Monthly Archives: January 2012

Celluliod Dreams and this Year’s Oscars – Part I

It’s no surprise that two of the most nominated films this year for the 2012 Academy Awards are titles that pay a great deal of homage to the early days of narrative and silent cinema. Historically, the Oscars are known for rewarding films that display a longing for cinema’s past – Singin’ in the Rain and Sunset Boulevard come to mind. This year, Martin Scorsese’s entry in the family film genre, Hugo leads the pack with 11 nominations, slightly surpassing Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist with 10. Both are exceptional pieces of filmmaking. They excel in most facets of what makes a film ‘great’ – beautiful cinematography, charming scores, character performances and much more. Beyond this, one can’t deny their glowing fondness for the early days of filmmaking.

To be honest, when my wife and I went to see Hugo, I had no idea that the 2nd and 3rd acts would be preoccupied with what turned out to be the ‘Life and Times of George Méliès’ – the great special effects illusionist of early cinema. Not that I was complaining. It brought me back to my mornings hunched over a tabletop in a darkened lecture hall, taking very detailed notes of course, watching a cardboard rocket crash-land on what appears to be a gooey slab of cottage cheese with eyes.

Scorsese is no stranger to cinematic homage. He is after all – a ‘moviebrat’! The list is long and can be as detailed as a doctorate dissertation (Cape Fear, New York, New York, Shutter Island…), but one of Scorsese’s most famous references to cinema’s early days is the conclusion of Goodfellas. See below to see what I mean…what more do you want, I even embedded it right here for ya (that was my Joe Pesci impression if you couldn’t tell).

The important shot to note here is when Pesci’s character interjects Ray Liotta’s penetrating gaze (and narration for that matter) through the fourth wall. This shot is a reference to The Great Train Robbery (1903) by noted narrative cinema innovator, Edwin S. Porter. For film historians, discourse around this film’s significance to the history of the art form tend to narrow in on Porter’s knack for shooting action and building excitement through cross-cutting, camera movement, on-location shooting and the list goes on. If you have 10 or so minutes to kill, by the mighty powers of the interwebs, you can watch this little picture right here, and I highly encourage you to do just that. And believe it or not, I found this on Google Video and not Youtube…huh.

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-7949193416885414135&hl=en&fs=true

Part II – The Artist, Silent Cinema and De Sica

Stay Tuned!

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Sa-weet Credit Sequence: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I know I said that I’d post something on A Dangerous Method, Steve Jobs’ Biography, and Radiohead’s latest remix album – and I will – but had to write something about one of the coolest opening credit sequences I’ve seen in cinema in the past 10 years or so. I believe that Hitchcock and Bond films hold much of a ‘popular opening credit sequence consciousness’ for many cinephiles (any of Saul Bass’ design work on Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960) come to mind), but David Fincher’s opening to his recent remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo really exploits the artistry of the opening credit sequence with one heck of a score and mind-bending surreal imagery to match. It’s a definite assault on the senses and I love it!

I wasn’t oozing praise for the film shortly after seeing it. I mean, it’s good, but so was the original Swedish version and found the two to be very very similar. That comparison may be worth another post, but if you haven’t seen the film, at least watch the opening credits below. Enjoy!

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to tweet or not to tweet, that is the question

"Kermi, Shut Him Up!"

Came across an interesting article while crawling twitter today. The Vancouver Sun published an article named, “Tweet seats: Not in Vancouver,” which basically discusses the growing trend of performing art presenters and venues in the States allocating a block of seats to their performances for what they refer to as you guessed it, ‘tweet seats’. Don’t think I need to explain what these special ‘seats’ are for, it’s in the name!

The logic behind this trend is two-fold. One: It enables those annoying techno-aholics to keep up-to-date with that ’emergency’ tweet or status update without being interrupted by the performance they paid all of their hard-earned money to see. Two: it helps market the show and venue by patrons engaging their audiences, in ‘real-time’ as to what they are hopefully enjoying about the performance. It also attracts a more ‘youthful’ patron (in theory) whom is already ‘tweeting’ their faces off at sporting events or music concerts. Heck, maybe they’ll see something so amazing that maybe a friend or two will notice and buy themselves a ticket.

From a presenters perspective, why not, there’s always a group of idiots texting or whispering on their mobile devices anyways, why not brand them and toss them off into a quarantined area. However, from an artist/performer perspective, I could see someone’s response: “What? They are allowing ‘what’ now during our show? Are you kidding me?” Worst case scenario is that it could even cause a mid-performance freak out à la Patti LuPone. Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean (listen carefully).

Okay, enough from me. What do YOU think? Move in the right direction or stupid…stupid… stupid…social experiment?

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what’s in a name anyways

Welcome to shortcircuits of the real.

Been a while since I ever ‘blogged’ about anything. The itch has been there for a while and thought ‘what better way to start off a new year than to do what one has been wanting to do for some time’.

For my first post, I thought I’d offer some insights into the name of this blog. Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by the title, but for those of you who don’t…

The first part is taken from what I believe to be the ‘Citizen Kane of Steve Guttenberg films’, Short Circuit (1986). Okay, so maybe mentioning Short Circuit  in the same sentence as Citizen Kane is a sin, but we are talking about Steve Guttenberg after all. This film holds a special place in my childhood. It’s one of the  first films I ever remember being totally mesmerized with. There’s a talking robot in it and the sequel features a kickass sequence to “I Need a Hero” (See YouTube clip below, do it now)!   
 

Besides the fact that this film had clearly made a considerable impression on what grew to a lifelong fascination with artificial intelligence, science-fiction, 80s movies and the like, to name my brand spanking new pop culture blog after a film that features a character that speaks nothing but pop culture gab was perfect! However, shortcircuits.wordpress.com was already taken…

So, my interest in geeky cultural/psychoanalytical theory got the better of me and I decided to bookend my title with reference to a concept that spoke to much of my interests in school. ‘The Real’ is a concept that I don’t have any real interest in explicitly exploring here, but I think it will permeate my online ramblings as an inevitability. My use of ‘the Real’ in the title is to simply evoke what I see as a conceptual thread for more and hopefully, consistent posts to come. My adoption of this concept stems more directly from the work of Jean Baudrillard and Slavoj Žižek and their musings on the growing complexities of distinguishing what we believe to be ‘reality’ from ‘illusion’ or the inability to distinguish one from the other. Oh who am I kidding, it adds a bit of snap to a blog name doesn’t it!

This won’t be an academic or theory-heavy blog (at least I don’t think it will be), but a place that I hope to share some thoughtful and fun commentary on this crazy and often entertaining world we live in. Enjoy!

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Coming Soon

Now that you have some idea of what this blog will be about, here are some post subjects in the works…

Why you should read Steve Jobs’ Biography | A Dangerous Method was “meh” | Radiohead’s  ‘TKOL 1234567’

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