I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

Premakes: Episode 2


by Jake Goldman
Aug. 30, 2013

For me, the term "mashup" is pejorative. I mean, the medium has provided some pretty stunning gems, from the masterfully done stoner's dream of Jaydiohead to the hilarious and thoughtful YouTube sensation, "Auto-Tune the News", but the ease with which one can create a mash-up has led to some pretty obnoxious stuff too. Glee and Collision Course (the 2004 Jay-Z and Linkin Park produced mash-up album), I'm looking at you. For example, Greg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) has become a folk hero of sorts, proving that even a nerdy white dude studying biomedical engineering can make an entire room electric with some swift strokes of a laptop, but I still don't think that entitles any wannabe with a little bit of computer knowhow and a penchant for danceable jams, to smash two songs together and call it music.

If you ask me, the key to a good mash-up or mix-up or cut-up or bastard pop is having an affirmative answer to the following question: am I improving upon the previous form in some way while still honoring the original creation? If the answer is no, odds are the end result will come out as a muddled collage of half-baked ideas. If the answer is yes, however, you may have in your hands, the ability to create something that will leave jaws on floors.

Clearly, when Ivan Guerrero set out to create Premakes, he knew the answer to that question.  Premakes is a series in which Guerrero recreates movie trailers such as Ghostbusters, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Forrest Gump by "mashing together" clips from Hollywood's golden age while still keeping the original--if a bit loose--narrative of the original film. In Episode two, Guerrero delves into three vastly different movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Avengers and Pixar's Up.  In Raiders, clips from The 10 Commandments, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Young Indiana Jones Chornicles and much much more are used to recreate an almost shot-for-shot premake of the 1981 classic.  

The Avengers shows us scenes from Fireball XL5, It Came From Outer Space and The Amazing Colossal Man amongst other classics. At the end, Guerrero gives us a breakdown by replaying his creation next to still images of the actual Avengers comic book, as if he's reminding us how much he truly respects and adores classic cinema, as well as the original creation he is riffing on. In his Premake of Up, Guerrero gets silly, casting Spencer Tracy as the curmudgeonly Carl Fredricksen and shows clips from The Wizard of Oz, The Island at the Top of the World and Johnny Quest. The result is hilarious... hilarious bordering on creepy.  

The amazing thing is that it doesn't seem like Guerrero is mocking anything. You could call it parody, but if so, it's the most respectful, even reverent parody I've ever seen. Instead of cynically calling out contemporary film for being too over-the-top and predictable or poking fun at the cinematic days of yore for being too saccharine, he creates something that simply reminds us how much fun film can be. These Premakes made me want to get up immediately, throw on a tailored suit, grab my girl and trot down to the cinema just in time for the newsreels. But, it also made me want to dust of my VHS copies of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom and hole up with salty snacks until Harrison Ford's image was burned into my brain.

Whatever his intent, Guerrero has created an incredibly hopeful series. I haven't gone to many movies lately because I've been tired of what's been available: hackneyed comedies like Just Go With It, overly emotional slugfests like Black Swan (sorry, ladies), explosion-heavy blowouts like The Mechanic... Where's the adventure? Where are the wide-eyed explorers? Where have all our square-jawed heroes of yesteryear gone?  Where are the drawn-out, expertly choreographed fight scenes?  Guerrero seems to be reminding us that it's all still there. We just may have to dig a little deeper. In the millions of video-rental places out there you can still find the classics that inspired Speilberg, Pixar, and Marvel. And someday, if those stores still exist, you may find Ivan Guerrero there as well.

 

Jake Goldman is a writer and a teacher. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.  Occasionally he writes songs.  If you are so inclined, check out Internetdogfist.com for words and Otsego.Bandcamp.com for music.