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Entertainment Industry Goober of the Month: John Wells

From an article in Slate about the use of letterboxing by mainstream TV shows:

ER producer John Wells, looking for ways to bring buzz back to his medical drama, [adopted a] 16:9 [screen ratio] at the start of the 2000-2001 season. As Wells explained it to the Akron Beacon Journal: "We noticed that a large number of commercials were being broadcast in letterbox form. We called the advertising department and asked why ... and they said, 'Well, because it looks classier.' Well, we've got a classy project. And I think that, increasingly, you want to be able to distinguish your show in an ever more cluttered marketplace as something that stands out."

newer goober

- tom moody 2-08-2002 9:22 pm [link] [7 refs] [4 comments]

Just added to my post on Dave Kehr's New York Times article on Rintaro's Metropolis (currently playing in area movie theatres):

"Kehr finds the attempt in Metropolis to integrate hand-drawn figures with artificial-looking, Tron-like computer graphics to be awkward--and he's right, it looks terrible--but then says more conventional anime has the same clumsy disconnect between foreground and background, which just isn't true. Hand-drawn figures and hand-painted backgrounds work well together, it's only when the animators cut into the frame to show off all the cool wireframe stuff they can do that problems crop up. Computers may be useful for generating continuity drawings in conventional-looking animation, but whenever the programming calls attention to itself, as it does in Metropolis or even a smaller-scale project like Richard Linklater's insufferable Waking Life, it's distracting."
- tom moody 1-30-2002 5:52 pm [link] [add a comment]

New Line, Tuckerman said, is planning ''at some point in time to add (additional footage at the end of Rings that) will be a lot longer than a trailer, but I don't know how much longer. We're going to give (moviegoers) a preview of (the second episode of Rings). We're going to change the last reel out and do a preview of Two [Towers] at the end of the last reel. (People) are screaming for it.''

- jim 1-26-2002 5:24 pm [link] [add a comment]

From the Willamette Week website:


"Portland filmmaker made her directing debut in 1977 with Property, a docudrama about a neighborhood's battle against gentrification, followed in 1982 by Paydirt, an action film about three Oregon winemakers who resort to growing pot to pay the bills. Allen is now a free-lance writer living in Paris, where she recently discovered the long-forgotten grave site of early Portland feminist and John Reed protegée Louise Bryant."

I saw Property years ago at a New York film festival and have thought about it (off and on) ever since. As I recall, it's not really about a "neighborhood's battle against gentrification" but rather the efforts of a group of Portland bohemians to buy a block of Victorian houses where they've been living in semi-communal squalor. It's kind of an elegy for the '60s, depicting a moment when "hippie chicks" were turning to hooking rather "selling out," men were connecting with the drug underworld (and prison) for the same reason, and no one had any idea the Reagan era was right around the corner. It's not really a documentary, but it feels so real it might as well be. I found it incredibly wistful and romantic.

In retrospect, the movie was notable for launching the career of cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards, who has contributed his unmistakable handheld-verite style to a magnificent run of films, including My Own Private Idaho, To Die for, Kids, and Flirting with Disaster. It was also the first film of "little person" Cork Hubbert, who gave a standout performance and has since had a long and varied resumé (Where the Buffalo Roam, Legend, and countless TV roles). I don't think Property ever made it to videotape; there's probably a slim chance it'll be seen again. That's a shame: the film's time, place, and outsider point of view were unique, and in their own modest way, indispensable.
- tom moody 1-11-2002 6:10 am [link] [10 comments]

I decided to brave the holiday crowds and check out Lord of the Rings today. There is a lot of information, verbal and visual, blowing past you fairly quickly, but fortunately I had a teenager and his older sister sitting directly behind me, keeping a loud running commentary. In a scene where Sam comforts Frodo after a battle with the forces of darkness, the woman said, "Look at the little elf, huggin' his friend." After a furious limb-amputating fight between Aragorn and an Uruk-hai (half-man/half-Orc), the kid said "That shit was dope!" And at the end of the film, which leaves us with Sam and Frodo descending to the marshes on their fateful trip to Mordor, the woman announced to everyone within earshot. "This is so ghetto! I paid ten dollars to watch two hobbits walk down a hill!"

I enjoyed the movie, even though half of the dialogue sounds like it's coming from the gods of Asgard in Lee & Kirby's Mighty Thor comics. The monsters are great--real Ray Harryhausen stuff. The film actually does a better job of explaining the story's main hook: why Frodo must go to Mordor, and destroy the Ring, even with all these powerful men and supermen around. In the book, it seemed too obviously flattering to the adolescent reader to have the little guy be the center of the quest. In the movie, you're much more palpably aware of how corrupting the Ring is to men and even Wizards. Frodo's seeming genetic ability to resist makes the choice not just logical but inevitable.

Also, apropos of nothing, Orlando Bloom, who plays Legolas the Elf, could be the next Leonardo di Caprio, on the basis of matinee-idol looks alone. He was my personal favorite Quester (I know, I'm an arrested adolescent). In one scene he pulls several arrows in rapid succession from his quiver, firing them off so rapidly you can't figure out how he gets them in the bow. It isn't a special effects shot (could be a stunt double though); in any case, this human Gatling-gun routine has to be seen to be believed. (Maybe you already have seen it; I don't know if it's in the TV trailer or not).
- tom moody 12-27-2001 5:35 am [link] [10 comments]