nom: art direction

Master and Commander (2003). During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America.

A good seafaring film about a man on a mission is a dime a dozen, but what elevates this film beyond it is the time and gravitas it devotes to building the relationship between Russell Crowe’s Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany’s Doctor Stephen Maturin. It’s wonderfully told, and it gives an epic film a beating heart. 7/10.

A Star is Born (1954). A film star helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career on a downward spiral.

Judy Garland is totally transcendent as a young woman who becomes an overnight sensation following her connection to a failing film star. The film is gracious, compelling, and beautifully-made. It bounds off the screen in a way that belies it’s length and, well, pretty melodramatic plot. It’s terrific, and it’s heartbreaking. 8/10.

It is very hard

to get non-Caucasian skin out of artists sometimes.

I think I have whined about this before. Like, Ananda. My plan for Nob3 Ananda was “if the artist can hack symbology, then, like Nob2, symbology. Otherwise, basically Akio from Utena.”

This did not occur.

The first artist to try to do anything with him took “looks vaguely Indian” to mean “I want a floating head with a giant warty nose and a giant turban.”

Next to a bridge.

I didn’t even know that was an Indian stereotype. I’m still not sure. I don’t want to know.

Then while I was paying attention to other things CQ gave me an Ananda piece that wasn’t even assigned to her, and with a whitish Ananda, and with the chaos that Nob3 art was, it got in.

These little things keep happening.

I don’t precisely blame the individual artists. (Well, OK, that Indian thing was pretty bad, but I’ve clipped that artist and most of that entire experience out of my reality anyway.) It’s clear that when I say “OK, this guy is the school idol, right? Super-cool, super-popular, can’t keep track of his fan club ‘cause knowing all their name’s just too much bother” artists have an image in mind long before I get to “dark skin (here’s what that usually looks like in anime style), black hair, …" 

And I know very well—

Seriously, I spent an hour today trying to find somewhere my muse would let me insert a character’s name and being blocked by 'no, I already know how this paragraph looks’ 'no, that transition is already spoken for.’ 'you really want to give up that great section-closing line to say by the way this person is named Mr. Gulley?’—

I know very well that making changes, once the image appears in your head, is HARD.

But seriously! It shouldn’t be THIS HARD.

Today I had to advise an artist that their absolutely beautiful picture had a small problem which is that Shounen was looking awfully Caucasian.

Augh.

In the future, I think I need to overrepresent all minorities to balance out whitewashing and … majoritoshing? … that comes in along the way. That’ll be interesting, particularly since I’m not even sure I've  gotten all the way up from "vague progressive sentiment” to “product I won’t be ashamed of in 30 years” yet. ^_^

P.S. “Shounen” is Soun Shounen, the school idol in Chuubo’s, who is not supposed to be Caucasian. “Mr. Gulley” is completely unrelated.

P.P.S. Ironically, it took me longer to type up this rant than for the artist to fix this.

Gaslight (1943). Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.

One of the best finds in doing this project has been discovering Charles Boyer. He’s charming and creepy, kind and malicious - his range as an actor is genuinely a pleasure to encounter and an honest rarity. He’s so foreboding in this, but keeps his edge of charm which really props Ingrid Bergman’s equally wonderful performance as a woman losing her grip. It’s a terrific film. 8.5/10.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983). After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader shake off of the dark side of the Force.

This is a great close to the original trilogy, tying up many of the story’s loose ends and giving us some of the more compelling character arcs, particularly as Luke transitions from wide eyed (and a little annoying) to something driven for very different reasons. It also is the film that gives us ewoks, which are kind of delightful, and casts a new light on the Luke - Leia dynamic given they’re, y'know, revealed to be siblings and all. All in all, pretty terrific. 8.5/10.