Watergate, to filmmakers, is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are some of the best.
New films on Blu-ray and streaming, including BlacKkKlansman, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, and The Incredibles 2.
"Maverick" starts with the protagonist in the middle of nowhere. He helplessly sits on a horse; his neck is at the end of a noose tied to a tree branch. The men who put him in this vulnerable situation surround him. They drop a bag containing a snake and ride away. If the horse bolts, Bret Maverick dies. It is one of the most attention-grabbing opening scenes in film.
I'm not naive enough to believe that, at some point in history, the media political coverage (national or international) was in fact absolutely impartial. After all, controlling the typewriter and, later, computer keyboards were human beings with their own passions and ideologies - and it is clear that, even if they tried to be objective (those who tried, at least), they couldn't avoid filtering one fact or another by following their particular beliefs. Unfortunately, even though that occurs, I doubt that the level of indoctrination exhibited by professional journalism in History reached the alarming level of proselytism we have witnessed in recent years: while in United States 9/11 turned the media into a spokesperson of Bush's government, allowing him to lead the country to a war based on lies (something that many realized only a while ago), in Brazil large "journalistic" vehicles clearly embraced right-wing candidates during recent elections with no attempt whatsoever of masking their partisanship.
Call it a bloodbath. Not literally, of course, but it sure felt like one.
It was a Friday afternoon in late spring 1993 at The American Film Institute. The Class of 1992, which had pretty much killed itself making short films ("cycle projects") since starting the program in September, was waiting for a list. Dreading it, too. Because everybody'd known all year that of 168 "Fellows," as AFI calls them --- only 40 (or just 8 across 5 disciplines - directing, producing, cinematography, editing, production design) would be invited back, making that coveted Second Year cut for the opportunity to produce a second year film.
A top secret selection committee debated late into the day. Even I, then Special Projects Coordinator and right hand to the Dean of Studies, didn't know who was meeting. There was tension everywhere, clinging like the humidity of a Midwestern summer, as the committee decided, and the Fellows waited.
View image Corporate branding at its very finest.
I have another new essay at MSN Movies now, on How Star Wars Changed the World. Yes, it was 30 years ago today (well, Friday, May 25, to be specific) that the Death Star blew Alderaan into space dust, contributing to galactic warming and allergy problems throughout the GFFA. An excerpt: What "Star Wars" did best was combine corny stock characters and "Amazing Stories" plotlines with state-of-the-art Industrial Light and Magic visual effects and Dolby (later replaced with Lucas's patented THX) Surround sound. No more rockets made out of cardboard toilet-paper tubes with sparklers stuck in the rear for thrusters. Mix that with a wisecracking, almost postmodern sense of humor (more gung-ho earnest than the arch self-awareness William Goldman pumped into the Western in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" eight years earlier) and an old-fashioned Hollywood military-symphonic score by John Williams, and you have a rousing, roller-coaster space adventure for children of all ages, as the marketers like to say.
Sure, the movie was criticized for being infantile, but that misses the point. It's aimed at a sensibility somewhere between infancy and the second year of college (or high school). A space fantasy with the emphasis on interstellar swashbuckling (and with romantic mush kept to a minimum), "Star Wars" appealed to the 3- to 12-year-old boy in all of us -- and still does.
But although all those things may have contributed to the "Star Wars" phenomenon, they don't explain why it "changed everything", or what accounted for "the mania" (as George Harrison used to call that unaccountable epochal thing that engulfed him and three other lovable mop-tops). Because it wasn't really the movie itself that shook the world (not like the Beatles' music shook up pop/rock music, anyway); it was the popular response to the movie, and the motion picture industry's response to that response. [...]
HOLLYWOOD - When he was asked to play the Sundance Kid in "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days," William Katt knew there was one thing he did not want to do. He did not want to see "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." He hadn't seen it when it came out in 1969, and he wasn't going to see it now: "I must have been doing something else in 1969. And now if I wanted to play Sundance, I wanted to be free to go at it without preconceptions, without the Robert Redford performance in my head."