Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trey Yingst makes impressive short film of his college experiences at American University journalism school

Trey Yingst, a correspondent for One America News  , a somewhat “conservative” cable news network headquartered in San Diego, has posted a 6 minute short film on his Facebook page, which he calls “My Journalism Reel from College”, which was at American University in Washington DC.  Yingst also worked at (and actually founded with Ford Fisher)  an earlier network associated with the University called “News2Share”.

The video is (as of this writing) the first one on the page.  I would play it full screen, as the video work is impressive.  There are shots from Baltimore and St. Louis and overseas conflict locations.

The link is here.  There is a lot of direct conflict and riot footage.  I have suggested that he could work this into a documentary feature on conflict journalism, or a longer short film (for say, submission to DC Shorts film festival in September).

One could also envision a documentary about journalism and political objectivity.  Most of the major broadcast networks (as well as CNN) are viewed as “liberal”, except for Fox, which tends to feature conservative commentators.  OAN strikes me as comparable to Fox.  OAN places emphasis on getting “on the ground” stories as they happen, with interviews with people affected by local conflict and unrest from authoritarians or from disorder.  Vox produces many interpretive videos and explanatory “card stacks” but doesn’t have a cable network (yet), it  strikes me as liberal to progressive (with some fiscally conservative commentators like Tim Lee).

I met Trey at a “Your Voice Your Future” session on terrorism set up in Arlington VA by WJLA-7 in February 2015 (during a small ice storm).  WJLA tends moderate to liberal, but its owner, Sinclair (in Baltimore) is viewed as another conservative news organization. Sinclair has produced several stories on electric power grid vulnerability, trying to get the subject into the mainstream.

Yingst was arrested reporting at Ferguson, and filed civil suit, which was settled with dropping of charges, story.

For another short film, "How Sugary Foods Are Making Us Fat" (18 minutes, Journeyman Films), see my "Major Issues" blog Dec. 30, 

Friday, December 30, 2016

"Carousel": Remember the 1956 CinemaScope-55 film if you see the stage musical

I missed the stage version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel” at the Arena Stage in Washington recently (it ended Christmas Eve), but I remember the 1956 musical film (directed by Henry King) well.

David Ignatius describes the plot in an op-ed in the Washington Post on p. A19 December 30, “America’s upcoming stress test”, or, online, “Is America at its greatest what Trump has in mind?”   In coastal Maine, a factory worker girl Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones) falls in love with a carnival merry-go-round barker Billy Bigelow (Gordon MacRae). They fall into hard times and Billy dies committing a petty robbery.

I do remember the songs, like “You’re a queer one, Julie Jordan”, “If I loved you”, and (as part of a monument to heterosexuality).  The longest song is probably "Soliloquy", aka “My Boy Bill”, where Billy imagines his future kids.  We all want “My Boy Bill to be as tall and as tough as a tree” (without naming names, I can think of a few people whom I know who fit – you all know who you are if you find this post and know me) and then suddenly asks, what if his child is a “girl”.  We’ve come a long way from that, seeing women just as needing to be protected (too much the mentality in 1956), albeit as future moms, to being in the world on their own (yes, Hillary Clinton).  Another great song is at the end, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  And don’t forget, “This was a real nice clambake” – I think of a particular “I’m still young” 29th birthday party in West Hollywood (the Abbey, maybe) with a particular picture on Twitter of a raw shellfish dish.

The show and film open with the “Carousel Waltz”  in D Major, a boisterous and furious (vivace) bit of post-romanticism that turns into a full concert overture that deserves to be played on regular symphony concerts.

The film was shot by 20th Century Fox in “CinemaScope 55”, in full 2.55:1 aspect (today standard anamorphic is 2.35:1).   The original CinemScope for “The Robe” (1953) had been shot 2.20:1.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"Beyond our Sight": documentary purports to explain the afterlife through NDE's with dark matter and string theory dimensions

Beyond our Sight” by Anthony Chene (2014), is an interesting 53-minute documentary that argues for the after-life, primarily by interviewing in rotation a few survivors of near-death experiences. Most were men caught in accidents;  one was a woman who recalls a botched tonsillectomy during childhood.  Most incidents seemed to happen in the Pacific northwest (Oregon).

All subjects recall the “tunnel” and the light at the end, and one man said he was told by “God” that his work on Earth wasn’t done, but that he had to figure out his own mission. (Eben Alexander's book, on Book reviews, March 30, 2013, seems relevant).

A scientist says that consciousness and what we call souls may reside in dark energy, and that the brain becomes rather like a receiver, or end-user interface computer (along with senses) to process it.

 This would tend to suggest reincarnation, but that other lives might be lived in different universes.

 He also talks about string theory, the seven extra dimensions predicted by math, and the one M-dimension (is that “time”?)  Other dimensions may be expressed in other universes where people or souls go.

Man is the only species who knows his physical life will end some day (maybe dolphins know this).

I’ve seen theories maintaining that the information in one’s consciousness gets stored on the surface of a black hole and that it gets sent there in “light sheets”.  That was in a Discover issue about four years ago, and right now I can’t find it.  But here are a few other similar references, one from “Stackexchange”, and a two references (from sci-news and livescience) where Stephen Hawking talks about information preservation in a black hole.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Remembering "White Christmas", Paramount's first film in VistaVision

Remember the 1954 musical “White Christmas” (directed Michael Curtiz).  I saw the film downtown Washington at the old RKO Keith’s.  It was Paramount’s first film in “VistaVision”, motion picture high fidelity.  The intended ratio was 1.66:1, modified later to 1.85:1 and finally 2.35:1 for an anamorphic release.  But for some years. Paramount did not have access to Fox’s widescreen Cineamscope introduced in 1953 (“The Robe”).

The plot contains  Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as ex-Army buddies who try to help a floundering B-and-B in Vermont save itself (long before the days of AirBNB), only to find their former commander (Dean Jagger) in charge. The “Sister Act” (I’ve seen the play but have yet to see the film of that name) by Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, and a Christmas noreaster save the place.

The music and story all seem rather "Ozzie and Harriet"-like today.

Friday, December 23, 2016

"So Dear to My Heart": grading people in life on a curve, perhaps?

Let me recall one of the first (but the very first) feature films I ever saw.  It is Walt Disney’s “So Dear to My Heart”, the animated film about Uncle Remus fables directed by Harold D. Schuster and Hamilton Luske.  It was released in January 1949, when I was in a private kindergarten (the “Brownies and Elves” thing) but I think I saw it with my parents at the old State Theater on Lee Highway in Falls Church VA, now a historical site normally used for rock concerts.

The story concerns a farm boy (hardly Clark Kent) who adopts a playful lamb. This sort of reminds me of people getting adopted by stray cats who invite themselves in.

The most famous song is “Whtcha Do with Wathca Got” (“what you do with what you’ve got”), a moral point about how we look at people.

I seem to remember an important scene on a Thomas-like train toward the end.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"A Star Is Born": a classic (made 3 times), good to compare to "La La Land"

I still remember an AIDS benefit in Dallas in 1984, which I believe was held in Fair Park, showing “A Star Is Born”, the 1954 film directed by George Cukor, from Warner Brothers, billed as in the original CinemaScope.  I believe this was the restored version running 176 minutes.  I saw it with a “boyfriend” who was a resident physician.  He was able to get time off.

Judy Garland plays Esther Blodgett, an aspiring singer from a band, who meets a matinee idol actor Norman Maine (James Mason) who helps get her career going as Vicki Lester, even as his own life descends into alcoholism.  The film was a remake of a 1937 film by William Wellman and would be remade in 1976 by Frank Pierson.

But the 1954 film is generally considered the best, and Roger Ebert had praised it as a real PG-13 film for grownups, dealing with real issues of self-control.

The concept of the film bears a certain affinity to “La La Land” (reviewed yesterday on my Wordpress media commentary blog) and even my own screenplay script “Make the A-List” (2002).

There is a YouTube version that claims to be complete and of the 1954 film, but is really the 1937 (from Selznick International/ United Artists, but in color).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Pilgrimage", visit to Mecca for hajj, from NYTVR, in virtual reality

The New York Times Virtual Reality app offers a 5-minute virtual reality film “Pilgrimage”, showing what a pilgrim experiences when he goes on the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, link, shot by Luca Locatelli.

As you rotate your cell phone in space, you sell all 360 degrees (or "2 pi radians") of a real-life visit. 

Note the link to another aerial photo of Mecca and the kaanba from above.


This is a journey that the average non-Muslim could never take or see personally.
Wiki image: By Original uploader was Mbenoist (M. Benoist) at fr.wikipedia - Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Mary Poppins": innocent animated musical from Disney won best picture in 1964, aired tonight

I do remember seeing "Mary Poppins" in late 1964, when I was going to college full time (GWU) while “living at home”, and had taken up the Friday afternoon chess club at GWU, which at the time was adding something back into my life.  This was the year when nobody could beat LBJ (not even Goldwater) and Vietnam was starting to simmer. 

I think I saw if at either the old Buckingham Theater (now a post office) or the Arlington (now a Cinema and drafthouse).  The Walt Disney musical, directed by Robert Stevenson, has a plot a little like ‘The Sound of Music”, with no politics, so it seems smaller and stagier.  Julie Andrews plays the nanny applying to take care of the Banks kids in late Victorian London, who can get everyone riding broomsticks.  The movie has long stretches (in the middle section) of typical Disney animation.  So it’s offered in just 1.66:1 standard aspect ratio, not needing the grandiose look of bigger musicals.  The music for the many songs (many of which were deleted and have never been officially released legally) is by Irwin Kostal (imdb) and is curiously uncredited (strange for a musical, in a world where licensing and copyright of music means everything, at least today).  But the film’s innocence, appropriate for the troubled days after the Kennedy assassination, helped it many win Oscars, including Best Picture.  I’m not sure whether any other Disney picture had won Best Picture up to then.

Oddly. one of my favorite songs is "Feed the Birds". 

The film was shown on ABC networks Saturday night December 10.  

Sunday, December 04, 2016

"10 Strongest Signs of Alien Life and Aliens"

Time for another short film: “10 Strongest Signs of Alien Life and Aliens”, on Be Amazed:

The “WOW” signal in 1977 has never occurred again, but the narrator mentions a repeating signal said to be from another galaxy, over 5 billion light years away.  He doesn’t mention the possible signal from Tabby’s Star, 1450 light years away, that could indicate a Dyson’s Sphere.
He argues that methane could argue for some primitive life on Mars surviving underground, and for the likelihood of an underground ocean on Europa (which was to be left alone in Arthur C. Clarke;’s 2010, when Jupiter turned leprous and into a sun). He doesn’t mention my favorite place, Titan.
The argument that organic materials and some pre-DNA have been found on meteorites is interesting,

The testimony of astronauts sounds interesting.

One other argument he could make:  on Earth, convergent evolution has produced two creatures with about the same intellect in separate envrionments: man, and the orca or klller whale (and other dolphins), so intelligent as to be regarded as “non human persons” potentially needing the protection of the law and actual rights.  Super-intelligence and sentience or consciousness may be a naturally developed component of the universe that counter entropy. The orca is pretty much an alien intelligence on our own planet whose language we should be able to crack.

Wonder, too, if just one teenager had the "powers" (like instant self-teleportation or "speed") of a young Clark Kent in "Smallville", would that men that he or she was an alien?  What would his or her legal rights be?  Donald Trump likes winners  (for "The Apprentice")-- and some day that could make him confront his own fetish on immigration -- from beyond.