Archive | November, 2012

James Bond at 50

29 Nov

The release of  SKYFALL, the 23rd “official” James Bond film, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the release of the first James Bond film, DR. NO, in England on October 5, 1962.

I would prefer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bond on May 8 next year, since that would be the 50th anniversary of the U.S. release, which is what I remember, but we won’t have a new Bond film next May. I chose to re-watch a few classic Bonds before going to see the new one, just to remind myself what drew me to the films in the first place.

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Animated Versions of Literary Classics, Pt. 1: “Swiss Family Robinson”

17 Nov

In Japan, there was a long-running series called “World Masterpiece Theater,” which adapted western literary classics into animated TV series, usually one a year. “Anne of Green Gables” and “Little Women” were among their most popular series. I’ve had occasion to pick up several editions of this series, usually in the form of edited 90-minute condensations of entire series. These versions, invariably in Japanese with no subtitles, give me some idea of what the series looked and sounded like and what its tone was, but nothing beats actually watching original episodes in their entirety, even in Japanese. What makes this series so significant was the way it explored the actual living situations of the characters. It wasn’t so tied to plot and narrative development that it couldn’t take time to examine the experiences of the characters, especially when it came to their interactions with nature. I’ve seen episodes of “Heidi, Girl of the Alps,” and “Dog of Flanders” that were remarkable in the detail accorded the way the characters explored the natural world, with the sensual qualities of this interaction conveyed so vividly by the animation and the characterizations: what they see, smell, feel, hear and taste.

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Happy Birthday, Ennio Morricone!

10 Nov

I’ve been eager to do a tribute to Italian film composer Ennio Morricone for some time now. Upon watching EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC on VHS last month, it struck me how much a part of the cinematic landscape Morricone was in my peak moviegoing years, particularly the 1970s. So today, on the occasion of the maestro’s 84th birthday, I want to recount highlights of my long relationship with the music of one of my favorite film composers.

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