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Can Disney's straight-to-DVD sequels be as good as the originals?

» Why Bambi II Is Better Than Bambi. Wow. He's convinced me to take a look.  [ 07/23/07 ]

DVD rental long tail

» A look at the mirror world of movie rentals, and the factors that may propel a modest box-office success to rental stardom.  [ 04/18/07 ]

UPS's whiteboard ads

» It turns out those new UPS commercials featuring whiteboard drawings are directed by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris ("Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control", "The Thin Blue Line", and "The Fog of War", among others).   [ 04/16/07 ]

Diagrams of connections

» A collection of diagrams, including How the United States are connected to each other, a Hebrew Bible overview, Wall Street Scandals, and Star Wars. (via notm(1) Comments  / [ 04/16/07 ]

Soderbergh recreates 40's style cinema technique in his new film

» Steven Soderbergh's new film The Good German wasn't just shot in black and white; it was shot using 40's-era lighting, lenses, and staging techniques no longer in use by modern filmmakers. Bonus fact: Soderbergh works as his own cinematographer (as Peter Andrews) and editor (Mary Ann Bernard). "The reason they no longer work that way is because it means making choices, real choices, and sticking to them. It means shooting things in a way that basically only cut together in one order. That’s not what people do now. They want all the options they can get in the editing room.” Steven Soderbergh, filmmaker. (1) Comments  / [ 11/15/06 ]

Barry Mike's 5 Film Recommendations

» At a recent event, I spent some very pleasant time talking film with Barry Mike, managing Director at CRA. (One of his more intriguing suggestions was to recruit a group of people to read Shakespeare s Henry V, then spend a weekend afternoon watching first the Lawrence Olivier film version of the play, and then Kenneth Braunagh's. One is pro-war, one is anti-war, and both are different from the play. Discuss.) Before we left, he promised me a list of 5 "must-see" films, and here it is. "It's a very individualistic, idiosyncratic list. But then, isn't that what every list like this should be?"

  1. Either "Seven Samurai" or "Yojimbo" by Akira Kurosawa. The former is an epic on the scale of Lawrence of Arabia. Unlike, Lawrence, however, it is not psychological. It's more operatic, building slowly to a great crescendo, with an all-too-bitterly ironic coda. The latter is the progenitor of spaghetti westerns (Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars is a remake of Yojimbo.) The irony of these Japanese masterpieces is that one of Kurosawa's great influences here is none other than John Ford's great late 1940s John Wayne westerns.
  2. The Maltese Falcon. This remake of Dashiell's Hammett's novel was the breakthrough role for Humphrey Bogart. He creates the role model that has set a standard for two or three generations of "tough guys."
  3. The Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu by Satyajit Ray. Okay, it's three films, it's obscure, it's got subtitles. You need to strap on your seatbelt and prepare for marathon trip through a part of India that is fast disappearing. But if you make it through to the end, you'll feel like you've experienced a journey through life itself. Very rewarding.
  4. Some Like it Hot. If you've never seen this 1950s Billy Wilder comedy with Tony Curtis doing a great imitation of Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon at his best, and an iconic Marilyn Monroe, you're missing a classic.
  5. Apocalypse Now. You've probably seen this strange, chopped together epic masterpiece, loosely based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. What gets me every time is the combination of Coppola's fabulous visuals with Michael Herr's voice over narration (Herr wrote one of the great masterpieces of war reporting: Dispatches - a must read.)

What's on your list of 5 Must-See Films? (14) Comments  / [ 10/27/06 ]

Two PKD film biopics in the works

» The Guardian reports on two upcoming films about science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, one an indie film starring Bill Pullman, and the other produced by and starring Paul Giamatti. (via wl [ 08/24/06 ]

Rifftrax film commentary for iPod

» More film commentary released to iPod. This time, it's by the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Rifftrax. Now when will my favorite film directors start critiquing their favorite films? (via rw [ 07/26/06 ]

Director's commentary released to iPod

» Absolutely brilliant. I've been wanting something like this for a long time, only in my vision, film makers and craftspeople comment on other people's films. I'd love to hear my favorite directors talk me through the films they love. For that matter, why couldn't an aspiring film critic/commenter start to make a name for herself by doing the same thing? (via rw [ 06/27/06 ]

Star Trek fans are creating their own shows

» Here's a good example of participatory culture: Now that the television and film franchises seem to have ended, Star Trek fans are taking matters into their own hands. Using professional-quality video cameras and computer editing equipment for production and the Internet for distribution, creative fans are creating their own Star Trek episodes. One series is so popular that Walter Koenig and George Takei, both actors in the original series, have agreed to guest star. "The fans are saying, look, if we can't get what we want on television, the technology is out there for us to do it ourselves." Paul Sieber, who likens his project to "online community theater." (1) Comments  / [ 06/20/06 ]

Geoffrey Chaucer's Ocks-men, and interview

» Geoffrey Chaucer is planning his new work, a title that will be set around a new group of superheroes, The Ocks-menne.

Noble heroes from al estates of the kyngdom aren broughte togedir by Professir William of Ockham, yclepede PROFESSIR OCKS, who beth confynede to a wheelchayre syn that daye longe agoon when he dide soore wounde hym selfe wyth a deadlie razor of hys owene makynge. He doth seeke oute folke wyth speciale poweres of magicke, who shal kepe reson and justice in the reaume. Thei do fighte ayeinst the evil JOHANNES GOWERE (who hath no powere othere than to produce boredom, the whiche ys dedely enogh).

You'll also enjoy reading this recent piece: Geoffrey Chaucer hath been interviewed.

What has been your worst blogging experience? Johannes Gowere tryinge to messe up my game.

(via jch(1) Comments  / [ 06/19/06 ]

102 films you must see to be movie-literate

» Jim Emerson's 102 Movies You Must See in order to have "any sort of informed discussion about movies". I've seen 41. (via the bradlands(2) Comments  / [ 05/10/06 ]

Cell phone as film ticket

» Whither implants? Mobile Box Office allows you to buy movie tickets with your cell phone, then use your phone as your movie ticket (via an on-screen barcode). The pilot program is being implemented in Michigan-based Emagine Theatres. (via ibt [ 05/01/06 ]

Merlot fights back against an imaginary foe

» Merlot fights back is Swanson Vineyards wine seminar for trade and media that is designed to counter, as I would judge, a single movie character's refusal to drink Merlot. "Did you know how important clay in a merlot vineyard’s soil is? Did you realize that the wine Miles (in Sideways) hoarded and opened on his birthday was a '61 Cheval Blanc, a 50/50 cepage of Merlot and Cabernet Franc? These are just a taste of the connoisseurship of Merlot the seminar will provide."  [ 04/17/06 ]

The emerging field of Porn Studies

» Sex in the Syllabus. Academia's new "porn curriculum" casts a critical eye on the aesthetic, societal and philosophical properties of smut — and makes some students squirm in their chairs.  (1) Comments  / [ 03/30/06 ]

China's first Web meme plays havoc with culture

» After the highly anticipated Chinese film The Promise tanked, Hu Ge created a spoof for his friends — who posted it to the Web. Perhaps you can imagine how that has played out in a culture that places high value on respect for authority, correct behavior, and is new to the Web.  [ 03/14/06 ]

Dear Academy Awards Producers

» Dear Academy Awards Producers:

Please stop trying to "entertain" me. Your bits are not funny. Please stop trying to do impressive musical dance numbers. They are embarrassing. Please stop trying to convince me that the big screen is superior to DVDs. I agree with you, for many films, but sometimes a film doesn't look good enough for me to want to spend theatre prices to see it. However, I'll often be willing to rent it instead. (BTW, I know a few people with home theatre setups that can very nearly recreate the theatre experience, just so you know: the technology is out there.)

Besides, are you crazy? DVDs make the film industry amazingly profitable. Stop shooting yourself in the foot, and start embracing the post-industrial world. Here, we time-shift and re-purpose content according to our individual needs, and there is a huge business opportunity available to you if only you'll open your eyes and see it.

Additionally, please let the winners have 2 or 3 minutes for their acceptance speeches. The speeches are really the only thing we watch for. (Well, and the dresses.) If we were really just interested in the list of winners, we would spend the time during your show doing something pleasant, and scan the list in the paper the next day. We watch your show to see people accept the awards, not to see former Oscar nominees humiliate themselves with your stupid "comedy".

I love the movies, I love trying to predict who will win, and I love watching all of those people win their awards. Please stop spoiling my fun.

Your pal,
Rebecca Blood  [ 03/06/06 ]

The rise of niche DVD clubs

» Further evidence of the balkanization of American culture: the rise of DVD clubs that cater to niche audiences. It works for book clubs, why not film? "Basically, we just noticed that within the [Conservative Book Club] we were selling more DVDs. [...] Our long-term goal is to sell product, but also to be a place where conservative filmmakers know that they can market their wares." Jeff Rubin, head of the Conservative DVD Club.  [ 02/27/06 ]

CellFlix Festival

» The winner of the first CellFlix Festival is Cheat [requires Quicktime], and it is a treat (and has exceeded its bandwidth. Try later if you can't get through now.) [CNN story.]  [ 01/31/06 ]

Book and Film Logs Open for Comments

» I'm starting an experiment today: I've opened up comments on my book log and film log. (The most recent entries are listed in the sidebar on this page.) I know from my email that Pocket readers are far above average, so I encourage those among you who are film and book lovers to get to know one another.  [ 01/30/06 ]

Soderburgh's Bubble

» Steven Soderburgh's newest film Bubble was shot without a script, using non-actors who improvised against an outline, and will be simultaneously released theaters, on cable television, and, a few days later, on DVD. "The biggest thing is people having access to the movie who might not have access to it for a while. They might have read about it and they're interested but they don't live near an art cinema, or they don't have a video store that carries this kind of stuff, and this way they can get it and get a hold of it as soon as they've heard about it." Steven Soderburgh.

I thought the Wagner/Cuban production company plus distribution outlet arrangement was outlawed with the breakup of the Studio Monopoly? I guess not.  [ 01/26/06 ]

2006 Sundance Short films online

» The 2006 Sundance Festival Short Films are available online. (via cn [ 01/26/06 ]

Movie Manners

» CSM: Movie Manners: An Endangered Species. "If you ask someone to keep quiet nowadays, you're likely to get back a look of genuine astonishment. People who are plugged into their own hum don't recognize your right to silence. What they recognize is their right not to be silent."  [ 01/13/06 ]

Gorillas + Sex + Exotica = $$$

» Illegitimate Dad of 'Kong'. The 1930 film "Ingagi", probably the highest grossing film of the Depression, purported to document an African expedition to visit a tribe that sacrificed their women to local gorillas. It was racist, shocking, and, as it turned out, fictional. (via mamr [ 01/12/06 ]



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