Monday, June 29, 2015

The Block Islander

Apropos of nothing, we offer a Block Island photo album that we will update on occasion. — Lars Trodson

Monday, June 29
Okay, so we took a few days off. Well, we went on vacation to a place that wasn't Block Island so that we could get away from all the people who come here for vacation. It's confusing, because people ask, "Why would you ever want to leave?" You do and you don't; but sometimes it's good to get away from the neighborhood. Today is a sparkling blue day, perfect temperatures, not humid at all. There was a giant cloud bank hovering over the mainland that caught my attention (how could it not) that gives a pretty good idea of what kind of day it is out here today.



Monday, June 22, 2015


Our friend John Breneman has a humor site and in a recent posting he came up with some imaginative names for some as-yet-to-be-made vampire movies:

Check it out here:

http://www.tripleactionnews.com/vampire-movie-marathon/


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I'm shocked! Shocked! (Not really.)


Gaspar NoĆ©’s new film, “Love,” has attached to it the phrase “taboo-busting” because, one can only presume, it has been shown at the Cannes Film Festival and it has scenes of hardcore, unsimulated sex. (The reviews have not been great.) It’s also shot in 3D.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Orson Welles: Born, May 6, 1915


Orson Welles would have turned 100 years old this week.

An object lesson to anyone who wants to make it in Hollywood is to note that the first three pictures Welles directed, "Citizen Kane," "The Magnificent Amberson's" and "The Stranger" were, combined, nominated for 14 Academy Awards. Fourteen! Including two Best Picture nominations.

Now the point is this, one would be hard pressed to name another writer or director whose first three movies received a total of 14 Oscar nominations and then was effectively thrown out of town. And — "The Stranger" made money. It was a hit! ("Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Amberson's" lost a total of $800,000.)

Welles' next-to-last Hollywood picture was "The Lady From Shangai," which was a critical and financial disaster, and then, of course, he was out of Hollywood for the next 12 years. He directed, wrote, and starred in "Touch of Evil," now considered a classic, in 1958.

But Welles wasn't done yet. In 1973, he released the film essay "F For Fake," which (although few will admit it) revolutionized film editing. No one paid attention in 1973; everyone just stole his techniques shamelessly after he died.

On Oct. 9, 1985, Welles appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, and spoke about his life and career, including his regrets. A day later he was dead, slumped over his typewriter. He was 70.

— Lars Trodson

Pick up our celebrated anthology of articles on Orson Welles here: http://amzn.to/1EXOlne.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What the...?


By Lars Trodson


I didn’t expect to hear a little bit of history while watching a restored version of John Ford's “The Grapes of Wrath” on DVD the other night, but I did. Well, maybe history is too strong a word. But it was certainly different, new and in its own way oddly exciting.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Block Island Photo Album

Apropos of nothing, we offer a Block Island photo album that we will update on occasion. — Lars Trodson

Monday, June 29
Okay, so we took a few days off. Well, we went on vacation to a place that wasn't Block Island so that we could get away from all the people who come here for vacation. It's confusing, because people ask, "Why would you ever want to leave?" You do and you don't; but sometimes it's good to get away from the neighborhood. Today is a sparkling blue day, perfect temperatures, not humid at all. There was a giant cloud bank hovering over the mainland that caught my attention (how could it not) that gives a pretty good idea of what kind of day it is out here today.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Flights Of Fancy: Turning du Maurier's "The Birds" Into Hitchcock's Nightmare


By Lars Trodson

Ed. Note: This is another in our occasional series examining short stories that have been adapted into feature films.



“The Birds” is Alfred Hitchcock’s most schizophrenic movie. It's certainly effective and memorable, but it features some of the worst acting in any film considered to be one of the director’s major efforts. It also has lapses in logic that would be inexcusable in other Hitchcock efforts. The special effects are terrific, but there are some scenes so obviously shot on a sound stage that they break the narrative spell. It could be that Hitchcock simply wasn’t interested in the human story; the primary challenge seemed to be in making sure the audience believed that flocks of birds could orchestrate a deliberate attack on human beings and kill us all. 

But it's also true that Hitchcock and his screenwriter, Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain), didn’t have much to start with. Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 short story on which the film is based (also called “The Birds”) focuses almost exclusively on the Hocken family— father Nat, his unnamed wife, and their two children, Jill and Johnny. Both story and film offer no explanation as to why the birds attack, but du Maurier presents the reader with some awkward Cold War symbolism as a way to give her little story more heft than it deserves, a touch that Hitchcock wisely discarded. His birds aren't Communists, they've just gone around the bend.