Sunday, February 8, 2009

Notable film and media links---February 8, 2009

---In The House Next Door, Ali Arikan's "Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective" instantly struck me as one of the best posts I've read in a while:

"For 16 years, Groundhog Day has been hailed as a meditation on self-redemption. But to pigeonhole it into one overarching theme would be an insult to the layered precision, and perfection, of Harold Ramis’s 1993 masterpiece, which ventures into the heart of darkness and despair to ultimately emerge unharmed, but not unmarked. This story of a man doomed to relive the same day over and over again is not concerned about tomorrow. A true absurdist triumph, it cares not what the destination might be, for it knows that the pursuit of meaning is itself meaningful whether or not that pursuit is eventually rewarded. Life might very well lack purpose, and it might very well be a struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole about it."

---Kevin Kelly's video-filled "Geekbomb: Telekinetic Powers on the Big (and small) Screen," written for /film, not only gets us ready for Push, it also allows us to meditate on strangely compelling scenes in which people explode. I especially enjoyed the scene where Amy Irving blows up John Cassevetes in Brian de Palma's The Fury (1978).

---Slumdog Millionaire's influence continues to spread. Today Huffington Post leads off with a Frank Rich New York Times op-ed column entitled "Slumdogs Unite!" Rich finds there is a "tsunami of populist rage" sweeping the US, rejecting Tom Daschle:

"The public’s revulsion isn’t mindless class hatred. As Obama said on Wednesday of his fellow citizens: `We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success.' But we do know that the system has been fixed for too long. The gaping income inequality of the past decade — the top 1 percent of America’s earners received more than 20 percent of the total national income — has not been seen since the run-up to the Great Depression.

This is why Slumdog Millionaire, which pits a hard-working young man in Mumbai against a corrupt nexus of money and privilege, has become America’s movie of the year. As Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, wrote after Daschle’s fall, Americans `resent people who appear to be living high off a system dominated by insiders with the right connections.'”

---For a brilliant scholarly analysis of the film, check out David Bordwell's discussion of how "long-standing cinematic traditions" shaped Slumdog Millionaire.

--- The New York Times Magazine put together an excellent portfolio of Oscar best performance contenders (tip of the hat to Nathaniel R. of Film Experience Blog)

---Ever feel like you are working too hard? Do you dislike the way the internet allows us to work 24/7 wherever we may happen to be? If so, you may be interested in Dalton Conley's examination of our workaholic culture in his new sociological book Elsewhere, USA. For an interview with Dalton, check out this Salon article. Note: I haven't read the entire book (I mostly just sympathize with his premise):

"What drives us to work harder and harder?

I don't think it's something innate in our national character. If you go back to the early '60s, we had an increasing and large amount of leisure. We worked less than the Germans, the British, even the French or Italians, which are held up now as the layabouts, compared to industrious Americans.

There was even a presidential commission that worried: How are we going to have identity and meaning in this world, where we work so few hours? What are we going to do? Play bridge and golf the whole time? We've got to think of something that is more meaningful than that. That seems laughable now that we've exceeded almost any other nation in terms of work hours."

---For those who like their "February 2009 Movie Preview" concise and snide, check out Dave Thomas's summary in FREEwilliamsburg.

---Time points out that the internet is not making as much money for companies as they had hoped:

"Recent figures from media companies show that their online businesses are performing poorly as the recession worsens. The job of making money from premium content becomes even more difficult. There may be a simple reason for this. Almost everything on the intenet is free, even The New York Times . People get used to that. If those consumers coming online to see free content aren't substantially more appealing to advertisers than people who read magazines or watch TV, the entire system that has been created to make money on the next generation of content delivery won't work."

---For Godfather fans, Maggie Van Ostrand compiled some juicy stories about the classic film for FilmSchoolRejects:

"One of the most beloved characters in the movie, Luca Brasi, was played by world wrestling champion, Lenny Montana, the six-foot-six-inch, 320-pound moonlighting bodyguard of a real-life young don who came around one day to see Godfather producer (and all-around mob buddy), Al Ruddy. He was perfect for the part. `Luca Brasi rehearsing his wedding wishes for Don Corleone as he waits outside the Don’s office is actually Lenny Montana rehearsing his lines, and his classic, stammering homage to the Don (`And I hope that their first child be a masculine child') is actually the result of the wrestler’s blowing his lines,' says Vanity Fair."

---Movie City Indie treats us to a fun musical sample of Andy Warhol's screen tests. It leaves one wondering--what drugs are they on?

---Lastly, Twitch found a video teaser for an intriguing Peak Oil Kafkaesque animated film entitled Metropia.

3 comments:

JUS said...

Harold Ramis and I had a nice conversation on the sidewalk outside the Eugene O'Neill during the intermission of M. Butterfly. He was good enough to light my cigarette, then we had a nice chat about the play. We were some way into the conversation before I realized who he was. I think it was the smirky amused air so consistent in Stripes and G. Busters that tipped me off even more than his appearance. To this day he probably hasn't realized who I was, but that is forgivable. Good chat, good chap. Groundhog Day: good flick.

FilmDr said...

JUS,

You lucky dog. I get the feeling that Ramis' work will hold up better than many a director given to more serious topics.

Sam Juliano said...

Film Dr.! Just read David Bordwell's essay.......it is simply magnificent (and definitive) the fact that a scholar like Bordwell has embraced this film speaks volumes! Thanks so much for linking it!