My basic argument about films is that they were better 50, 60 years ago; that is, the level of craftsmanship with the basics (plot and character development, cast, direction, pacing) is superior to most films made today. I also believe that the true "golden age" of Hollywood wasn't around 1939, when Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were released - although that was a good year - but more like 1946-1955, with 1949 as a central year. I have seen very few inferior films from that year. As it turns out, there are metrics that support my hypothesis. Of course the linked graph could also prove that modern critics and moviegoers have become harder to please, or that the highest quality films aren't the highest-grossing ones... but I'll take a win when it comes to me. I'd like to see this graph extended back to 1930.
I came across this link as a part of a Facebook conversation about papyri; the topic of the Herculaneum papyri came up... I hadn't heard about this. A entire Roman library preserved (more or less - charred, but intact)! How cool! I hope with time we'll know the contents of these scrolls.
The subject reminded me of a conversation I once had. I completed some genealogical research on my mother's father's line, the Aucoins/Wedges, and contacted the Berlin, New Hampshire (Mom's hometown) Historical Society to see if they wanted a copy of what I learned. "Sure," said the lady. What format, I asked, .ged (a common genealogical exchange format), .doc, .rtf .txt...? What the lady said surprised me: "Can you send us paper copies?"
Of course I could, but it's a lot easier to send a digital file via an e-mail or an ftp site. Why paper? She pointed out that, number one, Berlin, NH was a town that paper built, referring to the Brown Co. Pulp Mill in town that stunk up the place for generations and which has only recently been shut down - my grandfather Wedge worked there. Number two, digital is nice, but paper is still really the only proven long-term archival method; we have parchment and papyrus that are thousands of years old.
While digital is a much more easily compressed format, will optical disks, semi conductor drives and the software necessary to recover text files be around 100, 500, 1,000 or 3,000 years from now? An excellent question. I learned the truth of this last year when I tried to recover the data I had on a couple of MacIntosh microfloppy disks I had from the early Ninties - I couldn't do it. (Well, not easily. I suppose I could have found somebody on the Internet with an old Mac who would charge for the service...)
Speaking of genealogy, I am in contact with a woman who has as a 2nd great-grandmother an Elizabeth Clark of Burlington County, New Jersey. This Elizabeth was born in 1810. She could have been the sister of my 2nd great-grandfather Wesley H. Clark (b. circa 1814, d. 1888), whose parents and siblings I have been trying to identify since 1982, when I first learned of his existence. But, as is usually the case for me, the woman knows nothing of the family - drat.
I am in part two of a fascinating and well made pair of gangster films from 2008: Jean-Francois Richet's Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One. They stand with the first two Godfather films, Goodfellas, Casino and A Bronx Tale as the best gangster films around. And they're French! I say that because normally I find French gangster and films noir too mannered and derivative of the American style - not these. These are as gritty, violent, hard-hitting and fascinating as the best Scorsese and Coppola have managed.
The title character, Jacques Mesrine, France's Public Enemy Number One (shown above), was an interesting guy with a fairly amazing career from 1959 to 1979. He broke out of prison three times, claimed in a book he wrote while in prison to have murdered forty persons, and occasionally boldly robbed banks across the street from each other in single occasions! A master of disguise, he was known in the French press as "the Man of a Hundred Faces"; do a google image search on his name and you'll see for yourself. With the love of the French for the astonishing coup, one can't do things like that without becoming something of a folk hero, which is what he became.
His end was violent: in 1979 the Paris police, tiring of being made fools of by him and wary of his uncanny luck with escaping, loaded up a truck with policemen, veered in front of his BMW and fired nineteen rounds through the windshield of his car, killing him. No warnings, no calls to surrender - they just started firing. Finis. Interestingly, this is how the film series begins, and the viewer comes to find out why the police had become so exasperated.
Gerard Depardieu is in these films. That man has the weirdest-looking nose I've ever seen, outside of Michael Jackson. It looks like somebody's hind end.
- ► 2012 (240)
- ▼ April (21)
- ► 2010 (246)
- ► 2009 (256)