Iron Maiden will never be tempted to follow Metallica to Britain's Glastonbury festival, according to frontman Bruce Dickinson. James Hetfield's band will become the first heavy metal act to headline the fabled event when they take to the iconic Pyramid Stage next month (Jun14), prompting speculation they will pave the way for more hard rock bands at the event.
However, Dickinson is adamant Iron Maiden won't be one of them, branding the festival too "bourgeois" for his band.
He tells Britain's Daily Star newspaper, "Personally I have no interest in going to Glastonbury. In the days when Glasto was an alternative festival it was quite interesting.
"Now it's the most bourgeois thing on the planet. Anywhere Gwyneth Paltrow goes and you can live in an air-conditioned yurt is not for me... I'll leave the middle classes to do Glastonbury and the rest of the great unwashed will decamp to Knebworth (for the Sonisphere festival) and drink lots of beer and have fun."
The 2014 Glastonbury festival also features sets from acts including Lily Allen, Ed Sheeran, Arcade Fire and Kasabian.
The Hiphop Fellow/Facebook
A good documentary can change a person, and a great documentary can change the world. If you've ever wondered why your college isn't offering a course on hip-hop, it's probably because they haven't seen the work going down at Harvard University's Hip-Hop Archives, and they haven't yet seen Kenneth Price's powerful new doc, The Hip-Hop Fellow. Right now Harvard students are getting the chance to study with 9th Wonder, a Grammy Award-winning producer who worked with everyone from Jay Z to Mary J. Blige, and then went on to become one of the first truly hip-hop hip-hop professors. Price's film follows 9th Wonder (and includes interviews with Young Guru, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and DJ Premier) as he teaches his Standards of Hip-Hop course and works on his own thesis project. The documentary has started making its way around the festival circuit, and you're going to want to catch it when it comes to a town near you. Here are just a few reasons The Hip-Hop Fellow is one of the best documentaries so far this year.
1. The Honesty and Intelligence of Professor 9th Wonder
For those of us not attending Harvard right now, The Hip-Hop Fellow allows us to experience the genius that is 9th Wonder. As the tenured professor takes us through the complex and exciting history of rap music (which is also a history of many other musical genres), we get a taste of what it would be like to learn from one of the greats.
2. Hip-Hop Gets Recognized as High Theory
With expert analysis from 9thWonder and other well-respected rap producers, as well as theorists at Harvard, this documentary brilliantly puts an end to the question of whether or not hip-hop -- specifically sampling in hip-hop -- can be understood as an art form. If you understand "sampling" as "stealing," or as a lazy way to make music, prepare to be schooled.
3. Because Henry Louis Gates Jr. Says So
In terms of literary and cultural theory in America, Harvard University's Henry Louis Gates Jr. is pretty much at the top of the pyramid. As he waxes poetic on the true genius behind many hip-hop productions, it becomes clear that this movement which seeks to link rap music to academia is both hugely important and incredibly exciting.
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Doesn't everyone know someone who's obsessed with Game of Thrones? And they don't ever just casually watch it; it is almost always an obsession. Luckily, that GoT is craving some serious Westeros merch, and there is tons of it out there. Here are some of the best Game of Thrones gifts in the land.
The bobble headsDidn't think that a white walker could be adorable? Doubted that Daenerys could look ridiculous? Think again with these adorable, yet strangely accurate bobble heads. There are tons available for all your favorite characters.
The life-size Iron Throne replicaUm, this is for someone you realllyyy care about. The sort of someone who you would spend $30,000 on a holiday gift for. You don't know that person? Me neither. Move along.
The posterThis truly beautiful map of Westeros would make a great gift for your standard GoT fan. It's a reasonable gift on its own, but it would be something special if you got it framed.
The beer mugsMade to mimic those oft-used flagons on the show, these handcrafted beer mugs are a perfect artisanal gift.
The beerThe perfect thing to drink in your beer mug (for over-21 fans), this brewery has made a few different GoT beers. The current brew is called Take the Black Stout. Check out their website to find where it's sold.
The cookbookEver look at the feast scenes in GoT and think, that looks lovely, if they weren't about to die? Well, for those foodie Game of Thrones fans, you can buy A Feast of Ice and Fire, the show's official cookbook, which shows you how to cook recipes from different regions of Westeros.
The board gameGamers often happen to be Game of Thrones fans, so where can you go wrong with this highly rated board game?
The braceletThere is so much Game of Thrones jewelry out there that it's hard to pick just one. In addition to this delicate "winter is coming" cuff bracelet, there are plenty more available on Etsy for reasonable prices.
Comedy rock act Spinal Tap are planning a comeback in 2014. Co-founder Christopher Guest, who performs as guitarist Nigel Tufnel, has revealed he and bandmates David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls are "in the midst of talking about something for next year" in a new article in Britain's The Guardian.
Guest admits he still can't believe the group he formed with pals Harry Shearer and Michael McKean three decades ago for the mockumentary This is... Spinal Tap has become a cult act around the globe, performing at the greatest venues, including the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury festival in England in 2009.
He adds, "It was a fantastic show. There were 130,000 people there or something. Since the film 30 years ago we've gone on tour, playing Wembley, the Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall… It's weird but great. The fiction became real."
It had to happen sometime! The first trip to an alien world is a Doctor Who companion rite of passage — for them, and for the audience still adjusting to the massive life change that is the introduction of a new companion. Now, I think it's almost universal that we all already love Clara, so it's not her fault that the world of Akhaten — though visually stunning — was not quite as exciting as The End of the World, the Ood, or the worst traffic jam that ever was.
RELATED: 'Doctor Who' Recap: Clara's First Adventure
I'm not saying that "Rings of Akhaten" didn't have its great points — again, the world they created was as cool as a bow tie, the script just didn't have a whole lot going for it. I loved the creative, Star Wars-esque creatures Clara and the Doctor encountered on Akhaten, especially the creepy "Vigil" dudes whose masks reminded me of "The Empty Child" meets Darth Vader. (With the breathing and all.) I just never was particularly afraid of the silly looking mummy in the glass cage, nor the giant star that served as God-slash-parasite for the lovely folks of the Seven Rings.
I didn't find the sacrifice of the Giver-esque mini-songstress to be that emotionally riveting either, so combine a "meh" villain and a plot that doesn't emotionally resonate, and you're left with just a beautiful and fun, if empty, adventure. To be fair, Matt Smith had some epic monologues to work with this episode, and he sold each one to provide the few moments of of bone-chilling emotional resonance in the episode. When the Doctor actually goes into the horrifically lonely details of his life, you remember just how sad Doctor Who can really be. It was all very Tenth Doctor, if we're being frank. Kudos to Smith for pulling it off so well.
Now, on to some good: the Up-like sequence in the beginning of the episode, that showed the meeting between Clara's parents, was beautiful. Ladies, WHERE are our Mr. Oswalds, emIright? If a guy comes to your house carrying "the most important leaf in human history" — AKA, the leaf that smacked him in the face and almost got him killed before you got in the way of the speeding car, thus bringing the two of you together — you hold that man tight and never let him go. Clara's beautiful mother Ellie did just that, before she passed away of an unknown cause, leaving Clara and her father alone and rightly ruined.
It was nice of the Doctor to go back and observe Clara's past — and it gave us the leaf's history so we'd fully understand how much it meant for Clara to give it up — but man, the Doctor needs to curb his creepy, staring at children in parks habit. If it were anyone else, that sequence would have been disturbing. And it wasn't really helpful for the Doctor, who still concluded that Clara was "not possible."
But possible or not, there she was — waiting patiently for the Doctor, ready to go with her book and her backpack, the morning after the Wi-Fi debacle. The Doctor asked her what she wanted to see, and, understandably, she had no idea. When you have all of time and space to choose from, Doctor, it might be nice to present the lady with some options. Like, when awkward first dates ask me the number one place on this Earth that I want to visit, I stumble and say like, ten things. Argentina? Scotland? Dollyville? It's tough, so I understand fully why Clara said "something awesome."
It's totally understandable why he chose Akhaten. Apart from its visual beauty, its kind people and the interesting fact that their currency is items of sentimental value should have made this a nifty field trip for Clara. Instead, they happened to get there on a day that only comes every 1000-years or so — the day the Queen of Years sings a song in front of the whole planet to keep the Old God to sleep, lest he wake up and eat all of their memories/moments of emotional value. If she could sing him this lullabye that would keep him to sleep, they'd all be safe — and that's not an unreasonable amount of pressure for a child, no way. (Aside: The Doctor compared the importance of this day to our "Pancake Day" which was hilarious, and also oh-so-right.)
But hey, guess what? He woke up. And, the legend was all a lie. If the creepy Vigil guys chasing the Queen of Words (who had in her little brain ALL of Akhaten's moments of sentimental value) before she sang her song didn't alert you to the fact that this girl was a sacrifice, then... shame on you. Watch more TV. She was pulled to the pyramid housing this unfortunate looking mummy thing, and he arose — as a sort of "alarm clock" that would soon awaken the Old God, which was really just Akhaten's sun.
When the Old God awoke the big (again, gorgeous) sun took on a sort of skull face, as it was ready to feed on some memories. The Doctor offered up his to save the Queen of Years, but I guess his time wasn't sentimental enough. (After this happened I re-watched the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler's goodbye on the beach, and guess what? I DISAGREE, Old God.) Here's the Doctor's plea in full, because it was too gorgeous to paraphrase:
"I walked away from the last great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment until nothing remained. No time. No space. Just me. I've walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman. I’ve watched universes freeze and creations burn. I've seen things you wouldn’t believe. I have lost things you’ll never understand. And I know things. Secrets that must never be told. Knowledge that must never be spoken. Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze."
God, it's good to remember sometimes just how sad and lonely his existence is. But still, again, it wasn't enough. What WAS enough, however, was Clara's leaf. As she explained it, not only did that leaf contain things that were, it contained "a future that never was... days that never came." So damn sad. The fact that Clara was willing to give this up on her second go-round puts me even further in her corner, and all of the infinite wasted possibilities contained in the leaf were too much for the Old God, so he imploded.
Okay, now maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't the sun the thing that gives these people life? We didn't see what happened to Akhaten after implosion, and I know the Doctor would never let a planet full of wonderful people die, but come on — plot hole? Whatever, moving on. In the TARDIS the Doctor was still mulling over Clara's past, and she stated firmly that she would not compete with a ghost. FYI, Clara — the dude is not going to drop this one anytime soon.
So, that was about it. I've seen next week's episode and can verify that it's fantastic, so I hope that gives you solace if you were also slightly disappoined by Akhaten. Oh, and one more note: when Clara asked if the legend the Akhaten folks believed — that all life came from that one sun — and the Doctor responded, "It's what they believe. It's a nice story," did you also think they were commenting on our own stubborn reliance on religious doctrine? Do tell, and see you next week!
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: BBC Worldwide]
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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D has a lot of things working against it from the get go. It's based on a video game franchise that debuted in 1999 has been milked for sequels ever since (the current total of Silent Hill games is nine) and the movie itself is a sequel to the disappointingly dumb 2006 film directed by Christophe Gans. What's more the bitter aftertaste of Resident Evil: Retribution is still lingering in the mouths of survival horror movie/gamers and although they have entirely different plots and take place in totally different universes that's not necessarily enough to take the edge off for weary viewers.
It would take a dazzling director with a stellar cast and a first-rate script to overcome those sorts of obstacles and Silent Hill doesn't have any of those things. Writer/director Michael J. Bassett is obviously fond of both video games and horror (his previous movies include Solomon Kane and Deathwatch) the cast is decent with some exceptions and the script… well it's better than Resident Evil. If anything we can give Bassett credit for his enthusiasm. You really can't win when you try and make a video game movie no matter how many hours you spent playing Doom as a teen. Whether that's at the hands of the studios or the creative teams themselves isn't clear; it's simply a nut that hasn't been cracked yet.
The good news is that you don't really need a grasp on the video game or previous movie's narrative to follow the Revelation's plot. Harry (Sean Bean) has been lying to his daughter Heather (Adelaide Clemens) for a very long time. He's convinced her that her dreams about a terrible place called Silent Hill are the longstanding effects of a car crash that killed her mother and that they have to move around and take on new identities all the time because he killed a prowler in self-defense. Heather has other problems like the occasional hallucinations about a terrible alternate universe that's populated by monsters and industrial junk and flickering lights. One minute she'll be doing something normal and then suddenly the walls are burning down to the rafters and something with a butt for a face is shambling towards her. It's a raw deal.
Heather's first day at her new school is not that great; she meets a cute guy named Vincent (Kit Harington) who wants to be buddies but she makes it clear she's pretty bad ass and not one to pal around since she'll just be leaving town again anyway. When she comes home from school her dad has disappeared and the living room is a huge mess. If she wasn't clear on what to do next someone used his blood to write "COME TO SILENT HILL" on the wall with a funky sigil next to it which matches this weird object she's had since she was little. Luckily Vincent has a car and more than a few troubling secrets of his own underneath those glossy brown curls. He offers to drive her and off they go. Typical chitchat between them is about the nature of reality and dreams and Vincent's batty grandfather who's locked up in an insane asylum.
This is where things get really convoluted. Silent Hill is indeed a terrible place where ash falls from the sky during the day and horrible things come out to menace any townsperson dumb enough to be out at night. It's an eerie world that comes close to the truly terrifying Silent Hill games on occasion. After a while though it's mostly just Heather and occasionally Vincent running around in what seems like mazes of rusty bloody walls with the occasional gruesome monster popping out to halfheartedly menace them.
There's a dash of The Wicker Man here with the requisite creepy sacrificial cult and some Hellraiser-esque torture thrown in but it stops short of being a full-blown Clive Barker nightmare. There is some gore and disturbing images but the choice to use practical effects for almost all of the monsters is far more impressive in theory. Those monsters look okay from afar but rubbery up close whereas the only CGI monster is an impressive spidery thing made up of doll parts. The use of strobe lights and other effects is absolutely maddening especially in conjunction with the 3D which is mostly used for cheap gimmicks like splashing blood at the viewer.
There's something oddly satisfying about the way that the movie follows the trajectory of a video game; it's even laid out like a video game universe with different goals and bosses at each location. The problem is that what is believable or acceptable in a video game doesn't necessarily translate to a movie — in a game you're busy solving puzzles and killing monsters and it's easier to overlook kitchen-sink plots. Even though the movie doesn't completely hew to the game's story it's got the same mentality that more is better when it's really just more. And the more that's piled on the more ridiculous it gets. When everything is at a fever pitch that kind of weirdness becomes a baseline and nothing is shocking. Unlike in the games there's just one ending no matter how you play it.
Don Keefer is not a douchebag — he's just misunderstood! At least that's what we're starting to believe, a conviction aided by the fact that the actor who plays him couldn't be further from the abrasive personality of his character. Theatre veteran Thomas Sadoski (last seen on Broadway opposite Stockard Channing in Other Desert Cities) knows that his character on HBO's media brawl The Newsroom is a little rough on the edges, but after all, what can you expect? Don is a creation of character master Aaron Sorkin, who himself has offered Sadoski plenty of creative challenges when it comes to playing the gruff, discourteous Don.
We went straight to the source to grill Sadoski on what goes into making a character like Don, who presently finds himself at the center of a love triangle with Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim (John Gallagher, Jr.). Hollywood.com spoke with Sadoski on the show's romantic entanglements, his inspiration for Don (hint: it's a chef!), and what comes next for ACN's grumpiest producer.
HOLLYWOOD.COM: Just last year, you were on Broadway with Alison Pill in The House of Blue Leaves. How did you react when you found out you were both cast in The Newsroom? THOMAS SADOSKI: We actually auditioned on the same day! The waiting room that we were in, to meet with Aaron [Sorkin] and Greg [Mottola], was me and Alison, Sam [Waterston], and Olivia Munn. We were all in the waiting room together, and all of us ended up getting hired. But Alison and I both found out that we were getting this appointment [and] going in roughly at the same time, and then over the next couple of weeks, as they made up their minds and decided who they were going to cast, we were simultaneously trying to check in with each other and not talk about it at all, because we were both so excited and so nervous. When Alison found out that she got hired, of course we were jumping up and down, and then a couple of days later they called up and told me I had gotten cast. Alison has been a friend and a colleague of mine a number of times. I have all the love and respect in the world for her as a human being and as an actor, and it was a really great moment to share with a really great friend.A lot of people are rooting for Maggie and Jim, obviously. What do your family and friends think? Are they rooting for Maggie and Jim, or are they loyal to Don? [laughs] It’s funny because there are some family members who desperately want Don to come around and work it out, and then there are other friends who are totally hedging on me. They’re like, ‘Yeah, you know, it’s great, I think you guys would be really good for each other if you could figure it out….’ They really don’t want to answer the question. They’re so evasive. And look, I get it. Right now I’m the guy who’s standing in the way of the thing that everybody wants to happen in the show. There was a moment when I thought we might see Don and Sloan get together. Could a Don-Sloan hook-up happen down the line? You’d have to talk to Aaron about that. I think that there is something really interesting about the struggle to make this relationship work that Don and Maggie are both engaged in, and I think that as he becomes more and more aware of the fact that his girlfriend is in fact having an emotional affair, things are going to shift and things are going to change.Tell me about Don's bromance with Elliot. I think the best description for that relationship is a complete and total bromance. I think that these are two guys who know exactly who the other is. Elliot even says to Don at one point, “Please get back together with Maggie so you can go back to being the prick that I am used to, rather than the bonus prick that I get when you guys are broken up.” They know exactly who each other is, and they care immensely about each other, and they want the best from and for each other, and I think [that makes it] a great bromance.Every week we sort of peel back another layer to Don, and he becomes more sympathetic. What other parts of Don have yet to be discovered? I wish I knew! One of the exciting things about working with Aaron is that he holds his cards really close to his chest in terms of who he thinks these characters are and where they’ve come from, and you sort of get to find out as he does. I’m excited to see what more there is to Don Keefer. There’s some more stuff that’s revealed as the season goes on. You’ll see some more, hopefully, growth.What inspiration goes into Don? Are there people or producers you’ve worked with in the past whom you've put into the character? It’s tricky because there’s such a negative perception towards Don that I don’t want to mention any names and injure the innocent. [laughs] I think that Don carries himself with this sort of old school swagger of not being the person who’s going to be overly panicked by anything that happens around him, who’s going to remain cool even in the midst of everything that’s going down. I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain, and I pulled some of that “no bulls**t,” calm-in-the-middle-of-the-hurricane swagger, from him. But that being said, two weeks ago you have Don attempting to dive through a door, so perhaps he’s not as calm and centered and focused as he likes to tell himself he is.What kind of notes did Aaron give you for the character? Was there anything he said specifically about Don that continues to resonate with you? The thing with the character of Don is that it was originally three different parts. After the table read we did in New York, Aaron combined them to make this one character of Don. Originally, the character of Don was Will’s old executive producer, and that’s all he was, and then there was another character who was Maggie’s boyfriend, and that’s all he was… so Don kind of became this amalgam of like three different people. Aaron has been very clear to me all along in terms of his belief of who the character is. I expressed some concerns to Aaron, 'Am I being too much of a prick?' And I think Aaron’s response was right on. It was that these people are obsessed and myopically focused on their work, and they are utter failures in terms of social convention. He’s not a bad guy. You need to take into perspective all of the things that are going on around him, and he’s trying to do the best that he can do. Aaron was very clear that he didn’t want Don to become dismissible, and so I worked really, really hard at trying to find those moments of humanity early on and grow them so that he can’t just be easily, off-handedly dismissed as, “Oh, he’s just the dick.”Do you think it'd be valid to say that Don is a young Will? I think that’s really smart. I frankly think that Charlie, Will and Don are three generations of the same character. They’re all three of them unrepentant, and as Don and Will continue to grow up, they will sort of grow more towards Charlie, and I think that there’s something really interesting about watching that. Here are these three guys with three very different struggles who are cut from the same cloth in terms of their beliefs about what news is and how it can be, but are hamstrung in three various different ways. Do you have a favorite line of Don's? There’s one that I remember from a couple episodes ago, where Don’s standing in the newsroom and it’s just sort of tangential — I think the camera’s going past me as I’m saying it — but I say, “I’m gonna put somebody’s head through a f**king pyramid,” which I really loved. That was literally at the last second. Aaron came up to me as we were getting ready to shoot that shot [and said], “Uhhh, you're gonna put somebody’s head through a f**king pyramid. Go with that." I got a kick out of that. There's some fun stuff coming up in a couple episodes when we get into the Casey Anthony thing. Spoiler alert.Looking forward, is there anything you want to see Don do? Would he ever be on the air? That thought terrifies me as an actor. I can’t even imagine what that would do to the character! There’s a lot of things I would love to see Don do, but I’m going to trust in my writer and trust that Aaron is going to lead me to the best places.If you were an employee in that newsroom, how would you do? Me? Oh, I wouldn’t last a day!
Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcSnetiker
[Photo Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO]
Aaron Sorkin hits back at The Newsroom critics
The Newsroom Premiere Ratings Are In...
Aaron Sorkin: I Didn't Base The Newsroom on Keith Olbermann
The American Film Institute lists Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien as the seventh greatest science-fiction film of all time. Few who have seen the masterpiece of mood and massacre would argue with the praise. Except, maybe, Ridley Scott.
"There are certain things that bug him from the old film," reveals Steven Messing, the concept artist and visual effects art director for Scott's latest film Prometheus. The director's misgivings surprised Messing, a fan of Alien who has worked with Scott on several of the director's films, including design-heavy epics like Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and the upcoming OZ: The Great and Powerful. "It was wild to be in these conversations with him. Thirty years ago, because of budgetary constraints, he had to go with what they built on set for a lot of things. He never really got a chance to polish those designs."
Scott, who started as a production designer in the UK before he began a directing career, was drawn back into the Alien universe, in part, thanks to the design-friendly world of sci-fi. Messing was brought on early in the process, before the movie had funding, before the film had a name ("they called it different things at different times…. Paradise, Tomb of the Gods….") and even before there was a finished script. Messing papered Scott's office with art, catching him up on the last thirty years of cinematic science fiction and exploring the alien environments touched upon in Alien. Once ideas started flowing, Scott even joined in on the action. "Ridley would come and draw with us, which was unique. I had never had a director sit down, literally next to me, and draw ideas at the same time. He has very good drafting skills. He storyboards all his own films."
The stunning creature and architecture designs of the original '70s Alien were born from the imagination of H.R. Giger, and while the surrealist artist's work was an inspiration to Messing, Scott was apparently "was very adamant about not doing the same thing." "There is a lot of very organic design work that Giger did," Messing explains. "If you look, there are similar sets, like the pilot chamber set in our film. It's from the same world, but it's not the same exact set. It's a little more mechanical. The filigree on it is a bit cleaner and less organic. A lot of those changes in aesthetic…Ridley would call the old Giger stuff porkchops."
According to Messing, even the original film's iconic imagery could be improved through Prometheus' modern technology and afforded design time. "He was never that much in love with the facehugger. He thought it was goofy and never really liked it." A set in Prometheus, the epically scaled "pilot chamber" seen in the trailers, takes its cues from a location in Alien where a mysterious creature (dubbed the Space Jockey) was found sitting in a humongous chair. "There's the flooring… I spent a lot of time redesigning that whole set. He hated it because they basically took a bunch of plumbing and pipes that they found and laid it out on the ground. He walked in there and that's what he saw and he couldn't change it."
Scott's emphasis on redesign didn't wipe the existing aesthetic completely clean. In some instances, Messing and his team went back to Giger's original sketches to realize ideas that never made it into the original. "There's lots of little detailing on the pilot's chair that was lost in that original sculpt in that original chair. We had Academy references that we pulled form the archives of set photos of that construction, and we compared them to Giger's original layout for that design." Prometheus also features a construction originally intended for Alien (which Giger's attempted to utilize in later projects, like the ill-fated Alejandro Jodorowsky adaptation of Dune). "The big pyramid mound that you've seen in the trailer. It's almost like a sphinx head, an eroded face. He called it the Pyramid. The compound mound. Some of that is from old Giger drawings from different books. There was development work early on in Alien where they're talking about these pyramid structures, and aliens had engineered man and kind of did it in these big compound pyramids. He toyed with it a long time ago, but he wanted to reintroduce it here."
A fully realized set rarely captures the beauty of concept art created for a major blockbuster, but Messing promises the beauty of a lush drawing remains intact in Prometheus large-scale locations. "The pilot chamber room, I did most of the design work on it. You'll see this desk console that David the Android sits down at an activate, it brings up these holograms — you see it in the trailer — all those sleeping pods, I sculpted all of that in 3D and then gave them sectional layouts and the construction crew literally traced over them. Blew them up and built off of them. When I walked on the set, I had been spinning my model in 3D software for months, and then I was walking on it. I'd say 95% of that set was accurate."
Messing describes Scott as a meticulous director read to make changes at the drop of a hat. "If he feels like a design is hindering his storytelling, he will throw it out." Whereas some directors shoot tons of green screen and give themselves the option to tinker after a shoot, Scott is about reality — and that means building sets, and occasionally, rebuilding them. "We'd be laying out working drawings and it would literally be weeks away from being built, and he would change the entire set. I've never had that experience where they'll combine two sets to save money, which happens all the time, but they'll do it two weeks before." Scott's insistence on tangibility in his alien worlds extended to the exteriors too. Prometheus shot on location in Iceland to mimic the surface of a distant planet, a vista Messing drew beforehand just to Scott's liking. "If you look at the first Alien, or even James Cameron's second one, you'll see there's a lot of pinnacle rock formations in the distance. Ridley had said, 'these are too whimsical.' He doesn't want big fantasy structures in this film. You'll see mini versions of those, but they're scaled back. I was so excited to get in the art department, my first week I was doing some big dramatic landscapes, and he said, 'these are great Steve, but…' They were too sci-fi. He wanted something that looked like he went and shot. It has to be more real than some of the stuff in the original Alien."
With Scott's attention to detail and demand for balance between fantasy and reality, Prometheus may sound stripped of its awe-inspiring otherworldliness. Not so. After seeing the film, the same word floated around my mind as I soaked in the visuals on display in the modern sci-fi epic as it did when Messing saw his drawings turned into life-size sets at England's famous Pinewood Studios. "Amazing." Whether Scott thinks he fixed Alien or not, he's certainly created something we really haven't seen since…well, Alien!
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox, H.R. Giger]
Prometheus Designs and Special Effects
I call the Real Housewives all sorts of mean names, from screech banshees to shriek harridans to feces-chucking monkeys, but basically they are all just monsters. They are awful molded flesh, plasticine, and filler wrapped around a dark core. They're the opposite of a Scooby-Doo villain who looks like an evil sea creature but you tear off it's head and there is a human underneath. They all (well, most of them at least) look like real people but when you gaze deep into their eyes or other orifices you see that there is just some gross squid mutant below, shucking and jiving its limbs in the blackest abyss. Yes, they're all monsters, but the biggest monster I have ever seen was Vicki when her daughter announced that she eloped. It's like she turned into Slimer from Ghostbusters just wobbling through the air and pelting everyone with green glowing globs of her all-consuming narcissism.
Vicki says that Brianna eloping was disrespectful and rude. She says, "You've taken every dream away from me. It robbed me...Hello, it's not about them...I hate to make it about me." Oh Vicki. You are like the cowpie stain on King Joffrey's face. That's what you are: Residual turds. Everything she has to say about Brianna's marriage is wrong because, well, it is about Brianna and her husband. Their relationship is about them. It has nothing to do with you, Vicki. Yes, you may be disappointed and upset, sure, but you have absolutely no right to carry on like you have been robbed of some fundamental right. Driving your daughter crazy about the flowers at the engagement party isn't in the constitution. It isn't even in the covenants of whatever gated community you live in. It's not even in your Bravo contract. It is some elaborate fantasy that you have cooked up for yourself so that you could find a way to shine through your daughter. Frankly, it's pretty disgusting.
Particularly because we all love Brianna. She is, I suppose, the only real person who has ever inhabited one of these shows. She's like an actual, rational human being, which is harder to find than a unicorn giving a ride to a straight Liza Minelli fan on the way to watch the Browns in the Super Bowl (the Browns are a family of football playing squirrels). That is to say that Brianna is unique and amazing and someone who I would actually want to be friends with. I would say that I would watch a reality show all about her, but it would probably just be scenes of her watching Grey's Anatomy on DVR wearing her comfy sweats and on her third glass of wine, which would be fun but I watched that show for 18 years when it was called "Mom" and it was kind of boring.
This is all to say that the audience, of course, has Brianna's back in The Great Battle of the Elopement. Oh, speaking of which, I love when Vicki was like "We never really fought," and then the show brings up all this old black and white footage of years of the two of them squabbling. You can't hide from the past when it's so well documented, Vicki. You can't run, you can't hide, and you can't reinvent. You can only be humiliated.
Next: What the hell is Wine By Wives?
Alright, I'm going to skip over all the stupid shit about Gretchen and Slade getting married (seriously, Gretch, if you marry him with all that debt and messiness then your head is emptier than Alexis' prayers) and get right to the Wine by Wives party. First of all, what is Wine by Wives? It appears to be some sort of alcoholic ponzi scheme. It's a Pinot Grift-io. I bet Brooks thought it up because, well, he is a flim-flam man. Anyway, Vicki and Tamra invite all their friends over to some penthouse in Irvine, the luxury capital of the state of California's higher education department, to launch their liquid pyramid scheme. Actually, there weren't that many people there. It was the Housewives and their attendant husbands (except Tamra got a special dispensation for her son Ryan so that he could leave the house and go to the party and his ankle monitor wouldn't go off) and Alexis brought an alien. Oh, wait. That's Jim. He just looks so much like a fat version of the Great Gazoo that I always get confused. There were like three other people there and they were all probably employees of Vicki's.
Anyway, Michael, Vicki's other kid who is never on the show at all because he must be boring as blob of Play-D'oh or just hates that his family is trotting it's life out on the screen, show's up at the party and everyone is all fancied up and gussy gloried to hell and Michael rolls in wearing jeans. "What up, dawgs?!" he asks, giving everyone deuces and making a face like someone just dropped said deuce. Vicki introduces him to Brooks, her boyfriend who is a criminal of some sort, and tells them to go off together and have a catch and sing a round of "Cat's in the Cradle." They go upstairs and Brooks is all, "I really love your mom. She's so great, and I know I just met her two weeks ago but I have investigated her stock portfolio and I have decided that I will say whatever she wants to please her. Are you OK with that? So, what about your sister? Oh, and I have these time shares in Arizona and the great thing is you don't have to sell them, you just have to recruit people who are going to pay you to try to sell them. It's called multi-level marketing. That's what I do. We can make a fortune."
Michael, however is all like, "Um, I don't really want to do this now. I don't want to meet every man my mom dates. Also, I saw Glengarry Glen Ross and I think that you're trying to pull a scam on me. What the fuck is wrong with you?" Michael is also a little pissed that Brianna didn't tell him that she got married and he had to find out on Facebook. I feel your pain, Mike. My brother eloped and he told me by text message. He couldn't even call? What a jerk! But I got over it pretty quickly, why can't all of these Housepersonages? What is their damage, Dion?
Anyway, so Vicki calls all 10 people at this big deluxe Amway wine party and says she has a big announcement to make. Her daughter Brianna, that no good asshole, went and got married in Vegas and didn't even ask her. "Here is a whip, if you will please step up and take turns lashing Mr. and Mrs. Brianna and her Husband!" Brianna comes out and everyone is all excited. Heather says, "I'm shocked!" Alexis says, "Praise Jesus." Gretchen says, "I think I lost my blue cheese in this wine glass. SLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAADE, get it out!" Tamra says, "You are wearing my dress, you freaking cooze!"
Everyone is very happy but they all say that if their daughters eloped, that they would have a conniption fit. Get over it, people. When your child is 25 years old and makes a decision that makes her happy you just need to get over it and move on with your life. I mean it's not like Brianna's husband Ryan is some guy who abandoned his children in Mississippi so that he could go live with a lonely wealthy woman on a reality television show and has no describable profession and has been to prison for not paying child support. No, it's not like that at all. He's a nice young man who was in the Marines and served in Iraq and is as quick to laugh and easy-going as Brianna. Anyone would love to have him in the family.
Then Vicki tells everyone that she has a huge surprise for Brianna. "Oh, don't say you're engaged," she mumbles. Vicki shoots a dagger out of her eye says, "No. It's drunk Uncle Billy!" She says and a sozzled swizzle stick of a man comes sloshing down the stairs holding a bottle of Jack in one hand, his tie undone and his jacket full of boozy sweat. "Heya kiddo. Howth it hangin?" Oh, Drunk Uncle Billy.
After that big surprise, Vicki tells Brianna and Ryan that they have to sit down and talk to Brooks. She doesn't want to. As she said before, no one knows anything about this guy or what he does or who he is and he just says everything you want to hear in his low twang like he's Sawyer returned from The Island and aged 20 years. Brianna is right to be cautious. They sit down and Brooks is all, "I love you like a daughter. I love you like my own kids, which means I think you're really awesome and everything, but I won't give you a red cent. But you are the HTTP Colon Backslash Blackslash Dubya Dubya Dubya dot Bomb dot Com. And you have success in your genes, because your mom is so successful, so whatever you do, you are genetically disposed to be amazing. Now, enough with the flattery. A friend of mine told me about this bridge that is connected to Manhattan. Now, it seems like a sound investment and he said that he could sell me a few pieces of this bridge and it's going to make a very lot of money. Would you be interested in loaning me some money for this business opportunity?"
Vicki cuts him off to let Brianna know that their relationships are the same. Oh hell no, Vicki. Brianna is married to a nice, normal, wonderful, loving hunk of a Marine and you are being swindled by Foghorn Leghorn. You're just letting Colonel Sanders walk right into your henhouse and walk away with all the Chicken (Flavored Product). Brianna is this guy's partner. You are Brook's meal ticket. Don't you see the difference?
After their meeting, Brianna finished off her stemless glass of champagne and got up off the Ikea couch to go. "Brianna, wait," Vicki said, toppling after her into the hall. And that left Ryan an Brooks sitting alone on the sectional. Ryan was leaning back into the cushions, his arm up on top of them, feeling the void that Brianna just left. He put his hand on his leg close to his crotch. It was a defensive position, and Brooks rocked on his feet a bit as he sat hunched over with his arms on his thighs. He was looking right at Ryan and trying to figure out the thing he would say to him to win him an ally. Maybe he could mention something about the war or his time in the service. He hadn't even served, but he could make something up, he was good at that. Maybe he should welcome him and let him know that his first mother-in-law didn't like him either, which is why he sold her savings bonds and bought himself a jet-ski. Maybe he should just get him drunk and tell him stories about when he was a young pussy hound down in Bay St. Louis, taking the young windows of oil men from New Orleans to town and getting gifts out of them slowly, like pearls out of oysters. No, that was too obvious. Like gold from a mine. Nope, again, too on the head. Like those little bits of pudding out of bubble tea, one flavorful burst at a time flying up a fat plastic straw and into his mouth. That's what he would tell him, his pussy hound days. "You know, Ryan...."
"No." Ryan responded, not moving or flinching. Definitive. Succinct. "Don't."
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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Parks and Recreation is set deep in the heartland of America in the fictional small little town of Pawnee, Indiana. We follow Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation department, as she does all she can to make life in Pawnee pleasant, whether that's building a new park, putting on a festival, or entertaining a famous mini-horse named Lil' Sebastian. Through her adventures, we meet the rest of the cast, which features Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe and Adam Scott. It's a show that, despite its small world, carries a lotta heart, a lotta love, and a lotta laughs.
Why You're Not Watching
You Think It's an Office Knock-Off
Unsurprisingly, the show comes off as a wannabe-Office. This isn't a coincidence because, Parks was originally conceived as a spinoff from the Dunder Mifflin crew -- which explains the similarities in style, tone and production -- but creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur quickly morphed the project into something else. Instead of focusing on the negatives of office life and the pessimistic attitude that comes with that perspective, Parks focuses on hope and optimism. The majority of the laughs come from character traits and situations, but (most of the time) aren't at the expense of the characters. Our laughter isn't mean because, we're genuinely laughing with them, not at them.
Season One Wasn't Very Good
Daniels and Schur have said in interviews in the past that they approached season one as one long pilot episode, which may explain why the mini season (only six episodes) was so bad. Well, perhaps not bad, but simply unsure of what it wanted to be. At times it showed moments of greatness, it really did, but those moments were few and far between. And frankly, asking an audience to stick with you for six episodes as you figure your shit out is quite the request. By the end of the season, a majority of those Office, 30 Rock and other NBC comedy enthusiasts who gave it a chance had given up on it -- and haven't tried it since.
Small Town Local Government Seems Like a Dumb TV Show Premise
This show may have Rob Lowe, but it ain't no West Wing. The situations that the Pawnee Parks Department deal with aren't quite as sophisticated as Aaron Sorkin's twisted plots in the US government, but you know what? That's what makes them so wonderful. There are problems everywhere in our world and great comedy often comes from the ability to point out those funny little situations that come with those problems -- like filling in a pit to build a park or putting together a town's Harvest Festival. It may not be as appealing initially as, say, the President of the United States mulling over a wartime decision, but in a way, the simpleness and quietness of Parks' life is what makes everything about the show work.
What You're Missing
The Characters Make You Feel Happy, Happy, Happy!
Parks and Rec has so much to offer when it comes to its cast. Not only are Poehler, Ansari, Scott, Lowe and crew ridiculously hilarious, they're all, somehow, infinitely likable. They all might be goofs and have their odd eccentricities, but nothing they do ever makes you mad or angry. You're always rooting for them. You're on the same team. You want to win. And when a comedy like Parks embraces how wonderful everything is, it's difficult to not feel affected by its happiness. Unlike the rest of comedy -- which is overloaded with cynicism and pain -- we're laughing because of the characters' joys, not their sorrows.
Three Words: Ron "Fucking" Swanson
Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson has emerged as a cult hero (and someone who famously looks like a lot of cats). He's a libertarian, mid-level local government drone who thinks the government should pretty much do nothing at all (except sign his paycheck, but he doesn't talk about that side much). He's a man's man, a woodworker who loves breakfast so much that he hangs a picture of bacon and eggs in his office. He doesn't believe in feelings or talking or any of that crap, and he sports one of the manliest mustaches in TV history. Ron Swanson, alone, is a reason to watch Parks and Recreation. Plus while watching, you might find yourself following his Pyramid of Greatness, and you know, you just might make yourself a better person in the process.
Small Town America Is Actually Pretty Great
Middle America gets a bad rap. I know this because I'm from small town Iowa, and I've heard more than my share of "Iowa, that's the great potato state called Ohio, right?!" jokes, but Parks and Recreation somehow manages to present small town America as a place you want to live, not somewhere you want to runaway from. How? Well, simply by giving us characters that we love and characters that we want to hang out with. Who doesn't want to go to the Snake Hole Lounge and see Tom (Ansari) in his element? Or who doesn't want to have lunch with Leslie Knope and talk about the great city of Pawnee? Each character has so much heart and determination, that it's contagious. You want to be there with them, regardless if it's just small town America because it's not about the place, it's about the people.
The Bottom Line
There's No Time Like the Present
With Steve Carrell leaving The Office, it's now the perfect opportunity for fans unsure about its future to find solace in Parks and Recreation. The show has a little bit of everything to offer and right now, it's operating in its golden age. Every week gives us another great episode. The cast has tremendous chemistry. The running gags are hilarious. Everything just works. So grab yourself a Swanson (a turkey leg wrapped in bacon), and enjoy one of the finest comedies on television.
Parks and Recreation airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.
Writers Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert travel to Egypt, where they pursue their theory that the pyramids were not tombs for dead pharoahs but in fact a star worshipping cult's attempt to create heaven on earth. Emma Freud accompanies them through the desert and talks with other pyramid experts.