Nicholas Ray Blogathon, hosted by Tony Dayoub at Cinema Viewfinder
I noticed Jake Cole doing a bunch of Nicholas Ray posts over the past week or so, and turns out they’re part of a much larger blogathan celebrating the great director (Rebel Without a Cause, In a Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar, etc.). Ray would’ve been 100 years old this year, so it’s fitting to see a great turnout for the blogathon, and a variety of people participating. I haven’t had time to look through everything yet, but this should be some very good reading.
Too Much Madness to Explain in One Text by Oliver Lyttelton at The Playlist
Only a few weeks after Joe Cornish’s excellent genre film Attack the Block was released in US theatres, we started hearing reports of riots in London perpetrated by “hoodies,” gangs of kids wearing hooded sweatshirts from the poorest part of London. Hoodies also happen to be the main characters and indeed, the heroes of Attack the Block. Far-removed from both the real-life riots and the setting of Attack the Block in the US, it’s impossible to see one and not think of the other. The rioting has died down now, but this article from Oliver Lyttelton (residing in South London) is still an excellent reading of the two against each other. He wrote it on time; blame me for the delay in recommending it. :)
How to Make an Intelligent Blockbuster and Not Alienate People by Mark Kermode
This article (excerpted from Kermode’s newest book) has been stirring up discussion and controversy since it was posted a week or so ago. The basic premise is that people go to see movies based on hype and are often disappointed and don’t like the tentpole blockbusters even though the box office receipts prove they paid to see them. Kermode argues, if people are going to see a tentpole release because it’s a tentpole release, then they don’t have to be dumb to succeed – you can make intelligent blockbusters ike Inception and make a ton of money AND have audiences who are better satisfied at the end of it all. I think his argument is a bit facile (there are plenty of tentpoles that fail despite hype, and Inception is a fringe case based on Nolan’s name that’s not easily repeatable), but his general stance that we shouldn’t settle for whatever dumb tripe the studios throw at us even if it’s shiny and glossy I can get totally get behind.
Play It On the G Strong by Brandie at True Classics
Starting off with a general history of burlesque, then moving on to its most famous practitioner Gypsy Rose Lee, then on to Lady of Burlesque, the film version of Lee’s novel The G-String Murders, this post is entertaining from start to finish. Lee was originally meant to star in the film adaptation of her novel, but the role eventually went to Barbara Stanwyck instead, and Brandie reviews the film, recognizing Stanwyck’s contribution to what it otherwise a relatively routine film. I’ve seen the film, but finding out about the background of burlesque and the project’s history was really interesting.
Looking Different Today by David Bordwell at Observations on Film Art
Here Bordwell talks about editing trends in the 1910s, showing the very birth of mature continuity editing as editors start cutting to closeups and insets to add emotional and thematic content to the story. He also looks at some very early 1910s compositions, noting that they often have a lot more going on in the frame than later films – sometimes too much for us to easily figure out what’s going on, as our attention is distrated to different parts of the frame. (Note this is a different thing than using deep focus – a good deep focus shot will have everything available to see, but still be able to draw our attention as necessary for the narrative.) His hypothesis is that people actually understood images differently then, and we have lost the ability to understand compositions like that. Based on my own experiences with certain styles of painting and stained-glass windows, I think it’s an intriguing possibility.
Remember My Forgotten Man by Lara at Backlots
An exposition and appreciation of one of my all-time favorite musical numbers from one of my all-time favorite musicals. I love Gold Diggers of 1933 to bits, and the musical numbers are some of the best Warren and Dubin ever wrote, or Busby Berkeley ever filmed. The film is notable for its very head-on approach to the Depression, and nowhere is that more evident than in this number, as Lara indicates very well.
Chaos Cinema by Jim Emerson at scanners::blog
Jim Emerson has made no bones of his dislike for incoherent action scenes (and I agree with him upon this point), and here he goes into again, discussing the current trend toward what he calls “chaos cinema” and going back and forth on what filmmakers have said about it themselves and then what they actually do in their films. Hint, they’re not always consistent. He also includes a video from Matthias Stork that details, with video clips, the kind of thing they’re talking about. It’s a really good video, and a good article.
Yes, Really with Wilde.Dash #23: Love Story by Wilde.Dash at Love and Squalor
A genuinely hilarious review of the film that has, in some ways, become the template for romantic dramas. And yet, does it deserve to be? I haven’t actually seen Love Story myself, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of Wilde.Dash’s approach to reviewing it. I literally laughed out loud a few times, and it’s rare that I read reviews that are that engaging.
What’s on TCM September 2011 by Angela at Hollywood Revue
Angela runs down the whole month of TCM programming, with some excellent recommendations. I do this weekly in my Film on TV posts, but Angela’s focus on TCM means her coverage of their programming is even better than mine, and has more of a focus on classic Hollywood fans. She especially highlights The Story of Temple Drake (Sep 14) and The Constant Nymph (Sep 28), two films that haven’t been seen basically since their release due to censorship and copyright issues, until TCM worked with restoration teams at MoMA and the Library of Congress to bring the two films to the TCM Film Festival. This month is the first time the two films have played on the channel, though, and believe me, they’re both worth it.
Movie Titles That Deserve Their Own Hall of Fame by Jeff Stafford at Movie Morlocks
A really fun post from the Morlocks, highlighting a whole bunch of bizarrely-titled films – some of the usual suspects like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, but also a bunch that I have never heard of before and definitely gave me a good laugh. Not to mention the posters that go along with them are usually priceless as well.