- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2003

FX expectations

“‘The Hulk’ featured a muscle-bound 15-foot green monster that was entirely computer generated and had to deliver, along with the usual range of smashing theatrics, a full, emotional performance. … In the movie, the Hulk had to appear in broad daylight, in our world, in the context of other humans. Nothing like it had ever been tried before. …

“Film critics, however, panned not only the movie but [the special effects]. The monster didn’t look real. Case closed. Moviegoers must’ve agreed, because after a huge opening weekend, ‘The Hulk’ died at the box office. …

“It wasn’t always like this. Before the visual-effects industry was transformed by [computer-generated imagery] in the early 1990s — thanks to films like James Cameron’s ‘Terminator 2’ and Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ — the bar was much lower. The original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy featured revolutionary special effects — but no one mistook what they were seeing for reality. Chewbacca looked like a tall man in a furry suit. The spacecraft looked like plastic models floating in a dark room. The story was marvelous, of course, but the same story today with similar production values would get laughed out of the theater. We weren’t dumber back then, or less observant. We just had lower expectations.”

Devin Gordon, writing on “The Problem with FX,” at www.msnbc.com

The way they are

“Some observers have expressed surprise and wonder at the arrogance, self-righteousness, naivete and (let’s face it) downright stupidity of … Hollywood pacifists. …

“For those familiar with the psychology of the American Left and of the Hollywood Left in particular, however, there is nothing surprising here. For those who need a refresher course, may I suggest viewing Sydney Pollack’s 1973 movie ‘The Way We Were,’ starring Robert Redford and the doyenne of the Hollywood Left herself, Barbra Streisand. …

“To understand ‘The Way We Were,’ you need to get beyond the old-fashioned star-crossed romance which is the film’s ostensible subject. …

“[T]he film’s true (if understated) theme [is] the relationship between WASP America, as represented by Redford’s golden-haired Hubbell Gardiner and his circle of friends … and the American Left, as represented virtually single-handedly by La Streisand. …

“[I]n earlier decades, Hollywood would never have produced a movie making such an explicit connection between Jewishness and Leftism. ‘The Way We Were’ does so proudly … but gets away with it by portraying Communist activism as mainstream as apple pie, consisting of little more than having strong convictions and affection for FDR.”

Carol Iannone, writing on “The Way They’ll Always Be,” Tuesday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Musical Marilyn

“I was never one of those Marilyn Monroe fanatics. I knew a couple of people who were, but for some reason it never rubbed off.

“I will say that this new two-disc box from Stardust [‘Anthology] reveals her to be a better singer than I ever gave her credit for. She had a much wider vocal range than that breathless little-girl voice she adopted would admit. She’s no Sarah Vaughan or anything, but she’s OK. …

“‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ … I must admit, is still really something to this day. …

“While this is something clearly aimed to please M.M. fanatics and absolute completists, those who are non-obsessive in their Monroe fandom might ultimately be disappointed — even annoyed — at the lack of primary Marilyn material on the second disc. ‘Why not a couple of old radio interviews instead of 30 seconds on a half-hour Martin and Lewis show?’ they might ask, and they’d probably be justified in doing so. …

“On the other hand, for those of us who can take Marilyn Monroe or leave her, but who have an interest in radio comedy, or American pop culture … the set makes for a great historical document.”

Jim Knipfel, writing on “American Idol,” in yesterday’s issue of New York Press


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