In this article, originally written in conjunction with ScriptPhD.com, I pick my favorite eureka-bellowers of all time.
An astute cartoonist once observed that most so-called mad scientists are actually just mad engineers.
You can see the original comic here, but the gist is this: A mad scientist proclaims that he’s invented a death ray. A nameless troublemaker asks him if he’s testing any mad hypotheses with mad experiments and mad control groups. Good stuff. That comic served as the inspiration for this list, in which I assemble the best mad scientists from pop-culture who actually act like scientists. They conduct experiments. They record data. And they’re fucking bonkers.
Despite all its inherent challenges, it appears that a big-screen version of Stephen King's The Stand is still on its way. The latest news is that director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) will direct one gigantic three-hour movie. Here's a look back at a piece of mine that originally appeared both on Geekscape and CC2K.
Before I offer my (totally preliminary) dream casting choices, let me also share my hopes for what the new film will be: I hope it’ll be The Lord of the Rings. Meaning, I hope that King’s sprawling struggle between good and evil will get the LOTR treatment in the form of three or four epic movies. It’s great material, and I think it’s worthy of that kind of production.
That said, let’s talk about the cast. I’m going to offer my first-string choices, as well as some backups if I think of any. And I am very open to suggestion and correction with any of these.
Everyone thinks that Harrison Ford is the only man who can play Indiana Jones. I respectfully disagree.
In response to some talk that Harrison Ford wants Indy killed off in the next installment, I thought I'd repeat my argument: Either pass on the torch to Shia LeBeouf and have him play the new Indiana Jones, or cast someone else in the role, James Bond-style. My pick? Nathan Fillion.
The networks axed Firefly and Mulholland Drive before they could find life. What might they have been like in the long run?
I’ve never seen the pilot to Twin Peaks.
Even though it’s one of my favorite shows ever, Twin Peaks is one of those programs I inhaled on video – VHS, of course, seeing as how they’ve yet to release its second season on DVD in the states. The only version of the pilot episode I’ve seen is a truncated version with a different ending that Lynch and company shot to make the pilot work as a movie, no doubt so they would have something to release in case ABC didn’t pick up the pilot. The Twin Peaks pilot-as-movie thingy works fine; it’s still much cooler than most movie thrillers out there. Furthermore, in Mulholland Drive, we got to see one of those rejected-TV-pilots-as-full-length-narrative onscreen without ever having seen the complete series to go with it, and like the abruptly ending non-pilot to Peaks, Mulholland Drive works fine as a movie, but I wonder what would have become of Robert Forster’s character, or the two guys in the Denny’s with the creepy homeless guy out back had Lynch been given a full TV series to work with. True, as a network series, we wouldn’t have received the mind-blowing lesbian sex scene, but just think how satisfying it would have been to go through, say, 30 or 32 episodes – well into the second season – before having Lynch reveal to us that the whole Nancy Drew/Hollywood starlet sequence was a pipe dream of Naomi Watts’ pissed-off lesbian character. Then we would have had the rest of season two to sort through that narrative wreckage before the season two finale, which would no doubt feature the second appearance of the Cowboy to deal with Justin Theroux, who by the end of the second season would be quite ready to fire his leading lady. And then in season three, would Lynch shuffle his deck of characters again? What would have happened?
I love Julie Taymor. I don't always love her movies.
Watching her lavish new adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest brought me back to a lot of things -- my adoration of the play, my impatience with the play, my early days writing for CC2K. I also found myself reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of film versus theater and how they challenge filmmakers who try to usher Shakespeare's plays onto the screen.
I also found myself contemplating the role of special effects in moviemaking and how computer-generated effects still have the capacity to fail so utterly. I hate to shine so harsh a light on the special effects in a Shakespeare movie, but The Tempest is packed with some jaw-droppingly bad ones. They got in the way, when they should have helped the movie soar.
When I was a kid, I told my mom one day that I was going to walk to Hollywood. I wasn’t angry or running away – I just didn’t know how far away it was, and in my young mind, I thought I could walk there and be back by dinner. I was wrong.
Think of me what you will, but I’ve wanted to live in L.A. for most of my conscious life, and looking back, four movies stood out as having sounded the siren's call from the City of Angels. I submit them for your approval.
As a fan of comic books and comic-book movies, I'm moved to take a long, hard look at one of the fundamental eccentricities of our chosen genre and ask ourselves: Why the hell would anyone dress up like that?
Terry Gilliam was J.K. Rowling's first choice to direct the movies based on her books. How would he have handled the material? Near the beginning of Chris Columbus' film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, hulking cockney giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) takes Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) into Gringott's, the wizarding world's most secure bank, where Harry's vast inheritance is…
In competing narrative voices (mostly first with a dash of third), author Mayer ably explores the turbulent headspace of Quinn, a teenager with a condition known as congenital analgesia—he can't feel pain.
One of the myriad pleasures of the classic TV series Twin Peaks is sensing the artistic tug-of-war between showrunners David Lynch and Mark Frost. By now it’s received wisdom that Frost—an alum of more traditional story-driven shows like Hill Street Blues—was a necessary correction for Lynch, the dreamy abstractionist.
John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a southern-gothic masterpiece that borders ever so slightly on gonzo journalism—though it falls short of passing into that bizarro realm. Reading it spurred me to contemplate the border between the two major realms of nonfiction writing; the DMZ between the ordered lands of subject-first traditional journalism and the wild…
Imagine Marvel’s Doctor Strange, with all of its trippy imagery, cool psychic battles, and supernatural-bordering-on-super-science worldbuilding. Now imagine that story written by a master novelist with protean-powerful command of first person, and you’d have David Mitchell’s Slade House. Needless to say, SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!
Fanbase Press has one of the great unheralded stories of the comic-book publishing world. Run by Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife team Bryant and Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press has been putting out top-notch content for the past several years. The company’s first two titles, Identity Thief and Something Animal, were both painterly explorations of dark psychosis. Since those releases, they’ve steadfastly sought…