John Walker's Electronic House

Rum Doings Episode 126: It’s Nice To Be Around Other Monkeys

by on Jan.04, 2013, under Rum Doings

It’s a new year, a brand new start, a fresh… nope, it’s the usual Rum Doings. Episode 126 begins with brief chatter about Christmas, destroying showers, and the role of conferences. We explore the learning of languages, and scientifically calculate which is the best language to listen to.

We learn what’s wrong with Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and digital cinema. And what’s right with Paul Thomas Anderson and Sam Raimi. And then John explains what was right with Peter Jackson. And then it ends.

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14 Comments for this entry

  • Steve


    I feel compelled to step in for the defence of Mark Kermode. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the book that Nick mentioned in this episode (it’s ok).

    You know, I was going to post a long essay about his better qualities (such as constantly baiting Danny Dyer). But I felt that it was unconvincing and have erased it. Instead I’d like to direct you to this review with the understanding that if, after watching it you’re still unconvinced then that is fair enough.

  • Tom

    While I generally prefer film and practical effects to digital and CGI, I do find it interesting to note that many people mistake the horrific photochemically-produced alien effects in Alien 3 to be dodgy CGI.
    Also I was interested in seeing The Master in 70mm, but wound up going to Cineworld in Enfield instead (rather than anywhere particularly close to where I live) as that was the only fit I could make with the one person I knew who was keen on seeing it. While there I noticed a sign advertising a new fake IMAX screen they’re having installed. That made me sad.

  • Hidden_7

    I feel the need (for some reason) to defend 48FPS, even though I know this will be an almost entirely hostile audience, because I feel like it is getting unfairly dismissed out of hand.

    I saw the Hobbit in 48fps, and in opposition to most everyone else in the world (though not most of the group I saw it with, oddly enough) loved it. Didn’t just merely tolerate it, didn’t ‘forget’ about it a few minuets in, actively liked it, to the point where I think it would be a poorer film viewed in 24fps.

    Yes, it can look weird and offputting. Yes, it does not look like a movie at 24fps on film. It’s got a surreal hyper-real look to it. However, is it not the sort of surreal effect of 24fps, one that does not look like reality, that proponents of it praise? Fact is, neither 24, nor 48 fps look like reality. They both confer an aesthetic sensibility to the footage.

    It’s ok to dislike that look, but I think it’s a mistake to pretend it’s any different from 24fps, or black and white, or over saturated lighting, or
    muted colours, or so on and so on as a tool for conveying certain sensibilities and emotions to a movie.

    Personally, I found the effect 48fps had was to make the whole thing feel a lot more kinetic, high energy, at times more intimate, and most importantly, less serious, than it would have looked at 24fps. For a movie like this, which could have easily suffered from the LOTR hyper-dour effect (and maybe it did; at 24fps), the feeling of motion and energy conveyed by the high frame rate was most welcome.

    It also has the effect, in certain scenes, of making it feel like watching live theatre. I’m thinking specifically the Riddles in the Dark scene. It had the feeling of watching a play, where two actors played off each other, only with the most expensive set I’ve ever seen in live theatre, and where one of the paricipants was an impossible creature. A very surreal, somewhat jarring, but not unpleasant experience.

    In conclusion, yes 48fps doesn’t look like 24fps, and no it doesn’t look like reality either. It will take some time for us to get used to the disconnect it produces, much as we’ve had time to get used to 24fps. It does however, confer an effect that, while I wouldn’t wish on all movies, can be beneficial to some. If you haven’t seen it, I think it’s worth a look, even if you think your mind is made up. One of my friends whom I saw it with went into the theatre terrified about how the movie was going to look like a daytime soap, and how it would be ruined for it, and came out loving the effect.

  • Hidden_7

    Second comment, separated so as to not lose it in the mire of my futile defense of 48fps.

    Nick, you say that Tolkien’s fantasy specifically doesn’t speak to you. Are there any fantasy worlds/series/authors that do speak to you?

  • devlocke

    Tolkien just wrote horribly. His prose is indefensible in my opinion, and I don’t understand why he is beloved by so many. I do honestly think that Peter Jackson loves his work, though. That’s how I explain Peter Jackson making awful hobbit movies: it’s love, and love can make people do irrational things.

    I had no idea he directed The Frighteners; I love that movie. Bad Taste and Dead Alive (Braindead to non-Americans) are also fantastic. Nick, do check out some pre-LoTR Peter Jackson. He used to be a lot of fun. I hope that he will be again, once he gets the Tolkien out of his system.

  • BreadBasket

    The reason that Finnish sounds strange compared to the other Scandinavian languages is due to the fact that it is not a Scandinavian language, rather an Uralic one, and is thus completely unrelated.

  • Terence Petersen-Ajbro

    The series you mentioned is in fact Danish (forbrydelsen = the crime).

    Norwegian is basically Danish words pronounced with a Swedish accent. Until around 1905 Norway used the same orthography as Danish, this later became bokmål, one of the official Norwegian languages.

  • Xercies

    I really liked Peter Jacksons LOTR and I still enjoy it now, I really didn’t like the book either and i thought Jackson did a good job of cutting the unimportant bits out and leaving the good bits of the story. But I do agree that now a days Tolkein is the least interesting fantasy series especially when you got things like Game Of Thrones out there actually saying something.

    48fps was a bit weird but I have to say the detail in it was amazing, I look at some of the 24fps stuff on the TV like trailers and it looks really rubbish in comparison, 48frames definitly looked like you were looking out a wall at this stuff. It just has the unfortunate thing of everything looking like its on fast forward.

    I feel the aversion to digital is a little well culturally snobbish, I do kind of agree though with digital effects the scenes in Inception are more impressive when you realise they actually did that and I do have a soft spot to doing that in film instead of just sticking CGI everywhere. But saying that I can understand how digital film and effects can open it up to people that film wasn’t able to open up, independent people that can go out there with cameras and just make a film because you just can shoot it. And you can have interesting voices with that process and that is something I am excited about as well, though it doesn’t seem to have exploded that much.

    Also with the Conference thing, I did go to a lecture which I had no idea about but was so facinated and electrified because the guy was so interesting so I agree, though going against John even if you do know the subject you could learn more advance things with these lectures sometimes.

  • Steve Eustice

    A couple of times at University I went to the lectures of friends who were doing different courses in gaps between my own. I always found them much more interesting but I’m sure that was partly just due to the novelty factor and mainly due to my own poor choice of degree.

  • Alex

    Raimi is only a writer/producer for the upcoming Evil Dead remake but it’s using practical effects for everything.

  • sinister agent

    Yeah, Tolkien was a pretty terrible writer. I find his books pretty much unreadable, they’re so tedious and clunky and oh-my-god-get-to-the-point. I eentually forced myself to finish the first of the Lord of the Rings books, but couldn’t go on from there. And Tom Bombadil got on my tits. I couldn’t believe it when people complained he wasn’t in the film. He made me think less of an ancient sage of the woods, and Graham Norton’s campy lunatic from Father Ted. I honestly expected him to turn up in the mines of Moria and go “I know! Let’s have a SCREAMING contest! I’ll go first!”

    Gimme Frank Herbert any day. Now that’s how you write a story – drop us in and tell the background and world through context, not 100 pages of why-not-just-read-real-history. And it worked on multiple levels too, with references to contemporary society and economics, as well as the ecological and psychological aspects, and the exploration of messianic characters, etc, etc. Just all round far more enjoyable.

    I enjoyed the first film, though. Pacey (once it got started, anyway), exciting, and unpredictable – many main characters die, in stark contrast to the other films, which very quickly made it clear that the main four or five people were functionally immortal, thus there is no reason to care). The second bored the tits off me, and frustrated me no end by building up to a huge battle that they then kept cutting away from for some stupid comedy scenes. By the end of the third I was having a hard time not shouting at the screen to JUST FINISH THE FILM FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

    This comment brought to you by the society for dashes.

  • IcyBee

    Loads of people give up after Fellowship. The writing gets better after that – it becomes its own story rather than a continuation of the Hobbit. Until the second half of the third book, where the story finishes, but he keeps on going – the film wrapped it up quite quickly in comparison.

    I can’t understand why you say you enjoyed Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Brain Dead, yet you think Jackson has lost his abilities because LotR “lacks subtlety”. Tolkien isn’t about subtlety.
    Perhaps you knew that the films weren’t your thing before you went in, so you were never going to enjoy it. Try sticking to stuff you think you’ll like.

    Why is everything always really good or really bad? Don’t you guys have shades in between?

    Paul Thomas Anderson is a great film maker. It’s great that he gets to make his films using the methods he prefers. But how does it make it a better film? And what’s the point? – most people will only ever see a digital representation of his work – and will enjoy it just the same.

  • Ryan H

    Finally got around to listening to this episode. I’m a massive fan of the original Lord of the Rings films and I’m a fan of the Tolkien universe and lore so of course I disagree with some, but not all of your loosely based opinions, but I loathe the Hobbit movie.

    One of the worst films I’ve ever had the discomfort to sit through. The movie is an empty, vapid, money grabbing and soulless waste. Such a cheesey, childish and completely computer generated and tasteless disappointment. It’s so…ugh, bringing back my hate for the movie, I need to stop writing.