Friday, February 4, 2011

Laziness is the Cause of all Progress

Cubist Marion Nicholson taking tea in her white dress 1910

You have to know, dvd's are going the way of the DODO. (I almost wrote dildo.)

I was in the soon to be defunct Zeller's the other day and they had boxes and boxes of dvd's for sale. I said, "Maybe I can find Miss Potter," and I did.

And I pointed out to my friend, who has just bought her first dvd player, and seldom uses it, that the dvd format is defunct, and I'm the reason why.

I had a good 'media day' the day. I had watched a new Big Bang, a new 30 Rock, (with my husband at lunch before he went to work,at 2pm) and bit of Funny Girl (that I had taped)mostly for the wonderful 1910 era costumery and the songs and the entire All the President's Men. And then I listened to a BBC Radio Four Afternoon Play starring Patrick Stewart which was terrific. It was a comedy about Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler penning the script for Double Indemnity. (A movie I can't recall ever seeing.)

Before he left for work my husband pointed out that we had the dvd of ATPM, and I pointed out that that wasn't the point.

(I'm just too lazy to pop in the dvd, despite the fact we have a new Playstation and no longer use that ridiculous BlueRay machine that takes ages (well, 5 minutes or so) to load.

(I vividly remember a certain exhibit in the Man and the Community Pavilion at Expo. It was little miniature bedroom with wooden doll-humans. A man and women were in bed and all their worldly needs circulated on a conveyer belt around the bed. Over the bed was a sign that said: Laziness is the cause of all progress.)

Anyway, All the President's Men is one of my favorite movies and it never fails to please me at each viewing. It's just a great newsroom drama. I can't believe it didn't win the Oscar for best picture. What did? Let me check. Oh, it was a great year for film. Network, Taxi Driver, Rocky... And the winner is Rocky, the one that packs the most emotional punch and is formulaic. Posterity has decreed Taxi Driver was the best picture of the year, although I'd take Network, because it is so freaking prescient! ATPM did win best screenplay (adapted)however and a couple of technical awards.

Well, as it has been pointed out by many commentators this year, because the King's Speech might win Best Picture over The Social Network, that the Best Picture winner at the Oscars is seldom the year's best picture - as in best execution of the moving making craft.

OK. I was wrong about ATPM. But it really irks me that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof didn't win Best Picture - against Gigi (which is a lovely movie about a whore-in-training, but totally dumbed down from Colette's book.)

It should have won for the mere fact that never in cinematic history have the two most beautiful people in the world acted so well in such a classic tale.

Yes, it's a bit stagey. But it's adapted from famous play. In fact, in this week's Big Bang, Sheldon refuses to act out a bit from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof...

And, although I've never seen Double Indemnity, I have seen the Going My Way(rather recently on TCM) and frankly, I can see why Billy Wilder, at the end of this BBC Four radio play, is pissed his play lost out for best picture to that film. He won the next year for Lost Weekend, and it suggested he based the lead character in that film on Chandler.

So, it goes.

I personally loved the King's Speech and want to see it again, but I can see why many believe that it's not nearly as a good a picture as the Social Network, which I liked, except for the lack of real fleshed-out female characters and the surfeit of fratboy fantasy images;

The Social Network is this year's Network, it's about Media and it is forward-gazing. The King's Speech (also about media, in a way, the radio medium) is a Rocky style movie, that pulls all the right strings although it, too, is formulaic. And it's backward gazing.

Come to think of it, my favorite movie of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie that is as anti-formualic as can be, didn't win best picture either, although it did win best screenplay. Crash won, which certainly wasn't a feel-good movie.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with Flo in the City, except that the 1910 era was the Nickelodeon era, the birth of cinema.

Edith and Flora and Marion went to theatre plays at His Majesty's and the Princess, and Marion and Hugh preferred the Orpheum, a Vaudeville House and Marion, went at least once to the NICKEL where she saw Man in the Box, with Mack Sennett, who was from her home town, Richmond -but she likely didn't recognize him.

There was an opera house in Richmond, but no Nickel. But in Montreal, along downtown St. Laurent (St Lawrence, back then) in the 1910 era, every third address housed either a motion picture house, cabaret, or vaudeville theatre, or all the above at once.

In their letters, the Nicholsons were always 'reviewing' sermons they heard. Just as with a movie, sometimes the sermon could barely keep you awake and sometimes it was so good it stayed with you for days.