dorinda: Fat Pony appears in a blaze of light! (Fat_Pony)
I have seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind so many times. SO many times. The first time was when it was originally in theaters! One of my favorite T-shirts as a little child was my Close Encounters shirt.

It was on Turner Classic Movies today, and befitting today's mission to snuggle indoors out of the cold drizzle and reward myself for the few chores I did manage to get done, I watched it yet again.

Man, I get verklempt at the ending every time. In fact, the entire lengthy sequence at the hidden landing pad, all the different people there with their unspecified tasks and backstories, all doing their part, all coming together to be humanity's open and welcoming hand to the visitors, I could watch that whole thing on a constant loop. ♥_____♥

I really thrive on--and lately don't feel like I can find much of--that trope, where humans make peaceful first contact with another species, and work hard to understand and communicate with them, everyone reaching out with gentle good will through the differences.

dorinda: A vintage b&w shot in which one man whispers in the ear of another as he holds him. (whisper)
It happened again! All of a sudden, the Internet suddenly felt Too Much for me, and I fell off it. This has happened before, and it's always distressing--I mean, not that I mind avoiding the giant firehose of outrage-and-merchandising that so much internet/social media spend so much of their time with. That's always good for me.

But aside from that, actual people, who I actually know, and share actual interests with, have been posting interesting things! And yet I feel like I've hardly been commenting or letting them know I'm out here, which might in turn make them feel like they're being interesting into a void.

So FWIW, let me say, I'm out here! And your posts and discussions remain interesting and fun! I'm sorry for falling off the boat. I'm working on climbing back on.

As part of that project, this week I'll be posting a few stories I had actually finished in the last couple months, and had gotten betaed, and polished, but didn't post. I think it was part of that "feeling fallen-off" thing. I had them in my pocket--or, I guess more accurately, in the drawerfic drawer--but was feeling so strange and tired and anhedonic that it was hard to get up the wherewithal to share them.

Kind friends have said, "I understand, but SHARE THEM!", and I am climbing back on as best I can, and so I will. Expect a story announcement in the next post!

To finish off this post, I wanted to mention that last night I saw the movie "Carol", directed by Todd Haynes, and LOVED IT. So beautiful! So melancholy! (But without a sad-tragic-dead-queers-ending!) So CHOCK FULL OF PINING, all kinds of beautiful understated complex gorgeously-filmed pining. Here's a review from Vox: Phwoar.
dorinda: Hands reach for two identical glasses, which are labeled "half empty" and "half full". (halfemptyhalffull)
My lunchtime entertainment today has been rewatching dances by The Nicholas Brothers, Fayard and Harold. Of course there's their famous "Jumpin' Jive" number in the 1943 film Stormy Weather, sung by Cab Calloway, which Fred Astaire famously said was the best dance number he'd ever seen:

I can totally see what Astaire saw in it, the way they transmute such powerful athleticism into liquid grace, the way they subsume their superhuman effort to make it seem like they just sort of float and fly, it's mesmerizing. And as a duo they have this subtle back-and-forth trading of a sort of puppeteer thing between them, where one will seem he's shaping the other's movements out of the air with his own gestures. (It's in the other clip too, I absolutely love that.)

And, the number that reminded me to revisit them, from three years earlier in Down Argentine Way (1940) where they do the singing and the dancing both:

I saw a voiced-over version of this number this morning, in The New Yorker, discussed in terms of Hollywood segregation and dead-ending of black performers, making some solid points that too often get overlooked in Studio System nostalgia:

(The embedded video in that article is his narration over the dance number; I recommend it!)

He talks about how the Nicholases could have been, had the talent and work ethic and charisma to be, full-fledged movie stars--imagine them getting a comedy-duo-movie series like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope's "Road" movies! But instead, they're in this system that's glad to showcase them, but only in an isolated number that could be cut from film prints being circulated to certain areas of the country if a local community objected. So their performances are amazing, genius, but also in a way painful reminders of the systemic bottleneck they were stuck in.

I keep rewinding to watch Fayard's face, in particular, in Down Argentine Way, how he keeps looking and reacting to people in the audience, bringing them in with undeniable charisma. The performance they're giving with their faces and bodies, even beyond the dancing, that's what makes it "a number", more than a dance, and that's the test of a star.
dorinda: Two hands, one dangling a silver Comedy mask and one dangling a gold Tragedy mask, under the words THE PLAYERS. (Sting_players)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 10:57am on 18/09/2014 under ,
When I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy last week, one of the trailers before the movie was this one for "Annie" (official trailer #2):

First of all, I think it looks charming, and I'm so glad to see Quvenzhané Wallis getting good work. I loved her in "Beasts of the Southern Wild", but because she had to be so feral and internal in that movie, it's great to see her getting to be external and verbal, show off her range.

(Sad and I'm sure unsurprising note: don't read the comments at the trailer! Even though some folks are in there fighting the good fight, the comments section of course is crawling with people complaining about How Dare They Cast A Black Girl When Annie Is Capital-W White. Uh huh. Yecccch.)

I've been keeping an eye on "Annie" in a vague sense, because of its earlier trailer (the one put out in March, also on YouTube here ). When I first saw that one before some spring movie or other, I was surprised at how much I didn't like it. It's interesting to compare it to the later one, #2, which I do like. I think they make a good before-after example of how the same footage can be re-edited to be much more effective.

The first one, for instance, has a real emphasis on the Miss Hannigan character, trying to use her dialogue for comedy--but it instead comes off as abrasive and offputting. No offense to Cameron Diaz, I think she can be funny, but the sheer amount of time this trailer spends in her mugging nastiness is not appealing. And it soaks up a lot of valuable real estate, putting in two very similar jokes/beats, where she says something lengthy and incomprehensible--long pause--kids go "Huh?" Trailers don't have any time to waste! Silence-->punchline can be very striking, but only used sparingly. (The wig joke from #2 uses it more effectively.)

Trailer #2 I think has a much better sense of how to use just a couple of shorter Hannigan moments for punch/contrast, dialing her presence way down. More of the comedy comes from poking fun at the self-importance of the Stacks (nee Warbucks) character (like the linked Batman jokes, which I really like, but there are also others). I think this is a better approach: spending a lot of time grinding on how hilarious-terrible Hannigan is is basically shooting fish in a barrel, whereas jokes about Stacks are punching up. But also, it's more linked to the theme of the movie, where Stacks (I assume) learns to lighten up and to love and whatnot.

I also much prefer the way the second trailer uses the "Hard Knock Life" song and beat from the get-go, with the editing being quick and staccato in a matching way. And then it slows down a bit to do some story pipe-laying with dialogue, and then picks back up with quick cuts again, which gives the trailer more of a shape and a forward propulsion. The first trailer inexplicably began with one of those long Hannigan diatribes, which felt draggy, and only brought in the music afterward (when it was too late, the pace had already been established as sloggy).

Anyway, that's just the sort of thing I think about, in the dark before the movies while I'm trying to figure out the best way to open the box of Milk Duds.
dorinda: Fat Pony appears in a blaze of light! (Fat_Pony)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 07:56pm on 13/09/2014 under ,
I went out and saw Guardians of the Galaxy today! It was a fun time. I liked Rocket and Star Lord more than I expected (not that I thought I'd hate 'em, but I don't think I expected to feel quite so warm), and of course I am seriously full of ♥ GROOOOOOOOOOOT ♥ .

It was a complete festival of Hey It's That Actor, too, which I enjoyed. Everywhere I looked was a solid pro, throwing themselves into the role and really understanding the tone of the movie (especially the way the sense of humor, while dominant, wasn't allowed to completely take over, keeping it grounded in emotional honesty so we could care about the characters). No one was making "I'm too good for this" hostage-face, no matter what makeup they wore or what alien-planet-ese they had to declaim.

(Special award to Lee Pace, who, as Thranduil has shown us, is SO GOOD AT STRIKING A POSE. I want him to come over for beer and snacks and a POSE PARTY.)
dorinda: Scotty has caught the toppling Kelly, and speaks into his ear from behind. (ISpy_Vendetta_catch)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 08:36pm on 10/09/2014 under
Home sick today--nothing serious, but I mostly slept, plus a bit of sitting around in an extreme state of inertia.

I also rewatched this (very!) short film, "Fresh Guacamole", which was nominated for an Academy Award last year for Best Animated Short Film. There's something about it that I find so satisfying--the sound design, for one thing, but also of course the clever transformations.

So maybe you'll enjoy it too!:

dorinda: Two hands, one dangling a silver Comedy mask and one dangling a gold Tragedy mask, under the words THE PLAYERS. (Sting_players)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 11:54am on 02/09/2014 under ,
This morning I watched a Tony Zhou "Every Frame a Painting" video I missed when it first went up (this May), about the lateral tracking shot in film. It's here:

It's short and interesting, like his other videos, and demonstrates with some great examples (the one from "Up", for instance, where he does a nice job comparing other possible transition choices).

But I still feel like something remains unexplored there. Well--I mean, of course, it's a complicated topic, and the video's like six and a half minutes long. But still. Something else is on the tip of my tongue.

Maybe something more specific about the way it's often used for strong & direct contrast/juxtaposition (I'm thinking of times it moves 'through a wall' to show us something happening in a different space and/or time), so it's as if the move from one rectangular shape over to another distinct rectangular shape is like...turning a page? Moving to the next comic panel/frame? As if it's doing the sort of juxtaposition work that a smash cut often does, but uses the sideways drifting to include the passing of time and/or greater space than a smash cut does. (He does mention the time/space thing, but I guess I wish he could've gone into it more.)

Anyway, I found it really interesting, and you might too. I highly recommend the rest of his videos as well--the one on visual comedy in film as exemplified by Edgar Wright, I think about that one a lot, especially his examples of how so much modern American comedy film has become SO VISUALLY LAZY. (Besides, any excuse for me to watch clips of Edgar Wright's work is extremely welcome!)
dorinda: A vintage b&w shot in which one man whispers in the ear of another as he holds him. (whisper)
I don't know what bucket I've been living under, but I only now got a look at the cast for the upcoming HBO film adaptation of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart.

To wit: Mark Ruffalo as gay activist Ned Weeks and Matt Bomer as Felix, the man he falls in love with. I mean... I mean... GADZOOKS. ♥_____♥

I frankly granted myself an amnesty from watching AIDS-related movies for a while, since a significant portion of my life in the 80s and 90s was itself an AIDS movie. But there are exceptions. And HERE IS ONE.

There are little moments from the film shown in HBO's new year-end/preview trailer, which has .giffed for easy study.
dorinda: From a French postcard of 1902: a woman in hat, coat, cravat, and walking stick writes on a pad of paper. (writer)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 12:37pm on 24/08/2013 under , , ,
I have some writing to do today (it feels like I have ALL THE WRITING to do today), plus paying the painter later and moving some belongings and other new-place tasks. But what did I do with the part of my morning that wasn't about laundry?

Watched narrated analyses of movie action sequences, of course!

I must highly recommend Jim Emerson's series of Vimeo videos called "In The Cut". In particular, take a look at his analysis of part of an action sequence from the 2010 movie Salt, with Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Liev Schreiber.

Uninterrupted Salt clip.

Emerson's analysis, "A Dash of Salt".

For anyone who's ever heard me moaning on about action movies, directors who have poor skills at directing action sequences, and the importance of spatial choreography in action movies, this is a good counterexample of a slice of a very well-done sequence. And a very well-done movie, too!

Emerson makes a remark early on about the movie like "preposterous", but screw him (and he agrees the action-directing is terrific, anyway). Salt is a tight, kinetic, well-choreographed, old-fashioned action movie in the best way. I mean old-fashioned here in a few senses: the storyline has a Cold War Movie feel about it; the direction did not fall prey to the modern WHOAH SHAKYCAM trend (plus check out the awesome old-school zoom in this clip!); and the stunts and effects are largely done with practical setups (real people in real places doing real things, with computers mostly just used to erase safety cables and other infrastructure).

Another great thing about Salt is that it stars Angelina Jolie, in a script originally written for and aimed at Tom Cruise. And in changing it over, they hardly had to alter anything! The character could just as easily have been a dude. And that's the sort of character I love: not "a lady spy!" or "a lady cop!" or "a male nurse!", but someone where the writers wrote for character first. You can really tell which writers have little to no skill at that--like when a show or movie has just one woman in it, for instance, to "Be The Lady", since of course that's a category all its own and how on earth could you write two The Ladys. *eyeroll*
dorinda: A black-and-white portrait of a little girl that gradually shifts to look demonic. (demongirl_animated)
posted by [personal profile] dorinda at 07:02pm on 09/08/2013 under , , ,
It is [personal profile] sherrold's birthday today. And as an antidote to the blues, movies_michelle asked that people "post a rec of something, anything, you enjoyed today, whether it was a story, vid, photo, meme, discussion, whatever. Whether it's new or old. If you've been meaning to go back and leave a comment on a story, go do it now, even if it's just to say 'Love this!'"

So, in the spirit of the day, I will gladly rec two movies I just recently got to see!


Yeah, I know, probably the last fan in the world to see it. :D I enjoyed it! When's the last time I saw an action movie where the fight scenes never felt too long, and where I had a good solid sense of who's where & the fight choreography?? (Answer: far too long ago.)

Plus, interesting worldbuilding; I can totally understand people getting fannish about it (both in-universe and with fandom-fusions), because it had all kinds of tantalizing background and loose ends and itches that could use a good fannish scratch. I love good worldbuilding, especially worldbuilding that doesn't point out/explain everything to us, that lets a lot of stuff just exist underfoot like a world does. It's fun to think about, and to play in.

I like to think Sandy would have very much enjoyed seeing soulbonded pilots riding giant robots punch invading monsters RIGHT IN THE FAAAAACE. \o/

(Also, when Stacker comes out before the final climactic scene, wearing that outfit that I won't specify for fear of spoilers? I feel like I may have ruptured something in my hormone-engineering. PHWOOOOOAAAAAR.)


I hadn't heard anything about this film until someone convinced me to go see it with them. And it was a very pleasant surprise!

I have a particular taste in scary movies: I vastly prefer a tone and approach I like to call "creeping dread", as opposed to the more jagged/jumpy types of horror-violence and blood and unstoppable killers and grue. I like a movie to start slow and quiet, and just...slowly...ratchet...the tension...until...*creak*...WHO'S THERE??? O______O

Well, The Conjuring is just my type of movie. It's basically a haunted-house story, where a husband and wife and their daughters move into an isolated old rural house where straaaange things start to happen. \o/ And there's a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators they eventually turn to for help, but the guy-investigator is increasingly worried about the toll their work is taking on the woman-investigator, who is very sensitive to paranormal events/visions.

It's set in 1971, and the art direction, costuming, and sound design are terrific. I love how it looks and how it sounds. It did a very good job at creeping me out, and I live for that! My movie companion ended up curled in a ball with just their eyeballs peeping out through their protective fingers (not because of gore, I must again emphasize, but because of tension and breathless fear and creepiness).

It didn't have a big budget, but all of the money went to great use--the look and sound, as I mentioned, but also the casting. I'm very impressed at the caliber of the cast! They got skilled, experienced pros, and I felt like I was in good hands. Ron Livingston plays the husband in the house and Lili Taylor the wife, and they're great; I also especially liked the performance of Vera Farmiga as one of the investigators.

(Final note: someone else declined to go see the movie with us, because he'd read an article on about how it was a thinly-disguised right wing misogynist screed. I paid very close attention to the movie, and I consider myself sensitive to that sort of thing--but honestly, I didn't sense one drop of it, and neither did my companion. The Salon article remains completely baffling to me.)


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