Avengers: Voice of Whedon

avengers-whedon-ultron-spader

Chances are by now a few (million) of you have seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel’s latest episode in their ever more complex and expanding cinematic universe.

And perhaps some of you, like me, have been fans of Avengers-director and pop-culture-super-force Joss Whedon for a long time, too. Maybe you have watched a couple of interviews with him, or listened to one or two (or all… repeatedly) of his audio commentaries for the numerous TV series or prior movies under his belt.

All of which leads me to this question that has been burning in my mind from the second I first heard James Spader speak as Ultron:

That’s totally Joss Whedon’s voice, right?

Not literally, of course. It’s clearly Spader doing the performance – and quite well, I might add. But the way he is talking, not only what he is saying but how he says it, his intonations, all these small little nuances…

In the film it is said that Ultron’s personality is based on his maker, Tony Stark. But am I alone in feeling that he (through James Spader) is actually channeling his other creator, writer/director Joss Whedon?

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Coffee

From Darryl Cunningham's Psychiatric Tales

From Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales

I hate coffee.

I didn’t use to to drink coffee. I’ve always been a tea drinker.

But then four years ago I worked in an office for a while. So I started drinking coffee. Not right away, though. For weeks I’d make tea. Even bring my own from home. But then after a while I guess I got lazy and switched to coffee. Which was always right there. Always ready, always hot. Tea makes you wait for it, coffee jumps right at you. Tea is like a cat, coffee is like a dog.

And then once I didn’t work at that office anymore but went back to sitting in front of my computer all day and watching movies all night the one thing I took with me was the habit of drinking coffee. That instant stuff at first and then I even got a coffee maker. And now I drink at least three cups a day, and I hate it.

I hate coffee and I hate myself for drinking it. It’s an addiction alright. Every night when I’m lying there and can’t fall asleep I’m vowing to stop with the coffee already and when I wake up the next morning I’m, like, who needs this shit, I know that I’ll be so much better off without coffee, I won’t have those damn headaches and I won’t be so overstimulated all the time and everything will be better and I’ll take a shower and make breakfast and oh, well, I guess I can drink a cup of coffee in the morning, I mean, that certainly won’t kill me and then I’m sitting here in my room drinking the fucking coffee and I hate it.

I drank half a cup writing these words and I’m not gonna drink the rest of it. I’ve tried to quit coffee many times over the last few years, even making announcements about it on Twitter, but it never worked. So I wrote this, to make it clear (to myself) that I am not happy about this situation, and I truly want it to change.

Egads I know that coffee isn’t the biggest problem in the world and it certainly isn’t the biggest problem in my life. Which makes it all the more frustrating to know that I can’t get it under control.

I’m gonna make some tea. Sorry about all this.

My Weeks on Letterboxd (14-17/2015)

Not going to list everything I saw the last couple of weeks (here’s the list), just the two movies I wrote about:

On Wednesday, April 8, 2015, I watched Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). 3½ stars.

Kristen Stewart is, of course, amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of Olivier Assayas’ “Let’s make the world’s best actors read the world’s clumsiest exposition“-style of film-making, though.

On Saturday, April 25, I saw Jacques Tati’s PlayTime (1967). 4½ stars.

I’m amazed by the way Tati choreographed movement in this film, and especially how he utilized space. Reminded me of Wim Wenders’ recent use of 3D, actually.

This essay on the way Akira Kurosawa stages scenes came to mind, too. Only where Kurosawa draws triangles, Jacques Tati builds pyramids.

Cats

Feral kitten photographed by Sebastian Nebel Back when one of my cat photographs made it into The New York Times I promised to show off more pictures of my subject and her offspring. It’s been a few years, but I’ve went through my archives and collected some them here for you. Let’s start with my favorite, the matriarch: Feral cat photographed by Sebastian Nebel Feral cat photographed by Sebastian Nebel Feral cat photographed by Sebastian Nebel A first-generation feral cat, she was never given a proper name, although some of us came to affectionately call her Flohschleuder (“flea sling”). She never strayed too far off, but always kept her distance. In all the time I’d known her she didn’t have any direct interactions with humans, and clearly by her choice, too. She was very aware of us, though, and looking at these pictures I can’t help but think she was aware of my camera, too. Feral kitten photographed by Sebastian Nebel Her strict rules of non-contact didn’t apply to her kittens, whom she allowed to come up to us – always under her watching gaze. For play, mostly, but of course they knew that they wouldn’t have to leave hungry, either. It was a win-win scenario for everyone involved. Feral kitten photographed by Sebastian Nebel Feral kitten photographed by Sebastian Nebel Feral kitten photographed by Sebastian Nebel All of these pictures were taken in 2008. Seven years ago! What are these cats up to now, I wonder? Feral kitten photographed by Sebastian Nebel

Best Shot: Taxi Driver

Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver

Finding the “best” shot from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is downright impossible. Filmed by Michael Chapman, the movie is basically made up of perfect frames, over 150,000 of them. You can just scroll to any random scene and get something like the shot above, one of the many great night shots with DeNiro driving through New York City. Or you might land on something as simple as an insert shot, but of course one that’s just as carefully framed, like the assorted snacks Travis buys in the adult movie theater. Popcorn and snacks in Taxi Driver For my best shot, I went with a scene that perhaps isn’t the first that comes to mind when you think about Taxi Driver: the one where Travis first asks Betsy out on a date. TaxiDriver_best-shot_1 TaxiDriver_best-shot_2 On its surface the scene’s setup is pretty conventional – back and forth, over the shoulder, well-light, bright colors. It’s exceptional only by its presence in this movie, which is why I love it so much. (Well, that and my absolute, total crush on Cybill Shepherd.) TaxiDriver_best-shot_3 TaxiDriver_best-shot_4 The scenes in the Palantine campaign offices offer such a stark contrast in tone to most of the rest of the film. It’s almost like they’re cut out of some workplace sitcom. (One I’d definitely watch, too, if it meant I’d get to spend more time with Shepherd and Albert Brooks, the latter hilariously poking out his head behind the pillar here.) TaxiDriver_best-shot_6TaxiDriver_best-shot_7 The power dynamics in this scene are just fascinating. Travis is basically in disguise, he’s dressed up pretending to be “normal” for her. We know this, but Betsy has yet to figure it out, of course. The way it’s presented here, she is clearly the one calling the shots. Which is why I love the scene’s final shot, and indeed my pick for best shot, which shows us (but not Travis) her confidant, triumphant smile: TaxiDriver_best-shot_8