There are many factors that have contributed towards this – from the fact that Hollywood has built an idea that novels and plays receive a certain cache when a film is adapted from it, to the straight-forward idea that franchises can become secure sources of box office revenue. But considering the way we digest media at this moment in time, why would Hollywood choose now to seek a greater amount of originality?
With glamorous lifestyles, beautiful beaches, and the home of Hollywood itself, Los Angeles is the setting of some film’s all-time greats. From action greats like Die Hard and Speed to Hollywood love letters in the form of Singin’ in the Rain and The Artist, the LA landscape has been given the spotlight in ever-changing ways ever since becoming the backdrop for film noir.
For this marathon, we’ll be looking at a very particular facet of LA: its night-life. Which, of course, is full of terrible people doing terrible things. Because LA is a living dream by day and a cesspool by night. The following movies trawl the streets finding everything from neon clubs to murder and drugs. Let’s see how each one tours the city, and see if I can make it so you never trust a stranger trying to lend you a ride ever again.
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray, Emma Thompsons and David Hyde Pierce
The space pirate landscape of Treasure Planet makes for a grand adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale. Everything has a touch of futuristic-old-fashioned and the scale is naturally massive. Buried treasure pales in comparison to an entire planet worth of riches and galaxies sparkle like glistening oceans to portray an environment well-travelled yet difficult to traverse. Besides aesthetically, it doesn’t venture too far from other retellings and a mid-movie sidekick addition is occasionally grating. Overpowering everything, however, is a contagious sense of wide-eyed ambition. I can only wonder what grand adventures we could have seen if this wasn’t an adaptation.
John Silver: Look at you! Glowing like a solar fire. You’re something special, Jim. You’re gonna rattle the stars, you are!
Further Reading: Tom Robinson et al. “The portrayal of older characters in Disney animated films.” Journal of aging studies 21.3 (2007): 203-213. available from Research Gate here
Chris Pallant “Neo-Disney: Recent developments in Disney feature animation.” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film 8.2 (2010): 103-117 available here
What do you think of Treasure Planet? Leave a comment below!
Directed by Jason Eisener
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey and Gregory Smith
Hobo with a Shotgun is far from my usual tastes. Low-budget and large violence seldom grips me and characters feel like rag dolls being messily flung around. However, what is undebatable is the film’s wonderful 80’s vibe, topped with an angry but not uncontrollable performance from Hauer. Music is electronic, colours are over-saturated and it does a damn fine job of replicating a style that many other movies fail to pass off as authentic. It’s clearly a movie made with care and of surprising heart, even if that heart ends up getting ripped out and set on fire.
Drake: When life gives you razor blades, you make a baseball bat… covered in razor blades.
Further Reading: Film School Rejects’ SXSW review available here
Clark Collis’ article for Entertainment Weekly ‘Hobo With a Shotgun: How a $150 fake trailer became the year’s maddest movie’ available here
What do you think of Hobo with a Shotgun? Leave a comment below!
Directed by Sophia Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris
There’s a very special kind of love on display in Lost in Translation. Tokyo transforms into a bizarre version of Rick and Ilsa’s Paris, where landmarks stir no emotion and translations remove detail from the world. It’s a movie concerned with trying to understand the unknown as Charlotte (Johansson) is paralysed by her future and Bob (Murray) is broken by his past. Though there’s a fair share of moping, between them, in Tokyo (and perhaps only for a week or so) they help tell each other that everything’s going to be okay. And that moment trumps any soppy, grandiose gesture.
Charlotte: Let’s never come here again because it would never be as much fun.
Further Reading: Eduardo Urios-Aparisi’s ‘Dramatizing Intercultural Communication: Metaphors of City and Identity inFilm‘ from Intercultural Communication Studies XXII: 3 (2013) available here
Tessa Dwyer’s ‘Universally speaking: Lost in Translation and polyglot cinema’ from Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series–Themes in Translation Studies 4 (2005) available here
What do you think of Lost in Translation? Leave a comment below!
Directed by Brad Bird
Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy and Hugh Laurie
With vibrant colours, globe-trotting chases and brilliant visual effects, Tomorrowland is a healthy injection of optimism ready to reinvigorate a generation of young people in the information age. Resting in the middle of this light-hearted, family romp is a legitimate, critical jab at our apocalyptic media landscape. Tomorrowland is not somewhere our characters can escape to; instead a call for bygone ingenuity. The perfect analogy is found in Frank’s (Clooney) childhood makeshift jetpack. Does it do anything revolutionary? No, but the sheer excitement and spirit raised by its sights and sounds are too captivating for that to matter.
Jenny Newton: It’ll take a long time. A real long time. What if you get all the way up there and there’s nothing?
Casey Newton: What if there’s everything?
Further Reading: Michael Goldman’s ‘Picturing Tomorrow’ available from The American Society of Cinematographers here
Tomorrowland Analysis: There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, Just a Dream Away post from TheLovePirate.net, available here
What do you think of Tomorrowland: A World Beyond? Leave a comment below!
Story and Ben return in a new ELM episode, this time looking at the impact of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have on our movie watching habits. Does streaming change the way we buy movies? How much stock do we still put in physical media? And how does original content from streaming services change we way we look at long-form storytelling? There’s only one way to find out, give us a listen!
Other highlights include looking into the WWE Network, how streaming service catalogues rotate and Story’s incorrect opinion of Batman films.
Click the player to give us a listen and get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!