- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

Cool effects

“As long as there have been movies, there have been special effects.

“But in decades past, special effects served a different purpose than they do now. Once upon a time — say, back in the 1970s — the visual trickery employed by filmmakers was meant to look real. In many of today’s movies, however, the effects are meant to look cool. The difference is huge.

“When director John Guillermin remade ‘King Kong’ in 1976, to take one example, he and producer Dino De Laurentiis went to great lengths to convince moviegoers that they were seeing an actual giant ape on the screen in front of them. …

“With a film like 1999’s ‘The Matrix,’ however, the objective is not the same. Co-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski used computer-generated imagery (CGI) not intending to produce lifelike results, but to put a highly stylized accent on the visuals. In one now-famous fight scene … Carrie-Anne Moss is about to boot a bad guy when she is frozen in mid-air; the camera then sweeps around her, providing a panoramic view of the kick to come. …

“The difference is that the Wachowski brothers were not attempting to convince viewers that a person could suspend herself as Moss does. Instead, they were trying to come up with a shot that would make jaws drop.”

Dan Brown, writing on “Special effects become Mannerist,” Jan. 13 in CBC News Online at www.cbc.ca


“In 1991 — a bad year for culture, what with grunge, Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK,’ and ‘Boyz N the Hood’ — American filmmaker Whit Stillman, then 39, quietly released ‘Metropolitan,’ the first of three witty, articulate social comedies that will prove as immortal as Hollywood’s golden comedies of the 1930s. …

“The strongly marked young adults who people Stillman’s films have an intensely moral inner life, as they earnestly try to define the good and behave correctly. And that good consists of civility, restraint, thoughtfulness and the conventions of social life. … For Hollywood, such a code is deeply countercultural, and it makes Stillman — writer, producer and director rolled into one — a filmmaker conservatives can love.”

Julia Magnet, writing on “A Great Conservative Filmmaker,” in the winter issue of City Journal

Reality of hatred

“This intifada has opened people’s eyes to the depths of Arab hatred for Israel, and probably the inevitability of their desire for Israel’s ultimate destruction and replacement by a Muslim Arab state. I think people understand they were offered a two-state solution, a historic compromise. They rejected it. They went to the sword, which also includes awful terrorist elements, which really represents what they want. …

“There are always arguments against people telling the truth, or saying things the way they actually see them. …

“And the reality of Arab hatred and intransigence, and the ultimate desire to destroy us, is something Israelis must understand. It may change in a generation, but it’s not going to change tomorrow, and this is the way the Arabs think today under Arafat. I think Israelis must know this, must get used to this. And this may mean, down the road, new difficulties, new wars and even perhaps an expulsion.”

Israeli historian Benny Morris, interviewed by Christopher Farah, Friday in Salon at www.salon.com

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