A look back at Peter Weir's best films, on the occasion of his upcoming lifetime achievement Oscar.
The latest on Blu-ray and DVD and Netflix, including "Big Little Lies," "Colossal," and "The Lovers."
Marie writes: This week's Newsletter arrives a day early and lighter than usual, as come Tuesday morning, I'll be on a Ferry heading to Pender Island off the West Coast, where I've arranged to visit old friends for a few days and enjoy my first vacation in two years; albeit a brief one. No rest for the wicked. :-)
Rush Limbaugh's so-called "slutgate" brouhaha reminds me of a scene in Kenneth Lonergan's great film "Margaret." After a heated classroom argument about 9/11, a student says: "I think this whole class should apologize to Angie because all she did was express her opinion about what her relatives in Syria think about the fact that we bombed the shit out of a practically medieval culture... and everybody started screaming at her like she was defending the Ku Klux Klan!" Whereupon, one of the teachers says that jumping down someone's throat when you disagree with them is "censorship." Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) goes ballistic: "This class is not the government!"
Lisa's point is significant -- and it's one of the movie's many sharp insights into how Americans argue. We have a hard time separating our personal feelings from the legal system, a conflict that's goes to the core of Lisa's moral dilemma. (And for some reason we think it's a rational defense to say that someone else did something just as bad but didn't get punished for it as much.) The classroom of teenagers, reacting spontaneously and having a free discussion (even if it became raucous and uncivil) was not an attempt to prevent, modify or control the expression of Angie's ideas, but an attempt (by some, at least) to refute them. And while censorship isn't limited to government, church, commercial or social repression, the phrase "freedom of speech" (as outlined in the First Amendment) applies to government restrictions on what "the people" can say.
Of late, I've been thinking about how I got here. Here, in love with movie watching and movie making. Here, in a design school in India, and not an engineering college or a medical school like predetermined for most Indian students. Here, in correspondence with a huge role model of mine. Here, doing what I love.
Q. You aren't a big fan of colorized movies, and I agree that the studios should leave the original movies alone. Black and white is beautiful, and is indeed more dreamlike. Colorization does mess with the lighting--but, in a way, can it help encourage people to see black and white films? Let me give you an example: my kids love Shirley Temple, although they've only seen the colorized versions on video. Since they're kids they don't like b&w now, but maybe when they're older they'll appreciate how grand b&w really is. Can it introduce older films to them by using elements they know, so later they can go back and experience it the way it was really meant to be seen? A lot of people don't like b&w after all. (Dan Carell, Natick MA)
Q. Just heard that Mike Nichols is planning to do a remake of "Kind Hearts and Coronets," starring Robin Williams and Will Smith. Nichols is quoted as saying he plans to "change the main theme from class struggle to race relations, and change the ending." How, then, is this a remake? (Ken Bearden, Wyandotte, MI)
Q. I saw "Dumb and Dumber" with my older brother, and I've never laughed harder or more continuously in a movie before or since. He saw it with his wife on video and was embarrassed. I saw "Hot Shots" with my dad in an almost empty theater, and felt I'd wasted $5. My friends saw the same movie in a large group of peers and thought that it was hysterical. I watched "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" three times in one week and each time different lines got different laughs, and one night, hardly anyone laughed (the theater was equally filled each night). The same movie watched with my brother and sister-in-law evoked only a few forced chuckles. A lot of this depends on who you are with and how full the theater is (or how good the sound). For these reasons, I refuse to re-watch many films on video, such as "Schindler's List." Just for grins, you ought to let your readers know about the context of your experience. Sometimes I wonder, did you see it in a packed theater on opening night, or on a pre-release in a private studio? (Bart McNeely, Fort Worth, TX)
Q. Does it strike you that some movie sound effects are overdone? I've noticed in recent years that when a movie couple gets passionate, their kisses sound like they're sucking a peach. If I kissed my wife that sloppily, she'd wipe off her face and send me to the guest room for the night. And what about movie punches? Movies have been overdoing fight sound effects for years. My most vivid memory of "Rocky III" was of Sylvester Stallone and Mr. T beginning their fight with punches that would kill the average person. Do you feel that sound effects are as cliched as some of the other areas you cover in your Little Glossary? (Steven Bailey, Jacksonville Beach, Fla.)