Let there be light…

As a movie lover, noticing how lighting is used in a movie is a joy when appreciating a film.

For example, in “The Game,” the story of the “death” and “rebirth” of the protagonist is told in the lighting: In the first part, Michael Douglas is mostly lit from behind, most of his face usually in shadow. The majority of the scenes happen at night or in subdued light. He’s in the dark – lost, lonely, wounded, disconnected, unable to love.

Then there’s the moment he literally climbs out of a coffin in a BRIGHTLY-lit scene, a sudden blaze of white light shining in the viewer’s face. From that point on, Douglas is usually lit from the front, his face now in the light. He’s had everything taken from him; he’s suddenly able to appreciate merely being alive, and now he has purpose. The lighting was used to tell the story of this transformation on an emotional level.

When I was first exposed to this element of movie-making, a whole new world opened up to me. I went back and re-watched my favorite films, and it was like seeing the stories for the very first time.

Here’s an article and photographs the delve into the use of lighting in films: http://imgur.com/a/cpLno

The Tree of Life–a very late review

After avoiding it for a long, long time, I finally got around to seeing Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, a movie some of my film buff friends say is one of the greatest ever made. Others say it’s total crap. So I knew a film that polarizing had to at least be interesting.

Oh, it was.

First of all, it’s beautiful, gorgeous and soaring. Some of the imagery made me feel the same way I did the first time I heard the closing section of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, like I had reached out and touched something far bigger than myself and it had reached back. Even if you think the movie is pretentious (and it is), you’re bowled over by the imagery. For that alone, it’s a great film.

Second of all, abandon all ideas you have of linear storytelling, and just let the emotions of what you’re seeing wash over you. Don’t try to put things in order until after it’s over otherwise you’ll miss the whole thing. Dialog is heard in passing, as if people are talking in a room as you walk by in a hallway. It’s an utterly spellbinding effect. The camera is always moving – life is about motion. Experimental and mostly abstract, this is a work of art.

The movie begins with a family receiving the news in the 1960s that one of their sons has died. Later we see the oldest brother in the present day remembering the brother he lost. The time frame then jumps to the beginning of the universe, the creation of our solar system and the first stirrings of prehistoric life on earth. It then stops on its headlong rush through natural history to focus on the life story the oldest boy growing up in Texas in the 1950s, and then speeds on again to the end of the earth as the sun expands to a giant red fireball and then wastes away to a pitiful white dwarf, amid images of death and the afterlife.

Basically, that’s the plot.

But there’s something in the middle of the story that struck me and will stay with me – it’s the performance of Brad Pitt as a too stern, too critical father. In most other films, such a character would be played as the bad guy, but not here. He’s not the bad guy… he’s not the good guy. He’s a father with faults who’s doing the best he can. In all the scenes where he loses his temper, where he scores emotional damage on his children because of his own life disappointments and the lessons he failed to learn, where he always fails to see the good and always strives to find something to criticize, you never ever doubt the love he has for his boys and his wife. And that is simply one of the most brilliant portrayals I’ve seen in a movie in a long time… and accomplished without a linear storyline or typical “Hollywood” scenes.

My first reaction as the credits rolled was: I don’t know what the hell I just saw, but I sure do miss my family.

I’ll log The Tree of Life down as one of the greatest films ever made, but with this warning: it’s not for the easily bored or the faint of heart.

The Straw

My friend opened his eyes. He’d been unconscious for several days after the car accident. I was sitting by his bedside when he returned to the land of the living.

“Where…?” he mouthed the word.

“Don’t try to talk yet,” I said. “You’re in the hospital. You’ve been in an accident. You’ve got a broken arm and a broken leg. There were some internal injuries but you’re going to be okay. You’ve got a long road ahead of you, but you’re going to be okay.”

He closed his eyes for a few minutes. He took some deep breaths and then opened them again. He had enough energy to speak now, he seemed to remember where he was, and he said, “I was on the way to the hospital. My wife…”

It was the cruelest of coincidences – his wife had been in an accident too. And it broke my heart because I knew I was going to have to tell him the bad news.

“My wife, is she okay?” he asked more insistently.

I hung my head and put my hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. No, she’s not. She died in the ER when they brought her in. She never regained consciousness.”

His face seemed to visibly fold in on itself. The man loved his wife. I didn’t know how he was going to go on without her. And I just couldn’t believe the universe had been so cruel to him… His wife was in a wreck, he got the call right when he got home, and he and his daughter rushed to the hospital to be with her… and then, because he wasn’t paying attention, he changed lanes on the freeway to get to the offramp and didn’t see the truck barreling down on him. His car flipped over when it was hit.

He suddenly remembered. “My daughter! She was with me! Is she okay? Is she okay?”

At that moment, more than anything else in the world, I wanted to disappear and go far, far away, and would have rather been anywhere else in the universe but in that hospital, having to deliver a second, perhaps a fatal blow to my best friend.

“I’m sorry.” I shook my head. “Don, your daughter died at the scene. If it’s… if it’s any consolation the paramedics said she didn’t feel a thing.”

My friend closed his eyes, and I expected him to break down and begin weeping, but somehow he didn’t. I could see a change in him, though, and I knew from that moment on he would never be the same. Something very deep inside my friend’s soul had just died, and whoever he was going to be, if he was still my friend, I knew he was going to be a different person.

“There’s one more thing, Don.” I had to choke back a sob. “They signed Ben Affleck to play Batman.”

The alarms brought a surge of doctors and nurses into the hospital room, but it was too late.

 

(Yes, this is satire.)

Ben Affleck as Batman? Um…

Zack Snyder surprised everyone a few weeks ago by telling us that the sequel to Man of Steel would also feature Batman. But who would play him? Word was that Christian Bale wasn’t interested.

Now we know the answer: Ben Affleck will don the batsuit and star along with Henry Cavill returning as Superman.

My first reaction: a long, sustained Uummmmmmmm….

I like Ben. I really do. He’s turned into a great director. He’s been very good in his recent films, especially Argo. So good we can forgive his unfortunate missteps. (Daredevil, anyone? Gigli?)

But replacing Bale as Batman? I… uh… well…

Avengers was great fun because it was unashamedly a comic book superhero movie. The Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman films took a different path — a darker tone, a little more grounded in reality. I liked them. Batman Begins was great. Dark Knight was all about Heath Ledger. Dark Knight Rises was okay.

Man of Steel tried the same thing, with mixed results.

But with the selection of Affleck to play Batman, perhaps they’re thinking they want to lighten up the character a bit. If that’s the case, maybe I’ll be okay with this. If the story is good, if the script is good, maybe I’ll survive it. And hey, Amy Adams is coming back, and I have a serious crush on her. (If you diss Amy, I’ll cut you, man!)

We’ve got a long time to find out how this will turn out — we won’t see it until the summer of 2015. In the meantime fan boys will battle to the death whether this is a good or bad thing. But if the next announcement is that Matt Damon is playing Robin, I’m out. Way out.

Read more: http://www.kfiam640.com/pages/robarcher.html#ixzz2clPK7tCP

A Google doodle to elevate you

The Google doodle today is both hypnotic and utterly beautiful. Check it out if you want to hear one of the greatest musical compositions ever created (albeit an edited version) and see an amazing animation to go along with it.

But it’s for today only — August 22, 2013: google.com

Okay, if you missed the date, it was an animation that played “Claire de Lune,” a heartachingly gorgeous piece of music, probably the greatest ever written for piano, to celebrate the 151st anniversary of the birth of composer Claude Debussey.

Read more about it here.

And even though you missed the animation, hear the full piece here. (And I refuse to let the movie Twilight ruin it for me.)

Read more: http://www.kfiam640.com/pages/robarcher.html#ixzz2chloHhDx

Heads are LITERALLY exploding!

The definition of “literally” is no longer the literal definition of “literally.”

So-called language nerds’ heads (like mine) explode when they hear someone mis-use the word “literally,” as in, “language nerds’ heads LITERALLY explode!”

But dictionaries seem to be going along with the new usage. Google’s online definition now includes “used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.”

Merriam-Webster and Cambridge dictionaries are also adding the informal, non-literal definition. Some language experts seem to be saying this could LITERALLY be the end of the English language. 

Or not.

Of course, one of the primary (and most hilarious) mis-users of the word is Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger on the TV show Parks & Recreation. Enjoy the supercut below.

Read more: http://www.kfiam640.com/pages/robarcher.html#ixzz2cBcsevPv

Yes, your emails are being scanned

Google filed a brief in federal court last month that says they don’t believe users of Gmail should have a reasonable expectation that their emails are private, and that users should expect their emails to be automatically scanned and processed. They were responding to a class action lawsuit accusing them of violating wiretap law for scanning email on their system so they can serve up targeted ads.

A group, Consumer Watchdog, recently uncovered and released Google’s legal brief. (You can read the brief for yourself here.)

Some of my Facebook friends are responding with outrage to the story, but this is one of those things that people should have been aware of all along. 

All the big email systems, Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc, have been scanning your email. It’s how they know to separate spam and junk email from the stuff you want to see. And since they also make money selling targeted ads, OF COURSE Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are scanning them.

Revelations of NSA snooping on email and phone traffic has made us all much more aware of the issue, but advertisers and marketers have always been snooping on us, and they know a heck of a lot more about us than the NSA.

Read more: http://www.kfiam640.com/pages/robarcher.html#ixzz2cBcTN7DN