Not Topol

August 31st, 2012

The Osmonds 1974 – Fiddler On The Roof Medley.

You know, Fiddler On the Roof used to be my favourite film musical. Now, I don't know if I'll be able to watch it again without getting flashbacks of this … performance.

[Via MetaFilter]

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2 things I didn't know (or rather, 'didn't notice')

June 17th, 2011

Two film facts I learned today:

  1. From a list of 30 Things You Might Not Know About 'Raiders of the Lost Ark':

    16. Burly British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film, once as a giant Sherpa who perishes in the Nepalese bar and again as the German mechanic who's done in by the plane's propeller.

    I've watched Raiders of the Lost Ark I don't know how many times over the last thirty years, yet I had somehow completely failed to notice that the burly German mechanic in one of my favourite set-pieces from one of my favourite films was played by the late Pat Roach.

  2. I'm indebted to Back of the Cereal Box for the revelation that there was a character in The World Is Not Enough who went by the name of Molly Warmflash. As clear a sign as you like that it was well past time to reboot the franchise.

[Raiders of the Lost Ark link via Pop Loser, James Bond character names link via Fritinancy]

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Wayne Redhart Reviews…

August 4th, 2007

Amazon UK reviewer Wayne Redhart does his bit to add to the gaiety of nations:

Richard Clayderman: My Favorite Movie Themes

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Richard Clayderman has produced yet another suavely refined album here, with the themes from all of his favourite films. Unfortunately, while the music is beautifully played, Clayderman's taste in cinema is not nearly as sophisticated as his piano-playing. The selections include 'The Goonies', 'Macgyer- Lost Treasure of Atlantis', 'Dude Where's my Car', 'Debbie Does Dallas', 'Big Trouble in Little China', 'Porkies' and 'Howard the Duck'.

Maybe next time Clayderman should do a survey of the music from somebody else's favourite films.

[Via Neil Gaiman]

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2001, second by second

May 16th, 2007

Brendan Dawes has written a program that creates a snapshot of a film in a single image:

This explores the idea of distilling a whole film down to one single image. Using eight of my favourite films from eight of my most admired directors including Sidney Lumet, Francis Ford Coppola and John Boorman, each film is processed through a Java program written with the processing environment. This small piece of software samples a movie every second and generates an 8 x 6 pixel image of the frame at that moment in time. It does this for the entire film, with each row representing one minute of film time.

Dawes has submitted a print of 2001: A Space Odyssey produced using his software to the Coudal Partners Swap Meat and made a signed, numbered limited edition of 50 prints available for purchase at a price of US$300. I just wish I had $300 to spare…

[Via Daring Fireball]



December 31st, 2006

Just before Xmas Michael Bérubé posted an edited version of an essay he wrote in 1993 about 2001: A Space Odyssey (aka my favourite film ever):

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is not a political film. A quarter century after its release in April 1968 (its public debut took place on the day before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.), 2001 is usually remembered for its images, for the music, or for its groundbreaking special effects–all of which are widely and routinely cited in the general culture. The mysterious monolith turns up in New Yorker cartoons ("it's a black thing, you wouldn't understand"), "Thus Spake Zarathustra" becomes a staple of Sesame Street phonetics lessons, the balletic representations of space flight provide material for a Lenny Kravitz video and an episode of The Simpsons. Much of the movie's audience might hesitate to ascribe a "plot" to 2001 at all, much less a "plot" in the "political" sense; the movie's initial reviews tended to center on the monolith and on HAL, and rereading those reviews today chiefly affords one the spectacle of watching dozens of puzzled film critics circle curiously around this large, black slab in their midst.

[…] My sense is that most people would think it takes a strange critical mind to see the movie as a commentary on the Cold War and the rise of the national security state. But all I'll be doing here is uncovering one of the film's premises, a subtext it doesn't need to elaborate insofar as it takes that subtext for granted (as does its audience). To date, there hasn't been any discussion of what 2001 might have meant to the politics of national security and manned space exploration in 1968. I think that critical silence is itself readable, and that it testifies not only to cultural work the film has done, but also to the possibility that some forms of textual politics may be most powerful when least explicit. […]

It's an interesting essay, particularly for the view Bérubé takes about HAL's motivation. Well worth a read.

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September 24th, 2005

Powell and Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was shown on BBC2 this afternoon. Though it's one of my favourite films I hadn't seen it in ages; it was as good as I remembered, with Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook and Deborah Kerr all giving wonderful performances and a script that painted an affectionate picture of Clive Candy and of the English way of life, and of war.

Searching Amazon, I see that there's a reasonably cheap DVD release of Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death and I Know Where I'm Going. If they'd just swapped the latter film for The Red Shoes it'd be my ideal Powell-Pressburger set.

I was googling around afterwards trying to find a particular line from the film and came across a number of interesting sites, one of which included the text of a pamphlet published at the time of the film's initial release entitled The Shame and Disgrace of Colonel Blimp:

[…] "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp", is one of the most wicked productions that has eve disgraced the British film industry and inflicted upon the long-suffering British people. We shall later have occasion to mention a few others from the same "Blimp" stable, but this one in particular offers a vivid example of how the living, crawling germs of World War Three are being carefully hatched. In this long three-hour mess-up of a film you will gain a good idea of how World War One led to World War Two. This picture will give you the answer that has puzzled so many people. How is it that when we had victory utter and complete in 1918, with the Germans at our mercy, how is it that though we had determined there would be no more war, we allowed victory to elude us, the Germans to fool and hypnotise us, so that we have to fight them all over again? When you have looked at, and pondered well, the phenomenon of "Blimp" appearing during the Second War against the Germans, the answer to that will be easy.

Today the attempt to hypnotise us has been made not as last time, after the war, but right in the middle of the war, in the middle of 1943. Last time the hypnotising process was directed against us from a distance, from Germany, by Germans, which is understandable. This time it has been effected within our own camp, at the very climax of a life and death struggle with a ruthless enemy.

The final effect of this film is to present us to the world as mild, foolish softies and the Germans as the hard done by victims of superior caste. This film might well be a first step towards a national mental preparation for this country to become an aggressed upon nation for the third time. […]

Well, that's one view…

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2001 icons

February 22nd, 2005

Zyotism has a beautiful set of icons based on artifacts from my favourite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey available for download free of charge. I don't generally use custom icons, but I may have to make an exception for these.

[Via Ani Moller]

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The Peacekeeper Wars

February 14th, 2005

And tonight's excuse for my failure to post any interesting links is … the Region 2 DVD release of The Peacekeeper Wars, the three-hour story which gives Farscape the send-off it deserves a couple of years after the series was cancelled so abruptly that the producers couldn't even re-shoot the season's end, let alone wrap up a series of storylines that were supposed to have another year to play themselves out.

This really isn't a TV movie you could reasonably show to someone who hadn't seen the parent show, but then that's the point. The writers are out to provide a proper conclusion to the story of a group of characters who we got to know over four years, and they use their three hours wisely by giving us a grand, sweeping chunk of old-fashioned space opera with any number of feats of derring-do. There's plenty of eye candy, some really, really big explosions and some seriously wacky science – hard SF this ain't, and it's all the better for it – but all the shiny stuff is balanced by some really nice lines, some great character moments and the odd heroic sacrifice. And a note-perfect steal of one of the most iconic scenes in my all-time favourite film.

As the UK DVD release only came out today I don't want to get into plot details, but I will say that whilst this wasn't the best Farscape story ever it was certainly a hugely enjoyable and very satisfying way to wrap up the story. Strongly recommended.

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DVD clutter

November 20th, 2003

I watched the DVD of X-Men 2 this evening, and like Nicklas I was surprised at how much junk there was before the main menu came up. I've come to expect the copyright warning you can't jump out of, but this time it's much, much worse: instead of just displaying the text on the screen, you get to listen to it being read out! Then as a little bonus you get trailers for forthcoming releases, albeit ones you can skip by pressing the Menu button. (Come to think of it, if they'd also forced me to watch a trailer for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen before showing me the film I'd paid for then I might well have been forced to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. And I wouldn't be buying many DVDs after that, would I?)

Bad as the pre-film trailers are, it's the spoken intellectual property protection announcement that's the real problem here. A silent copyright notice isn't half as distracting. Especially if you're watching on a computer and can just bring some other program to the foreground while the notice sits there. Now I also have to mute the DVD Player's sound.

The thing is, I can't imagine that intrusive announcements actually help defeat piracy. Has there ever been a documented case of somebody watching a copy of a film on DVD, only to read the copyright notice, suffer from a crisis of conscience and smash the DVD/ring up the distributors and grass up the counterfeiter? Has anyone ever ended up in court and been acquitted of a charge of counterfeiting DVDs on the grounds that they didn't realise the disks contained someone else's intellectual property? All this system does is irritate the paying customer – though as Nicklas notes, not quite to the point where you'll boycott a DVD release of your favourite film or TV show.

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