“based on a true story” wasn’t enough

26 May 2010

The makers of The Life of Emile Zola would like you to know that

This production has its basis in history. The historical basis, however, has been fictionized for the purposes of this picture and the names of many characters, many characters themselves, the story, incidents, and institutions, are fictitious. With the exception of known historical characters, whose actual names are herein used, no identification with actual persons, living or dead, is intended or should be inferred.

I wonder if their goal was to get certain historically-minded members of the audience time to walk out before they started complaining.

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off file

6 December 2009

I saw this last year over on Crooked Timber, but I was reminded of it recently and it’s still good, so I’m posting it here. This was one of four short films made using archival content from Getty Images’ Hulton Archive. It’s probably my favorite, but “Perrington Stud” is pretty well done too as a bit of storytelling.

You can see all four of the shorts here; the other two are technically well-done, but didn’t really catch my attention like these two.


you win

10 January 2009

Obama has youtube, FDR had the radio, but Calvin Coolidge, whose conversational skills were legendary, was the first president on sound film.
Vodpod videos no longer available.


chance coincidence

20 December 2008

When I heard that Blagojevich quoted Kipling in his press conference, I wondered if he quoted the same poem Grandpa Simpson quotes in a casino in the episode where he almost gambles away all the money he inherits. Turns out, he did. Here’s Blagojevich:

Here’s a transcript of the Kipling quotation:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…

That’s from the start of the poem. Grandpa Simpson picks it up at a later point, quotes a few lines, then skips to the end:

I think Rudyard Kipling said it best: If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss, yours is the earth is [sic] everything that is in it, and, which is more, you’ll be a man, my son.

Homer’s response: “You’ll be a bonehead!”


the long dark knight of the winter

17 December 2008

Last summer I didn’t pay attention to most of what was written about The Dark Knight because I hadn’t seen it and was planning to. Well, I never got around to seeing it in the theater and so I didn’t see it until yesterday when I watched it on DVD through Netflix.

Did anyone point out in the early reviews that it’s excrutiatingly awful, sort of a messy draft of a movie that never got around to an editor, at least not the kind of editor who cuts things out? That it lacked the subtlety of some of the not very subtle crime dramas about corruption and racketeering and reform that came out in the 1930s to 1950s (I am the Law, for instance)?

I liked Batman Begins and don’t think I automatically favor older movies over new ones (though it’s quite possible that I do) so I was pretty shocked at how much I disliked this. Netflix probably is too, since it predicted I’d give it 4 out of 5 (probably on the basis of my liking Following and Memento, both also directed by Christopher Nolan). My Netflix predictions are usually more accurate than that.


the fabric of society

24 November 2008

It seems like Cory Booker is channeling Randolph Bourne (via):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From Bourne’s “Trans-National America” (in the July 1916 Atlantic):

The foreign cultures have not been melted down or run together, made into some homogeneous Americanism, but have remained distinct but cooperating to the greater glory and benefit not only of themselves but of all the native ‘Americanism’ around them.

What we emphatically do not want is that these distinctive qualities should be washed out into a tasteless, colorless fluid of uniformity.

Bourne’s prefers the metaphor of a weave to food; he comes out against gluttony:

Only America, by reason of the unique liberty of opportunity and traditional isolation for which she seems to stand, can lead in this cosmopolitan enterprise. Only the American — and in this category I include the migratory alien who has lived with us and caught the pioneer spirit and a sense of new social vistas — has the chance to become that citizen of the world. America is coming to be, not a nationality but a trans- nationality, a weaving back and forth, with the other lands, of many threads of all sizes and colors. Any movement which attempts to thwart this weaving, or to dye the fabric any one color, or disentangle the threads of the strands, is false to this cosmopolitan vision. I do not mean that we shall necessarily glut ourselves with the raw product of humanity. It would be folly to absorb the nations faster than we could weave them. We have no duty either to admit or reject. It is purely a question of expediency. What concerns us is the fact that the strands are here. We must have a policy and an ideal for an actual situation. Our question is, What shall we do with our America?