Godfather Blu-ray collection Amazon Gold Box sale (ENDED)

Today only, Amazon.com is offering The Godfather Collection (The Coppola Restoration) on Blu-ray for $16.99. If you haven’t bought it before, you have no excuse now. Note also that the individual releases do not include the hours of special features available exclusively in this collection.

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Top 7 Rhetorical Fallacies Levied at Criticism–and why they’re all invalid

Angry naysayers in action

As digital technology enables countless voices to add their share to the din of culture, it seems necessary to remind my dear readers what passes for a valid objection or a foolish remark that ought to be dismissed outright. This is not to say the original opinion which provoked the retort is correct or valid, but to say that the following rhetoric simply does not (and never will) hold any validity. Thus do I present, in no particular order, the top seven erroneous and frankly idiotic statements intended to silence dissent and the expression of opinion: Continue reading

Tarantino takes Gawker to court for leaking script

According to the Hollywood Reporter,  “Quentin Tarantino has filed a copyright lawsuit against Gawker Media for allegedly disseminating copies of his script, The Hateful Eight.”

As to be expected, he’s been getting some significant backlash, first for announcing he was scraping the film, and then for taking legal action. I won’t link to these other sites making these attacks, their asinine vitriol and blatant ad hominem doesn’t merit reference. What they all seem to be missing is the extreme violation of privacy this leak represents for Tarantino. As he lamented when the script first leaked, he only showed six people–people whom he trusted implicitly with a work in progress.

Having your work leaked is like singing in the shower unaware that others came in to listen. The problem isn’t that they heard you, it’s that they violated your privacy to do so. Calling you “a child” afterwards makes them smug sociopaths, not respectable cynics.

Having your unfinished work leaked is like testing your range in the shower while others listen unbeknownst to you. Maybe you miss a few notes, maybe you struggle with a couple others, or maybe you sounded great; regardless, you never intended others to hear it like that. Adding public insult to personal injury, you then found out they filmed it and uploaded it to youtube. What’s worse, they’re broadcasting their violation just to get a rise out of you, and generate more traffic by insulting your feelings. Personally, I would pull a Charlie Meadows ala Barton Fink, but then my court order prevents me from owning matches or any implement used to make fire.

Here’s hoping Tarantino gets medieval on their asses.

One shot rant: Comparing chases in Bullitt and The French Connection

This may be the sexiest shot in all of movie history.

I previously used the chase in The French Connection quite extensively in my post about the flaws of Star Wars Episode 2, and I had a fan of Bullitt ask me which I preferred.

Here’s my answer:

I agree that the chase in Bullitt is technically superior, and I personally think it’s much more enjoyable to watch, and I have the utmost respect for Steve McQueen (and not just because he did most of his own driving in that film), but I wonder if in terms of characterization whether The French Connection comes out on top. If I’m remembering correctly, the chase in Bullitt is fantastic, but it’s not crucial to our understanding of Toschi. We already knew he was a badass and the greatest cop on the force, the chase cements that. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m in no way attempting to criticize Bullitt or the chase, but the stakes are greater in The French Connection. In that film we are confronted with the truth that maybe Doyle is a little unhinged, potentially taking this crusade a little too far, and then he almost runs over a mother and her baby. And then, to top it all off, he shoots the perp in the back!

But I think at this point I’m comparing nuggets of gold, they’re both masterful.

I’m also amazed at how little reference they had available to make these chases. There had been chases in films before, notably in North by Northwest (1959) and some gangster films of the 40s and 50s (such as The Lineup from 1958), but most of the cinematography was panning shots or locked inside the POV of the car. (In the case of Hitchcock the reasoning was that he wanted you locked in the car with the character. He wanted you to feel viscerally involved with the chase, unable to escape, no reprieves to an external shot. See also the chase in his final film, The Family Plot, which crystallizes this approach. I suspect however that Hitchcock’s extreme distaste for shooting anywhere but on a controlled set may have contributed to this methodology.) Both Bullit and The French Connection, though the former especially since it came three years before, needed to invent a new language of film to describe these chases using cinematography, sound design and editing. There’s a great documentary about the evolution of the car chase on the Bullitt DVD/Blu-ray if you’re interested. Jim Emerson also has a video on a similar subject, though it unfortunately lacks much in the way of his usually astute commentary (you may remember him from that fantastic video about the visual grammar in the Dark Knight chase scene, this guy knows what he’s talking about). I’ve included the video below.

In the Cut Part III: I Left My Heart in My Throat in San Francisco from Jim Emerson on Vimeo.

Apocalypse Now (for the uninitiated)

For those who have yet to experience the mind-altering mad genius of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war pic Apocalypse Now, I figured I’d draft a few notes to hopefully convince the uninitiated to undertake the assignment.

Loosely adapted from Joseph Conrad’s disturbing novella about colonial conquest in the Congo, Heart of Darkness, Coppola’s film essentially plays out two connected narratives involving a burned-out assassin’s search for a deranged colonel. It seems Colonel Kurtz has gone mad with power out in the jungles of Vietnam and threatens to make more than a few people look very bad indeed if his mental collapse should become known, not to mention what it could do for morale. The first plot then, the premise which initiates the film and the crux of the narrative, is Captain Willard’s mission to assassinate the colonel; the other, abstract and necessarily cerebral, becomes the assassin’s search to understand what drove the colonel mad. A road movie, or rather, a river movie; necessarily episodic yet integrally linked by some hefty and subdued excursions into the nature of the Vietnam conflict and, more impressively, the fundamental human nature that gets us involved in these conflicts in the first place. Most impressive of all, Coppola sinks the hook into our brains in the very first heavily charged shot, that infamous napalm explosion (not-so subtly mocked in the opening to Tropic Thunder) set to Jim Morrison’s near catatonic hum of “The End”, and doesn’t let go. Continue reading