Sunday, January 11, 2009
Two Films: Special Effects
I've recently seen The Dark Knight and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. While I'm not generally a fan of superhero movies (related to my lack of interest in comic books?), I found The Dark Knight thoroughly entertaining--much moreso than, say, Iron Man, which seemed to me primarily a showpiece for explosions and special effects, none of which seemed so special in today's "anything is possible" cinema. While the supporting cast (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart) is strong, the diabolical Heath Ledger makes the whole thing work for me. He's a shoo-in for an Oscar, and not just because of the posthumour sympathy vote.
I found the special effects in Benjamin Button much more astonishing than the pyrotechnic, gravity-defying visuals in any superhero movie. The morphing of Brad Pitt from old man newborn to mature adult to young heartthrob and on to ancient baby was more marvelous to me than anything in The Dark Knight or Iron Man. I like any film that has an air of realism and an utterly impossible premise but makes us believe it to be possible. This is what happens in Benjamin Button. I began by wondering how you could possibly make such a concept work. But the filmmakers succeed--again largely because of a strong supporting cast, notably the always intriguing Cate Blanchett and the surprise of Tariji P. Henson (deservedly nominated for best supporting actress).
In his Harvard photography course, Robin Kelsey views photography as a “hybrid medium” that is both a simple, automatic trace of reality and an intentional composition that fits the Western pictorial tradition.
Coldfront Magazine: The year's best poetry
Rave review of Jackson Bate's new book about Shakespeare
What's happening to reading?
Hua Hsu in The Atlantic: "The End of White America"