Friday, September 21, 2018

"The Battle of Algiers" plays at the Castro in San Francisco



The Castro Theater in San Francisco was showing “The Battle of Algiers” and I indeed had seen it in 2004 shortly at the Landmark E Street in downtown Washington DC shortly after the theater opened.
  
  
The black and white film was directed in 1966 by Gillo Pontecorvo and later restored for distribution by Rialto.   It shows the (Muslim) resistance of residents against French colonial occupiers, whose tactics included suspending due process.


Perhaps this film helps explain the growing resentment of the West in much of the Middle East, beyond Palestine. 


Algerians were then legally French citizens.  There is one sequence in the film with a clock that resembles a similar idea in "High Noon".

The film can be rented on YouTube for $2.99.  The restored version is available from the Criterion Collection in Blu-Ray (expensive).

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Waltz Across Texas": mental perambulations as I fly across the Lone Star State



Having flown across the Texas Panhandle yesterday from DFW on the way to San Francisco, I thought I would recall the 1982 indie film “Waltz Across Texas” which I saw in Dallas when I was living here (in the old AMC Northtown, I think, or maybe Northpark 3-4).
  

Ernest Day directs a film in which an eastern geologist (Terry Jastrow) falls in love with a Texas “wildcatter” (Anne Archer). 
  
The film was a little "Giant". 
  

This film was unusual in that real life people starred in a quasi-true story.

   
The film came from Atlantic Releasing and Aster.

The second picture above is supposed to be Palo Duro Canyon, the escarpment int the Panhandle, but the pic didn't turn out well. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

"String Theory Explained": animated short



Kurzgesagt presents “String Theory Explained: The Nature of Reality”.


In an animated video, the author explains why elementary particles are affected by being stared at (so are people).  Three of the forces have particles, but gravity is really a set of geometry rules for space-time. Then he explains why strings are useful in quantum theory, but it turns out we need six dimensions of them.  Will this lead to a “Theory of Everything”?

These two pictures provide an optical illusion of what is level (from my trainset), the second one especially.  Inside an O'Neill cylinder (as in my screenplay "Epiphany") this concept is very critical as to how artificial gravity really would work.
 

Friday, September 14, 2018

"How Technicolor Changed Movies", shorts




Vox, in an 11-minute short narrated by Phil Edwards, explains “How Technicolor Changed Movies”.


No, the Technicolor process started before “The Wizard of Oz” (1925, or 1939) and its transition scene.
The short explains the three plate process of relative black and white corresponding to the three added pigments (cyan, yellow, magenta).  Cyan wasn’t added until the late 1930s.

Later processes, like Eastmoncolor, needed only one plate.  It would be a good question how Fox’s Color by DeLuxe worked.

Vatalie Kalmus became the major executive.

Hollywood was capable of homophobia in the early days.  I remember hearing about a “purge” at Technicolor in 1965.

Vox also offers as a supplement a 4-minute short by Estelle Casavelli, “Color Film Was Built for White People. Here’s What It Did to Dark Skin”, link.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

"Poland Is Pushing the EU into Crisis": short from Vox



Sam Ellis and Liz Sheltens narrate the short “Poland Is Pushing the EU into Crisis” for Vox.


The PiS party, originally part of Solidarity, has turned to the right and stripped the judiciary of its independence. But the EU will have trouble keeping Poland out because Hungary will veto an expulsion. The film shows recent white supremacy demonstrations in the country, motivated by the migrant crisis.  

I visited Poland in 1999, taking a train from Berlin to Cracow, visiting Auschwitz-Berkinau, and then taking a train to Warsaw for one night.

The New York Times has a Sept. 12 article by Steven Erlinger and Patrick Kingsley on Orban and Hungary today here.

And the Atlantic has a big article by Anne Applebaum: "A Warning from Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come" in the October 2018 issue. 
  
The film seems ironic given the recent vote in the EU on the Copyright Directive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"BEARiSH": short film about the chubby community


Haven’t done a gay short film for a while.  Here is “BEARiSH” by Christopher Tyra.


It’s pretty much about a chance encounter “within the bear community”.

These men are bears more because of bellies than hair. 

But in my own days in Manhattan in the 1970s, many encounters were not any more intense than this.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

"Enemy of the State": 1998 film predicts NSA surveillance world after 9/11



Continuing author Said Vaidhyanathan’s discussion characters played by Gene Hackman, from the private-eye-for hire in the analogue era to the retired NSA agent “off the grid” (Lyle), I’ll re-introduce the second of these films, “Enemy of the State”, 1998, directed by Tony Scott for Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.


The film indeed takes a cynical view of “politicians”. Rep. Phil Hammersley (Jason Robards) wants to protect Americans from privacy invasion already apparent with new technology associated with the young Internet, and  former NSA honcho Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voigt)  pushes more surveillance on Americans out of fear of terrorist threats – and in that sense the film is prescient of the world after 9/11 three years later – it’s rather remarkable that writer David Marconi (and apparently novelist Vince Flynn, whom I met personally when living in Minnesota)  could anticipate the danger Americans were living under.  Reynolds has Hammersley killed, and then tries to frame lawyer Robert Dean (Will Smith) who has been working to trail a drug dealer, and happens to film the murder.  Lyle becomes Smith’s rescuer, so to speak.


This film is credited with predicting the modern government “surveillance state”.  It also predicts how the government (or a foreign enemy) could microtarget an ordinary person who stands out too much.
  
I recall seeing this film about a year after moving to Minneapolis, probably in the old Cinema Cinema complex (now, probably AMC) in the Mall of America.