The model or inspiration for Rick Santorum‘s moron-pitched fear fantasy ad was most likely Jack Webb‘s Red Nightmare, a government-funded short that Webb produced and narrated. It was meant to be shown to high-school students; it aired on the tube in 1962 on Webb’e GE True.
You think I’m going to shell out for a 70th anniversary Bluray of Casablanca that has been described by Robert Harris as having “a more normal patina of grain“? Me to Amoeba sales guy: “Hi, there. I understand you have a 70th anniversary Bluray grainstorm version of Casablanca?” Ameoba sales guy to me: “Uhh, that’s right, sir…it’s definitely been grained up! And made to look a bit darker!””
Here’s how Harris describes it: “I was generally fond of the 2008 edition, as the film looked quite good on Blu-ray. Not as good as it might, but as good as it could under the conditions that WB was releasing Blu-rays in 2008. Meaning that grain was nicely smoothed. The image had a pleasant homogenized look, which was fit for anything Ultimate. For the 70th Anniversary, the image looks improved, but to my eye only by the fact that a more normal patina of grain is present. Do I like it better? Certainly.”
Am I going to run, not walk, in the opposite direction? You betcha.
RIck Blaine: “I came to the latest Casablanca Bluray for the grain.” Captain Renault: “Grain? What grain? Casablanca was shot on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank under perfectly lighted conditions. The last Bluray had a gentle grain structure, but it was all but grain-free, really…and it was beautiful.” Rick Blaine: “Well, I was misinformed.”
“Making an exciting movie out of The Hunger Games should not have been that hard,” writes New Yorker critic David Denby. But aside from the cast, the movie “is pretty much a disaster — disjointed, muffled, and even, at times, boring. It’s a prime example of commercial hypocrisy. The filmmakers bait kids with a cruel idea, but they can’t risk being too intense or too graphic (the books are more explicit).
“After a while, we get the point: because children are the principal audience, the picture needs a PG-13 rating. The result is an evasive, baffling, unexciting production — anything but a classic.
“Working with the cinematographer Tom Stern, Ross shoots in a style that I have come to despise. A handheld camera whips nervously from one angle to another; the fragments are then jammed together without any regard for space. You feel like you’ve been tossed into a washing machine (don’t sit in the front rows without Dramamine). Even when two people are just talking calmly, Ross jerks the camera around. Why? As the sense of danger increases, he has nothing to build toward. Visually, he’s already gone over the top.
“And the action itself is a thrashing, incoherent blur — kids tumbling on the ground or wrestling with each other. Katniss stalks various kids with her bow and arrow, but she kills only one intentionally–a domineering sadist–and you don’t see the arrow hit him; you don’t even see him fall. Ross consistently drains away all the tensions built into the grisly story–the growing wariness and suspicion that each teen-ager must feel as the number of those still alive begins to diminish, or the horror (or glee) that some of them experience as they commit murder.”http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2012/04/02/120402crci_cinema_denby#ixzz1pyepbuwE
I’d really like to see a movie from Wes Anderson about adult characters dealing with adult-type stuff. They can act like adolescents all they want, but enough with the precious adolescents and the stop-motion animals and robots and Dalmatian mice and bright young obsessives with father issues. Please. We need a Wes movie about guys in their late 30s or 40s who don’t come from inherited wealth and have had to scrap to survive and who ride motorcycles and fuck well and have more or less found their place in life.
“There is a gestalt to every campaign, a deep organic spirit,” writes Time/Swampland’s Joe Klein. “John Kerry‘s campaign was infected by the candidate’s indecision about what to do regarding the war in Iraq. Bill Clinton‘s campaign was propelled by his native resilience. George W. Bush succeeded because of his gormless certitude. The Obama campaign’s steadiness emanated from the candidate’s no-drama persona.
“In Mitt Romney‘s case, this spirit expresses itself in embarrassing gaffes, often at the moment of victory — and it reflects the sterile management-consultancy ethos at the heart of the candidate. In last week’s issue of the New Yorker, Louis Menand had a terrific essay about how this ethos really is Romney’s defining characteristic.
“A management consultant or private equity turnaround specialist can wipe the slate — or Etch A Sketch — clean and start anew with each new project. A political candidate can’t. There has to be some passion for a presidential candidacy to work. Romney has none, just a deep abiding faith in his ability as a turnaround guy. A turnaround guy. A turnaround guy.”
This has been a bad day so far. I’ve apparently lost my Canon digital camera, and now I have to go buy another one. I was slow to get started on the column this morning, partly due to spending an hour rummaging around for the lost camera and partly due to writing a WTF letter to a belligerent critic. And now I have to leave to buy the camera and then pick up a rental car so I can drive out to Palm Springs today for a wedding that’s happening tomorrow afternoon. And if leave much after 1 or 1:30 pm I’ll get swallowed up in typical Friday-freeway-jam traffic. Which seems likely. So I’m looking at five or six hours of hell and stress. On top of which David Poland is, I’m told, planning to attend the wedding also.
“A film is never really any good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” — Orson Welles. I can tell you straight from the shoulder that Tom Stern‘s Hunger Games camerawork is not a simulation of the “eye in the head of a poet” thing. Has any 2012 film qualified in this regard. Yes — Geraldo Naranjo‘s Miss Bala.
The Penelope Cruz-plus-two-guys-in-gray-suits photo, one of four posted yesterday on the Facebook promo page for Woody Allen‘s To Rome With Love, struck me as surreal. The young guy and the much older guy must be nearly the size of Peter Dinklage. I’ve stood next to Cruz and would say she’s 5’5″ or 5’6″ — no taller.
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