Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Round-Up, Larry King Style: Links & Musings


-- A student in my comics class sent me this link for "Garfield Minus Garfield," a site that was also profiled in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. It's bleak and sad and extremely funny, and a really clever commentary on visual and verbal space in contemporary comic strips. I can't read Garfield anymore without imagining how the strip would read with the cat eliminated (and let's face it: we've all wanted to eliminate Garfield at one time or another). But more than that, it's got me thinking that this is how all contemporary comic strips should function: imagine Cathy without Cathy, Mary Worth minus Mary Worth, or (best of all) For Better Or For Worse without Granthony.

--Walking home from school Friday evening, wearing my Detroit Pistons winter cap, when I was confronted by a young boy who must have been about eight or so, as we were both waiting for the crosswalk light to change. "Pistons?? BOO!!," he yelled. I was delighted: I've worn this cap in the Cleveland area for two winters now, but this was the first time I've gotten any smack about it. See you in the playoffs, kid!

-- Campaspe has a great piece about credits sequences at her blog, Self-Styled Siren. I love credits to films, and mourn their passing in a lot of current films: from The Pink Panther to James Bond, they could establish a mood, a visual style, or a whole fantastic universe to escape into (I still can't hear the 20th Century Fox theme without imagining "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.." following shortly thereafter). Mosey over to her site and join in the conversation, and speaking of George Lucas's epic, check out the great Saul Bass parody she links to.

--Despite my affection for the late, great Roy Scheider, I simply couldn't get through Blue Thunder, a dated action film that shows off the more ham-handed side of director John Badham and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon. Does it get better, fellow cinephiles? Because 20 minutes in, I'm ready to dump the Netflix envelope in the mailbox. Daniel Stern is fun as the nerdy young rookie, and there are some interesting reflections of Los Angeles off the windows of the copters, but it mostly feels like a TJ Hooker episode transferred to the big screen; there are several shots of Scheider scanning the air and ground for trouble, but his pained facial expressions suggest a gifted, physical actor who looks trapped in a metal effects cage, and is desperate to get out. I share your pain, Roy.

-- It looks like I'll be in Cineville a bit longer: the college has recently renewed my position for two more years. I am thrilled, of course, not the least because it means I don't have to change my profile description.

--Speaking of teaching, let's all wish film blogger extraordinaire Dennis Cozzalio the best of luck on his teaching exam!

--And as we ponder the intertwined threads of film and education, it's worth reading this fine review of the new John Adams miniseries in The New Yorker. Critic Jill Lapore is generally favorable to the program, but she also offers a necessary corrective to the everyman hagiography that Adams (and other David McCullough-approved figures like Harry Truman) has received in recent years. As Lapore notes, "He was bold. He was brilliant. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t also a heel."

3 comments:

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Thanks, Brian, for your good wishes. I can't say I aced the exam, but I think I did pretty well, and hopefully I'll be joined your ranks in the field of education around this time next year.

I am gonna have to e-mail you and see if I can't pry some more details out of you about your film program too!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Of course, my advancement is predicated largely upon my ability to write a coherent sentence with no seplling erors.

Brian Doan said...

Hi Dennis!
Glad to hear the exam went well, and best of luck with your future teaching plans! I already know from your superb blog that you will be a good teacher: "Sergio Leone..." is a space that not only shines with your own passion and curisosity, but welcomes all kinds of discussion and points-of-view: it's already a wonderful classroom in and of itself.