Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Ideas to Save the Short Film from Obscurity (and Meaninglessness)

By Lars Trodson

Quick! Name the five most beloved short films in history.

Tasking myself with my own question, I came up with two: “The Red Balloon” and “Winnie The Pooh and the Blustery Day.” (If that’s even the right title.) I’m sure there are some revered avant garde films that I’m forgetting (the Bunuel/Dali film, Un Chien Andalou,” I suppose), but they are probably more respected than loved.

So. What is the state of the short film today? One could argue that it is thriving. In 2013, a record 8,102 short films were submitted to the Sundance Film Festival. The Cannes Film Festival has hosted, since 1998, its Cinéfondation, which is dedicated to short and medium length films and is designed to support the next generation of filmmakers.

Every film festival on the planet has a short film program, and of course there is a plethora of events dedicated exclusively to the art of short filmmaking. In the last decade or so, short film anthologies (Oscar winners, for example) have been issued on DVD, and there are uncountable numbers of obscure and well-known shorts available on YouTube and other online formats.

So why does it feel like short films don’t matter? Rarely does a short film enter the public discussion.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Do John Wayne, Paul McCartney and Andy Williams Have in Common?

Everyone remembers the tagteam of Bing Crosby and David Bowie, but even stranger is the mashup of John Wayne, Andy Williams and Paul McCartney. We unearthed this gem while doing some research. Two things of note: John Wayne's "joke" about his Japanese gardener, which is about as racist as you can get, and the fact Paul McCartney and his wife Linda were sitting in the nosebleed seats. Take a look:

— Lars Trodson

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Very Worst Oscar Snub (It's Not What You Think)

By Lars Trodson

For me, it’s not the fact that Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was not nominated for Best Picture because, for one, it was never going to win. Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” deservedly took home the statuette that year, so it’s only mildly irritating that the grandaddy of all slasher films didn’t get the nod. I can live with that.

But there are two greater “Psycho” injustices, and they are the two worst Oscar decisions in its 85 years. When you realize that “Psycho” was dissed in both the editing and music categories, you begin to realize what a significant oversight this was.

Monday, February 17, 2014

“Tide Turning” now available

“Tide Turning,” the second novel featuring detective Langley Calhoun, has just been published by Mainly Murder Press. The advance word is already out:

“Mention New Hampshire and its small towns, and the image quickly comes to mind of peace, quiet, and years of undisturbed history, surrounded by a town common and white-peaked churches. But author Lars Trodson knows better, and in “Tide Turning,” he rips off the façade and reveals the murky truth of what can happen in a small town, with years of betrayal, hidden and deadly secrets, and one man who’s determined to do what’s right, no matter the odds, no matter the chances. Very well done!” — Brendan DuBois, author of "Fatal Harbor," two-time Shamus Award winner and three-time Edgar Award finalist.

“Welcome to Lars Trodson's ‘Tide Turning’ — a world in which environmental activism, covered bridges, stewardship, and living with illness and loss come together in a way that feels immediately familiar. In the novel, Trodson's second, it is the characters that first and lastingly pull us in — even those making brief appearances — the wanna-be rock star, the live-hard, play-hard boss, a father's late-in-life girl friend. And they pull us in because of Trodson's unique ability to make them seem not only credible, but kindred. This is intelligent fiction that addresses the major ‘stuff’ of our public and private lives. In ‘Tide Turning,’ Trodson has beautifully choreographed this waltz of life — and the work it takes to meet our civic and social responsibilities, even as we cope with the deep losses and ongoing challenges of our own lives. — Lisa Starr, former Poet Laureate of Rhode Island, author “Mad With Yellow” (2009), “This Place Here” (2001), and “Days of Dogs and Driftwood” (1993).

Look for details on readings throughout New England in March. If you’d like me to attend your book club, please reach me at larstrodson@gmail.com

Thank you all!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Alfred E. Neuman Stopped Worrying And Won The War

Fifty Years of Dr. Strangelove

By Lars Trodson

The secret is in the full title: “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.”

Alfred E. Neuman’s motto from Mad Magazine? “What, me worry?”

That’s why we know that a little, ad-less, satirical and slightly creepy comic magazine transformed both the movies and American culture. Without Mad Magazine, there is no “Strangelove,” no “The Loved One,” no “Bonnie and Clyde, no “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Mad Magazine exposed the fragility and the absurdities of the movie cliche — Mad made you love them in all their ridiculousness and run from them at the same time.

More specifically, this is the legacy of a feature that was prominent in the magazine for 10 years prior to the Jan. 29, 1964 release of “Dr. Stangelove” — the magazine’s movie parodies.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bob Dylan, Chrysler And The Value Of Your Art

To everybody pissing and moaning about Bob Dylan's Chrysler ad: if you like an artist, respect his right to make money. It's the only way he or she is going to be able to create their art. The idea that Dylan or any other artist for that matter is so pure as to not be "commercial" is absurd, and utterly impractical, and Dylan can certainly do whatever he wants. By saying that Dylan shouldn't be doing TV spots is saying to every artist that their art is somehow above commerce, that they are doing something that does not create a thing of value. This attitude continues to feed the idea that works of art are there to be appreciated just for existing rather than for something for you to buy. It's why too many artists have their hats in their hands. Dylan is talking about craftsmanship in that ad, he's talking about creating something of real worth, and that should apply to a car as well as a painting or a song, and if you don't support that then you're contributing to an atmosphere that makes it so difficult for people to pursue their dreams. — Lars Trodson

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Not A Great Idea, 20th Century Fox

With Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" receiving mixed reviews and not-so-great box office, it was probably not the best idea for the 20th Century Fox marketing department to come up with a new campaign that shows Stiller literally having jumped up on top of a shark: