Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Classics look New as Recyclables grow Tired

Egad!- Jessi and I have not been tending this blog since fall arrived. Let’s say we are both rebooting as our real lives get tangled with error messages. I did reboot my home theater here as well and have gone hi-def and Blu-Ray because I couldn’t handle the envy.

I have found bliss with this new setup and I can now see both good and bad films with excellent sound and picture. One of my first films screened was “The Godfather- the Coppola Restoration” (5 shakers) Being from North Jersey this film was practically scripture and the Blu-Ray edition is amazing. The film was shot super low-light but now you can make out things that were previously lost in the darkness (Like Lil Mikey's soul). The sound design also pops especially during the scene where Michael kills for the first time and later when Sonny pays his toll.

To see some detailed CGI on the system I rented “Spiderman 3” and “The Incredible Hulk” both again rehashing old comic book material. “Spiderman’ thankfully ends this franchise but on a bad note as spidey goes bad and Tobey Maguire even rough houses embarrassingly at a jazz club. (Don’t ask). “The Hulk” reboots confusingly since the film seems to be a sequel but the previous film (Ang Lee’s “Hulk” from 2003) had a giant Hulk downing helicopters whereas this hulk has a large but fixed size. Lou Ferrigno, the old 1980’s TV Hulk appears in the obligatory cameo. The "Hulk" is technically amazing but just loud, stupid and unecessary. I give both these films 3 shakers for tech reasons only.

All this rehashing and of comic books yet brings up a point about Hollywood today. From the 20’s through the 50’s film primarily adapted great works of literature. Producers tried hard to elevate what some saw as a pedestrian and vulgar medium. Todays' producers just seem to shoot for a low common denominator. Enough with the comic books already! Sure I enjoyed “Iron Man” and "The Dark Knight” but are these stories really worthy of the giant budgets and hype? In old times the “Buck Rogers” folk were kept in the “B Movie" category where they belong. Let’s shoot higher people- yes we can!

Then because I hate myself, I rented “Get Smart”. Steve Carrelll drags his expressionless mug around this sad rehash. (I want to laugh but I just find him boring). Instead of being the everyman fool Maxwell Smart is now multi-lingual, a brilliant analyst and a reformed fatty. The old TV Siegfried makes his cameo and Ann Hathaway is plenty sexy, but she alone can’t save this sad excuse for a flick. (I must say here “Missed it by that much!”- I apologize) One shaker dammit!

Finally I checked out “How the West was Won” one of only two feature dramatic films made in three-camera Cinerama. The elements have been joined seamlessly and the depth of field is amazing. I was blown away by this- while the story is weak- the camerawork really captures the majesty of the west. The buffalo stampede and train shootout stand out on this wonderful old school, star studded feature. I say four shakers to the old west and thanks Cinerama for leading the way to the 70 mm wide-screen format and the re-introduction of epic filmaking.

We’ve come so far technically- let’s move it forward creatively. We conquered the west and survived "Godfather III" - now let's beat remake mediocrity.