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December 17, 2004

Words, Images, and Penguins

Here are a few of the articles I've been reading and flash movies I've been watching over the last few days. First, GreenCine Daily has been linking up a storm, with all of the end-of-the-year "Ten Best" lists coming out. Among other good reads, Nathan Kosub of Stop Smiling Magazine nominates Richard Linklater's Before Sunset as the best film of the year, and I'm not sure I disagree.

In other news, a commenter in Filmbrain's entry on long takes mentions David Bordwell's Film Quarterly article, "Intensified continuity: visual style in contemporary American film." In the article, Bordwell asks whether the average shot length in Hollywood films has decreased dramatically in recent years. Surprising factoid: Bordwell discovered that Dark City is "the fastest-cut Hollywood film" he found, at an average shot length of a mere 1.8 seconds.

Also from GreenCine: Hal Hartley, one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers, is debuting his new DV feature, The Girl from Monday, at Sundance and will hit DVD very soon after. I haven't had a chance to watch his newly released collection of short films, but my video store has a copy, and I've seen a few clips, and the collection looks very cool.

Ed Rampell of Alternet uses the re-release of On the Waterfront, which I'll be seeing tomorrow night or Sunday, to remind audiences of "the film's proper historical context: as a case study in Red Scare propaganda." I haven't seen the film in a few years, and while I'm aware of Kazan's testimony before before the House Un-American Activities Committee, in which he named eight people who had been members of the Communist Party, I'm still curious to see the film again. Rampell's basic thesis--that Kazan likely made Waterfront in order to justify his decision to inform--seems about right to me, so I'll be watching this film through a variety of lenses.

Finally, Weez pointed me to a Flash animation starring my favorite species of animal, penguins: When Penguins Attack: The Post-Modern Version.

Posted by chuck at December 17, 2004 7:51 PM

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Damn, Chuck, you've been a blogging machine tonight. I always worry about being the Guy Who Posts Too Many Comments, but I had to mention my favorite scene in On the Waterfront. It's the one where Brando and Eva Marie Saint are walking and talking, and Eva's character drops her glove and Brando picks it up and starts trying it on. There was no more Brando, and only Terry Malloy for me in that instant. That's one of my favorite scenes in any movie ever, actually. As you likely know, that was improvised by Brando. He had moments of sheer F-ing genius.

Posted by: Rusty at December 17, 2004 9:42 PM

This is indeed one of the lesnes I'll be using. I knew the scene was improvised, and Brando's performance is amazing, particulalry in those kinds of moments.

The black-and-white cinematography gives the film an incredible sense of urgency, but it is hard to shake Kazan's use of the film as self-justification.

Posted by: Chuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 17, 2004 10:10 PM

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