Sound Experiment number 18.
Author: Jim Doran
We saw Inside last night, and then came home and read reviews. I don’t think this is a spoiler, as you get the premise from the trailer. During a heist gone wrong, an art thief gets trapped in a modern, “smart” apartment for, it seems, months. But read on at your own risk.
There really aren’t many good reviews, at least, I haven’t read any. Of the bad reviews, I agree that:
- The film is hollow
- Another director could have made something great out of this
- It would have been interesting to see a slicker, more polished actor portray Dafoe’s character. He is gritty and doesn’t have far to fall, in other words.
I take issue with the idea that this film is not worth watching. It is totally worth watching. It’s mostly a one man show, Willem Dafoe as Nemo works the material with mastery. There is room for movies like this – we need more films like this.
As Nemo confronts his situation, I was thinking of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, and could see this being an amazing novella under Auster’s pen. The director is mostly unsuccessful in using the camera to bring any depth to Nemo’s predicament, or in portraying Nemo’s internal struggles, his character, etc.
Something that the other reviews I’ve read missed: Inside provides commentary on art commodification, and the NYC art world. The choices made by the collector, the items to be stolen, and Nemo’s relationship to the apartment and the works contained inside are worth considering. It also hints at madness as it relates to vision and art, although weakly. It’s subtle, but I think if these ideas are teased out, the film might reveal that is has legs. That said… there are problems.
This film places us directly and intimately in a confined space with Nemo, and as such, the following plot holes are quite glaring:
- Nemo is clearly a sophisticated thief – he, and his “man in the chair” number 3, have done a lot of homework to get into this apartment. They have a helicopter! So, why wouldn’t Nemo wear gloves? And a mask? The odds that Nemo has a clean record seem very low.
- Why didn’t number 2 or 3 come find Nemo, once it was clear the police weren’t involved, yet Nemo has disappeared?
- The “Owner” is an architect. How is it that such a sophisticated, well thought out dwelling wouldn’t notify the owner or building attendant that the system(s) have failed? Given that the fridge plays Hey Macarena through the whole apartment if left open too long, wouldn’t the apartment have fail safe systems, too? And, since Nemo disabled all the speakers in the place to silence the deafening alarm, how can we hear the fridge so loudly?
- Nemo doesn’t notice the smoke detectors for… a very long time. Again, unlikely. Also, I would have thought someone as smart as Nemo would have searched every inch of the apartment and found the secrets a lot sooner, like, by day two.
- The water is turned off, yet somehow the sprinkler system for the plants works. What?
- The electricity is on – but, there is no Microwave?
- Nemo works to move a very heavy table from upstairs to downstairs. The table top seems to be marble or concrete. I believe he might have been able to break a window with it.
- When Nemo talks to a pigeon, he taps a window and the bird jumped. I think that glass would be breakable.
- Why doesn’t the building manager/Owner representative/fire department respond to the fire alarm?
- Where does all the water go after the sprinkles go off, and why didn’t anyone notice?
- How did Nemo defecate what seems to be his own body weight, on a few condiments and some pasta?
- The passage of time could have been marked more clearly – we see snow and fireworks, but they are outside the apartment, and I don’t know why that needed to be subtle, when it could have enhanced the story.
- I doubt very much those bolts could have been removed with chair legs.
- The hallucinations were gratuitous and unnecessary. They only detract from the films stronger parts.
- The biggest crime: Not enough set up regarding Nemo or the Owner, and while we hear Nemo’s voice over the ending credits the ending was completely unsatisfactory. Lazy, pretending to be craft?
Yes, the problems outweigh the film’s strengths (Dafoe’s performance aside). Definitely a streaming option, as it’s more fun to think about what is wrong with the picture, than it’s few strong points.
St. Patty’s Day Shamrock 5k
Happy Sunday, dear visitor. It’s a chilly, damp, gloomy Sunday in March.
I’m approaching the halfway point of this insane semester. It’s going well – I’m enjoying everyone very much, and the work, too. I haven’t been producing stuff to look at here, but I have been working hard. Revisiting the 12 principles of animation, walk cycles, rotoscoping, and using the Animator’s Survival Kit on the daily, not to mention exploring newish CSS and HTML5 goodies – it’s all good stuff.
I was informed this morning that I’ve been accepted into my third master’s degree program, this time with the University of Maryland Graduate School – Master of Library and Information Systems. I’m very grateful for all these opportunities.
Today, we had our annual St. Patty’s day 5k. We tried something different this time – we walked it. But we walked fast, and I feel the same as through we’d run it. We decided to try walking the races in 2023, and I really like it. I’ve also been swimming laps and doing Kung Fu along with walking, which helps balance everything else that’s happening.
A Chop off the Old Block
I finished the RPM challenge again. As mentioned previously, I set out to write and produce five songs for an Ep. I was aiming for five instrumental guitar based songs, and I have ideas for them. I have ideas for 10+ instrumental guitar based songs, in fact. But I’m lacking time to do them justice. I’m teaching two courses at two different universities, and so, I decided to follow a looser approach, and improvise.
I’ve enjoyed this one very much. The cover is a photo I took in Cape Cod at a flea market. I walked up to a vendor’s table, and this little display was set out exactly as I’m presenting it.
I also made covers for the individual tracks.
Constellation/XYZ – ABC
Beverly and I were walking along the inner harbor on a very cold February morning, looking for somewhere to get coffee. I recorded this on the walk, paused my recording while we got coffee, and resumed recording to capture XYZ – ABC.
I will never say I told you so
BGE has hired contractors to dig up all the roads in our neighborhood, and also move our gas meters outside of the house. I had to quickly dismantle the Theoretical Audio Laboratory to accommodate employees of Pipeline Solutions desire to track a great deal of mud through my home. It was a huge relief to have them out of the house, and when I set up some drums again, I recorded these parts.
One night, I played a Bass VI and improvised the string parts on this track. The next day, I set out to lay down drum tracks for a different song, and wondered what these two parts would sound like together.
I will never say I told you so is what these two parts sound like together.
A Pie for Grackles
I was “taking my exercise” one day and heard someone playing an out of tune, warbly piano. As I paused to capture this recording, a car drove past me and parked a block away. I was happy that I captured enough piano to make a loop, and then found the passing car to be interesting, too.
I got the photo one night while Beverly and I were out on a date. It struck me that the people across the room might be having grackle pie, and/or might be grackles themselves.
Where to be
I made about an hour of recordings one night – 7 tracks in all – two of which will end up in films, and then this one, which is the sweetest of them all. More straightforward, it reminds me of a part of Baltimore that I may have once visited.
The cover is a continuation of Found and Chosen. As much as I’d like to stop, I keep finding discarded treasures on sidewalks.
A favorite among faves, this drum loops sits squarely under a recording of BGE’s favorite road warriors, busily ruining the streets around here.
The image is from a 1950’s era advertisement, and while I’m a sucker for those sandals, it was the text that inspired this image become the cover for this track.
Cards of Marseilles
I had a sleepover with my lovely daughter this month, and we got some recording in. One this track, I got to play her cello, and she manipulated her Line6 DL4 MkII delay pedal.
A risible scene of lovemaking
This was the first track I made for RPM2023. I set my iPhone on the floor under my drums and it just happened. I’ve made some backing tracks from this for the aforementioned instrumental guitar album.
As always, I’m grateful to have participated in this cool challenge, and I’m always better for having done so. I recommend it to everyone who writes music.
I gave a lecture on inspiration and where to find ideas last week. I told my students the following:
Ideas are a form of creative currency that must be spent. They do not earn interest if hoarded.Mr. Jim, Introduction to Animation, ART341
I remember when I was in my 20’s and the drummer for several original bands, I’d come up with ideas for songs that I kept to myself. Maybe I envisioned myself playing guitar on them. For a few, I remember thinking they were like shiny treasure that I needed to keep safe. That these ideas were soooo good, I needed to do something with them myself.
That was wrong thinking, for several reasons.
- I was being selfish.
- The ideas might have been great, but most certainly would have been made better by the collaboration of my bandmates.
- Those ideas never saw the light of day, all because of this thinking!
I wish I had shared those ideas now. I would love to know where Guppy (of Bazooka Joe) or Christoph Green (of Honeypump) would have taken them. They were both fantastic song writers, and much better guitarists than I.
Ideas are not personal property. They cannot be copyrighted or trademarked. They are useless unless executed. Statistically speaking, if you don’t do it, someone else will!
So, I spent a few ideas this month, and you know what? By doing so, I doubled the amount of ideas I had, and have even more recording to do. I think that’s part of where ideas come from.
There is a piece in yesterday’s New York Times about how Puffin Books and Roald Dahl’s estate are set to release newly edited editions of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda, ” “James and the Giant Peach” and seven other titles in an effort to make them “less offensive and more inclusive.” For example, references to “mothers” and “fathers” have been updated to “parents” or “family.”
From what I’ve read in the past about Dahl and his thoughts on censorship, I don’t think he would approve. Does that matter? Should it matter?
This is primarily a financial decision, calculated to sell more of Dahl’s work by making it seem more “inclusive.” Another example of financial opportunism comes to mind, only it was presented under the veil of artistic license, and not under the banner of social justice.
In 1997, George Lucas released new versions of the original Star Wars trilogy (episodes IV, V, VI). I read, at the time, that he would never release the original versions again, stating that the new versions matched his original vision and intent that he was unable to execute some twenty odd years before. Of course, he did release the originals in a raw, unmastered form on DVD as bonus discs to the second DVD release of the new versions. Anything to get fans to shell out a few extra bucks for yet “another new version” of the same films, right?
What’s more, there were the theatrical releases of the new versions, which drew many children-fans-as-adults (and their own children) to the theaters to enjoy seeing these on the big screen. A perfect set up for episodes I-III, and a box office sweep to boot.
If it seems like I took all this personally, I did.
When I was a boy, my dad took me to see Star Wars. I hadn’t seen a commercial for it on television, and we went on the recommendation of a neighbor who thought I would like it. From the opening sequence to the ending, I was speechless with wonder. I loved every second of it. To young me, it was perfect. When we came home, the real world seemed a little dimmer to me. I wanted to get into the world I had just experienced. I made drawings of what I had seen to try and hold on to it. I haven’t had that experience since. I’m not alone, either – lots of kids my age had the exact same reaction and relationship to A New Hope.
That summer, and during a second run of the film, I saved my money and rode my bike to the theater as many times as I could. I think I saw it about 17 times or so.
Seeing Star Wars as a young person made a permanent impression on me, and has certainly influenced the arc of my life. That seems like a very dramatic thing to write when I read it back, but it’s true.
Lucas didn’t just remaster the old films, he changed them, re-edited them, and added scenes, music and effects. Lucas maintains that it is his prerogative to do this, and I suppose it is. Yet, I haven’t any of them watched them since. I did not find the changes to be an improvement. They did not add significant value to the work. It ruined them for me. And then he ruined everything else with episodes I-III, but mesa thinks that’s a different matter.
When art becomes embedded into our culture, the original work (no matter how brilliant or flawed) no longer belongs to the artist. I don’t mean trademarks and copyrights – I mean the non-monetary value of the thing itself. Lucas can continue to ruin his films all he wants (and he will certainly continue to grind out plastic Star Wars crap destined for our landfills because there are still a few pennies to be made), but I maintain that the originals, or some form of them, belong to us.
The original A New Hope and what it meant to young me, belongs to me. It should not be edited away. Nor should it be made unavailable. The same holds true with Roald Dahl’s work. Many of us grew up with these stories, warts and all. I have vivid memories of listening to my fifth grade elementary school teacher read James and the Giant Peach during school recess, and I delighted to find myself transported into Dahl’s story. What’s more, as I reflect upon that memory, James and the Giant Peach helps to mark a place in time during my life. Just as A New Hope did. Dahl, Mark Twain, and many others mark time and history with their work. We don’t have to continue to read their words, or even publish new copies, but I’m not sure anyone has the right to change them.
As an aside, I think Gene Wilder is the definitive Willy Wonka. I don’t much care for the Burton/Depp version (we’ll see what Timothée Chalamet can do), but the great part is Burton and Warner Bros. gave us new interpretations without modifying or eliminating the original.
Please note that I’m not making commentary on the social upheaval we as a country are grappling with, for many changes are long overdue. For my part, I know black lives matter, LGBTQ+ people deserve the same rights as non-LGBTQ+ people, and women should have control over their bodies. I do not think there should be billionaires, and everyone should have the same access to excellent healthcare and education. I actively participate in my own examination of identity, bias and privilege, and am better for it.
This post is commentary on creative censorship, and a culture’s right to its art.
Does art have a right to evolve? I think it does, just as we as people have a right to evolve. As humans, we must evolve and take care of each other, all of Earth’s animals and inhabitants, and the environment, or we won’t be here much longer.
I don’t necessarily mind new edits to writing, films and art. But please call them “new editions” or something similar, and leave the originals intact. Changing the original material to suit a private agenda reminds me of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984 rewriting history, only someone is tampering with our culture materials, and not political and military history.
It seems to me that editing Dahl’s stories posthumously will do little to advance the over arching conversations around social justice. I believe that the truly harmful work will be (and should be) weeded out by the culture itself, and not people hoping to earn a few more bucks.
Reunion Patches in stock
I made reunion patches for my Patreon subscribers. If you want one, you can join me on Patreon, or, visit my shop! These are approximately 4″ x 2.5″ and cost $5.
This image is from the pocket watch diorama from AVAM’s Great Mystery Show.
Thanks for looking!