I can stand someone saying “uhhm” once or twice or even three times but if they won’t stop I’ll immediately write them off. It’s the “mmm” sound that tears it. I myself say “uhhhh” or “aahhh” but never, ever fucking “uhhm.” It’s not a huge biggie to most people, I realize, but to me “uhhm”-ers are right up there with people who throw their heads back and howl obnoxiously as they sit with four or five friends in cafes.
I think I might have felt a little better about Lincoln if Janusz Kamsinski‘s cinematography hadn’t been so oppressively about white alien-space-ship light pouring through large draped windows and into dark and murky rooms in which men are seen talking and smoking and taking the temperature of the times. If he had shot it more in the style of, say, Frank Tidy‘s lensing of The Grey Fox (’82)….that would’ve worked. (Screen captures from DVD Beaver’s review of new Lincoln Bluray.)
Wells to Paramount Home Video: 14 months ago (i.e., January 11th, 2012) a highly knowledgable source told me off-the-record that George Stevens Shane (’53) had undergone a high-def restoration and will probably be released sometime this year to meet this classic film’s 60th anniversary. The source was very specific and told me exactly what needed to be done, and said the work would almost certainly be completed by the end of 2012 or at the very latest early 2013 in order to make the anniversary.
Since then I haven’t heard a peep out of Paramount Home Video about this. Not a word, not a hiccup. Nothing.
The 60th anniversary of Shane‘s New York theatrical opening will happen on April 13th. Obviously that’s going to come and go without notice but will a Shane Bluray come out anytime in 2013? Why do all the three-strip restoration and the high-def tweaking and then just let it sit there, right?
I hope Paramount isn’t going to follow the path of Sony Home Video’s experience with From Here to Eternity, which opened four months after Shane. Sony’s Grover Crisp restored it beautifully and made it look better than ever before (I just saw it on high-def on TCM a few weeks ago), and yet FHTE never came out on Bluray and isn’t to my knowledge even available as a high-def download via Netflix or Amazon.
I wrote George Stevens, Jr. and asked what he knows, but he’ll probably blow me off. The levels of secrecy and deathray vibes and bureaucratic chess-playing in the home video realm are not to be believed. You have to go back to the Leonid Brezhnev era in Soviet Russia to find a similar mindset.
Update: It was announced on 2.13 by Turner Classic Movies’ Heather Sauter that Shane will play at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood (4.25 through 4.28). Films that are shown at that festival are almost exclusively ones that have been digitally remastered and upgraded for Bluray release.
Last night I saw Jurassic Park 3D, which Univeral is opening on April 5th in 3D, RealD and IMAX 3D. The 3D conversion is very nicely done, although at my screening the 3D went out of register (i.e, you’d see double) if you tilted your head just a little bit to the right or the left. The effects were quite something 20 years ago, of course, and even by today’s standards they’re pretty wallopy. Especially the Stan Winston model work and the close-ups of the T-Rex heads. And I loved the digital sound. Definitely a more intense ride than I recall.
But what happens, of course, is that the 3D doesn’t matter after a while. You get used to it, you sink into it and you’re left with the film itself. And good God, what a shameless Spielberg wank! It’s not just aimed at 12 year-olds — it feels like it was almost written by them. I think I prefer The Lost World, which at least is aimed more at 15 or 16 or 17-year-olds. In Act One there’s an animated cartoon explaining the process of dinosaur rebirth by way of extracting blood from ancient mosquitoes frozen in amber. The tone of it tells you what the filmmakers think of the likely mentality of the average JP viewer. It’s on the level of Sesame Street.
Put aside the visual effects and Jurassic Park is just one cheap amusement-park trick after another. All of it feels cravenly pre-meditated. You don’t “believe” a frame of it. It feels like a movie made for the mall. Everything is fizz and popcorn. To think that Spielberg made the masterful Schindler’s List the same year. If Steven Soderbergh, say, had been persuaded to direct this fresh today, he would do a much, much better job. Spielberg is such a jolt and tingle and spook whore. He’ll do anything to get a rise out of an audience. The problem is that he doesn’t think it through. E.T. was much better written and more carefully made.
The computer screens look so old…wow. I remember those days. And all the actors look so young, it’s amazing. Jeff Goldblum‘s hair is all black and wavy and his face is smooth and toned. Sam Neill looks like he’s in his 30s, like he’s just starting out in life. These days the middle-aged Laura Dern looks agitated and stressed but 20 years ago she was full of that youthly glow. Imagine what Taylor Swift is going to look like in 2033.
The Jurassic Park formula is (a) deliver a big scare or a special effect or a “whoa!” moment, (b) scare the audience by pushing the threat factor to the max while the actors shout and scream and then (c) deliver temporary escape or safety at the very last possible second. And then repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat again.
50% of the film is filled with closeups of the actors delivering their Spielberg awe-face or Spielberg terrified face. The dialogue is almost all clumsy or grasping character exposition mixed with hurried-up plot exposition. I was grimacing except for the dialogue by Goldblum and that Australian hunter guy who get skilled by the raptors in Act Three. They’re the only two actors I really liked in the whole thing. So what does Spielberg do with Goldblum, his finest actor and most interesting character? He tears his leg up and makes him lie on a gurney and wince for the second half of the film….brilliant!
Neill is okay but grating at times. Dern is fine. The subplot about Neil getting adjusted to being a dad with the two kids is overplayed to death. I got so sick of watching Samuel L. Jackson smoking half-finished cigarettes I was thisclose to shouting at the screen, “Will you give it a rest with the smokes, Sam?”
Every scary or threatening thing that happens is pushed to the limit before a rescue or an escape occurs. And so much of it is cheap movie bullshit. The shuddering earth impact causing water in a glass to vibrate…bullshit. Dern not paying the slightest attention to a massive brontosaurus-type creature walking 75 feet away while she sits in an open-top jeep, looking instead at a guide book…bullshit. Neill and the young boy dangling below the precariously balanced SUV and managing to yank themselves to right just as it’s about to fall off the concrete wall…bullshit. The SUV about to crash through the branches in the big tree, and Spielberg waiting until the last second before Sam and the kid get out…bullshit. The kid refuses to jump off the soon-to-be-electrified fence and then is jolted off and then recovers a minute later…bullshit. The T-Rex pops in at the last second and basically saves Neill, Dern and the kids from the approaching raptors…bullshit. The T-Rex decides to go right for the lawyer as he hides in the crapper…bullshit.
The raptors in the kitchen is a good sequence. Caring for the sick Triceratops (“sick Tryke”) is a good sequence. But I really hate that grotesque little fat kid in the Montana archeology sequence who claims raptors are like turkeys. If only this kid could have travelled to Jurassic Park with Neill and Dern and then, you know, whatever.
The opening with the raptor being transferred out of an iron cage is cheap and cloying and labored. The greedy obese guy who appeared on Seinfeld…I really despised seeing him again. Richard Attenborough is either smiling way too much — those teeth! — or acting frustrated or peevish or he’s screaming too loudly. He never just settles into a semblance of normal steady behavior.
Jurassic Park is basically a bad movie with first-rate animatronics & CG effects (certainly by the standards of 20 years ago) and some nice atmospheric stuff…a bad movie that made a lot of money.
Yesterday Paramount and Warner Home Video released a 4-disc Bluray package containing the perfectly remastered high-def version of The Ten Commandments (originally issued in March 2011) as well as the magnificently remastered Bluray of Ben-Hur (originally issued in September 2011). The Amazon price is $14.99. Bluray discs are often repackaged and remarketed — I get that. But the 2011 Blurays for these large-format ’50s epics were a big whoop-dee-doo and their original prices were fairly high. It seems odd that they’re now comprising a two-for-one Bluray cheapie in the bargain rack.
I’m calling this Bluray Ten Ben. Lo, how the mighty gave fallen.
Warner Home Video’s original 4-disc Ben-Hur Bluray collector’s edition is now going for $39.95 on Amazon, but I think it cost a lot more when it first came out. There’s also a 2-disc Ben-Hur Bluray that’s selling for $10.09. Amazon is now selling Paramount’s original six-disc Ten Commandments Bluray for $66 and change. There’s also a more modest package that came out a year ago, selling for $14.99.
I know, I know — physical media is dead, right? Wrong. Not until digital delivery systems can handle much greater amounts of data in order to provide true high-def versions to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other content providers. I realize that 95% of the movie-downloading public doesn’t care if they’re watching Bluray-quality or regular DVD- or analog-broadcast quality, but the minute you start saying “well, what can I do?…the lowest common denominator crowds wants what it wants,” you’re dead. You’ve surrendered your soul. You’ve become a rug merchant.
There’s a moment in Who’ll Stop The Rain when Tuesday Weld‘s Marge says “we can still make a deal!” to Nick Nolte‘s Ray Hicks, and Nolte replies “No! They’re animals! You can’t make a deal with animals!” You have to address the better angels and the finer manifestations. Bluray is heaven, the peak, the way movies should look. To hell with Joe Download and his basement vistas.
“The new pope inherits a church wrestling with an array of challenges that intensified during [the term of] his predecessor, Benedict XVI — from a priest shortage and growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere where most of the world’s Catholics live, to a sexual abuse crisis that has undermined the church’s moral authority in the West, to difficulties governing the Vatican itself.” — from Rachel Donadio‘s N.Y. Times report, filed about an hour ago.
In other words, these days fewer Catholics live in the Northern Hemisphere (i.e., northern Europe, the U.S.) where the education and income levels are somewhat (and in some instances dramatically) higher than in the Southern Hemisphere, excluding certain urban pockets in Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East. In other words, the bulk of the Catholic Church’s current following is among the somewhat less well off and less educated and less hip in the less developed areas of the world — am I reading that right? In other words devout Catholicism has become a culturally downmarket thing.
It’s kind of analogous to the readers of Playboy, no? They were a fairly hip crowd in the ’50s and particularly in the ’60s and ’70s when the sexual revolution was underway, but the demographic has been trending more and more in a downmarket direction since the ’80s.
I love that Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet had the gall…the absolute nerve!…to predict the five likeliest Best Director finalists 9 1/2 months from now. I kind of agree with his picks. We’re all assuming that one outlier, somebody nobody’s eyeballing right now, will step into the arena sometime between October and Christmas, but these five will do for now.
Yesterday Marshall Fine tapped out a piece about the rules governing movie-review embargos, or at least a description of how the game tends to work. He wrote this because things got a little improv-y during the recent run-up to Oz The Great and Powerful. For a while Disney publicists were telling reviewers they had to hold despite Variety‘s Justin Chang, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy and several British critics having posted reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Here‘s our discussion about same. We got into a few other topics besides.
Apologies for hastily posting this last night without including the mp3 file — brilliant.