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Sunday, Dec 16, 2007
by Gavin Williamson

In 1969, Professor Richard Brown’s Movies 101 class began as a tiny gathering of NYU film students examining contemporary film as cultural discourse. Exemplifying the zeitgeist of “the film generation”, Movies 101 quickly evolved into phenomenon unto itself. Not only did studios begin to take notice and supply him with pre-release films to test their market potential, but, Brown was also able to wrangle the stars and directors into his classroom to discuss their respective projects. Movies 101 invites you to audit the course with a Special Edition four-DVD box set with interviews with recent guests including Martin Scorsese, Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Willem Dafoe, and Julianne Moore—and its certainly cheaper than tuition.


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Sunday, Dec 16, 2007

As the comprehensive biography of one rock music’s true legends, Redemption Song is long overdue. Salewicz, a respected British music journalist with a long Joe Strummer/Clash association, offers the insider’s view of this brilliant and complex punk figurehead. Strummer was the John Lennon for Generation X and he gets fitting, comprehensive treatment here. The first definitive Strummer biography, it’s not likely to be the last with a personage this important in popular music history.


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Sunday, Dec 16, 2007

People get forgotten for unforeseen reasons. Raymond Bernard was the star director of a fledgling French blockbuster industry that was smothered by shifting national circumstances. Criterion’s fourth edition of its Eclipse series, dedicated to the director, is a revealing glimpse at his aborted career and his curiously overlooked talent for precisely attuned epics, incorporating a wide variety of artistic and technological developments into populist narrative filmmaking. The uncertain economics of inter-war France couldn’t sustain Bernard’s large-scale films. As budgets were slashed small-scale poetic realism became more popular, a style he in some ways anticipated. But the die was cast and for decades after France’s film industry was largely defined economically and temperamentally by the modest and more personal. Bernard continued to work, but like his idol Griffith, his status was diminished, an observer on the sidelines of an industry that he helped create. Though his fate was undeserved we can at least take pleasure in these testaments to his faint prominence.


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Sunday, Dec 16, 2007

All three books would make a great gift set for any Simpsons fan, especially if they have a modicum of artistic talent. The Greetings postcard book appeals to the sophomoric humor we expect from the Homer level of things. Masterpiece Gallery blends Lisa’ sophistication with Bart’s bratty humor. The Handbook is the best of the lot: quite simply, how to draw all the Simpsons’ characters in all their many modes of comic being. Naturally, it’s funny, too.


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Sunday, Dec 16, 2007



. . . your mama used to say
My boy is gonna grow up and be
Some kind of leader some day . . .


But you’re a legend in your own time
A hero in the footlights . . .



Carly Simon, Legend in Your Own Time


 



Do media influence us?


This is a question that has been debated for a couple of generations. It is one that, despite thousands of academic studies, directed at a variety of communication forms, has not yet been satisfactorily resolved.


Do media make us: more violent? More sexual? More prone to bend the truth? To seek out the gray in life? To disbelieve? To trust? To think in terms of permanence? Or evanescence?


Well, the jury is still out, as it has been since work on media effects began right after the second Great War. Yet, despite the inconclusive results, one thing that is certain (at least, if you ask me, based on my study and experience): media has been quite effective in getting in our heads, providing models of behavior, impelling us to respond by example under certain situations.


Such as?


Well, how about telling us what to do when we are being stalked by a crazed driver late at night on the open streets of our home towns?


 


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