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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

George Carlin: Your Tribute

We had a number of our own posts dedicated to George Carlin yesterday, and you can find a run-down of all of them here. But you, the readers, also had plenty to say about the comedy giant's passing. So here's The Daily Show's tribute to Carlin, followed by just a few of the most memorable comments you were all kind enough to share.




I actually wore a shirt to 8th grade after buying it at his show the night before. It read "Simon Says Go Fuck Yourself!". I got suspended but it was so worth it!!!

Posted by JD

Seeing George's most recent special, I was afraid that he would not be with us for much longer. So here we are. My brother-in-law introduced me to the album "Class Clown" when I was a wee lad of 13, and I've been an admirer ever since. Even though his comedy style changed over the years, his "voice", the nature of his comedy, commenting on our societal and political absurdities, never changed. I hope he is remembered for a long time, and that future generations continue to "discover" George Carlin for themselves.

Posted by JB Grantham

This is the first celebrity loss I've ever had tears over. I guess this is how alot of people felt when Lennon, or Elvis, or Tiny Tim died.

I grew up on Carlin. Waited with great anticipation for every HBO show he did. He had a way with words that was both wise and whack at the same time. As he once noted, his job was to come around every once in a while, and remind us to laugh at things that we forgot to laugh at the first time around.

Who hasn't laughed at his routines on dirty words, stuff, people he can do without, things you never see, pets, death, religion, politics, cars, or air travel? He was one of those rare people who could find the funny in absolutely any subject one could bring up. And he made sure he wrote it all down so that HE wouldn't forget to let us know about it.

While I must admit that the negativity in the later shows got harder and harder for me to swallow, the honesty of his act was always undeniable. I don't think there was anything that he could have said that I would have considered taboo or over the line. At least not for him. He was the only person that I would allow into my home to openly bash, challenge, and ridicule my deepest beliefs and feelings about humanity, the hereafter, and everything else under the sun.

To this day, I'm able to whip out an appropriate and fitting Carlin line to just about any situation I find myself in. I thank him for showing me another way to look at the world and its completely screwed up denizens.

I think it's safe to say that the world will not be at all surprised to hear from George posthumously. I fully expect to visit his web site in the near future to find a message he's written to be delivered in the event of his death (sorry george, expiration). I seriously doubt that his personality would pass on such an opportunity to place that final stitch in our sides.

One things for sure. George has finally found out what lies beyond. He worshipped the sun (cuz he could see it) and he prayed to Joe Pesci (cuz he looks like a guy who can get things done). And while he didn't believe his soul would live on forever, he WAS a devout frisbeetarian.

I've placed a frisbee on my roof in his honor, and I suggest every fan do the same.

George, I hope your frisbee has landed on the highest roof of the highest tower in New York. May it lay there forever, and never fade in the awesome power of the sun.

Posted by Bo

George changed the face of comedy, no doubt. However, his intellectual grasp of culture and his understanding of the forces at work in our society were just as masterful. In the seventies and eighties, he flipped the bird to a society that was oversaturated with materialism. In the nineties, he became more bitter and had a no-holds barred attitude toward many taboo subjects as race-relations, abortion, capital punishment and farting in public.

I feel that I have lost a mentor today. He made me laugh and think in hour long disperments. Luckily, he has been taped and recorded so that the generations to come will have the opportunity to share his magic.

LONG LIVE THE MASTER OF WORDS!!!

Posted by Ray Engle

Going to stop at my local Catholic church tonight and light a votive for George Carlin...I believe he'd enjoy the irony.

Posted by Steve F.

I am very, very saddened by this. I worked all day and thought about his career, his life and times. His history. I loved his work and I really felt in tuned with it. He is certainly one of my favorite artists out there, and amongst comedians, he is without a doubt number one.

But even in this sad time, we should be happy that we had a man of his skill with is. He may of been brash and more than a little crazy, but he was using his life to perform the single most responsible thing: Using your talent to make others happy.

I'm not happy that he is gone, but I am happy that he was with us in his physical form for seventy one long years. He'll still be here in the hearts and minds of all his fans, and comedians forever to come.

I'll end with one of his best and most touching lines.

"That's all for me. Now I want you folks to leave here, and make yourselves happy. That's what's really important. Make yourself happy, and make someone else happy. Be good to yourself. Goodnight, thank you, I love you all, goodnight."

Adios to the man from White Harlem.

Posted by Winslow Dumaine

My parents grew up on George Carlin and then myself. My son also got to enjoy him as well. What a long and enduring legacy enjoyed by several generations. I had the good fortune to see him live again about 2 months ago and am now very greatful for the opportunity. I just wish I had shared it with my son as he will now only be able to watch in re-runs. Greatly missed. I also kid you not he was my write in for president this year. God go with you George.

Posted by Deb

There is a huge gaping hole in the collective conscience of the human race today, and the world is a much more serious place because of it. I heard some talking head on the news say that George "passed away"... he would have HATED that. He hated "soft" and evasive language.

George Carlin made us think and not get comfortable in our own skins. He took nothing for granted... words, phrases, events, behavior. He didn't just push the envelope... he tore it open, set it on fire and then stomped on the ashes.

Nature abhors a vacuum, but I don't know if anyone or any group of people can ever fill the incredible void that we're left with in the wake of this tremendous loss. George spoke up for and against the human race, and I don't know who can take up that crusade.

All I can say is: thank you George. Thank you for the laughter, thank you for making us think, and thank you for reminding us that sometimes a little brain damage can help!

Posted by J.P.

On the list of the ten things i must do in my life, I must now cross out one. Never getting to see the man live will haunt me for the rest of my days.
He opened my eyes to the world as it should be seen, through an enlightened sense of humor.
You will be dearly missed george.

Posted by matthew

I grew up with George. I remember when I was a child and my Mom was struggling financially after her divorce and couldn't afford much. However, she would occasionally be able to go to our local video store and rent me videos and the player itself because there was no way we could actually afford the player. The main thing I watched were stand up videos of all the greats, but there was one who stood above them all and that was George Carlin. He made my Mom and I laugh during a tough time and I'm grateful for that. However, George gave me one more gift before he passed. On June 13th, my brother, friends, and I got to see him live at The Orleans in Vegas for my Bachelor Party. I had never seen him live before and to get this opportunity to share it with those close to me in one of his very last shows is a true gift. Thank you George, you will never be forgotten and you live on in your influence on the work of countless comedians.

Posted by Darkwolf

Original here

Why I Would Have Voted for Baltar, Too

by Dana Taryn Sweeney

(This essay covers information up through the Season 2 Presidential election and is based only on the data available at that time.)

It's clear that I would have regretted it; that's a given. Just so there's no confusion, I'll say it à la Mr. Waturi (Joe vs. the Volcano): "I'm not arguing dat wit' you!" (The other part of the quote is also apt: "I know he can get the job…but can he do the job? I'm not arguing dat wit' you!")

But from any vantage point within or without, as audience member or imagining myself part of the Galacticaverse on any level with any amount of access, I would have cast my ballot for Baltar, and here's why….

First of all, imagining myself as the least-informed sort of civilian, not privy to any inside info, knowing only what has been made widely known about Roslin and Baltar, he's the clear choice, the sane choice. He's got the brilliant reputation and a pile of well-known recent saves-the-day achievements; he's a scientist rather than a mystic; his integrity is publicly unquestioned, and his record of service since the Cylon attacks paints him a loyal, patriotic, reliable, self-sacrificing man of the people.

Roslin, on the other hand, is an unapologetic religious fanatic, and they have no business being heads of state, even if they've happened to make a correct prediction or two. She chose Baltar as her VP, and so her combative competitiveness once they are opponents in the campaign has an air of disingenuousness about it; if he's as big a joke as she'd have the voters believe once he's her challenger, what faith are they to have in she who relied on him so heavily before?

His timing was also impossibly perfect in announcing his candidacy, as she left the opening for him to do so by issuing a very discomforting edict: the abortion ban. My own strong leanings on this issue in reality would make me resent her anyway, but Baltar's press conference disavowal of the decision would be compelling to many without any preconceived bias for or against abortion rights, because he argues subtly but convincingly that Roslin is attempting to impose a fascistic regime, and the remnants of humanity need to maintain their cultural identity rather than surrender what little they have left of their liberty and become little more than machines of their collective.

If I were part of that 'verse in a more connected fashion, aware of much that the ordinary citizen could not be, I would be even more vehemently opposed to Roslin's remaining in power, because that woman is like an eccentric has-been celebrity in our world; the more you learn, the scarier she becomes.

To begin with, she makes promises with a straight face and then instantly reneges as soon as she has gotten her way (see episodes "Flesh and Bone" and "Home, part I" for examples of this behavior).

But her actions in the episodes "Bastille Day," "Epiphanies," and "Sacrifice" may be the most damning example of the political calculations she makes in times of civil unrest. In all three plots, she dealt with terrorist actions among the humans, and the choices she made in each situation were so contradictory that they clearly reveal her motives to be based on maintaining public opinion more than anything else.

In "Epiphanies," the terrorist group is made up of utter lunatics who call themselves "Cylon sympathizers" and are willing to engage in violent, destructive acts of sabotage, endangering the entire fleet, in the hopes of winning the powers that be over to their plan of making peace with the Cylons and ultimately even reparations for decades of enslavement and intolerance. Roslin's benevolent response toward them is perplexing, as it does little to ensure the safety of the fleet, and it seems as though she is willing to forgive them their actions to date, despite the damage done. Even more bizarrely, she pledges to "hear them out" on their concerns, and "maybe even act" on them. There is no way we can take this promise seriously (even if she had a strong track record in the promise-keeping area), so we have to wonder what she thought would be their reaction when she failed to take them seriously at any point down the line.

In both "Bastille Day" and "Sacrifice," however, faced with similar situations, she takes the hard line and says flatly that her administration does not negotiate with terrorists. It's only because she's surrounded by dutiful military officers that no one thinks to contradict her on this claim. Clearly, she does negotiate with terrorists when it suits her, so there must be some reason why on these occasions she will not….

In all three cases, she is dealing with a group of human terrorists, so it's not a question of the sanctity of human life. In all these cases, the terrorists are a deadly threat to others, so it's not a question of stakes. The glaring difference between the situations is in the terrorists' demands.

The Cylon sympathizers have an agenda so ridiculous as to be politically harmless; no one will "see their point" or join their cause. By showing mercy to them, she can seem a magnanimous leader who values her subjects sufficiently that even when they stray from her path, she is willing to work toward bringing them back to the fold.

However, the insurgents in "Sacrifice" threaten to compromise the plausible deniability she maintains regarding State secrets, and their contention that the leaders of the fleet are influenced by a Cylon captive is not entirely unfounded. Therefore, their propaganda could be damaging to her political future; therefore, "we don't negotiate with terrorists."

It struck even closer to home for her when Tom Zarek took hostages and demanded her resignation as President so that elections could be held. Granted, that's unreasonable, but think of her reaction then to the compromise Lee offered Zarek, which successfully ended the terrorist activities aboard the Astral Queen. He very reasonably agreed to hold the election that would have occurred anyway under Colonial law in seven months' time, and she was incensed. Only Lee's impressive (and singular) ability to shame her by shining a light on her outrageous hypocrisy was sufficient to calm her down.

So clearly, the truth about Roslin's stance on terrorism is that we only negotiate when their faction's claims or proposals are so outlandish that we can feel confident they will be viewed as lunatics, not when they have any evidence of our own questionable actions backing their theories, and certainly not when their demands might threaten our power or influence.

That attitude of political expediency above all else, and the choice to use military force essentially to silence potentially damaging voices, are what make Roslin such an untrustworthy leader in the months leading up to the election. I would have voted for Baltar, too, even if I'd heard he talks to himself in empty corridors.

Original here

BEHOLD! Fox News Creates Legal Controversy Out of Thin Air


Could it be their least impressive illusion yet?!

Original here

Find Album Art at AllCDCovers

allcdcovers.png Web-based album art library and search engine AllCDCovers just may have the missing art you've been looking to fill in your digital music collection. Despite its name, AllCDCovers carries both album art, DVD covers, and game covers, front and back, with pretty high res versions available for free download. AllCDCovers didn't have the indie artist I tried, so the really obscure stuff might not be here; still, when the iTunes Store fails you it may be a good stop. Here's more on how to fix up your MP3 collection by adding album art through Media Monkey; see our complete album art tag to get a few more sources and art search engines. Share your favorite online source of downloadable album art in the comments.

Original here

Dion sang 'worst ever cover song'

Celine Dion
Dion completed a five year residency at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas

Celine Dion is responsible for the world's worst cover version, a poll of music experts has decided.

The Canadian star's rendition of the AC/DC track You Shook Me All Night Long was given the dubious honour in the Total Guitar magazine survey.

Editor Stephen Lawson said Dion's cover was "sacrilege".

The experts also judged the best cover versions, with Jimi Hendrix's performance of the Bob Dylan song All Along the Watchtower top of the list.

"Cover versions have never been bigger," said Mr Lawson.

"Producer Mark Ronson became a household name on the back of his quirky covers album, with Amy Winehouse's version of Valerie outselling The Zutons' original."

Pop flops

Dion, 40, who performed You Shook Me All Night Long at a Las Vegas concert six years ago, never released the track as a single.

A Sugababes and Girls Aloud version of Walk This Way, a huge hit for Aerosmith and Run DMC, came second in the list of worst covers.

Westlife's 1999 version of the ballad More Than Words by rock band Extreme was third in the list.

Will Young was fourth with his cover of The Doors' Light My Fire, which reached number one in the UK top 40 charts in 2002, and The Mike Flowers Pops rounded off the top five with their cover of Oasis' Wonderwall.


In the list of best covers, The Beatles' rendition of Twist and Shout, first recorded by the Top Notes, was in second place, followed by the Guns N' Roses version of the Wings song Live and Let Die.

Nirvana's cover of The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie, and Muse's Feeling Good, made famous by Nina Simone, also appeared in the top five.

Original here

An Interview with Dashiell Driscoll the Man Behind Audiobytes for Autobots

A new mash-up album by Audiobytes for Autobots has taken the internet by storm. Released on May 18th, 2008, the new album entitled simply 2.0 is the brainchild of 21 year old Dashiell Driscoll. The tracks on 2.0 have been characterized as a “dramatic shift towards a cleaner, refined and generally more danceable sound.” Imagine hearing the cartoon Batman theme song mixed with Kelis’ “Milkshake”, Broken Social Scene’s “KC Accidental” superimposed over a hip hop beat, or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers mashed with Dr. Dre. There are even clips from Jurassic Park and Knight Rider thrown in there. 2.0 can’t adequately be described in words, it has to be listened to. Recently, Jetcomx’s head writer was lucky enough to chat with the man who has opened for artists such as Dead Prez and the RZA.

Boni: So, tell us a little about yourself. Who is the man behind Audiobytes for Autobots?
Dashiell: My name is Dashiell Driscoll and I’m originally from Los Angeles. I go to school about 40 miles outside of Los Angeles at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. I’ll be a senior in the fall.

Boni: What made you decide to begin mashing up songs? It seems like an odd hobby to pick up.
Dashiell: I used to really enjoy making mix cd’s and wanted to make a mix cd with every single song I was listening to at the time. I started to notice little similarities in songs and would sometimes hear where a song might fit over another one if it was in heavy rotation. Plus, when I started in March of 2004, there really wasn’t anything like it. I just wanted to see if I could make something new out of old material, or something original out of something that wasn’t even mine.

Boni: Audiobytes for Autobots is a pretty atypical stage name. How did you decide on it?
Dashiell: I’m a pretty big Transformers fan and I just sort of liked the idea that if there was a genre just made up of digital timelines and cuts in audio files, it would be made by a robot. I’m also an admittedly huge Daft Punk fan, so robot vocabulary just felt right. …If that makes any sense at all.

Boni: Who are your biggest influences in the music world?
Dashiell: When I started, old school rap and motown was pretty much all I was listening to. Now I’m definitely more influenced by clear cut digital feeling music with really rigid beat structures. I’d say on 2.0 the biggest influences were Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Ratatat, and Mike Relm, who’s been a huge influence on me for quite some time.

Boni: I’ve read that your first release Prime Cuts took 3 years to make. Is this true?
Dashiell: Yeah it’s true, but it’s kind of a misleading way to phrase it. I started Prime Cuts in 2004 and put it out in 2007, but most of those songs were completely done in 2005. I just could never get comfortable deciding what would be on the final version. I would drive myself crazy fixing little things or making new songs. Then, I went to college and was frustrated [with the project] my freshman year, so I just threw up my hands to the whole thing. The following year I decided to put the time in and finish up the project, so I could just put it out there and know I had a definitive copy.

Boni: So are you completely satisfied with Prime Cuts, or are there still parts that you would like to fix/change?
Dashiell: Yeah sometimes I listen to parts of it and just cringe, but I try to use that as an opportunity to do something different with those tracks, if I choose to play with any of them live. I think there are always going to be rough patches considering I had no formal training and no idea what I was doing. I was just messing around on GarageBand in my spare time. I just had to let it go and put it out there.

Boni: Your new album 2.0 made big waves on the internet, especially after you made Digg’s front page. Did you ever expect to gain the amount of notoriety that you did?
Dashiell: I’ve been lucky enough to have a pretty solid base of internet support from various communities for a long time, including Digg, but I definitely didn’t expect what happened. The original zSHARE link I put on Digg hit about 17,000 downloads, my last.fm listens shot up, and I’ve been getting contacted by a ton of people who just want to express their interest. It’s a great thing to be able to share something you spend time on with so many people and have such a positive response.

Boni: Have there been any offers of a possible signing with a label (Illegal Art, etc)?
Dashiell: [chuckles] Not yet. I doubt that’s going to happen, to be honest. I contacted Illegal Art when Prime Cuts came out but never heard back from them. I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do that again.

Boni: Yeah, it couldn’t hurt. Have you begun to make any profit off of your releases?
Dashiell: Nope. My server costs actually went up so I’m losing a little more money per month than usual. I don’t really plan on making any money off of this in the foreseeable future, it’s just a hobby I enjoy sharing with people. And for the time being, I’m lucky enough that there are people who are showing some interest in it.

Boni: What exactly is the legality of sampling all of these artists’ work? I’m assuming you didn’t ask each one for permission.
Dashiell: Yeah I have no idea, to be honest. I know I’m not making any money but it’s probably some gray area.

Boni: How much time exactly did you spend working on your latest album, 2.0? How did this compare to Prime Cuts?
Dashiell: I started 2.0 in September 2007 and put it out in May 2008, so about 8 months. I would work on it for hours some days and then just ignore it for a week or so when I felt like I was hitting a wall. I definitely spent more minutes messing around with the tracks in Prime Cuts but it wasn’t as focused as the time i spent on 2.0.

Boni: The album art for 2.0 is pretty cool since it looks hand drawn. Tell us about it.
Dashiell: It goes back to the whole relationship between humans and technology, which robots sort of represent to me. I’m a huge fan of the film Tron. I’ve been a big fan of that particular artist rendering of Tron for a long time after I found it on Deviant Art a while ago. It also seemed especially appropriate because this was an artist who took the time to re-interpret and re-create someone else’s iconic pop culture work.

Boni: How did you decide on which song/beat/lyric to mash up with what? It seems like there are millions of different ways you could do it.
Dashiell: It’s all trial and error. I just decide I want to sample some song I’ve been listening to a lot lately and drag it into Ableton Live. Sometimes I’ll drag it into a track I’ve already been working with and completely re-work everything to fit it in. Other times I’ll just start something new around it. The worst part is struggling with the pieces and just realizing it’s not going to work any way you re-arrange it.

Boni: Most people say that you are essentially another Girl Talk. Do you like this characterization?
Dashiell: It’s a little frustrating just because I can hear a lot of differences between us. I think we’re both definitely part of the same genre but we do things a lot differently. He samples a lot of things I probably wouldn’t and I’m guessing that’s just based on his own personal music preferences. I think he definitely exploded and it’s hard to stand alone and not get compared to him, but I’m genuinely flattered that people would even put me in the same sentence as him. I have nothing but respect for his work and think he’s one of the better live performers I’ve ever seen. I actually hesitate to listen to his albums just because I’m worried it will somehow affect me to the point where we would start sounding alike. I’d like to keep as much difference as possible. I think two artists can occupy the same genre at the same time, but there needs to be some differences.

Boni: Speaking of Girl Talk, he just released his new album Feed the Animals via a pay-what-you-think-is-appropriate system. What are your thoughts?
Dashiell: The whole Radiohead archetype is genius. I absolutely love that. Offering music up for free is great, but giving people the option to pay isn’t capitalistic or greedy - it’s just a fair exchange between the person with the product and the consumer. I gave the album one full listen just to make sure we didn’t have some serious overlaps in samples. I really enjoyed it a lot and then had to put it down to make sure it didn’t influence me too much. He really did a great job with it though.

Boni: Do you have any tips for people who are looking to make a name for themselves in the mash-up genre?
Dashiell: [They need] patience. It’s so time consuming sometimes and you can’t expect to go anywhere too fast. You need to really learn to read the soundwave and make cuts that do more than just playback a song you like. Re-arrange parts, loop, layer and take chances. I try to make it a rule of thumb to only sample songs I enjoy listening to in their entirety, but that’s really for the person in front of the sequencer to decide.

Boni: Is it possible that we could get the full list of all the artists sampled on your tracks? A lot of people are dying to know.
Dashiell: [chuckles] Wow, didn’t realize a lot of people were interested…I saw what Girl Talk did with his Wiki page for Feed the Animals and might put something like that up in the near future. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you everything. There are some samples I still have to manually look up when people ask me. I drag so much random stuff in there and cut it up beyond the point of recognition that I can’t always hear what the original track is.

Boni: Can we expect any new releases any time soon? What about performance dates?
Dashiell: I’ll definitely be doing some shows over the summer in the Los Angeles area. Nothing is confirmed, but I’m working on putting a few things together. As far as new material, I’m guessing it will be at least 6 months. Six months is the very, very low end of the amount of time it might take.

Boni: Alright. This concludes the interview. Is there anything else you want to say?

Dashiell: That was pretty painless [chuckles]. Shoutout to Coachella music festival founder Paul Tollett! I named the track “Sahara Tent” on 2.0 after a tent at Coachella that had Chromeo and M.I.A. playing back to back - both of whom are featured on that track. If he wants to have me do a set in there next year I’d be more than happy to.

The first album Prime Cuts can be downloaded here via zSHARE.
The newest album 2.0 can be downloaded here via zSHARE and streamed here via Last.fm.

Original here

Exlusive: Amy Winehouse has emphysema and could be in wheelchair


Frail Amy Winehouse has been struck down by the deadly lung condition emphysema - and she could be in a wheelchair within a MONTH if she doesn't stop smoking crack cocaine, her dad revealed last night.

Doctors have also told the star, 24 - rushed to hospital after having a fit this week - that she will need a permanent oxygen mask to survive unless she takes their advice.

In an emotional interview, her devastated father Mitch told the Sunday Mirror how watching his daughter deteriorate reminded him of his own 78-year-old mother struggling for breath on an aspirator before she died of lung cancer.

Worried dad Mitch said: "To think this could be my beautiful 24-year-old daughter's life is preposterous. But if drugs mean more to her than breathing properly, then so be it. But the doctors have told her if she goes back to smoking drugs it won't just ruin her voice, it will kill her. It's been a tough week."

Mitch also told of his fears as Amy underwent tests after a mystery lump was found on her chest during scans at private London hospital The Clinic.

He said: "After lots of tests they found a lump in Amy's chest. A scan has shown it's not cancerous and there are no traces of cancer in her blood. But they might need to double check.

"There is a chance she might need a biopsy. If they need to cut the lump out then that will mean a massive and painful operation and a lot of recuperation.

At the moment that doesn't look likely.

"When they told me she had a lump, I was very, very worried. At times Amy seems nervous about it but she doesn't panic until something's 100 per cent."

Ex-cabbie Mitch revealed how he recognised "warning signs" that Amy would have a seizure after noticing her eyes were squinting at a family lunch last Sunday. Then at 4pm on Monday, he rushed the troubled star to hospital in the back of his cab after she collapsed in a fit at her home in Camden, North London. She has suffered two seizures in the past year, including one last August when she was hospitalised after a huge drugs binge.

Mitch added: "When I saw her last Sunday lunch at her favourite Spanish bar in Camden she was just picking at her tapas and salad. Her eyes kept on squinting and flickering and I said to her then how that had happened the last time she had a seizure. I even called her manager Ray to tell him. Amy just brushed it off and said she had a headache.

But the next day she collapsed. I got a call when I was out for lunch. An ambulance came but she sent it away.

"But she wanted to go to hospital this time and she could walk so I put her in the back of the cab. She didn't talk much and I could see her in the mirror falling asleep.

"When we got to the hospital a room was ready. Several doctors came in and checked to make sure she didn't need any emergency treatment. They operaput her on a drip straight away because she was dehydrated. She said, 'Don't worry about me, Dad. I know I've got to stop taking drugs now'. At the hospital we found she'd been awake for 48 hours. We can only speculate she'd been taking drugs all that time. She curled up in bed and went to sleep. In between tests, she slept for almost three days solid."

The lung-damage caused by emphysema is irreversible and can lead some sufferers to become dependent on oxygen supplies. Skeletal Amy was also suffering from irregular heartbeats when admitted.

Terrified she risks losing her life, she has now vowed to stay clean and started a drug replacement programme on Tuesday. Mitch said: "The doctors have said that if she had continued the way she was going she could have ended up an invalid - she wouldn't have been able to breathe.

"She's got emphysema. Iit's in its early stages, but had it gone on for another month they painted a very vivid picture of her sitting there like an old person with a mask on her face struggling to breathe.

"With smoking the crack cocaine and the cigarettes her lungs are all gunked up. There are nodules around the chest and dark marks. She's got 70 per cent lung capacity."

Amy's plight has brought back painful memories for Mitch of the way his mum died. Cynthia Winehouse, a singer who dated jazz legend Ronnie Scott, was on a aspirator before she died in 2006.

Amy idolised Cynthia, and has her name tattooed on her right arm.

Mitch added: "Amy's now had every scan in the book - for her brain, on her lungs, her heart. She's having tests every day to monitor her heart rate. When she went into hospital she had irregular heartbeats. I was messing around and picked up a stethoscope and listened to her chest myself. It was all over the place. But they've now sorted that out with medication.

That was likely to have been the drugs. But one step back, and it could be fatal."

Mitch is now terrified that Amy - who is being watched by a nurse 24 hours a day and is expected to be in hospital for another week - will discharge herself as soon as she feels better and will fall straight back into her old ways. He has called for Amy's drug dealers and circle of drug addict pals included troubled rocker

Pete Doherty - to stay away from her. He said: "I'm saying to those drug dealers, and they know who they are, if they are supplying crack to Amy, then they've got to take responsibility. I don't want her hanging out with her mates like Pete Doherty either.

"What hope does she have if people are taking drugs around her? Already Amy says she feels better and wants to leave hospital and that worries me.

She says she's bored so I've got a whole shopping list of things... sweets, chocolates, puzzle books, nighties." Mitch say Amy, who has a history of bulimia, has been eating well for the first time in years. He revealed: "She's been eating like a horse. I've been amazed.

For lunch she ordered a baked potato with tuna, cheese, beans, salad and soup. She gobbled it all down and then ate mine. So she's going in the right direction.

"But she feels she's ready to go out, and she's not. She's put on weight, her skin is clear, she's lucid, she's my beautiful Amy. But in the back of that cab I could see she was worried and frightened. It's up to her, if she wants to die in three months then she leaves and goes back to drugs. Hopefully this time she won't."

Mitch has visited Amy's husband Blake Fielder-Civil three times in jail, where he is awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to GBH and conspiring to pervert justice.

Blake, 26, is calling Amy every day "to help her stay strong".

Mitch said: "Blake apologised to me for getting Amy into drugs and says he's going to try and put it right. Blake was clean when I saw him but he's told me he wants to go into rehab. We've organised it so that as soon as he's out, that happens. He wants to go from zero to hero. It's very hard for him being in prison, but at least he's been trying.

"He wants me to live with Amy in her house in Camden when she's out of hospital, but at the moment I don't really want to do that."

But Mitch hopes Amy will be allowed to perform at the Glastonbury Festival next weekend because he believes singing has saved her life. He said: "If she hadn't done recent shows in Moscow and Portugal she could have been dead by now. She abstains and regulates her drug use when she has to do a show.

"When she's been inactive work-wise then that's when the problems really start. The doctors have said that medically there isn't any reason why she can't do Glastonbury."

Mitch says he and Amy's mum - his ex-wife Janis - are trying their best to help their daughter. He said: "My family have been criticised for not doing enough for Amy. Some say we should put her in a room and throw away the key but that's against the law. In our limited way, we are doing the best we can and we are being guided by the doctors and psychologists.

"There's no need to cry yet. If, God forbid, doctors said they can't help her, then that's when we can have a good cry. But if she doesn't go back to drugs then she can lead this magnificent life. With her husband Blake too, if he gets clean as well."

He added: "We are praying that that's what Amy really wants. She seems resolute.

"I've started to see my old Amy back. We'll just have to see how great her resolution is."

What is Emphysema?
Emphysema kills 40,000 Britons a year.

Usually caused by smoking, it ages the lungs prematurely and the effects cannot be reversed.

It can lead to collapsed lungs, heart and brain problems and early death.

Dr Mike Morgan of the British Lung Foundation said: "It's very worrying that Amy has it at her age. But we are seeing a lot more young drug addicts with this condition."

Original here

1 Reason Not To See The Dark Knight

by Michael Swaim

The release of The Dark Knight is only a few weeks away, and lead-up hype has reached a fever pitch. I can tell because a picture of Christian Bale is on the cover of my latest issue of Tiger Beat.

And while the massive success of the first film, Heath Ledger’s final and reportedly masterful performance, and numerous glowing previews aim to make TDK the Summer Blockbuster of 2008, I’m about to break a news story that could rock the very foundation of the franchise itself, and leave The Dark Knight’s spine broken across the knee of the Bane of poor box office reception.

For you see, there was one Batman authority you forgot to ask. And Adam West does not approve.

West, the original TV Batman and sometime cartoon mayor, has said that while he’s only seen “bits and pieces” of the new Batman films, he prefers the old days, when things were more “silly and funny.” Like how when Bruce’s parents got shot, instead of blood coming out, it was cotton candy!

West also praised the original series for being “Shakespearean,” a clear reference to the famous series finale, wherein The Penguin fed Batgirl’s corpse to Batman through the clever guise of meat pies, then revealed the same in blank verse soliloquy.

Well, I can’t in good conscience see this movie until I’ve taken all pertinent viewpoints into account, so as I see it there’s only one solution: a trumped up and self-important comparison of the two franchises, arbitrarily determining an ultimate victor. To that end, I proudly present:

THE LAST BATMAN COMPARISON GUIDE YOU’LL EVER NEED
(Unless you want to include the Burton or Schumacher movies)

Faithfulness to the Source: The Nolan Batman films take the original Bob Kane comic and update it for a modern audience by embracing the darkness of the themes and motifs and drawing inspiration from the bat itself. The original series, on the other hand, drew its inspiration from a rambling journal Kane wrote while tripping balls in the Mojave Desert.
Clear Winner: The Original Series.

Visuals: According to West, the new Batman films are “dark, gothic, sinister, and full of explosions,” whereas in the old series they “didn’t rely on special effects so much so everyone was challenged to use their imaginations.”
Clear Winner: The Nolan Movies.

Dialogue: The new films feature sparse, matter-of-fact dialogue that keeps the action moving while remaining as transparent and on-theme as possible. The original series strove to put the word “bat” into a new word each and every episode, and often flashed the word “KaPOW!” onscreen.
Clear Winner: The Original Series, mainly for effort.

Plot: While the new films slavishly follow a traditional Fieldian three-act structure, the original series took chances with a looser structure that could telescope to fit the needs of each episode, and/or to make room for the inclusion of a new Bat Dance.
Clear Winner: The Nolan Movies.

Characterization of Batman: Batman’s been everything from a slick do-gooding playboy, to a troubled, brooding force of blind justice, to Adam West, who I can’t really describe with mere words.
Clear Winner: Adam West.

Villains: The original series included nearly every major villain later used in the films: The Riddler, The Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, The Joker, King Tut, and so on. Meanwhile, Batman Begins featured Scarecrow minus his signature costume and Razz A. Ghoul, who doesn’t even exist in the four Batman comic books I’ve read. And Gordon’s not even Commissioner? Come off it!
Clear Winner: The Original Series.

Bat Devices: Batman Begins turned the Batmobile into a modified Hummer, whereas the original series turned it into a modified Lincoln town car. And while both iterations featured batarangs and grappling hooks, the Nolan movies had that “bat call” that summoned thousands of bats, while the original series had shark-repellent bat spray, which either kept sharks away from bats or was made of bats (it was never really made clear).
Clear Winner: Draw.

Social Commentary: The original series often lampooned celebrities of the day by including characters like newscaster “Walter Klondike,” oil tycoon “J. Pauline Spaghetti” (John Paul Getty), and TV personality John E. Carson. And while these represent a level of social commentary on par with weaker issues of Mad Magazine, it’s still more than we can say for the Nolan movies.
Clear Winner: The Original Series.

Memorable Quotes: The Nolan Movies: “Why so serious?;” “We fall so we can learn to get back up;” “You need to lighten up.”
The Original Series: “Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed;” “To the batpoles!”
Clear Winner: The Original Series.

Sidekicks: The original series featured both Robin and Batgirl as sidekicks, and added a narrator character known as “Desmond Doomsday.” The new movies featured no one.
Clear Winner: The Nolan Movies.

Inclusion of Eartha Kitt: If you don’t understand why the inclusion of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in the original series should earn it a bonus point in this contest, then I don’t want to know you.
Bonus Point: The Original Series.

There you have it. The scientifically-determined winner by a landslide is the original Adam West Batman TV series, with a special rogue point going to Mr. West himself. I know; I’m as surprised as you are.

Though the new movies may have some fancy effects and a well-structured plot, they’ll never beat the classic in terms of heart, social message, and the inclusion of Eartha Kitt. The final verdict? DON’T GO SEE THE DARK KNIGHT.

Although if you want to know what happens, just call me, because I’m going to the midnight showing.

Original here

Story Details for Roland Emmerich's 2012!

By Kellvin Chavez

One of our readers, Dr. Strangefist was able to track down the first big spec script that Sony won in a bidding war after the writer's strike. The budget is rumored to be close to $200 million and already has John Cusack and Amanda Peet cast in lead roles.

The story blends the idea of the Mayan calendar, which predicts the world ending in 2012, with natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons and glaciers plaguing the planet and a large cast of characters dealing with the mayhem.

WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS LAY AHEAD

So here we have 2012, the latest magnum opus from disaster enthusiast Roland Emmerich. Hot on the heals of the disappointing prehistoric epic 10,000 BC, 2012 is a return to what Emmerich ostensibly does best – mass destruction. The hook this time around is the apocalypse itself; more specifically, the year of the title, which marks the end of the Mayan calendar and which many believe will be the end of the world. With the date rapidly approaching, the 2012 apocalypse theory has been a bit of a hot topic in recent years, and there has been rampant speculation been several books written on the subject. Mr. Emmerich likely saw in the theory a concept ripe for use in a big budget disaster movie. After all, the actual end of the world as we know it would surely make for the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. So does it actually live up to the promise of the concept?

Things get rolling in the near(er) future of 2009, as an American scientist named PROFESSOR WEST rushes to a research facility in India, where a colleague named SATNAM has made a mysterious but alarming discovery: it seems that there have been usually severe storms on the surface of the sun, which are having a grave effect on earth. Professor West contacts his friend ADRIAN HELMSLEY, a young scientific advisor to the president, and informs him of the ominous developments. Helmsley attempts to brief U.S. PRESIDENT WILSON on Satnam’s findings, but is stopped by pompous White House chief of staff ANHEUSER, who has it out for Helmsley.

From here, things move forward to 2010. By this time President Wilson is aware of what is happening, and calls a private meeting with seven other prominent world leaders at the G8 summit in Spain. What he has to tell them is that the world’s top scientists have confirmed that the world will soon come to an end. Meanwhile, in Tibet, the Chinese military displaces several villages and begins working on what is supposedly a massive dam-building project, Things jump forward another year to 2011 as more mysterious events unfold; a WEALTHY SAUDI discusses an enigmatic dossier and one billion dollar transaction with an MI-6 AGENT, and a group known as the World Heritage Foundation, headed by President Wilson’s daughter LAURA, is replacing priceless works of art such as the Mona Lisa with replicas and taking the originals to storage facility in the Alps for safekeeping.

Finally we reach the titular year 2012. By now, signs of impending doom have been steadily accumulating. The west coast is beset with so-called “mini quakes,” and fissures randomly appear in the earth. Nevertheless, people are going about their daily lives as usual, oblivious to the doom in store. We are introduced to JACKSON CURTIS, chauffer and aspiring novelist, who is rushing to pick up his two young children LILLY and NOAH from ex-wife KATE’S house in Los Angeles so he can take them on a camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. After a brief run-in with Kate’s standard issue new man, Porshe-driving plastic surgeon GORDON, the sort of happy trio is off on their camping adventure. Next we meet elderly jazz musician HARRY, conveniently enough the father of Adrian Helmsley, as he boards a cruise ship in San Fransisco to provide the onboard entertainment. As he tries in vain to convince bandmate TONY to contact his estranged son in Japan, the ship is suddenly rocked by an unexpected swell in the ocean. Back in Washington, Laura Wilson receives a call from a distraught museum director in France, who has just enough time to inform her that the World Heritage Foundation is a sham before his car explodes. It seems that he learned too much about the Foundation’s real purpose and had to be silenced. Laura is horrified to discover that she has been working for a front, and is further incensed when she realizes that both Adrian and her father knew what was really going on and didn’t tell her.

Meanwhile, Jackson and the kids arrive at Yellowstone to discover that the military and teams of government scientists, led by Adrian Helmsley, have taken over sections of the park for reasons they cannot fully reveal. Jackson also encounters crackpot radio host CHARLIE FROST, who believes that all signs point to a major catastrophic event beginning in California, spreading to Yellowstone, and eventually destroying the whole world. Jackson is understandably dubious, but back in Los Angeles the previously small fissures become massive, yawning cracks in the earth.

It appears that things are progressing faster than anyone anticipated, and we get our first inkling of what it is that world leaders are planning to do about it; they, along with select wealthy elite from across the globe, will board specially built ships that can weather nature’s wrath. Everyone else will be left to perish and the people from the ships will be left to rebuild civilization and repopulate the planet. Basically, Noah’s Ark for the new millennium.

Gordon and Kate narrowly avoid dying in a crevase in Los Angeles, and Jackson and the children rush back to find them. They arrive just in time to pick them up and escape as earthquakes ravage the city. Against all logic they return to Yellowstone to track down Charlie, who Jackson realizes was not as much of a crackpot as he initially thought, and who may be able to help them survive the rapidly approaching doomsday. Once again their timing is impeccable, as they reach the park just as it is turning into the world’s biggest active volcano. Our motley but determined band of protagonists once again narrowly escapes impending death, this time armed with details about the Arks and a map to their location. What follows is a race against time, earthquakes, dust clouds, and tsunamis as the various groups of characters make their ways across the globe (remember the displaced villagers building the dam in Tibet? Well, guess what they were really building) to try and be among the lucky few who are spared as the earth gets ready to flood Old Testament style.

As it turns out, the answer to the question posed in the introductory paragraph is a resounding NO. Who knew the end of the world could be so predictable? This is an almost completely by-the-numbers disaster movie, featuring all the requisite dubious science, silly and implausible set-pieces, narrative clichés, broad, one-dimensional characters, and heavy handed attempts at emotion and morals that one would expect from the genre.

Aside from the idea of the Arks there is really no aspect of this film that we haven’t already seen in dozens of other action, sci-fi, and disaster blockbusters. It is so steeped in predictability, ridiculousness, and cliché that it borders on self-parody. In the tradition of previous Emmerich blockbusters such as ID4 and The Day After Tomorrow, the obligatory action and destruction scenes are particularly bad offenders in this regard, featuring characters impossibly running away from massive explosions, dust clouds, and bizarrely personified cracks in the earth.

The script barely even hints at the details or origins of any of the real theories about 2012, suggesting that the association is mainly here just to cash in on a trend. Instead, Emmerich and co-writers Harold Kloser and Matt Charman shoehorn in several brief but glaringly awkward attempts at political commentary and even what could be construed by some as a few baffling jabs at religion. And of course everything leads to an unbearably neat and happy ending, despite the fact that the film is about the vast majority of the world’s population being wiped out.

It would have been great if Emmerich & Co could have injected some new life into this tired genre, but unfortunately, and not that surprisingly, all they are giving us here is more of the same.

Original here

Dark Knight Director Shuns Digital Effects for the Real Thing


By Scott Brown

The Bat-plan was simple: Base-jump off one Hong Kong skyscraper, smash through the window of another, grab the Chinese crime boss, then hitch a drag chute to a passing C-130 cargo plane for a daring aerial escape. And on to Gotham! An instant, no-fuss extradition in the best tradition of American vigilantism. Just another working day for Batman and, presumably, just another feat of digital wizardry for the visual effects team. Except for one thing: Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight, wanted to do it for real.

Which is a funny thing to want when you're making a lavish superhero sequel here in the heyday of the greenscreen. And certainly not an easy thing to get, 88 stories above a juddering megacity on the other side of the world. "They spent weeks in preproduction working out a way to hang the stuntman from one helicopter and have a second helicopter following him with the camera," says Wally Pfister, the movie's director of photography. Two choppers and a stuntman on a string — all to make a comic- book hero seem as credible on film as Frank Serpico or The French Connection's Popeye Doyle. All to make a comic-book movie speak the cinematic language of crime thrillers.

And not a moment too soon. While today's action heroes routinely come dressed in shades of the giddy synthetic (à la Spider-Man and Iron Man), movie fans have gorged on digital eye candy — and, perhaps fearing retinal diabetes, now they're cutting back (Speed Racer, anyone?). Still, gritty naturalism is no small leap for the spandex genre. It's a mood more identified with art noir and the prestige pic, the kind of cinema built to attract Oscars, not mass audiences.

The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.
Photo: Robert Maxwell

Nolan wants to clothe that grim aesthetic in a cape and cowl — and then project it onto an enormous wraparound screen. He's the first Hollywood director to shoot key sequences of a major feature in Imax, the giant-screen film format still known mainly for whopping nature documentaries. For Nolan, reality beats the hell out of gee-whiz special effects. But keeping it real doesn't come cheap: The $180 million flick is Warner Bros.' biggest summer tent pole, and after Speed Racer's flameout, its only box-office hope.

The studio should take heart. Nolan has a cogent Theory of Applied Batmatics: Insist on reality — no effects, no tricks — up to the point where insisting on reality becomes unrealistic. Then, in postproduction, make what is necessarily unreal as real as possible. "Anything you notice as technology reminds you that you're in a movie theater," Nolan explains. "Even if you're trying to portray something fantastical and otherworldly, it's always about trying to achieve invisible manipulation." Especially, he adds, with Batman, "the most real of all the superheroes, who has no superpowers."

How "real" are we talking here? When Nolan unveiled a six-minute Knight prologue on Imax screens last December (a twisty bank heist with a jarring Joker reveal), it was clear that his cinematic vision owes more to director Sidney Lumet than golden-age DC comics. You can feel the tension of Lumet's 1975 Dog Day Afternoon and Michael Mann's 1995 drama, Heat.

Nolan had an ally in Pfister, his collaborator on every film since the 2000 sleeper hit Memento. "When I was a kid, that bank heist scene in Dog Day Afternoon was real," Pfister recalls. "It was that whole time around The French Connection and Bullitt and The Seven-Ups. That's what Chris was going for. Only we were shooting in Imax, this format where you're used to seeing beautiful sunsets and helicopter shots of gazelles running across mountainsides. Instead, we've got machine-gun fire and Heath Ledger."

Nolan's use of Imax is the natural fulfillment of an experiment he launched with Batman Begins in 2005. That film depicted Batman's dogged, bruising rise from angry rich kid to driven crime fighter, and it hinted at the consequences of embracing one's inner demon, even in the service of good. Begins ended with a warning: Batman has escalated the war. His presence ensures the rise of equally quixotic, equally obsessed adversaries. One of these leaves a calling card at murder scenes: a joker. Batman promises the police he'll look into it. In The Dark Knight, he does, and it looks right back at him, with the leering, paint-smeared face of the late Heath Ledger. Eight stories tall. Cruel reality mashed up with the comic-book carnivalesque — unvarnished, without the comforting buffer of f/x. In an Imax theater, your eyes can't wander off Nolan's enveloping canvas and can't easily dismiss what they're seeing as trickery. Maybe that's the most special effect of all.

The man who revived the Bat-franchise and saved it from nipple-suited frippery receives visitors in the Garage, his filmmaking sanctum. It's where he shot the first Imax test footage for Knight and began what his wife and producer, Emma Thomas, calls "the biggest home movie ever made." Technically, she's right: The Garage sits across from the couple's large but unpretentious Hollywood manse, where Nolan and Thomas are raising four young children.

Heath Ledger as the Joker.
Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

When I arrive, Nolan has just finished editing a Joker scene. Ledger is frozen in a blur on three monitors. The actor, who accidentally overdosed on prescription medications in January at age 28, haunts The Dark Knight. The full effect on the film of his shocking death has yet to be gauged, but ever since news of the tragedy hit the wires, there's been reverent yet inescapably ghoulish chatter about a posthumous Oscar.

But all that is far from Nolan's mind today. Right now, it's about the work in front of him. "Ask Emma to look at the scene and make sure I didn't fuck it up," he tells his editor, Lee Smith, in a gentle English accent that suggests, to Yank ears, that Everything Is Under Control. As we step out into the toy-strewn, sun-striped courtyard separating Nolan's house from his workshop, I nearly trip over a battered effigy of the Tumbler, the tanklike Batmobile unveiled in Batman Begins. "At one point, that was remote control," Nolan sniffs. "Then it got left out in the rain." I detect a trace of disdain: A real Tumbler wouldn't fritz out after a little LA sprinkle.

Because these aren't toys, after all — not in Nolan's world: For the new movie, his designers built a full-size, working motorbike called the Batpod, which zips around on two fat spheroid wheels. According to star Christian Bale, it's a cruel mistress; only one stuntman managed to stay in the saddle. "If you ride it like a bike, you won't be riding it very long," the actor says, speaking from painful experience. But spills aside, Bale definitely caught Nolan's naturalism bug: When he heard that his stunt double, Buster Reeves, was prepping for an aerial shot atop the Sears Tower, he pulled rank. "I said to Buster, 'No you're not. You get to do a lot of fantastic stunts. You're not taking that one away from me.'"

"So we got an Imax shot of Christian Bale as Batman standing on top of the Sears Tower," Pfister says. "Here we are with our principal actor standing on the edge of one of the tallest buildings in the world. I think a lot of people will assume that's CGI." Perhaps, but when you see the shot (featured in the first trailer), your eye instinctively detects something different, something thrilling and rare: photographic reality.

Settling for anything less, Nolan feared, would send the Batman franchise back into camp and mummery. That's why he transported his hero to the very real city of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the real world has its drawbacks. "The Chinese government was a nightmare in terms of filming stuff," Pfister sighs. "They wanted to limit the amount of helicopter activity over the city."

And Nolan needed helicopters. He especially wanted to minimize digital meddling in those high-altitude Imax sequences. His reasons were both aesthetic and practical: Imax film stock is enormous, roughly 10 times the size of 35-mm celluloid, and it soaks up a vast amount of visual information. Those dimensions are what make the image so rich and sharp, even spread over a screen the size of a blimp hangar. While conventional films are digitized at 2K resolution (2,000 pixels across), or 4K at most, adding visual effects to Imax footage requires digitizing each frame at up to 8K. In other words, the difficulty and expense of doing f/x rise exponentially with the size of the negative.

But even superheroes and movie directors sometimes have to compromise: In the end, Chinese authorities refused to budge, and the skyscraper jump was digitized. (But the C-130 preparing to snatch Batman into the sky? That's real.) "Sometimes you do end up replacing a filmed shot with visual effects," Nolan says. "And there's kind of a see-I-told-you-so among the effects guys. But if we had started out with that, it wouldn't have looked the same. Because we photographed something, we have a benchmark standard to hold to, even if we change things. Even the film's CG shots are rooted in some kind of photographic reality." For instance, Nolan adds a layer of actual human-generated camera-operating motions to digital effects shots — kind of like deliberately scratching the negative. He says it restores "the human element of choice: the little corrections, little imperfections. Certain uncertainties."

Certain uncertainties have always pocked Nolan's relationship with the Bat-franchise. Even in 2005, after his revisionist reboot proved successful, the director wasn't sure he was up for a sequel. He was making The Prestige, an art-house thriller about rival magicians in 19th-century London (which, significantly, pits technology against old-fashioned sleight of hand). He was moving on. But there was one small problem with leaving Batman behind: He knew how he wanted it all to end. He had something Godfather-ish in mind, a saga of dark doubles and transfiguration — big, dense, and novelistic.

Christian Bale as Batman.
Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

It would involve not only Batman's archnemesis, the Joker, but also Harvey Dent (Thank You For Smoking's Aaron Eckhart) as a crusading Gotham City DA destined to become scarred, schizoid villain Two-Face. Nominal allies, Wayne and Dent would vie for the affections of Wayne's longtime love, assistant DA Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who replaces Batman Begins' Katie Holmes). And Dent's tragic transmogrification into criminal half-man would mirror Wayne's disappearance into his Batman persona. The director wasn't interested in plumbing the murky origins of the Joker himself — the Clown Prince is more a Loki-like force of chaos. "He's like the shark in Jaws," Nolan explains. "The Joker cuts through the film, he's incredibly important, but he's not a guy with a backstory. He's a wild card."

It was an ambitious tale, and Nolan needed a canvas to match, a format that could sweep fans off their feet. Imax was his best bet. Since the late 1960s, the Canadian company has specialized in large-format filmmaking and projection. Its screens are the biggest on offer, and their vertiginous 1.43:1 aspect ratio is uniquely suited to tales set on dizzying rooftops. "It's like replicating that childhood experience of moviegoing," Thomas says. "It's harder to be taken out of your own world as a grown-up. You need an even bigger screen."

Of course, most people will ultimately see Knight on ordinary multiplex screens. The scenes shot in Imax — the bank heist and Hong Kong escape, all the aerial shots, a bang-up armored car chase, and the final confrontation with the Joker — will have to be adjusted to the usual 2.40:1 aspect ratio. But because they're compressed from the sumptuous Imax negative, those sequences will still retain a special visual richness.

Pfister admits that even in an Imax theater, many viewers, wowed by the sheer size, might miss the finer photographic distinctions. But they'll feel them. "It's more of a visceral thing," he explains, adding that Nolan's longer, calmer cuts are designed to let viewers scan the huge Imax screen for detail — a refreshing change after years of synapse-snapping action-movie flash-cuts. "You can see something way off on the horizon," Pfister says. "You can see a little glint of light, a reflection in Batman's eye. You can't see it in a conventional theater. And you definitely can't see it on a plasma screen at home."

Which is good news for studios trying to lure viewers back to the box office. Without a crane or David Copperfield, it's impossible to pirate "the Imax experience" for private viewing. It also bodes well for the Imax Corporation, which two years ago saw its stock plummet after an SEC inquiry into its accounting practices. The company has since bounced back, signing deals with theater chains AMC and Regal to expand beyond its current network of 300 theaters in 40 countries. On July 18, Warner Bros. will roll out Knight on almost 100 of those screens and on some 4,000 traditional ones. (The studio has shown plenty of blockbusters on Imax screens before, but those films were shot conventionally and later digitally adapted for the format.)

Of course, shooting on the biggest negative in town isn't easy. The cameras, which Pfister's crew had to lug up to rooftops and onto helicopters, weighed over 60 pounds each, and their bulk made them awkward to maneuver. One crushed its mount. "On a fast tilt-down, the camera just takes you with it," Pfister says. Add to that the fact that Imax film is more than three times as expensive as 35-mm, that there's only one lab in the world able to process it, and that the cameras have to be reloaded after three minutes of shooting. "Chris said, 'It's just like when we were kids and shooting on Super 8!'" Pfister recalls. "You get a three-minute load, and then it takes five days to get your film back.'"

Imax cameras are also considerably louder than traditional 35-mm cameras, making it difficult to harvest the environmental, on-set sound Nolan prefers. Movies and television shows often dub dialog after principal photography is over, since the sound recorded by the boom and body mics can prove unusable. Nolan would rather fix it while everyone's still on the set. He hates to loop. "I just think separating the voice from the face and the body is very tricky," he explains. It is, after all, blatantly unreal.

To the Max

Digital and 3-D may be the future of cinema, but the Imax viewing experience still packs a punch.


70-mm projection (left) vs. 2-D Imax projection (right)
Photos: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The ker-pow! of Imax rests on the simple rule that bigger and brighter is better. And the negative used by Imax cameras is huge: 65 mm across, or about the width of an iPod. The additional surface area allows more data to be recorded, resulting in lush, detailed, hi-def images that loom large onscreen. (That hi-def effect is expensive, though: Imax film costs more than three times as much as regular film, and the cameras are gluttons with it, slurping up 6 feet of stock per second.) Better still, in 2-D Imax theaters, two xenon bulbs outshine the standard single projection light. The result is a brighter image, with angelic whites that make the other colors pop. And don't forget the giant 76- by 98-foot screen — two billboards long and eight stories high. Because it runs wall to wall and floor to ceiling, the image fills viewers' peripheral vision, immersing them in the onscreen action.
Allison Roeser

So did the director get everything he needed from Ledger before his death? He says yes: Ledger nailed it in principal photography. Thomas adds, "Everything you see onscreen is his performance." (In other words, there'll be no clunky digital resurrection, aural or visual, no morbid echoes of Oliver Reed's posthumous performance in Gladiator.) Besides, Nolan doesn't believe in bringing an actor back six months later and expecting him to re-create the nuances of a character, any more than he believes a computer can re-create the quality of human camera work on its own.

"Anything that's even vaguely funny you just can't reproduce. When there's a hint of irony or comedy ... Well, I don't make comedies, per se, but" — he chuckles — "at least I think my films are funny. Nobody else seems to think so, though."

Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

It's a problem Nolan shares with Batman's greasepainted nemesis — and perhaps a harbinger of marketing challenges to come. Naturally, no one's expected to laugh at the Joker's pranks, but will audiences even be able to look at him? How will they react to these frightening final images of Ledger-the-actor? His death is, in a way, the ultimate case of reality intruding on fantasy. Even before tragedy struck, Nolan was spooked by the character Ledger created. "I remember Heath calling up while I was working on the script and talking about ventriloquist's dummies, about having a voice that was high and low, and I'm on the other end going, 'Uh ... yeah.' It sounded insane, and not necessarily in the right way. But when he performed it, I was like, 'OK, I see.'"

Nolan could be describing The Dark Knight itself, this rough comic-book beast he's conjured into our workaday world. "I don't know what this thing is, exactly," he says, "but I know it's what I wanted." He pauses. "Be careful what you wish for!" He laughs again — perhaps a little nervously. It's the first, tiny hint I've seen of a certain uncertainty.

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G.I. Joe Promo/Teaser Poster!

By Kellvin Chavez

Reader 'Santi' alerted us that Film1.nl posted a poster that was revealed at the Cinema EXPO in Amsterdam for Stephen Sommer’s big screen live-action adaptation of "G.I. Joe."

The interesting thing is that poster reveals a new title for the film, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

The film stars Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Marlon Wayans, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

From the Egyptian desert to deep below the polar ice caps, the elite co-ed GI JOE team, based from it’s headquarters The Pit, deploys the latest in next-gen spy and military equipment to fight crooked arms dealer Destro and the growing threat of the mysterious COBRA organization from plunging the world into chaos.

Check out the poster below or click on the poster.

int'lposterofgijoe

UPDATED: Here are two more the site posted.

snakepingaeyes

baronesspingagijoe
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Top 13 Sci-Fi Babes

by David Schwartz

They are the women that drive men to warp fact five - the sex sirens of space.

Nothing quite gets you through the dull talk about black holes and plasma shields than the sight of a sexy girl in a spacesuit.

Well, grab hold of your lightsabres because hecklerspray has combed the length and breadth of the galaxy to come up with the hottest girls ever to appear in a sci-fi movie or TV programme.

13. Dana Scully from X Files

The list would not be the same without her.

12. Charlize Theron – Aeon Flux in Aeon Flux

Ok, the film was a huge, steaming pile of turd, but she looked really hot.

11. Jessica Alba – Max Guevera in Dark Angel

Does Dark Angel count as sci-fi? Who cares! It’s Jessica Alba for God’s sake.

10. Natalie Portman – Queen Amidala in the Star Wars prequels

She is the only reason to see the Star Wars prequels.

9. Milla Jovovich – Leeloo in The Fifth Element

We’re not sure if it’s the orange dreadlocks, the dodgy accent or the incredible body, but we certainly enjoyed MIlla time.

8. Jeri Ryan - Seven Of Nine from Star Trek Voyager

There is a part of us that finds this a bit odd. She is half human and half cybernetic drone for crying out loud. But there’s something about a skin-tight grey jumpsuit and a metal eyebrow that really hits the mark. Seven of Nine? More like nine of out 10.

7. Ashley Judd - Robin Lefler in Star Trek Generation

Definitely the sexiest girl ever to appear on the Star Trek: Next Generation. Actually, that’s not that hard. Maybe we need a rethink.

6. Erin Gray - Wilma from Buck Rogers

Possibly a controversial choice, but we do not care. Put it this way, why else would you put up with that stupid, twatting robot? It’s like Lost now. We’ve almost come to hate the fact we’re still watching that heap of dung. But then we see Kate and everything seems okay again.

5. Grace Park from Battlestar Galactica

The second sexiest toaster in Battlestar Galactica.

4. Sigourney Weaver – Ripley in the Alien series

Now there is no doubt that Sigourney Weaver started to look a bit ropey by the end of the Alien franchise - just like the films! But there is something about a girl who can kick the shit out of bad ass, stomach-bursting aliens that really gets the old juices flowing. And let’s face it, you still would.

3. Number Six from Battlestar Galatica

Has a toaster ever looked that sexy?

2. Jane Fonda in Barbarella

It hardly counts as science fiction - more like one big sexual innuendo (maybe it should be called Carry on Up The Black Hole) - but the opening sequence alone makes her a must on this list.

1. Carrie Fisher - Princess Leia in Star Wars trilogy

For anyone who wants to argue, we have two words for you: gold bikini. This writer will never forget the day I went to see Return of the Jedi. I was a fresh-faced nine-year-old boy, but by the time I left, I was a man. Life was never quite the same after that.

Honourable mentions:
Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica
Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix trilogy
Morena Baccarin in Firefly
Monica Bellucci in The Matrix Revolutions

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