Monday, January 10, 2011

Marlene Dietrich's ABC: V is for Visconti

Visconti, Luchino
It is easy for him to enthrall, enlight, dominate, instruct, bewitch all without even trying.

Friday, January 7, 2011

TRON: Legacy (2010)

One of three images my eyes were naturally able to rest upon during the course of TRON: Legacy was its main character's face, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges).  The other two I could register were Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) and Quorra's (Olivia Wilde) faces.  The rest were interrupted by a very fast cut to a dizzying, and unnecessarily, 3D image.  But the characters' faces were each granted enough uninterrupted screen time so I could admire their features, glowing against the muted ambiance of neon illumination.  Key light is obsolete, a practically extinct form, like the rays of the sun that its cyber-imprisoned characters so long to see.

TRON follows the father-son Flynn duo in a continued battle in cyberspace. They fight Tron and the elder Flynn's computerized uncanny, Clu, to escape the grid unscathed.  It's Jeff Bridges's face, in its current state contrasted by its smooth-featured younger incarnation taken from 1982's TRON that griped my attention at this show, however.  What is it about Jeff Bridges's face that is so calming?  His is a reassuring presence that took me by surprise.  Or maybe it was because his static shots were some of the few that didn't make me sea sick.  It's a combination of these factors, and probably also nostalgia for his decades work.  In real life Bridges's persona is known to always be pleasantly devoid of pretension; maybe I sought subconscious refuge in that to deflect from a body of visuals that I found assaultive and, overall, uninteresting.

The movie's 3D usage is not particularly compelling. All but a handful of its 3D shots neglect to convey enhanced depth to the frame, rendering the technology mostly meaningless.  A DOS-like computerized notice is typed across the screen at the beginning of the film telling us two sequences are not converted from 2D.  A cursor sits blinking dumbly at the end of the sentence, just saying.  For me, TRON's use of 3D was simply in keeping with the traditions of the original film, which was also presented in the same format.

But on another note, and anecdotally, TRON has a fantastically esoteric continuity error noted on its IMDb page regarding a computer processor type:

I suppose if there was a movie in which such an error would ever possibly be noticed though, TRON, the computer gamer's wet dream of fantasy films, is it.  Congrats to that guy who figured that one out.  You totally rule, dude, and I'm not even being sarcastic.  For a movie whose overall visuals are too disorienting for me to make meaning of, you should know, anonymous IMDb contributor who pinpointed an "i386 processor type," your marvelously sharp observation is simply off the grid.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Book Release: "Screening Generation X"

I am pleased to announce the 2010 book release from Scarlett contributor Christina Lee.  The text, Screening Generation X: The Politics and Popular Memory of Youth in Contemporary Cinema, is Christina's second publication in just a few short years.  As mentioned, and full disclosure, she is an occasional contributor here at Scarlett, and was the editor of the text Violating Time: History, Memory, and Nostalgia in Cinema, a book to which I also contributed a chapter in 2008.  While I can personally attest to Ms. Lee's academic and professional integrity, there are others with far greater credibility than myself who also agree.

In July 2010 she spoke with Split Reel's Kevin Fullam on CHIRP Radio in Chicago.  You can listen to their full interview and discussion at the Split Reel website.  They discuss her work in depth, particularly teen films from the 1980s--from John Hughes' Pretty in Pink (1986) to Amy Heckerling's Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), and the strong sense of teen cultural identity for Gen X during that decade, an identity which seems to become fragmented with subsequent generations. 

You can find a full description of Ms. Lee's text at the Ashgate Publishing website, but below is a bite-sized summary of her thesis:

Screening Generation X: The Politics and Popular Memory of Youth in Contemporary Cinema examines popular representations of Generation X in American and British film. In arguing that the various constructions of youth are marked by major cultural shifts and societal inequalities, it analyzes the iconic 'Gen X' figures ranging from the slacker, the teenage time traveller, and third wave feminists, to the oeuvre of Molly Ringwald and Richard Linklater. 

Many congratulations to Christina Lee for her major accomplishment in 2010.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top Ten Films of 2010

  1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand)
  2. The Social Network (David Fincher, USA)
  3. I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino, Italy)
  4. Mysteries of Lisbon (Raoul Ruiz, Portugal)
  5. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, USA)
  6. Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy)
  7. Unstoppable (Tony Scott, USA)
  8. Winter's Bone (Debra Granik, USA)
  9. The Fighter (David O. Russell, USA)
  10. The Other Guys (Adam McKay, USA)
Honorable Mentions:  Please Give (Nicole Holofcener, USA), Ruhr (James Benning, Germany)

Every year Scarlett Cinema is a part of Michael J. Anderson's "Year in Cinema" top ten list compilation at his site Tativille.  This year is no exception.  Please visit Tativille to read the multitude of top ten lists from Scarlett's sister site contributors, as well as from other scholars and critics dropping by for some Listmania.  A huge, hearty thanks goes out to Michael for spearheading the show.

Happy New Year!