A scene from Jurassic Park V: “You mean to tell me you filled the genetic gaps with DNA from a laser-guided weapons system?” “I…I didn’t think it would be a problem.”

Irritatingly, I had to work on Oscar night and had to stay up all night afterward to watch the show, just to nothing wouldn’t get spoiled for me. I added a half-hour to the recording, just to play it safe, but it still ended right before the Best Picture announcement! I had to catch the end via YouTube clips.
    I have to say I’m pretty disappointed with this year’s Oscars. NPH is usually effortless but he seemed pretty tentative, at least at the outset. I was pleased by Patricia Arquette getting Best Supporting, Grand Budapest for Best Score, and the Whiplash wins. But … the one thing I read about Interstellar was that the music was too loud and drowned out the dialogue; yet it gets Best Sound Mixing. The more I read from the Alan Turing: The Enigma book the more I think its script was an overly simplified work of fiction, yet it gets Best Adapted Screenplay. And since Oscar loves the depiction of debilitating illness, you could predict the wins for Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne. Finally, choosing Birdman over Boyhood is another example of going for clever rather than good, style over substance. Bah.
    P.S.: The parentheses in the Birdman subtitle are in the wrong place. It makes it look like the title is Birdman or.

    It was my great pleasure to attend the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s benefit concert on Saturday, June 14 2014. John Williams conducted, with special guest Steven Spielberg acting as host. I was unable to get tickets when they first went on sale, back in April, and StubHub prices were as high as $1400. Luckily a few dozen “artist hold” tickets were released the Wednesday before the concert and I snapped one up as soon as I could.
    Instead of feeling daunted at spending so much money for a main floor seat, I felt a wave of elation upon placing my order and knew I’d made the right choice.
    My seat was off to the side, but it was close. The orchestra sounded excellent and it was incredible to see my two heroes on stage.
    There was no announcement about no photography or recording, since they probably knew how futile it would be, so here’s some of what I shot…

…that aren’t available yet… 1. Dragonslayer 2. Ladyhawke 3. A Matter of Life and Death (aka Stairway to Heaven) 4. Time After Time 5. Dave 6. 1941 7. Duel – with both TV and theatrical edits (with the theatrical in 1.85:1, no matter what Steven Spielberg says) …and Somewhere in Time would’ve been mentioned but […]

-SPOILER WARNING- (not that you haven’t had fifty years to read the book). I’ve grown used to the idea that Return of the King will not feature “The Scouring of the Shire” sequence. The filmmakers have said from the outset that the third film of The Lord of the Rings will not end the same as the book, and I’ve had enough time to come to terms with that. I can understand their rationale too, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. And something I read last night has brought those pesky reservations back to the surface.
    In the latest Official Fan Club Magazine, director Peter Jackson says: “I have always found that [chapter] sort of anti-climactic. When I first read the book, I just suddenly wondered why, after the Ring is finally destroyed, we then have another 70 or 80 pages of a completely different event. It felt wrong when I read it, so we definitely don’t have that in the film.”
    I find it worrisome that the man entrusted with bringing Tolkien’s story to the screen has completely failed to grasp the importance of that section of the book, as well as to completely disregard how meaningful it was to Tolkien himself. The Scouring shows that the evil depicted in the book was pervasive enough to affect innocent country-folk; that none could escape the evils or war, even those at the homefront. It gives our four Hobbits, tested and trained by their efforts in the War of the Ring, a battle they had to marshal themselves. And, finally, it articulates how this great epic quest ultimately ends on Frodo’s own doorstep.
    It should really come as no surprise however that Jackson is giving the Hobbits short shrift. All throughout his movies, the Hobbits have been relegated to the background so that Aragorn’s story — and with it, Arwen’s — could be built up. (Look no further than to his decision to turn a few pages of Appendix A into a major subplot of the second film, while at the same time dropping the above chapter from the third.)
    In the book, Frodo is the main character. In the movie, Frodo is an incredible wimp. Everything heroic he does in the books — attacking the Witch King on Weathertop, standing up to the Black Riders at the Ford of Bruinen, taming Gollum (making him swear by the Precious and not on the Precious) — has been stripped of him. In the first movie he cowers and drops his sword on Weathertop and is later too busy wheezing at the Ford of Bruinen to be of any use. In the second movie he’s either bickering with Sam or even drawing a sword on Sam. And let’s not count the number of times Frodo is ready to wimp out and hand the Ring over to anyone within arm’s reach — culminating so far in the unforgivable scene in Osgiliath at the end of the second movie (and which, logically, should end the entire saga right there, not that the Ringwraiths know exactly where he is and how from Barad-Dûr). After all that, the climactic moment when the Ring finally gets the better of him will hardly be as shocking as in the book. It will merely be more evidence of Frodo being a load.
    The other Hobbits don’t fare much better. In the first movie, Merry and Pippin do not form a conspiracy in which to help Sam and Frodo escape to Bree; they just run into them by accident. (Even the 90-minute animated movie managed to retain that plot point.) I always thought it was quite touching that old Bilbo, in the Council of Elrond, offered to take the Ring to Mordor, since he felt dutybound as Ringfinder. But in the film he isn’t at the Council at all.
    Jackson’s Lord of the Rings is “A Hobbit’s Tale” in name only. The fact Jackson doesn’t think the audience will sit for a protracted ending underestimates us as well as the source material. If there are people out there who can’t handle it — let them walk out of the theater. Or maybe, compromise: fade to black on the big double wedding, roll the credits, and then put The Scouring on at the end. Or at the very least, put it on the Extended Edition DVD in Winter 2004. Yes, the Shire set is no more, but I’m sure we can start a Paypal fund going for the reshoots. We need to do something though, or we might end up with another sequence as dumb as when an unconscious Aragorn floats down a river.

That age-old question — Prop or Wings? — looks like it might finally be answered for DVD owners. Some wonderfully encouraging news concerning the A Matter of Life & Death (aka Stairway to Heaven [1946]), a classic produced by The Archers and starring David Niven and Kim Hunter, was posted yesterday at The Digital Bits:

It took two years to get access to original source material at the British Film Institute, but restoration on this title is now complete and a high definition transfer has been done. The film has been added to Columbia’s schedule for release. It is stil a minimum of four months away, though, as Columbia adheres to a policy of only making specific information available for titles it expects to release within three to four months.

    A remastered print of this wonderful movie was exhibited several years ago, in 1995; presented by Martin Scorsese. A home video release seemed inevitable — preferably via the Criterion Collection, who’d done such an excellent job with Powell/Pressburger’s The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. So it’s exciting news to hear that a DVD might finally be released. (I actually bought the PAL DVD [before I even had a PAL converter] just because I got tired of waiting. The Carlton disc has brief extras, but it certainly looks better than my ancient VHS archive [taped off Canadian TV] and it’s a pleasure to see the movie again anyway.)
    Steve Crook is the webmaster of an excellent Powell/Pressburger site (they being the men who founded The Archers and together made many beautiful and groundbreaking films). By remarkable coincidence, he recently informed us that there is talk of a remake! I’m sure what surprises me more: that someone thinks there’s money to be made in remaking a movie that not enough people have heard of to begin with, or, that they believe such a perfect movie can be improved upon. Nevertheless, this was the e-mail Mr Crook received, two days ago:

Hi, my name is Roy Lee. I was the producer of the U.S. remake of THE RING. I am wondering if you have any information on how I can obtain the remake rights for Matter of Life and Death. Do you know who owns them?


Roy Lee

Since it appears Roy Lee‘s only credit is a remake of Japanese movie, I really think he needs to work on an original idea before he starts tampering with one of my favorites.
    (Images to follow, as soon as I remember how to get my Sony DVD drive to play a PAL disc…)

In the great tradition of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, a group of Michigan youths have once again banded to put together a homemade horror movie. Having kidded myself that I might one day make a movie, this kind of stuff has always fired my imagination. The film, Dead/Undead, got a nice write-up in today’s Detroit Free Press, and it’s showing tonight at Royal Oak’s Main Art Theatre.
    You can read more about the movie at deadundead.com and about the filmmakers’ next projects at Devonshire Studios. Several MP3s of the movie’s effectively creepy soundtrack are also available at the official site.

From the Detroit Free Press

• As has been reported elsewhere, two discs in the first edition of the Back to the Future box were mastered misframed. It appears Universal is finally shipping out corrected copies. These can be recognized by the “V2” under the UPC symbol.
    • The latest Official Lord of the Rings Fan Club Magazine states that the extended edition of The Two Towers will contain 43 minutes of additional footage. This makes it longer than last year’s extended Fellowship version (which had 35 minutes added). Much of the new material will involve Treebeard and will necessitate 150 additional special effects shots. The theatrical version DVD is expected out in August, with the extended edition in November (though no release dates have been announced).
    • It was originally announced the season three box set of Mr Show with Bob & David was coming out in April, but the official site says it will be early August.

I really like using IMDB as a resource, but their “Goofs” pages really irritate me. For one thing, the viewer complaints are ridiculously nitpicky. Trivial stuff like “the level of liquid in a glass changes from shot to shot” — as if people, even at this late date, still don’t comprehend that different angles are shot at different times (hours, days, weeks, or maybe months apart). Or perhaps people actually think movies really are shot with twenty cameras, all at once, like a football game.
    But in many cases the complaints are just plain wrong. One that I was personally trying to correct was in regards to a final scene in Cast Away, where, after giving Tom Hanks an SUV Helen Hunt switches off a garage light. When the angle cuts to outside, there’s a light on above the garage door. Someone actually wrote that in as a goof, even though it’s obvious Hunt turned off the garage’s interior, overhead light. IMDB corrected this by saying that perhaps the outside light was motion-sensitive! (I’m pleased to see they have since removed that goof entirely.)
    My latest gripe is with their The Two Towers listings. Along with a wealth of trivial complaints comes this doozy (presently at the bottom of the page):

•   Continuity: The hole in Helm’s Deep’s wall is not present during the wide shot near the end of the battle when the Rangers come up over the hill with Gandalf.

If this were true, it would be an incredible lapse. But it is not true. It’s a load of crap, and the proof is below.
    Here’s a tip for all you would-be nitpickers. Instead being so eager to find fault with films that you actually make stuff up, your time would be better spent actually facing the screen and watching the movie.

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