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Posts Tagged ‘film

“The older I get, the more individuality I find in animals and the less I find in humans”*…

 

Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s deep affection and respect for Chuck Jones, who once observed that “the name ‘Chuck Jones,’ according to my uncle, limited my choice of profession to second baseman or cartoonist.”  Happily for the world, he chose the pen over the bat.

The (wonderfully appropriately user-named) Every Frame a Painting has done us all a tremendous service:

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If you grew up watching Looney Tunes, then you know Chuck Jones, one of all-time masters of visual comedy. Normally I would talk about his ingenious framing and timing, but not today. Instead, I’d like to explore the evolution of his sensibilities as an artist. To see the names of the films, press the CC button and select “Movie Titles.”

* Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones

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As we agree that this is in fact “what’s up, Doc,” we might send send beautifully-collaged birthday greetings to another animation giant, Evelyn Lambart; she was born on this date in 1914.  Lambart joined the National Film Board of Canada in 1942– their first female animator; one of the few women in the world working even as a co-director in any form of cinema during the 1940s and ’50s, she made beautiful films– and animation history– both as a co-director with the great Norman McLaren and on her own.

Read more of her story, and see several of her works here.

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Written by LW

July 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“First impressions are often the truest”*…

 

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The opening shots from 32 notable films.  It’s fun to see how many one can recognize…  it’s more fun to call out the films that aren’t in the supercut and should be, for instance…

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* William Hazlitt

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As we settle back into our seats, we might recall that it was on this date in 1929 that the Hollywood Sign was officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, Los Angeles.  It originally read “Hollywoodland ” (a promotion for a housing subdivision), but the four last letters were dropped after renovation in 1949.  Recently threatened with demolition for want of maintenance funds, the icon was saved by a donation from Hugh Hefner.

The sign in its original form, as seen from Beachwood Canyon

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Written by LW

July 13, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Cats have been domesticating and harvesting humans for at least two millennia”*…

 

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This film, featuring two cats wearing boxing gloves and packing a punch, was filmed in Thomas Edison’s studio in 1894. The performance was part of Professor Henry Welton’s “cat circus,” which toured the United States both before and after appearing in Edison’s film. Performances included cats riding small bicycles and doing somersaults, with the boxing match being the highlight of the show. As for why the cats were filmed (apart from being an early example of people enjoying footage of cats), it might have possibly been a publicity stunt to advertise the show. It could also quite possibly be the first ever “cat video” (though, of course, before the days of video).

Via Public Domain Review and the Library of Congress.

* “Cats have been domesticating and harvesting humans for at least two millennia, albeit slowly, generation by generation. With the Internet, they are moving much faster, and in only two or three more generations, we will be completely incapable of sustaining a line of thought for more than half a second, and therefore effectively be zombies in the service of our feline masters who will use lame Photoshoppers to communicate with us”

–Matt Smith

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As we memorialize memes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 that Henry F. Phillips received several U.S. patents for the Phillips-head screw and screwdriver– a system in which a matching driver with a tapering tip conveniently self-centers in the screw head.  Phillips founded the Phillips Screw Company to license his patents, and persuaded the American Screw Company to manufacture the fasteners.  General Motors was convinced to use the screws on its 1937 Cadillac; by 1940, virtually every American automaker had switched to Phillips screws.

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Written by LW

July 7, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them”*…

 

Marcus Rosentrater, filmmaker and animator of FX’s amazingly-amusing Archer, has done us the service of combining all six Star Wars films into a single viewing experience:

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* Obi-Wan Kenobi

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As we hope that the Force is with us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1985 that Universal Pictures released the keystone of another– though very different– sci-fi franchise: Back to the Future.

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Written by LW

July 3, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”*…

 

The Boeing airplane factory in Seattle got the “fake neighborhood” treatment. The women shown are walking on a suburban landscape made of chicken wire and planks, positioned over the roof of the factory. Underneath, B-17s were being built for the war effort.

Military forces have used camouflage of one sort or another since antiquity.  But with the advent of the airplane and the rise of aerial warfare, camouflage (to hide targets) and decoys (to draw fire away from real targets or to intimidate the enemy) became bigger and bigger: “Massive Wartime Decoys and Camouflage Operations.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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As we misdirect, we might send convincingly animated birthday greetings to Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen; he was born on this date in 1920.  A visual effects pioneer, he became a writer and producer of films featuring the stop-motion model animation technique, “Dynamation,” that he developed.  He is probably best remembered for the animation in Mighty Joe Young (1949, with his mentor, King Kong animator Willis H. O’Brien), which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, his first color film); and Jason and the Argonauts (1963, which featured an amazing sword fight between Jason and seven skeleton warriors).  His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981).

Harryhausen and one of the skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts

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Written by LW

June 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I find it soothing, the thought of a movie theater”*…

 

 

Saubine Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche are intrepid photographers of thought-provoking things.  Here, they discuss their series on movie theaters in India…

In three journeys between 2010 and 2013 we have photographed movie theatres from the ‘Thirties to the ‘Seventies in South India. The photos of these buildings give eloquent testimony to the rich cinematic culture of those times. We are particularly interested in the culturally influenced reinterpretation of modern building style apparent in the architectural style, which displays an unusual mixture of Modernism, local architectural elements, a strong use of colour and, in the case of some older cinema halls, of Art Deco…

Many movie theatres in South India are left in their original state. Nonetheless, remodelling into multiplex cinemas is already underway, in particular in major cities, and will result in these buildings’ disappearance as witnesses to their times. The photographs document a part of cinema culture that has already largely vanished in Europe and the USA, and is increasingly being supplanted by commercial interests and technical developments in India, as well.

Take the tour at here.

* Theophilus London

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As we lounge in the loge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1915 that Vitagraph released Miss Jekyll and Madame Hyde, a retelling of Stevenson’s famous tale in which Helen Gardner played the lead role(s).  Ms Gardner, whose career consisted mostly of portrayals of strong women (Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, Cleopatra, et al.) was herself a formidable player in the film industry, one of the first actors to form an independent production company (The Helen Gardner Players).

Helen Gardner, c. 1912 (the time of her break-out role, Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair)

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Written by LW

June 19, 2015 at 1:01 am

“All they had to do was put my name on a marquee and watch the money roll in”*…

 

From a Tumblr teeming with treasures…

Movie Marquees

* Gloria Swanson

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As we peruse the posters, we might recall that it was on this date in 1948 that David O. Selznick and RKO Pictures released Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House.

The film was adapted from Eric Hodgins’ 1946 novel of the same name [illustrated by Shrek! author William Steig], a comic yarn for the public, and pure therapy for Hodgins. In 1939, to cap his professional success as the publisher of the newly formed Fortune magazine, Hodgins and his wife found a lovely plot of land in Connecticut and went to work. By the end their $11,000 dream house turned into a $56,000 nightmare, nearly bankrupting them. Only writing about it saved him, as the book became a bestseller and the movie rights sold for $200,000. The film also turned hardship into triumph by translating a national anxiety into box-office gold. As Bosley Crowther wrote in his New York Times review, “If the much-talked-about housing problem could be as happily resolved for all as it is for those fortunate people who watch Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.” The waves of soldiers returning after the war found no place to live, and the film happily demonstrated the perils of home ownership as well. As our preoccupation with real estate continues, so has the lure of the Hodgins novel, being updated in updated in 1986 as The Money Pit and in 2007 as Are We Done Yet?. And in the midst of rising foreclosures and a slumping real estate market, that 1948 movie seems more prescient than ever.

Focus Features Flashback

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Written by LW

June 4, 2015 at 1:01 am

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