Sheila writes: Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died on August 30 at the age of 82. The obituary in the New York Times gives an overview of this man's extraordinary career and contributions. The site Open Culture has a small post about Oliver Sacks' final Tweet which was a link to a video of a flash mob orchestra gathering to play Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" in a large public square. Sacks' Tweet read: "A beautiful way to perform one of the world's great musical treasures." His curiosity and appreciation of life in all its variety remained intact until the very end. Here is the video of that flash mob which is, indeed, "beautiful."
Behold a most wondrous find...."The Shop that time Forgot" Elizabeth and Hugh. Every inch of space is crammed with shelving. Some of the items still in their original wrappers from the 1920s. Many goods are still marked with pre-decimal prices."There's a shop in a small village in rural Scotland which still sells boxes of goods marked with pre-decimal prices which may well have been placed there 80 years ago. This treasure trove of a hardware store sells new products too. But its shelves, exterior haven't changed for years; its contents forgotten, dust-covered and unusual, branded with the names of companies long since out of business. Photographer Chris Frears has immortalized this shop further on film..." - Matilda Battersby. To read the full story, visit the Guardian. And visit here to see more photos of the shop and a stunning shot of Morton Castle on the homepage for Photographer Chris Fears.
Opening shot of the year: The acoustic guitar music plays over a company logo at the head of the film, before the movie proper. A woman in a purple brocade jacket and a blue skirt walks through a field of tall, brown grass. Percussion enters the picture -- or the soundtrack. She looks us in the eye, and dances. (Bong Joon-ho's "Mother")
Final shot of the year: In a group of people photographed through a pair of thick, smoked-glass doors, only the title character appears out of focus. (Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman")
This is about a hallucinogenic experience I had years ago... and how it relates to the way I look at movies. I can't say this psychedelic "revelation" altered my perception of cinema in any way; it just gave the perception a form, a metaphor. And I wasn't under the influence of an illegal synthetic drug, but an ancient (legal) herb: Salvia divinorum ("The Divine Sage"), which grows wild in Oaxaca, Mexico. Unlike LSD, which can induce an altered state of perception that lasts for hours, a hit of Salvia divinorum (smoked) provides a disorienting, headlong visual rush that may last for only a few seconds or minutes. Problem is, you could pass out for an instant before you hit the floor. (Salvia divinorum, although it's related to the common sage plant, has since been classified as a controlled substance in a few states -- and will become one in Illinois in January, 2008.)
But, talk about your theory of relativity: those seconds can last a long time. Here, as near as I can describe it, is what happened: I was "falling sideways," as some have described it, hurtling forward through what felt like a blurred tunnel of orange and yellow leaves (this was in the fall, of course). And near the end was the shape of an overstuffed chair, not unlike the one I was sitting in at the time. Only the texture of the chair, instead of being leather or some other kind of upholstery, was the leaves, and they were moving, too, fluttering in the breeze. It's not that the chair was made of leaves. It was that the idea of "leaves" and "chair" became inseparable, and they were intertwined fractal shapes, holding space and gently defining each other. You know how that is. The color and the texture of the leaves became one distinguishable thing, and that thing was a beautiful overstuffed chair. And then the chair was water. It wasn't wet, it wasn't made of H2O, it was still just a chair with the visual properties of water. It was transparent and currents or ripples slightly distorted the substance of it, as if you were peering into a soft, chair-shaped aquarium without any glass walls holding it together. (I guess you could say it was something like the "water tentacle" in "The Abyss," but it was more stable and not so in-your-face.)
Q. I think I'm the only American to have been bored by "You've Got Mail." I'd love to see a really good film about finding romance online (my wife and I met online about three years ago). I thought the whole "big corporation swallowing little bookseller" angle was dopey. Hey, it's a film about finding love online, so why doesn't Meg's character try to sell books online? That would have been a fun ending, and more relevant to the film's cyber-veneer: Meg keeps the bookstore and thrives, because she's getting customers from the entire planet, while Hanks' megastore only does so-so, because it's just getting people from the surrounding area. (Ed Driscoll, San Jose, CA)