Rushes: Cabin | Napoleon | Moebius

12.March.2012: South by Southwest presses on after opening Friday with The Cabin in the Woods, a new meta-horror movie directed by Drew Goddard and scripted by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly auteur Joss Whedon. Eric Kohn writes for Indiewire that Cabin “ranks among one of the most wryly self-aware works of American pop culture entertainment in years.” Nick Schager begs to differ in his review for The House Next Door: “By calling direct attention to its scenario’s phoniness, The Cabin in the Woods follows its villains’ lead by reducing its characters to mere pawns in a critical-theory game in which their survival or demise is something to be anticipated (since we’re implicitly asked to ‘figure out’ how the film will screw with our expectations) rather than dreaded. There’s no emotion to be felt because, even once they empower themselves, Dana and company aren’t real people but devices in a conceptual stunt.” Also at Indiewire, Alison Willmore transcribes some of Whedon’s comments at a SXSW Q&A. Addressing his forthcoming summer spectacular, The Avengers, Whedon notes, “It’s lovely to have everything… to make up these wild fantasies, where you can have a Hulk…[but] limitations are something that I latch onto—like working in genre, or if you’re writing TV, there are act breaks, there’s a length of time it’s supposed to be. The restrictions of budget and sets can be really useful.”

As cinephiles prepare to descend upon Oakland’s Paramount Theatre for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s presentation of Kevin Brownlow’s 5 1/2 hour restoration of Abel Gance‘s 1927 epic Napoleon, The MUBI Notebook’s Adrian Curry stokes the coals a little more with a terrific roundup of posters for the film stretching back 85 years. Introducing the portfolio Curry writes, “Kevin Brownlow’s amazing story of his lifelong quest to restore Napoleon to its former glory is recounted in his essential 1983 book of the same name and it’s as thrilling a story about film restoration—complete with heroes and villains, unexpected twists of fate, eleventh-hour rescues and tear-inducing happy endings—as you will ever read. Over the past few weeks I’ve felt a little like Brownlow himself as I’ve searched high and low for posters for the film, encountering bureaucratic obstacles and the kindness of strangers along the way.” Two of Gance’s other extraordinary achievements, J’accuse and La roue, are currently streaming on Fandor. (Look for more coverage of Gance and Napolean, including more video essays like this one on Gance’s La roue from Kevin B. Lee here on Keyframe in the coming weeks.)

French artist Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, died over the weekend. He was 73. Though best known for his fantastic comic book style, Giraud had a hand in shaping the look of some of the most influential science fiction films of the last few decades. “[Ridley] Scott brought in the artist to contribute to the look of the 1979 space-horror class Alien,” Geoff Boucher writes for The Los Angeles Times, adding that “Steven Lisberger, the writer-director of Tron, sought him out to pin down the digital dreams of that pioneering 1982 Disney movie.” Giraud also contributed to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cult classic El Topo, Willow, The Fifth Element, and many other films. Speaking of the artist’s influence on his own production design for Avatar, Rick Carter told Boucher, “The inspiration I always felt from the art of Moebius was that I believed he truly saw the imagery he depicted and was actually not making it up…His imagery appears as if it was sketched from a real-life subconscious world/existence.”

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