In the waning days of the VCR’s grip on home video, the studios were stumped. Sell through titles were stalled, the eager movie fan frustrated with the format’s lack of definition and extras. While laserdisc provided an avenue for these desired bonus elements, the digital revolution finally stepped in and made such special editions possible—and along with all the added bells and whistles came the director’s cut. With the added space on the DVD disc, studios gave filmmakers a chance to flesh out their films on the new media, giving contractually obligated commercial versions a viable supplement—and in a few cases, supplanting. Indeed, as the new technology thrived, almost every release saw a “uncut” or “extended” take, with material sometimes added without the artist’s consent or control.
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Well, Oscar has come and gone, and with his naked goldenness, another movie season is setting into the snarky sunset. It was a weird year, one were no single title dominated. In fact, both the competing awards shows and the Academy seemed ready to rewrite history as one acknowledged winners that the other could be bothered to even nominate, and visa versa. With Argo walking away with the top honors, in spite of such equally impressive works as The Master and Holy Motors, one can argue that the voting membership is still locked in safe, commercial mode. Even the snubs seem set up to send a particular message, one that tempts fate by suggesting that even the most rock solid lock of a pick - in this case, Ben Affleck as director - is far from a given.
Like the proverbial bar bet where everyone believes they’re right, pointing to Oscar and acknowledging the many missteps in reward judgment they’ve made is an exercise in communal commentary. For all the times AMPAS shows drive and determination, they more often than not resort to politics, pandering, and the lure of overpowering publicity. And then there are those cases were personal preference, not universal aesthetics, lead to isolated and individualized criticism. Again recognizing that the voting membership is comprised of all previous nominees, along with occasional invited inductees, the insular nature of the beast is pretty darn obvious. But as was pointed out in a previous article on the subject, some mistakes just seem egregious in nature.
We critics love to give Oscar the razz. After all, they get it wrong so many times that, inherently, we view it as an out of touch, deeply political body whose process allows art to die at the hands of studio artifice. Recognizing that the voting membership is comprised of all previous nominees, along with occasional invited inductees, the insular nature of the beast is pretty darn obvious. But there are other instances where the Academy bungles its business so badly that you have to wonder if senility hasn’t set in, a kind of all encompassing lunacy that adversely affects the aesthetic of the constituency. It’s the bungles that burn our biscuits the most, slights and celebrations that mock the very nature of film.
It stinks. It hurts. I may mean never having to say you’re sorry, but it’s also been known to cause a burning, itching in the heart. We’re talking about love, that most meaningful (and often meaningless) of emotions, that ambiguous and vague feeling of fondness that, like the Supreme Court and pornography, is often hard to define but easy to spot once it’s present. A lot is made out of love. There are sonnets and songs, poems, prayers, and promises. We often wonder what we’d do for it, why we can’t find it, and when we do, why it fades and then floats away. Perhaps love isn’t really that great after all. It does drive humans to distraction - and disaster. It also becomes a beacon for those without it, a holy grail perched on top of Mt. Everest that no one, including the lost and/or lonely, can ever hope to uncover.
// Notes from the Road
"With vibrant performances by artists including St. Vincent and TV on the Radio, the first half of the bi-annual Boston Calling Festival brought additional excitement to Memorial Day weekend.READ the article