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THE ART OF PROJECTION…

February 20, 2015

On Tuesday, I had posted a brief collection of artistic projector photography on nEoFILM’s sister blog, nEoPOL Photography.

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Bell & Howell 16mm ProjectorThis collection was taken 10 years ago with my old Vivitar Vivicam 3765 (3mp) camera. This was my FIRST digital camera. The quality was questionable but it did produce a nice grain which was more reminiscent of film grain than some of the modern filters. The projectors photographed where a Bell & Howell Filmsound TK-1 16mm, a TK-3 and Sanyo PLV-Z3 Home theatre LCD.

Bell & Howell TK-1 16mm Projector

BELL & HOWELL TK-1 FILMSOUND 16mm

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Bell & Howell Filmsound 16mm Projector

BELL & HOWELL TK-3 FILMSOUND 16mm

Bell & Howell Filmsound TK-1 16mm Projector Case

BELL & HOWELL TK-1 FILMSOUND 16mm

Sanyo PLV-Z3 LCD Home Theatre Projector

SANYO PLV-Z3 LCD HOME THEATRE PROJECTOR

These are my father’s projectors and ones which I have grown up around and used. The lenses need a good clean inside and out and mildew has taken hold in one of them and the TK-1 needs it’s “worm-gear” replacing, so they’re not in the best of condition any more but they are still highly valued within our family.

The Sanyo PLV-Z3 is my home theatre projector and is still in use today, almost a decade after I bought it in 2005. Of some interest though may be some of the films which have passed through them, such as a 16mm collection of original Star Trek Promo’s as well a one reel digest of the Bride Of Frankenstein, though these are my dad’s, not mine.

Two films which he did have but has since sold were obscure B-movies such as the bizarre erotic horror, sub-Hammer flick Lips Of Blood (1973) and The Spectre Of Edgar Allen Poe (1976). Lips Of Blood was the U.K. Title for the Spanish/French movie El secreto de la momia egipcia or Love Brides Of The Blood Mummy which is a bad as it sounds, and I may have been too young when I watched it, to be honest but I didn’t complain at the time!

There’s more to talk about when it comes to the 8mm collection but that’s for another time I think.

For more on these and other images from nEoPOL check out nEoPOL Photography & nEoPOL Flickr.


VALENTINE’S DAY

February 14, 2015

valentines_day_xlg2010

DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall

NOT A PART OF OUR COLLECTION

May Contain Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection?  NO

I must admit that my ideas and the subsequent reputation of this movie had put me off watching this for a long while. Then my 15-year-old Step-daughter (at the time) bought it, then planned to sell it because even SHE didn’t like it! But my ex-wife decided that she wanted to see it before it went so here we are.

Well, it wasn’t half as bad as I was expecting, put it that way! Maybe that is why I am being so generous towards it because with expectations being so low, it is easy to surpass them. But even though this is an all-star, none plotted vehicle, the tone is light, though I doubt that it is particularly romantic, its characters are inoffensive and the time passes quite nicely.

It tries really hard to put Valentines Day down for the male audience whilst playing up for women, doing so by flipping it, having male characters such as Reed (Aston Kutcher) and Edgar (Hector Elizondo) be enthusiastic whilst women like Kara, Jessica Biel and the later scorned Julia, Jennifer Garner are against the whole thing.

As a light chick-flick this ticks all the boxes whilst steering clear of any real peril, with doomed relationships dying and new ones blossoming but it is what the we want. There’s no significant drama, just events passing by on the screen. In many ways, I’m just grateful that this didn’t try to be any more as it just about on the right side of what it’s doing. Any more tension or peril and this would have been shown up for the cynical vehicle which it truly was. A point summed up by Taylor’s Swift and Lautner’s involvements, offering nothing but being “relatable” to a significant audience demographic.


SPIDEY COME HOME…

February 10, 2015

THE-AMAZING-SPIDER-MAN-2

After years of speculation, Spider-man is returning to Marvel, at last. Back when The Avengers was first being planned and discussed, many, myself included, expected a Spider-man’s reboot to be a part of this project. Instead we got a whole new reboot with the Amazing Spider-man as a separate entity from Marvel.

Marvel’s attempts to regain the rights to their star have been thwarted and the reboot was Sony’s method of retaining these rights. Marvel had sold the rights to Sony over a decade ago and the result was Sam Raimi’s Spider-man (2002) and the subsistent trilogy, which came crashing down to earth with the disappointing third instalment in 2007. By 2010/11 the rights were due to revert to Marvel who had already established their Avengers Phase 1, beginning with Iron man (2008) and The Incredible Hulk (2008).

In short, as long as Sony where to produce another Spider-man movie before the deadline, they could retain the rights and therefore Spider-man would have to sit out The Avengers. Hence, The Amazing Spider-man reboot materialised, though audiences were left confused as why they had a reboot within a decade and just five years after Spider-man III, but still…

But with the issues surrounding the Sony hack last year, some issues with the top management, some frank email exchanges and The Interview fiasco over Christmas, Sony needs a boost and it appears that, what will hopefully be the first collaboration of the major studios, is about to happen.

X-Men and the Fantastic 4, original and upcoming reboot alike, are with 20th Century Fox and Spider-man still with Sony and going nowhere as this would be a collaboration with Sony still owning and retaining control of the iconic character. Marvel have the rest and obviously have a robust release schedule up until 2019. But will this open the door to Marvel’s First Family (Fantastic 4) and X-Men appearing in a Marvel Studios movie? Will Wolverine be joining The Avengers? Who knows…

529Still early days yet and these things have a tendency to fall through or change. You can never call anything certain until it has been committed to the screen but so far, this is a real boost to The Avengers, if it comes off.

Spider-man is likely to appear in Captain America: Civil War in 2017 but whether of not this is the end of Andrew Garfield is unclear, as is the future of The Amazing Spider-man movies. Will there be an Amazing Spider-man 3? But reports are suggesting that it is all over and about to start yet again, but without the origin story this time, we hope.

Marvel/Disney are also re-jigging their release schedule, presumably to work Spider-man in. The changes are as follows.

  • Thor: Ragnarok is now November 2017 rather than July.
  • Black Panther will now open July 2018, rather than October 2017.
  • Captain Marvel will now been seen in November instead of July 2018,
  • Inhumans is is looking like July 2019, pushed back from October 2018

BAFTA 2015: THE RESULTS

February 9, 2015

bafta_2012Let’s face it, it has been a low key year in cinema despite what the hype may be saying. The awards have been dominated by the usual human dramas and historical biopics, with both the British contributions The Theory Of Everything and The Imitation Game, shed light on some unfortunate subjects, not least, the horrendous way in which homosexuals were treated in this country, not so long ago.

The results pleased me, let’s put it that way but more about that later. In the meantime, without sounding like a prude or worse, Mary Whitehouse, I’m just wondering why do we need to have Stephen Fry’s introductions to be littered with swearing? I’m not against swearing by any means but I am always going to question anything being done for no reason and I personally, failed to see the reasoning. So, sorry BAFTA and The BBC, but you’re both getting marked down for this one.

And finally, how disrespectful that so many winners value BAFTA so poorly, and in turn, the British contribution to world cinema that it seemed hardly anyone who is anyone turned up, not even some of the big winners, though Wes Anderson’s proxy speech for Grand Budapest Hotel, delivered by Ralph Fienes was brilliant.

But having said that, nothing raised eyebrows more than the snub of the late Bob Hoskins from the obituaries. I, as many do, hope that there is an explanation though I doubt anything will help at this point. A real blunder BAFTA.

Anyway, without any further to do…

THE RESULTS

Best film

Boyhood Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland

Best actress

Julianne Moore Still Alice

Best actor

Eddie Redmayne The Theory of Everything

Best director

Richard Linklater Boyhood

EE rising star award (voted for by the public)

Jack O’Connell

Best costume design

The Grand Budapest Hotel Milena Canonero

Best adapted screenplay

The Theory of Everything Anthony McCarten

Best film not in the English language

Ida Paweł Pawlikowski, Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzięcioł, Ewa Puszczynska

Best original screenplay

The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson

Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer

Stephen Beresford (writer), David Livingstone (producer) Pride

Best cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki Birdman

Best supporting actress

Patricia Arquette Boyhood

Best supporting actor

JK Simmons Whiplash

Best special visual effects

Interstellar Paul Franklin, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley

Best animated film

The Lego Movie Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Best sound

Whiplash Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann

Best editing

Whiplash Tom Cross

Best short animation

The Bigger Picture Chris Hees, Daisy Jacobs, Jennifer Majka

Best short film

Boogaloo and Graham Brian J Falconer, Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney

Best makeup and hair

The Grand Budapest Hotel Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier

Best production design

The Grand Budapest Hotel Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock

Best documentary

Citizenfour Laura Poitras

Best original music

The Grand Budapest Hotel Alexandre Desplat

Outstanding British film

The Theory of Everything James Marsh, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten

Bafta Fellowship (announced earlier)

Mike Leigh

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema (announced earlier)

BBC Films

MY THOUGHTS…

boyhood_xlgBOYHOOD took the top award as well as Best Director which I think is perfect. This is a film which has taken twelve years to make and not in the pre-production sense. This has followed the cast throughout this time and therefore, this is an innovative movie and which deserves recognition for Richard Linklater, his cast and crew. I was just pleased to see that the typical award fodder such as The Theory Of Everything and The Imitation Game, which I have no doubt are good films, have not ran away with the awards.

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL on the other hand, was the biggest winner with Five awards and well deserving too.

INTERSTELLAR beat DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES for the best visual effects which I disagree with. Interstellar looked beautiful but the success of DOTPOTA’s effect was questioning what the effect was and when it was applied. Both are triumphs but I would have personally chosen Dawn over Interstellar.

And then there was MIKE LEIGH’s closing words… “may you all rot in hell!” … Classic.


“IT’S ALL ‘BOUT THE BASS, ‘BOUT THE BASS… NO TREBLE!” : A BRIEF LOOK AT SENSURROUND

February 9, 2015

There have been so many technical leaps and innovations since the birth of cinema in 1896, with many failures and successes but more than not, they are failures which attentioninspire. Cinerama was the godfather of the modern widescreen, multi-track surround sound cinema, but it wasn’t the first attempt at widescreen, any more than The Jazz Singer (1927) was the first attempt at talkies. They were just the most successful versions and one’s which have paves the way for what we have today.

The rest are more like cousins, some closer than others. Smell-O-Vision for example, only used once with the relatively unknown “Lost” film, Scent Of Mystery (1960), was reissued by being adopted and re-cut into a Cinerama movie Holiday In Spain (1962), but Cinerama was about fall into obscurity itself, so the film was lost again, only to be restored in the last couple of years.

Cinerama is credited with the introduction of multi-channel sound systems and helping set the standard for stereophonic sound and I believe even coining the term, in cinemas, yet it was Cinemascope a year later in 1953 which is the grandfather of what is still in use today, 2.35:1 ratio, yet there were other attempts, not least the little known “Fantasound”, Walt Disney’s attempt in 1940 with, you guessed it, Fantasia (1940). But let’s face it, it was way too costly and unnecessary to an audience who were still marvelling at sound, mono would have been more than enough in 1940.

But I’m not an expert of EVERY single technological breakthrough in film, in fact I’m not an expert at all, just an enthusiast but several have made in an impact on me, whether I’ve been lucky enough to experience them first hand, such as three-strip Cinerama or have just been fascinated by the concepts, usually via anecdotes.

Sensurround is one of those formats. Only used between 1974 to 1979, though possibly 1981, only five movies were recorded in this format, with a sixth rumoured to exist. The sixth was a little known movie called Zoot Suit (1981), which according to some sources and there are pictures to justify this, was the final Sensurround film though it may have been a technicality, there being justification for using the process other than emphasising the music. That film’s process was dubbed Sensrround +.sensurround-logo1

SENSURROUND…

…was introduced as the soundtrack format for Earthquake (1974) and the idea was to use incredibly deep base in order for audience to feel the rumble of the earthquake rather than just hear it. And it worked a treat, with nausea and discomfort being reported, but it was also a big hit, turning a decent enough, all-star disaster flick into one of that years great event movies.

The other issues were that the bass was so deep and powerful that it was damaging the structural integrity of the theatres themselves as well as in multiplex’s, interfering with other performances. In short, it was an intriguing idea and one which began the sub-woofer trend which we still love today. But it was ultimately too powerful and limiting to be viable for long.

Earthquake is the most famous of the Sensurround films and one which is the top draw for Sensurround revivals. But it is not an easy task. There were three Sensurround processors, Models I, II and III, but II and III where simply upgrades to the first and they are quite common. But the Mod I and the only one capable of accurately presenting Earthquake’s earth shattering sound-scape is very rare, with only a couple left and they are owned by Dolby. But they are loaned out for showings of Earthquake from time to time.

THE SCIENCE…

????

I won’t pretend to understand it this blueprint but I understand the principle of Sensurround. Here it is for those who can.

SensurroundRumbleGenerator

and still…. ????

SENSURROUND movies…

Earthquakemidwayrolercoaster-posterbsg-poster-sensmissgalzoot-suit-movie-poster-1981-1020194380

After Sensurround, Warner Brothers tried their hand a similar multi-channel format. Megasound was born. Megasound was in many ways the forerunner today’s Dolby Digital 5.1 in its configuration and unlike Sensurround, it evolved organically, and was limited to 70mm prints. Evolving out of TODD-AO’s 70mm format, it worked its way through tests with the 70mm prints of Superman:The Movie (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979), with the name “Spit-Surround”.

MEGASOUND movies…

  1. ALTERED STATES (1980)
  2. OUTLAND (1981)
  3. SUPERMAN II (1981)
  4. WOLFEN (1981)

…and 20th Century Fox…

SOUND 360 movies…

  1. DEMOLITION ALLEY (1979)
  2. DAMIEN: OMEN II (1980)

But neither lasted in these forms, yet both are probably closer to their cousins than Sensurround.

In the end it was DOLBY who won out, slowly developing their multi-channel system at a pace which allowed cinema’s and audiences to keep up, but there is no doubt that it was DTS in 1993, debuting with Jurassic Park, which raised the bar and the rest is literally history, or in this case, the rest were literally consigned to history, whether they liked it or not.

and finally…

..here is a short film from February 2006, just short of nine years ago, following a revival presentation in York, England.

Sensurround is the brand name for the process developed by Cerwin-Vega, along with Universal Studios in the 1970’s.

Well, so long Sensurround. Whilst we never really got a chance to know you well, your contribution to the evolution of cinema, like so many other “failed” formats, is undeniable. Sensurround; Dolby Atmos’s second cousin, twice removed.


CINERAMA HOLIDAY (CINERAMA)

February 8, 2015

1955

cinerama logo

DIRECTOR: Robert L. Bendick, Philippe De Lacy

May Contain Spoilers!

Today is the 60th Anniversary of Cinerama Holiday’s New York premier, which The Troller’s and The Marsh’s are “supposed” to have attended during the film’s premier… But more on that intriguing twist later…

The second of only five “True” Cinerama Travelogues, as well as one of the top grossing films of 1955, with Windjammer: The Voyage Of The Christian Radich (1958) and Russian Adventure (1965) being converted from Cinemiricle and Kinopanarama, respectively, being produced in the 1950/60’s. The plot, for want of a better word, focuses on two couples, one from Switzerland (The Trollers) and the other from smalltown U.S.A. (The Marsh’s) who, thanks to Cinerama Inc., are to be flown around the world to each others continents in a sort of exchange programme, to have the experience of a life time at Cinerama’s expense and for our viewing pleasure.

This is principally, a sudu-documentary, which would if made now, have a running time of about 60 minutes and would never see the inside of movie theatre, let alone be the tent pole of, at the time, one of the latest and most grandiose of cinema formats. It would now be one of the many documentaries which litter our television screens day and night, but then, this was the only way to view this kind of escapist film, with the travelogue allowing audiences to visit places that they were unable to at the time. The family vacation still alluding so many, just a decade after World War Two.

But Cinerama was also a night out at the cinema to rival that of theatre with its grandeur and the travelogue paved the way for the much shorter but equally as epic IMAX experience which would follow twenty of so years later.

Screen-shot-2013-02-25-at-12.18.17-PMThe American Couple, John and Betty Marsh, fly off to Switzerland, see the sights of post war Europe, including and an ice show, bob-slaying, skiing and even the Mona Lisa, which I must admit, was smaller than I had thought, as they visited Paris and The Luve, all of which lends itself to the Cinerama’s massive curved screen experience.

maxresdefaultThe Swiss Couple, Fred and Beatrice Troller head for the U.S., visiting the sights of the big cities, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York as well as the rural areas, perhaps reminding the U.S. audience that there are so many sights right here at home to get exited about to, certainly as Cinerama, an anagram of A.m.e.r.i.c.a., was clearly being used as a weapon in the ever evolving Cold War in the 1950’s and beyond.

And perhaps this was never so garishly obvious as the rather out of place finale, which either served to promote the U.S. Navy or just give us a grand finale, but I suspect both are the case. The conclusion takes place as the two couple meet up in New York and break the forth wall by attending the premier of Cinerama Holiday, before it has even finished! They then watch the most exiting segment, the U.S. Navy air force taking off and flying around the North Atlantic.

Screen-shot-2013-02-25-at-12.21.14-PMBesides the visuals of this time capsule of a movie, a large screen record of 1955, both in Europe and across the Atlantic, but the most interesting element of this historical document have to be the hopefully dated attitudes of these two couples, most notably, a so called “Comical” exchange between the Americans,  John and Betty, in which he basically dumps his wife at the hotel in order to go out drinking with an old war buddy which they had bumped into in a Paris lounge bar! Betty is clearly upset and yet the tone is unmistakably, “boys will be boys” and “a good wife understands this”.

Oh dear. And we wonder why these film have falling into obscurity!

Overall, as with all of the Cinerama movies which I have seen to date, this is a triumph of visual style over weak and in may ways, contrived and pointless plotting. Everything here is there to drive the next visual set piece but 60 years on, this and its counterparts do serve as an intriguing window into a time long past, in every way. From literally the film itself, to the way that Americans saw the world and world as it was all those years ago, so close to the horrors of World War Two and as it moved closer to generation defining events such as The Cuban Missile Crisis and even in may ways, the civil rights movement, let alone and more obviously, The Feminist Movement, which this film is DEMANDING, though it doesn’t really know it.

wonderful_world_of_the_brothers_grimmRecommended for fans or enthusiasts of Cinerama but also, if you can take such a dated film, it is an intriguing watch.

MORE CINERAMA on nEoFILM…

Petition for the Blu-ray release of The Wonderful World Of The Brother’s Grimm

CINERAMA @ 60

FLICKER ALLEY’S 3-STRIP CINERAMA LINE-UP

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN RELEASED

 

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SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE (CINERAMA)

February 6, 2015

1958

cinerama logo

DIRECTORS: Carl Dudley, Richard Goldstone, Francis D. Lyon, Walter Thompson & Basil Wrangell

May Contain Spoilers!

The Orson Welles narrated South Seas Adventure is the fifth and final entry of the three-strip Cinerama Travelogues, though Orson is the not the only voice to appear on this soundtrack, with his credit overshadowing the word of several others. Opening without the customary 1.37:1 segment, originally introduced by the face of Cinerama, adventurer Lowell Thomas, South Seas bursts onto the giant screen in glorious Cinerama (2.59:1), barely given the curtains time to open, which was of course intentional. But South Seas Adventure sets out its stall from the opening frame, all three of them.

Following the overture, Alex North’s score continues to impress with its vibrant and colourful tones, evoking both the feel of the South Seas, Hawaii, Tonga etc.. whilst still feeling western and grandiose in equal measure. This film takes the travelogue documentary concept on the early films, which had obvious staging here are there, and have now has created a sudo-documentary, with fiction characters and more narrative driven scenarios.

This makes for a much better and more engaging Cinerama experience which films such as Windjammer (1958) and Cinerama Holiday (1955), which are much simpler and po-faced documentaries than can drag on a little too long. But South Seas continues the charade of being a documentary though the pacing is miles better, with stories and segments inter-cut with a greater sense of theatrical flare and timing.

But this is still Cinerama and it appears that in the six years since the premier in September 1952, with This Is Cinerama (1952), that they were beginning to nail it. Combining stunning aerial photography with maritime themes and the island hoping vibrancy of the seemingly untouched paradise which the post War world was aching for, we are swept of our feet by the visual ferocity of the art form.

Combining a fantastic score by Alex North, by Cinerama’s standards, sharp editing and a tight narrative, this is almost a maxresdefaultperfect showcase for the soon to be defunct three-panel format; the most theatrical to date. Four years later the final three-panel Cinerama films would be released, How The West Was Won (1962) and the missing in action, The Wonderful World Of The Brother’s Grimm (1962). But this is the first sign that Cinerama had prospects as a legitimate narrative driven film format, combing the visual spender and technical innovations with a plot structure which could keep us engaged.

It also, probably due to its setting being primarily in the Pacific, does not date as obviously as Cinerama Holiday (1955) or Windjammer (1958). This hits all the right notes and just keeps on going.

The BEST Cinerama film to date and the first three-strip travelogue which I believe I can recommend to a wider audience than just the fanatical Cinerama collectors.

Available primarily through Flicker Alley

MORE CINERAMA on nEoFILM…

Petition for the Blu-ray release of The Wonderful World Of The Brother’s Grimm

CINERAMA @ 60

FLICKER ALLEY’S 3-STRIP CINERAMA LINE-UP

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN RELEASED

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