Here in the U.K. it was late on a Friday afternoon that the news broke of Leonard Nimoy’s death. At 83, he had certainly lived a life and in that life he had achieved the status of screen icon as Mr. Spock from the equally as iconic TV show, Star Trek (1966 – 1969). From 1966 up until today, Leonard Nimoy would always be Spock to millions, if not billions in that 48 year time span.
Even after retiring from acting a few years ago, he continued on shows such as Fringe and had cameo’s in the latest two Star Trek movies. It was this relationship with J.J. Abrams which many will remember in his final years.
But Spock was his legacy and a character which like Star Trek, transcended the small screen to become a phenomenon and gain a fanatical fan base across the world. And this was very much due to the both humble and integral nature of Nimoy, often manifested by his protective relationship of the Spock character, preparing to kill him off in 1982 in order to leave him behind on high note. But with the iconic success of Spock’s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982), he had to return and he managed to wrangle the director’s gig for Star Trek III & IV (1984 & 1986), his first theatrical films, though he had some work on TV in the years prior.
After his more comical take of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, his next directorial project was the classic 80’s flick 3 Men And A Baby (1987) along with few more lesser know works.
As the Star Trek work dried up his more notable screen credits included a couple of stints of The Simpsons and more recently, the less than subtle role of Sentinel Prime in Transformers: Dark Of the Moon (2011) which was littered with Spock references right from the get go.
His career was long and varied, spanning TV and film, as well as photography, celebrity and philanthropy but on the 27th February 2015, we lost a legend of the big and small screen alike.
Rest in peace.
On Tuesday, I had posted a brief collection of artistic projector photography on nEoFILM’s sister blog, nEoPOL Photography.
This 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.
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.
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.
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…
Still 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
Let’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…
Boyhood Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland
Julianne Moore Still Alice
Eddie Redmayne The Theory of Everything
Richard Linklater Boyhood
EE rising star award (voted for by the public)
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
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
Whiplash Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann
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
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)
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema (announced earlier)
BOYHOOD 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.
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 inspire. 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 +.
…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.
I won’t pretend to understand it this blueprint but I understand the principle of Sensurround. Here it is for those who can.
and still…. ????
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”.
- ALTERED STATES (1980)
- OUTLAND (1981)
- SUPERMAN II (1981)
- WOLFEN (1981)
…and 20th Century Fox…
SOUND 360 movies…
- DEMOLITION ALLEY (1979)
- 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.
..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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
Besides 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.
Recommended 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…