Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lazy Sunday #386: The Chase

The 1903 film, “The Great Train Robbery” is considered the first movie to tell a story. It is also credited as the first film to feature camera movement, on-location shooting and editing techniques still used today. It also featured a chase.

Movies since then, action and otherwise have featured chases. From silent films to 3D space operas, at some point or another, somebody is chasing somebody else.

And with each technical advance in filmmaking, the chase has evolved.

1920’s “Way Down East” traumatized audiences as Lillian Gish’s lover saved her from certain death in a chase across the ice flows of a raging river.

1939’s “Stagecoach” stretched the titular vehicle’s pursuit over much of the film’s length, with the action helping reveal character and theme in kinetic ways that dialogue scenes could not.

By 1960, those elements had been refined to the point that seeing only the chariot race in “Ben Hur” is enough to understand all you need to know about the characters of Ben Hur and his tormentor Mesalla.

The modern film chase was reimagined in 1968’s “Bullitt”, and became the standard that had to be topped three years later in “The French Connection”.

To be honest, it’s hard to find a film from the 70’s that didn’t feature a car chase. And while some like “Vanishing Point” and “Two Lane Blacktop” became classics, the sameness of most of the rest brought us to “Smokey & The Bandit” and “The Gumball Rally”.

This Summer’s Mad Max re-boot “Fury Road” reimagined the chase once again. And while some critics and cinephile snobs have dismissed the film as “one long chase” whose elements have all been seen many times before, those smarter about film-making, like writer William C. Martel have recognized how the film has set the bar very high for all who come after it.

That means that as movie goers, we’re likely to see some wondrous things in future chases. Perhaps it’s a good time to take a moment to reflect on what got us here.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lazy Sunday #385: Endless Gravity

The first time I went scuba diving I felt like I’d visited another planet. It’s a visit I especially love making in the Summer heat, spending an hour in the weightless, quiet cool before returning to the warmth of my home world.

It’s too hot to write where I am today. But it’s perfect weather to experience “Endless Gravity”.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Endless Gravity // 14-BIT RAW from Alex Soloviev on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 384: Night At The Dance

There was a time when three things marked a Canadian Prairie town as a going concern. A grain elevator. A Chinese restaurant. And a dance hall.

When I was a kid, my parents often took me dancing. Baby sitters being especially hard to find if a good band was playing. And Winter roads could be bad, so who knew what time they might get home.

So my brother and I would be bundled into the car and parked in some fenced off section of the dance hall with a bunch of other kids, supervised (or not) by a couple of wallflowers.

We’d eventually fall asleep to the music, to be later bundled back into cars, waking up back in our own beds wondering if the laughter and the spinning mirror ball had all been a dream.

I returned to a lot of those places in high school for square dance competitions and later following my favorite local bands.

The dance halls never changed. The floors were always polished. There was a cash bar and a jukebox and a couple of cooks in the back making burgers and fries.

The lights were soft and yet bright enough so you could get a good look at whoever was asking or being asked to dance.

A caretaker would shuffle through as the band tuned up sprinkling sawdust to make the floor easier on the feet. And then it was on with the show.

Simple places. Functional yet magical. Places where hard work and problems were forgotten and friendships and more were found.

Most of the dance halls are gone now. Hell, most of the towns that had them are gone too, or left as mere shadows of what they once were, their grain elevators no longer marking their locations and the main streets without a place to stop for coffee or a plate of chow mein.

They’re a world quietly passing away, leaving little trace of how much they meant to those who stepped inside their doors and glided around those polished floors.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Noc na Tanečku (Night at the Dance) from Annie Silverstein on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Lazy Sunday # 383: Push The Button

water bomber
                                               Photo courtesy Antonio Grambone

You wake up and the sky is yellow.
First thought, “Man, the jaundice is really kicking in. I should not have had that last Margeurita”. Then you flip on CNN to find out if you missed the Sun going Super Nova.
But the sky gets darker and shifts to orange. It’s been dry lately. Everybody’s been praying for rain. But this isn’t overcast.
It’s smoke.
A few miles away a massive forest fire is burning 80% out of control. Homes -– make that small towns -- are being evacuated.
In the distance you can hear the sirens of volunteer fire departments from everywhere nearby hurrying to help.
Time for somebody to “Push the Button”…
So far, they say we’re fine, the wind’s blowing in the other direction. Okay -- then why is the smoke coming this way?
Think I’ll put the cat and the dog in the car and go down to the beach. Just to be careful. And because they like the beach and might pay less attention to how weird the sky has gotten.
I’m sure we’ll be okay. Meanwhile…
Somebody please “Push the Button”.
And Enjoy Your Sunday.