5 items from 2016
Blame it on Al Jolson. Ever since that infernal crooner delivered the line “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” in 1927’s The Jazz Singer, audiences have demanded to hear actors speak in movies. The very next year, Mickey Mouse spoke in Steamboat Willie, and the era of the talkie had truly arrived. Displaced silent actress Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) would bemoan the situation in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard: “They had to have the ears of the whole world, too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk, talk, talk!” The only silent films that have been made in recent decades have been deliberate throwbacks, like Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar-winning The Artist. But maybe the silent movie, or at least the dialogue-free movie, has not yet breathed its last. On September 7, The Hollywood Reporter accidentally uploaded a wordless version of the trailer for the upcoming sequel Bridget Jones »
- Joe Blevins
Can a single film appeal to all five senses? Movies exist primarily to stimulate the viewer’s sense of sight and (from 1927’s The Jazz Singer onward) sound. There have been various attempts, including Smell-o-Vision and Odorama, to add olfactory sensations to the cinematic experience. And shows like Dinner And A Movie manage to excite the spectator’s taste buds as well. But what about the sense of touch? Aldous Huxley theorized some form of entertainment called “feelies” in his 1932 novel Brave New World, and there was also See You Next Wednesday and its remarkable “Feel-Around” gimmick.
Meanwhile, movies offer a whole range of tactile sensations, as evidenced by a new supercut from Now You See It host Jack Nugent simply entitled “Touch.” The premise could not be more basic. For a minute and a half, movie characters just touch things, including each other. Rings are fondled. Couches ...
- Joe Blevins
On this day in history as it relates to the movies...
1828 Feral teenager Kaspar Hauser is discovered wandering Nuremberg, claiming to have been raised in total isolation. Theories abound and the story inspires many artists down the road including Werner Herzog in the film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974).
1886 Al Jolson is born. Will later star in the first "talkie" The Jazz Singer (1927)
1894 Silent film star Norma Talmadge is born
1897 Bram Stoker's epistolary novel "Dracula" is published. Never stops being adapted for film and television but our hearts will always belong to Francis Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) despite the aggravating double possessive
1907 John Wayne was born. Did he always talk like that?
- NATHANIEL R
Our father, Tony Gibbs, who has died aged 90, was a film editor with a long and distinguished career. He was captivated by film from an early age and that interest was nurtured by his parents, Harold, a police officer, and Violet, a cook, who took him to see The Jazz Singer when he was three years old.
After serving in the Royal Marines during the second world war, Tony began his career in the film industry. He started as an assistant in the props department and ended up in the cutting rooms, where he considered himself privileged to have enjoyed successful collaborations with the directors Tony Richardson (for whom he edited A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Tom Jones), Richard Lester (The Knack, Petulia and Juggernaut) and Nic Roeg (Walkabout and Performance). He definitely played a significant role in the “new wave” of British cinema during the 1960s. »
- Lesley Gibbs and Tessa Lumley
This week another film maker tackles a subject frequently explored in movies of the heart, perhaps best labeled the romance (but not a “rom-com”, though there’s a smidgen of humor). It’s the old “lost love” plot, where the story’s focus character (often nearing those “twilight” years) remembers his first real infatuation and heartbreak, usually eliciting pangs of remorse or regret. Popular author Nicholas Sparks has made this a standard theme in film adaptations of his work from The Notebook to The Best Of Me. Now this new release hails from across the pond, France to be precise. Unlike those previously mentioned big screen “soaps” it is a more somber meditation when the film’s protagonist’s thoughts recall My Golden Days.
Those sun drenched days belong to a scholar working for France’s department of ministry, Paul Dedalus (Mathieu Amalric). We encounter him as he prepares to leave Tajikistan for Paris. »
- Jim Batts
5 items from 2016
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