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Archive for November 9th, 2011

wizard_of_oz___75th_anniversary_collage_wallpaper_by_scottie1189-d6kur9a

by Sam Juliano

It is arguably the most beloved film ever made in this country. It was based on one of the most venerated children’s stories ever written. It launched the career of the greatest female thespian to ever appear in a musical film, and it remains the one film she is most reverentially identified with. The movie’s celebrated score is woven into our popular culture, and it’s unforgettable screenplay has produced lines of dialogue that are ingrained into the consciousness of anyone and everyone who has watched the film countless times, and have come to value it’s themes of home, family and friendship as cinematically conclusive. The film’s most coveted song is probably the most popular number ever written during the twentieth century, and has been covered time and again by renowned artists. The story of it’s changing directors and cast auditions remain as fascinating to movie lovers as anything else about the film, and more has been written on the making of the picture than any other in history. The story of the little people who appear early in the film in one of it’s most celebrated sequences, remains a stand alone curiosity for many to this very day, with the old age passings of this unique fraternity a major news item. Every supporting member of the film’s distinguished cast will eternally be remembered firstly for the role they played in this film, even with exceptional careers to their credit. No film has been more referenced in other movies, and the final black-and-white sequence set in the bedroom of a Kansas farmhouse may well be the most emotionally moving scene in the history of American cinema. With the advent of home video in the late 70’s the film became an incomparable favorite, and to this day has been released more often on the many video formats up to a recently-released blu-ray box set.  The smash Broadway hit Wicked is hugely indepted to the 1939 film.  While it has come to represent homespun family values and the most vivid realization of one’s dreams, The Wizard of Oz is imbued with humor and humanity, two qualities that more than any other have contributed to it’s enduring, even spectacular appeal over decades all around the world. Much like the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the day astronauts first stepped foot on the moon, many Americans will never forget the day, the month and the year they first remembered watching the film, and in whose company they were with. Just two years ago, the seventieth anniversary of the film’s opening was celebrated to national fan-fare, with the original city of it’s first appearance being honored – Oconomwoc, Wisconsin. (more…)

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Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

    This Catherine Deneuve vehicle, from the same year (1967) as The Young Girls of Rochefort, bristles with infusions from the history of modern thought (particularly Surrealism) and from the history of modern film (particularly Cocteau’s Belle et Bête, Godard’s Breathless and the omnipresent [in French cinema at that period] Kiss Me Deadly). However, to bring some apt tuning to this flurry of disparate visitors, we have to keep our eyes primarily upon Deneuve’s “Severine” as subjecting herself to a spectacular and consequential metamorphosis. As such, the film poses a turning point (easily underestimated) consisting of Severine’s coming upon an acquaintance, “Henriette,” at their tony tennis club. Severine had heard from a friend that Henriette, far from cash-strapped, had begun working as a prostitute, and she herself (married to a wealthy physician) was seen to carefully ponder such a choice of give-and-take activity. (Coming from the courts into the facility, she remarks, “I can’t hit one ball today!”) On showing some interest in having Henriette stop for a while, Severine presents an almost adolescent disarray, rendered more conspicuous by the other woman’s poise in addressing her and moving on. I think that scene offers an opportunity to fix upon the dynamics of her story, and thereby not to succumb to the rampant psychobabble this work tends to elicit. (more…)

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