Monday, December 15, 2008

Lecture at Winona State University

On February 11th, 2009 I will be presenting a lecture as a part of the Antheneum Series at Winona State University's Krueger Library. Presentations in the series are held on the second floor of the library and are free and open to the public.

The presentation is titled "From Michael Moore to Batman: A Survey of Post 9-11 Cinema" and I will examine how filmmakers, primarily those working in Hollywood, have dealt with the attack and its aftermath either explicitly or thematically in a wide variety of genres, from documentaries to historical dramas to comic book adaptations.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page Dead at 85

From the article at Reuters:

Bettie Page, one of America's most photographed pin-up girls during the 1950s, died in Los Angeles on Thursday from pneumonia, her agent said. She was 85.

Page was a ubiquitous sight during the 1950s, propelled to stardom when she posed for Playboy as Miss January 1955. Soon her image was gracing playing cards, record albums and bedroom posters across the country.

She stopped modeling in 1957, retreated from the public spotlight and turned to religion. She enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the 1980s, as a new generation of fans became obsessed with her legacy.
Her agent, Mark Roesler, said Page was admitted to a Los Angeles-area hospital four weeks ago. She never regained consciousness after suffering a heart attack earlier this month.

With her dark bangs, alluring blue-gray eyes and wide smile, Page cultivated an innocent girl-next-door persona. The one-time school teacher was nice, but clearly also naughty. Some of her photos featured spanking and bondage.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Golden Globe Nominations

Here are the film nominees for this year's Golden Globe Awards.

Best movie, drama

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • The Reader
  • Revolutionary Road
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Visitor
Actress, drama
  • Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
  • Angelina Jolie, Changeling
  • Meryl Streep, Doubt
  • Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long
  • Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Actor, drama

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
  • Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
  • Sean Penn, Milk
  • Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best movie, comedy or musical

  • “Burn After Reading
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • In Bruges
  • Mamma Mia!
  • Vicky Christina Barcelona

Actress, comedy or musical

  • Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading
  • Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia!
  • Emma Thompson, Last Chance Harvey

Actor, comedy or musical

  • Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Colin Farrell, In Bruges
  • James Franco, Pineapple Express
  • Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
  • Dustin Hoffman, Last Chance Harvey

Supporting actress

  • Amy Adams, Doubt
  • Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Viola Davis, Doubt
  • Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
  • Kate Winslet, The Reader

Supporting actor

  • Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder
  • Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder
  • Ralph Fiennes, The Duchess
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
  • Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.


  • Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Stephen Daldry, The Reader
  • David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
  • Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road


  • Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
  • David Hare, The Reader
  • Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
  • Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Foreign language movie

  • Baader Meinhof Complex
  • Everlasting Moments
  • Gomorrah
  • I’ve Loved You So Long
  • Waltz With Bashir

Animated movie

  • Bolt
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Wall-E

Original score

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Clint Eastwood, Changeling
  • James Newton Howard, “Defiance
  • Hans Zimmer, Frost/Nixon
  • A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire

Original song

  • "Down to Earth” (performed by Peter Gabriel, written by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman), Wall-E
  • “Gran Torino” (performed by Clint Eastwood), Gran Torino
  • “I Thought I Lost You” (performed Miley Cyrus and John Travolta, written by Miley Cyrus and Jeffrey Steele), Bolt
  • Once in a Lifetime,” (performed by Beyonce), Cadillac Records
  • “The Wrestler” (performed by Bruce Springsteen, written by Bruce Springsteen), The Wrestler.

Monday, December 8, 2008

DVD File Open Letter on Blu-Ray

Dan Ramer, writing for the website DVDfile, has written this open letter to film studios and the Blu-ray Disc Association concerning the slow loading time on Blu-ray players. An excerpt:

This writer sincerely believes that load delays and firmware issues represent a potential impediment to mainstream consumer acceptance of Blu-ray Disc. Having become used to the snappy load times of DVD menus, BD load delays might be perceived by non-enthusiasts as a step backward. And disc incompatibilities that require significant owner participation to resolve firmware issues will cause unwelcome aggravation at best, and confusion and frustration at worst. I’d like to think that the concept David inspired might solve these problems until such time as dedicated players become so powerful that load delays are a non-issue and Profile 2.0 (or higher) players dominate and overwhelmingly are connected to the Internet (or BD-J issues are all resolved, just like DVD playback glitches eventually went away). I can only hope that the studios and the BDA consider this suggested solution as a positive strategy that will help grow the Blu-ray Disc format. I, for one, very much want the Blu-ray Disc format to become a rousing financial success so I can continue to enjoy film from the very best high definition delivery system ever offered.

This is something to keep in mind in the midst of the holiday shopping season. There is a big push to move Blu-ray players this year but consumers may be wise to wait for the next generation of players which will probably address some of these issues and run more smoothly.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Final New Hollywood Show

All good things must come to an end and on December 7th, Sounds of Cinema will air the final episode of this year's New Hollywood Series.

The year 1968 is generally regarded as the start of the New Hollywood era, the special period of time between 1968 and 1980 when filmmakers has more control over their work than any period since the pre-studio era. The period saw the arrival of a new generation of filmmakers including Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorcese, Peter Bogdanovich, and William Friedkin. These filmmakers were products of the counter cultural generation and they carried the revolutionary spirit into the cinema.

Throughout 2008, Sounds of Cinema has taken a close look at some of the films of this period including critical darlings such as The Godfather, The Graduate, and Raging Bull and box office blockbusters like Jaws and Star Wars. The series has also included a look at films not often included in other discussions of the period (but should be) such as Planet of the Apes, Night of the Living Dead, and Halloween.

On this Sunday's program, the show will cover two films: American Graffiti and Easy Rider, including music from both pictures. It's a fitting end to the series since Easy Rider is widely regarded as the film that initiated the era and both pictures feature rock and roll soundtracks reflective of the time.