The Studio System: The Big Five and Little Three (circa 1927 - 1954) [via]
"Real tough guys don't need guns, they just need a positive, can-do attitude" [via]
Each method produces a distinctly styled work. Maybe certain films would work better as sound movies. Maybe certain sound movies would work better as silents. Certainly, there are hundreds of films past 1960 that work better in black and white but were shot in color because that had become the default. And many more that were shot in black and white that would probably work better in color. But since they were filmed the way they were, attention was paid to lighting and sets and costumes to work with color or black and white so, again, it just doesn’t work to alter them after the fact. So if filming in silence or sound, in black and white or color, are two such completely different things, doesn’t it make sense to keep them both going, to give filmmakers more options for how to tell their story? And yes, I know that they can still do it that way if they want to, but when the industry abandoned the silents after the twenties, and black and white for major blockbusters after the fifties, they cast the die for financial failure for anything that didn’t move with the times.
Cassettes represent a very specific window in history, having only been of widespread popularity for about 25 years, from the 70s to late 90s. They are wrapped up in nostalgia. Film depictions of cassette tapes and their decks have been surprisingly diverse.
Federico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 ½ celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, which means that on some level, a particularly meta-kind of cinema also celebrates its 50th anniversary this week. ... And it landed like an earthquake on the international film scene in 1963; unlike many other now classics (Vertigo, Citizen Kane, The Rules of the Game, etc.), 8 ½ was acclaimed by audiences and critics alike right out of the gate. In fact, its influence has never let up. To give you an idea of how pervasive that influence is, here’s our list of eight things that (probably) wouldn’t exist without 8 ½.
The economics of DVDs make each release an event; with streaming, the event is replaced by a delightfully overwhelming and ever-growing plethora that rises in seemingly invisible increments. The general effect is a sort of madness, a mania of historicism that offers a seemingly endless realm of discoveries along with the sense that life itself takes second place to them. The heroic mode of the history of cinema is sacrificial: its great acolytes took on the burden of the form’s past in order to deliver their cinematic children, the next generation of filmmakers, from years of wandering in the desert, or vegetating in screening rooms—to free them to live their lives, and to film them. Ultimately, what is at stake in the mode of preservation and distribution of films from the history of cinema is the future of cinema. The refined passions excited by great movies (and the discovery of greats that are rare or obscure) are crucial to the future of the art, but with passion comes the danger of an inhibiting, obsessive devotion—a consuming passion, in both senses.
Cinephilia—as opposed to DVD collecting—is, on the other hand, quite different: I don’t collect objects and I don’t own any movies. You can watch three hundred movies a year (all in the theater on 35mm, of course) and you will never own anything except, perhaps, an ungainly pile of torn ticket stubs. Cinephilia is instead about collecting experiences, or maybe just the memories of those experiences. But since my memories fade and re-imagine themselves, perhaps I’m really only herding together a menagerie of illusions. I don’t have a relationship with objects, but a relationship with the ephemerality of the aesthetic experience.
...drive-ins aren’t simply a collection of outmoded lots fueled by the fumes of nostalgia and Teen Lust, but are a still vibrant iteration of a fascinating form of moviegoing, a series of independent businesses offering inimitable local color in the age of the multiplex, and, for those distant from urban parks showings of Mississippi Mermaid, a chance at that sublime delight of moviegoing in the open air.
If you think that your local drive-in is in trouble, you’re probably right. Find a drive-in near you and ask. You might find that 80 years of history is too much to lose due to a piece of equipment.
COPPOLA: ...Do you remember a film called Over the Edge ? It was one of Matt Dillon's first films. It was about bad rebel kids in a bland community. It's a classic teen film. There's a scene where a girl dances around with a gun to the song "Surrender" by Cheap Trick. That's where the idea for that scene came from. That one wasn't dangerous—it was more cute. But for mine, that's the moment where either they're just being kids or it could go a lot darker.
From there, the action goes full throttle. Emma and Deedee hit and spank each other as the wind whips their pastel chiffon evening gowns through the air. It’s horrible, and also hilarious; I have no idea how to throw a punch, so spanking someone in the heat of the moment sounds pretty realistic to me. Emma screams that Deedee was “too busy screwing her head off” to focus on her career. “You bitch!” Deedee growls as she tries to beat Emma to a pulp with her purse.
You get the sense that these two women have never acted this way with another human being: so enraged, so sad, so embarrassing. The scene distills exactly what some close friendships feel like—the coexistence of resentment and affection, the lightning-quick transition between adoring someone and wanting to hurt them.
Arguably the most significant costume in the film is glimpsed during the next scene when Myra spies on Lily, a subtly leopard print headscarf, first in brown and then later red. The scarf is functional as a disguise but more importantly it becomes part of the narrative. This headscarf is central to The Grifters’ twist. Myra and Lily are soon to become irretrievably linked. Which leads us to Myra’s dress; the one that saves Lily and if the penultimate shot’s metaphor is to believed, subsequently damns her to Hell. Bridges confirms this suggestion:
‘The shot of Lily descending “into hell “ as you say was, as I recall, Stephen Frears’ homage to John Huston’s elevator shot in the black and white noir masterpiece “The Maltese Falcon”. I could be wrong but I think that’s what it was, and Richard’s colour choice worked beautifully for that shot.’
As a critic, I’m lucky to see films at studio-hosted screenings, but even those aren’t safe anymore. Last year, I got stuck beside a guy taking notes with a flashlight, which would go on and off whenever he’d scribble something. When I asked him to please shut it off, he was indignant. “How do you expect me to see what I’m writing?” he hissed. Learn to write in the dark like the rest of us, schmuck, so other people aren’t distracted by your light going on and off when they’re trying to pay attention to the movie. Colleagues of mine have gotten in shouting matches with people who wouldn’t stop checking their texts.