Cinemarati, Grind House, Jock Straps and More

Cinemarati’s Top 20 list is online, complete with a few selected comments from yours truly (I explain the strong showing of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and whine that The Science of Sleep and The Fountain are overrated). I think we did pretty well (although Children of Men? Really?) and I guess I’ll never quite understand what everyone sees in Pan’s Labyrinth.

I’m late with this, but The New York Times had an interesting Sunday article on the upcoming Tarantino/Rodriguez sleazefest Grindhouse (I skimmed the bits that looked like they might contain spoilers). Weirdest bit: Tarantino says he sent the script for Death Proof to Bob Dylan in case he might enjoy the “wordplay.”

Amazon ad (detail)You may have noticed the ads over at the right-hand side of my new Weblog pages where Amazon tries to snooker you into clicking on various links (and making orders that send a kickback to by serving up tiny ads for products based on algorithms that take into account the content of my pages as well as your own browsing history. My question is: Does anyone else get the vaguely sexy ads for jock straps? Or is that just me?

My recent work at Film & Video includes interviews with Notes on a Scandal’s cinematographer, Chris Menges, and with Breaking and Entering’s cinematographer, Benoit Delhomme, and production designer, Alex McDowell.

Battle in Heaven imageI’m late with this, too, but Mr. Skin posted a top-20 list of nude scenes from 2006. (Images are for subscribers only, so don’t get your hopes up.) This list is, of course, unapologetically puerile (sample insight: “Manderlay is all about big, bad racist America, but the only colors that really count belong to Bryce [Dallas Howard] as she reveals that she’s a natural redhead during a smashing skinterracial sex session”), but I sometimes wonder what a real list of “best” nude scenes — you know, selected with some kind of aesthetic in mind beyond hubba hubba — might look like. From last year, I vote for Gretchen Mol channeling Bettie Page in The Notorious Bettie Page and ordinary people Marcos Hernandez and Bertha Ruiz (pictured) in Battle in Heaven.

And, OK, I’m late with this, but the cast of Reno 911: Miami has recorded audio commentary for the film’s trailer, making it just as funny the second time through. (I do love these guys, although I eventually got tired of the television version.) Along with the trailer for Hot Fuzz, from the Shaun of the Dead crew, this makes it clear that, in 2007, we’re all under arrest. (And one more thing – I’m almost ashamed to admit that the latest salvo of TV spots for The Messengers gives me the creeps. “If children can hear this, imagine what they are seeing.” Takes me back to those halcyon days of child-terrifying ads for It’s Alive, Alien, and Magic.)

6 Replies to “Cinemarati, Grind House, Jock Straps and More”

  1. Thanks a whole hell of a lot for reminding me that I had to immediately turn the channel or leave the room when the ads for MAGIC or IT’S ALIVE came on. And this was back in the day before remote controls, so *fleeing* the room was the most common course of action.


  2. Scott, should you want to revisit the Magic trailer, it’s available on YouTube:

    I figured out what might be one of the reasons the Messengers spots unnerved me slightly — the little blue-skinned ghost boy is actually played by Jodelle Ferland, the little girl of Tideland fame. (OK, fame’s not the right word unless you’re a Gilliam nerd like me.) Small world. (The movie, however, is not at all scary — even though our local theater turned the volume up to ear-bleeding rock-concert levels so that each are-you-scared-yet sting came on like a ton of bricks.)

  3. I’m starting to regret something I wrote a few years ago, which is that the nice thing about the standardization of digital sound is that it’ll really assist horror filmmakers in engineering jump scares.

    One thing I’ve been wondering about your “press clips” on the main page, Bryant: is anything really on Robert Altman’s mind these days?

  4. Right, guess I’ve got to get on the stick with the Press Clips.

    I was at a conference last week with a bunch of broadcast engineers, and one of the subjects that came up was that the additional dynamic range of Dolby Digital means that those loud commercials now have the potential to be even louder. I’m thinking the same holds true for horror-movie stings.

    Normally I do like my movie soundtracks at high volumes, though. I think back fondly to a screening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in Denver, where the UA chain, which was headquartered nearby, was trying out some crazy new sound system in the local megaplex south of town. The THX lead-in was so loud that I saw a mother actually covering her child’s ears (!). It made me cackle.

  5. I hear ya (no pun intended). One of my fondest moviegoing experiences was Saving Private Ryan, at which the ushers passed out a warning that it would be incredibly loud due to contractual obligations with the studio. It didn’t disappoint, and probably significantly coloured my perception of the film at the time.

    I will say, though, that the projection at my local has gone to seed not in the usual way: the framing and focus have been fine, but the last few times I’ve gone to the movies the sound has defaulted to the optical track immediately following the trailers. Since I’m DD/DTS-equipped at home, it’s chipping away at my good will for the theatrical experience; if I didn’t know better, I’d call conspiracy.

  6. In my experience, that’s another thing that separates the really good theaters from the run-of-the-mill ones — in the best auditoriums, the optical sound will be quite good in its own right (well, as good as an optical track can be), and it’ll go that extra 10 miles when it kicks over to digital. In most auditoriums built these days, though, sound processing for optical seems to bring out the absolute worst in a film print.

    If the whole film defaults to optical, that’s a terrible shame, but it’s not as bad as the alternative — the system can’t quite lock onto the digital track, and flips back and forth between the thunderous digital sound and the anemic analog sound. Often I’ll notice this problem is confined to a single reel, so I’m assuming it’s a difficulty with a particular print, rather than solely a problem with the theater’s hardware. (I always imagine popcorn-grease fingerprints on the reel, but I hope that’s not the source of the trouble!)

    We have another problem around here — sometimes the theaters deliberately show the trailers in optical, switching over to digital only when the feature starts. I guess this is somebody’s idea of “showmanship.” And of course the local multiplexes never, ever seem to get the framing exactly right on 1.85 films.

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