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The Roundup: April 2

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The Golden Age of Inappropriate Behavior in Movie Theatres by Glenn Kenny at Some Came Running

With a recent study coming out suggesting that over 50% of young theater goers would like to be able to text in movie theatres, a bunch of film blogs have offered their opinions on the subject, mostly aghast at the idea. Glenn Kenny doesn’t directly disagree, but offers a very entertaining account of attending rowdy second run theatres in the ’70s as background for why he can’t get very worked up over the whole texting thing. He does bring up an interesting point, insomuch as our tendency to complain about current audiences implicitly suggests that audiences used to be much more polite and respectful, which my research doesn’t bear out any more than Glenn’s experience, but I still think there’s a difference. The audiences he’s describing (besides being at second run theatres) are at least still engaged either with the movie or with each other – it maintains a communal experience that clearly generates memorable stories. Texting on the one hand isolates the texter from the audience around them and imposes the texter’s non-movie, non-communal activity on those around them, and generates nothing memorable in return. Still, Glenn’s point that there is no mythical “golden age” of perfect cinema audiences is well-taken.

The Films of Billy Wilder: A Retrospective by The Playlist

Billy Wilder is one of my favorite filmmakers, and I’m far from alone; as The Playlist mentions in the opening paragraph, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius thanked only one former filmmaker in his Oscar speech, and that was Billy Wilder. The man made a few mediocre films, but he has an extraordinarily consistent output of great films, and The Playlist goes through them all chronologically, with a well-written and informative paragraph about each one.

The Cinementals Episode 3: Scott McGee by Carley & Will at The Cinementals

I’ve known Carley before thanks to her blog The Kitty Packard Pictorial, and Will on Twitter, and now they’ve joined forces with some other classic movie fans to create The Cinementals, what looks to be an invaluable classic film site. They’re already off to a strong start with one of the best classic film podcasts I’ve heard, and this episode is particularly solid thanks to special guest Scott McGee, a producer at TCM (he produces a lot of the promotional and tribute videos that play between films on the network). With the TCM Classic Film Festival looming, they talk a bunch about that, but also about Scott’s experience seeing the Napoleon restoration in San Francisco, the fight to save Pickfair Studios, and more.

Perils, Pitfalls, and Predicaments Galore: The Silent Serial Queens by Brandie at True Classics

A major stereotype of silent film serials is the damsel in distress threatened by a mustachioed villain – as parodied in Dudley Do-Right, for example. But actually, an awful lot of early serials had female heroines, who were often quite capable of taking care of themselves. Brandie runs down a few of the most prominent (the only one I’d heard of before was The Perils of Pauline) ones. Of course, there were also plenty of male-centric serials in the teens (Les Vampires, etc.) and even more into the 1930s, when comic strip-type adventure heroes took over. But that’s a topic for another time.

Veneration and Its Discontents by Doug Dibbern at MUBI

It’s old news at this point that film studios are planning to go all-digital in the near future, but many cinephiles are still conflicted about the inevitable shift from film to digital. I’m conflicted myself, and Doug Dibbern does a great job of articulating the myriad of feelings we have about this. Taking the occasion of a demo of a DCP film shown side-by-side with its 35mm counterpart, Dibbern points out that part of our concern is an irrational veneration for physical, as if “the film” (in a Platonic sense) exists there more purely than anywhere else, as if different prints and different screenings weren’t already unique due to many different factors. As he says, DCP projection is often excellent, and it’s hard to find rational reasons to complain…but as he finishes in a more elegiac tone: “I know it’s not rational to revere film as a manifestation of a Platonic ideal, but that misplaced reverence, irrational as it is, may be why we were all drawn to art in the first place.”

The New Cinematic Dystopia of The Hunger Games by Landon Palmer at Film School Rejects

Holding Out for a Hero: Katniss and the New (Female) Role Model by Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg at Twitch

I’m putting these two together, both very worthwhile articles about the newest box office blockbuster, The Hunger Games. I finally saw it this weekend, so I got to read all the articles about it. These do both contain spoilers. Palmer points out that while many dystopian stories go from ignorance to knowledge to action, while The Hunger Games eschews the ignorance portion – even with the prevalent and misleading media, Katniss knows that the system is bad, she just needs a call to action and an opportunity to take it. Meanwhile, Rowan-Legg talks about Katniss the character as a hero, specifically in the tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suggesting that it both does and doesn’t matter than she’s female. It’s a good, strong reading of a well-written and well-played character.

More Links!

  • Dan at Public Transportation Snob catches up with In the Mood for Love, and gives it an extremely solid review
  • Ed Howard at Only the Cinema highlights Castaways from Turtle Rock from overlooked New Wave director Jacques Rozier – I admit that I’ve not heard of Rozier, but I’m intrigued now
  • Bilge Ibiri at They Live by Night reprints an article about Jacques Rivette’s notoriously difficult to find 13-hour film Out 1 – and makes me want to seek it out myself
  • Steve at 1001 Plus gets to Magnolia, which is easily my favorite PT Anderson film – Steve liked it too, though his commenters are mixed. :)
  • Roderick Heath at Ferdy on Films liked John Carter quite a lot, and writes it up in his usual extremely compelling way – I was already curious, but now I actually really want to see it
  • Tyler at Southern Vision writes up INLAND EMPIRE as one of his all-time favorite films, an estimation I agree with whole-heartedely
  • Emil at A Swede Talks Movies picks 9 Director-Actor Teamups he wants to see – great choices all across the spectrum; who would you want to work together?
  • The Playlist picks out both actors and actresses they think are on the rise in 2012 – lots of these people I haven’t even heard of, but I’ll be looking out for them now!
  • Martin Scorsese recommends these 39 foreign films to an aspiring filmmaker. I’ve seen 23 of them; how about you?
  • Stevee Taylor of Cinematic Paradox bemoans the state of current DVD shops, from an insider’s persective
  • Over at Comic Alliance, Lauren Davis wonders if Batman has a moral obligation to kill the Joker (in the comics) and brings in noted philosophical positions to argue it out

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