Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Turn the Page

For those of you who actually still read printed matter, there are some strong recent pieces out there ready to be digested and enjoyed. I myself, while succumbing to certain charms of the Internet, still remain a steadfast print person, buying three papers a day and subscribing to over twenty mags. There is nothing like the tactile magic of bending and folding and turning a page, all in fervent pursuit of the tell-tale ending, wrap-up, or well-written summation at the end of the hard copy rainbow.
In the February 25 New Yorker the ever reliable David Denby, utilizing No Country for Old Men as a starting point, goes full bore into the cinematic output of the Coen brothers, noting, among other things, “In the past, Joel and Ethan Coen have tossed the camera around like a toy, running it down shiny bowling lanes or flipping it overhead as naked babes, trampolined into the air, rise and fall through the frame in slow motion. Now they’ve put away such happy shenanigans….That’s a strange way to feel at a Coen brothers movie. For almost twenty-five years, the Coens have been rude and funny, inventive and tiresome—in general, so prankish and unsettled that they often seemed in danger of undermining what was best in their movies. Have they gone straight at last?”
Our own literary hero, Jim Shepard (author of the recent brilliant story collection “like You’d Understand, Anyway”) is back on the Hollywood beat in The New York Times Book Review of February 17, dissecting Mark Harris’ “Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood”, a book that focuses on the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and Doctor Dolittle. “The book’s design is to track all five movies from conception to release, a happy strategy that both illuminates American filmmaking during that period and demonstrated how little the world in which the movies surfaced resembled the one in which they had been conceived.”
Finally,in the March Esquire, Homicide/The Corner/The Wire creator and the unofficial Bard of Baltimore David Simon writes about the slow demise of the American daily newspaper, particularly his own beloved Baltimore Sun, a story that reaches deep in the gut of those still addicted to newsprint and familiar with the oh-so-similar occurrences at our own Providence Journal. “ At the very edge of being rendered irrelevant by the arrival of the Internet--at the precise moment when their very product would be threatened by technology—newspapers will not be intent on increasing and deepening their coverage of cities, theior nation, the world. …Instead of a news report so essential to the high-end readers that they might—even amid the turmoil of the Internet—still charge for their product online and off, American newspapers will soon be offering a shell of themselves in a market unwilling to pay for such and then, in desperation, giving the product away for free.”

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