Dimitri Tiomkin‘s score for the The Thing From Another World was probably his all-time best. I happened across this music-isolated clip a little while ago, and heard it in a way I never had before. Play it on a good bassy sound system with the volume cranked up to 8 or 9.
“On a day when news of more than 75,000 layoffs came down in all sectors of the economy, it is silly to point to a single one that suggests Armageddon is nigh, but the Bagger can tell you seeing Anne Thompson‘s name on the cut-down list at Variety sent a shudder through the community. It’s the kind of layoff that signals that something in the middle is breaking, that something besides retrenchement is underway. You can’t roll someone like Ms. Thompson out of the back of the truck and pretend everything is hunky dory. It’s not.” — from a N.Y. Times David Carr/”Bagger” posting earlier today.
Cancer has taken the great John Updike, 76. My first Updike book was Couples (’68), which I read for the adulterous sex. It didn’t disappoint. Suburban adultery became Updike’s handle around that time. (“A subject which,” he once wrote, “if I have not exhausted, has exhausted me.”) I found the Rabbit books vaguely depressing. I read half of Beck: A Book and ignored the other two. Updike’s Witches of Eastwick was much more satisfying than the film. But Couples was the shit.
Yonkers Joe producer Trent Othick tells the Arizona Star‘s Phil Villarreal about how he got screwed out of a producing credit on The Cooler (’03), the highly praised Wayne Kramer-directed drama that starred Bill Macy, Maria Bello and Alec Baldwin. The bad guy, says Othick, was producer Michael Pierce.
Yesterday Slate posted one of the most strongly written Slumdog Milliionaire backlash pieces I’ve read anywhere. The author is ex-Village Voice critic Dennis Lim. “What, Exactly, Is Slumdog Millionaire?,” the title asks. “Is it (a) a portrait of the real India, (b) a Bollywood-style melodrama, c) a fairy tale, or d) a stylishly shot collection of cliches?” Slumdog‘s Best Picture win is locked in, of course. Kvetch all you want, but it’s a done deal.
Nobody is more queer for Blu-ray monochrome than myself. The principal cause of this mania is the recent Casablanca Blu-ray, which made Michael Curtiz‘s classic film look 15% to 20% better than it ever had before. I’m so consumed by this hunger that I didn’t let my disappointment with Criterion’s Third Man Blu-ray get in the way. I felt burned and angered by that disc. It’s fine by regular DVD standards, but my God…the grain! A sandstorm! Grain purists are like mad monks living in a secluded abbey in the French mountains.
“Just a quick note of thanks for steering me in the direction of Revolutionary Road,” HE reader James Kent wrote this morning. “My wife and I had a baby this year and haven’t been able to get out to movies with the usual zeal. But I caught up with Revolutionary Road this weekend and really loved it. The subject matter cuts very close to the bone for some, which is probably why it didn’t make it into the Oscar fray. But two things absolutely blew my mind — Roger Deakins‘ cinematography and the performance of Michael Shannon .
“I suspect if Heath Ledger‘s Dark Knight performance wasn’t a Best Supporting Actor slam-dunker that Shannon would be your surprise winner. I can see the words of his character on the page and there is such a typical cliched way it could have been played. I picture the almost catatonic psych ward patient who mumbles awkwardly at the table, but speaks inappropriate truths at the two dinner meetings like some form of idiot savant. But Shannon does something so unbelievable with that character that I’m gut positive that director Sam Mendes didn’t know what hit him.
“What Shannon delivers is what a supporting performance should be all about. There was a time when the academy used to recognize the supporting performance for what it was — a couple of key scenes that add power to the story, but lately the supporting awards have gone to the next good performance who has nearly as much screen time as the leads. I’m glad to see this year the academy recognized Shannon and Viola Davis for their key supporting contributions.
“And by the way, Leonardo DiCaprio was robbed. Man, was he good in this film! Winslet too, but I somehow felt she was miscast — didn’t look right to me. I felt the other female characters somehow belonged in that time period, but Winslet somehow didn’t. But that doesn’t diminish her knockout performance for a second. Michael Shannon though–you were right on with this guy. He’s a revelation.”
Can’t watch this Zodiac “Director’s Cut” Blu-ray until I’m back in New Jersey on Sunday — had to buy it today anyway. I’m convinced that all serious Zodiac heads have been having problems with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button . (I know, being one myself.) It’s like the real David Fincher directed Zodiac and a pod replicant — a Fincher duplicate who’s missing something fundamental — took over and directed Button.
I’m just trying to get as close as I can to that enormous satisfaction I felt when I saw a needle-perfect digital projection of Zodiac at the big Paramount theatre on the lot. I’ve never seen any digitally-shot feature look quite so magnificent.