But what really matters is the Muriels. You know, that time-honored annual movie award that is not named after Bette Davis's Uncle Oscar, but after co-founder Paul Clark's guinea pig. Throughout the month of February (the 6th through the 23rd), the winners have been announced, as you know because you've been regularly clicking on the Muriels link right here on Scanners. Anyway, you know what "Argo" can do; the Muriel voters, on the other hand, chose to give the year's top prize to what, for me, was obviously the most rewarding movie experience of the year: Leos Carax's "Holy Motors."
I packed my bags last night, pre-flight Zero hour, 9 a.m. And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then. -- Elton John & Bernie Taupin, "Rocket Man" (1972)
Cinema, for me, has always been something like music composed with photographic images. Others see it more like "action painting," and we've seen a lot of discussion in recent years about what J. Hoberman and others have called "post-photographic cinema," in which computers have replaced cameras, and animation has replaced photography, as the primary means of creating images on a screen. (Hoberman: "With the advent of CGI, the history of motion pictures was now, in effect, the history of animation.") "Flight" is Robert Zemeckis's return to live-action photography for the first time since "Cast Away" (2000), after a series of IMAX 3D animated adventures: "The Polar Express" (2004), "Beowulf" (2001) and "A Christmas Carol" (2007). It's also a return to making movies aimed at an adult audience -- and one that proved to be a different, and more interesting, than the movie I'd seen advertised in the trailer.
Marie writes: It was my birthday June 25th. Unlike Roger however, I'm a Crab not a Gemini. So to celebrate and with my brother's help (he has a car), I took my inner sea crustacean to Barnet Marine Park on the other side of Burnaby Mountain... and where our adventure begins....
This, for the benefit of future rock historians, is the transscript of a screenplay I wrote in the summer of 1977. It was tailored for the historic punk rock band the Sex Pistols, and was to be directed by Russ Meyer and produced by the impresario Malcolm McLaren. It still carried its original title, "Anarchy in the U.K.," although shortly after I phoned up with a suggested title change, which was accepted: "Who Killed Bambi?" I wrote about this adventure in my blog entry McLaren & Meyer & Rotten & Vicious & me. Discussions with Meyer, McLaren and Rene Daalder led to this draft. All I intend to do here is reprint it. Comments are open, but I can't discuss what I wrote, why I wrote it, or what I should or shouldn't have written. Frankly, I have no idea.
"What 'American Pie' betrays is not good taste but any notion that privacy could matter to these kids or to us. Everything in this picture is out front: whatever humiliates the characters most is precisely what everyone in the school learns about them, and the movie views this as proper and humane. For we are all swimming in the same soup of confusion and embarrassment, voyeurism and malice. But without some feeling for privacy as a value, a movie about teen sex and romance can't be made with any grace or style. The idea that everyone should know everything, however productive of comedy, links the movie to the kind of daytime talk show in which neighborhood friends betray one another's secrets and the audience howls at them in mock disapproval and open pleasure. The new hit comedies make us join that audience, whether we want to or not." -- David Denby, The New Yorker (July 12, 1999)
Andy Warhol got it almost right. Everybody is a "Superstar" (in the Warholian sense) already, or at least everybody behaves like one. And in the future -- that is, 10 years after "American Pie" and 22 years after Andy's death -- everybody's also a self-publicist, using sophisticated technology to manage a public image that masquerades as a mutant form of privacy. Blogs, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter -- these and so many other powerful promotional tools can be used by anyone, kids or mega-corporations, to create an illusion of intimacy with (in Facebookspeak) "friends" and "fans."
The color of blood: a study in scarlet
View image Bright, thick, almost waxy blood: Brian DePalma's "Sisters" (1973).
View image Thinner, but still alarmingly bright: Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" (1994).
"Yellow... is the color of caution." -- Opal from the BBC (Geraldine Chaplin) in Robert Altman's "Nashville"
Red is the color of alarm. Perhaps because it is the color of blood. Over the years, that color has changed, along with our taste in blood. In movies, I mean. What was once alarmingly "realistic" now looks either stylized (if it's a good movie) or fakey (if it's not so good). When Neil Sedaka and Elton John sang about "Bad Blood" in 1975, maybe that's what they really had in mind (because, after all, who knows what "Doo-ron, doo-ron, dit-dit-dit-di ron-ron" was supposed to mean? Apart from the reference to the Crystals).
Near-black: The Coens' "No Country for Old Men" (2007).
Before the late '70s, blood was generally (and, remember, these are generalizations -- there are certainly exceptions) bright red and opaque, like nail polish or latex paint. It was often compared to ketchup, which in many cases it was. Since then, our taste for blood runs darker, anywhere from ruby red to almost black. It's a bit more transparent than it used to be, and appears somewhat shinier and stickier -- perhaps because, as we now know, the effects folks have supposedly hit upon the magic formula for photogenic blood made from Karo corn syrup (in some cases the high fructose variety, the same ingredient used in... almost everything that doesn't use a low-cal sweetener). The shade changes with the lighting, the thickness (a smear or a puddle?), and the surface on which it is splashed. The blood splashed on Samuel L. Jackson's Jheri Curled hair naturally appears darker than the blood all over the upholstery of the back seat, or the blood splooshed on the back window as daylight streams through it.
(Red Alert: Possible bloody spoiler text and images ahead for "Heroes" [Season One], "There Will Be Blood," "Deep Red," "The Conversation"...)
CANNES, France -- I am a little dizzy. I have just returned from a $2,500-a-ticket dinner auction that followed a fashion show of Victoria's Secret swimwear and included Kenneth Branagh and James Caan stripping to the waist to be massaged by supermodel Heidi Klum on top of a piano later to be played by Elton John, while Harvey Weinstein auctioned off lunch with Nelson Mandela for $100,000.