Ripley/Scott: Gender in ‘Prometheus’ and the ‘Alien’ Movies

There have been few film franchises with a greater gap between their initial and latest offerings than the 33 years that passed between Alien and Prometheus—and no other franchises with a significant gap have had the same director at the helm for both movies (though I am open to being proven wrong about this film factoid). Upon Prometheus‘s announcement, fans of Alien and other Ridley Scott-helmed films immediately began prognosticating up a storm of possibilities for the new film in addition to voicing concern that it could not possibly live up to their very high expectations. Yet Scott is the type of director who, because he has directed films revered by critics, scholars, and the public, cannot be discounted. This was particularly true when he announced that not only would he be directing a new picture but that it would take place within the same movie “universe” as one of his former films, and would be in 3-D. As a rather casual Scott fan, I can pick out a handful of his films that I genuinely enjoy and can watch repeatedly (Alien, Blade Runner, and Thelma and Louise). Then there are others that I can really only take on as an exercise in cringing and camp bravado—which can still be enjoyable (G.I. Jane, Legend, and Gladiator). A great deal of my personal Scott film preferences and viewing habits, however, have to do with the representations of gender in his films, which are often very complex and infuriating in the ways that they simultaneously break away from “traditional” or classic female representational tropes and yet still conform to them. Continue reading “Ripley/Scott: Gender in ‘Prometheus’ and the ‘Alien’ Movies” »

Interview with Steve Wiebe of ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’ (Part 2)

Steve Wiebe is the underdog protagonist of the cult documentary The King of Kong (2007), which chronicles his quest to capture the Donkey Kong world record from his eccentric and scheming rival, Billy Mitchell. In part one of our interview, Andrew Myers asked Wiebe to reflect on his participation in the film. Now, in the second half of the interview, Wiebe recalls how his life was affected in the aftermath of the film and talks about what makes classic arcade gaming so compelling. This interview was conducted by phone in January 2012.

“The Kong Off by 3henchmen (via YouTube)

Andrew Myers: In the years since the film came out, how has your life been affected from your participation in the film? I assume a lot of people that you know have seen the film. Do you feel that the people in your social relationships see you any differently after being in this movie? Or what other consequences has it had on your life?

Steve Wiebe: I think my friends still see me for who I am. They kind of joke around and call me “Hey King” and stuff. So it’s kind of funny. I’ll get recognized in public here and there. There’s definitely people who have been influenced or touched by the film that have reached out and emailed, and sent letters and things. I’ve been able to go to events, people will call me or email me and ask me to appear at an event that they have. So I definitely see that it has impacted a lot of people. I have great times meeting different people and experiencing that. Continue reading “Interview with Steve Wiebe of ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’ (Part 2)” »

The Crank: ‘The Last Outlaw’ Program Notes (10/25/12 Screening)

The Crank is a graduate student organization that runs weekly screenings of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s extensive holdings. The Crank shows films that either are not widely available on video or are such spectacular specimens of nitrate and celluloid that merely to see them on a television set would be a crime both to the student of film and to the canon of film history.

On the surface, William Christy Cabanne’s The Last Outlaw is another in a long series of B-Westerns. One need not dig deeply, however, to realize its significance. Cabanne’s film triumphs over B-movie mundanity thanks to a unique combination of its roots in silent films, along with its unique post-Western setting. Harry Carey stars as Dean Payton, a former outlaw who has just been released from prison after 25 years. Once a bank robber, Payton finds himself to be a relic of the Old West. He soon finds, though, that there are others like him—notably his former nemesis, Cal Yates. With Yates now demoted from Sheriff, new scientific methods of crime solving have been put in place. Along with Chuck Wilson (Hoot Gibson), the two cowboys find that their old ways still have some use when it becomes up to them to put a stop to villain Al Goss.

While the setting may have been post-Western, where singing cowboys are heard on the radio and the hero must dodge passing cars, the genre itself had yet to reveal its biggest star, John Wayne, whose first film, Stagecoach, would come out three years later. However, by this point famous Westerns of the silent era had long since passed. But the film’s creators were superstars of that era who had yet to cease working and wouldn’t let the advent of sound diminish their status. In fact, the film itself is a remake of John Ford’s 1919 silent western of the same name. Continue reading “The Crank: ‘The Last Outlaw’ Program Notes (10/25/12 Screening)” »