Real Life: Weirder Than We Think

More thread is needed, I think, so here’s a little item dredged out of the day’s work:

I spent much of the day reviewing syllabi and materials for next semester’s classes, one of which is a pretty demanding course on making documentaries.

That meant I looked at a bunch of short films I showed my students last year, pruning the catalogue to make space for stuff I saw in the meantime that will bump some of my older choices from this iteration’s playlist.

There are some, though, that are hardy perennials — I think I’ve mentioned this one on the blog, for example, which won an Oscar in 1958. That stays on the list.

So does one that I show in the first session every year.  I use it to both demystify the process, especially the technical side of shooting and framing and editing a moving picture, and to raise the bar.  The work is incredibly simple, if all you’re looking at is the shots and the cut to cut to cut sequence of images.  But it’s a great story, and the simplicity of the craft doesn’t mean that it isn’t meticulously conceived and executed.  So that’s what I tell my kids (and yeah, they’re not kids, but from this side of the big 6-0, they all seem that way to me).  It doesn’t take fantastic chops and preternatural skill to make a good movie.  But, as Richard Feynman said in a different context (I paraphrase) elementary doesn’t mean something is easy; it just means you don’t need to know a lot to achieve an extraordinary result.

That, I hope, helps them through some of the tsuris to come when they get stuck deep into the making of their own films, a few weeks down the road.

So, without further review…a little, simple, highly enjoyable bit of movie-making:

 

And with that: the thread, it is open.






110 replies
  1. 1
    NotMax says:

    Murrrow’s Harvest of Shame seemingly hasn’t aged a day, where some parts of the country are concerned.

  2. 2
    Steeplejack says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Do your course materials include a book (or something) on the filmmaking process itself—staging, framing, lighting, cinematography, sound, editing, etc.? Or are your students presumed to know all that and the course is about specifically “documentary” issues?

    I’m wondering (in general) what the current “good books” on the subject are. It has been years since I’ve looked at one, and I’m interested in your opinion.

  3. 3
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Secretary Nielsen is a real piece of work. I wish Mueller could get her when he brings down the Trump regime.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    As the usual appending of artwork is absent, how about Jan Vermeer’s The Art of Painting as a sort of documentary representation on canvas?

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Nielsen needs the KZ Kommandant treatment.

  6. 6
    NYCMT says:

    For the last seven hours, my mother has been texting me from the bathroom of her hotel room in the Nuremberg Hilton, which happens to overlook Leopoldhain, the Zeppelin Field, and the Reichsparteitagsgelände. My grandfather, her father, was a refugee from Erlangen, a town near Nuremberg, and tomorrow my mother is touring the cemeteries where her ancestors are buried (less my great-grandparents and my great-great-uncle’s family, who are bone ash at the bottom of the Vistula.)

    It is her forty-fourth wedding anniversary. My physician father, also the child of German-Jewish refugees, a stroke and sextuple bypass surgery survivor, is ill with cancer, Parkinson’s, and is deaf, and he is sleeping in the bedroom after creeping around the center of Nuremberg with his walker.

    My sister was sending me snapshots of her children at the Nuremberg toy museum, where be-hakenkreutzed Boche lead soldiers featured prominently.

    I dunno, my wife and I spent six hours in Nuremberg ten years ago and spent eight bucks, and boy was I done with the city when we left to visit friends in Schweinfurt.

    My brother-in-law booked the room.

    It overlooks the Zeppelin field and the reviewing stand where Hitler perorated.

    Okay.

  7. 7
    Brachiator says:

    I’ve heard a number of film critics say that this year has been a very good year for documentaries. Some of the short films may become available on one of the streaming services.

    I don’t watch a lot of YouTube original short vids, but I think a fair number of young people develop a good degree of filmmaking skill using their cell phones and morerate cost equipment and cheap software to edit their work.

  8. 8
    The Dangerman says:

    Can we agree that, even if Notre Dame goes undefeated, they don’t get an automatic bid (see UCF). Last two games of this magnitude and they rolled over and played dead. Nice doggies!

    ETA: Imaginative play calling. QB drops back, pulls it down, and scrambles for a few yards. Over and over and over…

  9. 9

    It’s not at the level of your class, but one of the classes I’m taking this semester is Video for Photographers. I imagine I’ll be revisiting The Umbrella Man several times as the weeks go by. Thank you for posting it.

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    Just finished watching Umbrella Man. Wonderful stuff.

  11. 11
    gene108 says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Norte Dame is in the ACC for every sport, but football.

    Just as a means of a reality check, the ACC should require them to play Dabo’s Death Machine Clemson every year.

  12. 12
    NotMax says:

    Have three different free streaming channels devoted to documentaries on my Roku line-up.

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    @The Dangerman: We don’t lose to LSU and we’re in. Look for Bama to win it all and the Dawgs to be #2.

  14. 14
    gene108 says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    ICE, CBP, and USCIS, need to be torn down and rebuilt, with new personnel. USCIS, not as much as the others, but they have been changing rules on visa applications, since Obama.

    The other two come across like some sort enforcement arm of Trump’s New Cruelty, and the people working there seem happy with it.

  15. 15
    ruemara says:

    Funny you post this. I’m taking advantage of The Thomas Crown Affair (’70’s & ’90’s versions) running back to back on an oldies station. It’s interesting to compare the 70’s one. It’s SO 70’s, including some of the editing VFX, the shot choices are intriguing and in some cases, inspired. Faye Dunaway is gorgeous but I don’t really feel the sexual tension between her & McQueen. I felt it much more between Russo & Brosnan. That movie I’ve seen 5 times, but never right after the original.

    I just wrapped a couple of short stories including 1 this day. and made myself dizzy & wobbly with pot gummies, so now is a good time to notice differences. About 5mgs thc reduces anxiety & depression but over that makes me have the curious sensation that i’m vibrating while sitting and unstable while standing. Which made writing even worse. A quarter is a good number relaxation but I accidentally had a whole one since I forgot I took one. When I’m fretting, I tend to get super absentminded.

  16. 16
    Dmbeaster says:

    Umbrella Man is a great story. But conspiracy theorists do not need facts to just make up crazy sh1t.

  17. 17
    Raven says:

    @gene108: The ACC ain’t requiring shit of Notre Dame. They come here Sept 21 so this shouldn’t happen again.

  18. 18

    @The Dangerman:
    I think Notre Dame should have to join a conference if they want to be taken seriously. They’ve been coasting on their reputation for decades, and people need to stop letting them.

  19. 19
    geg6 says:

    Never thought about docs in the same way, but took two classes about film in college that changed how I watched movies ever after. One was about how films can tell stories through camera work, music, costume, etc. in much the same way descriptive passages in literature do. The other was on comedy in film. I loved that class in particular as it was my first real foray into silent films and Depression era comedies with Chaplin, Mae West, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. Neither class was easy even though I took them expecting an easy A. I achieved that, but it wasn’t easy. Thoroughly enjoyed both classes, though.

  20. 20
    debbie says:

    @Dmbeaster:

    Less is more, as they say. On the other hand, what good is a protest where no one gets the symbolism?

  21. 21
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I know I’ve watched Glas in the last few years, and it makes sense that you were the introductory person. It is completely mesmerising. I keep thinking “Oh god, don’t inhale when you need to exhale!,” and find myself engrossed staring at the taffy-like festoons of molten glass. Could watch it all day.

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @Roger Moore: You should read my Dawg friends howl on Facebook! I guess I’m in the acceptance phase. This is about money and they bring it.

  23. 23
    Raven says:

    @geg6: I had “Film as Literature” in the early 70’s and it was great,

  24. 24
    Miss Bianca says:

    @NYCMT: Awkward.

  25. 25
    Yutsano says:

    @Patricia Kayden: She needs hauled in front of the Homeland Security committee. And eviscerated.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:

    @Raven

    Always found it amusing that two people can watch the exact same movie and come away with three disparate opinions.

    ;)

  27. 27
    geg6 says:

    @Yutsano:

    She’s an Eva Braun wannabe. She’s a disgusting piece of garbage. I want to just rip her Nazi face right off.

  28. 28
    Miss Bianca says:

    @ruemara: I may have to try some pot gummies sometime. I’ve always been a toker when it came to imbibing cannabis, rather than a muncher, but that will have to change – have got a jump on my New Year’s resolution to stop smoking, and just in general stop partaking, for the foreseeable future. The smoking was really starting to affect my wind, and when you live at 8500 feet above sea level, and you’re not only a singer but also you’re trying to have a reasonably active life, you need all the wind you can get! Buh-lieve me!

  29. 29
    Raven says:

    @NotMax: Rashomon

  30. 30
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Steeplejack: The course is a studio course, and the students have to get acquainted with cameras and lights and so forth, so I do have some texts — but I’ve tended to extract useful bits and pieces from a variety of books, rather than relying on one. I have my film-making graphic text to get them into it gently, but the one I’ve been using is a bit dated. And I have a variety I draw on to introduce basic photographic and lighting concepts. I’m getting a little dissatisfied with this approach, but the truth of it is that the course really emphasizes producing more than the individual craft skills, so a lot of what I teach them, and a lot of the printed material I rely on, turns on problems of organization, storyboarding, scheduling and so forth. Understanding what you need to put together to execute the story you want to tell is as important as being able to take sound or frame a shot, and much less covered or well understood by students just getting into the game.

    Routledge has been putting out a series of books on film making that I mean to review, and will at least glance at over January. If something really stands out in that effort, I’ll repost. How’s that?

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    @Raven:

    Sounds like the same class I had but the name (which I don’t remember) was different. The only thing I didn’t like about it was sitting through “Citizen Kane.” Still hate that movie.

  32. 32
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Yutsano: Now that Democrats control the House, they need to question her about the policies she has implemented and the way migrants have been treated. She should specifically be asked about the deaths of migrants under her purview. Someone must be held responsible for the mistreatment of asylum seekers and the buck stops with her.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    Well, it had a good run.

    Mousepad which I like a lot has a gel wrist rest and the gel has now begun oozing out. Even so, wouldn’t hesitate to order the same model as a replacement. Super comfy wrist support. Meanwhile, although not pretty, a piece of paper toweling cut to size and placed on top is working fine as an interim solution.

  34. 34
    raven says:

    @geg6: What about “A Touch of Evil”?

  35. 35
    Schlemazel says:

    @gene108:
    they are B16 in ice hockey. the fact is their football program is a gold mine and they sure don’t want to share.
    I believe the fact that the draw huge crowds gets them better bowl bids then they deserve

  36. 36
    khead says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I hate that the ACC lets them get away with their carpetbagging bullshit.

  37. 37
    Brachiator says:

    @ruemara:

    Faye Dunaway is gorgeous but I don’t really feel the sexual tension between her & McQueen. I felt it much more between Russo & Brosnan.

    Interesting. I may have to watch them again and compare.

    I recently saw If Beale Street Could Talk. Even though many of the scenes are composed very formally, I never felt as though I was watching a filmed stage play, as compared with something like Fences.

    One scene in particular involves the scene where Fonny’s family are invited over to be told some important news. There is a shot where the mother and her daughters are sitting on the sofa. One daughter, sitting on the left, has been watching, taking everything in. She is at the edge of the frame; the more imposing mother framed more to the center right. I kept wondering, is the daughter going to say something?

    It is a simple shot, but its simple formality, and the quiet of the character builds tension. And when that tension is released, man, there’s some fireworks.

  38. 38
    geg6 says:

    @raven:

    Never saw it. Kane turned me off Welles forever, probably because the prof couldn’t shut up about how he was the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. With which, based on Kane, I vehemently disagreed. I was way more impressed with “
    Double Indemnity,” which led me to a bunch of other Billy Wilder brilliance.

  39. 39
    Schlemazel says:

    @khead:
    The B16 has a rule, if you play D-I in any B16 sport you have to play all your D-I teams in B16.
    There is one exception to that rule. To quote the noted philosopher, Cyndi Lauper, “Money changes everything”

  40. 40
    PJ says:

    @Tom Levenson: You are probably already familiar with these texts but, if not: Kris Malkiewicz’s Cinematography is geared towards film-making with film, and as such, has elements that are probably not-so-pertinent to your students, but the basics on f-stops, depth of field, lenses, lighting, editing, etc. are applicable at any time period and he describes the process clearly and cogently, which is more than I can say about many other cinematography books I’ve read. Alexander Mackendrick’s On Film-making is geared toward narrative fiction films, but the principles and exercises about story-telling are applicable to documentaries as well, and it’s the best overall (and most intelligent) book on filmmaking that I’ve read.

  41. 41
    khead says:

    While there are some folks watching and talking football….

    So, a lot of WVU fans are upset that QB Will Grier skipped the bowl game last night. I don’t care. I’m cool with it. It’s a fucking exhibition game. But I just can’t wait for the hot takes to come when that first kid – probably a QB – comes along and skips a college playoff game because he doesn’t want to risk a $30 mill hit. It’s coming. Those takes will make Kaepernick look like Captain America compared to the “quitter kid” even though the kid is just doing what every independent contractor in America is supposed to do – maximize profits and future earnings for his brand.

  42. 42
    Schlemazel says:

    @geg6:
    Wilder may be my favorite director, he has a great catalog.
    OTOH, I don’t understand how anyone can watch Citizen Kane and not see what a beautifully directed & masterfully done film it is.
    Might be my problem. I have the same thing with people who think Blazing Saddles isn’t funny

  43. 43
    Raven says:

    @geg6: It’s awesome. Marlene Dietrich is worth the price of admission. Heston as a Mexican DEA agent is laughable but the rest of the cast and the story are wonderful. “Do ju know what it is the reeeefer? DO ju know what it is the mainliner”?

    And Mercedes McCambridges, damn!

  44. 44
    Steeplejack says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Fine, thanks.

  45. 45
    Raven says:

    @khead: Our best corner is sitting.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:

    @geg6

    One can get awfully sloshed awfully fast if take a sip each time Fred MacMurray says “Baby” in Double Indemnity.

    ;)

  47. 47
    Schlemazel says:

    @khead:
    I saw a Clemson player who was slated for top 5 pick decided to play . . . then failed his drug test. Could be a lot of guys taking a pass on bowl games & the NCAA having to find solutions

  48. 48
    Schlemazel says:

    @Raven:
    Heston could never act. He was a clinker in that movie but that was his norm

  49. 49
    Brachiator says:

    @Raven:

    I had “Film as Literature” in the early 70’s and it was great,

    One of the best lectures I had on film came out of the History of Art Department. Especially when dealing with foreign films. The Lit Department kept wanting to talk about film as text, and often seemed blind to the visual elements.

  50. 50
    Yarrow says:

    @raven: I liked it. I had to watch it for a class. It’s very 1950’s and noir but I enjoyed it. I appreciated Citizen Kane but didn’t like it or enjoy watching it very much.

  51. 51
    Raven says:

    @Yarrow: 50’s but all the drug stuff was ahead of its time.

  52. 52
    NotMax says:

    @Raven

    The opening sequence is awesome, all done in one shot. And could Akim Tamiroff be any more sleazy or Dennis Weaver any more antsy?

  53. 53
    gene108 says:

    @Raven:

    I know the ACC can’t touch Norte Dame football, but if the could, playing Clemson would quickly weed them out.

  54. 54
    Raven says:

    @NotMax: I know you know the boom shot in “The Player” was patterned after that.

  55. 55

    @Miss Bianca: Yeah, I’m looking for a place to move to, and Mrs. Revolta is the outdoorsy type, but being a bagpiper, well……………………….

  56. 56
    NotMax says:

    @Schlemazel

    Have long opined that when it came to film, Heston possessed one and only one skill. He could play tall.

  57. 57
    Raven says:

    @gene108:Playing us is going to weed them out.

  58. 58
    khead says:

    @Schlemazel:

    Stalag 17 is my favorite movie. Wilder’s run from 1944-1960 is rather good.

  59. 59
    Miss Bianca says:

    @NotMax: Oh, my God, in that sexy growl: “Crazy ’bout you, baby.” I used to make my ex-husband, actor and voice talent extraordinaire, imitate the way he said it. I’m afraid poor Ted got tired of it long before I did. ; )

    ETA: I grew up with the image of Fred MacMurray as the kindly dad in “My Three Sons”, so seeing him play the heavy so convincingly was quite a shock!

  60. 60
    debbie says:

    @geg6:

    Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Stella Dallas. So many brilliant movies. (Though I did like Citizen Kane, too.)

  61. 61
    Yarrow says:

    @Raven: That was one of the things we talked about in class. It was sort of ahead of it’s time but also not in some ways. The whole Mexican border and drugs goes way back.

  62. 62
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    The Five C’s of Cinematography by Joe Mascelli, Kris Malkiewics’ Film Lighting, and How To Make Good Movies by the Eastman Kodak Company.

  63. 63
    Raven says:

    @Yarrow: Right but it wasn’t in mainstream film in the 50’s. This class was in 1970 and I was up to my ass in dope.

  64. 64
    PJ says:

    @debbie: Pedant here: If you are referring to Billy Wilder as director, The Postman Always Rings Twice was directed by someone named Tay Garnett, and Stella Dallas was directed by King Vidor. If you are talking about Barbara Stanwyck movies, it was Lana Turner in The Postman.

  65. 65
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Schlemazel:

    I have the same thing with people who think Blazing Saddles isn’t funny

    There are such people? I mean, granted, it *is* a documentary, but I can’t believe there are people in the world who don’t think it’s funny!

  66. 66
    NotMax says:

    @Raven

    The Man with the Golden Arm was ’55.

  67. 67
    Schlemazel says:

    @khead:
    Mine too although I love The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot
    I am having a hard time thinking of one I don’t love

  68. 68
    Miss Bianca says:

    @John Revolta: you just need to get used to it! The altitude, I mean…we’re just high all the time!

    Oh, been meaning to ask you ’bout the bagpiping…since Colorado needs moar Celtic musos…you play in a band, right? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you mention it before.

    ETA: Oh, right, your nym is a link, and the link is to your band, duh…see, I don’t need to get stoned to be stoopid.

  69. 69
    Schlemazel says:

    @Miss Bianca:
    Thats my thought too! Maybe the funniest movie ever.
    We saw it in the theater when it came out & I had to go back a week later & see it again because that laughter was so loud I could only hear about half the dialog

  70. 70
    Yarrow says:

    @Raven: Yeah, it probably depends when you watched it/took a class and discussed it and what the prevailing drug culture was at the time. Interesting to think about. With weed legalization happening all over the US, it might not have the same resonance today. Or maybe it would because of the fucking wall. Who knows.

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    From the original Hollywood Reporter review of Double Indemnity:

    With his Double Indemnity for Paramount, Billy Wilder has broken open a door hitherto locked to all those connected with the creation of motion pictures. He has made the hero and heroine of his stark drama a pair of murderers. There is no gloss to their wrong-doing, no sugar frosting to make palatable their misdeeds. It is a drama the like of which no other picture in recent memory brings to mind, more than a little reminiscent of the late lamented, excellent French technique.

    This reminds me that in 1967 some critics blasted Bonnie and Clyde for making criminals the protagonists of a movie.

    I love Bill Wilder. Had the great pleasure of attending a talk he gave, I think at the Writers Guild Theater.

    Love his gravestone.

    Billy Wilder
    I’m a Writer
    But Then
    Nobody’s Perfect

  72. 72
    frosty says:

    @geg6:

    I loved that class in particular as it was my first real foray into silent films and Depression era comedies with Chaplin, Mae West, Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers.

    No classes needed for me. One summer in Jr High the local TV station played all of the WC Fields and Marx Bros every afternoon. I still come in the house during bad weather, look at the spouse and say “It’s not a fit night out for man or beast.” She’d throw a snowball if she had one.

  73. 73
    Yarrow says:

    @Schlemazel: Man, I love “Sunset Boulevard.” An amazing film.

  74. 74
    debbie says:

    @PJ:

    I was talking about neither. I was talking about films I loved.

  75. 75
    Raven says:

    @NotMax: And Reefer Madness was 1936.

  76. 76
    Steeplejack says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Belated reply to your question on Christmas Eve: you do not have to see Paddington before Paddington 2. I still haven’t seen the first one.

  77. 77
    Schlemazel says:

    @Yarrow:
    Thats the thing. If you asked me I might say it is my favorite but then there is Stalag 17 and then there is The Apartment ans I could go on

    I did think of one I didn’t like The Fortune Cookie

  78. 78
    phantomist says:

    Just in case it hasn’t been mentioned, Double Indemnity is on TCM at midnight tonight. I’m watching.

  79. 79
    Raven says:

    @Schlemazel: He’s got a fractured vertebrae. . . . . .

  80. 80
    Librarian says:

    @ruemara: the McQueen- Dunaway version was from 1968.

  81. 81
    khead says:

    @Schlemazel:

    As a cynical gambler, all I will say is that I can relate to JJ Sefton. Love William Holden too. Cannot ever imagine Heston in that role.

  82. 82
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Miss Bianca: Similar to the shock people had about Clifton Webb. He made Sitting Pretty in the 50s playing a genial, comedic character.

    When the movie Laura was rereleased some yrs after that movie, there were audible gasps when he was revealed as the villain.

  83. 83
    NotMax says:

    @Brachiator

    Also too, Kind Hearts and Coronets, 1949.

    @Raven

    If we’re talking pre-1950s (and mainstream as opposed to exploitation flicks), “Sweet Marijuana” number from Murder at the Vanities, 1934.

  84. 84
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Schlemazel: Am I the only person in the world who could not sit thru’ “The Apartment”? I am, ain’t I? I couldn’t stand it. I was so utterly revolted by the premise.

    Of course, I almost gave up watching “Mad Men” because I couldn’t stand all the sexism apparent in the first episode, but I stuck with it and it got better. Maybe given that, I should revisit “The Apartment” and see what I think now.

  85. 85
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: Wasn’t “Laura” released in the 40s?

    ETA: One of my all-time favorite movies, btw. I recently unearthed an old notebook of mine where I did a scene-by-scene analysis of it trying to grok what made it so damn great.

  86. 86
    ruemara says:

    @Librarian: ok. neither here nor there for me.

    The soundtrack is so much a part of the Russo Brosnan version. And I think the pacing is better but it could just be generational. The Dunaway McQueen version looks like it smells like hippies. I wish I could explain it but that’s what makes sense for me. Brosnan & Russo are so glossy and perfect, they don’t feel fully real though. I should try this again some time.

  87. 87
    Schlemazel says:

    @khead:
    There are so many things in that movie that make it hard for me to imagine it was made so close to the war (“I believe it, I believe it”) I imagine there were guy who had spent time as a POW and maybe knew a Sefton. Holden was a very good actor & he made it really hard to like him. I know that a lot of that was the script but would think it only natural to try to humanize myself. He never gives it away. I hope momma gave him a huge reward!

  88. 88
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Schlemazel:

    Heston, as a young man, had a beautifully-chiselled face and a finely-sculpted body. Speaking as a hetero-cis woman, I found him a pleasure to gaze upon back in the day (of course, the passage of time and his horrible later political views eventually put paid to that!)

    Ayn Rand’s heroes all had beautifully-chiselled faces and finely-sculpted bodies. And the political views were well-aligned. Wonder why Heston never played a Roark or Reardon or Galt? He was tailor-made for those roles.

  89. 89
    Schlemazel says:

    @Ladyraxterinok:
    Similar to my reaction when it turns out Peter Graves, who I knew from my childhood as a good guy. He was the Dad in Fury, a Saturday morning kids adventure drama

    It was like seeing the dad from My Threes Sons as a cold blooded murderer

  90. 90
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @John Revolta:

    but being a bagpiper, well……………………….

    Come sit by me and play “Flowers of the Forest.”

  91. 91
    PJ says:

    @debbie: Apologies for misunderstanding your post.

  92. 92
    Ohio Mom says:

    @NYCMT: Your comment certainly proves the post title, Real life: weirder than we think.

    My family was from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. Some of them emigrated to the US and Israel before World War II; of the ones who stayed behind, needless to say, only a small handful survived. One survivor remains, she’s in her mid-nineties and lives in California. Ironically perhaps, she outlived all her cousins (my parents’ generation) who were born here.

    All this by way of saying, I think I probably understand your parents’ trip but I hope they also have someplace more uplifting on their itinerary.

  93. 93
    debbie says:

    @Schlemazel:

    Holden was a very good actor & he made it really hard to like him.

    George Segal was the same sort of actor in King Rat.

  94. 94

    @SiubhanDuinne: Well, at least I know that it’s possible to play ’em down there!

    @Miss Bianca: So, do you actually know any Rocky Mountain pipers? Do such exist? I mean, I’ve been in the Appalachians, but………..

  95. 95
    Steeplejack says:

    @Ladyraxterinok:

    Laura, 1944. Sitting Pretty, 1948.

  96. 96
    geg6 says:

    @debbie:

    Segal is a hugely unappreciated talent. He’s amazing in almost everything he’s in, even if the rest of the film is horrible.

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    artem1s says:

    @geg6:

    Kane turned me off Welles forever, probably because the prof couldn’t shut up about how he was the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. With which, based on Kane, I vehemently disagreed.

    I can appreciate Kane, but never thought it was the greatest film of all time. Some beautiful shots, but really didn’t care that much for the actual story line. The Third Man though, that is my favorite b&w film, hands down. Great sound track, intriguing story, beautiful camera work, great casting (including Welles). The Ferris wheel and the zither sound track, unforgettable. I make a point of seeing it on the big screen every time it comes to the local art theatre/s. Reed had everything in TTM that Kane was supposed to have – and did it better.

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    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @NotMax:

    Heston possessed one and only one skill. He could play tall.

    Every actor has at least one good performance in them.

    Heston’s was Will Penny.

    Despite Heston “Touch of Evil” is still a great film.

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    StringOnAStick says:

    @Miss Bianca: The 5mg gummies are great; one after dinner makes for great sleeping for me and really helps my husband ‘s insomnia. If you want more, then take two. Take the one before dinner if you’d like to enjoy your buzz a bit before bedtime

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    J R in WV says:

    @John Revolta:

    There are a ton of Appalachian mountain pipers, they have a Scots Highland Games down in mountain North Carolina around Grandfather Mountain, where the source of the New River is. Not Boone, west of there a little… I forget the name of the little town, but they light it up with pipers and caber tossing and all.

    And we have a friend who piped in our living room not long after the house was completed and we moved in, George, who is a piper up in Pittsburgh, he’s a mountain piper too.

    He started with little parlor pipes, played a couple of tunes, went back into the library and came out with his battle pipes, Oh My Gawd, they were loud. Marching back and forth in the living room, piping those martial songs from the highlands! Back in about 1994 or ’95, not much furniture, the sound just bounced around the hardwood ceiling and floors and windows. OMG!

    Oops, now I see, you were asking if there were Rocky Mountain Pipers…. never mind.

    Pipers, they make us all a little bit crazy~!!~

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    NotMax says:

    @artem1s

    Should you happen to have Netflix, currently available there.

    @Viva BrisVegas

    No disagreement it’s a fine film.

    A teacher when I was in high school had gone to college with Heston and would show a student-made film of his which included Heston (shirtless, IIRC). Let’s just say I saw no growth in his ability or technique during his appearances in Hollywood fare.

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    @J R in WV: Yeah, it’s pretty much strictly an outdoor activity. Well, unless you’re playing in a rock band and then you’ve actually got to mike ’em!

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    Ruckus says:

    @frosty:
    Granddad gave me a B&W tv for my room when I was 11 or so and I used to go to bed when told and then get up and watch all the old movies. There used to be in LA a couple of channels that would play movies late at night, most movies older than 15-20 yrs, which means pre WWII. A fine time that was, except that it turned me into a night owl.

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    StringOnAStick says:

    @John Revolta: Every spring the Colorado town of Estes Park has a highlands festival, lots of bagpipes.

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    NYCMT says:

    @Ohio Mom: They were on an extended family vacation with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew after my father’s retirement at the beginning of the month. Cinqueterre, Portofino, Como, a cruise around the western Mediterranean. My brother-in-law handled all the details. (My sister and her family moved to Frankfurt last year on State Department assignment.)

    So this Nuremberg thing. My mother’s parents come from Bavaria – Mom-mom was born in Munich, Pop-pop in Erlangen – and my father’s parents from the near or distant hinterlands of Frankfurt. My father grew up in London and central New Jersey, and when he decides to speak German, emits a strange fossilized Rhineland dialect that makes him sound 125 years old – because he grew up among refugees from the Pfalz and Hesse who left in the thirties.

    My mother was born in Philly after the war and her German is weird, too, but like mine, put together from heard snippets of conversation, absorbed subconsciously over decades from her parents. She speaks a barbaric ungrammatical Bavarian with word choices that are bizarrely local to the Nuremberg/Erlangen area of Upper Franconia. When I’m in Germany, I find myself manifesting a strange tumor-like German fluency within *hours* no codepage switching just…completely comprehensible German, as spoken by, say, a five year old child. I’ve never sat for classes.

    When we’re there, it’s like – this is the missing part. It felt like home. And we can never *ever* stay.

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    @Yarrow: @NYCMT: These guys got to have lungs like whales!

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    The Golux says:

    Bob Chappell, the director of photography in the Errol Morris short, was a classmate of mine in high school. Interesting guy.

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    RooniRoo says:

    I’ve never heard of the umbrella man. I thoroughly enjoyed that little film. Thanks Tom

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    smintheus says:

    Although Mauro Bolognini’s La Giornata Balorda (“From a Roman Balcony”) is a drama, the long opening sequence showing life in a tenement is nearly a perfect demonstration of documentary film technique.

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