Archive for the ‘author Pierre de Plume’ Category


The satirical comedy sketch program SCTV inhabited a universe unto itself, a small-town TV station that broadcasted mostly second-rate programming. A contemporary of Saturday Night Live, the program won two Emmy Awards for writing, including one for an episode titled “Moral Majority,” which satirized conservative Christian groups who placed economic pressure on television sponsors to withdraw advertising from programs they objected to on moral grounds

 by Pierre de Plume

“For us, art is not an end in itself, but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”— Dada poet Hugo Ball

If we entertain the notion, for a moment, that art mirrors contemporary society, we may find that the satirical sketch comedy series SCTV reflected —even uniquely so — the social and political upheavals of Western culture that took hold during the 1970s. This historical period underwent fundamental shifts in attitudes, for example, on social mores, marriage and sexuality. In North America, where memories of the Senate Watergate hearings and the downfall of President Nixon were fresh in people’s minds, we grew to regard our political leaders and institutions with not just cynicism but also as an absurd joke.

Overlaying these phenomena were fundamental changes in the delivery of our news and entertainment. Reporters like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein popularized investigative journalism to a degree not seen before. Films like All the President’s Men, Network, and Harlan County, USA each highlighted in some way the dichotomies of our prosperous, free society.

For television audiences in particular, our landscape of options took a leap upward as cable and satellite TV services, along with multiple basic cable and pay networks, became widely available. Augmenting this effect was the fact that vanguards like SCTV and Saturday Night Live placed on our screens — for the first time — artistic efforts of actors and writers who had grown up watching television. This generation was the first whose views and sensibilities had been imprinted by the new and ubiquitous medium, television. (more…)


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Sleeper tells the story of a man who, after 200 years of cryogenic suspension, is awakened and finds himself in a totalitarian police state. In this scene, Woody Allen’s character has just been pulled by government agents from his hiding place: an “orgasmatron,” a computerized booth device that provides erotic satisfaction to the user — thus eliminating the need for participation in real sexual activity.


by Pierre de Plume

 Woody Allen’s 1973 comedy Sleeper depicts an oddly dystopian utopia. The film further demonstrates that futuristic science fiction also can be funny. In this his fifth effort as director/writer/actor, Allen continues to define his pattern of honoring the traditions of film icons and styles of the past. In this case, these include his incorporation of the trademarks of comedians Bob Hope and Groucho Marx, as well as nods to earlier notables such as Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, and even the Keystone Cops — all with a heavy helping of slapstick.

If one conducts a ranking of films by genre, the criteria of high achievement likely includes whether the film enriches or expands its genre. On the one hand, Sleeper has given us entertainment that is reminiscently familiar and pleasantly light in tone. On the other hand, Allen also has utilized the cinematic tools of science fiction to create biting social and political commentary that nevertheless is deceptively simple in its presentation.

Relying significantly on both the dictates and freedoms of science fiction, Allen uses Sleeper to lay bare the comic absurdity of a dystopian society 200 years into the future. But by further tapping into the genre’s potential, Allen also reflects back to a contemporary 1970s society whose values seem to be fragmenting and maybe even devolving: During the time while Sleeper was being written and produced, the world was engulfed in major political and social change. During 1973, the backdrop for Americans was a disintegration of authority and institutions about to tread the wake of the Watergate scandal to the unprecedented resignation of “law and order” president Richard Nixon. (more…)

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By far the most successful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 fairy tale about a Kansas girl thrust into a land of enchantment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “The Wizard of Oz” achieves an iconography unique to Anglo-American culture. The film also catapulted its star, Judy Garland, to a career of legendary proportion.


by Pierre de Plume

The first time a movie made me cry was in 1957 when I was 6 years old. I remember like yesterday sitting in the kid-sized rocking chair that my dad, whose hobby was carpentry, had built of oak for our Midwestern home. Because my first emotional reactions to the film remain vivid in my memory, I decided recently to take advantage of a rare 35mm Technicolor screening of “The Wizard of Oz” at a lovingly restored movie venue, the Heights Theater near Minneapolis. There, I thought, I might revisit the experience of seeing Oz as a child and report back to readers at Wonders in the Dark about why this Depression-era musical fantasy has continued to capture the hearts of so many children — young and old alike.

What I encountered on the night of the screening was a sold-out crowd of diverse ages, from parents with eager children to gray-haired elders. A patron sitting next to us in the 400-seat Beaux Arts–style theater, a thirtysomething woman waiting for her special date, soon was joined by her salt-and-pepper-haired dad. Under the glow of the grand chandeliers, we waited as the Wurlitzer pipe organist played songs from the movie we soon would relive.

My experience of seeing Oz on the big screen — in 35mm Technicolor for the first time — left me not just in tears (again) but also wishing to know more about the literary origins of Dorothy Gale’s fantastic odyssey. (more…)


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Streetwise drifter Hal and small-town beauty queen Madge (William Holden and Kim Novak) bask in the delicious glow of sudden, explosive love at a Labor Day picnic. Because this film is based, however, on William Inge’s award-winning play about strained human relationships, the couple’s bliss gets complicated in a hurry.

by Pierre de Plume

Falling in love with love is falling for make believe,
Falling in love with love is playing the fool.
Caring too much is such a juvenile fancy,
Learning to trust is just for children in school.
I fell in love with love one night when the moon was full,
I was unwise with eyes unable to see.
I fell in love with love, with love everlasting,
But love fell out with me.

“Falling in Love With Love,” lyrics by Lorenz Hart,
from the Broadway musical “The Boys From Syracuse” (1938)

Despite the cynicism expressed in the above lyrics about romantic love, I believe most of us are nevertheless a little bit in love with love. What keeps us going, I also believe, is the hope that our lives somehow will transcend the pragmatic aspects and conjoin at some level with our idealized notions of eros and, therefore, personal fulfillment.

Picnic, the film adaptation of William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play, seems designed to encourage viewers to indulge this fantasy while at the same time showing us the dangerous pitfalls and turmoil that adventurous, even unbridled love may bring. These themes are made evident not only through the film’s central romance but also through most of its characters. (more…)


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Can Geoffrey Rush upset Christian Bale in Best Supporting Actor race? Pierre de Plume has the scoop in an extraordinary comparative analysis

by Pierre de Plume


This Year’s Oscar Race for Supporting Actor:

Comparing SAG and Oscar Winners

(and other factors)

      Most people – even many film fans – would consider Oscar prognosticating to be a rather meaningless waste of time. A core of Oscar fans, however, become just a bit obsessed this time of year with many of the awards races. Always looking (and hoping) for a surprise win or upset to make Oscarwatching more interesting and fun, fervent fans enjoy dissecting the competition through statistics and anecdotal evidence.

 Of the year’s acting races, the supporting categories appear more fluid. This  article focuses on the supporting actor field, where Christian Bale (The Fighter) presumably holds the lead, primarily because of critical dominance and the SAG and Golden Globe awards he recently received.

 Some prognosticators of late, however, have been suggesting a potential win for Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech), citing a recent groundswell of support for that film. Let’s take a look at the numbers and some of the anecdotal evidence that might conceivably support such a call, focusing primarily on what many consider to be the strongest pre-Oscar indicator in the acting races, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards. Listed below are the SAG and Oscar winners for acting, including ensemble acting, for years these 2 awards didn’t match: (more…)


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1. Revolutionary Road

2. The Wrestler

3. Man on Wire

4. Slumdog Millionaire

5. Doubt

6. Let the Right One In

7. Milk

8. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

10. Rachel Getting Married



The Visitor

The Dark Knight

Burn After Reading

The Reader

Synecdoche, New York


Trouble the Water

In Bruges

Iron Man




Waltz With Bashir

Up the Yangtze

Encounters at the Edge of the World

My Winnipeg

Wendy and Lucy

Flight of the Red Balloon

Frozen River

Paranoid Park



4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days



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