When You Get Really Close to a Movie Screen, Film Emulsion Looks like…
Boiling Sand

This post is part of a Loving Lucy Blogathon at True Classics:  The ABCs of Classic Film, celebrating the 100th birthday of Lucille Ball.  For more articles from this site on the early film work of Ball, CLICK HERE. When Carol Burnett spoke at the arts college where I was teaching, she stated her TV […]

Ever since that train arriving at the station was etched onto emulsion by the Lumière Brothers’ new invention, film has been a time capsule. Film documents the everyday.  Even film fantasy puts on record the tastes and technology of an era.  But more importantly, the method its creators used to conceive and present its subjects […]

For the first time since elementary school, I sat in front of a TV and watched ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN recently. According to my calculations, the first time I saw the movie was the year Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published; and the movie had its theatrical release a good half-decade before.  […]

[This post was written in conjunction with the For the Love of Film:  The Film Preservation Blogathon this week.  Please DONATE to the National Film Preservation Foundation.] The need for film preservation eventually reduces to a discussion of film stock.  It’s the effects of age and the unstable chemicals in the physical elements of film […]

Centuries ago a Hindu poet wrote that humans are “…a bit of sky reflected in a jar destined to shatter.” It’s a challenging image for the mortal and immortal elements in mankind — and it also works as a symbol for our psychological engagement with movies:  after a film takes us to new, foreign levels […]

The second most surprising animation I’ve seen during this stay in China was a blast from my childhood:  the “Silly Rabbit” hawking TRIX cereal is now a primetime bunny on China’s Saturday night commercial slots. But the strangest cartoon in Sino-world has been an ‘educational’ video on the H1N1 virus, shown as part of the […]

I’m in Houston today:  North America’s fourth largest city, frequently named an overlooked gem in the New York Times’ travel section, and home to many cultural treasures including the Mark Rothko Chapel. I just left the Rothko Chapel, where I had a strong, cleansing meditation — sitting twixt a frail, elderly Asian woman in a […]

Director Ang Lee’s 1997 film THE ICE STORM dramatized the risks and perils of Modernity.   Today when “new” means “contemporary” and Modern is out-dated — losing its power to the next wave, PostModernism — it’s hard to conceive or convey what Modernism was all about.   THE ICE STORM laid bare the personal perils […]

I saw BRÜNO last month. The film’s duality of performance and cultural observation, documentary and manipulation, agent provocateur and farcical comedy led me to think about its relationship to certain aspects of the Warhol / Morrissey output in the late 1960s such as BIKE BOY. The camera of 1967’s BIKE BOY recorded the codes of […]

In order to build allies as World War 2 approached, the Hollywood film industry at the request of the federal government began incorporating aspects of Latin American culture in its films: glamorizing locales such as Rio and Buenos Aires, incorporating Latin culture in costume design (such as Edith Head’s designs for Barbara Stanwyck in 1941’s […]

[OK, so I fibbed last month when I said no more posts about Australia.] Back in November I was at Manly Beach near Sydney, Australia. It was named Manly because when Captain Cook saw the indigenous males on the beach, he thought them ‘manly.’ So, at Manly Beach, all things are Manly: Manly Italian Restaurant, […]

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The other night I rented the 1974 movie, AMAZING GRACE, a star vehicle for the legendary black vaudeville entertainer Moms Mabley. Moms was 80 years old the summer this was released. So her performance has a fascinating double-meaning and readability: she may be slow and sometimes fuzzy in her blocking and stage business, but her […]

Being a mythopoetic kind of bubba, I frequently wax McLuhanesque on the experience of viewing a motion picture.  Such as: When motion pictures were introduced in one African region, if the shot panned from one object to another (e.g., a shot of a house panned over to a shot of a tree), the audience’s perception […]

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