Tag: Movies

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One summer Robin and I were catching up on Breaking Bad, at that time considered to be one of the most ground-breaking episodic shows on television. We were so into the storyline that we were staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. saying to each other, “Can you do another one? I can do another one? Wanna’ do […]

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My update on what to watch and what to avoid: Nicholas and Alexandra: Sweeping, epic–here’s a movie that earns these adjectives. This film, made in the 70’s, sympathetically and beautifully portrays the Romanov family’s life from the early 1900’s through the Bolshevik Revolution.  However, this three-hour saga doesn’t ignore the struggles of other Russian players, including […]

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Clarity From a Hollywood Leader

 

Deadline has a great interview with Tom Rothman, Motion Picture Chairman at Sony Pictures.  He explains why the theatrical model for movies is far from dead, how streaming will help movies, and doesn’t pull any punches.  The best quote is on the Academy:

You mentioned the Academy. That was never particularly relevant to young people, but it was much more relevant culturally. Failings of the show aside, and we could talk about that forever, the Academy itself, and the pictures that it picks, has lost complete touch with the large audience. It’s become a self-defining elitist redoubt, and you’re just not going to be relevant if you’re that.

On this episode of “The Federalist Radio Hour,” Federalist Publisher Ben Domenech joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss their favorite and least favorite films of 2021 and evaluate whether movies finally made a comeback from a pandemic-induced cinema drought.

Economic Realities I Confront Students with in Public University

 

Helping students to understand the outcomes of their assumptions.

These are comments I send to each student after they have written their final project for one of my classes. The lines of thought deal with issues of economics based on the movie “Parasite” (Joon-ho, 2019). Most students write about class, capitalism, discrimination, equity, or the like as a theme that they draw from the movie and then do a semester full of research on their topic. I have suggested alternate viewpoints throughout the semester, pointing out economic approaches students in a public university do not always hear. Student tendencies espouse a general socialistic perspective where “government” is seen as having jurisdiction over monetary affairs. I never press my views on students but I surely have them consider the implications of theirs (or any) economic theory.

My general comments about the “Argumentative Writing” final project:

Marx and Freud Go to the Movies … and Nearly Ruin a Classic

 

My day back at the multiplex:

I saw the original “West Side Story” in the 1980s, and to me in my craven youth, it seemed kind of dorky, what with those skinny boys snapping their fingers and crooning Daddy-O, in a deeply un-ironic way. Not hip at all. But the music and dancing were glorious. And so I found myself today at the new “West Side Story” mouthing the words of classics like “One Hand, One Heart,” and even “Cool” with its toned-down Daddy-O’s, singing along softly enough not to disturb the four others in the theater, who I think were singing along too. The technology today is of course superior to the ‘80s, and conductor Gustavo Dudamel brings new richness and beauty to the score.

Bollywood Movie Staples

 

–Parents who want son or daughter to wed and are constantly bringing in photos of potential suitors or setting up meetings.

–A plot involving an unsuitable romantic partner versus the husband or wife arranged for the protagonist years ago.

Movie Review: Ghostbusters Afterlife

 

Ghostbusters (1984) is not a kid’s movie. Or to the extent that it is it’s by happenstance. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis weren’t thinking of toy lines and Saturday morning cartoons when they wrote a script about schlubby middle-aged men running a startup in pre-Giuliani New York. We loved it as kids because of Slimer, proton packs, Ecto-1, Zuul, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. We were oblivious to the jokes about mortgages and oral sex. It would take years before we appreciated Bill Murray’s charming indifference. Using “we” in this context might be presumptuous. As Ghostbusters: Afterlife shows, some people never moved beyond “proton packs are cool.”

After being evicted, single mother Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) and her two kids, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) move to Summerville, OK, to live in the farmhouse left by Callie’s recently deceased father, Egon. Trevor lies about his age to get a job at the diner where his crush works. Phoebe doubts she can make any friends. On her first day at summer school, she hits it off with a kid who calls himself “Podcast” (Logan Kim). Guess his hobby. Podcast isn’t the only one that takes a liking to Phoebe. Their teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), is impressed by her scientific knowledge and shares with her the strange seismic activity he’s recorded in Summerville.

Callie makes it clear she was not close to her father. He abandoned her to live on this farm where according to the locals he didn’t grow anything. Is it true the beloved character Egon Spengler from the beloved film Ghostbusters ended up a deadbeat who left his daughter when she was a kid? Say it ain’t so. Maybe his plucky and inquisitive grandchildren will discover his hidden ghostbusting gear and with it the town secrets causing all that seismic activity. It might even turn out a series of supernatural contrivances forced him into that situation, and he actually loved Callie all along.

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The current behavior of the Democratic Party and its allies in media and academia…and especially that of the Biden admistration…reminds me of the 1991 movie Other People’s Money.  The main character, known as Larry the Liquidator, specializes in acquiring companies for the purpose of selling off their assets.  When the film opens, his new target […]

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Killing Off Movie Theaters

 

scales justice movie projectorRecently, Scarlett Johansson filed suit against Disney for breach of contract, because they allegedly violated the contractual agreement under which Johansson acting in and promoted Black Widow. Her lawyers pointed out in the complaint the shift, after the contract was signed, from exclusive wide release on several thousand screens for the first weeks to immediate streaming, cannibalizing box office for the benefit of Disney executives’ compensation. Noting that other studios were doing the same thing, I wondered what would happen when a likable superstar in a kid’s summer movie got the same treatment. We now know, with the opening weekend box office results for Jungle Cruise.

Disney turned out to be a rat rather than a friendly mouse, perhaps another alternate storyline in the Disney Universe. They attempted to smear Ms. Johansson as a COVID-19 Cruella, seeking to profit off people getting sick and dying from going to movie theaters. They then revealed Scarlett Johansson’s substantial salary figure, suggesting she was a grasping woman. This brought an immediate response from three media industry women’s groups: Women in Film, ReFrame, and Time’s Up:

Disney Rat

3D: Still Comin’ At Ya! 

 

Millions of people stood in line for hours to see the three-dimensional theater in the Chrysler Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair 1939-’40. Eager viewers donned cardboard glasses to see stop motion animation set to bouncy music, of real car parts magically flying around in the air, seemingly right in front of the dazzled audience, before neatly assembling themselves into a Chrysler sedan. It was one of the biggest hits of the future-oriented fair. In fact, it was so popular that unlike most other fair exhibitors, who discreetly cut back their budgets for the 1940 “repeat” edition, Chrysler more than doubled down, reshooting their short 3D film in full color.

The Fair opened before war broke out in Europe; by the time it closed, it was clear to most Americans that the magic of the future was going to have to wait a few years. But arrive it did, with highways, cars, suburbs, nylon stockings, and television. And by the dawn of the Fifties, stereoscopic movies, slides, and comic books were ready to join them, in a brief, spectacular, three-dimensional false dawn. That wave lasted only three years, 1952 through 1954, but to this day, whenever a more modern movie like Back to the Future (1985) wants to evoke the pop culture of the Fifties, the designers have someone don a pair of 3D eyeglasses.

Simulation, Revelation

 

The surest way to appreciate a work is to try to recreate it.

Toddlers help us to appreciate the difficulty of drawing or painting by their laughable scribbling. One might first pity the child’s lack of eye-hand coordination, lack of patience, or lack of barest attention to detail (“Is it an airplane? Oh, a cat! Of course, it is. It looks great!”). But few adults can sketch anything worthy of pride either. The more we advance in skill, the more we recognize the full challenge. 

Do You Have Lamarr in Your Car?

 

It has been suggested that the short-range wireless protocol known as Bluetooth should instead have been called Lamarr, in honor of the actress/inventor Hedy Lamar.

Hedy (maiden name Kiesler) was born in Vienna in 1914. From her early childhood, she was fascinated by acting–and she was also very interested in how things worked, an interest which was encouraged by her bank-director father. She began acting professionally in the late 1920s, and gained fame and notoriety when she appeared–briefly nude–in the film Ecstasy.  It was followed by the more respectable Sissy, in which she played the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

In 1933, Hedy married the arms manufacturer Friedrich Mandl, finding him charming and fascinating and also probably influenced by his vast wealth. She was soon turned off by his Fascist connections and his extremely controlling nature–rather ridiculously, he even tried to buy up all copies and negatives of Ecstasy.  He did not allow her to pursue her acting career but did require her to participate, mainly as eye-candy, in high-level meetings with German and Italian political leaders and with people involved in military technology. What she heard at these sessions both interested and alarmed her.

Stick the Landing

 

I recently watched one of this year’s Oscar-nominated films, Minari, and was pleasantly surprised. Minari tells the story of a young Korean family circa 1980 struggling to turn a few acres of Arkansas country into a Korean vegetable farm.

It was quite good, until it wasn’t.

Great Character Actors: Jack Carson

 

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post here about one of my favorite character actors, Ward Bond. I think it’s time to write a little about another of the great character actors that being Jack Carson. Like Bond, I don’t know much more about Carson’s life than that presented in his Wikipedia biography.

Carson was born in the province of Manitoba in Canada in 1910. His father was a successful insurance executive and the family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was three or four years old. As such, he always considered Milwaukee his hometown and he was eventually naturalized as a U.S. citizen as an adult. His older brother, Robert, also pursued an acting career although with much less success.

April Showers Bring . . . Godzilla?

 

Godzilla 1954What could possibly go wrong here? Japanese scientists, with the approval of government officials, will dispose of radioactive waste water from the decommissioned nuclear power plants at Fukuyama by dumping it in the Pacific Ocean. This is not from the Babylon Bee, nor is it a belated April Fool’s story. It is a tale of our time, playing on our distrust of asserted expertise and asserted public interest. The power of the story also depends on a belief in zero risk options, indeed of magical cake that all may enjoy while continuing to have. Oh, and the story has deep international cultural significance.

I ran across the story through InfoWars, hosting a ZeroHedge column. So, trust but verify. Strait Times? Check. Business Insider? Check. The Sun? Check.

The cooling water that has been accumulating at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan will be released into the Pacific Ocean after it has been treated to remove all harmful radioactive substances, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet decided yesterday.

Holy Thou Art

 

What does it mean for something to be holy? I think it means that a thing or person directs us to God or expresses His presence. Holiness is connected with pious awe. 

What artistic works seem holy to you? Which are the most peculiarly holy — holy in some unusual and perhaps less obvious sense? Is there some work of sculpture or architecture, painting or music, oration or literature that draws you closer to God in a way your associates don’t fully share?