Movies

The problem with the new Ghostbusters trailer

The trailer for the new upcoming Ghostbusters was recently released, and immediately widely hated. (Check out all the disapproving thumbs-down on the video, for example. This leading, of course, to claims of sexism!)

I think the problem is the “tone” or “style” of the humor illustrated in the trailer is completely inconsistent with the dry humor of the first two original films. Compare:

with this sort of humor:

See the difference? In the first two films, the characters are serious people. They might get sarcastic (particularly Bill Murray’s character), but that sarcasm is born of trying to deal with a serious situation and keeping sane, à la Gregory House, not of just being a silly person in general. All this comic-relief is needed to accept the otherwise ridiculous premise of people trying to catch ghosts with strange science, but the conflicts themselves are serious. That is, the humor helps lampshade the far-fetched premise so that the premise can be accepted. This happens to some degree in almost every fantasy / sci-fi story (see the quibbling droids and Han Solo’s sarcasm in Star Wars, for example), and when it doesn’t, you usually get something that seems way too cheesy or pretentious. The humor allows acceptance of the far-fetched premise.

And now back to the new Ghostbusters trailer, and what do we have here? We have a “goofball” comedy. Crazy wacky characters! Silly barfing ghosts! Hyuck-hyuck! The characters and the situation are no longer serious, they’re all just part of an eccentric comedy romp. This style of humor can work well on its own; plenty of films employ it to great success. But in this case it’s just not consistent with the franchise they’re trying to continue, so the whole thing feels like an insulting parody, or a kidnapping of the beloved franchise. It feels like the filmmakers were not truly fans of the originals, or didn’t really understand them, or are just incompetent filmmakers in general.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

The Storm Cometh

Composer Cloud

I recently realized EastWest libraries offer a subscription service for their (otherwise very expensive) sample libraries called Composer Cloud, so I subscribed and have been experimenting with what their libraries have to offer. Here’s a short piece I recently wrote completely with some of their libraries (mainly Hollywood Strings, Hollywood Brass, Symphonic Choirs, and StormDrum):

I still have plenty left to experiment with, but so far I really like their Hollywood Strings, Hollywood Brass, and Symphonic Choirs libraries (though I doubt I’ll have the patience to use their word builder any time soon; ooh’s and ah’s are fine with me for now). And of course StormDrum has some great film-score-ish percussion available. They’re hard to resist playing with, even though I fear they may sound a bit cliche and generic these days. Oh well, too bad, I still want my turn to play with them! I’m not so impressed with their woodwinds, though; they sound pretty bland to me. I haven’t installed Garritan Personal Orchestra on this new computer of mine yet, but I hope to. I definitely prefer GPO’s woodwinds, which sound much more lively and real to me. Same goes for GPO’s harp. I also need to put my Bela D Media Celtic Winds on this computer so I can try mixing in some Irish whistles perhaps, or uilleann pipes.

Anyway, hope to write more music soon! I’ll probably write more pieces around the two minute mark. It’ll allow me to experiment a bit more, plus two minute tracks have a greater chance of being licensed I guess.

By the way, I hope you appreciate my harmony in the above composition; it may be subtle, but I tried some techniques I’ve never tried before, like going from a G# minor chord to an E minor chord for that eerie (perhaps cliche) film score-ish sound. I also use some suspended and augmented chords somewhere in there too, albeit rather subtly. Trying to expand my harmonic palette. You should be proud of me.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Movies

Who cares if Death Note is rated R?

According to this article about the upcoming Death Note film adaptation (which hasn’t, the article points out, actually been greenlit yet):

When asked about the target audience for the film, [producer Roy Lee] replied, “It’s definitely for adults. It is zero chance it will be below an R-rating,” and went on to say that the tone of the film “will be one of the first manga adaptations that feels very grounded but still has fantastical elements.” That sounds like something [director Adam Wingard] could definitely nail.

Oh, whoopee-doo. I’m not sure this, in and of itself, is anything to be excited about. The strengths of the anime, at least in my opinion, have nothing to do with how “adult” it is; for example, how the violence is portrayed is a stylistic decision. It can be intense and gory, or more comic-book like, à la Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Either could work, as long as the style’s consistent, so who cares? The fun of the anime, in my opinion, is the story itself; the chess-like cat-and-mouse game between two brilliant un-average thinkers, and their differing philosophies in defining “justice” that serve as the foundations for their opposition. I hope whoever writes the film doesn’t just take all that for granted because some animated sequences were fun to watch, thinking he can just trim the story that’s already there down to something film-length and have it still work with maybe just some editing for the sake of exposition and pacing. Because then we’ll wind up with crap for story. Or worse, something like The Guest, in which there hardly even is a story at all, just a guessing game that ends up going nowhere, so you had better enjoy the action sequences for the sake of themselves, because they serve no greater substance beyond themselves… Because in Death Note, they do, gosh darn it, so don’t butcher it too much!

(For the record, I have nothing against what the producer said; he was just answering a question. I just think the question itself is irrelevant, unless perhaps someone feared a PG rating? And being pleased with the answer just means you’re a fan of the franchise for very different reasons than I.)

And, of course, I’m crossing my fingers that the filmmakers aren’t fans of the nonsense over-acting from the English dub:

By S P Hannifin, ago
Year's best

My 2015 favorites

I’m pretty late this year, but who cares? Here are my favorites from 2015! As usual, for books, the nominees are books I finished reading for the first time in 2015, regardless of their publication date. Movies and film scores must have been first released in the USA in 2015.

Year’s best live action film:Jurassic World

Year’s best animated film:Inside Out

Year’s best film score:Pan

Year’s best nonfiction book:Book of Talent

Year’s best fiction book:Fugitives of Chaos

By S P Hannifin, ago
Interesting finds

Presidential cousin…

Our local paper was recently bought by a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, which led me to briefly browsing Warren Buffett’s Wikipedia page, where it mentioned that he’s “of distant French Huguenot descent.” Not sure why this is considered noteworthy, but whatever. Anyway, I am also “of distant French Huguenot descent”, from my 10 x great grandfather (if I counted the generations right), good old Benoit Brasseur, or Old French Grandpa Benny as we call him in the family. So what Huguenot is Buffett’s Wikipedia page referring to? Could it be the same one?!

Nope. Wikipedia’s page is referring to a Mareen Duvall. But Duvall’s second wife, and the one Buffett is descended from, was Susannah Brasseur, daughter of Benoit! So that makes my 10 x great grandfather Warren Buffett’s 7 x great grandfather, making Warren Buffett my 8th cousin, 3 times removed! So the local paper is like a family business now.

But there’s a bonus relative, too. Also descended from Mareen Duvall and Susannah is a president of the USA! As in… the current one. Bleh! Old cousin Barry, 11th cousin, once removed.

(Other famous descendants of Mareen Duvall include Harry S. Truman, Dick Cheney, and actor Robert Duvall, but my brief Googling around seems to indicate that these famous guys are descended from Duvall’s first wife rather than his second.)

Of course, these connections are so distant that they’re completely and utterly unremarkable, but it is interesting to actually be able to trace a path.

By S P Hannifin, ago