Monday, 4 February 2013

2 Random Appreciations...

The weather outside is abysmal. It was raining for most of the night, then it froze over and now it's snowing like a bastard outside.

It's time like these, especially when most people are talking about Super Bowl commercials, that I let my mind wander over various topics.


I recently started getting Turner Classic Movies, and it is like crack to a classic movie fan like me. Over the last couple of decades I've noticed a dearth of classic movies playing in syndication, or on the hundreds of cable channels, meanwhile the same cheaply made Lifetime women-in-peril movies appear to run on a loop until the tape wears out.

I think TCM's motto should be: "Where All The Watchable Movies Went."

But I've come to two conclusions from watching TCM.

1. Seeing films restored from original negatives for high definition viewing has made me love the look of classic Technicolor movies. 

Growing up, back in the dark ages when classic movies were played on television the tapes used were made from scratchy old theatrical prints. So often the picture was grainy, scratchy, and the colour, when it was an older colour film, was either washed out to the point of being black and white, or the tinting was all wrong making old movie stars look orange, or to be more exact, modern reality TV stars.

But looking at the versions TCM airs, taken from the original negatives, and carefully restored by experts using the latest technology I am blown away. I recently watched The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia De Haviland and saw an appreciation of colour as both a special effect and a storytelling device that you don't really see done so fully these days.

2. I've also been watching some of the classic action and adventure movies on TCM. The old fashioned swash-bucklers like the aforementioned Robin Hood, and the other Errol Flynn vehicle Captain Blood, as well as two-fisted crime films like Point Blank with Lee Marvin.

Those movies gave me an appreciation for old fashioned action and practical special effects. Too many action/adventure movies these days rely on tossing in fantastical elements to justify spending big on CGI. The ones that don't take the plunge into total fantasy as a genre do it as a style. Too many modern action heroes are superhuman ninja-kung-fu masters, whether they could possibly be, or not, and they almost never run out of bullets.

I like the old fashioned, grittier, brawling style of movie action. It required filmmakers to use composition, montage, and choreography to do it, where too many modern filmmakers believe in tossing in CGI and shaking the camera a lot. Let's see more of it.


If you're a regular reader of this blog you probably already know that I appreciate British actors a lot, and recently saw some new evidence of their work ethic.

I like to watch British crime dramas. Have the word "Inspector" in the title, and the odds are pretty good I'll give it a chance. One such show is DCI Banks a British crime series which is based on books written by a Canadian. In the first episode is a character named Lucy Payne, played by actress Charlotte Riley. She's an in demand actress who works quite a lot in British film and television, and, barring any spoilers, plays a pivotal role in that episode.

Over a year later, the character returns in another episode, but with a twist. Her character's paralyzed, disfigured beyond recognition, and only appears on camera for a few minutes in total. During that appearance she doesn't speak, or even move.

Now any actress could have played the character, since no one being able to recognize her is a major plot point and she doesn't even move, but Charlotte Riley returned to do it.

Can you imagine many busy in-demand Hollywood actors being willing to give up possibly a couple of days in heavy make-up for what is essentially a non-speaking, non-moving cameo that couldn't possibly pay all that much?

Not many.

That's why you got to love those British actors.

1 comment:

  1. George MacDonald Fraser once referred to Flynn's "Robin Hood" as "The legend itself come to life" and De Haviland as a "Maid Marian out of a fairy tale". Coming from the rather hard-nosed, cynical author of "The Flashman Papers" you can't do much better than that...