Marie writes: Welcome to "Good Books", an online bookseller based in New Zealand. Every time you buy a book through them, 100% of the retail profit goes directly to fund projects in partnership with Oxfam; projects which provide clean water, sanitation, develop sustainable agriculture and create access to education for communities in need. To increase awareness of Good Books' efforts to raise money for Oxfam, String Theory (New Zeland based agency) teamed up with collaborative design production comany "Buck" to create the first of three videos in a digital campaign called Good Books Great Writers. Behold the award winning animated Good Books Metamorphosis.
You may find it disturbing to see audiences laughing while watching "The Exorcist"(1973), but you will probably not see any problem in having some laugh with "Rosemary’s Baby" (1968). It goes without saying that they are two of the most chilling modern horror films, but, while the former unsettles us with its utmost solemnness parodied many times since it came out, the latter has a spooky sense of humor immune to parodies. How can you make an effective parody to undermine a horror film if it already has a devilish tongue slyly placed on its dark cheek?
Marie writes: They call it "The Shard" and it's currently rising over London akin to Superman's Fortress of Solitude and dwarfing everything around it, especially St. Paul's in front. I assume those are pigeons flying over-head and not buzzards. Ie: not impressed, but that's me and why I'm glad I saw London before they started to totally ruin it.Known as the "London Bridge Tower" before they changed the name, when completed in 2012, it will be the tallest building in Europe and 45th highest in the world. It's already the second highest free-standing structure in the UK after the Emley Moor transmitting station. The Shard will stand 1,017 ft high and have 72 floors, plus another 15 radiator floors in the roof. It's been designed with an irregular triangular shape from base to top and will be covered entirely in glass. The tower was designed by Renzo Piano, the Italian architect best know for creating Paris's Pompidou Centre of modern art with Richard Rogers, and more recently the New York Times Tower. You can read an article about it at the Guardian. Here's the official website for The Shard. Photograph: Dan Kitwood.
View image Hands up.
I do believe the best single piece of film criticism that I've read in 2008 (and I've thought so ever since I read it two months ago) is David Bordwell's "Hands (and faces) across the table" -- which, parentheses aside, also happens to be the title of a delightful 1935 comedy directed by Mitchell Leisen ("Easy Living," "Midnight," "Remember the Night") starring Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray and Ralph Bellamy. (Manohla Dargis's review of Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park" deserves mention, too. And Glenn Kenney became my hero this year when he posted "'Pierrot le Fou: An Annotated Bibliography," Parts 1 & 2.)
But Bordwell's article centers on a scene from Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" (just released on DVD) and the director's orchestration of screen space, which involves creating rhythm and texture by moving the actors, not just the camera. (This, too, is mise-en-scène.) Writes DB: In books and blogs, I’ve expressed the wish that today’s American filmmakers would widen their range of creative choices. From the 1910s to the 1960s (and sometimes beyond), US filmmakers cultivated a range of expressive options—not only cutting and camera movement but other possibilities too. Studio directors were particularly adept at ensemble staging, shifting the actors around the set as the scene develops.
You can still find this technique in movies from Europe and Asia, as I try to show in "Figures Traced in Light" and elsewhere on this site. But it’s rare to find an American ready to keep the camera still and steady and to let the actors sculpt the action in continuous time, saving the cuts to underscore a pivot or heightening of the drama. Now nearly every American filmmaker is inclined to frame close, cut fast, and track that camera endlessly. I’ve called this stylistic paradigm intensified continuity....
View image John Krasinski and George Clooney: Which one's the Ralph Bellamy?
My review of "Leatherheads" is in the Chicago Sun-Times and on RogerEbert.com. (Also: "Shelter.") Here's an excerpt:
The script is less than effervescent, but Clooney and his cast are game. Although "Leatherheads" probably has fewer dull moments than your average NFL contest, sometimes you wonder if the clock is still ticking or if somebody's called a timeout. A scene will end and, just as you're moving on to the next one, you may find yourself wondering: Why was that there?
Yet there's always something interesting to notice: a face, a throwaway visual joke, the way the winter rain on a window contributes to the tone of a scene, or the sight of the muscular 1920s Chicago skyline in the distance behind the ballfield.
Even before the opening credits montage is over, Clooney demonstrates the fleetness of his comedic footwork -- getting a better laugh from a cow and a ball than you'd have any right to hope for. He knows how to compose a shot (the retro short-focus camerawork by Newton Thomas Sigel immediately puts you in a classic Hollywood frame of mind) and how to cut comedy so that it doesn't cramp the actors' style.
Best of all are the picture's abundant grace notes. Clooney's a team player, and his generosity toward his collaborators, as an actor and a director, shines throughout the movie....
Enlarge image: Newsroom hustle...
Enlarge image: ... and bustle. Notice the emphasis on women at work in the very first moments.
From That Little Round-Headed Boy:
"His Girl Friday": Anybody who ever worked in the journalism business, or wished they had been around for newspapering's madcap era, must feel a quickening at the opening tracking shot of Howard Hawks' classic comedy. As the camera tracks from right to left across the city room of the Chicago Morning Post, a smoky, hustling, chatty ambience hangs over the enterprise, as an editor yells out for a "Copy boy!", reporters are decked out in rolled-up shirts and green eye-shades, the women wear fashionable hats and the blue-collar switchboard gals are yammering in overdrive. The scene sets the fast-paced theme, and it never lets up.
JE: Good grief, TLRHB, that's a great one! (This should give readers an idea why they should check out TLRHB regularly.) As someone born with ink in his veins (red ink, I'm afraid), I know well the quickening of which you speak!
In the Answer Man column for July 12, reader David J. Bondelevitch wrote: "I had to bite my tongue from laughing when Sam Neill's character showed up in Montana near the end of 'The Horse Whisperer.' I kept thinking he had fulfilled his dying plea from 'The Hunt for Red October.' After being shot, Sam Neill's dying words in 'Hunt' were (in a thick Russian accent): 'I would like to have seen Montana.' "