Ron Cobb has died

One of the greats in artistic design for film and TV…and everything else that required talent, humor [often] and courage [just about all the time].

Here’s one from the original LA Free Press…back when you could say you saw it in the “FREEP” and anyone hip and willing to challenge the bourgeois establishment knew exactly what publication you meant.

He will be missed.

Feds get ruling from 1948 overturned – you may end up with ONLY DisneyPlex theaters


A choice of one

If you went to the movies in 2019, you probably saw a Disney movie. Seven of the top 10 highest-grossing films released in the United States last year were distributed by the House of Mouse, and hundreds of millions of people went to see them on thousands of screens. Some weeks it felt like the entire film industry was Disney: Captain Marvel and the rest of the Avengers (Endgame) competed for your attention for a while, as Aladdin, The Lion King, and Toy Story 4 kept up a steady drumbeat of animation until Elsa dropped back onto hapless households in Frozen II. In amongst that morass, though, there were still other movies shown, many of them popular with audiences and critics alike.

But now, the rule that prevented a studio from buying up a major theater chain is gone—opening up the possibility that your local cinema could go whole hog and become a true Disneyplex before you know it.

In isolation, the decision could raise some concerns. In a world where theaters are decimated thanks to a pandemic and consolidation among media firms is already rampant, the future for independent theaters looks grim.

But, hey…if Disney suits your comfort level of sophistication, daring and intellectual challenge, you’ll have a few more choices. Maybe 10 out of 10.

Fans of “Doom” movies handle the pandemic easily

For those of you who whiled away hours on the sofa watching society crumble in the face of marauding zombies, deadly aliens and infectious diseases – it’s time to reap the rewards.

Psychologists have found evidence that fans of apocalyptic movies – where global order is upturned – may be more resilient and better prepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic than the rest of us…

The bleak scenarios thrown up by films such as Contagion, from panic buying and isolation to fear of others and fake claims of miracle cures, appeared to help viewers take the outbreak in their stride and work out how best to handle the crisis…

Horror movie fans appeared less distressed by the crisis than most, but those who favoured “prepper movies” – where society collapses – ranked as more resilient and better prepared, both mentally and practically.

“Klaatu barada nikto”…or another favorite, “Mein Führer, I can walk!” These films produce great one-liners.

Legacy of Winsor McCay

‘Little Sammy Sneeze’ (9 November 1904)

Winsor McCay is one of the founding fathers of newspaper comics and animated cartoons. An extraordinary virtuose artist, his vivid and technically complex drawings are still impressive today. He lifted both media out of their children’s shoes and elevated them into genuine art forms. As a comics artist McCay made several series featuring characters having dreams or nightmares. He devoted large colourful drawings to these fantasy sequences, printed out over entire newspaper pages. Out of all his comics ‘Dream of the Rarebit Fiend’ (1904-1911, 1913) and ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’ (1905-1914) are his masterpieces. His inventive use of framing and lay-out was decades ahead of its time. As an animator he adapted his own comics into short films, with equal sophisticated brilliance. His other animated cartoons, ‘Gertie the Dinosaur’ (1914) and ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’ (1917), are cinematic landmarks…

26 September 1869 – 26 June 1934, USA)</em

Click the link up top and read the long, delightfully illustrated, history of McCay’s creative work.

No surprise. Trump hasn’t a clue about “MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY”

…in case you’re unfamiliar with this based-on-a-true-story tale: In 1787, celebrated British naturalist Sir Joseph Banks commissioned a Royal Navy vessel to sail to Tahiti, acquire breadfruit plants (a crop that wasn’t particularly tasty but was cheap to grow and rich in nutrients), and bring them to the West Indies.

The captain of the HMS Bounty at the time was one William Bligh, a brilliant navigator who served under Captain James Cook—but who also, by all accounts, was an arrogant, nasty, paranoid, freakishly obsessive, and brutal man, during a time when the British navy was notorious for impressing people into service against their will and using corporal punishment to keep them in line.

For the trip to Tahiti, Bligh hired one Fletcher Christian as master’s mate. Christian later led a mutiny against Bligh, a rebellion that came in response to the captain’s management style, which was one of near-sadistic cruelty…

…nothing about Trump’s tweet suggests any kind of close read. It’s more than likely he’s confusing this with some other movie.

RTFA for more background to the discussion, the two terrific versions of the film. Personally, I think our dumbass fake president just admires Captain Bligh’s management style. After all, it doesn’t differ a whole boatload from how Trump acts as president.

First movie studio owned by Native Americans opens in New Mexico

Last year, the Tesuque Pueblo tribe of New Mexico opened a new casino, moving out of a 75,000-square foot facility that they quickly realized could be repurposed as a studio facility.

That idea was solidified in the fall, when the Universal Pictures feature “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks, filmed at the facility. And thus launched Camel Rock Studios, which lays claim as the first movie studio owned by a Native American tribe in the history of Hollywood.

“Casinos, inherently, if you take out all the games, are big empty spaces,” said Timothy Brown, president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation. “So we had an events center that we did concerts in and large parties that was a big vacant space. Once we removed all the casino equipment and furniture from the casino area, that became another large vacant space, and then with any business we had an entire administrative area with cubicles and offices that became perfect for their offices to move in.”

Brown said the corporation is aiming to take advantage of a filming boom in New Mexico, spurred in part by the state’s economic incentives. Perhaps best known recently for productions such as “Breaking Bad,” New Mexico has seen filming rise to the point that Netflix has even made Albuquerque its U.S. production hub.

The Land of Enchantment continues our history as the Land of Enchanting Movies.

Remembering the War in the Pacific recorded by combat photographers


Joe Rosenthal

When most Americans think of the World War II battle for Iwo Jima – if they think of it at all, 75 years later – they think of one image: Marines raising the U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest point.

That moment, captured in black and white by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and as a color film by Marine Sergeant William Genaust, is powerful, embodying the spirit of the Marine Corps.

But these pictures are far from the only images of the bloodiest fight in the Marines’ history. A larger library of film, and the men captured on them, is similarly emotionally affecting. It can even bring Americans alive today closer to a war that ended in the middle of the last century…

Please RTFA. I was 7 years old at the time of the Iwo Jima landing. My father was invited to a private showing of the first rough cut of all the footage several weeks later – and brought me. That night is still vivid, stuck in my brain. I cannot forget it.

Over time, I came to better understand what I saw.

Remembering Kirk Douglas


Click to enlarge

1950. “Actor Kirk Douglas, half-length portrait, seated in chair, on set during the filming of “Ace in the Hole”, New Mexico.” 35mm color transparency by Charles and Ray Eames.

He was Spartacus, of course. But the great thing about Kirk Douglas living for more than a century – with most of those years spent as a Hollywood icon and cinematic family patriarch – is we got to see him do so much more than just wield sharp weaponry in an epic adventure. (And, man, he had that down.)

Douglas, who died Wednesday at 103, was a tried-and true icon who began his epic run in the mid-1940s with films including “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” and “Mourning Becomes Electra” and who owned the ’50s and ’60s, formed a great partnership with Burt Lancaster and earning three best-actor Oscar nominations (but never won). Douglas worked well into his twilight years, including a starring role opposite son Michael, ex-wife Diana and grandson Cameron in “It Runs in the Family” in 2003.

RTFA. It lists Brian Truitt’s idea of the five essential Kirk Douglas movies. There will more of the same, of course. My own late favorite is “Lonely are the brave”. One of the first hikes I sought out after moving to New Mexico was the Movie Trail in the Sandias. Scene of one of the most critical passages in this quiet, immensely important, film.