Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The Dude a-bytes... (Sorry...)

I feel like I really should apologize to anyone who has visited this site in the past week or so and come expecting something decent and/or diverting to read. Many of you are probably already aware that the old paradigm for life that I've been used to working with vis-a-vis maintaining this site has been tinkered with slightly, and only temporarily. But still, the specter of guilt over not being very productive here at SLIFR in the weeks before the holidays is hanging kinda low, and try as I might to whisk it away it is persistent, like one of those wispy Death Eaters from those Henry Porter films that are all the rage these days. Truth is, I've seen plenty of things of late that I want to write about-- Black Swan, or as it is none-too-affectionately known around my house, Blecch Swan, but also I Love You, Philip Morris, The Warrior's Way, Another Year, Carlos (the 5-1/2 hour roadshow version) and even The Tourist, a slight confection, no question, but one with more juice in it than the near universally dismissive reviews have suggested. I have even made some progress on cherry-picking questions to respond to from the last two quizzes (I've taken a incomplete on them so far), and am readying the annual Holiday Quiz as we speak. There is another Horror Dads convention on the way, and the annual year-end piece to contemplate, which I hopefully will get to before February this year. Finally, look for something else extra special that I hope will also become a yearly tradition for this site sometime around the second week of January.

So no, this site has not been abandoned, nor is it wood any deader than usual. The quiet is just a symptom of me trying to maintain an upright keel during a very unusual, trying, hopeful and, of course, joyous time of the year. I do appreciate your continuing to look in and check up on SLIFR. It is my sincere intent to have something worth looking in on for you in the next couple of days.

Until then, this upcoming weekend is the one we (and by we I mean, of course, the Great Geek Nation) have been anticipating for some 28 years. In 1983, a year and a half or so after it first arrived in theaters to very little acclaim and a whole lot less world-changing box-office than Disney was counting on, I showed a dubbed VHS copy of Tron to my best friend and his older, tech-savvy brother. This was the movie that really marked the beginning of the departure of the Disney company from the Ron Miller era, a period dominated by the smeary visual aesthetic of endless romps like Snowball Express, Superdad, The Apple Dumpling Gang and, of course, the would-be grandeur of The Black Hole. Tron was something new, and if it looks a bit leaden now in comparison to other visual effects epics that have come in its wake, that's more due to the rapid development of effects themselves than to the movie's vision, which was singular and far ahead of its time. Tron's concurrent music video equivalent might be such cutting-edge eye-catchers as The Cars' "You Might Think" or Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," which took MTV and the music clip into new dimensions then but look mighty tiny now, and they don't have Tron's acute projection of an entire society built on computer dependence and integration to fall back on. In fact, when we finished watching the movie on VHS (I'd seen it about six times by then), my best friend's brother turned to us and said, "This movie is about 15 years ahead of its time. It might be a flop now, but it's speaking a language that one day everyone is going to understand."

Well, here it is, four days before the release of Tron: Legacy, the highly anticipated sequel to a 28-year-old movie that no one (except, apparently, Bruce's brother Ray) had any clue would hold such dominion over the imaginations of a generation of techie nerds, or that techie nerds themselves would become so well-woven into the fabric of society, brought from the edges of the cyberquilt to its very body by the ascendancy of the computer age. Computer geekdom is mainstream these days, dude. Everybody has a Best Buy or a Fry's rewards card, and they're not afraid to use them. And the massive Disney marketing campaign is geared up to a level usually reserved for bespectacled wizards or-- to avoid further crossing of the studio streams-- mincing, besotted pirates based on lizard-skinned rock stars, so that they might take full financial advantage of the fact of the domination of American movies by the tastes of fanboy/computer geeks.

And a few of my friends, my daughters and I will be standing amongst them in unity this weekend, ready to be plunged once again onto the mainframe and submitted to the cyberwhims and the cyberwill of the Master Control Program. (Or MCP, as we who will silently be mourning the absence of David Warner will insist on referring to it.)

So while I and all of the Tron: Legacy hopeful work the week toward Friday and a full-scale IMAX 3D (possible) bliss-out, some of my friends in other geographical places around the world are helping to foster the spirit of excitement over the prospect of even higher-tech light-cycle racing in their own ways. Old pal Larry Aydlette posted the poster you see above on his Facebook account this morning, which handily imagines a universe where Kevin Flynn, just a pocketful of quarters away from being the Dude himself, languished in virtual imprisonment inside that computer where his duderosity was allowed to emerge full-fledged, despite the disciplinary actions of the MCP. (I love that the Dude, locked inside that videogame as he has been, doesn't even know how long it's really been-- he's off by three years.) And Ross Ruediger provides a link where you can get T-shirts that reflect the mash-up between the world of Tron with that of the Little Lebowski, Walter, Donnie and the whole gang.

This is all not even to mention that Jeff Bridges is also starring in the new Coen Brothers picture which comes out next week, itself based on a beloved book-- and not so much on the somewhat beloved 1969 movie that was spawned from it. (Oh, this is all just too meta for me. Where's Christopher Nolan, for Christ's sake? Oh, yeah, getting his awards-season tux pressed. This rambling post has come to an end. See you at the movies this weekend, and beyond, I hope!)



Brian Darr said...

I saw Tron: Legacy last night and this poster seems particularly appropriate! Its makers clearly had Lebowski in mind when creating the updated Flynn character. (sample quote: "you're ruining my Zen, man!")

After the screening I tweeted that, since I couldn't decide whether to call this sub-mediocrity a re-boot or a re-make, I'd just go with what The Dude would call it: a re-bake.

Samuel Wilson said...

What this country needs is a "Dude of Death" t-shirt for the Coen movie.

As long as no one says "Dud of Death," of course.

bill r. said...

I'm so glad you got to see the full CARLOS! What an amazing movie. I'm a-scared to write that one up -- and anyway, I saw it too long ago at this point to be able to get anything coherent out of it now -- but I'd love to read your thoughts. I saw the **** rating down below, so I figure we're pretty simpatico on it, but still.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Brian, say it ain't so!

Well, I'm perfectly prepared to accept the possibility than will not be the greatest movie ever made (next to whatever Cristopher Nolan has up his sleeve nex time out), but I still hold out hope that it will at least be worth a look. But lame movie or not, we've still got this poster!

Bill, you're not kidding that Carlos is an intimidating piece of work to try to write about, but it's also so entertaining and full of filmmaking juice, and so unafraid of being perceived as politically incorrect, that I hope to try and get a few paragraphs down about it while it's still fresh in my mind. Ramirez is brilliant, and the whole movie's refusal to look away, to treat either its protagonist, the satellite characters, or even the victims as simple abstracts in a geopolitical carnival is pretty risky, from a political and a narrative standpoint. It's been a long while since I've immersed myself in a world like this in a theater for such a great chunk of time, and I have to say I felt literally intoxicated when I came out six hours (with intermission) later. I'm glad you liked it, and I'm glad I did too.