The terms “medieval siege” and “slaughter,” used by a reporter in Syria for tonight’s episode of Anderson Cooper 360, caught my attention a few minutes ago. And then I began searching YouTube for evidence of Assad government atrocities, and I came upon this, shot in the recently-fallen city of Homs and taken on 1.26.
Speaking of classic Columbia films on digital, I wrote the following to Sony Home Video spokesperson Fritz Friedman earlier today: “This summer will mark the third anniversary of Grover Crisp‘s high-def restoration of From Here to Eternity. This allegedly spiffier-than-ever version played at the Academy in the fall of ’09, and then on the beach in Cannes in May 2010. I know — I was there watching it.
(l. to r.) Frank Sinatra, James Jones, Montgomery Clift sometime during filming of From Here To Eternity.
“In any event, year after year I’ve asked if there’s any commitment to bringing it out on Bluray, and every year your response has been ‘down the road’ or ‘sometime next year’ or words to that effect.
“My most recent article, posted on 8.20.11, suggested in a very cynical vein that Sony Home Video just forget about putting out the Bluray entirely and instead offer From Here To Eternity as a high-def streaming download when such downloads become commonplace in two or three or four years.
“I feel foolish asking again, as I suspect what the answer will probably be, but as your most recent reply was that Eternity would be delayed until sometime in 2012, is that the actual plan? To release it later this year? Or are we thinking yet again about bumping it into 2013 or whenever? Just checking.”
My closing statement to Sony Home Video execs:
“Where did this idea about movies acting as shared-memory experiences, aesthetic-worship rituals and/or opportunities for spiritual nourishment come from anyway? You’re running a business, Sony Home Video, and that’s how you need to play your cards. If a Bluray isn’t likely to bring in a healthy profit that will impress Sony stockholders, fuhgedaboutit.”
The essence of Lou Lumenick‘s 3.1 N.Y. Post article about digital vs. 35mm classic films is that (a) digital versions tend to look sharper and more pronounced, and yet (b) old-school celluloid devotees are suspicious about such claims and blah-dee-blah-dee-blah-blah-blah.
The professionals praising digital versions in the piece are Film Forum programmer Bruce Goldstein, who’s now running a series of classic Columbia films at his Manhattan venue, and Sony preservation guru Grover Crisp, who will showcase the differences between a 35 mm and a digital presentation of Dr. Strangelove at the Film Forum, twice this evening and once tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.
“We’ve run Taxi Driver alongside our best 35mm print and if you compare the two, the 35mm print is a bit softer and not quite as vibrant,” Crisp tells Lumenick.
In an AP piece about Harvey Weinstein‘s fight with the MPAA over the R rating given to Bully, Jake Coyle quotes Weinstein as claiming that “there is precedent for degrading a film’s rating when it serves a greater good.”
Bully‘s R rating is over several f-bombs used by the villains of the piece, and yet the R rating given to Michael Tucker‘s potty-mouthed Gunner Palace (’04) was changed to PG-13 on appeal, he reminds, “because of its worthy subject matter.”
This decision, according to CARA ratings board chief Joan Graves, was “an anomaly” made in “a different time and a different appeals board.” Graves says the lesson of that ruling was that the MPAA shouldn’t wade into territory where it’s deciding ratings based on merit and subject material.
“The danger of our switching our criteria for what we perceive to be good films is that, one day, you and I are not going to agree on what’s good and what’s bad,” Graves tells Coyle, although she does consider Bully a good film. “Our system has always been built on giving the level of content and letting parents make the decision,” she declares.
Nanni Moretti‘s We Have A Pope (called Habemus Papam when it screened last year in Cannes) will be released in select venues by Sundance Selects on 4.6, and will be available nationwide that same month on VOD. This is the new trailer, I’m told:
My 5.13.11 Cannes review: “Habemus Papam is about a newly-chosen Pope (Michel Piccoli) feeling overwhelmed and depressed and unable to pick up the sceptre. The tone is basically one of dry, highly restrained farce.
“I suppose Habemus Papam will be seen in some Roman Catholic circles as a impudent tweaking of the lore of Vatican City, etc. But it struck me as not nearly caustic or judgmental enough.
“Moretti told a journalist earlier this year that it ‘contains a painful core but [is] wrapped in a light tone.’ That about says it. It’s simultaneously gentle and whimsical and melancholy, and a bit silly.
“Piccoli is playing an old man who’s not only depressed but a little bit stupid, trembling and confused and enduring much stress and confusion in simply trying to explain what and who he is, and why he feels so exhausted, etc. I don’t care if some depressives act like this — it’s boring and frustrating to watch.
“And yet the 85 year-old Piccoli gives a touching performance. I’ll give him and Moretti and the film that. But otherwise I was underwhelmed. I’ve since gotten the sense that I wasn’t alone.”
My first reaction to this Movieline clip from Justin Kurzel‘s The Snowtown Murders was “why don’t they just call it Shoot The Dog?” That suggestion (i.e., command) seems to encapsulate the sociopathic essence of Daniel Henshaw‘s John Bunting character, and it’s certainly easy to remember.
My second reaction: Lucas Pittaway‘s response to Henshaw’s intimidation is the exact same expression that young James Frecheville used throughout David Michod‘s Animal Kingdom, which Snowtown Murders was clearly made in alignment with. As I said on 2.19.10, my only problem with Animal Kingdom is Frecheville’s “too-subdued performance as the young lead, [which] to me suggests either retardation or a lithium overdose.”
Initially screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival as Snowtown, The Snowtown Murders opens today on IFC Midnight VOD and at Manhattan’s IFC Center. It will play at 9:30 pm on 3.15 at the Spielberg theatre inside LA’s Egyptian.
A few weeks ago I downloaded Apple’s OS X Lion for my three-year-old iMac, and yesterday I bought myself a new Lion-equipped Macbook Pro just to be safe. (The other Macbook Pro, purchased in 2010, is having start-up problems and in the shop for a diagnostic.) And I’m really missing Snow Leopard, I must say.
The primary irritant is that Lion is devoted to eliminating scroll bars, which I’ve been happily using for years and years, and forcing you to mostly use the touch pad like it’s an iPad. Two fingers, three fingers, etc. A scroll bar appears on the side of a given panel every so often, but it disappears just as often. They could at least give you the option of choosing to work with scroll bars or going Full Lion, but no. You must suit up and get with their program.
I haven’t wanted to get into a fist fight this much since the heyday of my hate-on for the N.Y. Times tech guys for refusing to provide embed codes for Tony Scott‘s Critics Picks pieces.
The five-year anniversary of the initial airing of the final Sopranos episode, called “Made In America,” will occur on June 10th, or roughly 100 days hence. And for some reason Grantland‘s Steve Hyden has chosen now, March 1st, to get into it again.
I own the final Sopranos season on Bluray, and I happened to re-watch “Made in America” a month or so ago, and it’s kind of amazing, looking back, that so many people got so effing angry and feigned so much confusion and uncertainty (myself among them, at least for the first few hours) about the meaning of the Big Blackout.
It boiled down to this: nobody had a problem with Tony getting hit, but they wanted to see it dramatized in some sprawling nutritious fashion. They wanted the pop of muffled gunfire, they wanted blood on the onion rings, they wanted Carmela and the kids to lose it, they wanted the “Members Only” shooter to be identified and hunted down and killed. After seven-plus years of following the series they felt they’d earned more than a sudden, silent “eff you.”
Plus the idea of death being subjectively portrayed as a state of absolute nothingness…no tunnel, no bright light, no family members, no sense of finality or completion…that didn’t go down too well either.
Hyden runs a quote from series creator David Chase: “The way I see it is that Tony Soprano had been people’s alter ego. They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie, and cheat. They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted ‘justice.’ They wanted to see his brains splattered on the wall. I thought that was disgusting, frankly.”
“Chase denied that the cut to black was a ‘fuck you’ move,” Hyden writes, “but his resentment of the audience’s expectations in this quote belies that. While calling the end of ‘Made in America’ an act of hostility goes a little too far, this much seems obvious: Chase managed to end The Sopranos on a note that would satisfy no one more than himself.”
“Anybody who wants to watch it, it’s all there,” Chase said in a morning-after interview with TV critic Alan Sepinwall.
“[But] for millions of viewers, this idea was so perverse that it almost seemed criminal, a sentiment summed up by the very New York Post-sounding New York Post headline ‘Tony and Gang Whack Fans.'”
Here’s how HE commenter Jamie Stuart explained it on 6.11.07:
“I’ve never sat through an entire episode of The Sopranos, but in watching the final four minutes of last night’s episode or so on YouTube, Tony was hit. Period. Based on pure filmic language, that’s how it reads.”
Those three words were met with considerable disagreement and denial on this site. It went on and on and on and on and on.
“You have a character at the bar who keeps looking over, then he walks to the bathroom and the camera dollies to reveal the bathroom is just off to Tony’s side, providing the geography and the logistics. And there’s your answer. This show always had a very formal aesthetic, and this dolly was motivated.
“The abrupt cut to black was it. That’s how it happens in the mob, as per Goodfellas — no yelling, no nothing, it just happens.”
“Just how closely did people who call themselves fans pay attention last night?,” wrote HE commenter Roy Batty. “The writing is not only on the wall — it’s on the floor, the ceiling and fluttering from a banner over the entrance: Tony and probably the family got hit.
“The single biggest signpost that is a virtual headstone is the flashback to Bobby and Tony in the boat talking about what it’s like to be killed. Bobby says you don’t see it coming and it’s just over. The show then ends with a ‘smash cut’ to black. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
“I think too many people are pissed that Chase didn’t end it the way they had written in their minds or hate the idea that Tony, et. al. are gone. I don’t know if it was brilliant, but not seen through glasses of denial it’s pretty clear.”
A release from Open Road Films announces that David Ayer‘s End of Watch, a young-LA-cops drama costarring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Frank Grillo and America Ferrera, will open on 9.28.12. Here’s the “ooh, wow” avant-garde element: “Giving the story a gripping, first-person immediacy, the action unfolds entirely through footage from the handheld HD cameras of the police officers, gang members, surveillance cameras, and citizens caught in the line of fire.”