Scott Ellington's Blog

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The Dawn Patrol (1938)

This is a propaganda film that manages in 103 minutes to convey tremendous amounts of fast-paced, coherent, stirring information about comradeship, the joys of insubordination, the lethally-lonely duplicity of command, vengence, despair and sacrifice.  Those are themes one would cynically expect of a 1938 American film designed to support Allied spiritual preparation for the Second World War by celebrating the exploits of gallant, flying heroes of The War To End All Wars…but somehow this film also manages to weave a powerful, cogent, fundamental, explicit and universally-appropriate antiwar statement from all of the cliches its primary themes employ.  Go figure.  No, really.  Don’t miss this one.

Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, David Niven, Donald Crisp, Melville Cooper and Barry Fitzgerald lead an ensemble cast of players in this remake (of a 1930 adaptation of a Saunders short story, The Flight Commander) that successfully spins its themes with remarkable efficiency in the first several acts, and culminates in utterly wordless action in an illustrative masterpiece of unequivocal, purely-visual “narrative” exposition.

31 Aug 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

The Random Adjustment Harvest Bureau

Beyond the title of this post, I really haven’t much to say.  Plot devices in Random Harvest are much klunkier and very different from those used in The Adjustment Bureau (also klunky), but the numerous points of emotional engagement are almost identical.  I don’t mean to say that the more recent film intentionally mirrors the earlier, it’s simply that they share a lyric momentum and pace that drives toward a final, monumental chord that rings brilliantly with optimism in the Garson/Colman romance, and kicks the ass of order-following middle management in the Blunt/Damon assay (significantly easier).

I agree with Lisa Hayes (creator of UltraFem) that Philip K. Dick wrote tiny, jewel-like ideas into stories that Hollywood inflates, bathes with steroids and hammers almost beyond all recognition/affection into major motion pictures (that don’t work particularly well).

The NetFlix rental of The Adjustment Bureau marks my first experience of a clearly-marked “rental” DVD that shows me all of the special features, but won’t give me access to them.  George Nolfi’s intentions in writing and directing this film will remain unknown to me until I cough up the purchase price — or NetFlix registers and acts on the outrage of customers like me (who declare the disc defective and ask for a replacement — there has to be a less ridiculous strategy).  Media Rights Capital may well be responsible for this new wrinkle in the value-subtracted method of data distribution:

I believe I’ve just discovered a brand of content to avoid like the plague (that transforms loyal customers into zombie-like consumers).  I don’t actually fault NetFlix.

I’m midway through an early-Garson marathon.  The films are superb, but they just seem to improve as that radiant personality receives more ’40s screentime:

Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Pride and Prejudice; Random Harvest; Mrs. Miniver; Madame Curie.

Update 29Aug2011 — My second NetFlix rental MRC DVD (Devil) confirms the earlier expectation that the Media Rights Capital logo signifies no special/bonus features will be available to customers playing rental disks.  It’s a reasonably effective means for studios (Universal, this time) and entertainment distributors to discredit and devalue NetFlix in the minds of NetFlix’ clientele.  I sense the birth and spread of stupid industry-wide practices intended to subtract worth from viewer experience in favor of the illusion of capital gain (upholding shareholder value by crapping on product/audience).

So long as NetFlix fails to identify castrated titles in its catalogue, customers won’t bother to avoid them, won’t boycott MRC-style manipulative practices, and the bean-counting mercenaries win yet another minor, short-term victory enroute to the absolute-complete disenchantment of audiences for studio product — not (only) because these two particular intellectual properties are fairly-blatant Christian propaganda shit, but because the fundamental intentions of its owners really stink of spite and avarice.

07 Aug 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments