erik lundegaard

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Monday December 31, 2012

The Top 50 Viral Videos of 2012 (Or: My Increasing Separation from My Culture)

This was posted earlier today on Andrew Sullivan's site:

Of these, I've seen:

  • #47: Fishing for Sharks
  • #45: Duck Run (should be higher)
  • #42: Man Has Conversation with 12-Year-Old Self
  • #25 Dad Catches Foul Ball While Holding Daughter
  • #17 Michelle Jenneke Warm-Up Dance 
  • #11 Isaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal
  • #1 Gangam Style (of course)

About 1/7 of them. Appropriate that I've seen more in the 40s since that's me: 49. But seriously? Only one from 1-10? And what the hell is a Nicole Westbrook? 13 million views for that thing? And are these things ranked by views?

My favorite of the bunch is Isaac's Live Lip-Dub Proposal. By far. It's a beautiful thing. Here's the full monty:

Two things:

I couldn't believe this was from earlier this year. Seemed ages ago. I guess it was in Internet years, which are like dog years. Bang zoom.

Like everyone, I tear up watching this. All the work what went into it. The community atmosphere. The lady in red, who seems both lead dancer and choreographer. But mostly it's the joy and disbelief and love on the girl's face. Generally you see the work that went into something like this and think, “She better be worth it.” But here you see her reaction and you know: She is.

Posted at 05:23 PM on Dec 31, 2012 in category Movies
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Friday December 28, 2012

'Previously on The Hobbit...'

A friend of mine who usually writes of loftier matters has written a short review of “The Hobbit.” He's obviously a fan of Tolkien but not so much of Peter Jackson's new movie. Even so, this is the last line:

Let’s hope Jackson regains his footing in the next installment.

It made me think of this.

When we went to “Star Wars” in 1977, we went to see a movie. The movie began and it ended. It felt whole, and even gave us a symbol for wholeness: the Force.

When we went to “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, we were given a movie that was to be continued. I was actually shocked when I saw it in the theater. That's it? “To be continued” on TV meant next week; “to be continued” in a galaxy far, far away meant three years. Whenever anyone says “The Empire Strikes Back” was the best of the “Star Wars” movies, I generally respond, when I care enough to respond, “So how did you like the ending?”

When we went to see “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” in 2001, we knew we were going to see the first of a trilogy, based on a trilogy of books. That may be part of why it never interested me. I knew it would be continued. But at least it was based on a “To be continued” book.

“The Hobbit”? Based on a single book. But three movies. Because there's money in fragmentation.

We're not going to see movies anymore. We're going to see fragments of movies, fragments of narratives, that fit our fragmented times. Maybe we prefer it this way. Wholeness is so exhausting. Endings are so tyrannical. Fragments let us imagine any kind of escape from the narrative ... but hopefully an escape that leads us right back here, telling the same story, with a few variations. We want comfort and familiarity, with merely a chance of escape. We want to hear that story over again, Daddy.

screenshot of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (2012)

Posted at 07:45 AM on Dec 28, 2012 in category Movies
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Monday December 24, 2012

The Annotated Jeffrey Wells: 'Torture Has Been Used For Centuries'

The following is a post on Jeffrey Wells' “Hollywood Elsewhere” site. The annotations in bold are mine...

Are you going to tell me that if your son or daughter has been kidnapped and is being held in some secret, all-but-impossible-to-discover location and might possibly be killed if you don't find him/her...are you going to tell me that if you've captured a close accomplice of the kidnappers who refuses to talk...are you going to tell me that all you're going to do is take this guy out to lunch and feed him hummus and tomatoes, and if that doesn't work you're going to take him out for drinks and then set him up with $5000-a-night prostitute in hopes that he'll reveal the location? The objection to “Zero Dark Thirty” isn't about the urge to torture in extreme situations to gain desired information; it's about the efficacy of that torture. It's about whether the person you're torturing is in fact a close accomplice of the kidnappers ... or me, since I'll say anything you want me to say, since you're torturing me to say it. That's always been the problem with torture. The torturer tends to gain the information he wants whether that information is true or not. More specifically, the objection with “Zero Dark Thirty” (which I, like most of the world, haven't seen yet), is whether Bigelow and Boal have misrepresented the efficacy of torture by drawing a line between post-9/11 enhanced interrogation techniques and the intel that led to Osama bin Laden. The information we have indicates there was no line. Do Boal and Bigelow have new information? Did they draw the line themselves? Should we torture them to find out?

If your answer is “yes” (and I'm talking to you, Hollywood liberals, and to you, Alex Gibney) then you are a liar. In fact, you have never been more of a liar than you are right now. And you, Jeff Wells, have never been more wrong than you are now. Except every time you write about Abraham Lincoln's voice, which reveals how much you actually buy into the myth-making tendencies of Hollywood that you pretend to abhor.

Zero Dark Thirty doesn't precisely say that torture was the thing that got the information about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden (Again, this is the key question; everything else is more-or-less irrelevant), although it has obviously been applied for several centuries, and presumably with some benefit to the torturers. (Why else would the practice continue over the millenia? Because people like to torture?) Irrelevant, but ... I assume we keep torturing because people in desperate situations do desperate things. And because sometimes it works. And because we don't have any new ideas. And because it's in our nature.

Maya (Jessica Chastain) and Dan (Jason Clarke) and their CIA colleagues do whatever they can to get their captors to talk. They try a little torture, they try little hummus. And by hook or crook, they finally get the info they want. Are you going to tell me that if they'd used only hummus, they would have discovered Bin Laden's Abbotobad address? Focus, Jeff. Does ZDT show that intel gathered via torture led to Osama bin Laden? If “yes,” do Bigelow and Boal know something Senators McCain, Levin and Feinstein don't? The other day, in warning about “Zero Dark Thirty,” CIA director Michael Morell actually backs it up. He wrote, “Some [of the Osama bin Laden intelligence] came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well.” If I were you, Jeff, this is the kind of thing I would focus on rather than the above.

Abu Ghraib torture pics

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end.

Posted at 10:03 AM on Dec 24, 2012 in category Movies
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Tuesday November 27, 2012

Lincoln's Voice: at Gettysburg and (Hollywood) Elsewhere

I know Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsehwere, for one, objected to the way Daniel Day-Lewis voices Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln.” Even after Wells owned up to its historical accuracy, he objected. He called it “flat, undistinctive, unimpressive, Matthew Modine-ish.” It gave him the shivers.

I actually liked it, along with everything else about Day-Lewis' performance. More important, most important, it is historically accurate. Last night I was reading Garry Wills' “Lincoln at Gettsburg: The Words that Remade America,” and came across the passage below, in which Lincoln is contrasted with Edward Everett, teacher of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the main speaker at Gettysburg that day. He was considered the country's great orator after the death of Daniel Webster:

Everett's voice was sweet and expertly modulated; Lincoln's was high to the point of shrillness, and his Kentucky accent offended some Eastern sensibilities. But Lincoln derived an advantage from his high tenor voice—carrying power. If there is agreement on one aspect of Lincoln's delivery, at Gettysburg and elsewhere, it is his audibility. Modern impersonators of Lincoln, like Walter Huston, Raymond Massey, Henry Fonda, and the various actors who give voice to Disneyland animations of the President, bring him before us as a baritone, which is considred a more manly or heroic voice—though both Roosevelt presidents of this century were tenors. What should not be forgotten is that Lincoln was himself an actor, an expert raconteur and mimic, and one who spent hours reading speeches out of Shakespeare to any willing (and some unwilling) audiences. He knew a good deal about rhythmic delivery and meaningful inflections.

It's a shame that Wells' machismo, which he often wears like a Paul Fist-in-Your-Face, overrules his sensibilities regarding Hollywood bullshit: the ways that the movies have lied to us forever. After 100 years, a Hollywood movie finally gets something right and he attacks it for that very reason.

Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln, tenor

Posted at 08:31 AM on Nov 27, 2012 in category Movies
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Wednesday November 21, 2012

The Movie You Could Watch A Million Times

I was thinking about this question, or something similar, the day I saw this link on NPR's site. Apparently it's a regular feature? They interview different folks, generally movie-industry people, and ask them which movie they could watch “a million times.” Here's how the recent interviewees answered:

  • Writer-director Peter Hedges: “Harold and Maude”
  • Director Simon West: “Withnail and I”
  • Actress Regina King: “The Sandlot”
  • Actress Kristen Bell: “Wet Hot American Summer”
  • Actor-writer-director Jon Favreau: “Mean Streets”
  • Actor Michael Pena: “Broadway Danny Rose”
  • Callie Khouri: “A Face in the Crowd”
  • Actress Susan Sarandon: “The Grapes of Wrath”
  • Producer Glen Mazaara: “Alien”
  • Director RZA: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

Everyone's answer changes with time, of course. Here's how mine did. Let's start in adolesence: “Star Wars,” “Superman: The Movie,” “Duck Soup,” “Annie Hall,” “The Godfather,” “Casablanca,” “Seven Samurai,” “All the President's Men,” “The Thin Red Line.”

Now? It's probably Michael Mann's “The Insider.”

It's a perfectly balanced film about two men, one of whom encourages the other to betray corporate confidentialities for a greater good, and who then has to betray his own corporation, CBS, for the greater good of airing the first story. It's the individual vs. the coporation, which is the story of all of us. It's about sacrifice, and how it takes sacrifice to make heroes, and how heroes aren't men and women with great powers. They're ordinary people under extraordinary pressure still doing the right thing.

Anyone know when it comes out on Blu-Ray?

Posted at 06:40 AM on Nov 21, 2012 in category Movies
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