Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Spring Thaw: Year of Bests – 2017

A few years back, I did not publish a year-end piece on those articles I most enjoyed reading for the period. Routinely, my online browsing turns up a number authors and write-ups that exceed whatever threshold I have in my head. I promised not to get caught flat-footed again. So, I rectified the issue by gathering them up and presenting each quarterly. Time to get this show on the road for 2017.

Is that a leaf budding over there…if so let’s continue, shall we?


long-goodbye

Always great to start off with something meaty and meaningful, and the folk over at Cinephilia & Beyond never disappoint. This time, looking at a Robert Altman classic from the 70s:

‘THE LONG GOODBYE’: ROBERT ALTMAN AND LEIGH BRACKETT’S UNIQUE AND FASCINATING TAKE ON CHANDLER AND FILM NOIR

“The importance of The Long Goodbye lies in the originality of Altman’s approach and his distinct vision that enabled him to tell a new story on the basis of something that had already been explored countless times. Made in 1973, after MASH and McCabe & Mrs. Miller and before Nashville, this film continues Altman’s ambition to explore, alter and subvert the classic themes of American filmmaking. What is also especially interesting in this film, even though it might seem as just an unimportant fragment of the bigger picture, is an unforeseen instance of sheer, shocking violence that could be understood as Altman’s comment on the irresponsibility of the cinema regarding its casual portrayal of violence in an increasingly violent world.”


thing

Okay, I’m guilty of playing favorites…might as well get that out of the way for readers who don’t already know my leanings. So when good friend, longtime reader, and contributor to this series, Colin (aka Livius), singles out a sci-fi flick that made a distinct childhood impression on his Riding the High Country film blog, it’s going to make this highlight reel:

The Thing from Another World

The Thing from Another World sees Howard Hawks listed as producer while Christian Nyby gets the directing credit. According to most of those involved, that’s how the job was divided up although the finished product clearly shows a considerable bit of input from Hawks – he said himself that he worked on the trademark overlapping dialogue that’s to be found throughout the film. So, while this is clearly a Sci-Fi movie, and an iconic and influential one at that, I think it’s fair to say it’s a Hawks movie first and foremost.”


la-mfleischer-1483128470-snap-photo

Best explanation by David Sax (who authored one of my favorite reads for 2017, The Revenge of Analog) for the L.A. Times I’ve read yet about why this has again become part of my life:

Op-Ed: Why is vinyl making a comeback? ‘Nostalgia’ doesn’t quite cut it

“In today’s rapidly innovative, digitally driven economy, reverence for the old stands in opposition to the Utopian futurism at the heart of Silicon Valley. The past is relevant only in terms of how quickly you speed away from it, and as long as Moore’s Law holds steady — doubling the speed of processors and halving their cost every 18 months — the only hardware and software that truly matters is the next version. No one pines for Windows 2.0, or the iPhone 4; progress is a one-way street, and anyone who dares to reverse course is a Luddite.”


1_hard-wax

Speaking of vinyl, might as well add the following to your list of places to visit, care of the good folk over at The Vinyl Factory.

50 of the world’s best record shops

“All this year we’ve been on a hunt of the most influential, hospitable and downright essential record shops in the world. A sort of “1000 places to visit before you die” for record collectors, we’ve scoured the globe from New Delhi to Cape Town, São Paulo to Singapore to bring you a new shop every week to add to your bucket list.

Rather than rank them, these are simply the first fifty shops we’ve featured so far, each of which offers something personal and unique to the worldwide vinyl community. And we’ve barely scratched the surface. With our travels resuming in the new year, we thought it would be a nice moment to see the first 50 come together in one place.”


thr_cinematographer_rt_rrosales_thr_cinematographer_rt-0550

Always interesting to read about those in the field who have to use either or both film and digital to capture the moving images that make movies so great. By Carolyn Giardina and Gregg Kilday for the Hollywood Reporter:

Cinematographer Roundtable: Film vs. Digital, Working With Scorsese and Which Phone Takes the Best Pictures

“What’s the biggest misconception about what cinematographers contribute to a film? “It’s not just making beautiful pictures. People think it’s good cinematography because it’s beautiful. And it’s not that. We’re really trying to express the emotion of the story,” says Rodrigo Prieto, 51, who shed light on both the mystery of faith in 17th century Japan in Silence and a futuristic outer space romance in Passengers. Prieto’s fellow directors of photography nodded knowingly and laughed in agreement as they sat down on Oct. 29 to discuss the alchemy behind their recent work — not just the technical decisions they made but also their critical role in helping a director bring a scene, and a world, to life.”


Been watching a lot of the stuff Cinefix has been putting out of late, with good reason. Here their latest for those often forgotten end credit sequences:

“As in reality, it’s always hard to say goodbye to people and things we love. Sometimes, even more so with films that touch our hearts. Storytellers understand this struggle more than the rest of us and find meaningful ways to help us cope with departure to the worlds we encounter in cinema. These are the best closing title sequences in movie history.”


manfred-mann

As a child who grew up during the ’60s, I’ve a special attachment to its music and quite unique age. Especially when it comes to the British Invasion that permeated the ears and what lay between them. Writer Mitchell Cohen spotlit a group for the Music Aficionado site that certainly deserves more acclaim:

Why Manfred Mann Is The Most Underappreciated Group Of The British Invasion

“Manfred Mann were one of only two British groups to have a #1 single in 1964 without a Lennon-McCartney song. They were endorsed by Bob Dylan, were part of the first movie soundtrack composed by Burt Bacharach, provided theme songs for the best U.K. rock television show of the sixties, Ready Steady Go!, and wrote the score for the film Up the Junction. By any measure, they were among the most successful of the first wave of British Invasion groups (they’re tied with the Rolling Stones as the act with the third-most #1 EPs), but they don’t get the recognition they deserve, and that’s too bad, because they made music that was spirited and quirky, and showed a noncommittal relationship with genre.”


charade

Any chance I get to highlight my all-time favorite actor, who happens to be the very same for frequent series contributor Aurora and her Once upon a screen… blog, well, just realize I’m just not going to miss singling it out:

Cary Grant’s Résumé

“The first image that comes to mind when I think of Cary Grant is the classy gentleman that ultimately became his signature style. Most brilliant of all in Grant’s impressive repertoire perhaps was his ability to add the bumbling to the suave sophisticate. That’s the man I adore, but that man didn’t come about easily. It was hard work and perseverance that led to the archetype that’s still recognized as the domain of just one man. One.”


georges-nightmare-21

The visual artist based in Leicester, and sometimes visitor here on ‘ye old blog, Tim Neath featured a wonderful look at a worthy film that has shown up here from time to time. :

“Tonight I’d like to explore the darker side of It’s a Wonderful Life, (1946), Frank Capras Christmas classic that at the time of release got a mixed to luke-warm response from both critics and general public. His first film post WWII, it was also the flagship film for his new production company, Liberty films which he formed with fellow directors and comrades during the war George Stevens, and William Wyler. Both very different directors; Stevens known for his comedies, especially for the Tracyand Hepburn film; Woman of the Year (1942); where the famous affair began. Whereas Wyler had been making a range of films, a few with Bette Davis who he had affairs with. It wasn’t until he released Mrs Miniver (1942) about a middle class British family coping with war on the home front did his career begin to change for the better.”


All right, this is not the most burning of questions in this day and age, but have to admit Frank Daniels’ fine piece for Goldmine Magazine had me seriously considering the answer:

Did Simon & Garfunkel Invent “Folk Rock”?

“One candidate for the primary “instigator” of the folk rock movement is the folk duo, Simon & Garfunkel. When Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel settled down to writing folk music for Columbia Records, their first album – “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.“ – expressly called itself “exciting new sounds in the folk tradition.” That album contains a certain song that was recorded on March 10, 1964. The famous anthem, “The Sounds of Silence,” was already being considered “a major work,” as Garfunkel himself put it in the liner notes.”


Always happy to bring on to this highlight reel people and writers new to this series. Lloyd Marken definitely qualifies for his distinct era piece of a favorite actor and director, which creatively sized up the length and breadth of his work through the decades, was inspired:

The Seven Ages of Clint Eastwood

“I chose Clint Eastwood straight up because there are few films of his that I haven’t seen and I would prefer someone over 70. Please note these seven ages refer to Eastwood and his acting performances. You could do a whole other one of him as director. This is also not a list of his best films or my favourites otherwise Firefox would be in there. If you think other ones will be a better pick for an age feel free to chime in. Do you have a landmark role for each decade Eastwood has been on the big screen? Let’s dig in.”


I have this film at #10 (out of then 15) in my reappraisal of the Star Trek Convention ranking from a couple years back, but I wholeheartedly agree with Katherine Trendacosta‘s io9 piece:

A Look Back at Star Trek: Nemesis, the Film That Killed a Franchise

“Rewatching Star Trek: Nemesis is interesting because all the things we know now mean that it’s even more compellingly bad than it was at the time. For one thing, knowing that it ended the on-screen adventures of the Next Generation crew means that you can’t ignore it the way that Star Trek V is ignored. And it has Tom Hardy as a villain. This movie being the first time I’d heard of Tom Hardy means that, from Inception to Mad Max: Fury Road, every time I see his face I have the stray, unkillable thought of “lol, remember when Tom Hardy played a young, crazy clone of Jean-Luc Picard?””


Once again friend Colin, from the Riding the High Country film blog, intrigues with another western with “…the first of two films director Joseph M Newman made with Joel McCrea”:

Fort Massacre

“With the enduring popularity of cult Sci-Fi movies, I imagine Newman’s name will be familiar to many as the man who took charge of This Island Earth. Here, he keeps the story on track and moving steadily forward, making optimum use of the New Mexico and Utah locations. The two big action set pieces are well handled and sure touch of cinematographer Carl Guthrie is also evident throughout. I mentioned the placement of the film in the timeline of the western back in the introduction, and I’d like to attempt to clarify what I was referring to. By the 1950s the western had attained full maturity, and by the end of that decade it was possessed of the self-assurance that its own artistic elevation bestowed on it.”


Another who is almost a regular among high-water mark entries, Sergio and his Tipping My Fedora blog has wonderful reading habits. Especially a novel that blew me away when I finally read it. While I knew its two film adaptations over the years (and the reason I finally looked at this Jim Thompson work), its connection with another film finally made a light bulb go on. I’ve him to thank for that:

THE GETAWAY (1959) by Jim Thompson

“This tale of thieves falling out is lifted out of the ordinary by  Thompson’s uncanny ability to create chillingly credible portraits of criminals, misfits, felons and psychopaths at the extremes of human behaviour. He then caps it all with a hellish finale that goes where no pulp paperback had gone before, which was predictably excised from both movie versions .. but which unexpectedly surfaced in a George Clooney movie written by Quentin Tarantino …”


Have to hand it to the blogger known as Dangerous Minds. Gathering together the stellar works of “…an American artist and realist painter known for advertisements, magazine artwork, paperback covers, film posters, and paintings of the American West.”, as Wikipedia describes him. If you don’t know the name, surely you’ll recognize the artwork from many a favorite movie (and some you didn’t know):

THE KICK-ASS MOVIE POSTER ART OF FRANK MCCARTHY

“McCarthy (1924-2002) produced a staggering and unparalleled selection of movie posters, book covers and magazine illustrations during his long and respected career. When I look at one of McCarthy’s film posters I know I’m gonna go and watch this movie—even it turns out to be a piece of shit—because he sold me the damned thing in a single image.”


Seems like every year some film gathers the most attention and feeds the viewers’ ideals, or is the bane of their existence. This year, it’s La La Land (and you only need to see what the vaunted Academy thought of it during the Oscars). So let’s examine why that is through a few wonderful articles:

Lloyd Marken

LA LA LAND: A MODERN MUSICAL

“The style of the film changes tonally throughout, the meet cutes at the beginning amuse, as the romance blossoms we’re treated to exciting musical numbers where our leads literally float through the air and then as the relationship develops and is called on to face challenges the numbers disappear and a regular Ryan Gosling indie hit appears. It says something about all involved that the transition to a late dinner argument feels authentic and seamless. These later scenes and outcomes may feel out of place with how the film was sold but sadness does give stories depth when done honestly.”

David Cox, The Guardian

La La Land’s inevitable Oscars win is a disaster for Hollywood – and for us

“To create the illusion of charm, the film relies not on intrinsic strengths but on external trappings. There is the glamour of its beauteous stars, and recollections of their past, more stirring, pairings. There is the tinselly glitz of Hollywood and the Californian sunshine. Above all, La La Land depends on parasitising other, better films marinated in the nectar of nostalgia.”

April Wolfe, L.A. Weekly

La La Land Is a Propaganda Film

“In La La, Chazelle seems blind to the political power of film. His perspective is narrow and unsurprisingly glossy, the film a throwback to the 1950s without acknowledgment of how terrible the 1950s were for marginalized communities. Chazelle has the privilege of nostalgic time travel because as a white man it’s always a good time to be alive. Tweeting about La La Land’s possible fascism, Rutberg argued that even a cursory study of the history and context of musicals (dramaturgy) could have led to a different kind of La La Land, a point with which I agree. Chazelle, who has invoked Singin’ in the Rain as one of a few inspirations, seemed to miss how critical and satirical that film actually was.”

Nate Chinen, NPR

A Jazz Fact Check of ‘La La Land’

“There are many hot takes about what the film gets wrong, or what it gets right, about jazz. But what hasn’t been explored enough is the way in which its central contrast, between the glossy ideal and the grainy particulars, plays out among jazz musicians in Los Angeles. That’s the subject of this episode of Jazz Night In America, which explores a pocket of the scene that La La Land purports to speak for.”

Thomas Suh Lauder, L.A. Times

Where ‘La La Land’ was shot in L.A., scene by scene

“It may be a salute to Hollywood but the Oscar-nominated film “La La Land” is also a love letter to Los Angeles. Here’s an insider’s guide to nearly every scene through which you can follow the journeys of Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and see where they really happen. Minor spoilers ahead.”


Always happy to welcome back good friend, blogger, and writer J.D., usually posting to his Radiator Heaven blog. This time, though, featured at another, kindred spirit Sammy Juliano‘s Wonders in the Dark site, looking at a gorgeous film that simply warms the heart:

The Black Stallion

“What really stands out in the first half of this film is the acting of first-timer Kelly Reno. Once Alec is stranded on the island with The Black, he has to convey a whole range of emotions – fear, sadness, and wonderment – and does so convincingly. In addition, he has to interact with this horse and make us believe that they are developing an unbreakable bond. This is not an easy task for a seasoned actor much less an inexperienced child, but the lack of formal training actually works to Reno’s advantage, giving his performance an authentic feel.”


Having witnessed the film yet again this quarter, with (Dr.) Peter Weller and screenwriter-producer Edward Neumeier in attendance at the Egyptian Theatre screening meant to honor the passing of co-star Miguel Ferrer, I can attest to Abraham Riesman‘s assertion in Vulture that…:

30 Years Later, RoboCop Is More Relevant Than Ever

“Has there ever been a movie more misunderstood than RoboCop? Paul Verhoeven’s hyperviolent dystopian cybersatire was released 30 years ago and almost immediately joined the likes of The PrinceWatchmen, and Wall Street in the great pantheon of works whose points have been completely missed by legions of fans and imitators. RoboCop was intended to be a viciously hilarious attack on police brutality, union busting, mass-media brainwashing, and the exploitation of the working class by amoral corporate raiders. Alas, all too many people only noticed the viciousness, not the targets thereof. As a result, the film’s subsequent sequels, spinoffs, and 2014 remake have been generally straight-faced. If they’re socially biting at all, their criticism is mild in comparison to their carnage.”


Such a kick to read the personal thoughts when it comes to cinema and what it means to viewers. This time, on WordPress.com’s Discover site. No doubt, due to the quality of the writing and that a few presented here I happen to follow and appreciate – Will McKinley, Aurora Bugallo, and Richard Alaba:

Five on Film: The Role of Cinema in 2017

“I lost my father recently, and in the days since my mind has frequently circled back to the movies. I’ve thought about the many times he told me about his going to the movies as a youth and about how he’d escape into the darkness of the movie theater. I’ve thought about his favorite movies, about how much he enjoyed watching the tough guys that Bogart, Muni, Cagney and Robinson played, and I remembered the times we watched them together. I’ve also thought about how dear those moments are to me now.”


Okay, I may be a tad obsessed with the work of John Carpenter, and for that matter, Kurt Russell. But, there’s good reason for it, particularly if you look at their work with something seminal like Escape from New York. At least the getTV staff (which Will McKinley contributes to) backs up that statement:

SNAKE PLISSKEN ISN’T DEAD: WHY ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK ENDURES

“For today’s younger viewers who’ve never seen Escape (gasp), think 24 meets Suicide Squad with some classic Western and noir seasoning. In the far-off future of 1997, the United States of America is an unrecognizable police state, mired in foreign conflicts, domestic terrorism, and hateful fascism. When Air Force One is hijacked en route to a peace summit, the president (Donald Pleasence) is forced to flee to the island of Manhattan in an escape pod. But Carpenter’s New York is not the glittering tourist mecca of today, it’s an island prison, surrounded by walls, water, and land-mined bridges. But hey, at least the apartments are affordable.”


Down Under at Bruce‘s Vinyl Connection regularly peaks my music interest by way of similar tastes and a vast collection of records that inspire his writing. Here, placing the spotlight on an artist and genre that’s kept my interest from the ’70s to this very day:

THAT FUSION VIBE

“Although only twenty-four years old, Burton was a veteran of the jazz scene, having recorded half a dozen albums,  played and recorded with Stan Getz and attempted a quite different stylistic fusion—jazz and country—on his 1966 album Tennessee Firebird. Technically, Burton was pushing the boundaries too, perfecting a unique four-mallet style that allowed clusters and washes of notes quite unlike the single line playing of vibe legends like Lionel Hampton or Milt Jackson.”


Since we’re all on this side of the 2017 Oscars broadcast, one of the most examined post-ceremony in awards history, I think we’re all a little more aware of typography. Defined as, “the style and appearance of printed matter.” If you’re not, then Benjamin Bannister‘s Vox article, and his thorough explanation for why it matters so, is highly recommended reading:

The typography fix that could have stopped the Oscars Best Picture blunder

“As a creator, the importance of typography is an absolute skill to know, and people  —  not just designers — should consider learning it. Typography can be immensely helpful when writing a résumé that’s well-structured, creating a report that looks exciting, designing a website with an intuitive hierarchy  —  and definitely for designing awards show winner cards.”


I know, there are more than of few reading this that aren’t fans of the venerable western. So be it. But if you’re a fan of cinema and fine writing, the name of Richard Brooks should ring a bell. The writer-director for a number of film noir, drama, and dark crime classics, as well as in this genre. Gary Loggins and his Experience Matters blog threw a light on one of his most entertaining of the lot:

Experience Matters: THE PROFESSIONALS (Columbia 1966)

“A quartet of macho mercenaries – Lee Marvin Burt Lancaster Robert Ryan , and Woody Strode  – cross the dangerous Mexican desert and attempt to rescue a rich man’s wife kidnapped by a violent revolutionary in writer/director Richard Brooks’ THE PROFESSIONALS, an action-packed Western set in 1917.  The film’s tone is closer to Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns than the usual Hollywood oater, though Leone’s trilogy wouldn’t hit American shores until a year later.”


eBaum’s World couldn’t have said it better:

Someone Made A Modern Trailer For The Empire Strikes Back And It’s Totally Badass

“This instantly made us want to re-watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.”


Can’t disagree with Anthony Gramuglia‘s assessment for Omni of what’s needed in bringing a modern, and faithful, adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic work to the screen once again:

10 Things the New ‘Dune’ Movie Needs to Include

“The Dune movie should transcend any expected material. It needs to be distinct. Just another desert planet after Tatooine won’t do it. Villeneuve needs to transcend the genre with something really memorable. Look to the surreal imagery of the prior films. Something will come. Something incredible.”


Always appreciate Darren Mooney‘s perspective on his the m0vie blog (and why he’s been highlighted more than a few times here). His thoughts on one of the most talked films, and characters, in relation to the classic “oater” this quarter, shouldn’t be missed:

No Country For Old Man Logan: The Apocalyptic New West…

Logan is very much a western in style and tone. Indeed, the film arguably owes more to James Mangold’s work on 3:10 to Yuma as it does to X-Men: Origins – Wolverine. There are bounty hunters, with their posses. There is a long chase interrupted by an even longer train. There is desert. There are two grizzled old men, unsure whether the world still has a place for them. In a particularly subtly touch, both men dream of escaping to the water, perhaps hoping for a peace evocative of the Pacific Ocean as the limit of westward expansion.”


I’ve spent an enormous amount of time on The Lads — lifetime and in this series — so let’s agree that any well-written or clever Beatles article is just going to be a regular feature. Read or skip over, as you will, but Tony Sokol‘s take on a distinct pair of songs that never made it on to what’s considered an already seminal album is worth a gander:

Central Songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Never Made the Album

““The only reason that Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane didn’t go onto the album was a feeling that if we issued a single it shouldn’t go onto an album,” Martin said on the Beatles Anthology. “It was a crazy idea, and I’m afraid I was partly responsible. In those days it was an aspect that we’d try to give the public value for money.”

“Brian (Epstein) came to me and said: ‘I must have a really great single. What have you got?’ I said: ‘I’ve got three tracks and two of them are the best tracks (Lennon and McCartney) have ever written’. So we put them together.’”

The double-A side meant that neither song made it to the top of the charts. This was the Beatles’ first single in four years earlier that didn’t hit #1 in England.”


I’m a longtime admirer of the American film director, screenwriter, and producer Walter Hill. Just about all of his films are in my video library and I never tire of any of them upon replay. So, when another favorite, Edgar Wright, got a chance to interview this legendary filmmaker over at Empire about an influential work of his, well…let’s just say it had me at hello:

Edgar Wright And Walter Hill Discuss The Driver

Wright: One of the things that is amazing about your scripts is the way you write. There’s almost a beat-poetry element to the stage direction. I actually read The Driver screenplay before I started writing my movie because I wanted to know, how do you write a car chase? I have to write this thing in words which is only going to be really exciting in action on screen. However, you really write action beautifully. It’s almost like little haiku of action.

Hill: You’re probably too kind in your assessment. When I was beginning as a writer, there was a bland Hollywood style that everybody seemed to appropriate for their scripts. I had the temerity to try to do a little more. I wasn’t first, I don’t think. Maybe I pushed it a little further than some of the others.”


With the passing of another true music legend, Chuck Berry at 90, Brian Hiatt, David Browne, Jon Dolan, Hank Shteamer, and Kory Grow on the day of amassed a list at Rolling Stone why that is:

Chuck Berry: 20 Essential Songs

“Elvis Presley will forever be known as the king of rock & roll in name, but few would dispute Chuck Berry’s status as the genre’s true godfather – the one most directly responsible for its endlessly adaptable blueprint. “Chuck had the swing,” Keith Richards told RS. “There’s rock, but it’s the roll that counts.” Here, in the wake of Berry’s passing, we survey a selection of the songs that helped make him immortal.”


Wouldn’t be a typical highlight reel without another fine contribution via the good folks over at Art of the Title, now would it? This time showcasing the sublime work of Dan Perri:

Dan Perri: A Career Retrospective

“A legend in the field of optical title design, Perri is perhaps best known for a creating the opening crawl that triumphantly heralded the arrival of Star Wars. It’s one of the most identifiable and imitated pieces of title design — if not design — ever created. Period. But to only focus on a galaxy far, far away when discussing the career of Dan Perri would ignore a wealth of incredible title design, from The Exorcist to Nashville, Taxi Driver to Raging Bull, Days of Heaven, The Warriors, Caddyshack, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Blood Simple, Insomnia, The Aviator, and hundreds and hundreds more. You probably didn’t know Perri’s name until now, but if you’ve seen a film made in the past fifty years then you are already well acquainted with his work.”


Close to finishing, so another fine look at an equally fine John Carpenter-Kurt Russell collaboration by J.D. via kindred spirit Sammy Juliano‘s Wonders in the Dark site works nicely:

John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China

“From the engaging prologue, Big Trouble takes us back to the beginning of our story with the first appearance of truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), a good-natured, fast-talking legend in his own mind. When he and his buddy, Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), go to the airport to pick up the latter’s future bride arriving from China, a mix-up occurs. Wang’s bride-to-be (Suzee Pai) is kidnapped by The Lords of Death, a local gang of Chinese punks, and the duo quickly find themselves immersed in the middle of an ancient battle of good vs. evil with immortality hanging in the balance.”


Guilty pleasure time. As in Paul. W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil film series, based on the video game. No better explanation of its excesses and subtleties (and yes, there are some sneaky ones) than Christoph Huber’s Cinema Scope Magazine piece on the subject:

Orchestrating the Apocalypse: The Survival Horror of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evils

“Romero’s classics and Lucio Fulci’s rip-offs from the late ’70s and ’80s provided models for Anderson’s revitalization project, their attack scenarios revamped into craftily engineered suspense-action set pieces. But the thematic throughline for Anderson’s survival-horror contraptions was the tried-and-true battle of Alice, initially just a small cog in the wheel, against an all-encompassing corporate entity—fittingly named the Umbrella Corporation—willing to sacrifice everything, mankind included, for power and profit. Itself the profitable product of various powerful corporations (from video-game giant Capcom to distributor Sony Pictures), the Resident Evil cycle has milked this irony throughout its existence even as it became, along with Pokémon, a flagship franchise of current cine-capitalism.”


Since we (at least us Beatles fans, that is) are coming up on the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band release this year, a few have noted its history in the ether. Especially since yesterday: “It was 50 years ago today that the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band photo shoot took place.”, as Olivia B. Waxman stated in her fine piece in Time:

The Story Behind the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Album Cover

 “”To help us get into the character of Sgt. Pepper’s band, we started to think about who our heroes might be,” Paul McCartney later reflected, when the band members and their colleagues’ reflections on how the fantastic image came about were brought together in The Beatles Anthology. “It got to be anyone we liked.””

…and while Colin Fleming…not the tennis player…for Rolling Stone magazine gathered some keen tidbits on that same artwork for the iconic album. Okay, some of these things I already knew:

Beatles’ Iconic ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Art: 10 Things You Didn’t Know

8. No album cover had ever cost nearly this much.
“We originally wanted to have an envelope stuck inside with gifts in, but it became too hard to produce,” McCartney remembered. “It was hard enough, anyway, and the record company were having to bite the bullet as it was costing a little bit more than their usual two pence cardboard cover.” Most album covers cost around 50 pounds to make; this Beatles/Blake/Haworth opus ran to more than 3,000 pounds. A lot of that had to do with paying people to use their likeness, which was rarely a factor for a rock LP cover.”


Let’s leave it to the wonderful folk I’ve spent a large amount of my time with to close us out, Cinefix. Here explaining why:

“A good conversation might be the most efficient way to tell a story. This week, we’re looking at the best flirting, bickering, threatening and subtext-filled bantering. These are our picks for the best dialogue of all time.”


The entire series can be found here.

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8 Responses to “Spring Thaw: Year of Bests – 2017”

  1. Colin

    As usual, a great selection there, Mike, with a nice mix (for me anyway) of the familiar and pointers towards stuff to check out. Thanks very much for including me, and two times at that!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Vinyl Connection

    Another fascinating and diverse collection, Michael. A new Dune, eh? That piqued my interest (and a squirm of fear). Make Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version, that’s what I say!!

    Liked by 1 person

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