shown & pulled unexpectedly) unannounced at some very obscure timeslot &/or time of year by one of our commercial channels.

I have been considering buying the Firefly DVD after hearing good reports, but my budget is still in recovery from my earlier reaction to the $AU1.00 going above $US0.70. If we see the film Serenity here within the next few months, what are your opinions whether it's better to have watched the series first, or come to the film fresh?

Following earlier practice, it may have been put on at the same time as a well-known sf series on a different channel. The Star Trek versions, for instance are on at week-to-week variable times sometime between 11pm and 12:30am, unless there's some sport or other things, when they get held over.

Note that this almost invariably applies to sf (the remade Battlestar Galactica does seem to be being treated slightly differently), but is not confined to it: The West Wing, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, for instance, are/were treated in much the same way.

Meanwhile, The Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy film is being released here on Thursday, 28th April. From the TV ads it looks not too bad, tho' it does seem they've based Marvin the paranoid android's body on Marvin the Martian from cartoons, while I always envisioned him/it as closer to 3PI0. Also ZB seems to be a touch short in the head-count, tho' there may be an explanation.

[Potted history of film at Popcorn Taxi under heading MORE ABOUT THE MAKING OF HITCHHIKERS ... ]

#44 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 05:13 AM:

Oh. Yeah. Baby.

Thanks for the heads-up.

September seems such a long time away, if we in the UK even get it then...

#45 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 06:21 AM:

Hitchhikers may be all over the place - Douglas Adams biographer saw it and hated it all over the Internet.

However, Jim showed me the trailer, narrated by Stephen Fry as if it was an entry in "Hitchhikers Guide." It was hysterical and very clever. That gave me hope for the movie being good.

#46 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 08:30 AM:

Jack Foy: I have the same worries regarding the format transition -- especially since his filmwriting record has been rather spotty, compared to his work in other media.

Not to, you know, squee all over Joss, but keep in mind that for lots of his screen credits, he's been brought it to rescue an already totally f*ucked-up movie and turn it into something that can at least be released. The Buffy movie was hacked to bits by studio decisions. His own script and vision were supposed to have been very different.

#47 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 08:32 AM:

That should be "brought in." Damn this tiny text.

#48 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 08:33 AM:

Scott, Luthe, yes, I'm referring to the duel at Milliways (as I linked over in the open thread).

Roland of Gilead (from King's Dark Tower series) was dueling for the Rose Bride to try and punish/control her--and won--and then River immediately challenged him, at which point my jaw dropped in that great shock/non-shock reaction of "I never would have guessed but it makes so much *sense*", because of course River has strong feelings about people wanting to control broken girls. And then it turned into her gunslinger's trial, and I started squeeing about it indiscriminately.

Luthe, this reader waves back at Anakin, though she confesses that she's not been reading the Jedi threads much because Milliways is so *huge*.

#49 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 09:41 AM:

The trailer looks fun...but gimme a break. Why do the studios always have to package entertaining kitsch as "a unique vision of the future" where, yeah right, everyone walks and talks exactly like they do on Gower Street in L.A.? (Oh, and they have black belts, too!)


(sorry I didn't have enough coffee this morning)

#50 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 09:59 AM:

To add another variant of insanity to the mix, I think Bilek *and* Sundre are totally nuts, since both Bridge of Birds and the Buffy movie are sheer awesomeness, whereas the Buffy series can never, ever be forgiven for its comparative lameness (particularly the damnably horrid musical episode that someone forced me to watch).

I taped Firefly in its original run, and was always a hairsbreadth away from saying "this is OK, but not worth the effort of loading the VCR every Thursday." Watching it on DVD was a completely transformative experience. Whedon, when given the chance to, thoroughly sells you on these characters. Brilliant stuff, and I tell 99% of people to just buy them.

#51 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:01 AM:

John Farrell: Actually I believe it is unique (in movie/tv terms), because of the wild-west flavor. That doesn't come across in the trailers so much as it did on the Firefly tv show. That said, the trailer voiceover was pretty cheesy.

As for those who say the TV show debuted with a weak episode, well, I guess it wasn't perfect but I was hooked right away...partly because anything that features a dweeby girl engineer gets my vote, but mostly because of the way Mal reacts to being threatened by lackey #1. (Trying not to spoil anything for newbies here) And for the first season of an SF show it was FABULOUS.

It's going to be SO LONG until September, waaah!

#52 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:05 AM:

I confess. I'm not a Firefly fan. I enjoyed the shows but that's it.
Maybe I'm just hanging on to past bitterness at Joss neglecting BTVS and Angel because of it. Plus it's not Farscape.
Irrational me.

I am hoping the Hitchhiker movie is good.

#53 ::: Will ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:07 AM:

Epacris- just wanted to note that, in the HHGttG movie, Zaphod appears a head short but is not; apparently it's in his neck. Or something (it's in the first trailer that was up); the mechanism for its appearance is like a Pez dispenser, with his other head as the candy.

#54 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:10 AM:

Zaphod appears a head short but is not; apparently it's in his neck.

IIRC, nostril.

#55 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:19 AM:

Trailer looks great, even with sound in space... Who knows? Maybe that was added for the trailer?? Maybe? Hopefully? Oh, well. It's not a deal-breaker.

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to play up the Whedon connection? I think Serenity has a fighting chance at widespread acceptance... Firefly fans will see it no matter what. Trailers don't need to cater to them.

Speaking of catering to nerds, I'm thinking that last moment in the trailer ("I'm unarmed." "Good." [BLAM!]) is a shout-out to disgruntled Star Wars fans. "See? Our guy still shoots first!" Or am I reading into that too much?

#56 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:21 AM:

If you're a fan of Jewel Straite (Kaylee on Firefly), check out the DVDs of Wonderfalls, a Fox series of which only four episodes were shown on TV. She shows up on the last disc (last 5 episodes) as the bartender's cheating wife. It's quite a different character from what she plays on Firefly.

#57 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:47 AM:

I don't love the trailer, but given that I love love love Firefly, it hardly matters. Didn't like the portentiousness. Did love the brief scraps of Mal. "I aim to misbehave", "She's a might peculiar..." and of course shooting the unarmed bad guy. That's our Mal.

I hope that the trailer focused on the River mystery, but that we'll learn much more about the rest of them. Especially Shepherd Book. Who the hell is he? Certainly not what he claims to be.

September can't come soon enough. And did someone email Anna about the trailer?

#58 ::: Carrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:56 AM:


I'm a sucker for big spaceship movies. I even saw "Wing Commander" in the theater. This will be better. (Couldn't possibly be worse.)

#59 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:57 AM:

If memory serves--I haven't watched the trailer in almost eleven hours; gosh, I should load it up again--we could only hear those ships' guns going pow when the ships had blue sky behind them. Implying that the firefight was going on in a planetary atmosphere.

Low-Altitude Ship Action was one of those things that Firefly did all the time that you never see other shows do. I loved that.

#60 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 11:37 AM:

Tom, I watched every episode of FIREFLY when it aired, mainly because of Joss's signiture in the bottom corner. If it had been made and aired on the Sci-Fi channel I might have given up on it.

I can't see myself getting the DVD, either. I can't imagine getting an additional $35 of enjoyment out of it.

#61 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 11:55 AM:

I am so there that "there" is somewhere else by comparison.


#62 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 12:31 PM:

I'm so there I'm seeing it next week, apparently. —They're doing sneak advance screenings (three months out? Why, yes) in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Seattle on Cinco de Mayo. You could still get tickets to Portland as of an hour or so ago. Those interested, click here (you might have to register or something, fair warning) and follow the city-appropriate link.

(Spamesque disclaimer: Yes, apparently, if someone somewhere notices that I posted this link, I might get some points or something. I'm not really paying attention to that sort of thing. Just spreading the love.)

#63 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 12:58 PM:

Nitpick: The Shepherd. The Shepherd Book.

Shepherd isn't his first name, it's his job, his calling and his title. It's what they call clergymen in his religion, instead of "priest" or "rabbi."

And when was the last time you saw religion in a science fiction movie? Not New Age feelgood use-the-force-Luke, but an honest-to-goodness priest who carries around a Bible with a well-worn leather binding. (Alas, edited and redacted heavily in an unfortunate incident on shipboard.)

#64 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 01:25 PM:

And when was the last time you saw religion in a science fiction movie? Not New Age feelgood use-the-force-Luke, but an honest-to-goodness priest who carries around a Bible with a well-worn leather binding. (Alas, edited and redacted heavily in an unfortunate incident on shipboard.)

That was actually one of the few things I didn't like about the series -- Book seemed to have been written by a bunch of screenwriters with vaguely positive feelings about religion but no sense of how an actual preacher man might talk.

Which is probably the case, but they didn't have to write it like that. And so Book became kindasorta the Mysterious Robert Fulghum of the Spaceways.

#65 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 01:27 PM:

I saw the bits and pieces of Firefly that Fox aired (asside: why is it that if a show gets the royal screw, Rupert Murdoch's fingerprints are all over it?) It was... intriguing. But then, I haven't had a chance to see the DVDs, which apaprently are like watching a whole different series. I'll give a tentative perhaps,a s the trailor looks great.

I simply haven't been able to give myself wholey to fannish enthusiasm since George Lucus had his way with me. That Kind Mr. Jackson healed some hurt, but damn it if I won't be had a second time!

#66 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 02:13 PM:

Squee! I have tickets to a showing of the (not quite finished) movie in Boston on May 5.

#67 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 02:44 PM:

Woohoo! I've got a ticket too, Adina. Had to overturn a couple of planets this morning to get it, but I'm going to the shindig.

(Alas, I've just got the one ticket. In what will probably be my biggest good deed of the year, I gave the other one away to an acquaintance who showed up just after they sold out. Hearing "I love you!" and being hugged fiercely by a lesbian I barely know was odd, but fun.)

#68 ::: Carrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:19 PM:

The spoilers will be impossible to avoid after this. Grrrr.

#69 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:25 PM:

And when was the last time you saw religion in a science fiction movie? Not New Age feelgood use-the-force-Luke, but an honest-to-goodness priest who carries around a Bible with a well-worn leather binding.

Why does 'real' religion in SF have to take the form of Judeo-Christianity in order to avoid being New Age feelgood? The new Battlestar Galactica is doing great things with religion in SF, and the religious structure in that show is pantheistic with Greek and Roman inspirations. Deep Space Nine's religious attitudes did tend towards the New Agey on occasion, but there was nothing feelgood about the Bajorans' piety, and at its best that show also treated religion in a sombre, interesting way. In fact, I'd have to say that Firefly's treatment of Book's religion (and of the character itself) was rather wishy-washy, River's lovely excision of the Bible's contradictions notwithstanding.

I wish I could say that I'm as stoked as everyone here about the film, but I'm afraid that might be hazardous to my health. Unless it's a mega-gonzo-mondo hit of monstrous proportions, I don't expect an Israeli distributor to buy it. Which means I'll have to wait an extra six months for the DVD. In the meantime, I prefer not to think of it too much.

#70 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:32 PM:

Steve: That was actually one of the few things I didn't like about the series -- Book seemed to have been written by a bunch of screenwriters with vaguely positive feelings about religion but no sense of how an actual preacher man might talk.

Interesting. I found Book realistic. Then again, I'm virtually an atheist, haven't been to temple in a long, long time.

Bear in mind that Book is not a clergyman as we in America are accustomed to. He's not a parish priest, or neighborhood rabbi or reverend. He's some kind of a monk. He doesn't have a congregation (except, arguably, the crew of Serenity).

And that's assuming that he's really a Shepherd at all, that he's not just a secret agent of some kind posing as a Shepherd.

My own take on his character is that both everything he's said and everything we've seen is true. He's a sooper-dooper seekrit agent and a Shepherd. The easy assumption is that he did something heinous in the war, and retired to a monastery, then came out of retirement and joined up with Serenity for some seekrit-agent purpose.

Another possibility: He's always been a Shepherd. Whatever church he's a member of is a powerful political force in its own right, like the Bene Gesserit in the "Dune" novels. And he's part of that church's special military operations team.

#71 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:48 PM:

I'd also be interested in whether folks think it would be better to watch the DVDs first (hello, Netflix) or to see the movie and then catch up on the DVDs.

A while ago, I came across a page that listed a different suggested viewing order. As I recall, the writer thought Whedon's suggested viewing order did solve problems such as uniforms switching abruptly from one style to another, but still wasn't the best order to watch the show if you thought continuity of character development was the most important thing. Of course, now that I want to go back and read it again, I can't find it in my bookmarks or StumbleUpon links, and my Google skills are failing me. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

All I want is infinite searchable storage of every last thing I view on the net. Is that so much to ask? *sigh*

#72 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 03:55 PM:

Oh, phoo. Turns out I was thinking about Crusade. Nevermind. Looks like Whedon's recommended order it shall be.

#73 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:00 PM:

Or, Mitch, he might be former military, retired and turned to preaching, which is not unheard-of. I can't see him as the SAE of a religious organization, though that may be a bias brought on by reading Peter Crossman stories.

Andrew: Low-altitude ship action, ooh baby ooh baby. Also, a gifted pilot who's very far removed from the attitudinizing flyboys of our own time. I appreciate having someone notice that there's nothing about hotshot piloting that requires that the pilot be a jerk.

Jordin, we have it on middlin' good authority that Oakland is never there.

#74 ::: Holli ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:02 PM:

Lexica, the order on the the DVDs is the order Firefly was meant to be seen in. The geniuses at Fox Broadcasting were the ones who futzed with the viewing order; it was their bright idea to air the pilot episode *last*.

When you watch it in DVD order, things flow a *lot* better, and both the plot and character arcs are wonderful.

#75 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:03 PM:

Mitch, some people did call him "Shepherd" and some called him "Book."

Heck, I thought my Dad's first name was "Dean" when I was five (it was Bill but he was a college dean).

#76 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:05 PM:

Laurie, the Mormon version goes, "How come all those guys were named Elmer?"

#77 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:41 PM:

I have a friend whose last name is Deacon. Her father was not only a Deacon, but his nickname was Deke, so he was Deacon Deke Deacon.

In an only-through-ADD-related case, I used to work with a guy named Jaime Senior. His dad was also named Jaime, so he was Jaime Senior, Junior. AND he was Senior Graphic Artist at the company, so he was Jaime Senior, Junior, Senior Graphic Artist.

#78 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:42 PM:

I have a good friend who *ahem* works for a certain movie studio who is a hardcore nerd and has read the script. She says that while she has a couple of reservations (which I have forbidden her to share, lest I become spoiled) the script's excellent. One of her colleagues who was not an initiate of the series read the script and liked it enough to get the DVDs of the series, so it should be able to stand alone just fine.

I am really, really looking forward to the movie, but with a small amount of trepidation; I like the format of the series for character delvelopment and complexity. I suspect there are nuances that will be lost and some characters which will probably not be as fleshed out in order to give the film a coherent plot.

So, I think I will like it better than most films, but not as much as the series.

#79 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 04:46 PM:

T -- Brother Cadfael, for example.

Pooh. All the showings are sold out. Maybe I can leverage something out of the bookstore for SF.

#80 ::: Melanie Fletcher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 05:22 PM:

They're showing previews in selected cities.

One of those cities is Austin, which is only four hours from Dallas, where I am.

My friend Gregg got tickets for the Austin preview. And he won't share.

I hate him.

#81 ::: Melanie Fletcher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 05:27 PM:

Teresa wrote: Also, a gifted pilot who's very far removed from the attitudinizing flyboys of our own time.

Wash and his three magic switches. How I do love him. In a platonic sort of way, of course. Ahem.

#82 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 06:12 PM:

Harry, if you watched what Fox aired, you didn't really see Firefly. The DVDs not only have episodes in the right sequence, they have unaired eps.

As to seeing the DVDs before the movie, none of us has seen the movie, but I think watching the DVDs first is probably a good idea. I got mine from Netflix. If I want to watch them again, I just have to add them to the queue and pop them to the top.

#83 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 06:44 PM:

The easy assumption is that he did something heinous in the war, and retired to a monastery, then came out of retirement and joined up with Serenity for some seekrit-agent purpose.

One fannish speculation I've heard is that before he became a Shepherd, Book commanded the winning side at Serenity Valley. Afterwards, he was so disheartened by what he'd had to do to win that he joined a monastery.

You know Joss and that whole redemption thing...

#84 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 06:52 PM:

Or maybe Book commanded the losing side, and was disheartened by abandoning his people — who including Mal and Zoe. And Mal, at least, now hates the former rebel leaders about as much as he hates the Alliance.

#85 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 07:18 PM:

Tom: Yeah, the "swoosh" device has always been a favorite excuse inside my head for why ships produce those noises in vacuum. It's more of a post-facto justification than anything else, though.

It would certainly amuse me to see something like that referenced in Serenity, though I doubt it would make it past the editors even if it was in the script.

#86 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 09:02 PM:

Mitch writes "He's some kind of a monk."

And remember that, while there's Western monks, there's also Eastern monks.

A religious text by the current Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh read rather different from what you'd get from Pope Palpatine I.

I mean, for starters, I can't see Ratzinger visiting brain imaging labs and having confabs with brain/mind researchers at MIT. Or revising traditional teachings due to his own observations of the moon through a telescope.

It's not like every religious text needs to sound like the King James Bible, or some fire and brimstone tract about the Monstrous Regiment. The Dhammapada's pretty laid back.

#87 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:21 PM:

Skwid: I never claimed to be sane. I am very careful about that.

The Buffy movie is an enjoyable bad movie, IMO. I laugh off my extraneous bitsa, and have a very good time, but remember very little the next day. This may be for the best.

#88 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 10:31 PM:

Harry, as stated: the three extra episodes and the commentary (as well as seeing the eps in the order Joss intended) are worth much more than $35 to me.

#89 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 11:10 PM:

I remember hearing a speech by a guy working on "virtual cockpits" for the USAF, who mentioned using viscerally recognizable sounds for various cues and alerts -- for instance, a straw-slurping-at-the-bottom-of-the-glass noise for bingo fuel.

So now I'm imagining Bridge Custom Audio, in which the standard V-Whooshes(tm) made by other vessels -- swoosh, rumble, and the ever-popular BOM BOM BOM BOM-TI-BOM BOM-TI-BOM can be customized at the drop of a traffic.wav file. For instance, there'd be the package in which overtaking ships go "Beep Beep," slow freighters hum "The Arkansas Traveler" (i.e., "I'm a Little Baby Bumblebee"), hostile vessels shriek "Oh, you Earth creatures are so anNOYing!" and the Space Patrol . . . well, the word "Varmint" comes to mind.

Science fiction is cool.

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2005, 11:59 PM:

I submitted an entry describing something like that to THE SPACE GAMER's spaceship accessories contest once.

#91 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 01:32 AM:

Mike Ford should come over to the Main Control Room at Fermilab some time, and sit quietly for a while.

It sounds a lot like the bridge of his imagination.

In a way, it really is a bridge, piloting spaceships very, very close to the speed of light. Just really small ones.

#92 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 05:58 AM:

Okay, John M. Ford is now my hero.

#93 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 08:26 AM:

John M. Ford wrote: For instance, there'd be the package in which overtaking ships go "Beep Beep," slow freighters hum "The Arkansas Traveler"...

"Lieutenant, I don't know why the bridge speakers are playing the banjo riff from Deliverance, but I assume it isn't good. Reavers?"

"Worse, sir! Fox executives!"

#94 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 09:11 AM:

wrt Book's past: I figured him for CEO of that Very Bad Corporation doing those Very Bad Things. IM (admittedly limited) E, ex-military vets don't get the kind of snappy service he got when he flashed his ID, and can you really see Mel not knowing the face of the guy who "won" Serenity Valley?

#95 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 09:12 AM:

Mal. Aaarrrggghhhh.

#96 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 12:00 PM:

Reading this thread is giving me great amounts of ineffable pleasure.

I love you guys.


#97 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 12:25 PM:

No preview screenings up here in Canuckistan. Grrr arrgh.

Shannon said: I'm thinking that last moment in the trailer ... is a shout-out to disgruntled Star Wars fans. "See? Our guy still shoots first!" Or am I reading into that too much?
I don't know if we're reading too much into it, Shannon, but that was my first thought too.

What I loved best about Firefly were the characters: Wash & Zoe's relationship, Kaylee's cheerful competence and hedonism, Jayne's mercenary streak, Mal's refusal to fight by gentlemen's rules. As long as I get to see each one of them for a few minutes, the movie will make me happy.

(Inara was the only one who didn't completely win me over. I think that was both the actress, who was beautiful but inexperienced, and the role -- of course a courtesan is going to be emotionally reserved, but that's hard to put across onscreen without making her opaque.)

#98 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 01:13 PM:

I want to second (tenth?) those who say that the DVDs were much, much better than the TV version. I was turned off by the first episode shown on TV -- got hooked by the pilot Joss meant to be the first episode. And while I agree that the episode aired first by Fox was perhaps the weakest, even it was much better seen after the pilot.

I do fear that those hoping for a lot of (the) Shepard Book -- especially for developments in the mystery of his past -- are in for a disappointment, however. I think that what gets lost in the transition from episodic TV, with lots of room for slow development, to film, are secondary character threads. It looks to me like Joss decided to focus on River (and Mal), and I suspect that the other characters, while making perfectly good secondary characters, won't be explored in as much depth -- in particular, I doubt he'll go into mysteries.

But maybe I underestimate Joss. Easy to do.

Even if it's just a River/Mal film, though -- an extended episode, as it were, featuring those two -- should be great.

#99 ::: Lillian ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 03:00 PM:

The Austin show sold out in about 6 nanoseconds. So I'm doing what I did with the LoTR movies--renting the Alamo Drafthouse for an early showing the day it opens and charging all my friends/friends-of-friends just enough to cover expenses. They serve GOOD food and booze, and you see it with fans only. No little kids.
It's my understanding that Ron Glass had another commitment so is only in the movie a bit. Kaylee is definitely in it--she did a fun videoblog of filming that's on the main website somewhere.

"This is where it gets interesting."
"Define interesting."
"Oh god, oh god, we're gonna die?"

#100 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 03:24 PM:

Ooh! Lillian! Will you count me as a friend?

#101 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 05:44 PM:

I am apparently one of the very few people who didn't take a shine to Mal (except a few moments), and I liked his voice-overs.

I can't wait to see this!

If nothing else, River! River!

#102 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 05:55 PM:

So after reading all the connections people are finding, I have to ask: will this movie mean anything to people who haven't followed the TV show and don't plan to buy and review the DVDs before the opening?

#103 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 06:03 PM:

Chip: I really hope so, because I want the movie to do very well and convince some network to put the show back on the air. But I won't know for sure until I've seen the movie, so ask me again in a week.

Kate: Are you sure you saw River with a sword? I just watched the trailer several times, and stopped it once or twice, and I saw lots of unarmed combat, but no sword.

#104 ::: Kate Yule ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2005, 09:32 PM:


I haven't seen the trailer, and don't "aim to", because my personal Spoiler bar is set extremely low. (I figure there's only one time in my life that I can see any movie completely naive, and have all the surprises BE surprises.)

But Mal can come misbehave at my place any time.

#105 ::: Jon Mann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 03:01 AM:

Epacris: yeah, Firefly did screen in Aus last year, late night, unheralded. If you weren't actively scouring the TV guides, paranoid about it maybe turning up sometime -- like yours truly -- you would've missed it. Strangely enough, all episodes were shown, and mostly in the right order.

I assume that was the River actress actually performing the butt-kicking, being a dancer 'n all.

#106 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 05:35 AM:

For those who commented on the Russian movie Night Watch, I'd like to point out that it was released in 2004 in Russia and so it's possible to have seen it already. IMHO, it's as good as the trailer suggests, although the visual style can be a bit exhausting. It's not the kind of thing you'd want to watch if you had a headache coming on.

#107 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 05:39 AM:

<sigh> work machine has broadband, sound, no quicktime; home machine has v dodgey dialup line, no sound (has card & speakers, zilch noise after a rebuild some while back), but possesses quicktime. Bound to be round eventually.

Alas, my four free film tickets that we got as our Christmas bonus at work expire at the end of June.

#108 ::: Joseph ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 07:19 AM:

I must be one of the very few people in the world who isn't interested in this.

As far as I know, the original series was never broadcast in the UK (unless on cable or satellite, which we don't have), and for that reason I'd be rather surprised if the film is picked up by a UK distributor. (With no audience primed for it, it would be too much of a financial risk.) Unless anyone knows different, of course....

#109 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 08:02 AM:

It was broadcast on cable and satellite in the UK, on the Sci-Fi Channel. All the episodes, in the correct order (that was the world premiere of the episodes unbroadcast in the US, IIRC).

I guess UK distribution will depend on how well they can present it as independent of the series, and how well it does in the States. It's not like Whedon's an unknown, though.

#110 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 08:26 AM:

Mike Ford: something like that occurs in Elizabeth Moon's "Heris Serrano" series (in the third book, Winning Colors, I think). Only a throwaway reference, but still neat.

#111 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 08:40 AM:

Actually, looks like they've already got UK distribution. It's scheduled for a UK release on the 7th of October.

#112 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 09:18 AM:

Epacris, there's a high-res (near DVD-quality) XVID AVI version up here. Of course, if you don't have quicktime, you probably aren't going to have the XVID codec either, I guess...

Also, the boys at Penny Arcade weigh in.

#113 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 09:34 AM:

Adina, River with the sword is briefly towards the end, just a few movements.

#114 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 10:33 AM:

Breaking News from the Ensemble Cast Dept.:

Dream Teams Thrive On Mix Of Old And New Blood
Source: Northwestern University
Date: 2005-04-28

EVANSTON, Ill. --- "When the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series title since 1918 last year, the team had some new blood, including key players Curt Schilling, Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, to mix with the old and help the team achieve the pinnacle of baseball success."

"In a paper to be published April 29 in the journal Science, Northwestern University researchers turned to a different type of team -- creative teams in the arts and sciences -- to determine a team's recipe for success. They discovered that the composition of a great team is the same whether you are working on Broadway or in economics."

"The researchers studied data on Broadway musicals since 1877 as well as thousands of journal publications in four fields of science and found that successful teams had a diverse membership -- not of race and gender but of old blood and new. New team members clearly added creative spark and critical links to the experience of the entire industry. Unsuccessful teams were isolated from each other whereas the members of successful teams were interconnected, much like the Kevin Bacon game, across a giant cluster of artists or scientists...."

#115 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 12:47 PM:

Joss is a treasure. We could sure use a few more Whedon's and Straczynski's, though.

Apparently, if you care at all about language and stories, the Hitchhiker's Guide movie sucks. People are shocked, I tell you, shocked that Disney would take a classic with wit, grace, and meaning and turn it into mindless entertainment. After all, that never ever happens.

Is there someplace I can buy new pop culture manufacturers? I'm really not happy with the ones I've got ...

#116 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 01:18 PM:

This trailer actually makes me want to see the show. (DVD, whatever.)

This may just be because I'm finally watching Buffy.

Previously, I was just like, "Western in space? Pfooey."

(Apropos of nothing: Stephen Frug, did you go to a small private high school in the middle of Boston?)

#117 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 01:29 PM:

Despite my mixed feeings about the trailer, I can't get the TV themesong out of my head!!

You can't take the sky from meeeeaa....

#118 ::: Lillian ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 03:16 PM:

Of course, TexAnne! Because I did those LoTR screenings, I find myself with lots of new friends. It's pretty cool. If I could organize things like that for a living, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Looks like a busy summer for us movie geeks. Hitchhikers Guide, Fantastic Four, Night Watch, Batman, War of the Worlds :-)...
Planning on seeing both "Kung Fu Hustle" AND "Sin City" this weekend. My brain may explode, but at least I'll have fun.

#119 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 04:21 PM:

Mark Wise:
Is there someplace I can buy new pop culture manufacturers? I'm really not happy with the ones I've got ...

New Zealand.

#120 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 04:27 PM:

CHip, Whedon made the film with the expectation that there would be a lot of folks in the audience who hadn't seen the show. Furthermore, one fo the big bonus-multipliers on the buzz for the movie is how well it's doing with people who hadn't seen the show. Many of the advance reviews (such as one I know I read on ain't-it-cool, a while back) have begun with phrases on the order of "heck, if the show was half as good as this movie, I guess I really should have watched it."

Adina, from what I understand, one of the stipulations of the three-picture deal with Universal was that Firefly the TV show would not go back into production. I believe Whedon has stated that now that it has made the jump to the big screen, it can't go back.

#121 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 05:21 PM:

I believe Fox still has the TV rights, and Universal has the feature rights. I'm glad they have a three-picture deal, but I doubt if that will ever come to pass, unless Serenity does Spiderman numbers, which I doubt. GE owns Uni now, and they are notoriously cheap (and shortsighted! Ask me about the archives!)

#122 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 07:08 PM:

Interesting segment on NPR today about how Hollywood uses foreign tax shelters to fund blockbuster movies.

People of Germany, we of America thank you for "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."

#123 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2005, 10:16 PM:


How To Finance a Hollywood Blockbuster
Start with a German tax shelter.
By Edward Jay Epstein
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005, at 9:18 AM PT


Listen to this story on NPR's Day to Day.

As paradoxical and absurd as it sounds, it's cheaper for a Hollywood studio to make a big-budget action movie than to make a shoestring art film like Sideways. Consider Paramount's 2001 action flick Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. On paper, Tomb Raider's budget was $94 million. In fact, the entire movie cost Paramount less than $7 million.

#124 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 12:50 AM:

Maybe I'm a bad person for this. But, while there are a few Hollywood touches mixed in, I liked Hitchhiker's. (Those who are too purist about the story might want to recall that Adams himself wasn't....)

Serenity *is* making me more curious about Firefly itself - although the level of fannish enthusiasm here is helping. :)

#125 ::: F. Dreier ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 02:10 AM:

I think I first heard about the Firefly Chinese Pinyinary here (thank you), so I'll pass along a discussion of the written and spoken Chinese in the show going on at Hanzi Smatter, a blog "Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters (Hanzi or Kanji) in Western culture."

#126 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 06:47 AM:
As paradoxical and absurd as it sounds, it's cheaper for a Hollywood studio to make a big-budget action movie than to make a shoestring art film like Sideways.
Emmm, actually, that sounds absurd because it is absurd.
Consider Paramount's 2001 action flick Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. On paper, Tomb Raider's budget was $94 million. In fact, the entire movie cost Paramount less than $7 million.
This is nonsense. The article's author arrives at that figure by mentioning a couple of tax breaks and then saying:
To pay for most of the rest of the movie, Paramount sold distribution rights in six countries where the Tomb Raider video games were a big hit with teenage boys. These pre-sales in Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain brought in another $65 million.
Pre-sales, for the uninitiated, are part of the film's income. If they didn't pre-sell the territories, they'd post-sell them: that is, sell them *after* the film is in the can. And not for the "take a flyer on an as-yet-unmade sequel" discount, either, I guarantee you.

Hits with proven boxoffice records sell for more than as-yet-unfilmed sequels. Even sequels with... well... lips like those. (Which of course need no translation to sell well in the foreign market, don'cha know. :-) Sex, guns, and explosions speak a global language.)

It's just creative financing - the foreign distribs are acting as investors, taking a risk (albeit a very small one - the boys *will* come for those lips) in return for a somewhat bigger slice of the overall pie. (Or possibly to take the pie away from a more risk-averse competitor.)

(Pre-sales can also be used to reduce the studio's downside risk if a film utterly tanks, but that seems an unlikely motive here: action blockbusters have almost no downside risk to begin with. They almost never actually lose money - even the ones that bomb at the box office usually pay back their costs when all is said and done - they just don't make the huge returns of a successful blockbuster.)

(Hence their popularity at all the major studios. :-) Indeed, the summer blockbusters are the reason the studios can afford to take risks on films like Sideways (which can lose Real Money when they bomb.)

But financing a film with pre-sales doesn't reduce its costs (except to whatever small degree it may be cheaper than financing it some other way). It still costs the same amount of money to make the film. You still need to make up those costs in sales (including pre-sales!) to turn a profit.

Lara Croft:TR was not "cheaper to make" than Sideways - it was easier to finance. Which is not the same thing at all.

Confusing those two things reveals an embarrasing lack of understanding of the basic economics of filmmaking.

Edward Jay Epstein is the author of The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood.
Oh dear.

#127 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 06:48 AM:

nerdycellist: Ask me about the archives!

What about the archives, nerdycellist?

#128 ::: Glen Blankenship ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 06:53 AM:

Oh, and I confess I'm amused by the notion that Sideways, with its $16-mil budget, is a "shoestring art film". Them's some mighty niiiice shoestrings. :-)

#129 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 11:59 AM:

Universal is shutting down its archives and collections department. I have friends who work there, so I get the inside dope, only some of which I'll post - there is always the possiblity that other departments will take up some of the collections, and maybe an archivist or two and I don't want to ruin those chances. (the timing of the announcement - beginning of the first quarter - makes that a tougher prospect, since all of this involves budgeting that other departments didn't know about...)

I know it's tough on the archivists who rely on the money to pay the rent (and are in debt for the MLS degrees, museum certification, etc these jobs require) but it upsets me as an interested film bystander. In this town, the film industry isn't just the big business out here, it's part of history. If the collections don't wind up in the hands of someone with knowledge about preservation, they might as well go in the dumpster. I know that the swords from the Gladiator movie aren't exactly the Elgin Marbles, but it does still bug. On the other hand, in the hands of an interested and resourceful collector, they might be safer than a giant corporation, so who knows?

(for an example of What Not To Do, see ST:TOS DVD extras with their "archivist", jostling tea settings, handling things without gloves, and shoving things around on wooden shelving. Or don't, if you're an archivist with blood pressure issues.)

Furthermore, a whole lot of those DVD Extras are the direct result of those archives. How could they justify random re-releases of 25-year-old sci fi camp (Huzzah, BSG!) without those extras?

To bring this back on topic, one of my archivist friends (I could say the geeky one, but archivists in general are a pretty geeky lot) has been on Serenity. And another one nearly ran over Nathan Fillion on the backlot with the golf cart (I believe they were distracted by the tight pants).

#130 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 12:04 PM:

Leonora -

My whole team at work went to see Hitchhiker's Friday afternoon, and I was somewhat perplexed by it until I recognized that it was, in effect, a full length, feature film obituary.

Once I figured that out, it all made sense, in an humanistic-thank-you-to-the-Great-Beyond kind of way.

#131 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 12:37 PM:

My wife, son, and I went to see Hitchhiker Friday evening. My wife and I were basically amused, my son was not, although I heard him laugh twice. The film stays pretty close to the book, the safe way that the first Harry Potter film did, with the exception of a love-interest at the end for Beeblebrox and symmetry (a point which irked my son). We all liked the special effects. We all liked "The Bad Grand-dad of Rock" as Slartibartfast. I thought that the Vogons all wearing black leather was a nice touch, which I don't recall from the book. The acting was often good. What was missing was any recollection that the BBC radiuo show, and the book, were screamingly funny. There was not enough of the original humor, and virtually no new humor. I'm not sure who's qualified to 'punch up" Doug Adams, but, for instance, they could have asked Eric Idle or Weird Al Yankovitch for some songs, instead of the directors tiresome "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" thesong at the start and end. There were more lauighs in the trailer for Steve Martin in The Pink Panther. Readers of this blog might, on the other hand, especially like the part where the Improbability Drive makes Arthur Dent et al. into yarn figures, and he throws up yarn upon returning to "normalcy."

Visually diverting, modestly entertaining, and Mostly Harmless.

"Sin City" was a much stronger fiilm, all in all (though less suitable for children). We really look forward to Serenity, and have since the older preview trailer at San Diego Comic-Con early last July.

#132 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 01:06 PM:

JvP: Allow me to introduce you to the word "spoiler." If a film doesn't have very many jokes in it, why tell us every detail of all of them? Kinda makes it less fun for the rest of us, ya dig?

#133 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 02:24 PM:

TexAnne: Sorry. I admit to three spoilers (leather, yarn, female supporting role Questular Rontok not in book). Maybe 4, obliquely, on casting of Bill Nighy from "Love Actually" [and "Shaun of the Dead", "Underworld", "I Capture the Castle", and coming soon in "Underworld: Evolution" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest").

Here are some semispoilers (i.e. things to watch or listen for which I won't spoil): the original Marvin, the original Arthur Dent, identifying the voices of Narrator, Whale, Jeltz, Eddie the Computer, Kwaltz, Deep Thought, and Marvin.

#134 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 03:07 PM:

We just got back from Hitchhiker. We sat in front of some people who just howled all the way through it. We enjoyed it - it's funny, definitely worth the trip if you enjoy humorous SF, though not quite as funny, as, say Galaxy Quest.

It's basically worth the price of admission to listen to Stephen Fry as the voice of the Guide. And Sam Rockwell was a real hoot.

#135 ::: Matt LeClair ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 04:04 PM:

ohmigod ohmigod! Even if you've already seen the Serenity trailer, you have to install the just-released Quicktime 7 and watch the HD version. Simply gorgeous. It'll give you chills. You can find it here:

#136 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2005, 04:50 PM:

Saw Hichhiker's yesterday and they showed the Serenity trailor before hand. On the BIG screen, it looks frickin cool.

#137 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 10:42 AM:

I also saw Hitchhiker last night. I agree that it was pretty funny. I have read and enjoyed all of Douglas Adams' books, but not in a couple of years, so my expectations weren't as high as some. That the film didn't live up to the complete and utter hilarity of the first 15-or so minutes is probably it's biggest fault. I was surprised to see that it did a good job at catching some of the bittersweet melancholy I remember from the book.

Great casting, especially Marvin. That android just needs a big hug. (I'm afraid to imagine the fanfic that exists....)

Oh, and Serenity trailer - Woohoo!!! Cap'n Tightpants all big and stuff!

that did sound a little rude, didn't it.

#138 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2005, 09:17 PM:

Mostly Charmless:
A Review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Gary Westfahl

Rather accurate review. I think, however, that it's good news that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ranked #1 box office this weekend, in the USA. That means a sequel. They might get it right the second time.

Using terminology developed in this blog, my son's bottom line is that Hitchhiker is "a dumb smart movie."

Here's hoping that Serenity is a Smart Smart movie!

#139 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2005, 11:18 PM:

Apparently the reason that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ranked #1 box office this weekend, in the USA, was demographics.

The audience for the film was divided almost equally between those older than 25 and those younger than 25, which Disney's domestic distribution chief, Chuck Viane, admits is unusual for Disney. That's why a confused British bloke in a bathrobe beat a redblooded American man of action (XXX: State of the Union). Also, XXX2 lost some action-oriented audience to Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter."

Looking on the bright side, I hope that a second Douglas Adams feature will be funnier; at least it is more likely, now, to be made at all.

#140 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2005, 12:57 PM:

Guide could become film trilogy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy could be turned into a movie trilogy, the film's executive producer has told a newspaper....

#141 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2005, 02:22 PM:

<ahem> Would that be likely to be a trilogy in four parts, or in five, do you think?

#142 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2005, 02:31 PM:

Despite my mixed feeings about the trailer, I can't get the TV themesong out of my head!!

You can't take the sky from meeeeaa....

If I get that as an earworm for the rest of the day, there's going to be trouble....

Oddly, I can't get the Buffy theme stuck in my head, despite having seen all 144 episodes (and most of them multiple times). For reasons best known to itself it turns into Dire Straits' Industrial Disease if I try to hum it.

#143 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2005, 04:15 PM:

You know the best thing about that theme song? The one-four bar. How many TV theme songs can you think of with a one-four bar?

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
[one, two.]

I have it on good authority, however, that the extra beat tends to complicate any interpretive dancing that one might do in the privacy of one's living room.

In other news: we saw the HHGttG movie this weekend. It wasn't the book, but how could it be, really? It was fun nonetheless. My biggest complaint was that they weren't showing the Serenity trailer.

#144 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2005, 06:24 PM:

I saw the H2G2 movie last night, and I've had a bit from the TV series theme music stuck on headradio all day. That and four bars of a reggae song I can't remember the words to.

If I'm going to get songs stuck in my head, I think that I should be allowed to pick which ones.

No, the movie was not the book. (This paragraph contains no plot spoilers, but look away now if you are easily irritated). They kept most of the funny bits, and let go some of the clever ones. Mostly balanced, a brilliant start and a bearable ending. Considering Adams' relationshop with Macintosh computers, I thought the appearance of the Guide itself was fitting. An' the factory sequence was dead sexy.

#145 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2005, 07:16 PM:

The genre TV music that always comes to my mind is that for Angel, with that cello opening.

#146 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2005, 07:44 AM:

Forever Knight, whatever you think of the show itself, had a fantastic cello opening.

#147 ::: Michael Rawdon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2005, 01:37 PM:

Guh. I thought the characters and dialogue looked just as ridiculous as they did in the TV series. I have this dim hope that it will be a goofy and madcap SF adventure and thus be about as good as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was (fun, but not memorable).

The cult following the TV series has is baffling to me. 5 episodes was all I could stand. There just wasn't any "there" there.

#148 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2005, 02:51 PM:

Michael Rawdon: The cult following the TV series has is baffling to me. 5 episodes was all I could stand. There just wasn't any "there" there.

I passionately hated Firefly when I first saw it. Part of this was the horrible first episode--which was never supposed to be the first episode--and part of it was the stupid Western crap, and part of it was that it seemed so cliched. I watched the first two episodes, hoping the first had been a bad fluke, and then gave up.

Then, weeks later, I saw "Out of Gas." I started watching again. The show had miraculously gotten much, much better in the meanwhile. And just when I was getting excited about how it was taking off (yeah, there were still rough spots, but it had promise), it was cancelled.

Fortunately, the DVDs were available not too horribly long after that. I don't love everything about the show (the Western stuff is still crap), but I love what it has the potential to do.

#149 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 11:48 AM:

I loved it from the beginning. I love Westerns. I love space opera. Horse opera/space opera. What's not to like? The look of it was quite original, and the characters and dialogue were, as always with Joss, extremely well-done.

I even loved the first episode. I loved when the sherrif demonstrateed he was a decent man by letting the prisoner have a puff on his cigar.

Sure, the cosmology was dumb. And if this is supposed to be a joint Chinese-American future, how come we only ever saw maybe one Chinese guy as a regular character or major guest star? But that wasn't important.

#150 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Aconite - Is "Out of Gas" the one where the crew leaves in two separate lifeboats, leaving Mal behind? There's a behind-the-scenes story about that one.

#151 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Is "Out of Gas" the one where the crew leaves in two separate lifeboats, leaving Mal behind? There's a behind-the-scenes story about that one.

Tell! Tell!

#152 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 02:37 PM:


Okay. You know how, in the episode, Mal sent the crew out in separate lifeboats, while he stayed behind? Big dramatic scene, as they all face certain death and never seeing each other again, too? Wash, the pilot, installs a big red button on the flight deck of Serenity, and Mal says if he gets fuel for the ship, Mal will punch the button and everybody will come back home.

And Mal gets the fuel but almost dies in the process. But he manages to drag his dying body to the flight deck and punches the Big Red Button and blacks out, and wakes up in sickbay. His shipmates came back! They rescued him! Hooray!

Now here's the behind-the-scenes story:

When "Firefly" was cancelled, it was particularly frustrating for the cast and fans of the show. "Firefly" was the flaghsip series for the network series, the network put a lot of money into production and advertising and marketing. And then, it's like as soon as the series went on the air, the network went into full reverse and did everything they could to kill it.

When the series was finally cancelled, Alan Tudyk, the actor who played Wash, brought the Big Red Button to Joss Whedon, and told Joss to put it up in his office. Joss was already speculating on ways to keep the show alive, move it to another network or make movies out of it. But you know how likely THAT is, right? Creators of cult series always say that when series are cancelled, and it almost never happens.

But Alan Tudyk had faith. So he gave Joss Whedon the Big Red Button, and told Joss to install it in his office, and when Joss got the go-ahead to bring "Firefly" back to life, Joss should punch the Big Red Button and the whole cast and crew would come back home to Serenity.

I'm usually amused by, but skeptical of, showbiz stories. But this one overcame my cynicism, and kind of gave me a little lump in my throat. If I wasn't such a manly fellow, I'd say I got a little misty-eyed too.

#153 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 03:35 PM:

Mitch: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww. sniffle.


Do I misremember, or was it an engine part, and not fuel, that Mal needed?

#154 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 07:56 PM:

Now that you mention it, I think it was an engine part.

#155 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 12:57 AM:

Back from the screening.

It's a very, very good movie. I had high expectations, and it surpassed them. It does fair credit to fans of the series, as it answers some background questions that were never fully addressed, while (I think) remaining accessible to everyone else.

The fight scenes are absolutely beautiful. And of course there's a lot of them.

That's all I've got to say; no spoilers. There are rumors that there may be a second and third movie if this one succeeds, so tell everyone you know to see it.

#156 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 01:41 AM:


TV theme music is actually one of the most likely places to hear odd and/or changing time signatures. I think it's because the time constraints are so rigid--composers end up thinking in smaller units than full bars. Check out the "Room 222" theme for a fairly extreme example.

I've also heard well-known songs edited by partial bars to fit into commercials (Jeep did it to John Coltrane, for example), which, as much as I like odd time signatures in other contexts, always gives me that "missed the last step" feeling.

#157 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 10:08 AM:

Steve Eley, thanks for the report.

#158 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 01:07 PM:

What Steve said. Serenity is witty, funny, and smart.

At some point when I'm more awake I'll write more. (I got home around 12:30 this morning and was too keyed up to go to bed for another hour, despite having to get up at 7 for work.)

#159 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 01:49 PM:

Also saw it, agreeing. The print was a bit of a work-in-progress -- no music, no credits, and a 5 minute advance bit of Joss talking about how unlikely a thing the movie was. I'm still not quite awake myself -- I too couldn't get to sleep until after 2, and I had no internet access last night. I'll also say this is the darkest thing I've seen Joss do, and that some of the things in the trailer are definitely Joss misleading you.

In SF, they had two cast members -- if I were awake, I'd remember their real names, but they played Wash and Zoe. They hung out and answered questions for a bit afterwards. I got a ticket from someone who had a friend who flaked, by wandering up and down the line, but I didn't get it until the very end, so I was in the front row near the center and got to shake Wash's hand. And they gave out signed mini posters. Who showed up at the other screenings?

#160 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 01:50 PM:

Oh yes -- there is no sound in space; the sound bits are all in atmosphere. Fairly thin atmosphere at times!

#161 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 01:56 PM:

I knew it!

I shall now return to seething with jealousy.

#162 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 03:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore wrote:
Also saw it, agreeing. The print was a bit of a work-in-progress -- no music, no credits, and a 5 minute advance bit of Joss talking about how unlikely a thing the movie was.

The Joss speech was quite cool. His gist was, "This movie should not exist. They don't make major motion pictures out of failed shows. It doesn't happen. So, having achieved the impossible, it's up to you now to make it succeed. If you like the movie, TELL EVERYONE. (And if you don't like the movie, now is the time for quiet.)" >8->

In SF, they had two cast members -- if I were awake, I'd remember their real names, but they played Wash and Zoe. They hung out and answered questions for a bit afterwards.

Very cool. I bet I can guess what 99% of the questions were about. >8->

I was at the Atlanta screening. We got the miniposters and keychains, but no cast members. We did have response forms to fill out, and there were a couple of folks outside asking what people thought -- of course, with this crowd, the response was consistent and overwhelming. One of the guys in my group initially said something inane, then realized the woman who asked was from the studio and that his opinion mattered this time. So he went back and told her, very seriously, "I haven't been this blown away by a movie since the original Star Wars."

#163 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 04:16 PM:

It's big, bold, brassy, and beautiful. But movies as they are spoke here in the early 21st are a clumsy way to tell a story: for various mostly market-driven reasons, movies are supposed to be spectacles, and all the big and bold and brassy gets in the way of the beauty sometimes. —The Spouse was musing that this really should have been the movie they made after they'd had a couple seasons and then gotten cancelled. Well, golly, says I; if you're gonna wish for a pony, then this should have been the climactic five-episode arc to their third season as an HBO premium series.

But why nitpick? That was Firefly up there on the screen, and the folks who came down from Ballard were singing the Ballad of Jayne to great applause, and Whedon's little opening bit got me all misty-eyed, and, well, gosh.

But for the love of God and all his little devils: avoid all spoilers like the plague. You may be tempted; we're all only human. Stay strong. You'll see why.

#164 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 04:31 PM:

The Boston screening had Sean Maher (Simon Tam) and Morena Baccarin (Inara). We got keychains, but no mini-posters or comment cards. There was someone filming audience questions and reactions, but I don't know where they were from. We also had some sing-alongs. It felt very fannish.

#165 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 04:34 PM:

... and in the spirit of obeying Kip's final advice, I'm dropping out of this comments thread....

#166 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 05:13 PM:

I walked into a huge spoiler because I jumped to the assumption it was a TV-series spoiler, not a movie spoiler.


#167 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2005, 05:34 PM:

I cannot agree more strongly about avoiding spoilers on this. It's a film that I expect will work really well even if fully spoilerized (much as it's really wonderful to re-watch Buffy and Angel and Firefly) -- the little bits I did catch of the voice-overs and the like only make me realize how much I must have missed -- but the visceral experience should not be missed.

We had no response forms, no interviewers. The audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

#168 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2005, 03:08 AM:

For those who have seen SERENITY, or those who are about to:

Re-watching "Objects in Space" and the DVD extra "Firefly -- the Way it Was" may help point out just how good this is.

#169 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2005, 06:59 AM:

Just saw this today, and I wondered, relating to the discussion of sf/sci fi as well as films, if anyone had yet seen this one? Or heard if it's likely to be distributed near them?
Master of light and shades (Film director Wong Kar-wai)
by Sacha Molitorisz: Article; Film site and trailer

Interesting, as that's exactly what 2046 is about: the way we tend to look back at the past through rose-coloured glasses. 2046 revisits the love affair of In The Mood For Love between Mr Chow (Tony Leung) and Su Li Zhen (Maggie Cheung).

At the end of In The Mood For Love, Chow travelled to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The year was 1967 and Chow's goal was to find an ancient hole into which he could whisper the secret of his doomed affair with Su Li Zhen. 2046 opens later, as Chow, a writer, moves into the Oriental Hotel. Burned by his affair, Chow has devolved into a voracious ladies' man, bedding one gorgeous conquest after another - until meeting his match with his neighbour in room 2046, hostess Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi). Convinced by the hotel owner's daughter, Jing Wen (Faye Wong), to write science fiction, Wong begins a novel called 2046, in which an android-filled train allows travellers to voyage to 2046 to recapture lost memories.

Odd, you say? Truth is, the 129-minute drama is much more complicated and curious than any synopsis can suggest.

Wong says the film was inspired by the Chinese government's promise that it would not meddle with Hong Kong for 50 years after taking over in 1997.

"2046 is not only the room number or a certain year - it's more about a state of mind, about all of us, that we always want to preserve something. We know it's going to change, but ideally we want to preserve it somewhere. It's like we have an antique shop in our mind."
Maybe this should go on the Open Thread 40 discussion, but when the threads get near to 300 or so comments, the "ads-only page" cuts in before the browser gets to display the comment entry box, even when I keep hitting the Back Button to re-display the comments. Very irritating.

#170 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2005, 07:45 PM:

The SF showing had Alan Tudyk(Wash) and Gina Torres(Zoe).

#171 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2005, 10:39 PM:

Just talked to someone who saw the Sacramento showing, and they had no actors.

#172 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2005, 04:54 PM:

'Kingdom of Heaven' worsens U.S. box office slump
Sunday March 8, 10:11 AM ET

This weekend, in the USA, the top 10 box office films are:

1. Kingdom of Heaven [see my comment]
2. House of Wax [horror]
3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [sci-fi]
4. Crash
5. The Interpreter
6. XXX: State of the Union
7. The Amityville Horror [horror]
8. Sahara
9. A Lot Like Love
10. Fever Pitch

My comment is that Sir Ridley Scott (as Producer or Executive Producer) excels at WORLDBUILDING in a genuinely science-fictional way, regardless of the genre of his film. Of the following, only #2 and 32 are explicitly science fiction. Yet ALL have an attention to detail and the context for those details that ring true to me as a Science Fiction Critic, even in genres as diverse as Historical Epic, Sea Story, Family Comedy, Mystery, or Political Thriller.

1. Diamond Dead (2005) (in production) [Musical Horror Comedy]
2. "The Andromeda Strain" (2005) (mini) TV Series (announced) (executive producer) [Science Fiction or Sci-Fi]
3. Mary Queen of Scots (2006) (pre-production) (executive producer) [Historical]
4. Emma's War (2005) (pre-production) (producer) [contemporary drama set in Sudan]
5. Domino (2005) (post-production) [Action Thriller]
6. In Her Shoes (2005) (completed) (producer) [comedy]
7. Tristan & Isolde (2006) (executive producer)
[Historical Romance]
8. Kingdom of Heaven (2005) (producer) [Historical]
9. "Numb3rs" (2005) TV Series (executive producer) [science fiction, where the scxiences are Math and Criminology]
10. Matchstick Men (2003) (producer) [Mystery Comedy]
11. The Hire: Ticker (2002) (executive producer) [Action-adventure comedy]
12. The Hire: Beat the Devil (2002) (executive producer) [Action-adventure comedy]
13. The Hire: Hostage (2002) (executive producer) [Action-adventure comedy]
14. The Gathering Storm (2002) (TV) (executive producer) [Historical]
15. "AFP: American Fighter Pilot" (2002) TV Series (executive producer) [technothriller]
16. Six Bullets from Now (2002) (producer) [Mystery]
17. Black Hawk Down (2001) (producer) [technothriller]
18. Hannibal (2001) (producer) [Historical]
19. The Last Debate (2000) (TV) (executive producer) [Political thriller]
20. Gladiator (2000) (executive producer) (uncredited) [Historical, maybe alternate hisory]
21. Where the Money Is (2000) (producer)
[Mystery Comedy](Germany: DVD box title)
22. RKO 281 (1999) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane [Historical meta-film]
23. Clay Pigeons (1998) (producer) [Mystery Comedy]
24. G.I. Jane (1997) (producer) [Military action drama]
25. "The Hunger" (1997) TV Series (executive producer) [Horror]
26. White Squall (1996) (executive producer) [Sea story]
27. The Browning Version (1994) (producer) [Academic drama]
28. Monkey Trouble (1994) (executive producer)
29. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) (producer)
30. Thelma & Louise (1991) (producer) [Feminist road story drama]
31. Someone to Watch Over Me (1987) (executive producer) [Mystery]
32. Blade Runner (1982) (co-producer) (uncredited) [Science Fiction]
33. Boy and Bicycle (1965) (producer)
... aka Boy on a Bicycle [plotless short with great attention to visual detail]

#173 ::: MG ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 09:12 AM:

I can't get enough of Jayne's lines. He's suprisingly deep for a doorknob.

+ MG
"Let's be bad guys." -- Jayne Cobb, Mercenary, crew of the Serenity

#174 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 09:14 AM:

Two points, JVP:

18. Hannibal (2001) (producer) [Historical]

Historical?! You must be wildly guessing. This was the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, about Hannibal the fictitious serial killer, not Hannibal of Carthage.

Second, I cannot fathom any discussion of Ridley Scott in a SF context that doesn't mention Alien. I submit that it had a much stronger influence on film (for better or worse) than anything he's done since, including Blade Runner.

#175 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 09:29 AM:

Steve Eley:

Glad someone was more awake than I.

Ridley Scott: I had listed only his credits as PRODUCER. Part of my point was that he applied, as producer, the clarity that he manifested as well as DIRECTOR.

(a) Hannibal -- I was thinking of the NEXT in the series, the prequel, about Hannibal Lecter and his sister as children during World War II, as Historical Thriller

(b)(i) Blade Runner (1982) DIRECTOR [Science Fiction]
(b)(ii) Alien (1979) DIRECTOR
... aka Alien: The Director's Cut (USA: director's cut)

(c) The point I had in mind but ran out of time to mention, before I drove my son to see a friend solo at an Asian dance recital, was:

"Alien" was nominally science fiction (based as it was, per legal settlement later with A. E. van Vogt), that had the plotting and music and pacing of HORROR. It just happened to be an alien planet, rather than a haunted house, where the characters said, "hey, let's split up. You go into the attic, I'll go into the basement" before they started being killed off one at a time.

#176 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 11:12 AM:

Breaking news:
The screener's showing again on May 26. More cities this time.

No idea when details will be announced; keep watching until it says something about it, I guess.

#177 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 12:23 PM:

It's a very, very good movie.

Serenity is witty, funny, and smart

It's big, bold, brassy, and beautiful.

... and it's not opening in the UK for another five months. You guys really aren't making the wait any easier.

#178 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 12:58 PM:

*Crossing fingers and hoping for a DC showing and a bit of luck in getting tickets*

#179 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Odds of it coming to Albany? Zero, zilch, none.

Especially since people have already gotten tickets for other cities.

*crosses fingers anyway*

#180 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2005, 01:58 PM:

Fie. The closest it got to NYC was Hartford.

Okay, I can be patient.

#181 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2005, 03:46 AM:

Okay, so I read the collection of essays about Firefly called Finding Serenity by Jane Espenson, and I have a couple of questions.

1. Nobody in the book thinks Inara agreeing to "let her hair down and just talk" with the Councilor seems to think that that is just Inara being professional. That's what came immediately to my mind when I watched the episode. I wonder -- how many of you thought she really meant it? I was impressed at how good she was as a service professional, myself.

2. Why does nobody understand what Shepherd Book is doing on the ship, and insist that he's a crew member rather than a passenger who's earned certain crew-like perks? His bribe of fresh fruits and veggies in the episode Serenity made folks a lot more likely to like him, and he's very carefully shown forming bonds with each of the crew members (his great skill seems to be in knowing exactly how to approach people individually, less so in groups -- there's a really interesting essay possible showing how Book bonds with each of the crew, parallel to the one in the book about how Jubal Early takes each of the crew members apart. But everyone looks at him first as a preacher rather than a pastor, which is what he's much better at. Don't these people know the difference?

3. Are there really still academics who are otherwise sane who buy the whole "original matriarchy" meme? It explains much less than it confounds IMO, and is unnecessary to the particular essay it shows up in -- and I think hurts an otherwise interesting thesis.

Overall, a quite interesting book. Jewel Staite's warm and funny and quirky piece (like her commentary) makes me wonder just how often Joss engages in typecasting people who probably wouldn't like to think they were being typecast. Watching the play between Tudyk and Torres at the SF screening makes me think he does this a lot (and seeing Alyson Hannigan on interview shows, where it became obvious that a lot of Willow's humor and delivery was pure Hannigan).

#182 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2005, 12:53 PM:

Tom Whitmore:

"Finding Serenity by Jane Espenson" -- publisher? date? online reviews or fragments? I like your analysis and questions!

"Academic... sane." It would be untoward of me, as someone who'd been active as the token heterosexual on the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered committee of the National Writers Union, to complain about how strange things got at one university I know under a pair of lesbian deans with an agenda. Suffice it to say that "freedom of speech" on campus, does not exist in much of the USA. Further, that the modern version of "academic freedom" as established in court in the early 20th century in a famous Stanford University case, is also extinct.

There is no requirement for academics to be sane. Indeed, it would only slow them down.

#183 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2005, 04:46 PM:

In stores now from Benbella Books -- available to stores through Baker and Taylor, ISBN 1-932100-43-3, trade paperback $17.95 ($25.95 Canada). Buy it from a good independent bookseller!

#184 ::: Deidre Delpino ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2005, 02:22 PM:

This is one of those very few movies that has come out in my lifetime where, without a moment's thought, I have known that I will be standing in line for a midnight showing of it. No. Matter. What.

#185 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2005, 10:22 PM:

Although not planning to go to a midnight showing (I turn into a pumpkin earlier than that), I do plan to break my ordinary rule of never seeing a movie on opening weekend. We're going to be there for the first matinee on Saturday, so we have the option of going to another matinee on Sunday and dragging friends along with us.

Also, there are "guerilla" posters and leaflets posted online, which the artist is making available (for non-commercial use) to anyone who wants to help spread the Firefly/Serenity love.

#186 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2005, 04:46 AM:

Oooh, thanks, Lexica! I'll print some copies tomorrow and post one in the store.

#187 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2005, 11:05 AM:

An earlier Making Light writer said that Joss Whedon is slightly weak in World Building, compensated by strength in character, plotting, and dialogue. Here's a book which has the World Building.

My favorite Hard Science Fiction novel of 2004 is just out in paperback. I'd love to see a movie made of this. Galactic future, civilized Neanderthals, many species of weird aliens with brilliant biological extrapolations, mathematical ecology hiding beneath the plot, strange worlds, future religions, space battles, it's got everything except, well, Light Sabers.

Stewart, Ian, & Jack Cohen : Heaven
[Warner Aspect 0-446-61103-4, $6.99, 428pp, mass market paperback, May 2005, cover art Steve Stone; First edition: Warner Aspect, May 2004]

#188 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2005, 05:07 PM:

...And if anyone is still interested, in recognition of the second Serenity screening, I've recorded and podcast my Serenity Spoilers Review here.

(No, they're not real spoilers, it's comedy. Put down that flamethrower!)

#189 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2005, 02:08 PM:

I'm now most of the way through finding Serenity (and thanks, Tom, for mentioning that it was out, because I'd forgotten that it was coming), so I can now reply to Tom's comments:

1. I have no idea why everyone thinks that Inara was behaving normally with the Councilor rather than professionally. She'd told the crew that the Councilor was a client, after all, and I assumed that anything Inara said to a client was meant to make the client feel good. That's part of the service she provides, and as you said, she's a very good service professional.

2. That's an interesting comment about Sheperd Book. I think of him as a preacher because that's what Mal keeps calling him, but you're right, he's more of a pastor. I think he's a member of the crew if Mal's said so, however, I don't remember if that was ever stated. However, I'd think that a passenger would be along for just one trip, and he's been there for more than that.

3. Thank you for being boggled at the "original matriarchy" meme. I was myself, though at least the essayist did state that everyone doesn't believe in it. I thought that most of that essay was grounded more in the writer's inner thoughts than in anything that Joss ever wrote, but then, subtext is often like that.

#190 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2005, 02:33 PM:

On Film: by Carina Chocano
"How to Cook Up a Perfect Heroine"
Los Angeles Times, Calender Section,
E1, 29 May 2005


"Charlie Cantilini (the scampering woman-child played by Jennifer Lopez) is not just the emblematic comedic female protagonist of our time. She's the King Tut's tomb of contemporary romcom cliches...."

"... Charlie feels like the very methodical, by-the-book creation of highly intelligent alien life forms who don't quite grasp how human life actually works...."

"... contemporary romantic comedy heroines are pure corporate product, a desparately pandering and clueless assemblage of received notions, sexual anxiety and recycled focus-group-think handed down over the years like Grandma's cheesecake recipe...."

Comment desired from John M. Ford.

#191 ::: Demus ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2005, 12:07 PM:

Based on my opinion of the collected wisdom of the readership of this site (well that sentence proves I've been reading too much "politi-speak")...

I purchased the Firefly series on DVD. AND I watched it.

I have come here to give a word of thanks. I have found a new favorite Sci-Fi series and my heart has embraced all that is embodied by the word "squee".

I squee for this movie, and I owe it all to you, all of you. Thank you.

I love you guys.

#192 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2005, 12:48 AM:

Like so many, I saw a few episodes when it aired, and it seemed interesting, but not compelling.

I have borrowed the DVD set. I imagine that I will soon be Absorbed into The Body with the rest of you. I wonder what that will be like.

#193 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2005, 02:00 AM:

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Hey, trust me, it's a nice place....

#194 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2005, 02:18 AM:

Resistance may be futile, but tolerance has been taking a real stinkin' hammering.

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