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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?

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…