Harlan Ellison - Pay the Writer

Dreams with Sharp Teeth is a documentary about the brilliantly bombastic SF writer, Harlan Ellison.

The film was released last year but I have only now stumbled across this superb rant, taken from the film, in which Ellison discusses in his own inimitable style the issue of writers renumeration.

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Evelien Lohbeck

Dutch animator Evelien Lohbeck graduated at the Academy of Arts, St. Joost in the Netherlands (Breda) in 2008. Her passion is telling a story with animation and visualizing ideas while surprising viewers at the same time.

Her short film Notebook achieves this aim spectacularly

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Dustin Hoffman: More science, better fiction

According to Planet Origo, Dustin Hoffman is so concerned about improving the science in science-fiction films that he has joined the Science and Entertainment Exchange (SEE), an initiative of the National Academy of Sciences in USA. The group aims to provide the entertainment industry with access to scientists and engineers to help bring the reality of cutting-edge science to creative and engaging storylines.

A source said Dustin thinks you can make entertaining movies which also get a message across without slowing down the action. He enjoys comic book blockbusters but if they go over the top and dont care about getting it right, why should the audience care?. The SEE will be a dating service which links film directors with scientific advisers who can ensure that their scripts are grounded in reality. Jennifer Ouellette, SEEs director, said she did not expect to turn popcorn movies into school lessons, but that the group would be able to help directors make movies better. Truth is more extraordinary than fiction and we can spring surprises on directors that would make their heads spin and yet its science fact, she said.

While I doubt that the group will have much of an impact on most of the blockbuster output, it may well lead to some films being better grounded in real science. And that would be a huge bonus for all of us.

JG Ballard dies aged 78

Award winning author, JG Ballard - several of whose novels have been turned into films - has died aged 78 after a long illness.

His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill for several years and had died on Sunday morning.

Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Ballard said his books were instead picturing the psychology of the future.

His most acclaimed novel was Empire of the Sun, based on his childhood in a Japanese prison camp in China.

It shouldnt be a surprise, but its still a shame to see the end of another of Britains great writers.

David Cronenberg to receive Legion dhonneur

If there was ever any doubt about the artistic potential of genre cinema, you just have to look at the career of David Cronenberg, a director who has spent the last 30 years finding new and often unsettling ways to explore the mutability of humanity. From his earlier, more visceral films to his more recent work similar themes and obsessions are explored and reworked in a manner that is both thought-provoking and intelligent.

Its appropriate, therefore, that the French will be presenting (via) the director with the Legion dhonneur, the countrys highest distinction.

The award is meant to recognize Cronenbergs accomplishments and the services he rendered to French culture and to enhance the cultural relationship between France and Canada. Cronenbergs films have played well in France, where he has won numerous awards that include the 1996 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize for Crash.

The ceremony will take place on 1st April in Toronto with Francois Delattre, Frances ambassador to Canada, standing in for Nicolas Sarkozy.

Legendary Vampirella artist, Jose Gonzalez has died

Legendary Vampirella artist Jose Pepe Gonzalez has died after falling into a coma. He was 70 years old.

The Spanish comic book artist embarked on his career at the age of 17 working on the Rosas Blancas and Brigitte titles for Editorial Toray. He joined the agency Selecciones Illustrada in 1960 and drew romance comics for Fleetway as well as pin-ups for the international market.

In 1971, Warren Publishing, the publisher of Vampirella started using artists from Selecciones Illustrada and, according to The Warren Companion, when Jim Warren saw Gonzalez art: I knew we had it! We survived 12 issues but there it was. This is what I wanted for the first issue but couldnt put together.

Gonzalez received immediate acclaim for his work on Vampirella and drew the character continuously from issue 12 to 34, winning two Warren awards along the way. Between 1971 and 1983, Gonzalez drew 58 stories for Warren Publishing, putting him in the top 10 most prolific artists at the company. He drew 53 total strips of Vampirella, making him that titles most prolific artist.

According to a statement from Harris Comics, the current owners of Vampirella:

Gonzalez created horror classics that have stood the test of time as some of the finest examples of the comics medium. His work was thrilling, sensuous and beautiful. He brought the character to life, elevated her to an icon and, most deservedly, won over a legion of fans who have never forgotten him. To this day, many would say his was the definitive rendition of the character.

No-one drew Vampirella like Gonzalez.

Bill Hicks: The redacted routine

15 years ago, David Letterman and his then producer, Robert Morton, chose to delete from The Late Show a stand-up routine from comedian Bill Hicks. Hicks had been scheduled for his 12th appearance on the show on October 1st 1993, which was recorded in front of an audience at at CBS Ed Sullivan Theatre. However, when the show was aired, the entire performance had been removed.

At the end of January this year, Letterman not only apologised to Hicks mother for having stopped the segment but also played it in full.

Late is better than never and credit is due to Letterman for being willing to admit to having made a professional mistake. What is also very striking about Hicks performance is how little it has dated.

Thanks to @dbspin for the heads up

The Man Without an Head – award winning short film online

This is gorgeous, and much gratitude to Quiet Earth for pointing me in the direction of Juan Diego Solanas short film The Man Without a Head, which is about Phelps, a solitary man who lives in a big industrial city by the sea. Tonight, Phelps is preparing for a ball, to which the young woman he loves has agreed to come. There is only one problem – Phelps doesnt have a head, so he sets out to buy one.

The film is available in full online and looks utterly stunning and you can see for yourself here:

Solanas is currently working on his first feature, the potentially mind-bending Upside Down which is about two worlds - one above, one below, facing each other, only an arms-length away yet unreachable.

Adam is a seemingly ordinary guy in a very extraordinary universe. He lives humbly trying to make ends meet, but his romantic spirit holds on to the memory of a girl he met once upon a time from another world, an inverted affluent world with its own gravity, directly above but beyond reach… a girl named Eve. Their childhood flirtation becomes an impossible love. But when he catches a glimpse of grown‐up Eve on television, nothing will get in the way of getting her back… Not even the law or science!

2009 is shaping up into a very good year for SF.

The 5 Rules of Seagal

There are five rules to a great Stevan Seagal film. Check them out below:

Found at Twitch

Bill Plympton talks Idiots and Angels

Bill Plympton is one of the most original animators working today. His 2008 film, Idiots and Angels is a dark comedy about a morally bankrupt man scrabbling to hide the good in himself - which manifests itself in a pair of angel wings that just won’t go away.

And in this short film, shot while he was promoting the film in Bordeaux, Plympton talks about Idiots and Angels.