Tag: motion pictures

Film Review: 1917


Back in the late 1940s and throughout the 50s, as the motion picture studios sought to fight off the advancement of the one-eyed monster called “television,” film studios experimented with gimmicks to lure their once faithful audiences out of their living rooms and back into the theaters. It saw the introductions of wide screens, curved screens, 3-D glasses, even a run at “Smell-O-Rama.” One of those early attempts to redefine the motion picture experience was Rope, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1949 attempt to replicate a “real-time” experience by shooting a single-set story in long uncut takes, the longest of which pushed it to the limits of a 10-minute film magazine (10:06).

We seem to be back in that era. Sam Mendes’ latest picture, 1917, harkens back to Hitchcock and creates a movie with a single two-hour tracking shot. Like Hitchcock, Mendes and his editor use blackouts and other distractions like a plunge underwater to hide the seams. At first, you might think it’s rather a nifty technique and it does work very well during the action sequences. But the rest of the time it becomes an annoyance, but maybe it’s me. Having directed my share of television over the course of my career and watched others much more talented than I do it even better, I believe the best direction is almost transparent and should always enhance the story and never do anything that ends up saying, “Look at what I can do!” That’s also the danger of CGI.

You Say You Want a Revolution, Part 3


In a recent post, we revisited fifty years ago, a cultural turning point with many similarities to today’s, a tumultuous, angry year when much of Hollywood saw mass audiences respond to Easy Rider and M.A.S.H. But inadvertently, it triggered a powerful law-and-order backlash whose inexhaustible fury would ensure that Archie Bunker, General Patton, Dirty Harry, Popeye Doyle, Vito Corleone, and Charles Bronson would provide the most iconic screen moments of the early Seventies.

To understate things, it sure seems today like a lot of people in this country, tens of millions of media consumers, are frustrated by their relative powerlessness. The Woke Market is not as big or bigger than the rest of America put together, and yet you’d never know that if you looked at a list of current films or TV shows. We can debate the reasons why, but there’s clearly an unsatisfied need to hotwire a path to cultural change, because whatever market mechanism is sending a corrective signal to the media, it’s not reaching enough of a real response.

A Love Letter to Herself


Maureen1“Well, some things a man doesn’t get over so easy … Like the sight of a girl coming through the fields with the sun on her hair … kneeling in church with a face like a saint…” — John Wayne to Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man

I had seen her dozens of times before, but always in black and white. She flickered across my TV screen as the hauntingly beautiful Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and as the exasperated Mrs. Walker in the original Miracle on 34th Street. But at age 12, my folks bought their first color television and I saw Maureen FitzSimons, aka, Maureen O’Hara, in The Quiet Man.

Like John Wayne’s character, Sean Thornton, my first sight of her in glorious Technicolor was as she moved sheep across an Irish meadow with the sunlight shining on that marvelous head of red hair. By the time the movie was over, I was thoroughly convinced that if that is what women were all about, I wanted to be involved.