HOW TO DEAL WITH INTJs
1. Be willing to back up your statements with facts - or at least some pretty sound reasoning.
2. Don't expect them to respect you or your viewpoints just because you say so. INTJ's respect must be earned.
3. Be willing to concede when you are wrong. The average INTJ respects the truth over being "right". Withdraw your erroneous comment and admit your mistake and they will see you as a very reasonable person. Stick to erroneous comments and they will think you are an irrational idiot and treat everything you say as being questionable.
4. Try not to be repetitive. It annoys them.
5. Do not feed them a line of bull.
6. Expect debate. INTJs like to tear ideas apart and prove their worthiness. They will even argue a point they don't actually support for the sake of argument.
7. Do not mistake the strength of your conviction with the strength of your argument. INTJs do not need to believe in a position to argue it or argue it well. Therefore, it will take more than fervor to sway them.
8. Do not be surprised at sarcasm.
9. Remember that INTJs believe in workable solutions. They are extremely open-minded to possibilities, but they will quickly discard any idea that is unfeasible. INTJ open-mindedness means that they are willing to have a go at an idea by trying to pull it apart. This horrifies people who expect oohs and ahhs and reverence. The ultimate INTJ insult to an idea is to ignore it, because that means it's not even interesting enough to deconstruct. This also means that they will not just accept any viewpoint that is presented to them. The bottom line is "Does it work?" - end discussion.
10. Do not expect INTJs to actually care about how you view them. They already know that they are arrogant bastards with a morbid sense of humor. Telling them the obvious accomplishes nothing.
DESCRIPTION - THE SCIENTIST
As an INTJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things rationally and logically.
INTJs live in the world of ideas and strategic planning. They value intelligence, knowledge, and competence, and typically have high standards in these regards, which they continuously strive to fulfill. To a somewhat lesser extent, they have similar expectations of others.
With Introverted Intuition dominating their personality, INTJs focus their energy on observing the world, and generating ideas and possibilities. Their mind constantly gathers information and makes associations about it. They are tremendously insightful and usually are very quick to understand new ideas. However, their primary interest is not understanding a concept, but rather applying that concept in a useful way. Unlike the INTP, they do not follow an idea as far as they possibly can, seeking only to understand it fully. INTJs are driven to come to conclusions about ideas. Their need for closure and organization usually requires that they take some action.
INTJ's tremendous value and need for systems and organization, combined with their natural insightfulness, makes them excellent scientists. An INTJ scientist gives a gift to society by putting their ideas into a useful form for others to follow. It is not easy for the INTJ to express their internal images, insights, and abstractions. The internal form of the INTJ's thoughts and concepts is highly individualized, and is not readily translatable into a form that others will understand. However, the INTJ is driven to translate their ideas into a plan or system that is usually readily explainable, rather than to do a direct translation of their thoughts. They usually don't see the value of a direct transaction, and will also have difficulty expressing their ideas, which are non-linear. However, their extreme respect of knowledge and intelligence will motivate them to explain themselves to another person who they feel is deserving of the effort.
INTJs are natural leaders, although they usually choose to remain in the background until they see a real need to take over the lead. When they are in leadership roles, they are quite effective, because they are able to objectively see the reality of a situation, and are adaptable enough to change things which aren't working well. They are the supreme strategists - always scanning available ideas and concepts and weighing them against their current strategy, to plan for every conceivable contingency.
INTJs spend a lot of time inside their own minds, and may have little interest in the other people's thoughts or feelings. Unless their Feeling side is developed, they may have problems giving other people the level of intimacy that is needed. Unless their Sensing side is developed, they may have a tendency to ignore details which are necessary for implementing their ideas.
The INTJ's interest in dealing with the world is to make decisions, express judgments, and put everything that they encounter into an understandable and rational system. Consequently, they are quick to express judgments. Often they have very evolved intuitions, and are convinced that they are right about things. Unless they complement their intuitive understanding with a well-developed ability to express their insights, they may find themselves frequently misunderstood. In these cases, INTJs tend to blame misunderstandings on the limitations of the other party, rather than on their own difficulty in expressing themselves. This tendency may cause the INTJ to dismiss others input too quickly, and to become generally arrogant and elitist.
INTJs are ambitious, self-confident, deliberate, long-range thinkers. Many INTJs end up in engineering or scientific pursuits, although some find enough challenge within the business world in areas which involve organizing and strategic planning. They dislike messiness and inefficiency, and anything that is muddled or unclear. They value clarity and efficiency, and will put enormous amounts of energy and time into consolidating their insights into structured patterns.
Other people may have a difficult time understanding an INTJ. They may see them as aloof and reserved. Indeed, the INTJ is not overly demonstrative of their affections, and is likely to not give as much praise or positive support as others may need or desire. That doesn't mean that he or she doesn't truly have affection or regard for others, they simply do not typically feel the need to express it. Others may falsely perceive the INTJ as being rigid and set in their ways. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the INTJ is committed to always finding the objective best strategy to implement their ideas. The INTJ is usually quite open to hearing an alternative way of doing something.
When under a great deal of stress, the INTJ may become obsessed with mindless repetitive, Sensate activities, such as over-drinking. They may also tend to become absorbed with minutia and details that they would not normally consider important to their overall goal.
INTJs need to remember to express themselves sufficiently, so as to avoid difficulties with people misunderstandings. In the absence of properly developing their communication abilities, they may become abrupt and short with people, and isolationists.
INTJs have a tremendous amount of ability to accomplish great things. They have insight into the Big Picture, and are driven to synthesize their concepts into solid plans of action. Their reasoning skills gives them the means to accomplish that. INTJs are most always highly competent people, and will not have a problem meeting their career or education goals. They have the capability to make great strides in these arenas. On a personal level, the INTJ who practices tolerances and puts effort into effectively communicating their insights to others has everything in his or her power to lead a rich and rewarding life.
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Most people have moments when they are free of ego. Those who are exceptionally good at what they do may be completely or largely free of ego while performing their work. They may not know it, but their work has become a spiritual practice. Most of them are present while they do their work and fall back into relative unconsciousness in their private life. This means their state of Presence is for the time being confined to one area of their life. I have met teachers, artists, nurses, doctors, scientists, social workers, waiters, hairdressers, business owners, and salespeople who perform their work admirably without any self-seeking, fully responding to whatever the moment requires of them. They are one with what they do, one with the Now, one with the people or the task they serve. The influence such people have upon others goes far beyond the function they perform. They bring about a lessening of the ego in everyone who comes into contact with them. Even people with heavy egos sometimes begin to relax, let down their guard, and stop playing their roles when they interact with them. It comes as no surprise that those people who work without ego are extraordinarily successful at what they do. Anybody who is one with what he or she does is building the new earth.
I have also met many others who may be technically good at what they do but whose ego constantly sabotages their work. Only part of their attention is on the work they perform; the other part is on themselves. Their ego demands personal recognition and wastes energy in resentment if it doesn't get enough – and it's never enough. "Is someone else getting more recognition than me?" Or their main focus of attention is profit or power, and their work is no more than a means to an end. When work is no more than a means to an end, it cannot be of high quality. When obstacles or difficulties arise in their work, when things don't go according to expectation, when other people or circumstances are not helpful or cooperative, instead of immediately becoming one with the new situation and responding to the requirements of the present moment, they react against the situation and so separate themselves from it. There is a "me" that feels personally offended or resentful, and a huge amount of energy is burned up in useless protest or anger, energy that could be used for solving the situation if it were not being misused by the ego. What is more, this "anti"-energy creates new obstacles, new opposition. Many people are truly their own worst enemy.
People unknowingly sabotage their own work when they withhold help or information from others or try to undermine them lest they become more successful or get more credit than "me". Cooperation is alien to the ego, except when there is a secondary motive. The ego doesn't know that the more you include others, the more smoothly things flow and the more easily things come to you. When you give little or no help to others or put obstacles in their path, the universe - in the form of people and circumstances - gives little or not help to you because you have cut yourself off from the whole. The ego's unconscious core feeling of "not enough" causes it to react to someone else's success as if that success had taken something away from "me". It doesn't know that your resentment of another person's success curtails your own chances of success. In order to attract success, you need to welcome it wherever you see it.
I thought this offers food for thought about the state of the industry in Hollywood, as well as our industry here in Malaysia. Everybody knows that Hollywood is filled with people who border on psychopaths, and according to this piece of writing such people are like this because of blindness caused by an inflated ego. On the other hand, many of the successful people in Hollywood, which includes a large number of people whose names will never be known outside of Hollywood, are successful BECAUSE they don't have an ego.
Which translates to why so we haven't able to really build and improve on our own industry here. It's coz it's very natural to adopt an ego, or believe that that's a necessary requirement. What else do you think of, when you think of becoming an actor, or a director? And we all know that Malaysians have a tendency to inflate their egos without any real solid backing.
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TGV Cinemas is a hopeless case. Don't go to TGV Cinemas 1 Utama. The last time I saw a film there was when I saw Puteri Gunung Ledang, which is quite a lot of years ago. Then, I was extremely annoyed when the sound levels kept dropping to zero, a few times in the film. There was no apology ... never mind that, after the second time that happened, the projectionist/technician should have paid attention to it. So anyway, I decided to try the rom-com in TGV, and I imagined there wouldn't be any problems. Well, the sound was terrible - there was, noticeably, a fluctuation in the speed of the projector coz the sound was fluctuating and the music along with it. From now on I will make sure to tell everyone not to go to TGV 1 Utama anymore. They had their chance and they blew it.
Also, I noticed that it's really difficult for me to watch movies here in Malaysia now. Due to the imperfections of the viewing environment (i.e. the cinemas), and the fact that there are subtitles distracting the eye in the frame, I find that I become very self-conscious while watching the movies.
The short version of this review: in all three cases, very promising start, but falters in the end with unsatisfying endings.
Okay, the opening sequence was interesting. I don't mean plot-wise; the whole film was very much conventional, and doesn't try to be anything else. People who told me it was disappointing were probably hoping for something more, but one should learn to expect the average in rom-coms - in terms of its performance as a genre, they are generally quite reliable, and occasionally surprise you.
Anyway, in the opening sequence, Dempsey's character Tom meets Monaghan's character Hannah for the first time in college, before they turn 20. Both are still played by Dempsey and Monaghan. Now Dempsey is in his 40s. Guess what? There's make-up involved. And in at least one shot, it actually looks it! Not only that, both Dempsey and Monaghan's voices were engineered ... Dempsey's voice sounded a lot more juvenile than he usually sounds. I have to give credit to the filmmakers for trying.
Okay, another interesting thing.
The name of the movie is spelled 'Made Of Honour'.
When Pearl Harbor was released, it was still spelled as such. Pearl Harbor is never spelled Pearl Harbour.
The film in general worked. I was hooked in many parts, really, and even sniggered and laughed a little, something that I rarely do even while watching comedies in cinemas. On top of that, the last third of the film is set in Scotland, beautiful Scotland. It makes fun of Scottish traditions, and sometimes makes use of it as a plot point - the kissing game, for example.
The dynamic between Tom and Hannah were also well done, as I genuinely feel for Tom and can see why he loves Hannah. At the same time I get why he doesn't go for her. The problem is the characterisation of the love rival, the Scottish hunk played by Kevin McKidd. I didn't know he was Scottish, he had such a formal sounding English accent in HBO's Rome. Unfortunately, he sounds like a brute when he speaks like this, especially when we first meet him. I felt like there was a too apparent attempt to make us not like this guy while at the same time the story insists that he is a great guy. Also, the friends were kind of pointless. It's just that the male lead needs to have a bunch of friends to tell him what he already knows in such movies. Poor Kevin Sussman. And then there's Sydney Pollack, expired a few weeks ago and yet here he is onscreen, playing a rather naughty role.
Overall, the jokes were funny. The bit with the waiter they showed in the trailer. The 'he's so dreamy' reference. The thing with Bill, Hillary and Monica. (Unfortunately, that just makes me think of Definitely, Maybe.)
Okay, let's talk about the ending. So it is no surprise what happens. That's not the problem. The problems were, I don't get the trigger that sends him back to 'steal the bride'; and the handling of the aftermath was shoddy. So they have her turn to Scottish hunk, and she says the most generic stuff, and he ... accepts it. Then they create a lame joke to end the scene. Perhaps, they were thinking that seeing someone getting punched just creates a laugh in the cinema. Depressingly, they are probably right.
One last thing. There was no way that Starbucks coffee cup Dempsey's character was holding while in the car contained any coffee. This was what I noticed, while everyone else was sniggering at the joke that was already shown in the trailer.
At the GSC cineplex, the title of the film is listed as 'The Happenings'.
The person who made the mistake should be shot.
Rant done. Moving on.
Interesting thing happened as the opening credits began. There were these two Malay viewers sitting next to me. Well, as the Spyglass Entertainment logo sequence appeared, before the words 'Spyglass' came out one of them actually said 'oh, Spyglass'. I was impressed.
Okay, the movie itself. But first, let me tell you about what happened more than a year ago.
I was in Producing class, and my teacher (who's a working producer) told us that a contact of his just read M. Night Shyamalan's new script, and that Shyamalan has clearly gone bonkers. First of all, the title was going to be 'The Happening', which, in his words is 'fucking dumb', or something to that effect. Then he told us it was going to be about some unexplainable event where people are throwing themselves off the building and that the twist is that plants are killing people by releasing toxins that makes them want to kill themselves. If that isn't the dumbest idea he's ever heard he doesn't know what is, says my producing teacher.
Yeah, I just lured you into a spoiler. Intentionally.
So why do I still want to watch it, you might ask? Well, mostly I was interested to see whether Shyamalan would make any changes to the story.
Here's the thing: he didn't. It's all there. And, there is no twist. Shyamalan stopped doing twist movies since Lady In The Water, so if that's your basis for criticising this movie of his, don't bother. The plant-releasing-toxins thing is given to the audience within the first third of the film. It's just whether you buy it. More about that in a short while.
The positive points. Shyamalan is still a master in creating suspense. Now, people appreciate Hitchcock coz he's great at doing similar stuff; once in Directing class we were shown a scene in Notorious, and my teacher remarked, "there, Hitchcock with his mischievous sense of humour decides to use champagne bottles to keep us at the edge of our seats". In this film, Shyamalan used an old woman to scare the audience. In fact, there were a few well-executed sequences that were truly suspenseful; Shyamalan in his element. Especially the opening sequences. Shyamalan bragged about the opening scene - I suspect that was the scene that triggered the rest of his inspiration. (I was distracted by the fact that the woman on the right of the bench looked a lot like Reese Witherspoon though.)
The bad points are many. Shyamalan should honestly stop writing screenplays. Creating screen stories, yes. But not the screenplay. The problem with Shyamalan is that he is beating the dead horse; as my friend Swifty would say, he 'stays in the comfort zone'. What's that? Well, his characters all speak the same way - oddly. They're never saying what we expect of them. If it was interesting before, now it's just annoying. On top of that, they talk a lot. Sometimes incessantly. And they have a tendency to talk about mundane stuff, or unrelated stuff, but that are clearly subtext, or a segue-in to what they are really going to say. Now, the 'really going to say' part, unfortunately, tends to be badly written. In one word: expository.
The characters. Shyamalan likes his characters to have problems between them, and the crisis that happens in the film will heal the relationship. Unfortunately, more and more the relationship problems he gives his characters are contrived. In The Sixth Sense it was good enough, and well-casted, that both his actors got Oscar nominations. Here, it was a relationship problem that had no bearing in the story, never becomes a plot point (in other words, it was set up but without a pay-off), and in the end is solved without really involving the crisis of the story - not convincingly anyway.
The ending sequences. I applaud Shyamalan for going after an unconventional plot structure. That's what I tried to do with my screenplay. Unfortunately that earns him no favours at all with studios, and certainly not with the audience. There is no climax, and the denouement is rather irrelevant and very deus ex machina. It leaves a lot unexplained. Unlike The Incredible Hulk, it will forever be unexplained - The Incredible Hulk probably just wanted to leave it to the sequel to explain further.
Now, if he's thinking the way I'm thinking, then I think this is why. I think it's about creating a sense of realism, in the sense that it tries to mirror reality. I have always stressed that reality is messy and confusing. Here, Mark Wahlberg assumes a hypothesis about why the event is happening - there is no way he can prove it, but through the film it is a theory he uses to keep him and the people around him alive. Then we get to the end and there is an exception to his theory, and that person dies anyway. It was one-off. It was never explained. THAT's how life is.
Also, notice how deranged the guy on the TV sounds at the end of the film, when explaining what he thinks happened. Throughout the interview, he seems to make sense, then the interviewer asks a question and the guy suddenly seems to go off key with his explanations. That's just a way of saying that you can't trust experts.
In general, however,the average audience will HATE the film and demand their money back because they think it is stupid that nothing is properly explained and it's so confusing. Why is the old lady acting this way? So does the wind do anything or not? Why did it taper off so suddenly? And so on.
Ultimately, though, the film fails because it didn't make us care. It made us care enough to be experiencing suspense - but when characters die we were never invested enough to be emotional over it. Part of the problem is the dialogue.
One thing the Malaysian censorship board should be criticised about. And this will be unusual coming from me. How the hell is this film getting a U rating when it's supposed to be 18SG?
And by the way, I was so hoping that Shyamalan wouldn't insert himself into the film. I got to the end of the film, and he didn't appear in any scene. But then the end credits start rolling and, sure enough, he's in there. Sigh. Find out for yourself which character he is.
I've always said I liked Ang Lee's Hulk, at least until the fourth act which was when it all fell apart. It was intellectual and philosophical. Too many people didn't share the same sentiment though, and Gale Anne Hurd and team rather unconventionally decided not to give up and make another different version just five years after the first one. The idea is to make it more 'exciting'. More smash. Fine, the audience gets what the audience wants.
However, when you drag Edward Norton into this, you've got to know that the guy would never be involved in anything unless it's somewhat serious - basically it must never be dumbed down or stupid, like, say, Fantastic Four. Some people were excited over the prospect that Norton actually has a hand in the screenplay.
And it shows.
Because for at least the first half of the film, I was thinking, boy, this is PROMISING. The writing is excellent, the dialogue wasn't contrived - it's to the point and does what it needs to explain, or to tell a joke. The jokes were very balanced and well-placed, not once did I feel like the pacing is off. Sometimes they even threw in a joke immediately after a serious argument and it works. ("Where does she find these guys?", says William Hurt's character.) There were references to stretchy pants, and a funny messing-up of Bruce Banner's warning line.
There's also the attention to detail. You really believed Norton's character was genuinely trying to learn Portuguese. There's the interesting choice of having a beautiful girl like Liv Tyler wear thick-rimmed glasses. And then there's the thing about sex which we here don't get to see coz the censorship board cut most of it out ...
There's also the cinematography. There was one shot in a chase sequence that reminded me of a technically difficult swooping shot in The Bourne Ultimatum. The shot that impressed me most was the panning across of the Rio favelas that seemed to go on forever - simply breathtaking, and it actually drives home the point that Banner is hiding in the most populated area he can possibly find. Now that's useful cinematography.
As for characters, they are pretty well-developed; this Bruce Banner is more real than almost any of the comic book heroes we've come across so far. His feelings for Betty Ross shows, and conversely Liv Tyler matches Ed Norton in that respect. As for the bad guy, he's psychotic, and that comes across very naturally, without seeming too one-dimensional. We never did get why William Hurt's General Ross thinks the way he does, but at least we know how he thinks.
And on top of that, there are these homages, or at least what seemed like homages to Ang Lee's version. The opening credits sequence, for example, has this very-quick editing that explains the backstory of what happened before Banner ended up in Brazil - interspersed with shots of cells, just like in the previous film. And the first act of the film was set in South America, which was where we last left Bruce Banner in Ang Lee's film.
And then we get to the ending.
You see, I get the sense, and I may be mistaken, that Ed Norton had a hand in much of the first and second act, to set up the story properly, so that we can have a good, proper climactic fight in the end. Then it is handed off to others who 'know better' how to stage a fight. Basically, plot-wise it was great up to the point Banner falls into the middle of New York City. Coz when Hulk and Abomination fights, that was all there is. Just smashing things. It didn't really do anything new - the smashing wasn't anything new. Worse, to me it destroyed the beautiful structure of the plot that was set up so well for much of the film. Coz in the end, we never really know why Hulk didn't **** *** *** ***, or why did he then just *** ****. And then after that, when we see him living alone again, why would he suddenly just **** **** **** ***** for no reason at all, when he spent most of the film trying not to do that.
Roger Ebert puts it better than I do.
And [the final] battle, as I have suggested, pounds away relentlessly, taking as its first victim our patience. "Iron Man," the much better spiritual partner of this film, also ends with a showdown between an original and a copycat, but it involves two opponents who know who they are and why they are fighting.
To Malaysian filmmakers: this is proof that a good, well-thought-out script (from beginning to end) is the largest factor to a great film. I think that's what the director, Louis Leterrier (who got most of us worried coz all he is known for thus far is 'the guy who did the Transporter films') had for most of the film and the results were inspiring, and then he didn't anymore so it wasn't.
One last thing. Thanks to the Malaysian subtitlers, you can actually catch the reference to Nick Fury in the opening sequence, which a large majority of the audience in the West is unlikely to catch coz of how quickly it was flashed across the screen.
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You have the potential to be a source of inspiration and illumination for people. You possess an inordinate amount of energy and intuition. There is so much going on in your psyche that you are often misunderstood early in life, making you shy and withdrawn. You have far more potential than you know. You galvanize every situation you enter. You inspire people, but without your conscious effort. Energy seems to flow through you without your controlling it. This gives you both power and sometimes emotional turmoil. You are a channel for information between the higher and the lower, between the realm of the archetype and the relative world. Ideas, thoughts, understanding, and insight - all of these can come to you without your having to go through a rational thought process. There seems to be a bridge, or connection, between your conscious and unconscious realms, attuning you to a high level of intuition through which even psychic information can flow. All of this amounts to a great capacity for invention. Many inventors, artists, religious leaders, prophets, and leading figures in history have had the 11 prominent in their chart.
Because you are so highly charged, you experience the consequences of a two-edged sword. You possess great abilities, but indulge in much self-reflection and self- criticism. You often feel highly self-conscious. You are aware on some level that you stand out. Even when you try to blend with your environment, you often feel conspicuous, alien, and out-of-place. You are blessed with a message, or a specific role to play in life. But you must develop yourself sufficiently to take full advantage of that opportunity. Until that time, your inner development takes precedence over your ability to materialize the great undertaking you were chosen to perform. Consequently, 11s seem to develop slowly, but they simply have more to accomplish in their evolution than the average person. Thus, your real success does not usually begin until maturity, between the ages of 35 and 45, when you have progressed further along your path.
You may often be frustrated, largely because you have extremely high expectations of yourself. But these expectations can be unrealistic, and can prevent you from accomplishing anything. You can be very impractical, envisioning a skyscraper when all that was necessary was a two-story house. You may also suffer from bouts of confusion and lack of direction. This gives rise to loss of confidence and the onset of deep depression. The cause of these emotional problems is your lack of understanding of your own sensitivity and potential. Your desire to achieve some great ambition is enormous. However, a lack of confidence in your own ability to realize this dream may cause you much frustration. You sense the enormous potential you possess, which requires equally enormous confidence in your ability to materialize your dream. Confidence is the key that unlocks your potential. On a strictly physical level, you must protect your nervous system, which is inordinately vulnerable to stress because of your acute sensitivity. Depression is often the result of long periods of stress that have gone unrelieved. Seek out peaceful and harmonious environments, relaxing music, and follow a healthful diet in order to restore balance and peace. As an 11 Life Path, you are a highly charged version of the 2 and possess many of the characteristics and talents of that number.
You can be extremely diplomatic and tactful. You are also patient and cooperative. You work well with groups and somehow find a way of creating harmony among diverse opinions. You enjoy music and poetry and require a harmonious environment. You have an eye for beauty and a fine sense of balance and rhythm. You have healing capabilities, especially in such fields as massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, and counseling. You are a sensitive and passionate lover; your perceptiveness makes you aware of your partner's needs and desires, which you are able to fulfill with almost magical delicacy. However, when you feel you have been mistreated or jilted, you can react with devastating power, sometimes using personal criticisms vindictively.
You are a fine companion and possess a good sense of humor. When you have found your niche in life and begun to realize your true potential, your rewards will more than compensate for your trials earlier in life.
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Blockbuster directors, Spielberg among them, say they're tired of digital effects - they're going back to old-style props, models and stunts. Is this the end for CGI?
By Ravi Somaiya, The Guardian
Friday May 23, 2008
You may have noticed some internet excitement around the new Indiana Jones film. Most of the clamour comes from fans who can't wait to see their hero return, bullwhip in hand. But take a closer look and you'll see an unexpected theme developing among the excitement. It seems that devotees of the original trilogy are upset at Steven Spielberg and George Lucas having used computer-generated images - despite assurances from Spielberg that he was "making as much of this movie practical magic rather than digital magic".
There's an increasing feeling that CGI, which promised so much, is looking increasingly clunky these days, that sophisticated audiences can see the joins and spot the jerky movements, and that these failings are cheapening the cinema experience. What began as a grumble about the CGI-heavy Star Wars prequels looking worse than the original trilogy has metamorphosed into full-grown irritation with the notion that computer wizardry is enough to make a film. It's easy to see why: was Deep Blue Sea any scarier than Jaws? Would ET have been as cute if he'd existed on a hard drive rather than as a model? The first leaked review of the new Indy film, on the Ain't It Cool News website, crystallised the feeling: "The fake stuff doesn't mix with the real stuff at all."
And it's not just fans who are sick of implausible and plasticky CGI. Gil Taylor was the cinematographer on the first Star Wars back in 1977. In fact, he's the man who made the lightsaber glow. "It was very do-it-yourself," he says. "The lightsabers were just triangular bits of wood which were covered in reflective material that I projected a spotlight on to. They've gone over to digital now, which I never used and I don't believe in. Personally, I'm incredibly bored with those effects; they've taken over everything."
Christopher Nolan, the director behind Batman Begins and its eagerly anticipated sequel, The Dark Knight (out on July 25), told one interviewer that he thinks modern blockbusters are "more and more like animation films or video games". He has very publicly returned to using mostly props, models of sets, camera movements, pyrotechnics and plain old stuntmen to give his films their bang. JJ Abrams, the creator of Lost, has also gone so far as to reassure worried fans that the new Star Trek film he's directing won't rely too much on the power of silicon chips. Even those behind the digital effects sometimes balk at what appears on the big screen. "You can use CG too much," says Dafydd Morris, a computer animator who recently worked on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. "There's no need to green-screen everything."
One telling factor in the attitudes of Nolan and Abrams could be their ages: Nolan is 37, Abrams 41. "They grew up watching films of the 80s or the 'golden age' of creature effects like Terminator, Aliens or The Thing, and miss the tactile reality they had," suggests Oscar-nominated effects artist Alec Gillis. "These directors want audiences to have a lifelike experience, not a video-game sensory assault. They want stuntmen daring to risk their lives, full-scale buildings being blown up, totally convincing miniatures rocketing through the sky. CG often gives a physics-defying, over-nuanced, pristine-ness that defies our primal knowledge of reality. Christopher Nolan wants us to believe." Gillis is feeling the benefits of those attitudes - his skills are back in demand and he's working on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the prequel to the X-Men series.
For Star Trek, Abrams hired Rob Burman, whose family has been in the effects business since his grandfather helped create Wolfman in 1931. "CGI had become more than just a tool over the past few years," Burman says, "but now everyone is getting used to the toy and beginning to see the limitations of it. It takes you out of the grounding of the film. If you watch the Spider-Man movies, it's great swinging through the city from his point of view, but you don't have the thrill of knowing it's a real guy doing these things. It can look utterly believable, but if what you're watching is beyond possibility, it's hard to suspend your disbelief. You want people to go to the movie and get lost in it. If you start thinking, 'Oh, that was fake,' then you're automatically back in a seat in a theatre."
He thinks that the kind of puppets and creatures he provides are better on set as well as in the cinema. "Having something practical there helps everyone involved," he says. "Actors don't have to focus on a green tennis ball on a stick and pretend it's this big monster or character." Which perhaps explains why otherwise good actors such as Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson often looked perplexed and wooden in the entirely green-screen Star Wars prequels. "It even helps the editing and it helps the framing of the shot to have a literal 3D object in front of the camera," adds Burman. "Everything is much simpler."
It may be simpler, but it's not cheaper. Even JJ Abrams has admitted that it's impossible to build sets for everything on his Star Trek movie because it would cost too much. "If you want a big cityscape," says Morris, "it's much cheaper to do it in CG than build it physically. And it means you can move the camera anywhere and do whatever you want. The technology is getting to the point where you can do almost anything."
Does he ever watch films and cringe at bad computer effects? "Yes, quite a lot. But to be honest, it can be the fault of the production design as well - CG houses don't do the designs; we're given drawings to work from. If the ideas for the design and the costumes are a bit all over the place, that means it looks bad, even if it's fine technically." Morris thinks director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) is an example of someone who uses the technology well. "The first thing he's doing is looking at the story, then using CG where he has to, to move it along or build tension. Every piece helps the storyline."
Not everyone agrees that computers should be used sparingly. James Cameron pioneered widespread use of CGI in films such as The Abyss and Terminator 2, as well as helping to push it into overuse with Titanic. He's now working on a 3D project called Avatar, starring Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Giovanni Ribisi. The film, about American soldiers at war on an alien planet, will be 60% digital and 40% live action; a ratio reflected in the fact that it needs a whole two years in post-production. A well-placed source on the project, who didn't want to be named, says Avatar advances the technology to the point where even cynics and fans weary of fake-looking effects will be converted.
"The stuff that we are currently working on is completely groundbreaking, to the point of the technology being discovered and refined as we go along. It will look like nothing you have seen before," he says. It's being filmed in a studio with hundreds of cameras in the ceiling. Cameron can "view the action from any imaginable distance, point of view or speed."
He admits that "the downside is the amount of manpower and time it still takes to execute - these are early days, and to do something digital well takes a lot of work and painstaking attention to detail, and that is why you see so much bad CGI." But he still compares the advances Cameron and his team are making "to the silent era on the verge of sound. I believe there is about to be an explosion of the perfectly executed unbelievable."
Practical effects guru Alec Gillis doesn't agree. "At best CG is a moving painting. It can be beautiful, stylised and dynamic, but it still is not reality. It is a powerful tool, but it's only a tool, and should be used wisely, judiciously, over a foundation of practical effects. Nothing beats the real thing."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
Having just re-watched Titanic in analytical detail, I have to say it's worth it for you guys to do the same.
Coz that's an example of how CG technology is well-exploited purely to make the film work, by taking away the need for the audience to suspend disbelief by making the digital effects seamless. Even today, ten years after the film was released. Unless I point out to you the digital characters used to populate the ship (created by Digital Domain, new technology then), you will never notice even if you tried to look for it.
Most importantly, was the care the CG guys took to blend in all the different composite elements. The reason why so many blockbusters fail in that regard was because they were always doing a rush job - since blockbusters always have a solid, unflexible deadline. It takes a director guts to tell the studio, look, give me six more months.
James Cameron did that with Titanic (definitely aided it in capturing 11 Oscars, due to eventual release date).
So did Andrew Adamson with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. As a result, critics all noticed an 'improvement' in the quality of the CG work on that film.
Now that's dedication to storytelling. THAT'S what I admire.
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Oil price soars as US woes mountThe price of oil has made a record jump to nearly $139 a barrel, amid reports it could reach $150 by July because of rising demand and political tension.
Crude in New York gained more than $10 - its biggest-ever one-day rise.
The spike in oil prices coincided with a dollar slump, plummeting share prices on Wall Street and US unemployment suffering its biggest rise in 20 years.
It also comes as energy officials from the world's biggest consuming nations meet in Japan to discuss fuel prices.
Officials and ministers from the Group of Eight key industrialised nations (G8), as well as China, India and South Korea, are meeting for two days in the northern city of Aomori, to plot a strategy to deal with volatility in oil, gas and coal markets.
On Friday light crude set a high of $139.12 in after-hours trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after hitting $138.54 at the regular session.
Crude oil hit a record high of $135 a barrel last month.
The BBC's North America Editor, Justin Webb, says the gloomy figures are a reminder to all Americans that the nation faces serious economic problems and perhaps even a recession.
Oil prices were given a boost on a report by Morgan Stanley analyst Ole Slorer, who suggested the price of oil could rocket to $150 as early as July.
Some analysts have suggested that prices would reach as high as $200 a barrel during the next 18 months.
The price of the benchmark light, sweet crude oil has already seen rapid gains over the past months and has gained more than 40% over the year.
It is more than twice the price it was a year ago.
The market was also responding to a statement by Israel's transport minister that an attack on Iran was "unavoidable" after sanctions to prevent Tehran from developing its nuclear capability had failed.
Investors hedging oil against the weak dollar has also pushed up the price of oil.
Fears that workers at Chevron Corporation in Nigeria may go on strike and subsequently disrupt production and access to oil are also adding to market jitters.
Oil prices had recorded losses earlier this weak after doubts about future demand took hold of the market.
Both the Indian and Malaysian governments have raised fuel prices in order to cut the subsidies they provide.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), an adviser to 27 industrialised countries, had said it could lower its 2008 demand growth projection further, after having already more than halved it to 1.03 million barrels per day.
But several analysts have proven bullish about future prospects.
Harry Tchilinguirian, oil analyst at BNP Paribas in London, said demand would be sustained by expanding Asian nations.
"World oil demand growth is still accounted mostly by China, the Middle East and Latin America - and through the summer, there is no reason to expect a material slowdown in demand growth in these areas," he said.
Correspondents say oil prices were also pushed up by Israeli threats to strike on Iran over its nuclear programme.
Despite widespread international concern over Iran's nuclear programme, Tehran insists it is developing its technology only for civilian purposes.
Israeli transport minister Shaul Mofaz told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities seemed inevitable.
"If Iran continues its nuclear weapons program, we will attack it," he told the daily.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/07 02:44:35 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
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OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
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But here I must make a stand. I think Pak Lah allowing for the drastic reduction of petrol subsidies is one of the best things he has done since becoming Prime Minister. Clearly it is not a popular move, and clearly it won't bring outwardly beneficial consequences to the rakyat. And so much so sudden. But analysts say that is wise - so that you only face the anger once, rather than staggered anger over a few months. Now, if the government can survive this volatile position it has brought itself into, it will have much more leeway and space in terms of using that surplus money generated from the new subsidy scheme.
What are the next decisions? To me that will be the imperative questions. It's what Pak Lah does next that becomes of immense importance.
For example. Partly why people are very angry about the sudden price hike is that there is much hidden information about how the oil money moves in and out of Petronas. Some people are clamouring for financial information about the national oil company. If Pak Lah goes transparent about it, whatever the information looks like (to his favour or not), that will be a big plus. The point is the decision, the action taken.
NOT WORDS. Pak Lah, listen here! NO MORE WORDS. No more "the government will do this or that". We want to hear "the government has done this or that". Past tenses. No more future tenses. Get it? We'd rather you do things quietly in the background than to say things loudly in the surface. For your own career's sake – which, oddly enough, is rather tied up with the country's too.
Whatever other decisions you make, announce it. If you run into problems with the new subsidy plan, announce it. If you know someone is taking advantage of the situation, declare it. Say this is where we are right now. Even if you don't have the answers. Say you don't have the answers then. Honesty is the most important value that will keep this government alive now.
Basically what we the people want to know is this. Now that you have billions of ringgit to play around with, what are you going to do to improve the state of the country? What do we want to improve? Why, read the newspapers, the blogs. People are sounding it out every day. And by the way, few people believe that you only get RM13.7 bil out of this. A higher global price for oil means that Petronas is raking it via exports too - that's basically what so many people are saying. We want to know what will be done with that.
In the meantime, I think having the UMNO huddle-up hush-hush tell-all and let's-be-honest-to-each-other meeting for two days now is really bad timing.
Meanwhile, the sincere intentions of certain Pakatan Rakyat figures might derail whatever little good intentions that trickle out of the BN government. I was saddened to hear that they are organising protests. It's just too simplistic. And what's this 100,000 people protest I'm hearing about? If that amount of people turn up for a protest, I will begin to lose faith in the Malaysia I thought I saw on March 8 and since.
Seriously, to the BN government: Show us some sign of intelligence and wisdom. You will get at least this individual's support. If not ... well, you know.
Excerpted from The Malaysian Insider:
Midway through yesterday’s press conference, just after Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had fleshed out the new subsidy regime for Malaysia, a journalist walked out of the room and uttered two words: political suicide.
His words are being repeated today in many places across the country.
This article ("Of Subsidies & Corruption") presents a very reasonable point-of-view. Again, government, listen.
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Shahrir Abdul Samad gets a reprieve. He no longer has to impose the unpopular and hard-to-sustain ban of fuel on foreign-registered vehicles. Lucky bastard. And the Singaporeans can still laugh at us – 'hey, we're STILL paying less for oil!'
On the other hand, the Second Finance Minister said something silly today. He said that "the new subsidy scheme will result in a more efficient economy for the country and enable it to produce a higher growth rate at a sustainable level". The "at a sustainable level" part was why he made the statement, but I think the rest of it is bull. That statement is probably only true if the words 'ceteris paribus' (or, all things being equal; or, everything else staying the same) are added to it. Unfortunately it can't. There is virtually no way you can move prices up so much, thus drastically changing perceptions about inflation and such, with just a rearranging of subsidies, and still come out unscathed - much less "with a higher growth rate". "More efficient economy" yes, and our petrol prices are still cheaper compared to many other countries, but the many other effects of the petrol price rise (increased crime, for example) will completely inundate this effect like a tsunami. Whatever FDI is gonna do, it's not going up.
It's strange to observe that I'm actually advocating moving towards more classical economics. I quite often think I'm more of a socialist. I guess I'm more of a muddle? Anyway.
Another silly thing. The minister also said that more people will utilise public transport now. If only it were true. Malaysians are too stubborn, I think, for that to happen. I could be wrong though.
The smartest thing anyone said all day. FOMCA adviser says, "If not adjusted, current income is definitely not enough for the average consumer. If people cannot cope, there might also be a rise in the crime rate." I hadn't considered this, but it makes sense. To me this is the scariest consequence of the price rise. A lot of poor people will turn to crime, however reluctantly. This, in a society that carries a 'tidak apa' attitude, which means space for people to start slipping into reasoning to why it's okay to commit a crime. Conditions are very much conducive. Basically, they're other option is to starve. Meanwhile, we'll still continue to see population pressure coz immigrants still like to come to Malaysia. Means less in the pie for any one person. And don't we have lots and lots of unemployed people? (Like fresh graduates.) We're going to be more dependent on policemen now, and hope that they step up to it.
More importantly, if the government has any welfare plans for low-income people pushed into bankruptcy, they should start doing a better job of publicising it. Coz I don't know of any.
A friend said that it was utterly moronic, the way Malaysians came out in droves to jam up the roads to pump petrol to save RM40. They could have done better sitting at home thinking of how to earn that amount in the three hours they spent queue-ing - and who knows how much they burned away waiting 100m, 50m, 10m and so on from the petrol stations. Just look at this statement: "... the increase of 78 sen is too drastic so I felt I had to immediately pump petrol even if it meant going through a traffic jam." (This and the following excerpted from The Star today.) In other words, people paid on average RM40 to clean up their psychological jitters. They could've done the same with less playing a video game on PS3.
Another friend of mine said the government just lost us something like RM100 mil by the announcement of the oil price rise occuring at midnight today. You see, some people are saying it's unfair that the government reduced the subsidies so drastically and announced it so suddenly. At first I thought so too, but my friend said that the government should've just raised it IMMEDIATELY and announce it SUDDENLY WITHOUT WARNING, so all petrol stations will reflect the prices INSTANTLY. There would be chaos, but then it would be too late for most people to take to the streets to clog up the roads to pump petrol. At the same time, the government can reap maximum revenues from a sudden oil price rise announcement, monies which the government can afford to have added to its coffers.
Same friend says it's time to invest in or start up a bicycle selling company.
Best attitude from a Malaysian public individual. "Beggars cannot be choosers."
"The price increase is too drastic that I will have to change my lifestyle now." The government must be happy that someone is actually echoing their words.
"The government has not taken into consideration the fact that not everyone will be able to afford petrol in the future." I have news for you – OF COURSE THE GOVERNMENT HAS. (A) That's why they raise the prices now, would've been worse the more we wait to wean people off subsidies. (B) That's why the general election is so much earlier.
Speaking of which, for whatever reason I quite fully support the changes on the subsidy scheme announced by the government. One of the things that worries me most about the Pakatan Rakyat is how they keep saying they will reduce living costs for people – the only way I can see them achieving it, in the current state of the global economy of impending scarcity, is by exposing lots and lots and lots of corruption cash that can be forcibly dragged back from wherever they've gone (bank accounts in Switzerland, maybe? ... perhaps that's uncalled for ...) and somehow squeeze as much pennies from corporations making big bucks from the current crises as is possible. The last thing we need now is a party announcing populist moves and then proceeding to implement to the destruction and total bankruptcy of the country.
Not that that will definitely happen, but that's just how it feels like to me right now.
The thing about playing this economics game of daisy-chaining is that it can go on forever. But let's do a few. Indirect effects of price oil rise. Cars will have to be sold cheaper, or less people will buy them. In practice, it will be a combination of the the two.
Now, many fresh graduates and civil servants take home about RM2000 monthly. Let's take teachers, who for much of their career take home around that amount. Now, if paying for installments and the petrol price rise takes up two-thirds of their income, how can they survive? Will they drop out of teaching? (Certainly it doesn't encourage takers.) Well, they can't, they're locked in now since that's their training, plus, what other jobs can they take that will pay higher? (Such is the big picture look at the problem of inflation. Inflation can also be seen as this: what you used to be able to buy with a ringgit before, you can buy less of it now.)
Teachers get more stressed out and their teaching suffers. Malaysia emerges with even stupider students than it has now. This further affects human capital which decreases future productivity of the country.
MAS CEO was saying that present oil price at over USD135 was unrealistic and driven up by unreal speculation. I thought that was bull until my dad mentioned that he read an article that said hot money was involved in speculation of oil. Apparently OPEC said that supply and demand conditions remain in equilibrium. Now, hot money was what brought down Southeast Asia and Korea and Russia a decade ago. Basically it's fast moving money in great volumes, that's why it's lethal and instantaneous. (Yes, imagine a tsunami.) Dad says that speculators need something to speculate with – and now it's Target: Oil. The thing about the falling dollar might have something to do with it; if oil had been denominated in euros (which is slowly becoming the dominant currency) this crisis might not have happened.
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