September 26, 2014
Owens Valley - 1940
In the 1940 Darryl Zanuck film Brigham Young, the Owens Valley in California played the role of the Salt Lake Valley in Utah as Brigham Young first saw it and announced "This is the place." The film showed Brigham Young (played by Dean Jagger who himself was baptized a Mormon in 1972) striding across this grand view of the Valley shot from the Sierra mountains above Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, but I've edited it to remove the church leader from the scene.
The movie itself is a moderately fictionalized version of the trek from Nauvoo to Utah which received the full endorsement of the Church of Latter Day Saints. From listening to the commentary on the DVD, I learned this expensive film was considered a Really Big Thing at the time, comparable to The Grapes of Wrath, but it lost money and over the years lost its fame. I think I probably heard about it during my visit to the Lone Pine Film History Museum.
Zanuck intended the persecution of the Mormons to be seen as a metaphor for the German persecution of the Jews (this was 1940). Apparently most people understood it that way too, even though the film had to be bit light-handed in suggesting that metaphor, since it simultaneously suggested the non-Mormon Americans were in the role of the Nazis. Early in the film Brigham Young delivers a fictional speech in which he expounds on the freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment from a 1930s point of view. In the 1840s it was yet to be settled whether the Bill of Rights applied to the states as well as the federal government.
The film includes scenes of the cricket invasion and seemingly miraculous appearance of the seagulls. Those scenes were shot in Nevada during a genuine cricket invasion where seagulls really did show up to complete the verisimilitude! In the commentary on the DVD it is said that the gulls did not show up until after the official church liaison to the production prayed over the day's shooting.
The film used some other beautifully mountainous area of the west to represent Council Bluffs, Iowa, and the area that would become Omaha some day. I'm not going to bother with that. I'm sure it brought much amusement to the residents of that area during the dark days of the early 1940s.
September 11, 2014
I'm sure my east coast friends were filled with sympathy and concern when they learned that Hurricane Marie would be hitting southern California. Here we are having to deal with wildfires and earthquakes, when nature piles on with something that really only Florida deserves. Here, then, is a video documenting the force of Marie as she slammed into Malibu:
Oh, the humanity! Here the LA Times reports on the loss of historic structures in the area, especially the Point Mugu lifeguard station built in the late 1950s. It was used as a location in the film Hitchcock.
July 12, 2014
If Only They Had Done This In "Rebel Without A Cause"
But then nobody would have heard of James Dean.
June 13, 2014
Burning Man 3D
Coming to an IMAX near you, maybe.
Lots of other people said they saw the crews out there with their exotic 4K 3D camera systems shooting Burning Man last year, but I didn't. It's a big city. But now, a little bit of their video (in flat 2D) is available via their IndieGoGo campaign (ah yes, money). The director speaks with a French accent and they started with a grant from the French Film Commission, so I'm going to go out on a limb and call this the French IMAX 3D Burning Man movie. You know how that French Film Commission is - never enough money, so they are seeking another $83,000. The film will focus on the arts and artists at Burning Man...but that's no guarantee that you won't see a naked guy on a bike in the background in the finished film.
June 3, 2014
AMPAS & LACMA Come To An Agreement
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art have come to an agreement in which the Academy will lease the May Co. department store building from LACMA for $36.1 million, payable in advance. The rent is due October 1, 2014, and is good for 55 years. It breaks down into $28 million for the building and $8.1 million for adjacent land where the Academy will build a movie museum, for which the Academy is raising $300 million.
It's planned to look something like this. Scheduled to open in 2017.
May 24, 2014
Probably Not A Coincidence
Elliot Rodger - boring, except for that music.
May 6, 2014
How Many Times?
How many times must the Golden Gate Bridge be destroyed before we learn the error of our ways?
April 27, 2014
Too tired, lazy or intoxicated to fire up the necessary brain cells to select something at Netflix to watch? Netflix Roulette to the rescue.
- Select movies, TV or both.
- Select a genre, or not.
- Select a range of ratings (1 - 5 stars), or not.
- Click "Spin."
- One title is displayed. If you want to watch it, click "Watch On Netflix."
- Otherwise, spin again or just go to bed.
Netflix Roulette doesn't ask for access to your account, which is good for privacy, but it means it may show you movies you've already seen. But what do you care? You're tired. It also doesn't let you filter on MPAA ratings, but that's critical only if you have kids in the house and kids don't need Netflix Roulette to pick a movie. "Let's watch ___________ again!"
April 26, 2014
"Koyaanisqatsi in 5 minutes"
For those who have never been able to commit 86 minutes of their life to watching the full movie but were curious about the visuals, here ya go. It seems to include all the scenes in the film, but that is not the soundtrack...although it is by Glass.
You can hear the original soundtrack here.
Inexpensive digital photography and remote control copters have made many of the effects seen in this film almost ubiquitous. The film was released in 1982, shot entirely on film (what else?) and no CGI. At the time, there was nothing else like this of similar length.
April 23, 2014
Life, Art, Imitation, Tommy Chong
Tommy ("Dave's not here"*) Chong has bought into a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado. Near the end of this video he expresses his philosophy on the matter at hand: "Pot is pot. Even the worst is better than none at all."