Amoeblog

Exodus shocker -- the latest Hollywood Bible cartoon isn't very realistic

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 17, 2014 09:06am | Post a Comment

The other day I found out that some people are outraged by the casting in a Hollywood film -- in this case Ridley Scott's latest effort, Exodus: Days of Future Past (or whatever its full title is). They're apparently so upset that they're boycotting it, which is something I do with all but one or two Hollywood films every year although I refer to it simply as not paying to see it.

The problem that the boycotters have, it seems, is that Exodus is almost completely historically inaccurate (It's safe to guess that most of the Egyptian and Jewish characters are most portrayed by Anglo-Saxons and presumably speak Modern (if pretentious) English with a modern British accent, or approximation of one. Without having watched a trailer I'd guess that there aren't a lot of apparently Middle Eastern Africans portraying Middle Eastern Africans and the actual actors of African descent are used entirely for background color and supporting roles). 

Apparently these scandalized and offended won't-be viewers have never seen a Hollywood film before... or assumed that they'd somehow completely change their raison d'etre. Even at Hollywood's artistic peak in the 1930s, racial sensitivity and historical accuracy were not exactly hallmarks of Hollywood films -- making loads of money was, and that's what they did and they did it well. At one point Hollywood made loads of money with elaborately choreographed, brilliantly scored, escapist musicals. Nowadays Hollywood makes loads of money with loud CGI superhero cartoons. Sometimes -- rarely -- art slips through the cracks. Much more often big, dumb-looking movies like Exodus get released that look rather like the big, dumb movies that Hollywood was mostly pumped out for the last 90 years.

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Happy 30th, Criterion -- May your next 30 be even better

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 25, 2014 11:18am | Post a Comment
Criterion is, without a doubt, the most loved video-distribution company in the video distribution game. No one (outside Korea) packages their films so beautifully and today they released a lovely, book (just in time for Christmas) of their "covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art" featured on their releases over the years called Criterion Designs. They're also beloved for their supplemental special features, which are similarly rarely paralleled, and the high quality of their restorations. There are podcasts, and subreddits, and completists devoted to the label. My only problem with them is over the films which they release -- or rather, those that they don't. 

Criterion Designs
Criterion Designs (image source: The Criterion Collection)


Criterion was launched back in 1984, when Joe Medjuck, Aleen Stein, and Robert Stein founded the company in New York City. From the get go Criterion chose films from Europe, North America, and Asia for their lovingly attentive treatment. I only became aware of the company around 1999. I recognized a lot of their films from introductory film school classes -- the canonical status of which was usually advertised by the stamp of Janus Films. At the same time, couldn't help but notice the glaring omission of ANY films from South America or Africa. When I pointed this out to Criterion loyalists and asked for their thoughts I got the following replies: "Do they make films?," "You mean like Tarzan?," and "You mean like Superfly?" My answers to all three were, "Are you *censored* kidding me?"

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People Power in the Maghreb - Celebrating the Culture of the Maghreb and the Possible Awakening of Democracy

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 15, 2011 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Map of Maghreb
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Maghreb

The term Maghreb comes from Arabic المغرب العربي (meaning "place of sunset") and, as a foreign term is disliked by some of the region's indigenous Berbers, many who prefer "Tamazgha." However, as "Maghreb" is much more widely used internationally, I'm using it here, without meaning to offend. On the same note, many Berbers also don't like the term "Berber," as it comes from the Greek bárbaros or "barbarian." Many prefer a variant of "Imazighen" but no one term is agreed upon by the the Tuareg, Moors, and other Berber people so, similarly, I'll use "Berber" in this entry for the sake of familiarity.


Berber family

 

In the Maghreb, press freedom is almost nonexistent. Mauritania, which enjoys the highest Press Freedom rating, comes in at 95 out of 178 according to Reporters sans frontières. State-sanctioned coverage of political unrest in the region is usually restricted to demonstrations against Israeli apartheid or the occupation's supporters. But recently, a wave of protests against Maghrebi's own corrupt governments threatens to bring progressive political change to the region, one of the least democratic on Earth. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Mauritania is also the most democratic state in the region, scoring 3.86 on a scale of 1 to 10 (115th out of 167 countries). By comparison, the United States scores 8.18 and ranks 17th. 

Little Ethiopia - Loving Would Be Easy If Your Colours Were Like My Dreams...

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 3, 2010 01:30pm | Post a Comment

LITTLE ETHIOPIA - ሊትል ኢትዮጵያ

Little Ethiopia neighborhood sign

This blog entry is about the Midtown neighborhood of Little Ethiopia. To vote for more LA neighborhoods, click here. To vote for LA County communities, click here. To vote for OC communities, click here. I was accompanied on my adventure to the hood by Aussie filmmaker, Diana Ward.

Little Ethiopia - looking south down Fairfax

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Celluloid Heroines - Fearless Filmmaking Females

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 20, 2010 01:28pm | Post a Comment
Kathryn Bigelow Lina Wertmüller Jane Campion Sofia Coppola
Every female director who's been nominated for an Oscar

On January 31st, The Guardian published an article titled “Why are there so few female filmmakers?” Less than a month later, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the director’s prize at the 62nd Directors' Guild of America Awards. Then, in March, she repeated that feat at the 82nd Oscars, where only three women (Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola) have previously even been nominated. Although membership of the Academy remains secret, it’s probably fair to assume that it’s disproportionatly male. What is known is that, when it was founded in 1927, there were 33 male members and three females (Mary Pickford, Jeanie MacPherson and Bess Meredyth) – or 8%.

Vicky Jenson Nancy Meyers Catherine Hardwicke Anne Fletcher Phyllida LloydThe money-makers

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