Dated January 22, 1939, McSweeney’s has published a hilarious tenure rejection letter addressed to Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr.
Here’s my favorite passage:
The committee was particularly generous (and vociferous) in offering their opinions regarding this criterion. Permit me to list just a few of the more troubling accounts I was privy to during the committee’s meeting. Far more times than I would care to mention, the name “Indiana Jones” (the adopted title Dr. Jones insists on being called) has appeared in governmental reports linking him to the Nazi Party, black-market antiquities dealers, underground cults, human sacrifice, Indian child slave labor, and the Chinese mafia. There are a plethora of international criminal charges against Dr. Jones, which include but are not limited to: bringing unregistered weapons into and out of the country; property damage; desecration of national and historical landmarks; impersonating officials; arson; grand theft (automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft, and watercraft in just a one week span last year); excavating without a permit; countless antiquities violations; public endangerment; voluntary and involuntary manslaughter; and, allegedly, murder.
Dr. Jones’s interpersonal skills and relationships are no better. By Dr. Jones’s own admission, he has repeatedly employed an underage Asian boy as a driver and “personal assistant” during his Far East travels. I will refrain from making any insinuations as to the nature of this relationship, but my intuition insists that it is not a healthy one, nor one to be encouraged. Though the committee may have overstepped the boundaries of its evaluation, I find it pertinent to note that Dr. Jones has been romantically linked to countless women of questionable character, an attribute very unbecoming of a Marshall College professor. One of these women was identified as a notorious nightclub singer whose heart he attempted to extract with his hands, and whom he then tried, and failed, to lower into a lake of magma. Another was a Nazi scholar he was seen courting just last year who, I’m told, plummeted into a fathomless abyss at Dr. Jones’s hand. And, of course, no one can forget the slow decline and eventual death of Professor Abner Ravenwood after Dr. Jones’s affair with Abner’s underage daughter was made public, forcing her to emigrate to Nepal to escape the debacle.
Read the full letter over at McSweeney’s
Instead of hedging his bet with a dynamic narrative, the director promised no pyrotechnic plot twists. “People would ask, ‘So what happens?’ ” Mr. Linklater said. “And I’d have to say, ‘Not much.’ ”
Mr. Hawke said that Mr. Linklater never minimized the risks at business meetings: “A financier would say, ‘That’s fascinating, but what’s going to make this movie great?’ Rick would say: ‘Oh, it might not be. We’ll have to see.’ ”
Most coming-of-age films are replete with sex and crises like deaths, overdoses and crimes, but in “Boyhood,” Mr. Hawke said, “the event is the nonevent.” The boy just grows up.
The majority of contemporary films are marketed with gimmicks, and Boyhood is no different; but Linklater’s calm audacity is one of the most refreshing concepts I’ve ever come across.
Few films come to mind take the concept of video game competitions seriously. There really isn’t any reason they should either. The public’s appetite for a “battle between Man and Machine” appears to have been filled when Kasparov lost to IBM’s Deep Blue.
Since then, most films on the subject of people competing with computers have been played for laughs. Which seems to avoid all the obvious layers of consciousness, in favor of admittedly more pleasing narratives: nerds with a desire to compete.
The key example for this would be the world of King of Kong [trailer]. Looking at the film now, one can see a great deal of Danny McBride-esque takes on how preposterously serious some of the competitors approach the game of Donkey Kong1.
King of Kong takes great care to create characters, or more specifically caricatures of it’s subjects in order create a comedic film.The film has the distinct feel of fasciation, empathy and mockery of it’s subjects.
The 1989 The Wizard, starring Fred Savage takes video game competitions seriously, or as seriously as a film for a pre-teen consumer audience can2. In the film the future Wonder Years star plays a an emotionally withdrawn youth who has travels to California in order to compete in a Nintendo competition.
So, it is this void The Ecstasy of Order fills. The documentary is well stocked with a cadre of odd ducks we’ve come to expect in these sorts of films. They come in varied shapes; thin, over-weight and wire-y. They speak with a manic energy reserved for super-fans of a given topic. These particular nerds are obsessed with Tetris.
You get the impression from the trailer their eccentricities are to be interpreted as a “drive to compete” and push a flavor of Rocky-esque narrative these types of films employ to fulfill a three act structure. Which might work, I haven’t seen the movie.
What interests me about The Ecstasy of Order is its drive into fandom and excitement. The people in the film appear to have long since exhausted their ability to explain why the love something, and having found a community of like-minded fans of the game, have taken steps to compete for status within their micro-community.
On the topic of the Russian phenomenon that was Tetris, there’s a well-regarded hour-long documentary produced by the BBC titled From Russia With Love, which can be viewed in it’s entirety on YouTube.
Or down below.
Namely, the universally acknowledged douche bag Billy Mitchell, who is likely one of the most reviled villians in a documentary film in recent memory. ↩