Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pretty much a test post

Hi, Neil,

I was trying to read your last post at your Journal (the one titled "Roger and me"), or what my RSS agregator points like your last post, but I'm redirected to an Error Message page (404 - page not found).

Well, uh... Thanks,


Apparently Blogger is having problems right now and things aren't posting. Why they are happily appearing on the various feeds but appearing late or not at all on the journal is a mystery, but one that shall I have no doubt be resolved in time...

So this is more or less a placeholder blog entry to see if publishing it is likely to make it or any previous entries show up.

This photo from last night is possibly the only photo ever taken with me in it in which someone else is wearing a leather jacket and I am not.

As I said the other day, I'm happy about the Beowulf early reviews that are coming in, because I had got really tired of the amount of on-line silliness I'd been reading by people who were exercising the ancient internet privilege of writing confidently about things they didn't know anything about.

I don't think everyone will love the film, no more than everyone loves any film, but I think it's a lot more of a movie than people might have been expecting, and am taking possibly too much pleasure in the tone of "I thought it was going to be rubbish but then I saw it..." early reviews that have started to trickle out. This one in animation magazine -- -- says things like

...It’s a thoroughly engrossing and thrilling achievement, and everyone who worked on it should be very proud.

From the monster Grendel’s first attack on King Hrothgar’s mead hall, it’s clear that this is not The Polar Express. Beowulf is bloody, bawdy, cheeky, sexy and generally cool. The year is 518 A.D. and the title character has come to the Danish kingdom of Herot to rid it of its demon. Boastful, cocksure and overly macho, he comes off at first like a close cousin of the Gerard Butler character in 300, but eventually proves to be a deeply flawed hero more akin to the subjects of Greek tragedies. The screenplay by Neil Gaiman (Coraline, MirrorMask) and Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) takes some liberties with the original tale and weaves a smart and tangled web that suggests that the epic poem passed down through the oral tradition was only half of the story.

I’ve often questioned the logic of going through the trouble of making realistic CG humans when you can simply photograph real actors, but it makes sense with this particular project because it’s important that the humans and the monsters look like they belong in the same world....

...It’s a shame the film probably won’t be qualified to compete for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards because most people will see it as animation. On the other hand, it might not be fair to lump it in with films involving performances that are completely animator-driven. As it stands, Beowulf is in a category of its own and the Academy doesn’t know what to do with it. But it may be forced to come up with something, especially if it proves to be a major box-office hit.

Beowulf succeeds in delivering where most of the summer “event” films have failed this year. It’s solid entertainment with a gripping story and complex characters that aren’t off-the-shelf clich├ęs. It’s not a perfect movie, and one that is sure to have its critics, but I think it’s one of the year’s biggest surprises and deserves to be seen by a lot of people. I’m sure it holds up in standard projection, but do yourself a favor and drive the extra distance to an IMAX theater and see it in 3D.

Anne Thompson's Variety Blog entry on Beowulf -- -- quotes Stephen Schaefer's review, which begins
Seeing is believing with Robert Zemeckis’ mighty, monumental “Beowulf,” which opens Nov. 16. This extravagant adaptation of the epic poem about a cursed kingdom invents a 6th century A.D. Denmark that is so richly detailed, romantic and engrossing it’s like seeing the Prince Valiant comic strip brought to blazing, 3-D life, a childhood fantasy realized in such a complete way you’re stupefied with delight.
and ends
Big Oscar Question: Is this in the running for Best Picture or Best Animated Feature?
And my favourite quote came from the LJ of someone who was at the premiere last night --
It's always fun to go into a movie with no expectations and then realize, as the credits roll and the final moments sink in and the exhilaration of powerful storytelling lights up the crowd -- the applause, the dropped comments and overheard conversation as we work our way up the aisles -- that you were one of the first to experience what will be a major hit, and you came to it fresh, without buzz or hyped-up expectations or knowledge of the story's main revelations, which will soon be impossible for audiences everywhere except for those who might be emerging from under logs and rocks. And that it will be a hit not because it was a manufactured hyped-up corporate Event (and the sequel of a sequel of a sequel), but because it's just good, right down to its well-structured story bones, and people will just like it and tell other people how much they liked it. Like I'm telling you now. How positively quaint and old-fashioned.


(Here's more or less the complete transcript of the Beowulf Press Conference from which the Angelina Quotes were taken out of context, all around the world.)

Incidentally, I think the educational pack done for Beowulf is simply wrong. Part of the point of the Beowulf movie that Roger and I wrote is the places it diverges from the story of Beowulf, and the ways it explores the relationship between a person and a story about a person. I don't think they should be putting the stuff we made up on material intended for schools -- it seems like a way of justifiably irritating teachers, who have enough to put up with when they try to teach Beowulf without us making their lives harder. It would have been much more interesting to have put up either the original, or one that talked about the differences -- I'd absolutely encourage high schoolers to see our version and talk about what changed and why.

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