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Posts Tagged ‘film

“Being virtually killed by a virtual laser in a virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.”*…

 

Long before Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the paper peep show—a small, layered diorama that expands like an accordion to create the illusion of depth—was a way for audiences in the 19th century to peer into times and places beyond their own experience. A popular souvenir in their day, peep shows brought to life scenes of the completion of the Thames Tunnel and the Great Exhibition of 1851 to masquerade balls and theatrical stage sets. Now, they’re delightful pieces of ephemera from another time that suggest that desire for immersion in other worlds stretches back centuries…

Peep shows, also known as tunnel books, are widely considered to be the ancestors of animation and film. Peering through a peep show in the 21st century might as well be an analog version of virtual reality—one that transports you to a different time altogether…

Take a peek at “Paper Peep Shows Were The Virtual Reality Of The 19th Century.”

* Douglas Adams

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As we don the goggles, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that Émile Cohl‘s Fantasmagorie was released.  Considered by film scholars to be the first animated cartoon, it had tremendous influence not only on the future of animation, but also on early nature films.

 

 

Written by LW

August 17, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Film lovers are sick people”*…

 

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An overview of how film works, the different types of film, and its place in the world of modern digital storytelling…

* François Truffaut

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As we tell truth at 24 frames per second, we might send beautifully-composed birthday greetings to Stanley Kubrick; he was born on this date in 1928.  A renown film director, screenwriter, producer,cinematographer, and editor, Kubrick got his start as a teenaged photographer for Look Magazine.  In 1950, he made the move to cinema, going on to direct 16 films, produce 11, write 13, shoot 5, and edit 4– among them, Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971)Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).  most of his films were nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes, and/or BAFTA Awards.

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Written by LW

July 26, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The only difference between me and a madman is I’m not mad”*…

 

Dali sketching Harpo as he plays a harp with barbed wire for strings and spoons, knives, and forks glued to its frame– a gift from Dali.

Salvador Dali loved the Marx Brothers. He loved their madcap, anarchic comedy. In particular Dali loved Harpo Marx—the blonde corkscrew-haired comic mime whose visual comedy—unlike the quick witty repartee of his brother Groucho—was universal and needed no translation. Dali described Harpo as one of America’s three great Surrealists—the other two being Walt Disney and Cecil B. DeMille.

The pair first met at a party in Paris in 1936. Harpo told Dali how much he liked his paintings. Dali told Harpo how much he loved his films—in particular Animal Crackers, which he described as “the summit of the evolution of comic cinema.” Dali gushed over Harpo’s performance where he pulled fish and cutlery from his pocket and shot the hats of beautiful women—this was true Surrealism!

Understandably, the two men became friends…

Dali brought Harpo a gift—a movie script he wanted the Marx Brothers to make. The script was called Giraffes on Horseback Salads or The Surrealist Woman. It was a series of unconnected scenes typed in blue ribbon over twenty-two pages with various notes written in ink. Dali had already made two infamous films with his friend the director Luis Buñuel—Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or. Now he wanted to cast Harpo and cinema’s “greatest Surrealist act,” the Marx Brothers, in a film that just might revolutionize Hollywood—or maybe not

More on this extraordinary friendship– and a taste of Dali’s treatment for Giraffes on Horseback Salads— at “When Dali Met Harpo.”

[TotH to friend P.R.]

* Salvador Dali

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As we recall that the Marx Brothers had a remarkable range of friends, we might send classy birthday greetings to one of them, Lou Gehrig; he was born Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig on this date in 1903.  A first baseman for the New Your Yankees for 16 years, he was know (for his stamina) as “The Iron Horse.”  A member of six World Series champion teams, he was an All-Star seven consecutive times, a Triple Crown winner once, an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player twice.  He had a career .340 batting average, .632 slugging average, and a .447 on base average; he hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in (RBI).  Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939– the year of his retirement– he was the first Major League player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team.

He is pictured here with friends:

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Written by LW

June 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most”*…

 

A hand-colored explosion from INVENTOR CRAZYBRAINS AND HIS WONDERFUL AIRSHIP (1906)

At the turn of the 20th century, a color revolution was sweeping across Europe and North America. The invention decades earlier of aniline dyes, synthesized from coal tar, had made pigments cheap and colorfast, fueling an explosion of brilliantly hued goods. Tinted stage lights and hand-dyed “magic lantern” projector slides illuminated vaudeville performances, variety shows, and traveling fairs. Vibrant clothes and dye-printed advertising posters emblazoned city streets. Vivid wallpapers, photographs, and trade postcards decorated the walls of homes while color-printed illustrations adorned women’s journals, children’s books, and dime-novel covers. Suddenly, the world looked like a fantastic, varicolored dream.

Out of this chromatic fantasia emerged the first colored motion pictures. Decades before the Technicolor wonders of The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Gone with the Wind (1939), filmmakers experimented with a variety of techniques for dyeing 35mm black-and-white prints. Colorists, primarily women, learned to paint these silent films with delicate brushstrokes, meticulously carved stencils, and chemical baths that washed entire scenes in icy blues, resplendent greens, or fiery reds.

These innovations mark a technical highpoint in filmmaking. This was the moment when the gray shadows of the silent screen burst to life with the wondrous and shocking vivacity of color…

More on the silent screen’s explosion into color– with glorious examples like the one above– at “The Phantasmagoria of the First Hand-Painted Films.”

* John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

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As we peer through rose-colored glasses, we might recall that it was on this date in 2000 that John Travolta’s passion project, the feature film Battlefield Earth, was released. Based on (the first half of) Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s novel of the same name, it was an epic failure, both at the box office and with critics, and was nominated for nine Golden Raspberry Awards (a record, until 2012).

It has, of course, become a cult film…

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Written by LW

May 12, 2016 at 1:01 am

“There is so much to do on a film set”*…

 

Legendary director Billy Wilder– Some Like it Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Double IndemnityThe Apartment, et al.– and equally-legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames were long-time friends, from the days when Charles worked as an MGM set designer. The three famously collaborated on “Glimpses of the USA,” a multimedia installation at the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow. Moreover, Ray designed the opening credits for Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon.

Wilder (left) with Charles and Ray Eames

The Eames were multimedia masters, frequently—and brilliantly—communicating their philosophy through film and photography.  Over the years, their image archive grew to include over 750,000 snapshots that document everything from travels through India to the circus.  One series in particular—Movie Sets—is the focus of a new exhibition new exhibition at the Art & Design Atomium Museum in Brussels.  Curated by Alexandra Midal, the photographs date from 1951 to 1971 and are all Charles’s snapshots from the sets of Wilder  films

More at “Hollywood’s Golden Age, As Photographed By Charles [and Ray] Eames.”

* Sir Ben Kingsley

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As we take our marks, we might send extravagant birthday greetings to Florenz Edward “Flo” Ziegfeld, Jr.; he was born on this date in 1867.  One of the greatest theatrical showmen in American history, he was a Broadway impresario who produced dozens of shows, mostly (like one of his biggest hits, Showboat) musical spectacles.  But he is best remembered for his 25-year series of elaborate annual theatrical revues, the Ziegfeld Follies (1907–1931), inspired by the Folies Bergère of Paris– a run that introduced such stars as Fanny Brice, Bert Williams, Ed Wynn, W.C. Fields, Marion Davies, Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers.

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Written by LW

March 21, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Shapeshifting requires the ability to transcend your attachments”*…

 

Felix van Groeningen’s film Belgica is fueled by a soundtrack featuring 16 very different bands, from electronica…

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to emo…

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And from rock…

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to metal…

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… and a dozen more.   Or so, at first glance, it seems.  In fact, all sixteen bands are the fabricated products of a single protean group– Soulwax.

Zeena Schreck

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As we decide that it’s time for a change, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that Australian actor and musician Rick Springfield released his first #1 hit, “Jesse’s Girl.”  He followed with four more top 10 US hits, “I’ve Done Everything for You”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “Affair of the Heart” and “Love Somebody,” and with two US top 10 albums, Working Class Dog (1981) and Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet (1982)– all while starring as surgeon-playboy Noah Drake in television’s longest-running soap opera, General Hospital.

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Written by LW

February 23, 2016 at 1:01 am

“No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill”*…

 

What if the Black Plague had killed off almost all Europeans? Then the Reconquista never happens. Spain and Portugal don’t kickstart Europe’s colonization of other continents. And this is what Africa might have looked like.

The map – upside down, to skew our traditional Eurocentric point of view – shows an Africa dominated by Islamic states, and native kingdoms and federations. All have at least some basis in history, linguistics or ethnography. None of their borders is concurrent with any of the straight lines imposed on the continent by European powers, during the 1884-85 Berlin Conference and in the subsequent Scramble for Africa. By 1914, Europeans controlled 90% of Africa’s land mass. Only the Abyssinian Empire (modern-day Ethiopia) and Liberia (founded in 1847 as a haven for freed African-American slaves) remained independent…

More alternative– but instructive– history at “Africa, Uncolonized: A Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent.”

* Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

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As we explore, we might send an elegantly-filmed birthday greeting to Sidney Poitier; he was born on this date in 1927 (to Bahamian parents visiting Miami).  An acclaimed actor, he became the first Bahamian and first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor (in 1964, for his role in Lilies of the Field). Then in 1967, he starred in three successful films, To Sir, with Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year.  Poitier went on to direct a number of films, and in 2010 was awarded another Oscar, the Academy Honorary Award, in recognition of his “remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being.”  Poitier led a active life off-stage as well: he served as Bahamian ambassador to both Japan and UNESCO, and served as a director of the Walt Disney Company.  He was knighted in 1974, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, in 2009.

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Written by LW

February 21, 2016 at 1:01 am

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