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Posts Tagged ‘film

“Words, words, mere words”*…

 

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Welcome to Star Wars as you’ve never seen it before. Arst Arsw takes every English word from George Lucas’ classic movie and rearranges them alphabetically. If you can make it past the 201 “a”s that start the video, you’re in for a treat, as long sequences of words are punctuated up by oddly therapeutic and memorable words from the movie. The eighth “battlestation” is especially rewarding.

The video’s maker, Tom 7, provided some interesting facts garnered while cutting Arst Arsw manually. A total of 1695 individual English words are uttered in Star Wars, the most common of which is “the,” with 368 mentions. The word “Lightsaber” is only said aloud once (at 19:20 in Arst Arsw).

Watch every word from ‘Star Wars’ sorted from A to Z.”

Special lingui-bonus:

letters_brown_words_15

Click here for background (and larger version of chart): “Graphing the distribution of English letters towards the beginning, middle or end of words”:

*William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act V, Scene 3

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As we hope that the Force is with us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1914 that Wyndham Lewis published the first issue of Blast, a literary magazine championing Vorticism, a movement related to Futurism and Cubism in painting and to Imagism in literature, chiefly concerned to extoll the virtues of mechanization and the machine.  The inaugural number was edited and largely written by Lewis with contributions from Ezra Pound, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Spencer Gore, Edward Wadsworth, and Rebecca West, and included an extract from Ford Madox Hueffer’s novel The Saddest Story– better known by its later title The Good Soldier (published under his subsequent pseudonym, Ford Madox Ford).   The second issue, which was publish a month later, had more work from Pound and two poems by T.S. Eliot.  But at about the same time that issue came out, Britain entered World War I.  Several of the Vorticists were called up; and machines– deployed all too lethally in the conflict– lost some of their romance.  The Vorticist movement did not survive the war.; still, it is remembered as a seminal step in the evolution of 20th century Modernism.

The cover of Blast #1

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Written by LW

June 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”*…

 

Readers will know that (R)D delights in the works of Banksy.  So it will come as no surprise that your correspondent has a warm spot in his heart for Jeff Friesen.  An award-winning photographer, Friesen is also a dedicated dad who makes LEGO dioramas with his daughter June.  Their latest project:  a series of meticulously-constructed homages to the great street artists himself…  a series that Friesen and June call “Bricksy.”

See them all at “Bricksy: LEGO Banksy.”

[TotH to My Modern Met]

* Banksy

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As we resolve, with Banksy, to “speak softly, but carry a big can of paint,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that Australia’s first real film production house, The Limelight Department, was set up by the Salvation Army in Melbourne.  In its 19 years of operation, the Limelight Department produced both evangelistic material (from the simplest lantern slides to Christian epics of redemption) and secular documentaries commissioned by private and government contract.  In all, the operation created about 300 films of various lengths (making it one of largest film producers of its time) until it was summarily closed by a new Commander, a puritanical Scot who “protected” Salvationists from films for many decades.  Sadly, the Limelight films were destroyed in the 1950s.

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Written by LW

June 11, 2014 at 1:01 am

“In a World…”*…

 

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Looking back on the evolution of the movie trailer we must consider the evolution of how we watch movies. Unlike the multiplexes we’re accustomed to today, the first movie theaters in the 1910s had only one screen. You would pay the admission, say five cents, and you could sit in the theater for as long as you wanted. Show times weren’t precise – a feature length movie along with a short films and a cartoon would play in a continuous loop and you could watch it as many times as you wanted.

1913 would be what many historians consider year zero for the movie trailer. In New York City, Nils Granlund, advertising manager of Marcus Loew theaters, made a short little promotional film for the Broadway play “Pleasure Seekers” showcasing actual rehearsal footage. The idea of showing ads between films was a hit – at least to the movie theater owners – The practice of creating and splicing in promotional pieces into the screening rotation was quickly implemented by the Loew theater chain as well as others.

Around the same time in Chicago, Col. William Selig, one of film’s earliest pioneers, would engineer another way to get audiences to the movies. Selig noticed the popularity of print serials in newspapers so he approached the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper embattled in a circulation war for who could be the most sensationalist, to adapt a film version of a print serial. The result was a 13 episode serial entitled “The Adventures of Kathlyn”.

This wasn’t the first film serial, it was actually the second; but it introduced a new device to film marketing. You see, each week a new installment would debut along with an article in the Chicago Tribune that continuing the story. What made “The Adventures of Kathlyn” different was at the end of each installment something would happen to put the characters in some sort of peril – a cliffhanger often with a title card inviting patrons to come back the following week to see what happens.

So Thus the idea of the trailer was born – and so too the term – as these promotions for upcoming attractions would play at the end of the film – hence trailer.

Most of these promotions were produced by the theaters themselves but by 1916, the movie studios themselves began officially releasing for upcoming movies. These first film trailers were pretty basic – they generally consist of snippets of film with some text overlay such as the cast of stars…

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Learn how gentle enticements like these grew to become the better-and-louder-than-the-actual-film extravaganzas of today in the video at the top of this post and at “The History of the Movie Trailer.”

 Don LaFontaine, the voice of hundreds of thousands of TV spots and more than 5,000 times in movies and movie trailers

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As we  contemplate coming attractions, we might recall that it was on this date in 1927 that the first organizational meeting of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was convened by Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM.  The 230 charter members elected Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. the group’s first president. Mayer’s original intent was to provide a forum for labor mediation and to improve the industry’s image; the first of those goals never got traction, so the second– the burnishing of Hollywood’s star– became the group’s primary focus.  By 1929, the AMPAS had established the Academy Awards, and had joined with the University of Southern California to create the first film school.

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Happy Mother’s Day! 

 

“Nobody makes movies bad on purpose”*…

 

There are currently over 235,000 films on IMDb; their average rating is 6.31, with half the movies clustered with ratings between 5.5 and 7.2…  but someone (or in this case, something) has to come last; and in this case, it’s the Bollywood film Gunday, which weights in with a 1.4– the only film in the database with a rating lower than 1.8.

But Gunday was the top-grossing February movie in Bollywood history, and well-received by U.S. critics: The New York Times’ Rachel Saltz ended her review of Gunday by calling it “downright enjoyable.” RogerEbert.com gave it three out of four stars, and Variety called it “a boisterous and entertaining period crime drama.”   So how did it win the race to the floor against such formidable competition as Gigli, or Battlefield Earth, or Troll 2? FiveThirtyEight explains

The film made a misstep that has doomed it to the bottom of the IMDb pile. “Gunday” offended a huge, sensitive, organized and social-media-savvy group of people who were encouraged to mobilize to protest the movie by giving it the lowest rating possible on IMDb. Of “Gunday’s” ratings, 36,000 came from outside the U.S., and 91 percent of all reviewers gave it one star. The next lowest-rated movie on IMDb — 1.8 stars overall — has a more even distribution of ratings, with only 71 percent of reviewers giving it one star. The evidence suggests the push to down-vote “Gunday” was successful, and that shows just how vulnerable data can be, especially when it’s crowdsourced.

The protest against “Gunday” is the most recent cause célèbre of a Bangladeshi nationalist movement called Gonojagoron Moncho, or National Awakening Stage. Gonojagoron Moncho was founded in response to the trial of Abdul Quader Molla, a Bangladeshi Islamist leader who last year was found guilty of killing hundreds of civilians as part of a paramilitary wing during Bangladesh’s liberation war from Pakistan in 1971. He was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes by the Bangladeshi International Crimes Tribunal. But many Bangladeshis found that sentence too lenient, and more than 100,000 of them gathered in Shahbag Square in the capital city of Dhaka to challenge it.

After months of protests and escalating violence from counter-protestors, Gonojagoron Moncho got its wish. Molla’s political party, Jammat-e-Islami, was banned from participating in future elections, and Molla himself was retried, sentenced to execution and hanged to death late last year.

Flush with success, the movement has since become an online alliance of bloggers focused on protecting Bangladesh’s history and promoting the country’s image. That includes protesting “Gunday,” because of the film’s reference to the Bangladesh Liberation War as the Indo-Pak war. In its first 11 minutes, the movie claims that India alone defeated Pakistan, and implies that an independent Bangladesh was simply a result of the fight.

On Twitter, activists used the hashtag #GundayHumiliatedHistoryOfBangladesh to get the word out about the protests and to ask supporters to bury the film on IMDb. (By using a quarter of their character allotment on the hashtag alone, though, there wasn’t much room for the activists to elaborate.) Facebook groups were formed specifically to encourage irate Bangladeshis and others to down-vote the movie. (A sample call to action: “If you’re a Bangladeshi and care enough to not let some Indian crappy movie distort our history of independence, let’s unite and boycott this movie!!!”)…

Read the tale in its entirety at “The Story Behind the Worst Movie on IMDb.”

* Roland Emmerich (who should know…)

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As we ponder the pointing of our thumbs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo premiered in San Francisco, in which it was set.  Vertigo‘s critical arc was the opposite of Gunday‘s:  The film received mixed reviews in its initial release, but is now routinely cited as a defining work of the American auteur’s career.  Attracting significant scholarly attention, it replaced Citizen Kane as the best film of all time in the 2012 British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound critics’ poll, has appeared repeatedly in best film polls by the American Film Institute… and has an IMDb rating of 8.5.

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Written by LW

May 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen”*…

 

@OnePerfectShot, a service of @TheGoeffTodd,  provides a steady Twitter stream of just that:  a series of exquisite shots from great films.

[TotH to Super Punch]

* Anthony Burgess

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As we fiddle with our framing, we might send colorful birthday greetings to Keith Haring; he was born on this date in 1958.  Haring dropped out of commercial art school in Pennsylvania, moved to New York City, and became involved in the street art scene in the late 70s.  He quickly developed a signature style, and began to get recognition for a series of painting in New York’s subway system that were documented by the photographer Tseng Kwong Chi.  By 1982, Haring’s fame had grown, and he’d begun to organize installations at Club 57.  Openly gay and an engaged social activist, Haring filled his work with social, political, and gender comment, though largely in a textured, “buried” way.  His most overt political statement was his 1989 painting “Silence = Death,” a riff on the 1986 poster that became the unofficial logo of ACT UP.  Haring died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.

Haring’s “Silence = Death”

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Written by LW

May 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

“In India we celebrate the commonality of major differences; we are a land of belonging rather than of blood”*…

 

As The Guardian reports…

One candidate is “hiding in the bunker of secularism”; another invokes God to preserve India from her opponent’s economic model. A politiciking yoga teacher with millions of followers is investigated for hate speech; the youngest adult member of the country’s foremost political dynasty calls the opposition “baffled rats”. And the Indian election moves into its fourth week.

The Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata party, led by Narendra Modi, looks on course for a big victory, though quite how big is still unclear. The incumbent Congress party is facing a crushing defeat, with only around 100 of the 543 elected seats in the lower house of the national assembly…

But while the main event is Modi’s nationalistic challenge to the incumbents, the BBC reminds us the the election’s “color” is much more varied…

In April, India’s 814 million eligible voters are due at the polls. There are more than 1,600 registered political parties – some with very unexpected names.

B Kumar Sri Sri launched the Indian Lovers Party on Valentine’s Day 2008. His bubble-gum pink posters announce the party’s resolve to fight for star-crossed lovers from different castes and religious backgrounds, whose parents don’t approve of their relationship…

Read more about the Poor Man’s Party, The Yours-Mine Party, The Oceanic Party, The Pyramid Party, and the Stay Wake Party at “Indian political parties with strange names.”  And lest one think that India has a hammerlock on creative party names, consider the active parties in Australia (which include the Party! Party! Party! Party) and in the U.S.

 Shashi Tharoor

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As we exercise our franchise, we might send elegiac birthday greeting to Satyajit Ray; he was born on this date in 1921.  He was a writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, graphic designer and film critic, but is best remembered a filmmaker.  Considered on the greatest auteurs in world cinema history, Ray directed 36 films, which earned scores of awards, including 32 National Film Awards by the Government of India.  He was one of only three filmmakers to win the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival more than once, and holds the record for the most number of Golden Bear nominations, with seven.  At the Venice Film Festival, where he had previously won a Golden Lion for Aparajito (1956), he was awarded the Golden Lion Honorary Award in 1982. That same year, he received an honorary “Hommage à Satyajit Ray” award at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray an Honorary Oscar in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement.  He is the second film personality after Chaplin to have been awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University.

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Written by LW

May 2, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague”*…

 

In order to see the appeal of the forthcoming Morbid Anatomy Museum, you have to understand the death-centric collection—think skeletons, taxidermy, medical oddities— as neither kitschy nor creepy.

“I like to think about how our attitudes about things have changed; and in particular our attitudes about death, because I think that is the most fertile thing to examine,” says Joanna Ebenstein, the founder of the Morbid Anatomy Library, which is the basis of the museum. “The way we think about death now, these images seem completely inappropriate. It seems voyeuristic and wrong and horrible. But I would argue, in some ways, that they were dealing with grief in ways that we don’t really have a capability with any longer because we think it’s so inappropriate.”…

“It really speaks to how much we’ve changed as people that this could become exotic and other. It never was before; there was never a period in history where death was so other than now.” Confronting that chasm is, in part, the purpose of the museum…

The Morbid Anatomy Museum opens in Brooklyn next month, when it will feature its permanent collection (sampled in the photo above), a 2500-volume library, a lecture series, classes (e.g., taxidermy), and special exhibits (like Water Potter’s “Kitten Wedding,” from the 1890s, pictured below).

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Read more at “Coming Soon to Brooklyn: The Morbid Anatomy Museum.”

* Edgar Allan Poe

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As we memento mori, we might we might send rebellious birthday greetings to Jean Vigo; he was born on this date in 1905.  The son of Catalan anarchists, Vigo migrated to Paris and became a film maker.  A founder (with Jean Renoir) of “poetic realism” in film, Vigo is best remembered for two films, both hugely impactful on French and world cinema: Zéro de conduite (1933) and L’Atalante (1934).  The former– a tale of rebellious school boys– was the inspiration for Lindsay Anderson’s marvelous If…; the latter– the story of a marriage falling apart, then healing– was chosen as the 10th-greatest film of all time in Sight & Sound’s 1962 poll, and as the 6th-best in its 1992 poll.  He’s widely considered the “grandfather” of the French New Wave, on whom he had an enormous influence.

Writing of Vigo’s death in The New York Times, film critic Andrew Johnston judged: “The ranks of the great film directors are short on Keatses and Shelleys, young artists cut off in their prime, leaving behind a handful of great works that suggest what might have been. But one who qualifies is Jean Vigo, the French director who died of tuberculosis at age 29 in 1934.”

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Written by LW

April 26, 2014 at 1:01 am

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