Thursday, September 22, 2016

Last of the summer wine

So, yes, I stole the title from a beloved English situation comedy, but for some reason the sentiment seemed appropriate as the summer of 2016 went out in a blaze of glory. It was a summer of wine, and food, a busy summer out here on Block Island — so busy some of us asked ourselves: "What did we do? Where did it go?"

I think of the short but famous speech spoken by Peter Lorre (playing a character improbably named O'Hara) in John Huston and Truman Capote's 1954 film, "Beat the Devil":

"Time, time, what is time? Swiss manufacture it. French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Know what I say? I say time is a crook."

Maybe. Maybe it does go by too fast. But watching a fading sunset at the end of the summer on Block Island is not to waste it, but to recognize and cherish its beauty.

These were taken on my handheld on Wednesday night, sometime before 7 p.m. This first view is looking northwest over Dodge Street:


This is view looking up Ocean Avenue:



New Harbor:



Friday, May 27, 2016

A projection booth from the past

I was recently asked to help out at a film festival in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The festival was at the historic Odeum Theatre, which I had never visited before. My duties that night took me up to the projection booth, where I was delighted to find two old projectors, long since out of use. The Odeum rarely shows movies any more, and of course if they do, it's from a digital projector. Stepping into that little room was like stepping into the past, a forgotten place, full of details of the way things were.

It's always nice to find places like this — not everything has been made over so that it fits into the glossy present.

Except, well, I had heard that night that the Odeum had gotten a grant, and the old projectors were going to be sent to a museum and the room renovated. With that in mind, I took my phone and snapped as many pictures as I could so that there would be a record of how the room looked.


(More photos after the jump.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

The un-written poignancy in “Blueberries For Sal”



A friend of mine, for reasons that remain charmingly obscure, was at a yard sale and decided to put aside a copy of “Blueberries for Sal” for me. This person could not have known that the author, Robert McCloskey, was something of a touchstone for me, even though this particular book never held all that much appeal. I had ever even read it. I am a “Burt Dow, Deep-water Man” man myself.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tina Fey and Jackie O.

Why do I have the feeling that this poster:


Was inspired by this iconic image....

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Our film "Family Trees"



About 20 years ago, in the wake of the indie film movement, we decided to make a movie in New Hampshire. This is the result. The director was Ralph Morang. The photography was by Ron Wyman. The script was by me. The two leads are excellent.

There are some wonderful moments here, and there are glimpses of Portsmouth, NH, and other areas in the Seacoast as they were back in 1997. The film was screened at the IFC Festival in New York.

Check it out here:

Monday, February 1, 2016

"The Night America Trembled"


Can you make a television show about Orson Welles without mentioning his name? It turns out you can — and you can swear while you do it. Who says the 50s were dull?





By Lars Trodson

“The Night America Trembled,” a 1957 episode of the highly respected live television program “Westinghouse Studio One,” may be the only drama about Orson Welles that doesn’t actually feature Welles himself.

The broadcast may also include another historical anomaly: It seems to contain the first time an actor swore on American television, only no one seems to have noticed.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Review of Welles' "Chimes At Midnight"


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With a resurgence of interest in Orson Welles' "Chimes At Midnight," this 2009 essay on the film might be of interest. At the time, the film was available on YouTube, but those with early memories of the site may recall that no one could post a clip longer than 10 minutes. You had to watch the film in 11 parts. It was certainly not ideal, but it did give those of us who had always wanted to see the film a chance to have a look. Even in this tiny format, the film was formidable. It is satisfying to see, less than a decade after this rudimentary screening, the world is now welcoming "Chimes At Midnight" and it is being shown all over the world. It is recognized as one of the great films — if not, perhaps, the greatest — by Welles. It is certainly one of the most exhuberant and evocative films ever made from a work by Shakespeare. — Lars Trodson

Here, from April 14, 2009, is my review:

Remembrance Of Things Past: "Chimes At Midnight" by Orson Welles

By Lars Trodson

Orson Welles was the most nostalgic of the modernists. 


He was recognized for the way he told a story, not for the stories he invariably chose to tell. "Citizen Kane" is pulpy, after all, and steeped in the past. It was elevated by the elegance and vision of the photography and acting, and the wit of the screenplay. And then came "The Magnificent Ambersons," (1942) which mourned the loss of a more innocent America at just the time when Americans were fighting for their way of life. “The Stranger" gave audiences a view of small town life disrupted by a Nazi scourge. “Touch of Evil” reeks of the past. All of these are potboilers, and all are graced with great cinematic flair. Welles was creating a new vocabulary for movies, but almost strictly from a visual point of view. Other than through the visual medium, he did not have anything terribly new to say.