Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Michael Nichols: "A Life in the Wild"

Yesterday I also saw a 15 minute short film by MichaelNichols, “A Life in the Wild”, an autobiographical sketch of the National Geographic wildlife photographer and his work.  The film was part of an exhibition on his work. 

There was a progression of subject matter, with the most impressive for my dime being the drone photography of a pride of lions, who didn’t object to the foreign object hovering over them, as it didn’t harm them.

There was also a sequence with chimpanzees, which fits into to the NatGeo feature “Jane” by Brett Morgen and Jane Goodall 
There was some pretty impressive work with tree climbers on the sequoias in California. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

National Geographic's "Tomb of Christ" experience

Today I visited the “Tomb of Christ: The Church of Holy Sepulchre Experience” multi-media including film, exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DX on 17th street.  The best link seems to be this
Wikipedia explains the history of the site of many of the events regarding the Crucifixion and Resurrection here. At the time of Christ, the city of Jerusalem did not quite include this area but has grown around it, with all three major religions.

Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel (and arguably would be so for a Palestinian state), but Donald Trump’s actions this week have been viewed as controversial and have stimulated some violence. But Israel had captured East Jerusalem from Joran in 1967.

The exhibit starts with a series of film clips, leading to a simulated bazaar. Then you step into a 3-D surrounding film experience of the tomb area including oculus itself,, as well as edicule.   The experience ends with a virtual reality experience with googles of the courtyard area.  So this is a trip to the church for $15, without the airfare. 
Photography without flash seemed to be allowed for most of the exhibit; typically photography of film scenes itself is not permitted. It would not work with the 3-D portions. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Will the 20th Century Fox logo survive Disney?

The deal for Disney to acquire most of Fox assets leaves open the question whether 20th Century Fox, with its triumphant fanfare, will continue to be a visible company in Hollywood, at least as a production entity. 
There’s the Wall Street Journal Story today

Would Fox Searchlight survive?  Several companies (largely Warner Brothers and Paramount) seem to have stopped labeling their “independent” movies separately.


Remember in 1953, with “The Robe”, there would follow, “A Cinemascope picture”. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can we continue to enjoy the work of disgraced filmmakers? (Pulp Fiction?)

Can we separate our respect for art from the reputation of the artist? 

On Indiewire a number of critics weigh in on the question here

It’s interesting that they discuss “Pulp Fiction”, one of the great films of the 90s (produced by the Weinstein brothers in part, but directed by Taraentino, not involved in all this mess.) 


In other areas, there is a point where we don’t want to consume content from criminals or from sufficiently disgraced persons.  I think the Unabomber and Eliot Rodger “manifestos” are available somewhere online, but nobody seems to want them now. Milo Yiannopoulos lost his publishing deal after somewhat fakey rumors about supporting ephebophilia leaked out in February, but he went on to create his own publishing company that has also published Pam Geller (maybe James Damore?) I think a Netflix-style documentary about Milo, or Pam, or James (or all three in one film) could make interesting home viewing.  I’d be game to support it, maybe.  

Monday, December 04, 2017

"The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World"

The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World” on Discovery-UK (part of “Cats 101”).
A family a rural area probably in northern California takes in the savannah, a hybrid of serval and domestic cat, graded as to percentage of wild genes.

The cats require a lot of outdoor space, but become attached to people. In South Africa, it’s more common for ranchers to have big cats (even cheetahs) who hunt in a range and remember where home is and return for food. 

This film is the story of two of the savannah cats, Kala and Mondo.  One night, Mondo runs out when the babysitter doesn’t notice (there are two kids).  Someone finds Mondo on another farm 12 miles away and returns him. Even with the second family Mondo was quite friendly.

There are other YouTube videos of Zeus, a serval who has grown up with a pre-teen to teen boy and who regards the boy as part of his “pride”.  A cat may think he or she can teach a human child to hunt.

These animals have lives of their own, and a knowledge of the world we never perceive. Yet they try to share it with us. 
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of a G2 Savannah, by Galawebdesign, CCSA 3.0. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

"Why Vietnam?": LBJ's propaganda piece for prospective draftees in the summer of 1965

In the summer of 1965, the Pentagon produced a “propaganda” film defending the increased intervention in Vietnam, titled “Why Vietnam?”.

The film opens with president Lyndon Johnson reading a letter from a mother of a young man where the mother asks why the boy must risk his own personal sacrifice?

The recent long Ken Burns film on PBS would tend to refute some of the claims in the film.  The “domino theory” is touted (as it may sound relevant to North Korea today).  Also sacrifice is relative, as the people who live in the region sacrifice.

But LBJ also refers to the sacrifice in WWII, and DOD also refers to a Dwight Eisenhower speech.  At one point the film refers to a time when the American forcers were only “advisory”.  Guerilla, asymmetric warfare is explained.

I was working my first summer at the David Taylor Model Basin (Navy) that summer. 

The film is mentioned in the book “Enduring Vietnam” by James Wright. I picked this up at the National Archives after visiting the "Remembering Vietnam" exhibit Nov. 27.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Casablanca on its 75th birthday -- and and example of wartime censorship of Hollywood

I remember seeing “Casablanca” (Warner Brothers, directed by Hal Wallis) at the Inwood Theater in Dallas in 1982.  This is touted by populists as one of the best movies of all time.

But Stephen McVeigh, at Swamsea University in the UK explains this film, at its 75th anniversary, as still a case of WWII propaganda, in a guest post on Rick Sincere’s blog, here
In 1939, when the Blitzkrieg started, the United States was the only country with neither propaganda nor an intelligence agency. That changed quickly in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.  The Office of War Information would be set up in the summer of 1942.

The agency had shocking powers as gatekeepers of the content of commercial films that got produced, as to helping win the war, an idea that would seem totally unthinkable today with our idea of unregulated user generated content. McVeigh lists seven questions that every film was vetted with. 
By Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png: Daniel FRderivative work: LeonardoelRojo (talk) - Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png, Public Domain, Link