March 25, 2012

My Olympus 2012 Items

I am furthest to the right, at Swancon 2011.

Over Easter I will be attending Olympus 2012 in glamorous Heathrow. If you're likely to be there, and wanted to see/meet/heckle me, I'm scheduled on the following items:

The Art of the Movie Poster: 100 Posters in 50 Minutes
Friday 6 April, 1:00pm (Commonwealth Room)
A presentation I first did at Swancon 2011, slightly rejigged to include some more recent posters and probably a little more orange and teal. Official blurb: "For many moviegoers and film fans, the first glimpse that we see of an upcoming motion picture is the theatrical poster. What goes into the design and layout of these posters? How has poster design changed over the years? How do they attract the eye, inform the viewer and excite a film’s future audience? In a special presentation, film fan Grant Watson demonstrates the design and layout of movie posters with 100 examples squeezed into 50 minutes. Warning: may contain the colours orange and teal."

March 22, 2012

Songstress Sian Brown goes to Europe

A very talented friend from my undergraduate days is raising money for her European tour. I've just pledged $15 in her direction, which scores me a copy of her upcoming EP. If you're in a mood to support the arts, quality independent music and cool Western Australians, check out her Pozible page and consider pledging yourself.

March 18, 2012

Babble On, Part #11: "Deathwalker"

An intergalactic war criminal known as "Deathwalker" arrives on Babylon 5, and is immediately almost beaten to death by Narn diplomatic attache Na'Toth. As rumours spread of Deathwalker's presence on the station, the various alien governments begin plans to extradite her for her numerous war crimes. When Deathwalker's latest scientific discovery is revealed - the secret to everlasting life - the diplomatic fray becomes considerable more complicated. Meanwhile, Ambassador Kosh hires telepath Talia Winters to monitor a bizarre business exchange with a mystery man named Abbut.

"Deathwalker" is, sadly another fairly dreadful episode of Babylon 5, although at the outset I must confess it contains one of my all-time favourite lines of dialogue (Kosh's "Then the willows must scuttle carefully"). Sarah Douglas of Conan the Destroyer and Superman II fame plays the titular war criminal, and she's taken it as an excuse to ham it up and generally chew the scenery. With a war criminal so out-and-out villainous, it's difficult for the episode to generate any kind of suspense or moral ambiguity. The episode's final "kicker" - the means by which Deathwalker's miracle drug works - is played like it's a moment of abject horror. Unfortunately it comes out as more than a little trite and melodramatic.

March 5, 2012

Trailer: Game of Thrones Season 2

HBO's Game of Thrones is the best drama on television at the moment, and this new trailer for its second season - which premieres next month - is an outstanding bit of work

March 1, 2012

The Best TV and Film Title Design of 2011

I'm a big fan of title design for film and television, and it's something that's becoming a bit of a lost art. So many TV shows and films are doing away with lengthy title sequences. I think that's a shame, because a good title sequence gives you time as a viewer to sink into the intended mood of the piece, stop thinking about the outside everyday world, and prime yourself for a properly immersive experience.

My two favourite title sequences for last year are embedded below. For film, it's the titles to David Fincher's excellent The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. After that, HBO's Game of Thrones. They're both outstanding pieces of visual art in their own right, and match their respective works perfectly.

If there's a set of opening titles that you particularly like, from last year or even from decades ago, let me know in the comments.

Babble On part #10: "And the Sky Full of Stars"

In "And the Sky Full of Stars" Commander Sheridan is kidnapped and, kept aboard Babylon 5, is subjected to a hallucinatory interrogation by two mysterious operatives from Earth. They want answers to Sinclair's whereabouts during the fateful 'Battle of the Line' - answers that Sinclair is incapable of giving to them.

This, the eighth episode of Babylon 5's first season, is absolutely one of the most crucial episodes of the series on narrative basis. The core part of Sinclair's back story is the Battle of the Line, what was supposed to be humanity's last stand against the Minbari and what instead led to the spontaneous and still-unexplained surrender of the Minbari.