Oscar’s Open Thread

What?








Maybe everything that dies some day comes back

Apropos of my desire for Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play Steve Bannon from beyond the grave, reader J writes:

Your blog post got me thinking – What if I could use CGI to cast a dead actor or actress for a role in a previously released film? Which dead actor or actress would I choose and which role would I select? If there’s a lull in the Trump feeding frenzy, would you consider a thread asking readers to offer up their suggestions?

His pick will be hard to top:

After some deliberation, this is what I dreamt up:

I’d create a new version of The Godfather Part II in which I’d cast Jimmy Stewart in the role of Senator Pat Geary.








Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Film News

Last weekend’s snowstorm kept us from getting out to see Hidden Figures, and I felt just a little guilty about not adding to the opening box office numbers. I’m glad it will still be in theaters next weekend!

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Apart from President Obama’s farewell address, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Friday Morning Open Thread: Pioneering Figures

Something I did not know, via McClatchy DC:

More than 100 astronauts have visited the International Space Station since it was first launched in 1998. Of the 101, the U.S. has accounted for 49 of those visitors, a fraction of the hundreds of astronauts NASA has sent into space over the decades.

But now, for the first time ever, an African-American will call the International Space Station home, NASA announced Wednesday.

Jeanette Epps will be part of Expedition 56 to the ISS in 2018 and will remain on board as part of Expedition 57, per a press release. That will make her the first African-American to crew the station, as well as the 13th woman.

Epps has served as an astronaut since 2009 and has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. She has also spent several years as a CIA technical intelligence officer, according to her biography.

NASA’s announcement comes just before the release of the film “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of three African-American women who were pivotal in the launch of the first American into orbit, John Glenn. The movie, which has enjoyed a warm reception from critics, per Rotten Tomatoes, has been praised for its authentic feel and adherence to history, per Space.com

Been looking forward to Hidden Figures for a while now — I’m hoping we can get our schedule in order to see it this weekend.

Apart from happy planning, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?
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Instead Of Licking My Hand, You Barked

Bixby and Bailey wish you a very Merry Christmas

It’s that time again, the Weekend Movie Club from Mnemosyne, aka The Insufferable Movie Snob, via Schroedinger’s Cat fun website. She asked me to post in case Anne Laurie was super busy today. Here is her review of a sweet filmThe Shop Around the Corner

One more thing you may notice: the date the film was made. It was filmed in 1939 after Hungary had been taken over by fascists connected to Nazi Germany and, under pressure, the country officially joined the Axis powers in late 1940. So this is a subtle propaganda film in addition to everything else, showing an idealized Budapest as it was before Nazi Germany invaded Poland and kicked off World War II.

The film begins with the employees gathering to wait for their employer to open the shop for the day’s work. Already waiting outside the door is Pirovich (Felix Bressart, possibly my favorite character actor), soon joined by insolent errand boy Pepi (William Tracy), the two lady clerks, and head clerk Alfred Kralik (James Stewart), who had dinner with the boss last night. The last arriving clerk, dandyish Vadas (Joseph Schildkraut) is clearly jealous of the favor that Mr. Matuschek shows to Kralik, and the rest of the employees are just as clearly wary of Vadas and protective of Kralik. Mr. Matuschek arrives to open the store, and their day begins.  Continue to read here.

Here’s a bonus kitteh:

NOTE about the Writing Group: my plan has always been two Sundays a month, but with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, I didn’t see a good second Sunday to post. We will pick up again January 8th. The last one was great fun, so I look forward to continuing. See you in 2017!  – TaMara

Open thread!

ETA: And as if on cue, I look out the window and it’s snowing! White Christmas….








For Aficianados Only: “The Creator of Doctor Strange Will Not See You Now”

Steve Ditko is old enough and has done enough for his chosen art form that he owes us nothing. On the other hand, although as a comix geek back in the 1970s I’d read about the acrimonious Ditko / Stan Lee creative breakup, I don’t remember hearing that Ditko was a full-metal Objectivist. Writers, as Joan Didion reminds us, are always selling someone out… so make your own judgement as to Abraham Reisman’s conclusions in his NYMag story. But Mr. Ditko does come off as a tragic example of the warning attributed to that Nietzsche fella about staring into the abyss:

For a recluse, Steve Ditko is surprisingly easy to locate. You won’t see him in public: Despite being one of the most important figures in comics history, the most recent published photograph of the 89-year-old was taken about 50 years ago. And though his name appears prominently as “co-creator” in the credits of Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange — which has already grossed more than $490 million worldwide — he has never been on a red carpet, or appeared on TV or radio. But if you ask within the comics community, you can readily find the location and phone number of his Manhattan studio. The man’s around. It’s putting that contact information to good use that’s difficult.

Ditko hasn’t done an interview with a journalist since 1968, two years after he shocked comics fandom by leaving Marvel in a move for which he offered no explanation — even to his boss, Stan Lee, with whom he created Doctor Strange and Spider-Man, among other classic characters. What followed has been an idiosyncratic crusade that has consumed Ditko’s capacious imagination: the creation of spite-filled, didactic, and often baffling comics and essays that evangelize the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ditko has long been principled in a way few popular artists are, and he changed the comics medium twice: first with his elegant, kinetic, at times psychedelic artwork; then by being the first high-profile creator to inject serious philosophical arguments into superhero comics. His influence is staggering, but his personal story is almost totally hidden. He remains one of pop culture’s most enigmatic figures…
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Weekend Movie Club: “The Haunting” (1963)

Via stalwart commentor Schroedinger’s Cat, your Halloween movie review from Mnemosyne, aka The Insufferable Movie Snob:

Every fan of The Haunting has at least one story about seeing it, and often more than one. Here’s one of mine:

Years ago, G (my now husband) and I went to see it on a triple bill at an old movie palace in downtown Los Angeles. The college kids sitting behind us mocked it at first: old-fashioned, black-and-white, Julie Harris’s oddball whispered voiceovers.

But then, as the film went on, they got quieter and quieter. Finally, about half an hour in, one of them turned to the other and whispered, “Is it just me, or is this movie kind of getting to you?” And then they shut up for the rest of the film.

That’s the kind of horror movie The Haunting is. It’s not a slam-bang special effects spectacle, or a gross-out endurance test. It sneaks up behind you and lays a cold hand on your neck, whispering to you, asking if you’re sure you know what that noise in the dark was that you just heard.

A quick technical note before we begin: when you see the film, make sure you get a letterboxed copy and not one of the older pan-and-scans. You will literally miss out on half the movie if you don’t get the full widescreen version.

Director Robert Wise got his start working for Val Lewton‘s B-movie unit at RKO in the 1940s, where Lewton produced (and usually wrote) subtle horror films that are still classics today: Cat People. I Walked With a Zombie. The Seventh Victim. One of my favorites is Wise’s third film as a director, The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff as an absolutely chilling remorseless killer. Wise’s films all show a great attention to sound, so it’s not surprising that he’s best known today for his two blockbuster musicals, West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

But Wise started as a horror guy with Lewton and, like his former colleague Jacques Tourneur, Wise decided to make a “Lewtonesque” horror film where the horror comes not from what the characters see, but from what they hear. In fact, you never see a single ghost in The Haunting. You hear them, the characters touch them, you see the physical effects of what they can do, but you never see one.

Except… it always seems like you’re about to see one just out of the corner of your eye, but the wandering camera never quite turns in the right direction. Watching it again, I noticed how the mirrors in the rooms are carefully placed so you can often see the actors in them, but only a part of them — their backs, their hands, their shoulders. Seeing the movement in the mirror distracts the viewer, drawing your attention (conscious or unconscious), and making you wonder if you’re finally going to see something. But you never do. I also noticed that the numerous potted palm trees placed in many of the rooms constantly sway in a slight breeze, again drawing the viewer’s attention and making us wonder just what is causing that motion.

As with most ghost stories, the outline of the plot doesn’t sound like much. The film opens with a sequence narrated by a man we will soon discover is Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), an anthropologist and psychic researcher who is trying to convince the current owner of Hill House to allow him to bring a team in to do experiments. He narrates the sequence of events at Hill House that gained it its awful reputation, barely able to conceal his glee at the possibility of being able to investigate a real haunted house. The director shows us three mysterious deaths at Hill House: a woman’s carriage crashing in the driveway, a woman falling down the stairs, a woman hanging herself in the library…

For the rest of Mnemosyne’s review, click over to SC’s blog…