Weekly Hypothetical #2

Alright boys. After much thought and deliberation, here’s this week’s Weekly Hypothetical:

I recently saw the movie Nowhere Boy, chronicling the early life of a Mr. John Lennon. While the movie itself was fairly average, it did get me thinking about other biopics I had seen in the past. Ray, Walk the Line, all the classic musician movies, but also films like A Beautiful Mind, not merely limited to musicians.

Your assignment is to pitch me your biopic, the one that you’ve been dying to make forever. What makes this person’s story worth telling? What elements of this person’s life would you focus on? And not limited to musicians, you can do actors, comedians, athletes, whoever you think has a story worth telling. My personal biopic would be one of Tommy Wiseau. Also tell me, if you’re not directing, who you would have direct? Who would star as the person? My Tommy Wiseau biopic would star none other than…Tommy Wiseau. But feel free to get creative.

Get to work, gentlemen. You have one week to deliver me an Oscar-worthy epic.

– Daniel Perea

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Winner of Weekly Hypothetical #1

This was the most tragic image involving the character I could find. Felt Coen appropriate.

The winner of the first weekly hypothetical is Mr. Dan Perea for his Blue Beetle pitch. A story about a man who is denied greatness by the sheer forces of bad luck is the exact tale that the Coen Brothers have been telling from the get go. Buffoonery amongst people trying to master their world only to fail miserably and have things blow up in their face (on occasion literally), if that isn’t a staple in these brilliant filmmakers’ canon, I don’t know what is. Bergamo, your Deadpool pitch was well thought out and reasoned, but ultimately I think Dan nailed a character with Coen flavors and sensibilities best. So you’re up Perea, what’s is the new Weekly Hypothetical?

The Hypothetical:

Superheroes seem to be where it’s at. Everyone sees it. Today they’re considered largely to be one of the closest things to a guaranteed franchise, and therefore a commercial and financial success (For the most part of course, I saw Jonah Hex and Catwoman too people). Over the years, these superheroes have attracted highly lauded filmmakers, such as Bryan Singer with X-Men, Sam Raimi with Spiderman, Chris Nolan with Batman, and most recently Darren Aronofsky with (The…)Wolverine, who use the success gained from these movies to make more personal projects easier to finance in the future. Now the Coen Brothers want in. They’ve enjoyed years of making critically lauded films, but now they want the big money. Naturally, studios are jumping over themselves, throwing properties and offers at them left and right. The world is essentially their oyster. SO. Your job for this week is to pitch me a Coen Brother’s superhero franchise. And be creative with it. Don’t just give me, “Uhh…SUPERMAN!” Why Superman (if that)? Give me a character the brothers Coen would genuinely want to bring to the silver screen and why. You have your assignment. Dazzle me.

The Winning Entry:

The Blue Beetle, also known as Dr. Daniel Garrett, achieved his powers from a mystical scarab amulet found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Kha-ef-re. When he uttered the words “Kaji Dha,” he was granted superpowers, the ability to fly, superstrength, and the ability to shoot energy from his fingertips. Donning chain-mail armor impervious to bullets, Garrett called himself the Blue Beetle.

This is not the film the Coen Brothers would direct.

Rather, the dynamic duo would focus their attention on the story of the SECOND Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, an archaeology student studying under Garrett. Garrett, now in old age, attempts to give the mystical amulet to his colleague and protégé to carry on his legacy , but before he can, he and the amulet are buried by piles of rubble on Pago Island, and he dies. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Ted decides to use his inventiveness to become the second Blue Beetle despite having no amulet. He trains himself in several fighting styles, and develops an arsenal of non-lethal weapons. He has no superpowers, and has to constantly work hard to keep himself in shape.

This is the perfect superhero movie for the Coen brothers for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the Coens never veer far from the world of realism. Any superhero that they decide to take on, I personally feel, would have to maintain some realism. Make it a movie about regular people who need to work out and stay fit to remain superheros. My second argument: Absurdism. The Coens LOVE that shit! And I feel like they would love dealing with a hero who is grappling with the fact that he SHOULD have had superpowers, but doesn’t and has to continue anyways. Third, Michael Stuhlbarg is perfect for this part. Plain and simple.

For Your Consideration: The Blue Beetle, directed by the Coen Brothers.

– Matt Stryker

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The Blue Beetle; A Coen Brothers Film

The Blue Beetle, also known as Dr. Daniel Garrett, achieved his powers from a mystical scarab amulet found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Kha-ef-re. When he uttered the words “Kaji Dha,” he was granted superpowers, the ability to fly, superstrength, and the ability to shoot energy from his fingertips. Donning chain-mail armor impervious to bullets, Garrett called himself the Blue Beetle.

This is not the film the Coen Brothers would direct.

Rather, the dynamic duo would focus their attention on the story of the SECOND Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, an archaeology student studying under Garrett. Garrett, now in old age, attempts to give the mystical amulet to his colleague and protégé to carry on his legacy , but before he can, he and the amulet are buried by piles of rubble on Pago Island, and he dies. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Ted decides to use his inventiveness to become the second Blue Beetle despite having no amulet. He trains himself in several fighting styles, and develops an arsenal of non-lethal weapons. He has no superpowers, and has to constantly work hard to keep himself in shape.

This is the perfect superhero movie for the Coen brothers for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the Coens never veer far from the world of realism. Any superhero that they decide to take on, I personally feel, would have to maintain some realism. Make it a movie about regular people who need to work out and stay fit to remain superheros. My second argument: Absurdism. The Coens LOVE that shit! And I feel like they would love dealing with a hero who is grappling with the fact that he SHOULD have had superpowers, but doesn’t and has to continue anyways. Third, Michael Stuhlbarg is perfect for this part. Plain and simple.

For Your Consideration: The Blue Beetle, directed by the Coen Brothers.
– Daniel Perea

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My Nominees For Best Musical Score

I often ask myself what I consider the most important part of a film. Most of the time, the answer is the acting, the directing, the cinematography, all having to do with the visual aspect of film. But we often forget that an equally important part of the emotional experience is music. Music can be the force that drives a film, makes it more cohesive, and direct an audience through what they’re supposed to be feeling during certain scenes. This year was a particularly fruitful one in terms of film scores. I’m going to talk about a couple that really stood out to me.

1. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network

Most people recognize Trent Reznor as the frontman of the band Nine Inch Nails. He and his frequent collaborator and producer Atticus Ross developed the dark, moody score for David Fincher’s Facebook film. The atmosphere that the music creates is perfect for the world that is portrayed in the film; these computer nerds are the new wave of a quest for power that has been around since Roman times. Reznor’s synthesized beats and ambient noises make the whole film seem very cool, stylish, and sleek. I would expect nothing less from these two.

2. Daft Punk – Tron Legacy

It’s well known that the French electronica duo Daft Punk produced the highly hyped score for Disney’s high-budget revamp of an ’80’s phenomenon. Anybody expecting a hit single like “One More Time” should stop looking now. This is NOT a Daft Punk album. It is a score for a FILM, and it provides the exact right amount of excitement and thrill that the action requires. The combination of the dazzling visuals and pulse-pounding beats makes the movie an enjoyable experience, even if the plot makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever.

3. Hans Zimmer – Inception

He’s back! The genius behind the Gladiator and Dark Knight scores has returned with another inspired work. The soundtrack to Inception is characterized by many by it’s distinctive BUMMMM sounds, but anybody who takes the time to listen to the entire soundtrack can find lots of subtle musical creativity. Knowing also that Zimmer produced the entire score based on an Edith Piaf song featured in the film greatly increases the already high amount of respect I have for this composer.

4. Clint Mansell – Black Swan

Clint Mansell is one of my favorite composers. His work on films like The Fountain and Moon I consider personally to be the most inspirational pieces of movie music I’ve come across. Whenever I need inspiration, I turn on Clint Mansell. He continues his stellar work with the score for Black Swan, adapted from the Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Mansell went to a great deal of trouble to produce a score that thematically fit the message of the movie; he literally flipped Tchaikovsky’s work upside down, inverting it musically to produce the darker side of the pieces, the Black Swan. The amount of work that he did deserves recognition.

I’ve also heard that James Newton Howard’s score for the Last Airbender is quite good, although I have not personally listened to it. I’m sure many of my recommendations will be ignored by the academy, but this is my dream team for nominations this year.

– Daniel Perea

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The Social Network’s Social Commentary

The Social Network is one of the best films of the year for me. Yes, there are those hyperbolic quote whores that are praising it as the film of this generation or the Citizen Kane for the aughts, and that’s silly. I doubt there is any film that can or will capture the totality of us kids living in a post 9/11, 21st century world because like Mr. Zuckerberg, we are still very young, and cannot be defined because we have not yet defined ourselves.

What I think The Social Network is, is an ode to the birth of this online generation. In the very beginning of the film when we see Zuckerberg walking around the Harvard as Reznor’s ominous score plays underneath, suggesting that something dark, maybe not evil, but new and uncompromising is being born. It is not Zuckerberg’s greed, or even facebook, it is this beginning of a movement where these young intellectuals are going to be taking the opportunities afforded to them by the internet generation and create a new system for business and ethics.

I think this is best encapsulated by the Winklevi’s segments of the movie, in particularly their meeting with the dean of Harvard. When they tell him the idea for this website is potentially worth millions of dollars, he scoffs at them saying that they’re letting their imaginations get away with them. The older generations who came from old money and got to where they are through hard work were blind sighted to this impending cultural wave.

This isn’t the Citizen Kane of our generation, because that’s not how riches are made anymore (of course I’m speaking very generally), so maybe in a way The Social Network captures that spirit for this generation as opposed to being comparable to the movie in terms of relevance to cinema. I believe the dean of the school says something along the lines of “You kids today would rather make a job than take a job,” showing the change in sensibilities as well as how unaware the older generations were to this movement, something that geniuses such as Zuckerberg were able to see.

Through out the movie, Eisenberg’s character is constantly commenting on how they don’t know what facebook can be, what it will be, just that they know its cool, and Sean Parker will later go on to say that this is our time, and this is true, the time of these brilliant men is just now on the rise, beginning a movement of what’s to come. This movie is ultimately about facebook as much as Chinatown is about stealing water, this is practically a macguffin to get across all the things that have come from this generation and what they will go on to do. I  read one review that said that this is a film about people who were too old to be boys and too young to be men, and the fact that these were the people coming to run our world now made for an even more frightening depiction of this new age. These are people just pushing ahead and expanding without thinking about the consequences, ultimately leading to people like Zuckerberg making sacrifices that he feels he has to make, even if it causes him to lose the people closest to him.

I find the character of Zuckerberg to be tragic and one of the most fascinating of this year for that and many other reasons. As Rooney Mara says, and I’m probably taking this out of context in a way its not intended to me, but whatever, “The internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in ink.” Eat your heart out Prince, the internet isn’t a fad, it the present and future.

It touches on topics that are as old as cinema, from greed to betrayal, friendship, pretty much all the silly words plastered all over the promotional material. I feel like you can view the movie on two levels, the grand depiction of this new culture and generation as well as all the other themes that it touches on, and then the small personal story of a friendship coming to an end because of betrayal, not even for greed but for progress.

This is just as much a Fincher movie as it is a Sorkin movie. In fact, this is without a doubt my favorite director pairing with Sorkin I’ve ever seen (not that that’s necessarily saying much) but especially because Sorkin knows how to get characters talking like no man’s business and Fincher knows how to create a pretty frame at his worst of Buttons. Like all Fincher protagonists, Zuckerberg is an outsider wanting in, even if his approaches are misguided, and in a way I feel this has a lot in common with Fight Club in terms of a sort of commentary on acceptance and male fantasy. I found this to be some of the sharpest writing in Sorkin’s career, and while everyone does get their Sorkiny quick talking intelligent clever dialogue, I thought every character was unique while still channeling the man’s thoughts.

Also to just gush on the performances, I thought everyone was pretty great. Eisenberg is the best I’ve ever seen him, and I’ll say it, I think he deserves an Oscar nomination. He’s kind of my Jeremy Renner for the Hurt Locker of this year. While I understand that this may not be truly that big of a stretch for him, I think he brings a lot of nuance to this character and there were just moments that he got across through facial expressions alone that just impressed the hell out of me. Him and Cera this year have kind of both taken the basic character that they’ve made their careers out of at this point, and brought it to their most successful extremes, but Eisenberg brings a darkness and loneliness that I never thought to expect from him. Garfield was also very good, although at times I felt a little too passive for the sake of keeping him sympathetic, but towards the end he sold his scenes when the betrayal finally hit. Justin Timberlake was pretty great and charismatic as Sean Parker, adding a sort of adrenaline to the last half of the film that I really enjoyed, and Armie Hammer was great fun as the Winklevoss twins, making each distinguishable in subtle ways. Rooney Mara, even in the few scenes she had was really fantastic and made me excited to see what she does with them dragon tattoos in the coming years. The only thing I didn’t care for was Rashida Jones, her role’s kind of thankless and she mainly acted as a cipher to make Zuckerberg more tragic in the end.

This film is a special one, and definitely one of my favorites from Fincher, just behind Zodiac which I find to be his personal masterpiece.

-Matt Stryker

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Minority Report: Ruined (Sorry.)

As I sit at home flipping through the channels, I find myself landing on HBO where Minority Report is playing for what must be the third time today. And yet I can’t turn away. The film’s just so damn gripping. It’s a technical marvel, the CGI is nine years old and yet still looks just as good as films being produced today, and it still uses numerous practical effects that are thrilling to watch. I mean just look at that spiderbot sequence:

The cinematography by Jamusz Kaminski is beautiful, slightly overexposed and desaturated, creating this strangely sterile yet dystopic future, and the performances are uniformly strong with numerous fun supporting roles from the likes of people like Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Stormare, and Jessica Harper. Hell, it was made at a time when it was still socially acceptable to like Tom Cruise (pre-couch). The best thing is that it’s ending is up to the viewer. Those looking for a nice upbeat victory of a finale can take the last 15 minutes to be as they appear, but for us cynics, we can imagine that everything following John Anderton’s incarceration is a dream. Remember, right as he’s being put away, Tim Blake Nelson’s character says, “It’s actually kind of a rush. They say that you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true.” Ahhh. Did I just blow someone’s mind? Anyone? …No? Well I guess it has been out for nine years. Well no need to make me feel dumb about it, I was just bringing it to people’s attention! Now that’s just Anti-Semitic… ANYWAY, the one thing that always causes me to pause is the one gapping plot hole that I can’t escape whenever I watch the film. It’d be damn near perfect if not for the fact that, the overall conspiracy against John Anderson makes no sense! I know it feels pointless to pick apart the loopholes of a sci-fi film, but I can never escape this film’s crippling break in logic and now, most likely, you won’t be able to either.

There are two elements that are intended to drive John Anderton to murder Leo Crow. The first is when John initially sees the precogs prediction of the murder. This is what sets the plot in motion and makes John aware of Leo Crow because beforehand, he doesn’t know Crow exists. The second is seeing the “orgy of evidence” in Crows room when Anderton finally confronts him. The knowledge that Crow supposedly was the man who kidnapped and killed John’s son is what’s supposed to drive him to commit the murder. However, as anyone who’s seen the movie before knows, Anderton was set up to kill Crow by Lamar Burgess, who offered to take care of Crow’s family if he let Anderton kill him. They planted the photos of John’s son with Crow so John would murder him out of passion. BUT WAIT! How does simply planting the evidence there ensure that the murder will take place? John didn’t know about Crow until he saw the precog’s vision of him killing Crow. That’s what sends him looking for the man in the first place, what leads him to find Crow and the evidence. That vision could only exist if John was going to commit the murder regardless, which we know he wouldn’t because he had no reason to find the man without the vision setting things into motion. He does not have any knowledge of Crow prior to this. In order for Lamar’s framing to work, in order for the events of the film to occur, Lamar would need to plant that vision to set John after Crow, which is impossible, and besides we know that the precogs did see it, because it’s downloaded directly from Agatha’s brain at the seedy cyber club.

Sorry. Anyone who was going through a pleasant life of championing this film as flawless, I apologize. I wish I could live that life. Sincerely I do. Other than the plot hole that makes the entire film not make sense, I find very little wrong with the movie. That’s not even snark! Luckily, we can still enjoy the film as a fun sci-fi blockbuster. It’s still one of the best things Spielberg’s done in 20 years (in my humble opinion of course) and just some of the most fun I’ve seen from him visually in his entire career. Every shot is instilled with classic elements of film-noir that any casual movie fan can geek out to. The film holds up. It’s a great watch. It’ll be a great watch. But it doesn’t make sense. It can never honestly be considered perfect. And that’s always hard to realize.

– Matt Stryker

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The First Ever, Weekly Hypothetical

Welcome to the Weekly Hypothetical. This will be a competition amongst the writers of The Cloffice in which every week, a question/proposition/scenario/etc. will be given to the website’s staff to respond to. They will have an entire week from the initial posting of that week’s hypothetical to answer with as long or short an reply as possible. The proposer of that week’s question will read over each writer’s entry and determine a winner within 24 hours. At that time, that week’s winner will pose the hypothetical for next week, and so the circle continues. Because I am the originator of this new competition, I will be the one to start things off, so without further ado:

WEEKLY HYPOTHETICAL #1

Superheroes seem to be where it’s at. Everyone sees it. Today they’re considered largely to be one of the closest things to a guaranteed franchise, and therefore a commercial and financial success (For the most part of course, I saw Jonah Hex and Catwoman too people). Over the years, these superheroes have attracted highly lauded filmmakers, such as Bryan Singer with X-Men, Sam Raimi with Spiderman, Chris Nolan with Batman, and most recently Darren Aronofsky with (The…)Wolverine, who use the success gained from these movies to make more personal projects easier to finance in the future. Now the Coen Brothers want in. They’ve enjoyed years of making critically lauded films, but now they want the big money. Naturally, studios are jumping over themselves, throwing properties and offers at them left and right. The world is essentially their oyster. SO. Your job for this week is to pitch me a Coen Brother’s superhero franchise. And be creative with it. Don’t just give me, “Uhh…SUPERMAN!” Why Superman (if that)? Give me a character the brothers Coen would genuinely want to bring to the silver screen and why. You have your assignment. Dazzle me.

– Matt Stryker

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