Archive for film

Oscar-nominated Actor James Garner Dies at 86

Image by the AP, via the Los Angeles Times

Image by the AP, via the Los Angeles Times

Everyone has a favorite era of James Garner, surely … whether it was from his origins in oldies like "Maverick" or more classic tv years like "The Rockford Files" and a late-life reemergence with comedy in the series that witnessed the loss of John Ritter, "Simple Rules …" .

From the Los Angeles Times.

Actor James Garner, whose whimsical style in the 1950s TV Western “Maverick” led to a stellar career in TV and films such as “The Rockford Files” and his Oscar-nominated “Murphy's Romance,” has died, police said. He was 86.

There was no immediate word on a more specific cause of death. Garner had suffered a stroke in May 2008, just weeks after his 80th birthday.

Image by the AP, via the Los Angeles Times

Image by the AP, via the Los Angeles Times

His quick-witted avoidance of conflict provided a refreshingly new take on the American hero, contrasting with the steely heroics of John Wayne and the fast trigger of Clint Eastwood.

Now this I remember as a terrific film, but wouldn't have thought most non-feminist or women's movement-ey folks would have nailed it right away as a James Garner role: the ultimate straight man in  Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour" - post film-writer.  {Would love to hear anyone else's take on the differences between Hellman's words and the screenwriter's message …  but would they have made the flick at all now? A bit hilarious that the L.A. Times stayed with 'lesbian drama', below. Like 'The L Word' but with Audrey Hepburn?}

Image by the AP, via the Los Angeles Times

Image by the AP, via the Los Angeles Times

His first film after “Maverick” established him as a movie actor. It was “The Children's Hour,” William Wyler's remake of Lillian Hellman's lesbian drama that co-starred Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

The Youtubes obliged, here he is with Miss Hepburn:

One of the most remarkable facts to be found in Garner's obit was near the end. He had married his wife, television actress Lois Clark,  in 1957, and despite stormy weather, they remained wed. That's 56 or 57 years, by my math.

A life well lived, and well loved.


Overnight: Georges Méliès: The Oracle of Delphi (1903)



Who was Georges Méliès?

From the Wiki:

(/mɛ.li.ˈəz/; French: [meljɛs]; 8 December 1861 – 21 January 1938), full name Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, was a French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès, a prolific innovator in the use of special effects, accidentally discovered the substitution stop trick in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his work.

More here.


Overnight: Nanook of the North


NanookImage: Robert Flaherty

I am often astonished and dismayed at what passes for a documentary these days.  With few exceptions, I far prefer older documentaries even now, decades after they were filmed.  One of these is Nanook of the North, by
Robert Flaherty [who]

was an American filmmaker who directed and produced the first commercially successful feature length  documentary film. The film made his reputation and nothing in his later life fully equaled its success, although he continued the development of this new genre of docufiction , e.g. with Moana (1926), set in the South Seas and Man of Aran (1934).  More at the Wiki here.

Flaherty seems to have been less than a model citizen. Read about the child he father with an Intuit woman then later refused to acknowledge.


Let's annoy the hell out of right wing haters. "You've never laughed this hard at a Muslim."


muslims are coming

Meet Dean Obeidellah. He is a Muslim progressive, and he writes for and The Daily Beast for starters:

Dean ObeidallahMore about Dean Abeidallah here.

If you like funny, if you love poking fun at how so many on the right hate Muslims, then you'll like his film called "The Muslims Are Coming." Here is the film's official website:

The Muslims Are Coming! is an award winning comedy documentary which follows a band of Muslim-American comedians as they visit big cities, small towns, rural villages, and everything in between to combat Islamophobia! Throughout the film, comedy icons like The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Colin Quinn, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandvi and media heavy weights like Rachel Maddow, Russell Simmons, Soledad O’Brien, Ali Velshi and Congressman Keith Ellison comment on the power of comedy and the political scope of bigotry. Rest assured, you’ve never laughed this hard at a Muslim!

You may well already be familiar with this doc, but now many of us on the left are pushing to get it to Number One on the iTunes doc chart. Today. We're doing that today.

Did I mention Rachel Maddow and Lewis Black are in this movie? Among others, I mean. As you can see, it's got an impressive cast list. Here are a few blurbettes that came their way:

USA Today called the film: "Thoughtful and funny"

Chicago Tribune said the film: “packs a funny but trenchant punch.”

The LA TImes called it: "Provocative...edgy."

Seattle's The Stranger raved that the film is, "Funny as poop!...makes its points with charm."

You know how it is, making fun of Fox for their Muslim Hatred is darned so time-consuming, so the film does it for us.

Speaking of hating, a site called Front Page Mag attacked the film because, well, they really don't like being laughed at. Their solution? Attacking Dean and Co.:

Obeidallah, who bills himself as the Dean of Comedy (Get it? His name is Dean) couldn’t or wouldn’t respond. Instead, he went off and wrote about my piece at the Daily Beast where he could dismiss me as a hater for his audience of smug leftist sheep, who either live in willful ignorance about Islam or happily support the agenda of Islamic fundamentalists to tear down western civilization from within and without.

I still haven’t seen Obeidallah’s documentary...

So let's put them at Number One today, if for no other reason than to annoy the hell out of the haters.


Video Mid Day Distraction- Secret film made by French prisoners of war in WWII


Grainy but fascinating. Via.


Video- MIchelle Obama Presents Best Film Award at the Oscars 2013


This the best I could do since it seems A.M.P.A.S. has snagged any copies from YouTube and the White House hasn't put one out yet. Updated with a better one from Hollywood Reporter.


The Book Booth: Red Carpet Edition



The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

It's Oscar weekend and Hollywood is all a twitter for its big gala. I would be, too, if I had seen any of the nominated films. And I'm sure I will, once they get around to Netflix. My pet gripe this week about undeserved Awards is that in 1966, Born Free (how many times have you sang that one in the shower recently?), beat out both Alfie and Georgy Girl for Best Song. What were they thinking? And, yes, I still hold a grievance after 46 years.

On to the Book news of the week. I do like the short story form. At its best, it can combine the best qualities of both the poem and the novel. The good news is that Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times believes the short story is having a resurgence.

But wait a minute! Not so fast says Laura Miller over at Salon. Ms. Miller is right about publishers being wary of publishing short story collections. They just don't sell very well, no matter how critically acclaimed they might be.

There is still an on-going kerfuffle over the public domain. Stephen Joyce, grandson of James, famously threatens lawsuits over what he perceives to be infringements on the Joyce Estate (so far as to threatening lawsuits over readings of Ulysses on Bloomsday). The latest is a lawsuit over the characters of Arthur Conan Doyle, and I don't mean Professor Challenger. One enthusiast is suing the Doyle estate by trying to have the courts declare Holmes and Watson in the public domain. And I'll refrain from ranting about the Bono Law that extended copyrights for all works at the behest of the Disney Co. and the Mouse.

Modern Library has issued new editions of Truman Capote's Complete Stories and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Michael Bourne has some reflections on Capote the man over at the Millions that makes for sad reading.

For those of you who enjoy the gavel of the auctioneer, now comes your opportunity to bid on a recently found rare poem, penned by the worst poet ever to write in the English language, William Topaz MacGonagall. If the example of his work given by The Guardian is any indication, the accolade is well-deserved.

And if money is no object, check out the library of Donald Oresman, courtesy of New York Magazine.

History is something that both Modernist and Post-Modernist authors have struggled with over the long century past. Publishers Weekly has a very interesting list of novels that involve themselves with dealing with the past.

And, yes, it is Oscar weekend. Via ABEBooks, Scott Brown (no, not that Scott Brown) has a good article on collecting Film history.

And although film and fiction may seem to be competing narrative arts at times, the relationship is symbiotic. Walker Percy's The Movegoer and David Madden's Bijou both explore in fiction the impact Hollywood has had on their characters. And HuffPo has a list of books that you may or may not have known were based on books.

A splendid weekend to you all and tell us what is on your nightstand! Or Netflix queue,as the case may be.