Friday, July 08, 2011

Thoughts in shuffle mode - Stewart, Cooper, Powell, GIlliam ...

Well, geez - I almost missed my mark to keep up blog posting at least twice a week. I better get in my licks now before Middletown's hot air balloon festival subsumes my existence.

The other day I mentioned seeing Born to Dance with Jimmy Stewart. Most people know this as the movie in which Jimmy Stewart sings! (That sentence demanded an exclamation point.)

It's a charming little programmer. Not a "great" movie by any means, but Jimmy is charmingly awkward. And I would like to have $1 for every time Eleanor taps, please.

I also watched Wings last week. No, even though this is me writing, I'm not talking about that band Paul McCartney was in after the Beatles. I'm talking about the very first movie to win the Best Picture Oscar. It doesn't have much of a reputation - many consider it clunky and creaky. It IS dated and overlong, to be sure, but I was surprised at how much I liked it. Sure, Sunrise from the same year was the better choice, but Wings has a lot to recommend it. William Wellman is the director, so it looks great - and the aerial photography is astounding. The performances are solid, and it's easy to see why Clara Bow was an "it" girl.  It's also a kick to see Gary Cooper in a very early (and very short) role. He had magnetism even then.

I've also been reading the book The Battle of Brazil, about the making of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, and it made me order a new copy of that film. I have the old deluxe Criterion laserdisc set, but alack, those don't play too well on hi-def TVs - so I ordered a used copy of the Criterion DVD set. More on that later.

I knew the story about the wrangling and mangling around the film, but the book is an illuminating read nonetheless. I particularly loved this quote from Gilliam, talking about studio suits

"You listen to these people, and you just have to shake your head. They are so goddamned sure they know what they're talking about, and all they are ever doing is guessing. They invent their own research, then depend on it as if it were science. They have no respect for the intelligence of their audience. Then when they succeed, they break their ass trying to tell you how brilliant they were in doing it."

Seems like little has changed in 30 years ,,,

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