Links I Like – September 19, 2011

In the Cut, Part I: Shots in the Dark (Knight) by Jim Emerson at scanners::blog

Jim Emerson has been writing about his distaste for Christopher Nolan’s action scenes for years now (if you dig through his archives, there are a whole bunch of posts niggling at The Dark Knight), and now he’s put up a series of video essays talking about incoherence in action scenes, taking them apart shot by shot to show what he means when he says an action scene is incoherent. He starts with a chase sequence in The Dark Knight, but moves on to Salt and others in subsequent chapters. I tend to agree with him; when scenes are edited the way this one is, I check out pretty quickly and just wait for it to be over before paying attention again. Not only do I find them confusing because of the lack of master shots and adherence to conventions like the 180 degree and eyeline rules, but they get pretty boring for me, too. For the counterpoint, here’s a response that argues, just as technically, that Nolan’s choices make perfect sense and are, in fact, forging a new style of editing that uses cues other than the 180 degree and eyeline rules to establish space.

TIFF Coverage by Ryan McNeil at The Matinee

There’s a lot of TIFF coverage going on right now, of course, but I’ve really been enjoying Ryan’s – he’s not only got reviews that focus nicely on the experience of the film, but recaps of the festival-going in general (meet-ups, hangouts, etc.) that give a good feel for what it would be like to be there, and also episodes of his podcast going up covering the festival. I’m jealous, but I’m grateful for people like Ryan who bring a bit of the fest to us.

The Story State of Orson Welles on DVD by Jeffrey M. Anderson at

As canonized as Orson Welles is in the history of cinema, it’s mostly based on Citizen Kane, and to a lesser extent Touch of Evil and The Magnificent Ambersons. At least part of his lionization is certainly his legendary problems with studio intervention, having nearly all of his post-Kane films taken out of his hands to one degree or another. But the fact is that most of his films aren’t easily available to see at all. Even Ambersons had never been on DVD until last week, when it was released ONLY as part of a set with the Citizen Kane re-release. Jeffrey M. Anderson runs through all of Welles’ filmography and discusses the DVD availability or lack thereof of each film.

DC’s New 52, Week 1 by Ed Howard at Thinking in Panels

Ed Howard of Only the Cinema, one of the most considered and erudite film blogs around, posted a piece last week that wasn’t about cinema at all, but about comic books – DC is rebooting their entire line, and Ed is starting out reading every issue (some 13 a week!) to get into the series. I’ve never been a serial comic book reader, but I’m thinking about jumping into these. Ed has since moved the comic book talk over to a new blog, Thinking in Panels, and has the second week’s post up as well.

Fashion in Film: All About Eve by Angela at Hollywood Revue

Angela’s gearing up a little early for her September 24th Fashion in Film blogathon with this absolutely wonderful piece on the costuming in All About Eve and how the very clothes that the characters are wearing play into character development and story progression. I’m admittedly very fashion backwards, so I rarely notice this stuff beyond “hey, that’s a really pretty dress” (if that, even!). This is a thoughtful and very helpful analysis. And she’s done one on Top Hat now, as well.

Pre-Code Gams and Damsels by Carly at the Kitty Packard Pictorial

A glorious picspam post with tons of screencap and glamour shots of lovely 1930s ladies…and their legs. A shapely gam is pre-Code heaven, and these ladies are the top of the heap. Thanks to Carly for putting this post together! Sometimes a good set of pictures is all you really need, and she excels at that at the aptly named Pictorial.

Anita Loos at the Mythical Monkey Talks About Film

This week the Mythical Monkey looked back on one of the best screenwriters of the silent and early sound eras – Anita Loos. With a bright wit and a way of making title cards not just informative but fun to read, Loos was one of several female screenwriters who formed the backbone of silent Hollywood writing. She made the jump into sound perfectly well, too – her screenplay adaptation of Clare Booth Luce’s The Women is one of my all-time favorites (I even chose it as the best-scripted movie I’ve seen in the 50 Day Movie Challenge). I learned more about her from this post and now respect her even more, for which I thank the Monkey once again. :)

Towards a New Film Criticism by Willie Osterweil at The New Inquiry

This article calling for the end of auteurism and the end of criticism has been making the blogosphere rounds for a few weeks now, even to the point that Kevin B. Lee interviewed the author on the Keyframe blog for further details on his position. Well, I finally got around to reading it myself, and I have to agree with Glenn Kenny, this is a load of bull. I’m certainly interested in discussing the value of auterism in modern film production, and I certainly agree that discounting the work of thousands of people who work on films to solely credit the director is invalid. But here’s the thing – no film critic worth their salt does that, and Osterweil has very little understanding of the auteur theory in general, historical film production, or the history of critical thought. He’s a reactionary Marxist using the film industry as a scapegoat in his call for the end of capitalism (he says exactly that in the Lee interview). He quotes only one critic in his entire diatribe – David Edelstein, who, as Kenny and his commenters point out, is a disciple of Pauline Kael, an outspoken attacker of auterism, and thus quoting Edelstein as an auteurist is disingenous at best and outright ignorant at worst. To his main point, there’s nothing wrong with analyzing the means of production and applying Marxist theory to film – you can get some really salient readings that way. But you don’t have to eliminite every other approach, especially when you don’t even understand what they mean.