Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notable film and media links--January 21, 2009

---T. S. of Screen Savour continues his excellent series on Hitchcock's films with a consideration of The Wrong Man (1956):

"Jonathan Rosenbaum has called The Wrong Man "the closest Alfred Hitchcock ever came to making an art film," and indeed, so much of the pleasure here comes from the execution of technique. It is not neorealism in the strictest sense of course, but Hitchcock challenged himself to bring a specific documentary-style to the film that was undoubtedly influenced by the post-war Italian directors. (He frequently screened films from all over the globe, and from Italy he was particularly interested in Roberto Rossellini, who had romanced Ingrid Bergman.)"

---James Hansen appreciates Mulholland Drive as part of Out1's Lynch Week:

"With an expansive visual sense placed in the classical Hollywood schemata and with story threads that imbed a collective sense of narrative moment and emotional connection, Mulholland Drive embeds itself within two different worlds of cinema. Its rhythms and movements often shift from classical editing into an elongated style for certain scenes that require something unexpected, a la Betty’s audition scene with the older man – one of my favorite scenes of all time. Watch how the scene gradually changes its tone – not just in the wonderful performances, but in the camera movements, the editing, the sound. It’s a perfectly simple scene right in the middle of the most “normal” part of the film, but it illustrates the significance of every aspect of the cinematic process."

---In the ever-fruitful quest to find the evil in Disney Corporation, Sociological Images considers an illustrated 1938 Disney rejection letter: "Women do not do any of the creative work in preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men." Further evidence can be found in this clip from Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood and Corporate Power.

Alexander Coleman outdoes himself with his slicing analysis of Revolutionary Road:

"American Beauty could at least be laughed off, for the silliness with which it so often waltzed, as though winking at the audience, knowing it was a socio-political platitude, a capricious fun-house mirror aimed at the culture it lampooned. Mendes' Revolutionary Road peddles pain, and damns an entire society for not being as enlightened as it should have been. Deakins' fine cinematography and Zea's cogently palpable production design manage to make a point independent from Mendes' latest assault: if the Wheelers represent any form of enlightenment, then enlightenment leads straight to the madhouse."

---Ed Howard's Early Howard Hawks Blog-a-Thon for Only the Cinema has been a smashing success. I especially enjoyed his take on Only Angels Have Wings.

--Allan Fish wrote an exemplary review of Out of the Past for Wonders in the Dark:

"It is easy to see this film as the coming together of the typical morally ambiguous characters of the likes of Double Indemnity and the visual style of Val Lewton’s horror films for RKO. Indeed, Tourneur and photographer Nick Musuraca had collaborated on Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie, and Musuraca had also worked with the dark in The Spiral Staircase for Robert Siodmak. The gorgeous lighting of the sunsets and lakes somehow makes it more real than say The Maltese Falcon - which was entirely studio shot - so that Jeff and Kathie have their romance in a real world of darkness and light. There are shots here that haunt you for life, such as Greer’s first entrance into the cantina and the Steve Brodie death scene. However, it’s in the characters that Past really comes into it own as the greatest film noir of them all."

---Tad Friend of The New Yorker shows how Tim Palen markets movies:

"Many film marketers grow disillusioned with their jobs, with the lying and the cheating. But when I asked Palen whether the job had affected his understanding of our primary levers—of the human eagerness to give way to laughter, fear, sorrow, and passion—he looked at me sharply and said, `I hope not. Because owning the secrets of cattle mentality is not aspirational. I love my job, I love being a part of all this, of staying fresh and young.'”

---For those interested in the drastic changes in the media, several good posts about the plight of newspapers and blogs have appeared recently. For The Atlantic, Michael Hirschorn meditates on the "End Times" of newspapers, specifically the possibility that The New York Times may cease to exist. Arts and Letters Daily points out this New Yorker essay by Jill Lepore that looks at today's crisis in terms of the history of newspapers. Lastly, in "The Politics of Me, Me, Me," Keith Kahn-Harris explores the solipsistic nature of blogging in relation to political discourse.

---I liked this pleasantly honest mock-trailer for The Spirit.

---Lastly, a couple Obama-related videos to help celebrate his inauguration. For The Root, Henry Louis Gates explains the history of African American use of the White House. Also, it's pleasant to see Obama's first encounter with Air Force One. As Obama says to the pilot with film scholar acumen, "You look like Sam Shepherd of The Right Stuff."


Sam Juliano said...

Film Doctor: You are a scholar and a gentleman, and a man who professes incredible humility, especially as a film professor. You are simply unreal! In behalf of Allan Fish and WitD I thank you for the gracious hook-up to Allan's OUT OF THE PAST review. I also completely agree with you on the deserved love for Alexander coleman's spectacular review of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, and also for T.S.'s latest installment of his incomparable Hitchcock series.

FilmDr said...

My pleasure, Sam.

Alexander Coleman said...

Thank you for the linkage, FilmDr!

Keep up the excellent work here. I have enjoyed the film school dispatches.

FilmDr said...

My pleasure, Alexander. I enjoyed your interview in Noirish City.