Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit

Posts tagged movies

Mongolian Bling: Adventures in Nomadic Hip Hop teaser :: via 3quarksdaily

Intolerance: Love's Struggle Through the Ages, by D.W. Griffith, 1916

"Gopangane," sung by KS Chithra and KJ Yesudas, music by Raveendran, from the film Bharatham (1991)
"S C Road, Gandhinagar" [map], photo by SloganMurugan, Which Main? What Cross?, 22 March 2009
a post, 6 February 2009

In a 10-minute video, Randy Nelson, the Dean of Pixar University, talks about how Pixar hires. One thing they look for is people who are interested rather than interesting.

from "La Dolce Video," by Sophia Hollander, The New York Times, 6 February 2009 :: via

“Kim’s was the cutting-edge; that was always the business concept,” Mr. Kim said the other day in one of a series of conversations about the fate of his video collection. “But ironically, I didn’t prepare.”

Last September, in a move that swept through the Internet at viral speed, he issued a public challenge. In a notice pasted on a wall inside the front door, he wrote, “We hope to find a sponsor who can make this collection available to those who have loved Kim’s over the past two decades.” He promised to donate all the films without charge to anyone who would meet three conditions: Keep the collection intact, continue to update it and make it accessible to Kim’s members and others.

Offers poured in. Every one failed on one count or another. Every offer, that is, except one.

The Red Balloon (Le Ballon rouge), directed by Albert Lamorisse, 1956 :: via swissmiss
a Tomorrow Museum aside by Joanne, 19 December 2008

If you were on the Internet this week you probably heard that love can no longer exist in the age of the romantic comedy. But like all cultural artifacts, while 95% of the output is rubbish, there are some real gems. I love Sliding Doors and Bridget Jones’ Diary isn’t all that bad. Next Stop Wonderland is one of my all-time favorite movies. (NYT captures it perfectly in this 1998 review.) Little Black Book is actually a weird Network-inspired satire and I’d consider Neil LaBute ’s The Shape of Things a rom-com too. To believe the genre is inherently stupid is like dismissing horror because Eli Roth makes movies.

from "When Did Snow White Get So Dirty?," by Paige Phelps, Deep Glamour, 13 November 2008

In addition to making Snow White fashionable, Grim also “began to absorb more and more of the actual live model” into his drawings, writes Johnson, who happened to be a 14-year-old girl named Marge Belcher, who was 16 when they finished filming. Take a look at that face—it’s not exactly the childlike countenance Disney princesses have these days, is it?

Look at Snow White on the Disney Princess official website, Sure she’s been hipped up a bit to fit into modern times and, apparently, that included her waistline—it’s smaller than Barbie’s! (Go download Snow White’s wallpaper and then ask yourself, are the dwarfs even feeding her?)

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making : : via Christianity Today Movies

In the movie business, Monday is the day to ponder the lessons learned from the past weekend’s gross receipts. So, dear culture makers, let us ponder this: Albany, Georgia’s Sherwood Baptist Church’s film Fireproof has grossed $23.6 million in its first month of release—on just 900 screens. Its production budget was $500,000. The critical reception, unlike the popular reception, has been, shall we say, tepid.

Compare that with a movie made with a cast of extraordinary British actors, directed by the widely respected Michael Apted, about one of the great heroes of Christian cultural transformation: Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and the end of the British slave trade. Backed by one of the deepest pockets in Christendom, with a production budget of $29 million (and, full disclosure, benefiting from the excellent marketing efforts of many people I consider friends and heroes), and quite well received by critics in spite of its Christian bona fides, it grossed $22.3 million domestically in its entire run (on over 1100 screens at widest release).

As William Goldman said, nobody knows anything. Let the reader understand.


Gekko’s character was written to create an engaging, charming, but deceitful and brutal being. I have nevertheless run into quite a number of younger people, who upon discovering that I co-wrote the film, wax rhapsodic about it . . . but often for the wrong reasons.

A typical example would be a business executive or a younger studio development person spouting something that goes like this: “The movie changed my life. Once I saw it I knew that I wanted to get into such and such business. I wanted to be like Gordon Gekko.”

The flattery is disarming and ego-stoking, but then neurons fire and alarm bells go off. “You have succeeded with this movie, but you’ve also failed. You gave these people hope to become greater asses than they may already be.”

"Mera Juta Hai Japani," from the film Shri 420, performed and directed by Raj Kapoor, music by Shankar-Jaikishan, playback singing by Mukesh

Day for Night (La Nuit américaine) trailer," directed by François Truffaut, 1973, and My Life, My Card ad, directed by Wes Anderson, 2006

What’s equally tough, of course, is getting talented people to work effectively with one another. That takes trust and respect, which we as managers can’t mandate; they must be earned over time. What we can do is construct an environment that nurtures trusting and respectful relationships and unleashes everyone’s creativity. If we get that right, the result is a vibrant community where talented people are loyal to one another and their collective work, everyone feels that they are part of something extraordinary, and their passion and accomplishments make the community a magnet for talented people coming out of schools or working at other places. I know what I’m describing is the antithesis of the free-agency practices that prevail in the movie industry, but that’s the point: I believe that community matters. . . .

After Toy Story 2 we changed the mission of our development department. Instead of coming up with new ideas for movies (its role at most studios), the department’s job is to assemble small incubation teams to help directors refine their own ideas to a point where they can convince John and our other senior filmmakers that those ideas have the potential to be great films. Each team typically consists of a director, a writer, some artists, and some storyboard people. The development department’s goal is to find individuals who will work effectively together. During this incubation stage, you can’t judge teams by the material they’re producing because it’s so rough—there are many problems and open questions. But you can assess whether the teams’ social dynamics are healthy and whether the teams are solving problems and making progress. Both the senior management and the development department are responsible for seeing to it that the teams function well.

via Boing Boing
from "The Long, Dark Knight of the Soul," by Brant Hansen, Letters from Kamp Krusty, 19 July 2008 :: via Charlie Park

At one level, this movie is a bunch of violent, purposeless noise.

But there is a second deeper level.  At that level, “The Dark Knight” is a discourse on the nature of evil.

And then . . . there is a third, still deeper, final level. 

At that final level, this movie is a bunch of violent, purposeless noise. . . .

“The Dark Knight” is cultural rigor mortis.  It’s what happens when we are done, and we are done.  Jacques Barzun had it right, when he wrote a history of western culture up through the 1990s, and said, certainly, that our age is defined by boredom.  We are excited by nothing, really, but maybe for a moment here, or a moment there, we can try to be turned on.  Sex can do it (or fake sex, much more likely) but brutal violence can work, too, if for a short time.

from ”Smith’s Rules for Global Domination,” by Gary Dauphin,, 11 July 2008

Smith’s rules for how to be a global black superstar, then?

1.  Keep it easy and breezy. Heroes must work for the good of the white folks (especially families and romantic pairings) in the movie, often to their own detriment.

2.  Don’t risk putting off the white folks/foreigners in the audience with an excess of what pundit John McWhorter might derisively describe as “a surfeit of explicitly black presentation.” (Unless, like Denzel in Training Day, you are playing a degraded, corrupt cop; then you get an Oscar.)

3.  Do not—EVER—make a movie whose subject matter treats or concerns the facts of black life in America in an accurate or illuminated way, this even when said facts are somehow encoded or embedded in the conventions of genre or some other filmmaking trick.


To the strains of modern opera, he used cutting-edge technical trickery to make Leonardo’s Christ appear like a three-dimensional hologram while a radiant sun rose and fell over his head. He turned the original colourful image red, grey and black before the artist’s gentle brush strokes were replaced with a chalk outline of the 13 figures, as if Leonardo had drawn a crime scene. Dawn broke, dusk fell and by the end the disciples had been dramatically cast into the shadow of prison-like bars.

To at least one of the world’s experts on Da Vinci, Greenaway’s work amounted to cultural vandalism. But to others it may have saved The Last Supper’s reputation from The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel, which frustrated many experts by reducing the painting’s hidden meanings to a plot device.

“It has reconsecrated the painting after Dan Brown deconsecrated it,” said Vittorio Sgarbi, a leading art critic and former head of arts for the Milan local government.

excerpt Pixar’s R&D

from ”Pixar defies gravity”, by Patrick Goldstein, the LA Times The Big Picture blog

Pixar is also unique because of its origins. Today’s studios are four generations removed from their original immigrant entrepreneurs. They’re more like banks than movie companies, made up of employees all surrounded by constant reminders that they work for a mega-conglomerate always worried about making back its investment. Though owned by Disney, Pixar is still, creatively, the construct of Steve Jobs, a first-generation technological entrepreneur and visionary.

“We’re a studio of pioneers who, if you look at it technically, were the ones who invented much of computer animation” says Lasseter. “Everything we’ve done no one had done before—it was all new. So that creates a group of people who strive to break new ground. It’s addicting. When someone comes in and says, ‘This is something no one has ever done before,’ we all get excited. We have a company culture that celebrates being pioneers.”

He adds: “Because we’re a culture of inventors, nothing is standard operating procedure for us. We constantly reevaluate and reexamine everything we do. We go back and study what works and what didn’t work and we get excited about what didn’t work because, for us, that’s a challenging new problem to solve.”