Late Night Evening Reads: Chimp with a rock and Disappointment at the Movies…

Vintage artwork from the story of Cinderella…

Good Evening!

Yes, Friday is finally here…and unfortunately so am I. Today was the opening of Dark Shadows, and as you are well aware, I have been anxiously waiting for this day to come. I had planned to get myself out of Banjoville and head down to Atlanta to see the film on a big IMAX screen.

But little did I know that the reviews would be so damn bad, and from critics who I trust.

Here are a few links to reviews via Rotten Tomatoes, but I can sum it up like this…As critic, Jay Sherman, so aptly put into words… Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s new movie Dark Shadows?

It Stinks!

Roger Ebert:

It offers wonderful things, but they aren’t what’s important. It’s as if Burton directed at arm’s length, unwilling to find juice in the story.” — Chicago Sun-Times

Posted May 10, 2012

Manohla Dargis:

“Dark Shadows” isn’t among Mr. Burton’s most richly realized works, but it’s very enjoyable, visually sumptuous and, despite its lugubrious source material and a sporadic tremor of violence, surprisingly effervescent.” — New York Times

Posted May 10, 2012

Leonard Maltin:

‘Dark Shadows’ is an amusing piece of high camp, stoked by Depp’s deadpan star performance and the kind of elaborate trappings one would expect from Burton.” — Leonard Maltin’s Picks

Posted May 11, 2012
Steven Cole:
Dark Shadows’ only meaningful relationship is between Depp and his audience. He’s a persona now, no longer an actor.” — Globe and Mail

Posted May 11, 2012
Tom Long:
Eric D. Snider: (Just a Side note, I trust Snider…big time.)
Keith Turan:
Two from NPR…First, Bob Mondello:
And then David Edelstein:
Peter Travers:
And finally…Richard Roeper:
Oh…the horrors! It looks like the only good parts were clipped in the previews!
Most of the reviews I have read speak highly of the sets and costumes, and also give good reviews of Eva Green’s performance, but with reviews like that, how could I justify driving down three hours to Atlanta and spend so much money on tickets and gas? So, I decided to see it tomorrow here in Banjoland…at the matinee, so I will let you know exactly what I thought about it on Sunday morning…or if it really sucks and therefore truly pisses me off, I will write about it Saturday night.
Just one more link for you tonight…a few days ago I wrote about a couple orangutans using iPads. So, I want to follow that up with a story about a chimpanzee who has given some animal behavioral scientist something to write papers about. Check it out: Stone-Throwing Chimp Thinks Ahead | Wired Science |
Three years ago, a stone-throwing chimpanzee named Santino jolted the research community by providing some of the strongest evidence yet that nonhumans could plan ahead. Santino, a resident of the Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden, calmly gathered stones in the mornings and put them into neat piles, apparently saving them to hurl at visitors when the zoo opened as part of angry and aggressive “dominance displays.”
But some researchers were skeptical that Santino really was planning for a future emotional outburst. Perhaps he was just repeating previously learned responses to the zoo visitors, via a cognitively simpler process called associative learning. And it is normal behavior for dominant male chimps to throw things at visitors, such as sticks, branches, rocks, and even feces. Now Santino is back in the scientific literature, the subject of new claims that he has begun to conceal the stones so he can get a closer aim at his targets—further evidence that he is thinking ahead like humans do.
Yup, Santino is a chimp after my own heart. I think I may take a lesson from him and bring some rocks when I go to see Dark Shadows tomorrow…
primatologist Mathias Osvath of Lund University in Sweden—author of the earlier Santino paper—teams up with Lund University primatologist Elin Karvonen to report new observations of Santino’s behavior during 2010. Santino’s first attempts to throw stones during 2010 came during the May preseason. As a zoo guide led visitors toward Santino’s island compound, the chimpanzee began to engage in a typical dominance display: screeching, standing on two feet, and carrying a stone in his hand. The guide and the visitors retreated before Santino began hurling the stones, and then advanced again for a total of three approaches. When the people returned about 3 hours later, Santino advanced toward them, holding two stones, but he did not act aggressively, even picking up an apple from the water surrounding the island and nonchalantly munching on it. But when Santino got within close range, he suddenly threw one of the stones. (It didn’t hit anyone.)The next day, Santino again threatened visitors with stones, but the group again backed away to avoid being hit. Santino was then observed pulling a heap of hay from inside his enclosure and placing it on the island close to where the visitors approached. He put several stones under the hay and waited until the group returned about an hour later. Then, without performing a dominance display, Santino pulled a stone from under the hay and threw it. Later, he pulled a stone that he had apparently hidden behind a log and tried to hit the visitors with that, as well.Over the course of the summer, Osvath and Karvonen observed repeated episodes of this behavior, and also recovered stones that Santino had hidden under hay or logs, racking up 114 days of observation. They recovered a total of 35 projectiles that Santino had apparently concealed: 15 under hay heaps, 18 behind logs, and two behind a rock structure on the island. The researchers conclude that Santino deliberately engaged in deceptive concealment of the stones, and that this was a new, innovative behavior on his part: Before 2010, Santino had never put stones under hay piles or behind logs.This innovation, the team argues, is further evidence that Santino plans ahead for how he will react to the visitors’ approach to his compound, and that this is inconsistent with interpretations that he cached the stones for some other reason and then just happened to have them at hand when he got mad. By hiding the stones and then trying to deceive zoo visitors into thinking that his intentions were peaceful, Osvath and Karvonen argue, Santino was actually anticipating and planning for a future situation rather than simply responding repetitively to a past one.And because the team was able to observe this new behavior from its very beginning, Osvath and Karvonen argue, the new study overcomes some of the objections to the earlier report. “No matter what mechanisms lie behind the behavior,” Osvath says, Santino is engaging in planning for the future, and “that is not trivial.”
Well, the science community is not completely rolled over by the study, but still…you gotta admit, that is one hell of a way to get your point across. Hmmm…have to remember to bring some hay with me tomorrow, along with a little arsenal of rocks and rotten tomatoes. Perhaps a few slime covered, fuzzy pieces of fruit tossed towards Johnny Depp and those long pointy fingers will help me to release my frustration and disappointment in Burton’s latest flop. Who knows?
I think I will sit and brood a bit…This is an open thread, have a wonderful night!
(…dammit, I knew I should not have gotten myself so excited about this Dark Shadows remake, ugh.)

20 Comments on “Late Night Evening Reads: Chimp with a rock and Disappointment at the Movies…”

  1. bostonboomer says:


    If I were you, I’d go see the movie anyway. Reviewers are just ordinary people responding to their own taste. I don’t even read reviews before I see a movie. I’d rather decide for myself.

    • Pilgrim says:


    • oh yeah, I am going tomorrow at 3.30 😉

      • bostonboomer says:

        Good, because I am a huge horror fan, and I can tell you that most reviewers pan horror movies that a few years later are considered classics. Reviewers tend to be snobby about those kinds of movies. In fact if a mainstream reviewer actually likes a horror movie, I will steer clear, because it’s probably a loser.

      • propertius says:

        It’s on my “watch it when it hits cable” list 😉

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    JJ, I read the reviews a couple of days ago, after hearing Turan’s & Mondello’s reviews on NPR. I considered sending them to you, but didn’t want you to be as depressed as I was feeling. I may opt for The Avengers instead. I worship the ground on which Joss Whedon treads & the air that He breathes (yes, this agnostic believes that Joss Whedon is God!). This is Joss’ thank you post to his fans:

    I will probably break down & see DS, just not this weekend.

  3. ecocatwoman says:

    BTW – a BIG thank you for the chimp post. We do not give any real credit to the amazing intelligence of non-human animals. And, it’s not just primates. Lilly, a rescued pit bull pulled her unconscious owner from the train tracks as a train approaches, risking her own life: Lilly survived but lost a front leg. No one can tell me she wasn’t conscious of the approaching danger and chose to risk her life for someone she loved.

    • northwestrain says:

      There is too much research about Animal Thinking — that demonstrates that non human animals can and do think. I love the Alex research — the African parrot.

      Some of the academics are species snobs — and who cares what those flat earth jerks think anyway? The article used standard BF Skinner Behaviorist quotes.

      I also love the story of the rescue cat who in turn saved the life of her human rescuer.

      Do some non human animals have empathy — damned right I believe some non human animals have more empathy than the majority of politicians.

  4. Outis says:

    Sorry for your dashed hopes on Dark Shadows. But I have to admit, I’ve long since given up on Burton movies when he turned Sleepy Hollow into an episode of Scooby Doo. The man has no idea how to get past the art direction. Hope you have fun anyway. I’ve been catching up on your posts and they’re fascinating! I loved the Brahe stories!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I have to admit, that was a terrible movie!

    • Yes, I was so excited when there was talk of a Dark Shadows movie from Johnny Depp back when I first heard about it in 1998…so I have been waiting since then for this movie to come out. And since that time, Burton’s flicks have become crap…my favorite Burton/Depp movie has to be Ed Wood. (I liked the original Batman and Beetlejuice as well.) But they really started going down hill from Sleepy Hollow on. I just hoped for some of that Ed Wood feel, as far as the acting, direction, script and camp was concerned. (If any of that makes sense.) Blah…tonight I just sat and put the disappointment out of my mind with Stella Dallas and Jane Eyre. I hope I have fun tomorrow too. (so glad to see you Outis…I figured you have been very busy lately…)

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    Have ya’ll seen this from Funny or Die? ROTFLMFAO. If only this could be run on network TV as a campaign ad.

  6. SweetSue says:

    I read the whole Dargis review in the Times and it was overall very positive.
    Maybe women like the movie better than men because—–Johnny Dep!
    It seems that diehard “Dark Shadows” fans are offended that Burton reimagined it as farce, but was it ever anything else?
    The sea crashing against the rocks and the spooky music of the opening was great, but I mostly remember the awkward cue card reading-I’m looking at you, Joan Bennett- and the lights falling on the set sounding like sonic booms. Good times.
    I also really liked “Sleepy Hollow” although Chris Walken scared the living hell out of me.

  7. NW Luna says:

    The story of the chimp hiding his rocks under straw is very funny! And so believable.

  8. That was the worst movie I have ever scene! Oh, I am so depressed. It could have been great….Dan Curtis and Jonathan Frid have to be rolling in their graves.