Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: May 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Waiting for Hulot

by Tony Dayoub

In this week's Wide Screen, I look at the recent Blu-ray release of last year's Oscar-nominated animated feature, The Illusionist. Here's an excerpt from my column, "Tatischeff or Tati?" in which I use the scene most resembling one of Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot gags as a starting point in contrasting the iconic Hulot from the new film's titular magician, Tatischeff:
But outside of this one sequence in The Illusionist, Tatischeff (as his name underscores) is not meant to invoke the character of Hulot, as much as he is meant to recall the artist who assumed the name, Jacques Tati. (For Playtime, Tati built a virtual city with its own power plant at great expense to him both financially and in terms of his cinematic career.) Like the director, Tatischeff is a man who patiently sets up acts involving sleight of hand, appreciated by a rare few (as represented by Alice), but is fighting a losing battle in a world growing ever faster in its pace, its technological development and its disdain for artists who aren’t simply pretty tabulas rasa; a running joke in the film involves Tatischeff repeatedly encountering a boy band that acts masculine in front of their screaming female fans while relaxing into effeminacy backstage.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Now on DVD and Blu-ray in April/May

by Tony Dayoub

I apologize for the long dry spell at this site, but I needed to recharge.
You should see things pick up a tad here over the next few weeks. Let me catch you up on some home releases I've been watching...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Revisiting Gone with the Wind (1939) and its Problematic Legacy

by Tony Dayoub

From my column in this week's Wide Screen:
Next month marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, and 150 years ago last month, the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. Here in Atlanta, now a mecca for many African-Americans well-versed in the rich history of the city’s civil rights movement, one can still find dubious organizations, like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, that refer to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression.

In fact, living in present-day Atlanta is a curiously dichotomous affair. The past and the present are constantly juxtaposed in the strangest of ways. Take our midtown, a thriving collection of gleaming, new buildings reaching into the sky and surrounding landmarks like the iconic Varsity restaurant (the largest drive-in joint in the world), Peachtree Street’s Fox Theatre (once – and sometimes, again – a luxurious movie palace), or the Margaret Mitchell House, the place where the author wrote a large portion of Gone with the Wind until moving out in 1932. The Margaret Mitchell House itself is emblematic of Atlanta’s and, indeed, the South’s tendency to rehabilitate its image in light of its dubious history before the civil rights era.

Mitchell and her second husband, John Marsh, never actually had the run of the entire house, affectionately nicknamed “the Dump” by the novelist. In 1925, when the building was a 10-unit dwelling known as the Crescent Apartments, Peggy Mitchell (as she was known to her fellow journalists at the Atlanta Journal) and Marsh moved into Apartment 1 on the ground floor. Last week, I took a tour of the small flat. I was shocked by its size, so tiny that the radiator is bolted to the living room ceiling. Much of the furniture in the apartment, though not actually Mitchell’s, is of the period. And many of the objects that occupy the rest of the museum are replicas, looking accurate despite not being the true antique objects of value.

So it is with Gone with the Wind (1939), a film that only approximates the truth about Southern society pre- and post-Civil War, distorting its more unsavory realities...

Jackie Cooper

by Tony Dayoub

"Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I'll hear a voice that sounds familiar . . . my wife has fallen asleep with the tube on, and I'll finally start recognizing the dialogue, look up, and Jesus Christ, it's me at 14, or 12, or 9, or whatever. Sometimes I'll sit there and watch it and I can tell myself what's coming next . . . I remember the dialogue, the scene and the set very well, and then there'll be a part of the picture I never remembered at all. Because there were times as a kid, as a teenager especially, when I'd be terribly occupied with what I was doing--with my boat, or on a circuit of rodeos and horseshoes, or with my car--very often on some of this stuff when I'd have to go to work. I'd just give the script a cursory glance. I had no training, and I was a quick study, so nobody knew how involved or not involved I was. But I look at that stuff now and I can see I wasn't involved, and I wasn't very good."
- Jackie Cooper

Perry White (Jackie Cooper): Olsen! Why am I paying you forty dollars a week when I should have you arrested for loitering? Go get Mr... er...
Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve): Kent.
Perry White: ...Kent here a towel!
Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure): Right, Chief.
Perry White: And make mine black and no sugar!
Jimmy Olsen: Right, Chief.
Perry White: And don't call me 'sugar'!

Recommended Movies: Our Gang: Teacher's Pet, School's Out, Love Business, The Champ (1931), Treasure Island (1934), Superman: The Movie, Superman II

Monday, May 2, 2011

Atlanta Film Festival 2011: Barbershop Punk and Black, White and Blues

by Tony Dayoub

Every festival has their identity. Miami's is international flavored with a particular concentration on Latin American films. The New York Film Festival balances foreign, independent and award-worthy domestic releases as one would expect from a longer-running showcase with some prestige attached to it. My impression so far is that there's a nice underground aesthetic to this year's Atlanta's festival, my first experience of it despite being an Atlanta resident.