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JJ Abrams Likes A Good Mystery March 10, 2007

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Abrams , trackback

What’s up with this picture of Star Trek XI director JJ Abrams and a box? It is a mystery. That was one of the subjects of Abrams talk at this weekend’s TED (Technology Entertainment Design) Conference. Abrams discussed how technology was ‘democratizing entertainment.’ and also about how important mystery is to him, via Boing Boing:

He also showed us a box from Lou Tannen’s Magic Store in New York that he bought many years ago. It has a big question mark printed on it. It’s a mystery box that contains "$50 worth of magic for $15." He has never opened the box and he says he never will."What I love this box is that I find myself drawn to infinite possibility — mystery is the catalyst for imagination. In my work, mystery boxes are everywhere."

Another blog has more on Abrams talk, and how this approach to mystery applies to film:

Mystery, he tells us, can be more important than knowledge. The intentional withholding of information is what makes some of the most exciting aspects of cinema – we rarely see the shark in Jaws, the alien in Alien. Had the shark robot worked in Jaws, the film wouldn’t have been as compelling. We watch a long, non-action clip from Jaws as a reminder that these films aren’t about action, but about divorce, belonging, finding your way in a new town.

The movie theatre itself is a mystery box. “Sometimes the moments the lights go down is the best part.”

Anyone who watches Lost can see how much Abrams like a good mystery. In the past Abrams has talked about how some of his favorite Trek episodes are those that have mystery and an element of scariness to them. It is a good bet that in Trek XI we will see this penchant for mystery, and also not having everything spelled out for the audience. Also this view goes some way to explain the Abrams cone of silence around the film, especially discussing the plot. 

 

MORE: Video of The JJ Abrams Mystery Box 

SFChron Podcast Interview with Abrams on Technology and Entertainment 

Comments

1. Jim J - March 10, 2007

A man clouded in mystery. Perhaps that is why some of us are afraid of what he might do with Trek? It’s not predictable like Berman Trek or even Roddenberry Trek, yet. Oh, and am I FIRST?

2. Michael Appleton - March 10, 2007

Let’s hope that his MYSTERY doesn’t lead to our MISERY! Pushing aside my cynical attitude, I am cautiously optimistic.

3. Driver - March 10, 2007

Where’s that damn script? I want to get my grubby little hands on it!

4. Josh T. (The flaming tits of the one true Ubershatner) Kirk Esquire' - March 11, 2007

What in tarnation is this all about??

Boxes with question marks on them, mysteries?

We need Leonard Nimoy to host a segment of “In Search Of” featuring SOMETHING about Trek XI.

At this point, finding out Skip “Bunky” McGirdle is playing random corridor extra #17 would be News!

Trek on Shatner, Trek on.

5. DEMODE - March 11, 2007

God, I don’t want to see the script at all. I want to be surprised for a change, and hopefully in a good way.

6. Josh T. (The flaming tits of the one true Ubershatner) Kirk Esquire' - March 11, 2007

I think personally if you want to know the Gods honest truth, people on these forums have been preoccupied and fixated on all the wrong concerns and questions,

the question isn’t whether Trek Xi will suck, not suck, be a Prequel, Sequel, reboot, feture Matt Damon, Gary Sinise, Etc,

The only relevant question here is whether Shatner will have his ass reduced in size with CGI like in Trek VI, that’s all that truly matters.

7. Cygnus-X1 - March 11, 2007

Yup.

And, Abrams just rose in my esteem by a point or two, after reading that article.

“Mystery with some scariness to it” – definitely good ingredients for the making of a good Trek film.

Here’s another good ingredient: maturity. I first watched TWOK when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and, though it scared me a good bit, I loved the film. And, it only got better as I got older.

Kids can appreciate mature films much more than adults can appreciate immature films. If the themes are archetypal, kids will pick up on some level.

8. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Now click your heels together three times and repeat after me, “there’s no place like Trek, there’s no place like Trek, there’s no place like Trek…..I know, they say wishing doesn’t make it so, but I have the opposite opinion, namely wishing does…MAKE IT SO!! (sound familiar?)

9. Josh T. (The flaming tits of the one true Ubershatner) Kirk Esquire' - March 11, 2007

Maybe Pinhead will be the primary villian in this film so Kirk can feel how delightful the pleasures of flesh are with Abrams little magic box.

10. Jeffrey S. Nelson - March 11, 2007

Maybe J.J. Abrams can solve the mystery of Spanky McFibberich.

11. Trevok - March 11, 2007

I like what he has to say. It was so true about Jaws, if they come up with a scene like the one where the head poped out of the sunken boat, and popcorn went flying I’d love to see that.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if instead of a shoot-up flick they come up with a story that makes you think? Proberly to late now but if they do another Trek movie they should talk to the likes of Harlen Ellison.
LLAP

12. Stanky McFibberich - March 11, 2007

10. Jeffrey S. Nelson

That’s ‘Stanky’ not ‘Spanky’, thank you very little…

And the real mystery is why anyone would want to see Kirk and Spock played by anyone but Shatner and Nimoy…

And how Star Trek: Remastered “Wolf in the Fold” could be pre-empted by NASCAR…

13. DaveM - March 11, 2007

The script is probably inside the box with the question mark. :)

14. yo - March 11, 2007

(OT)

JJ news (NOT Trek related):

JJ participated in this San Francisco Chronicle podcast from the
TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) Conference in Monterey.

Sorry, there is NO Trek movie news in this podcast. It is a discussion
about the future of TV vs. user-generated content & social networks etc.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=5&entry_id=14304

(Note: Also participating in this podcast is another J. Abrams
who is the founder of Friendster. So you’ve got two Abrams in
one podcast — Don’t be confused.)

15. yo - March 11, 2007

OOPS

*blush*

Sorry, didn’t notice the article’s link to the podcast.

Must … read … article … before … posting.
Must … read … article … before … posting.
Must … read … article … before … posting.
Must … read … article … before … posting.
Must … read … article … before … posting.
Must … read … article … before … posting.

16. Garth of Izor - March 11, 2007

JJ Gorshin

17. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Riddle me this, come Christmas Day, 2008, if we, the fans, aren’t happy, is there anywhere on Earth JJ Abrams can hide from us?

18. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Oh, I forgot the trademark giggle, “tee,heee,tee,heeeee…..” (mad grin)

19. mooseday - March 11, 2007

I find the funniest JJ link at the moment is on Rotten Tomatoes – Star Trek XI to be directed by the screenwriter of “Gone Fishin’ ” – ( a movie which I watched, and then after which I decided to chew my own foot off as it was less painful than watching it again )

20. oy - March 11, 2007

Memo to JJ:

When the curtain rises on your Star Trek movie —
or perhaps as the curtain falls — maybe these words
should appear on the theater screen:

“THERE WAS A TIME WHEN PEOPLE DID BOLD THINGS TO
OPEN NEW FRONTIERS. … NOW WE ARE AT A TIME WHEN
BOLDNESS IS REQUIRED AGAIN.” — Bill Stone

Those words were spoken Saturday at the TED conference by Bill Stone,
an explorer committed to going boldly where no man has gone before.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruno-giussani/ted2007day-4-bill-stone_b_43116.html

21. Jeffrey S. Nelson - March 11, 2007

#12 Stanky McFibberich.

Hi, Stanky… my bad on your name…dohhhh! You can see where my mind goes. Had to go visit the local nudie bar after watching “Wolf in the Fold.”
Yeah, this casting thing is going to be tricky. Just can’t see Matt Damon pulling off Kirk. Why not use Shatner and Nimoy and just CGI out the wrinkles? Or shout ‘em out.
CGI Enterprise obiting angles always seem to be closer up of the ship than the originals. Consistently darker and less realistic than the original model.

22. Stanky McFibberich - March 11, 2007

I just watched “The Cage” and its awesome gooseneck viewers. Maybe the new movie will solve the mystery of why they disappeared, and why they painted the bridge railing red (which was a great decision).

Ohhh, that’s right, it was because of color TV.

Well, if the movie is in color, they ought to have both gooseneck viewers AND a red bridge railing for the fake Kirk to enjoy.

If the new movie is in black and white, of course, they can make the bridge railing whatever color they want….but the fake Kirk (James F. Kirk) will still look fake as he gazes into those gooseneck viewers to see all the other fake stuff. And won’t that be mysterious!?!

23. Driver - March 11, 2007

Almost certainly, with all the action the new film is supposed to have. The Enterprise will surely take heavy battle damage. I do like to see what happens to Enterprise with each new film. Something different each time. Also, I would like to start calling it a film instead of a movie. Films aspire to greater heights.

24. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Film, as in what appears on the top of warm milk after it cools, right?

25. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Or, is it more like on the late night news when a DISASTER has occurred, as in, “film at eleven”. In this case December 25, 2008!

26. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Maybe even that yucky taste in your mouth when you say, “I think I have a film on my teeth!” Now what would cause that?

27. Driver - March 11, 2007

I have never, nor would I ever have reason to say such a thing, sir.

28. Michael Appleton - March 11, 2007

Well said!

29. diabolik - March 12, 2007

I think “somebody” has a gooseneck viewer fetish. ;)

On the subject of mystery, as in his box, the actual contents are usually much less interesting than what we have imagined. Like what Spock said to Stonn, “You may find that having a thing is less satisfying than wanting it.”

Let’s hope the actual film is not like this.

30. Malfunctioning norman - March 12, 2007

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31. Malfunctioning norman - March 12, 2007

Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me Kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me kirk did it to me

32. Michael Appleton - March 12, 2007

That’s the worst stutter I’ve ever seen!

33. Stanky McFibberich - March 12, 2007

re: 29. diabolik – March 12, 2007
“I think “somebody” has a gooseneck viewer fetish.”

Not really…I just kind of missed all the gooseneck comments from a couple weeks ago…they kind of grow on you after awhile.

34. Driver - March 12, 2007

Sulu’s mechanized viewer was cool too.

35. diabolik - March 12, 2007

Somebody needs to put malfuncting Norman on the junk pile for parts recycling!

And I too think that they could throw in a gooseneck viewer somewhere without hurting themselves…

36. 1,000 Monkeys Typing... - April 17, 2007

As long as they bring back Finnegan I don’t care what’s in the box… unless it’s Finnegan. If he’s in the box then I might be interested in the box but if it is not Finnegan then I resume my previously stated disinterest in the box.

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