DID YOU READ

George Lucas and Bringing Dead Actors Back to Life

George Lucas and Bringing Dead Actors Back to Life (photo)

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Next week’s “TRON: Legacy” stars two Jeff Bridges: one of Bridges’ approximate biological age and one that looks uncannily like the Bridges of thirty years ago (at least until he opens his mouth). The young Bridges represents yet another advancement in CGI special effects which means it’s time to return to that fear that pops up every so often: that digital creations could some day replace actors altogether. I tend to think this sort of thing is hogwash, that even the most technologically advanced cinematic creations need some humanity at their core.

But you know who apparently doesn’t think that’s hogwash? George Lucas. The man who was responsible for the infamous CGI creation Jar Jar Binks (as well as the far more successful all CGI Yoda in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”) is apparently looking to bring dead actors back to life in the form of zombie-like CGI creations for a future project. Aint It Cool first spotted the key info, in an interview with British comedian and director Mel Smith. According to Smith, who directed Lucas’ 1994 film “Radioland Murders”:

“He’s been buying up the film rights to dead movie stars in the hope of using computer trickery to put them all together in a movie, so you’d have Orson Welles and Barbara Stanwyck appear alongside today’s stars.”

The article doesn’t probe any deeper into the subject, which means we don’t know how Smith got wind this information, but let’s assume it’s true for now. After all, AICN posted its story on Saturday and the post is still up on the site Monday afternoon with no qualifiers, disclaimers, or retractions, which suggests a certain amount of veracity to Smith’s story. I thought Harry Knowles’ comment in his post about this news was interesting as well:

“I’ve not been privy to any of Uncle George’s plans, but I’ve seen some amazing things done with classic movie stars by a few talented filmmakers, in terms of tests that pretty much told me, this is definitely going to become a reality for us movie-goers.”

Obviously I’m not privy to any plans or to any tests by talented filmmakers. But I was privy to “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” the 2004 film that transformed old footage of Laurence Olivier into a new performance. At the time of this scene, Olivier had been dead for fifteen years:

There are two issues at stake with any sort of performance like this and they’re two totally separate things: whether or not the character is believable and whether or not the character is the cinematic equivalent of grave robbing. I mean, talk about not letting the dead rest in peace! I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Orson Welles was some pristine artist or that I know he would have hated the idea — the man, after all, made his fair share of wine commercials in his own lifetime. But the idea leaves an icky taste in my mouth, one even ickier than the one left by things like Olivier’s appearance in “Sky Captain” or Fred Astaire’s posthumous vacuum cleaner commercial.

Plus, presuming any project Lucas was working on would involve new CGI creations of Welles, Stanwyck and the like, and not simply digitally-futzed-with versions of preexisting footage, you’re now essentially making the actor’s choices for them. Like I said, I’m not going to pretend to know what Welles’ would have thought about all of this. But if you cast a CGI Orson Welles in your movie, and then have him move, act, and react according to your design, you’re claiming some amount of authority over his process. How much hubris do you need to have to say “I know how Orson Welles would have played this scene?”

At least with the young Jeff Bridges, old Jeff Bridges is around to give his input. And if there is a certain robotic quality to BridCGes, it makes sense: the character is a sentient computer program anyway. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to swallow the idea of other people putting new words into the mouths of beloved dead actors. How can they know what they would say or how they would say it? They can’t. Because the answers to those questions are buried in the place that computers can’t understand and never recreate: the human soul.

UPDATE: Movieline received word from Lucasfilm that this is a “false rumor.” You mean Mel Smith lied? How is that possible?

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.

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Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.