- Matthew Jordan (perhaps) explains why I love/d Rollerball so much.
- There’s a ha-ha in Fairfax County. Fairfax Master Naturalist Jerry Nissley visits River Farm.
- See Rosslyn’s gas station-church combo before it’s redeveloped.
- We could have used one of these robots when director Lee was attending rehearsals remotely: Lisa Sniderman collaborates with Open Circle Theatre.
- Thomas Wolf wants to see hard numbers on the Potomac Yard arena boondoggle.
Shame on any legislator who would vote to advance this proposal on such incompetent evidence.
- Restoring Joshua trees in designated wilderness with some camelid assistance.
- New York begins to roll out new trash receptacles. A heavy base and a light basket that lifts out—what a concept.
- ChatGPT bails out on providing a precise quotation from Proust to Elif Batuman. Surprise, surprise.
2. Did ChatGPT seriously just recommend I “delve into Proust’s monumental work in its entirety”?
3. Am I being trolled?
4. Is it possible that the passage I’m thinking of wasn’t published until after September 2021?
- T. Rex explains why I like the original Rollerball (1975). (Well, Norman Jewison, James Caan, and John Houseman might have something to do with it.)
- Peter Dreier for the Conversation: “five unsung labor movies, all based on real-life events, that, in my view, deserve more attention.”
- ChatGPT makes up stuff about John Kelly.
Perhaps the computer program trawled through the multiverse and found a timeline in which John Kelly had nabbed a Pulitzer for his “thoughtful musings on Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, and how weird it is that Sugar Pops are now called Corn Pops.”
- At Shorpy, a fine photo of a D.C. Transit streetcar (not a PCC this time).
- ICYMI: The U.S. Geological Survey is collecting dead lepidopterans found by community scientists in AL, GA, KS, NE, OK, and TX.
- An exploration of the oeuvre of Neil Breen (of Double Down and several others).
- Expurgation considered harmful: What’s Lost When Censors Tamper With Classic Films, by Niela Orr.
- Still trucking: Against all odds, the rare Devils Hole pupfish keeps on swimming, by Nell Greenfieldboyce.
- And still trucking: The Comic Strip That Explains the Evolution of American Parenting, by Julie Beck. Perfect button on the end of the piece.
In many ways, the streamers [like Netflix and Amazon] have been rebuilding Hollywood’s old studio system. That system, which lasted roughly from the 1920s to the 1950s, was powered by vertical integration. Major studios like Paramount or Warner Bros. didn’t just own a bunch of soundstages, but also the theater chains that screened their movies, meaning they had complete control over every aspect of a movie’s creation—a straight line down from film production to distribution to exhibition.
Even the sharp corners of ostensibly “bad” moves are being rounded over:
Critic Judy Berman argues in The Baffler, for instance, that the internet and the larger “streaming void” it perpetuates have slowly been killing the cult film, the “scruffy, desperately original, and intermittently brilliant works of transgressive art” once enjoyed communally on the midnight circuit, but now cynically engineered for social media engagement, à la Sharknado. Naturally, it’s not just the makers of would-be Rocky Horrors who are suffering.
Although she mentions the creative financing that powered Irving Levin’s distribution of Ida Lupino’s Filmmakers movies, she misses the opportunity to comment on the similar pattern shown by The Cannon Group during its ownership by Golan and Globus.
“No time to die: An in-depth analysis of James Bond’s exposure to infectious agents,” by Wouter Graumans et al.
We hypothesize that his foolhardy courage, sometimes purposefully eliciting life-threatening situations, might even be a consequence of Toxoplasmosis.
While Bond was traveling to Japan (1967) shortly after the H2N2 pandemic (1957–1958), his actions were at odds with knowledge on the different modes of respiratory virus transmission. Bond regularly joined crowds without social distancing including on public transport.
Clay Risen has an obit for Joan Washington, dialect coach for many a film actor.
“Cornish is harder and more nasal than Devon because it’s a windy peninsula,” she told The Sunday Telegraph. “If you’ve got the wind in your face, you’ve got to speak without giving much away.”
Cleaning out a file folder of clippings… I rediscovered this delightful pan of Episode III by Anthony Lane:
… I still fail to understand why I should have been expected to waste twenty-five years of my life following the progress of a beeping trash can and a gay, gold-plated Jeeves.
The only way to perform rankings: “Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner,” by Kiersten Formoso.
It’s a honey of a headline: ‘Double Indemnity’ Is 75, But Anklets (And Film Noir) Are Forever.
Twenty Thousand Hertz goes into the booth with a loop group.
Footnote of the month:
La tête d’un homme [by Georges Simenon] was adapted again in 1949, to lesser effect, as The Man on the Eiffel Tower. A clunky color spectacular starring Charles Laughton as Maigret, it is mostly notable for its location shooting in Paris, and for being directed by co-star Burgess Meredith, who took over after Laughton had the original director fired.—Jake Hinkson, “Georges Simenon: The Father of European Noir,” Noir City no. 22
In his notebooks, [Paddy] Chayefsky wrote year-by-year biographies for his characters. [Max] Schumacher doggedly worked his way up through the army’s Stars and Stripes newspaper, local papers, radio, NBC morning news, See It Now, CBS Reports, and network documentary and news departments to become the president of his division. Diana [Christensen], by contrast, had just five previous television credits—at a children’s show, in audience research, and in daytime programming—before she reached her own vice president post. He drafted for himself a twenty-three-person roster of nonexistent executives at the fictional network he called UBS…, from its chairman of the board down to its vice presidents of programming, legal affairs, public relations for the news, and public relations for the network. He drew up a seven-night programming grid for UBS, inventing every show that aired from Monday through Sunday, 6:00 P.M. to 1:00 A.M., with such evocative and snidely reductive titles as Surgeon’s Hospital, Pedro and the Putz, Celebrity Canasta (paired on Wednesday evenings with Celebrity Mah-jongg), Lady Cop, and Death Squad. None of this information would make it into the screenplay [of Network].—Dave Itzkoff, Mad As Hell:The Making of ‘Network’ and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies, p. 49
A lovely simile linking the cinematic, literary, and pictorial worlds, from Anthony Lane’s review of P. T. Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice:
As a lyricist of California light, Pynchon is rivalled only by Richard Diebenkorn, who spent some twenty years painting his Ocean Park series in Santa Monica, and I doubt whether any director—dead or alive, Altman or Anderson—could really conjure a style to match the long surge of a Pynchon sentence as it rolls inexhaustibly onward.