July 2009 - Posts
I thought this was a fun waste of time. All you do is make a fun caricature of yourself and post it on your social media sites like twitter or facebook. I took a shot at making one for Paul W. Klipsch (see below). How did I do?
Mad Men is an awesome show on AMC about an advertising firm in the 60s. You should check it out on DVD if you haven't seen it.
New Coen brothers trailer. Is there anything else I have to say?
Check it out
Graduating from UCLA film school in the mid 1960s, Francis Coppola would be the first of the "film school generation" to infiltrate Hollywood. Although Finian's Rainbow (Fred Astaire's final movie) was a flop, he had minor success with The Rain People before achieving major recognition with an Academy Award for his work co-writing Patton. Mr. Coppola was at once the oldest of the new wave and the youngest of the old guard, both an advocate of fresh techniques yet an admirer of the once glorious studio system. Running his own studio out of San Francisco for 40 years, American Zoetrope, he has overseen some astounding artistic and commercial achievements as well as some unbelievable failures (actually leading to bankruptcy in the 1980s). Never lacking for big ideas, Mr. Coppola has added vintner, publisher and hotelier to his resume over the years. But his legacy will be as the director of some of the greatest American movies. One small masterpiece he made in-between two better-known classics (The Godfather and The Godfather Part II) is the The Conversation.
The movie opens with one of my favorite title sequences - a slow decent into a bustling public square with a clean, white typeface overlaying the lower right of the image. New Orleans Jazz mixes with natural sounds. We eventually focus in on our protagonist, Harry Caul (Gene Hackman).
Harry is in surveillance; in fact he’s the best in the business. His men are on buildings, like snipers with high-powered microphones, trying to capture a conversation amongst the swirling activity in the square. Stan (John Cazale), Harry’s partner, wonders what it is they are talking about. Not Harry. Harry never cares. He is a professional. Extremely private, yet makes a living by peering into the lives of others. His only interest is in the end result - a nice fat recording. But as the circumstances surrounding this recording become more unusual, Harry has to become less objective. There could be a life hanging in the balance.
Mr. Coppola’s story of perception versus reality is superb and his direction masterful. The relationship between the form and the content of The Conversation is about as good as I have seen. Every aspect– the cinematography, editing, the locations, musical score, and sound design– all serve his remarkable script. It is an incredible balance. The amazing turn by Hackman as the intensely repressed Caul is maybe the best of his career. Most of the time the pace is less than brisk, but it is easy to enjoy the amount of expressive detail that is packed into every moment.
The disc was issued in 2000, and the film is presented in widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital. Extras on the disc include commentary by Mr. Coppola and film editor Walter Murch, as well as a featurette on the film and the theatrical trailer.
The first and most obvious film connection is Enemy of the State, which has Gene Hackman reprising his character 24 years later. The style that Tony Scott employs is quite different from The Conversation, but it is fun to peak back in at Caul's life. As I did with John Cassavettes, I will list a couple movies made by the filmmaker's children - the most famous being Lost in Translation by daughter Sophia Coppola. The other would be CQ , an homage to sexy 60s sci-fi, by son Roman Coppola.
And as a bonus, Mr. Coppola's Tetro is open in limited release and marks the first time he's worked from an orginal screenplay since his 1974 classic.
I have a confession to make. I watched the premiere of Dating in the Dark
. Let's just blame it on boredom and the usual lack of decent TV during the summer. The premise is simple, three men and three women go on individual and group dates in a pitch black room that prevents them from seeing each other. This is supposedly a grand experiment to learn if people can fall in love based purely on personality and fully dilated pupils.
All in all it feels really hokey. At one point the contestants take off their shirts, which are delivered to the opposite sex so they can inspect the clothing and learn more about them. They also had them sit down with an artist to have them draw the face of the person they've been dating based on the contestants description. So it's really about whether or not people can fall in love based on personality, apparel and a police sketch artist rendering.
Near the end of the hour the contestants choose one of the three people they've been dating to be revealed to them. It is still done in the dark so they never look at each other at the same time and no one is allowed to speak. This way they can make excited or disappointed faces, but not to each other's face, leaving the final outcome a mystery for the balcony.
Ah, the balcony, by far the cruelest part of the show. They make you wait on a veranda to see if the person you liked in the dark thinks your attractive enough to see again. They will either join you on the balcony or walk out the front door and reject you. The front door is conveniently placed within view of the balcony. Uncool. They should at least have to say to this persons face that they're shallow.
In the end, I enjoyed the show because of how ridiculous it was - which surely will wear off quickly. I would much prefer speed dating in the dark. Or sitting in the dark.
It has been a busy week, so to keep you occupied here is a little interview with
that I really enjoyed. They talk about Ghostbusters 3, special effects and movies in general.
Check it out.
After several successful years of moviemaking in the United States, Stanley Kubrick moved to England in 1962 to gain greater artistic freedom. It was there that he labored over his best-remembered and most controversial films. His work has been incredibly influential, yet critical opinion has always varied. The former photographer was a master of visual storytelling, yet the cold and pessimistic nature of many of his works pushed some viewers away. Mr. Kubrick’s eye for detail and intense desire to achieve his vision made it impossible for him to complete a large number of films. But the result is that he never made a bad one. Perhaps his least well known is the epic historical drama, Barry Lyndon, which he made between A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.
The film begins with a title card. We read that Part I of the story will inform us on how Redmond Barry became Barry Lyndon. We then peer over a rock wall at a duel in progress. The narrator informs us, as shots are fired, that this is how Redmond Barry’s father died. It won’t be long before we see the young Irishman exhibit his own willingness to duel that sets in motion his varied rise as a soldier and aristocrat as well as his subsequent fall (in Part II).
Always working from literary sources, for his tenth film Mr. Kubrick chose William Makepeace Thackerary’s 1844 novel. He transports us into the 1700s and the effect is amazing. The movie is beautiful from start to finish. Mr. Kubrick’s compositions remind us of a walk through the art gallery. He went to great lengths to achieve the visual brilliance of 18th century paintings, even using special camera lenses made by NASA so that he could film whole sequences using only candlelight. The result is stunning. The music is outstanding and enhances the tension and emotion of the slowly and deliberately paced scenes. Even the acting is superb, although at the time his casting of young movie star Ryan O’Neil and model Marisa Berenson seemed very uncharacteristic. If you are in the mood for a feast of a film and have the time to indulge I heartily recommend this one.
The latest disc was produced in 2007. It doesn't have any quality extras to speak of but the widescreen picture is first-rate and the remastered soundtrack is great in 5.1.
A period film from the 1990s that I think that is similarly beautiful and deliberately paced is Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence. Another film that includes similar scenes of period warfare is Last of the Mohicans by director Michael Mann. Lastly, the most recent film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is a pleasure to watch and portrays a similar time period.
This past weekend I finally made time to see The Hangover
, and I was paid handsomely for my efforts. It's about three guys who throw their friend a bachelor party in Vegas, party too hard and wake up the next morning to a trashed room, a missing groom and no memory of the night before. The simplicity of this story keeps the movie well paced and avoids boring and unnecessary side stories. I'm tired of comedies that try to be half chick-flick or half serious - it doesn't work and no one is happy. The Hangover is refreshing because it's not about losing the girl, finding the girl or hiding the girl's body; it's just about finding their friend and filling in the blanks from the night before.
While the cast does not included any big names (which is a plus for me) I thought they all did a top notch job.
(who you might know from a little internet show called Between Two Ferns
definitely does the heavy lifting, but I have to say hearing
sing about drugging a tiger was one of my favorite moments.
Like any good comedy, The Hangover is a quotable smorgasbord. So I will end with, "Next week's no good for me. The Jonas Brothers are in town."