Mirror Mask

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Mirror Mask

Postby chopkins » Thu Mar 09, 2006 9:34 pm

Has anyone seen it yet?

If your a fan of David Mckean's work then go and have a look at this film. It is visualy stunning.
Its refreshing to see new and imaginative ideas going mainstream.
This is Mckeans Directorial debut and he's pulled out all the stops translating his unique visual style and odd humuor for the moving image.

The story I didn't think was as strong as the visuals but Neil Gaiman proved that a film doesn't have to follow the usual hum drum formula as many Hollywood movies do these days. I guess Gaiman and Mckean took it as far as they dared for their first movie outing, but hope fully everyone will take note of this film and give them more oppotunities, and no doubt they already have.

And good on Hensons for taking a chance on them, although I don't know about you but I did come away thinking that perhaps Mirror Mask is an odd retellng of Labarinth! They certainly followed a similer path, and with some similer settings of sorts. No Bowie and his tights and mullet hair in this though. ( phew!)

Mirror Mask is a " Marmite" film, you are either going to love it or hate it. If you enjoy Mckeans work go see it you won't be dissapointed. If your not keen on his work go see it any way, you never know!

Later :wink:
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Postby chrlane » Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:48 pm

Thanks Chopkins,

We'll certainly be checking it out. :)
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mirrormask

Postby Barry » Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:59 pm

I'm a bit nervous about seeing this, though it really does look fantastic, and the animation I have seen does look breathtaking. Just worried in case the effects have led this and the story got left behind as we have seen with many films. However I'll head off and be very happy to be proved wrong. There does seem to be a lovely quality to the light in the clips i've seen....everything is glowing with a burnished gold.
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Re: Mirror Mask

Postby kli » Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:08 am

chopkins wrote:...And good on Hensons for taking a chance on them, although I don't know about you but I did come away thinking that perhaps Mirror Mask is an odd retellng of Labarinth!

Well, that was how they got the gig. The story runs that some bright marketeer at Sony suddenly noticed that two steady DVD sellers for them were Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, so they asked Henson if they could have another one like that--for $4 million. Lisa Henson (who, btw, also came up with the idea for The Storyteller) to her credit didn't laugh in their faces, but called up Neil Gaiman to ask if Dave McKean would be interested, since she'd seen what he did with no budget, filming on his mom's farm, with his short film, "The Week Before."

So, their assignment was "making a feature kind of like Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal" on $4 million. What they got in exchange for the tiny budget was complete artistic freedom. I think the story has gone a little sideways, but that's the natural schism between what Neil Gaiman writes and what Dave McKean writes. With the comics/books where they've collaborated before, Gaiman was strictly in charge of the words, which were all set before McKean did the visuals. In Mirrormask McKean has much more of a say about the way the story goes. Gaiman's initial treatment was much more traditional fairytale, with actual fairies, and McKean simply wasn't interested in doing that, so it shifted.

With the film, they collaborated simultaneously for the first time in development and discovered that they have very different ways of working and thinking through stories. Gaiman likes to discover as he goes, while McKean likes to have everything mapped out in advance. So, there's an odd synergy that's been created, but it also means the story lurches a bit from point to point--it feels a bit more like a series of set pieces strung together by fantastic visuals. Still, I think it holds together, and for those visuals, I'm willing to give up a lot. (I still wish that the third Harry Potter flick had stuck with McKean's designs for the thestrals, and I'm dead happy they used his design for the Dementors. The man knows from visual design).

One of the things I most like about this film is that McKean was very adamant that there are different ways of doing CGI, and that just because everybody else is going for a photo-realistic look with actual musculature and the lot, doesn't mean that's the only way to use CGI. Also that he was nurturing a group of students, and essentially assigned scene by scene, so everyone could take ownership of their particular piece. Again, for that, I'll give up a bit of story gloss.
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Postby Barry » Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:49 am

thanks for that background, none of which I knew, and you've certainly whetted my interest now. I love reading about the creative process in all its very different forms. it's never easy but sometimes from those stresses something amazing happens....as I tried to show in my Gilbert & Sullivan film.
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Postby kli » Sat Mar 11, 2006 2:16 am

You're welcome! I'm a long-time Gaiman and McKean fan, and I regularly attend the San Diego Comic-Con, so I've been hearing anecdotes about this project for the last two and a half years. I think my favorite story is how a stunned Sony exec came out of a screening exclaiming, "It's like Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. On acid. For kids....!" Or McKean's story about the "render allotment" and how they had four servers for rendering, each named after a Beatle. Then they had to add a fifth one, the admin named it "Yoko," and suddenly all the machines stopped talking to each other. Or how Lisa Henson, getting into the spirit of no-money-for-this-project gave McKean and Gaiman the keys to the Henson house, and they were cobbling together the screenplay surrounded by Muppetalia, and they found a box full of Labyrinth puppets, where the latex was disintegrating; and the four-hour Labyrinth workprint.

No. Wait. I lie. My fave story is how they're in the kitchen, in despair that their big sheet of paper with stickie notes on it is looking like complete chaos, and Terry Gilliam drops by, takes one look, and says, "That looks like a movie." :)

I can't wait to see what McKean does with Varjak Paw, a real budget, and studio interference.
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Postby chopkins » Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:31 pm

No. Wait. I lie. My fave story is how they're in the kitchen, in despair that their big sheet of paper with stickie notes on it is looking like complete chaos, and Terry Gilliam drops by, takes one look, and says, "That looks like a movie."


Heh heh! Love the Gilliam anecdote!

Yeah I thought that was really special to have the animators along side there assigned scenes at the end credits that kind of acknowledgement is very rare. Those guys certainly have a lot to be proud of. They were very lucky to have worked on a gem like this.

Its good seeing hensons returning back to the fairy tale and myth themes(I would love to see the Storyteller return to our screens, or perhaps a new series based on Norse mythology, like the greek shows they did)

I do hope this film will open peoples eye's to how the possobilities of good ideas and design used within cg can take it to areas best suited.
In short I want to see more unusual movies with good ideas!

I also want to sit in the Hensons house, with a $4 million budget with complete artistic and creative control, surrounded by muppets and Dark Crystal characters....

....but for now, Chorlton will do. :)
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Postby kli » Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:31 pm

chopkins wrote:Its good seeing hensons returning back to the fairy tale and myth themes(I would love to see the Storyteller return to our screens, or perhaps a new series based on Norse mythology, like the greek shows they did)

Well.... at Comic-Con last year, Lisa Henson had said they were consulting with McKean about reviving The Storyteller, but given that they just announced Varjak Paw as a project, I have a feeling that may have fallen through. But I can dream. I mean, if they can't get Minghella, Sturridge et. al. back, then McKean would be a-ok by me.

I think one of the reasons that Henson's sold the Muppet property to Disney was so that they could concentrate on Creature Shop-like projects. They've talked about reviving the Dark Crystal as a property, they're still hunting for financing for Neverwhere and working on developing more projects like Farscape. And using their new realtime cgi/performance system for an adaptatin of Russell Hoban's Frances books. OTOH: Five Children and It.
I do hope this film will open peoples eye's to how the possobilities of good ideas and design used within cg can take it to areas best suited.
In short I want to see more unusual movies with good ideas!

Well, fingers-crossed that A Scanner Darkly does that, too, rather than making everybody decide rotoscoping is the new Bullet Time. :) I so hope that was done by computer...I assume it would be a soul-killing task for an animator to do by hand.
I also want to sit in the Hensons house, with a $4 million budget with complete artistic and creative control, surrounded by muppets and Dark Crystal characters....

....but for now, Chorlton will do. :)
Hee hee. I dunno, Neil Gaiman's description of picking up a puppet, putting your hand in it, manipulating it, and then watching its eyelids disintegrate was really really creepy and disturbing. Almost as creepy and disturbing as Dave McKean realizing, as he wiped the bathroom mirror after a shower to discover he was looking at a kermit head etched into the glass. Otoh, the phones were all still rotary with dials. ...
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Postby chopkins » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:53 pm

Well, fingers-crossed that A Scanner Darkly does that, too


A scanner Darkly

Yes, I was wondering what happened to that film. I've just took a look at the link, impressive ( still I'm not too sure about Keano Reeves as the lead.) I saw a documentary on Richard Linklater sometime last year, and it featured this film, but since then I havn't heard much of it.

Its looking good though.
A friend of mine didn't see the point of a film made in this way. " why not just shoot it live action? why go to the trouble of making it look like a cartoon when it's not?"
Well why not. I pointed out that it was no different realy from sin city, and with material from Philip K Dick, it gives them a perfectly good oppotunity to try something different....just like Ridley Scott did with Blade Runner, and that changed sci fi as people new it back in th 80's. And Ralph Bashki tried pionering the same style in his day.
We agreed to disagree in the end.

I feel though that people do reject strange new things when its released commercially, that is until it's out there and in there heads....and everyone begins to create similer stuff based on what they have seen, then it becomes the norm! It's a shame the general public doesn't accept things easily isn't it? I regret thats why we have endless copies and remakes of films.

Cheers for the inside info on Hensons. Looking forward to all they produce!
The Dark Crystal as a licence eh! hmmm! Thats an interesting one, very interested on how they would do that. Hope it doesn't get spoilt, messing with nostalga can be dangerouse.

Tell you what though, I'd like to see Fraggle Rock make a come back! :D
Later
[/quote]
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oh I don't know

Postby chrlane » Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:19 am

I wouldn't call it messing with nostalgia so much. Everything is loosely inspired by something else. I love those old storyteller shows a lot. The production values made it more appealing- something about Henson's Earthy esthetic I have yet to see in anything else since.

What a loss it was when he left us.

He is such a huge part of who I am, and of all the children who grew up in the seventies and eighties. And remember Bowie in Labyrinth? How cool was that? He just brought us all together so seamlessly. :)

Dave McKean's visual style is stunning indeed. I remember back in the early nineties when I first read the Sandman series I adored it. But you see so many people have swiped from it that practically every book jacket illustration at the Chapters is 'inspired' by it and it is no longer so fresh for me as it was. I am hoping there is more substance to the film than just a visual interpretation of this kind of McKeanesque esthetic because for me, story is always king. Maybe as I get older, I am more jaded to certain things like visual style but that is how I feel. I look for truths in everything. When I saw the Sin City film, which everybody was crazy about, I couldn't get past the self-conscious adaptation of the material. I thought the performances were great for the most part but the amount of effort that went into being so literal about interpreting the most superficial aspect of Miller's 'look' diverted me from the meat of the story.

I would have prefered to see a more theatrical 'look' that interpreted the visual aspects in a more abstract sense; that captured the FEEL I had from reading the story more than the actual look of the drawings. For me, Miller's work screams 'cinema noir', and the brush work and the shapes of the forms and black and white nature of it all is to the story what typed words are to a language- merely a vehicle to convey a feeling. Anyways those are my thoughts.
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Re: oh I don't know

Postby kli » Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:46 am

chopkins wrote: Re: Through a Scanner Darkly
... And Ralph Bashki tried pionering the same style in his day.

Ah... Fire and Ice. What a lousy movie. :) There's definitely a huge difference between simply rotoscoping and using live action footage as a reference for animation. The idea of bringing Frazetta paintings to life was a good one, but the execution was a little less than inspired.

I'm really interested in seeing if Through a Scanner Darkly works.
... Tell you what though, I'd like to see Fraggle Rock make a come back! :D

Funny you should mention that...

Muppet Central has the skinny on all things Henson.
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Postby chopkins » Tue Mar 14, 2006 9:01 pm

[/quote]I wouldn't call it messing with nostalgia so much. Everything is loosely inspired by something else. I love those old storyteller shows a lot. The production values made it more appealing- something about Henson's Earthy esthetic I have yet to see in anything else since.

Hey hey!

Don't get me wrong, about the nostalgia thing. I agree, everything is loosly inspired by whats gone before. Its just, there seems to be a lot of revamping these days, you know people taking the safe route on what has sold well in the past. And well, even though its nice to see some of these shows return some havn't been a succesfull revamp.
And I'm a traditionalist when it comes to the shows I loved as a kid, to see them spruced up and up todate for the fast food generation is a bit of a shock! But I always keep an open mind.

I also agree with you on the story being the bones of all films. True! No matter weather your making a film with puppets, cell animation, animatronics of cgi, a film is flawed with out a good story to back it up. There are some exceptions, but there does seem to be a lot of style over content these days.

Funny you should mention that...

Cheers for the link Kli!
How chuffed am I about the fraggles! I hope they don't bugger it up. fingers crossed eh!
:lol:

Later
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Postby kli » Tue Mar 14, 2006 9:33 pm

chopkins wrote:I also agree with you on the story being the bones of all films. True! No matter weather your making a film with puppets, cell animation, animatronics of cgi, a film is flawed with out a good story to back it up. There are some exceptions, but there does seem to be a lot of style over content these days.
Yes, the entire dismantling of Disney's drawn-animation teams in favor of cgi production is probably the biggest transgressor in this regard. Interesting to see what will happen now that the Disney-Pixar merger is official, and Catmull and Lasseter will be overseeing Disney animation....

Cheers for the link Kli!
How chuffed am I about the fraggles! I hope they don't bugger it up. fingers crossed eh!
:lol:

Amen to that, bruddah. At any rate, they finally announced that we are getting a Season 2 dvd set of Fraggle Rock in the states come this September. I really hope we get to see a few of the non-US versions of the framing Doc and Sprocket sequences. I've never seen your Doc's lighthouse...
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Postby chopkins » Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:28 pm

Yes, the entire dismantling of Disney's drawn-animation teams in favor of cgi production is probably the biggest transgressor in this regard. Interesting to see what will happen now that the Disney-Pixar merger is official, and Catmull and Lasseter will be overseeing Disney animation....


If you can't beat em, buy them out eh!
When I heard about this I was genually devasted.What with Disney's recent record of terrible films and straight to dvd pap! Why have they got to swollow up everything? Can't they just let another studio enjoy success and perhaps do NEW decent stuff! The Incredibles was an amazing film, nothing commercial touches it! Well I am sceptical about this. And I hope I'm wrong.

Amen to that, bruddah. At any rate, they finally announced that we are getting a Season 2 dvd set of Fraggle Rock in the states come this September. I really hope we get to see a few of the non-US versions of the framing Doc and Sprocket sequences. I've never seen your Doc's lighthouse...


Well we had two Light house keepers in Fraggle Rock over here, the original and the best was the late Fullton Mckiy (I've spelt that wrong, I know. I'm an animator not a writer.) Then some one took over when he died, things wearn't quite the same again, maybe because I was growing up, but the new guy seemed a bit soft.
Did you ever see the "storyteller" dog in them? He was his pet.

You've inspired me, I'm going on a Fraggle hunt and get those dvd's! I got a huge box set of the original series of the muppets last year, fantastic stuff, they don't make em like that any more! Love the episode with Mark Hammel.

Later! :D
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Postby kli » Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:00 am

chopkins wrote:...What with Disney's recent record of terrible films and straight to dvd pap! Why have they got to swollow up everything? Can't they just let another studio enjoy success and perhaps do NEW decent stuff! The Incredibles was an amazing film, nothing commercial touches it! Well I am sceptical about this. And I hope I'm wrong.

Well, personally, I think you've got it just a little backwards. The new guys taking over DISNEY's animation arm, are the PIXAR folks, not the other way 'round. Catmull and Lasseter are the guys who have been running Pixar all this time. And now they're taking over Disney's animation arm. This could be a very good thing, although my private take is that the deal went through so Jobs could put Desperate Housewives and Lost up on the iTunes Music Store.

I've never seen your Doc's lighthouse...

Well we had two Light house keepers in Fraggle Rock over here, the original and the best was the late Fullton Mckiy (I've spelt that wrong, I know. I'm an animator not a writer.) Then some one took over when he died, things wearn't quite the same again, maybe because I was growing up, but the new guy seemed a bit soft.
Did you ever see the "storyteller" dog in them? He was his pet.
Yes, Sprocket was pretty consistent, apparently, from country to country. It was just Doc who changed. We had Gerry Parkes, of course. Good luck on the hunt for the DVDs. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, the season set's only had a Region 1 release, although I think individual episode discs have been released.
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