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Sunday, 2014 March 23, 12:15 — cinema, ethics

love or nothing

In Watch on the Rhine (1943; screenplay by Dashiell Hammett from a play by Lillian Hellman) the penniless Count remarks,

Blecher, we do not like each other.

The Nazi to whom he hopes to sell information replies,

But that will not stand in the way of our doing business.

To link such a sentiment to fascism implies a remarkable kind of snobbery.

Saturday, 2013 December 14, 11:15 — cinema, prose

late antiquity

An argument is offered that New Zealand is the wrong place to film Tolkien’s works:

One of Tolkien’s great accomplishments was making Middle-earth seem vividly old. Wherever the reader looks, ruins and crumbling statues poke through the lichen. […]

To do justice to Tolkien—to capture the essence of Middle-earth—a filmmaker needs to convey that sensibility. And the problem with New Zealand is that it is decidedly young—both geologically and as a place inhabited by people. […]

The criticism of tone is valid, but on the other hand: our world is, by definition, older than Bilbo’s; Tolkien had no grasp of geology anyway; Eriador has been depopulated (why?) for a thousand years by Bilbo’s time, and Rhovanion always was relatively empty.

Saturday, 2013 October 12, 01:02 — cinema, language

a shifting role

The original Nikita (1990) and the American remake Point of No Return (1993) had a minor character called Victor the Cleaner — played by Jean Reno and Harvey Keitel respectively — whose specialty was making evidence, such as bodies, disappear.

Reno returned in Léon (1994), again as a “cleaner”, but this time “cleaner” meant assassin.

In the current TV series Nikita, “cleaner” again means assassin. I wonder how far this usage has spread.

Thursday, 2013 September 19, 22:20 — cinema

has self-parody always been a thing?

The movie Taras Bulba (1962) opens with a narration. I thought: Have I heard that narrator before? Have I heard a parody of that narrator?

Yes and yes. It was Paul Frees, who also narrated Dudley Do-Right.

Sunday, 2013 June 23, 16:06 — cinema, neep-neep

pass the time by tracing rays

I had assumed that Pixar did not use ray-tracing because it could not provide certain desired lighting effects. Now Dad tells me that Monsters University is Pixar’s first ray-traced feature, which implies that the speed wasn’t available until now.

Friday, 2013 March 29, 23:56 — cinema, ethics, psychology

what didn’t happen in Juneau didn’t stay in Juneau

In “It Happened in Juneau”, near the end of the third season of Northern Exposure (one of very few TV series of which I’ve seen every episode twice), Maggie flies Joel to Juneau for a conference; they both get lonely, and drunkenly seduce each other. But Maggie falls asleep and cannot be roused, so Joel puts her to bed alone.

In the morning they return to Cicely. Maggie believes that they did copulate, and partly regrets it. Some time goes by before Joel succeeds in telling Maggie what really happened. She is insulted: “Why didn’t you? I had consented!”

Maggie later invites Joel to her house to try again. She asks him to say his desire for her is so strong that he’ll let nothing get in its way. She then finds (or reveals) that that expression of desire, rather than the execution, was what she really wanted from Joel, and dismisses him.

This affair bugs me on two points. First: I can accept that Maggie is insulted by Joel’s inaction, but wouldn’t the insult be outweighed by relief? (Well, the people of Cicely are quirky, and Maggie more so than some.)

Second: what Maggie asks of Joel in the end, taken literally, includes a commitment to rape her. Am I sick for noticing that? On reflection, I guess it’s in character – and suitable for prime time – that Joel is too startled (and perhaps deflated!) by the dismissal to respond with more than a bewildered verbal protest; but I’m still disappointed that the script didn’t explore that point at all.

Sunday, 2013 February 3, 10:35 — cinema

Leviathan’s appetite

Fred Astaire was 42 years old when his character was drafted in You’ll Never Get Rich, released some months before Pearl Harbor. What?!

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