…or it doesn’t. And either the continuing refusal of Invaders From Mars rights holder Wade Williams to cut some sort of workable arrangement with someone that will result in a high-def remastering of William Cameron Menzies‘ 1953 classic…either this infuriates you or it doesn’t. Here’s a 2016 discussion about this ridiculous situation on Home Theatre Forum.
“The worst violent action sequences around, hands down, are always found in superhero-fantasy films because you can never believe in the physics — it’s always the same CG body-slam razmatazz in which the adversaries never get tired or confused or hurt. But when a shootout feels as chaotically real and crazy as it does in Patriots Day, it really makes you sit up in your seat and lean forward.
“Not that I’m immune to slick, well-choreographed gunplay (like that famous downtown L.A. bank robbery sequence in Michael Mann‘s Heat or that moment when Tom Cruise plugs a couple of street thieves in the space of 2.5 seconds in Collateral), but sloppy, chaotic action always feels best.
“The Watertown cops are scared and confused, especially due to the Tsarnaev’s tossing a series of grenade-like pipe bombs. Nobody knows who has the upper hand, and it’s all edge and anxiety and a lot of shouting and swearing. It’s all very random and sloppy and “what the fuck is going on…who are these guys?….yo, partner, are you okay?…somebody call for backup!” — from a 12.1.16 HE piece called “Classic Of Its Kind.”
“I have stolen more quotes and thoughts and purely elegant little starbursts of writing from The Book of Revelation than anything else in the English language…not because I am a Biblical scholar or because of any religious faith, but because I love the wild power of the language and the purity of the madness that governs it, and makes it music.
“To live where the real wind blows…to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested…let the good times roll.” — from Hunter S. Thompson‘s Generation of Swine (’88).
Last Friday CNN.com’s Lewis Beale posted a piece about what a cool thing it is that Rogue One‘s ragtag heroes are composed of varied ethnic flavors. Asian, Hispanic, African-American and Pakistani guys in addition to the three whiteys (Felicity Jones, Ben Mendehlson, Mads Mikelsen), he meant.
“Fifty years after Star Trek launched a multiracial and multicultural crew into outer space, the Star Wars franchise has finally joined the diversity universe,” Beale enthused, especially as “such refreshing diversity comes across as a rebuke to President-elect Donald Trump‘s campaign.”
You know what? I’ve said over and over that Trump’s election is easily the worst thing to hit this country since 9/11, but I don’t care all that much about diversity casting. Well, I do but I’m not Orwellian about it. What I care about is how magnetic or charismatic this or that actor may be in a given role. Our urban-liberal culture is all about diversity these days, of course, and you’d have to be fairly Trumpian to cast an ensemble film with an all (or mostly) Anglo-Saxon attitude.
It’s 100% cool that Rogue One is composed of a multicultural cast, but I don’t really give a flying fuck which ethnicities or molds or skin tints are represented in this or any other film. I don’t mark off a checklist as I watch films — Asian guy, check…British chick, check…older black dude, check…Middle Eastern guy, check. Just make the movie work as a whole, is all.
I’ve had my top-of-the-line Sony 65″ 4K TV since last March, but until last night I’d never watched a feature film in 4K streaming. Mainly because I was presuming that only CG flotsam flicks were available in this format, and I really couldn’t give less of a shit about watching Independence Day Resurgence, The Martian and San Andreas in 4K. Thanks all the same.
But last night I shelled out $20 bills in order to watch Amazon’s 4K streaming version of Lawrence of Arabia, and I was really, seriously stunned by the micro-detail.
I’ve seen the restored, 8K-scanned Lawrence digitally projected via DCP under high-end conditions and at home via 1080p Bluray, and the 4K streamed version (which is not real-deal 4K due to intense compressing, I’m told, but somewhere between 2K and 4K) is really a cut above.
Every now and then the digital cache-ing would slow down and the 4K sharpness would fuzz out, but for the first time in my life I was noticing textures (wood, sand, wardrobe threads, even the subtle composition of fine cement in the opening credits sequence) that I’d literally never seen before, not with this degree of crispness and clarity, and that’s saying something.
I’m told that as good as this version of Lawrence may have appeared to my bespectacled eyes, the 4K Bluray, which may be released sometime in ’17, will look even better.
Right now Amazon and Netflix are offering less than 50 4K streaming features for rent or sale, and most of them are 21st Century eye-candy for the cretin class. But once classic films (and particularly those shot in 70mm and Vista Vision) start appearing in 4K Bluray (or 3840 x 2160 pixels) to some degree…that‘s when I’ll pop for a new Oppo 4K player.
Kevin Costner as NASA honcho “Al Harrison” in Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures.
When SAG and Academy members nominate actors in whatever category, they are naturally presumed to have chosen this or that colleague for two reasons. One, they’ve found the journey of a certain character to be emotionally moving and two, they’ve been impressed by a demonstration of exceptional “acting” skill. The winner of a SAG award or an acting Oscar will have usually aced both.
But I have a funny thing about “acting.” I respect and value top-notch thesping more than most, but the best performances, I feel, are those that don’t look or feel “performed” — the kind that fool you into thinking that the actor isn’t reading a line, or hasn’t been urged to sound or behave in a certain way. The kind of acting, in short, that doesn’t feel like “acting” at all. The art of apparently doing very little but hitting a bullseye.
If you ask me only three fellows in the Best Supporting Actor realm this year have met this particular standard — Kevin Costner in Ted Melfi‘s Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox, 12.25) along with Mahershala Ali in Moonlight (a steady, nurturing vibe — warmth, kindness, caring) and Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (naturalistic, matter of fact — no reaching). **
Costner has been excelling at non-actorish performances all along, but especially since he moved into his older-guy phase about 15 years ago. He’s really hitting his stride these days. His settled naturalism couldn’t be further from the peppy, mannered acting of James Cagney, but in every performance Costner seems to be following Cagney’s famous acting advice — “Know your lines, find your mark, look the other guy in the eye and tell the truth.”
Nobody “acts” less than Costner, and if you think that’s easy…
A few weeks ago I riffed about Costner bringing a settled, fair-minded authority and decency to his performance as “Al Harrison”, a NASA official in the film but actually a real-life composite character. Harrison is partly based on the late Robert Gilruth and also John Stack, a top aeronautical engineer at NASA for decades.