Okay, these things are supposed to be once a week, not once a month or whatever it keeps being lately. Still getting into the groove. Working it out. In the meantime, this will be a supersized edition – most links are within the last couple of weeks or so, but there are some exceptions where I felt the post warranted it. :)
MM: More Than the Silver Witch of Us All by Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun
Several posts popped up celebrating Marilyn Monroe’s birthday on June 1st, and I think this one my Kim Morgan is my wistful favorite – it’s wide-ranging and really gets at the person beneath the myth, something a lot of commentaries on Marilyn Monroe fail to do. See also The Lady Eve of The Lady Eve’s Reel Life discussing Marilyn’s final film The Misfits, a post that fits both Marilyn’s birthday and the Horseathon that was currently underway, sponsored by My Love of Old Hollywood. Also, Bobby Rivers at The Cinementals has a great post about Marilyn’s ability to make dorks and nerds feel loved.
Mary Pickford: The Girl Who Invented Celebrity by Carley Johnson at The Cinementals
The recent Mary Pickford blogathon generated a number of good posts, and I really enjoyed this one from The Cinementals. Yeah, I’m going to be linking The Cinementals a lot from now on, so just get used to it. They generate an awfully lot of high-quality content, and it’s getting to be one of the premier sites for classic movie fans. Anyway. Here Carley talks about Pickford as really the first big Hollywood celebrity – and how that differs from our current definition of the term. Also check out Page‘s picturiffic post about Pickfair at My Love of Old Hollywood, and Brandie‘s exploration of the working relationship between Pickford and writer Frances Marion at True Classics.
The Legendary Wit of Judy Garland by Lara at Backlots
Also celebrating a birthday this month was the wonderful Judy Garland (see my tribute), and Lara goes into Judy’s legendary wit, while also pointing out that it was something of a public front for her. Fascinating commentary, and the section about the candid interviews revealed a side of Judy that I didn’t really know about. See also Aurora‘s tribute to Judy at The Cinementals, and Ryan McNeil‘s perhaps fortuitously-timed Blind Spot review of A Star is Born.
The Latest Whither Criticism Kerfluffle
Seems like there’s a big debate over the “value of criticism” or “what is criticism” or approaches to criticism or what have you that takes over a bunch of the big dog film critic blogs for a while every six months or so, and even as they get repetitive, I always enjoy reading them. The current topic is the common one of film critics vs. mainstream opinions, kicked off immediately by a video podcast from the New York Times featuring film critic A.O. Scott and media commenter David Carr. Appalled by Carr’s lack of logical rigor, Jim Emerson analyzed the crap out of the video, while Glenn Kenny offered his thoughts on criticism itself. Meanwhile, others looking in, like the excellent amateur blogger Velvet Cafe (whose blog is a must for extremely well-written personal experiences with movies) wondered why all the fuss over such a trifling video. I left my own long comment on Velvet Cafe’s blog, but the gist of it is that I agree with Emerson, though I’m not as angered as he was. The video mostly just made me frustrated that the level of discussion it displays is considered adequate in any way. It’s a ridiculous video, and while it might not be worth getting up in arms over, Emerson’s breakdown of it is exactly right. If this is what passes for critical discourse at the New York Times (about criticism or anything else), then we’re in a bad way.
“Indie Blockbuster Franchise” is Not an Oxymoron by Kristin Thompson at Observations on Film Art
The Lord of the Rings trilogy are independent films. Does that statement make you go “whaaaa?” the way it did me? Check out Kristin Thompson’s extremely interesting article about big-budget independent films, which are financed not by a big studio bankrolling things from the start, but from international distributors putting up a portion of the cost up front for a share of the profits. That system is extremely risky when it comes to something the size of LOTR, but it paid off extremely well in that case, giving smaller distributors around the world a lot more cash for a few years to invest in other properties. With New Line Cinema, at the time functioning as a wholly independent producer, now subsumed into Warner Bros, who will take their place, and what blockbuster franchises can hope to be the next indie cash cow? Thompson looks to Lion’s Gate, with its recent take-over of the Twilight and Hunger Games franchise. In any case, Thompson’s look into this specific type of distribution is very interesting and enlightening.
Silent Talk: The Silent-Classic Divide by Chris Edwards at The Cinementals
Chris Edwards already runs one of the best silent film-related blogs out there at Silent Volume, and now he’s contributing at The Cinementals, as well, with a series on getting into silent films. He’s already into the series for real with a post on starting with silent shorts, but I’d like to highlight his introduction post as well, which wonders why there’s an apparent divide between classic film fans and silent films – in other words, why do so many people who love classic films draw a line at silents in a way that they don’t do for black and white, older acting styles, etc. There are a number of suggestions proffered in the comments, including lack of availability, even more different style, and lack of continuity between the silent and sound eras. It’s an interesting question, for sure. Definitely stay tuned for the rest of Chris’s posts, especially if you’re interested in getting into silent film. Also on topic and at The Cinementals, Trevor Jost runs down his favorite silent films.
Old Wives for New: Sex, Sin, and Cecil B. DeMille by the Mythical Monkey
The other “best silent film-related blog other there” (in addition to the previously-mentioned Silent Volume) is easily the Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies, where the Mythical Monkey ostensibly writes about his choices for the Silent Oscars (if there were such a thing), but actually writes excellent long-form essays about all manner of silent films. This entry is about the career and influence of Cecil B. DeMille, who is often derided today for his love of populist spectacle, but was, in the 1920s, one of the most highly respected and influential directors in Hollywood. There are good reasons for this, and I’ve got to say, I’ve heartily enjoyed all of the silent DeMille films I’ve seen, which isn’t something I can say for all silent filmmakers.
Demented Podcast: Battle Royale #4 by Nick, Steve, Rachel, Kai, Stevee, me, and Jason
A bit of a self-plug here. I was on the Demented Podcast a few months ago, and my score on their ridiculously hard trivia game was good enough to get me a spot in the Battle Royale, where the top five scorers of the podcasting season play off against each other for the championship title. Lots of great trivia, lots of fun, and lots of laughs are traded here. What’s that? Oh, how did I do? You’ll have to listen to find out!
- Stevee at Cinematic Paradox is dipping her toes in the French New Wave (and again here) and enjoying it! Yay!
- Jake at Not Just Movies checks out Irma Vep for his Blind Spots series – I was quite taken with the film when I saw it, but Jake is far more articulate than I am
- Bonjour Tristesse has seen David Cronenberg’s upcoming Cosmopolis, and rates it highly, but warns it’s not quite what you’d expect from the high-octane trailer; see also Ross’s review at Row Three
- Dan at Public Transportation Snob hits up In a Lonely Place, one of my all-time faves, for his Reader’s Choice Marathon
- David Blakeslee of Criterion Reflections reflects on François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim in a great example of someone struggling with a film he wanted to like better, and Jules et Jim is definitely the kind of film that invites that
- Danny at Can’t Stop the Movies does an always delightful series on Pre-Code films; this entry on Footlight Parade is helped by the movie being excellent as well
- Ed Howard of Only the Cinema is one of the few best film synopsizers (it’s a word now) I’ve ever read, both because he injects plenty of solid critical thought as he’s going through the set up and plot, and because he’s got an astounding ability to make it feel like I’m actually watching the scenes he’s describing – see that talent at work in his review of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr
- Andy Buckle of The Film Emporium catches the new Michael Haneke film Amour fresh off its Cannes Palme d’Or
- Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule offers a tribute to the drive-in, including planning a drive-in outing for those near Los Angeles
- Alex Withrow of And So It Begins adds another stellar entry to his In Character series, this time focusing on one of my favorites, Sam Rockwell
- Peter Sciretta of /Film rhapsodizes about the new Buena Vista Street entrance to Disney California Adventure
- Nick Prigge at Anomalous Material names his favorite horror movie moment – the air ducts scene from Alien, and nails why it works so well for him and me both
- Glenn Kenny at Some Came Running reminds us that first impressions aren’t always lasting, as he recounts his own reaction to Alien at age 19
- Row Three did a whole themed week leading up to Prometheus, including this tribute to the Alien franchise which manages to defend BOTH Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection
- Greg Ferrara of Cinema Styles bitches about the new Paramount 100 Anniversary poster, which is heavily weighted toward post-1962 films
- Dan of Public Transportation Snob explains why he still loves going to the theatre, and I’m right there with him
- In case you didn’t know, Lindsay Lohan is playing Elizabeth Taylor in an upcoming Lifetime movie, which has a lot of classic movie fans in a tizzy – but Will over at The Cinementals hilariously explains why it’s actually a good thing
- Ryan Stuckey at Flickchart Blog makes an excellent case for why you should watch short films – something I’m definitely in favor of!
- Brandie at True Classics memorializes Ann Rutherford, who passed away on June 12th (see also at The Cinementals and Backlots)
- Ray Bradbury died last week, and Steve Honeywell of 1001Plus gives a very moving and personal eulogy for the acclaimed writer
Cool Trailers, Videos, and More
- Rita Hayworth is Stayin’ Alive! Seriously great editing here
- Not a brand-new trailer for Extraterrestrial, but it’s a good watch, and a really good movie; this trailer only tells the very beginning of it
- There’s another Resident Evil movie coming out – looks suspiciously like the last one, but no matter – this Milla fan is already in line
- A musical comedy about an a capella singing group facing off against rival schools? Yep, it’s called Pitch Perfect, and here’s the trailer. Looks like Bring It On X Glee X Bridesmaids X Mean Girls, and I’m actually curious to see it
- I had no interest in Wreck-It Ralph until I saw this trailer; now the gamer geek in me is totally sold
- Speaking of video games: here’s an awesome Short History of them
- The Prometheus trailer, done entirely in paper – by my fellow Flickcharter Travis Betz
- Click through to Film School Rejects to see a bunch of awesome movie scenes recreated with LEGO
- Still confused by Pulp Fiction‘s non-linear chronology? Here’s an infographic that explains it all
- Best Coast says California is “The Only Place” for them, and their LA-centric video for the song underscores that – it’s the only place for me too
- FINALLY, a distributor has picked up Xavier Dolan’s first film I Killed My Mother; it’s Kino Lorber and the film should hit theatres this fall. GO SEE IT!
- Joe Cornish’s first film after Attack the Block? Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time – good luck, Joe!
- First look at Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo – I’m hot and cold on him, but always interested
- More casting news on Darren Aronofsky’s Noah – I’ll watch anything by him, and now Emma Watson is signed as well
- Fox has picked up Jean-Luc Godard’s upcoming Goodbye to Language – will it get more distro than Film Socialisme?
- Gaumont, the oldest film distributor in existence, has announced a slate of Blu-ray restorations – good stuff, too!
- Warner Bros may be planning a slew of Justice League-related films, but can they catch up with Marvel before the superhero craze dies down?
- Looks like four more New 52 series bite the dust in September, as DC paves the way for four new ones. Not losing anything I’m reading, and the new Talon series intrigues me