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Archive for September 11th, 2012

By Marilyn Ferdinand

It takes all kinds to make a movie. From actors great and small to sound and lighting technicians, set decorators, make-up artists, and writers—all held together by the producer and director—movie-making is one of the most interdependent endeavors around. Yet, it is not the only one, and 1953’s Duck Amuck is one of the most universal and subversive films ever made. Despite its reflexive look at the world of animated filmmaking and its use of catchphrases of its time (“What a way to run a railroad!” and “Oh brother, I’m a buzz boy!”), there isn’t a soul alive who can’t relate in some way to the sometimes cruel and unrepentant ways Big Brother takes over our lives and makes a holy hash of our plans and assumptions.

Daffy Duck is the star of the Warner Bros. cartoon Duck Amuck, which starts slyly as a tale of the Three Musketeers—you know, all for one and one for all? Ready to work on a thrilling adventure film, Daffy find himself entering the Twilight Zone instead. He finds himself parrying and thrusting onto a blank background. Like a performer awakening a sleeping stagehand, he calls for some scenery to be painted behind him. Alas, instead of 17th century France, he gets a farm.

Daffy is what I’d call the solid citizen persona of his creator, Chuck Jones. He knows and has internalized all the rules of his universe. If the scene suddenly changes to a barnyard, he runs off and reappears wearing overalls and carrying a hoe. If he suddenly notices an igloo on the back 40, he exchanges his hoe for some ski poles. If he is confronted with palm trees and ocean, he grabs a lava lava from wardrobe and plays the ukelele with outsized enthusiasm. When he’s tortured by this tyrannical and capricious behavior, he looks for fault in himself, muttering aloud that he’s sure he has complied with his employment contract and hasn’t he kept his figure in tip-top shape? In other words, he’s an actor, though unlike what that label implies, he really reacts to changing circumstances with little complaint, the better to keep his precarious existence assured. (more…)

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70. Cranford 2007-2009

 

by Allan Fish

(UK 2007/2009 475m) DVD1/2

A very fine weave

p  Sue Birtwistle  d  Simon Curtis, Steve Hudson  created by  Sue Birtwistle, Susie Conklin  w  Heidi Thomas  novel  Elizabeth Gaskell  ph  Ben Smithard  ed  Frances Parker  m  Carl Davis  art  Donal Woods  cos  Jenny Beavan

Judi Dench (Miss Matty Jenkyns), Eileen Atkins (Miss Deborah Jenkyns), Michael Gambon (Thomas Holbrook), Simon Woods (Dr Frank Harrison), Imelda Staunton (Miss Pole), Philip Glenister (Mr Carter), Jim Carter (Captain Brown), Francesca Annis (Lady Ludlow), Julia Sawalha (Jessie Brown), Greg Wise (Sir Charles Maulver), Emma Fielding (Miss Galindo), Barbara Flynn (Mrs Jamieson), Lesley Manville (Mrs Rose), Julia McKenzie (Mrs Forester), Dean Lennox Kelly (Job Gregson), Martin Shaw (Peter Jenkyns), Finty Williams (Clara Smith), Joseph McFadden (Dr Jack Mashland), Jonathan Pryce (Mr Buxton), Celia Imrie (Lady Glenmire), Jodie Whittaker (Peggy Bell), Tim Curry (Signor Brunoni), Alex Jennings (Rev Hutton), Michelle Dockery (Erminia White),

The very last words of of the primary series of this much loved classic adaptation – in more ways than one – could not have been more appropriate to describe the series itself, and indeed that of the Elizabeth Gaskell plots it encompasses.  They, too, like Miss Matty’s decades-late Muslin fabric, is tightly weaved and intricately detailed, and the sort of entertainment for which Sunday evenings were made for.  True, it doesn’t offer anything particularly original, and it will, of course, only appeal to a certain type of viewer, but could it honestly have been made any better.

Set in 1842 inCranford – modelled scholars say on Knutsford – in Cheshire, it follows the fortunes of a group of people living in a female dominated small town at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution.  Dr Frank Harrison comes to take a junior doctor’s post at the small town after training in the city, and his radical progressive techniques are in stark contrast to his backward partner.  He falls in love with a vicar’s daughter, but several other women – one or two old enough to know better – get themselves into a tizz thinking he’s interested in them, rather than being merely polite.  (more…)

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