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The Roundup: January 21

Definitely been a while since I managed to put one of these together! But I’m settling back into my blog-reading routine now and finding things I want to share, so I’m going to try to get this series back on track a bit. Can’t guarantee how steady, comprehensive or long-lasting it’ll be, but I shall try to be optimistic.

Featured Links

A Hobbit is Chubby, But is He Off-Balance? by Kristin Thompson at Observations on Film Art

Kristin Thompson, who has written a whole book already about the Lord of the Rings films from a marketing and merchandising standpoint (The Frodo Franchise) and is currently in the middle of writing a book about Tolkein in general, gives an astute look at the additions made to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit. She stands pretty much where I do in terms of appreciating the additions and the way Jackson has molded The Hobbit to fit with his LotR trilogy, but she does bring up some good points regarding the balance of the film in terms of action scenes vs. quiet scenes and how the Azog subplot potentially affects that.

Danny Kaye at 100 by Terry Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts

Danny Kaye’s 100th birthday would’ve been just a few days ago, and Terry Towles Canote takes the opportunity to celebrate this consummate entertainer – as accomplished at singing and dancing as he was at comedy, and even able to turn in solid dramatic performances as needed. There are several Kaye films I love (especially The Court Jester, White Christmas, and Hans Christian Andersen), but there are more I need to see, for sure, and Canote takes us briskly through his life and career.

Marilyn, The Master, and Melancholia by Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun

Kim Morgan writes about Marilyn Monroe better than almost anyone else I’ve ever read, and here she ties Marilyn in with The Master a little bit, but largely with Melancholia, identifying a deep affinity between Marilyn’s struggle with depression and self-worth with that of Justine in Lars von Trier’s film. I’ve heard many people, especially women, denounce von Trier for his treatment of women in his film, but I find myself much more attuned to Morgan’s viewpoint, which is that von Trier is hardly a sadistic misogynist, but is rather one of the greatest directors of women the world of cinema has ever seen. But she expresses it much better than I do.

Top 15 Ten Male and Female Performances of 2012 by Alex Withrow of And So It Begins

Alex runs down his Top 15 performances from both men and women this year, and they’re both really solid lists. Several of the films I still need to catch up with (Rust and Bone most obviously – especially since I’m a huge Marion Cotillard fan), but of the films I have seen, I can hardly disagree with any of his picks.

Scandal on Film: Illicit, Forbidden, and Baby Face by Lara of Backlots

Lara takes on three Barbara Stanwyck Pre-Code films, one from 1931, one from 1932, and one from 1933, and charts the attempts to censor them in the days before the Hollywood Production Code was enforced – who raised outcries and against what specific content. She also looks at each film in and of itself and Stanwyck’s roles. I’ve see Baby Face, but still need to catch up with the other two. Maybe this will spur me to get on with that.

The Most Anticipated Films of 2013 Lists

A ton of these lists have been showing up recently, and so far every one has pointed out films that I didn’t even know were in the works! So my own list of most-anticipated will have to wait until I process some of these other, better-informed ones. It looks like it could be a very good year. Of course, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I will not be able to see most 2013 films in the theatre, my preferred way of viewing, but I hope to have a solid DVD year eventually at home with baby by my side. Here’s a few lists I’ve enjoyed so far:
Love & Squalor’s 35 Most Anticipated Films of 2103 (Part 1 and Part 2)
Kevyn Knox’s 25 or So Most Anticipated Films of 2013
The Playlist’s Most Anticipated of 2013
Indiewire’s 50 Indie Films We Want to See in 2013
Film School Reject’s 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2013
David Hudson’s Most Promising Films of 2013, which also includes links to many other such lists

More Links!

  • Steve Honeywell of 1001Plus catches up with two Agnès Varda films: Cleo from 5 to 7 and Vagabond (good thing he loved Cleo; we might’ve had to have words)
  • Cory Atad reframes some classic film shots as if Tom Hooper shot them over at Movie Mezzanine – gotta admit, some of these gave me a freaking headache!
  • Simon Columb reviews one of my favorite films, the 1954 version of A Star is Born, over at Man I Love Films
  • Courtney Small at Big Thoughts from a Small Mind really liked Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution, as well he should – I need to rewatch this one soon!
  • Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings marks one off her 2013 To-See List with Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, and really enjoys it despite her hesitation towards silent film; I consider 2012 to be my Harold Lloyd discovery year, so I’m ecstatic to find others enjoying his films
  • Adrian Curry over at Mubi runs down the life and work of notable Polish poster designer Wojciech Fangor
  • Based on the snippets in David Hudson’s Fandor round-up of Sundance buzz, sounds like Randy Moore’s Escape from Tomorrow is insane – both in story (a takedown of Disney corporatism) and production (filmed guerrilla-style in Disney World) – but may never see actual release
  • Just for fun, GamesRadar came up with Achievement Points for Life – my life gamerscore is 751 if you count being pregnant as “having a child.” Not bad, not bad.
  • Steamboat Willie crossed with Koyaanisqatsi – strangely compelling once it gets going good