Everything is Oll Korrect!

An eclectic bibliophile's journal…

Tag: live action film

Maniac (1934)

Watching films from the 1930’s and earlier takes some patience from modern viewers. Even studio productions can feel amateurish, as performers tended to overact, the camera was generally static, and early sound films often lacked background music. That said, there was some interesting experimentation going on in a still relatively new medium, so viewers willing to do without some modern polish can find some genuinely interesting material.

Which leads me to 1934’s Maniac, directed by Dwain Esper, which was produced outside the studio system and was thus free to include things like extra violence and bare breasts. Before getting too excited, though, keep in mind this was still 1934, so there’s not really anything a modern audience would find remotely shocking.

maniac_a

Continue Reading →

Doctor Zhivago

You know a movie’s going to be good when it opens with an overture. I’ve actually not seen any other films that have one (though a few people on twitter have informed me that it used to be fairly common for old film epics), but I knew it was a promising start to this latest film about Soviet-induced misery, Doctor Zhivago.

Unlike the last two installments, which were either obscure (The Chekist) or at least not very well-known in the United States (Katyn), Zhivago is one of the better-known Hollywood epics, and “epic” is just the right word for it – with a wide-ranging plot and a run-time of three hours and twenty minutes, it’s a project just to watch. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t feel that long; the pacing if fairly quick, and it never dwells on a particular scene for very long. It’s also a visually interesting film, with a variety of settings and some unusual camerawork (e.g., following a character by looking in through outside windows). A bit distractingly, one can also play a game of “place the accent;” it has a mix of American and British actors, a couple French minor characters, and a couple guys who do a Russian accent, which is rather confusing.

Anyway, the plot is well-constructed, and though the characters are believable I didn’t find any that I particularly liked. Many minor characters come and go, and the two female leads aren’t particularly interesting, though Lara does have more personality than Tonya. Zhivago himself is a little too idealistic for me, and though this kind of character often does have an appeal, a couple incidents killed most of the sympathy I had for him. One was putting Lara and her daughter in danger because he didn’t want to accept help from the unsavoury Komarovsky, as well as carrying on an adulterous affair with Lara in the first place.…

Continue Reading →

On the Hobby of Collecting Hobbies

One consistent problem I’ve had throughout most of my life is that my principal hobby is collecting hobbies. Almost everything is interesting to me, and my shelves are stuffed with books of literature, history, philosophy; DVDs and glorious blu-rays of film and animation; plenty of music and comics. If I had the time, I’d get into even more – theatre, fine arts, sports, cuisine, and who knows what else.

So much dabbling does have its advantages. There are few people with whom I can’t find some common interest, provided it’s not too obscure – and even then, there’s a decent chance I’ll at least be aware of what they’re talking about. Having a wide field of reference also helps when dealing with authors or directors who also have a wide field of reference, whether I’m reading through T.S. Eliot’s tangles of allusions or Tanigawa Nagaru’s off-hand references in the Haruhi novels.

It also allows me to be especially selective as far as what I read and watch. The majority of the books I read, the films I watch, the albums I listen to, and so on, are at least memorable. Of course, it’s also possible that I don’t have as much appreciation for the excellent since I don’t have as much mediocre content to compare it to, but for now I’m content with the selective approach to media.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of free time, so even though I have a working knowledge of so many topics, that knowledge tends to be fairly shallow. So, for example, I watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica as it came out, and though I enjoyed it, much of the discussion of the show centred on how it relates to other magical girl shows. I had nothing to say on that, because I can count the number of magical girl anime and comics I’ve experienced on one hand. I did catch the Faust references, though.

I’ve occasionally considered focusing my attention almost entirely to just one, maybe two fields, but have never seriously attempted this. As much as I respect those who have an encyclopedic knowledge of a particular subject, I find the world too fascinating to devote myself to just one aspect of it. So, I continue to run about in circles, in a mental equivalent of getting a free sample of every item at the supermarket without actually buying enough of any one thing to make a full meal.…

Continue Reading →

Short Thoughts on Fritz Lang

There are very few directors (and no actors) whose films I’ll watch simply because of their involvement. Fritz Lang, though, seems to have joined that list.

The first film of his that caught my interest was Metropolis, several years ago and, I’ll admit, primarily due to the anime connection. I enjoyed it and even wrote a paper on it for a film class in my freshman year at university, but for whatever reason didn’t follow-up with any of his other films until recently, when I watched M and then, just yesterday, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse.…

Continue Reading →