Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"The Vision Thing: How Marty Scorsese risked it all and lived to risk again in Hollywood." | Fast Company | December 2011/January 2012

From a feature on Martin Scorsese in the "How to Lead a Creative Life" issue of Fast Company:
"Three months ago," he remembers, gesturing to the room around us, "I had a screening here for the family. Francesca had responded to Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, so I decided to try It Happened One Night. I had kind of dismissed the film, which some critics love, of course, but then I realized I had only seen it on a small screen, on television. So I got a 35-millimeter print in here, and we screened it. And I discovered it was a masterpiece. The way Colbert and Gable move, their body language. It's really quite remarkable!"
It took me a few days to get through the article, but it was worth it.  And not just because it ends with Scorsese proclaiming that It Happened One Night - a screwball comedy and one of my favorite films - is a masterpiece.  I don't need that kind of validation.  Scorsese.  Pfft.

Take the time to read this article, or at least skim for quotes, it'll be worth your while.  After, if you feel like it wasn't time well spent, read it again. Read it 'til you get it.

I have more to say, but that'll have to do. For now, at least.

Oh, and, in case I don't return to this subject: Thank goodness Mr. Scorsese made Hugo. In an alternate reality it ended up in different hands, and the result was tragic.

I don't have more to say on that bit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Home for the Holidays | 1995 | Screwball-ish Thanksgiving Holiday Family Dramedy (Worst Yet Most Descriptive Blog Post Title Ever)

My plan was to write about Home for the Holidays well ahead of Thanksgiving, but it's now the Sunday after.  I just finished hastily writing out the post below because I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that.  Essentially, there are over 340 days potent with the opportunity to prevent me from writing about this Thanksgiving holiday movie during the 2012 Window of Thanksgiving Relevance.  When you look at it that way, this post isn't half-assed and a little bit late, it is one individual attempting to beat on against the current... via sad little blog posts about movies.

Home for the Holidays may not be a card-carrying member of the screwball genre, but it is definitely welcome at the meetings.  It likely never aimed to be anything like a screwball, and it looks nothing like a screwball, and yet it ticks quite a few of the screwball boxes.

Claudia (Holly Hunter) is just the sort of comic anti-hero found in screwballs - smart, articulate, a bit of a mess, and destined to be paired with the most appropriate partner possible within the span of the film.  Also, like a few other screwballs (Bringing Up BabyIt Happened One Night among them) the film sends their cosmopolitan and urbane leads out to some version of wilderness (in this case it's the suburbs) providing opportunity to gather fresh perspective on their personal status-quo and make changes accordingly.

On the note of status quo, in most screwballs the lead is dissatisfied with it, while in this film it's the lead and pretty much everyone else. And this unease is linked to the class conflict in the film, which takes a different shape here than most screwball.  In Depression Era Screwball Comedies, the class conflict is between the classes, here it's within a class.  It's the mid-20th century American middle class beginning to realize its Golden Age is ending, or has ended, and is unsure how to proceed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Screwball Tweet | Amtrak, Men and Style

This tweet might be a reference to NORTH BY NORTHWEST.  Which isn't a screwball comedy.   So, why do I care?  Why post it here?

Well, you can find a good amount of both trains and Cary Grant in screwball comedies - oddly, not at the same time.

Plus, screwball tends to be the opposite of everything contemporary Amtrak too. Style-wise.

And that is the behind-the-scenes story that led to my sharing this tweet as a post here on this blog.

Scintillating, yeah?

I know. I just took a perfectly pithy tweet and pooped all over it.

Man vs. Machine: The Holiday Edition

I'm a merchandising temp at a department store, ensuring you all have access to jeans bedazzled with rhinestones, tops featuring cats in Santa hats and other holiday apparel necessities.  And, on November 1, the machine at my job started playing Christmas music.

Now, keep in mind, everything negative at this retail establishment is actually good fortune waiting to be revealed.  For example:  According to some numbers gathered and crunched by off-site, mother-ship management, we are an "Opportunity Store".  In layman's terms, that means we are a "No Place To Go but Up Store."

Accordingly, I see my work soundtrack as an opportunity to slurp from the goblet of holiday cheer, and drink that music machine under the table.

Not that I see Christmas music as a negative, but it seems most people hate, hate, hate-y, hate, hate it.  Or claim to.  As often as possible.  Customers and employees alike started complaining about the music before it even started.  Anticipatory kvetching.  Not me.  I love the holidays:  the music, the decorations, the lights, the movies, the cocktails, the city sidewalks...  busy sidewalks...  dressed in holiday style.

To me, it's like everything else, there are pros and cons, good and bad, on the whole, though, I am thumbs-up on it all.  I love it when I am fortunate enough to get a fully festive year.  And I also love it when everything about the season - the love, the sharing, the reunion, the belonging - is absent from my life, and the whole institution seems established only to mock me at every turn.  Because, even then, especially then, I find comfort thinking about all of the people whose turn it is to live in a Marshmallow World that year.

I tend to think that life is like a big, complex, large-scale game of musical chairs.  If you're standing, you'll get another chance at a chair soon.  If you've got a chair, you'll lose it soon enough, so enjoy it while it lasts.  It's totally random and unfair, but it can be fun.  Can be.

Sure, it would be ideal to not start with Christmas right after Halloween.  The classy thing would be to wait until Thanksgiving is done, but there just aren't any good Thanksgiving songs.  What's a store with a healthy profit motive to do?  And that's the thing, as much as folks hate that the season kicks into gear right after Halloween, it works or the stores wouldn't do it.  Perhaps y'all doth detest too much.

No matter.  My ears are deaf to your objections.  I am engaged in battle.  And that machine doesn't know what it's up against.

You might be wondering, in this battle between the music playing machine and Amanda, what will victory look like?  Like me, of course.

Don't forget:  November 25 is Buy Nothing Day - enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Update on my relationship with Simon Schama and its potential impact on my future

Since last April when I posted about wanting to be his drinking buddy, and in spite of the visit by a horrified Me-from-About-Twenty-Years-Ago, I have become an official Simon Schama fan.

His name is doodled on all of my PeeChee folders, and I've got Schama TM ice cream dishes, pajamas, posters, throw pillows, eyeglasses guaranteed to make any idiot look fully smarty-pants - the works.  Actually, I have only watched The Power of Art, read Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, watched The American Future: A History, read a bunch of random articles, and watched a new Charlie Rose interview.

Me-from-About-Twenty-Years-Ago has not reappeared.  Schama was likely both the straw that broke her back and forced her to become a time traveller, as well as the tip of the iceberg.  For her I imagine the visit a bit like stopping in on an elderly parent, thinking you'll start helping out once a week to bridge gaps caused by dottiness, only to learn there's nothing but full-speed batty going on and it's time hire a professional caretaker.

If I know me, I'll bet that she is back in the past force flapping butterfly wings, chucking stones into ponds, and desperately creating any and all kinds of ripples in hopes something will alter this future of hers.

I applaud her efforts, and I hope that she is successful making some changes, but I also hope Simon isn't lost in the shake-up.  I really think she could learn to like him.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Guy Who Talks About the Garfield Movie Too Much | Zach Galifianakis

This was on a perpetual loop in my head today.  If I had actually talked to people, this is probably all that would have come out.