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out this week 9/28 & 10/5...Beauty & the Beast Diamond Edition...Grindhouse Collector's Edition...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 8, 2010 06:46pm | Post a Comment
beauty & the beast tv show
In addition to the usual music releases, there are also two Blu-rays out this week that have me all kinds of excited. I have been obsessed with Disney since I can remember being obsessed with anything. I still think they are one of the most brilliant studios in the world. They somehow manage to get you when you are super young and then you are a fan for life...at least that is how it worked on me! I am obsessed with Disneyland and all things Disney. I love the old movies but the best period was really the 90s. The "Disney Renaissance" started in 1989 with The Little Mermaid; next was the Rescuers Down Under in 1990; Aladdin came out in 1992, and The Lion King in 1994. The best of these and the first to be released on Blu-ray is Beauty & the Beast from 1991. The movies continued with Pocahontas in 1995, the Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1996, Hercules in 1997, Mulan in 1998 and Tarzan in 1999. Some of the older classics have also been released on Blu-ray -- Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, & Pinocchio -- but Beauty & the Beast is the first of the newer films to be come out. Beauty & the Beast is also the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Some ofbeauty & the beast movie you may remember the 80's television show Beauty & the Beast starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. I found myself sort of freaked out by this show but also intrigued. I was not a loyal fan of the show but I imagine there must have been somebody out there who watched every episode. I did catch a couple of them. They sort of stayed with me forever. The show might have ruined the image of Beauty & the Beast for some but Disney reinvented it and brought it back to life in 1991. The movie starred the voices of Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, and Jo Anne Worley. The music was by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman; Menken composed the music and Ashman wrote the lyrics. They worked their magic together on Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin,The Little Mermaid and then Howard Ashman passed away in 1991. The documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty covers this period of Disney. I have heard great things about this film and didn't get a chance to see it in the theater but it is out on DVD on November 30th. Beauty & the Beast is still one of my favorites and it looks amazing on Blu-ray! But of course it does! Hopefully the Little Mermaid and Aladdin will have Blu-ray release dates right around the corner. The Disney Diamond Edition includes the DVD and the Blu-ray, in total three versions of the film, plus audio commentary and a sing along mode! There are some extra documentaries on there as well. It is fun to relive these movies all over again when they get rereleased on a new format, almost like seeing the movie for the first time.

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The Tarantino Solution 2: Inglourious Basterds (2009), A Moral Defense

Posted by Charles Reece, September 20, 2009 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Page 1  (Again, BEWARE SPOILERS!)

I’m waiting for any of the enthusiasts for Inglourious Basterds to come up with some guidance about what grown-up things this movie has to say to us about World War 2 or the Holocaust — or maybe just what it has to say about other movies with the same subject matter. Or, if they think that what Tarantino is saying is adolescent but still deserving of our respect and attention, what that teenage intelligence consists of. Or implies. Or inspires. Or contributes to our culture. -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, again


Certainly, there's a difference between Bonhoeffer taking no pleasure in his decision and the viewer's finding entertainment in Shosanna's, namely that between real world events and their aesthetic use. Since Mendelsohn and Rosenbaum are film critics, I'm guessing they aren't of the "art after Auschwitz is barbaric" persuasion, so their problem is with the film's message, its delivery and reception. The Jewish devised cinematic hell to which the Nazis become condemned might even be seen as tragic if you're sympathetic to their goals. As the administer and representative of the Volk's will, Col. Landa's murdering Shosanna's family sets into motion the wheels of fate that is their (the Nazi's, if not exactly Lando's) destruction. From the Greeks to Shakespeare, tragedies, we should recall, were (and still are) performed for pleasure, or what might be called entertainment. The world of art would be a lot less interesting if it came with the book of answers that Rosenbaum demands of Inglourious Basterds. How about a quote from Vladimir Nabokov?

I presume there exist readers who find titillating the display of mural words in those hopelessly banal and enormous novels which are typed out by the thumbs of tense mediocrities and called "powerful" and "stark" by the reviewing hack. There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction, [...] Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art [...] is the norm. -- from "On a Book Entitled Lolita"

Now, Rosenbaum is one of our best film critics, not some "reviewing hack," and Tarantino ain't exactly Nabokov, but everything else fits the bill. This former's criticisms, this time around, don't amount to much more than pandering moralism, and the latter, like Nabokov, is more interested in staying true to the story he's telling than whatever it might say about the real world. But this doesn't mean that his story has nothing relevant to say about whatever Rosenbaum is referring to with "our culture." The film isn't mere entertainment, or what some fanboy defense might call "just a movie," but rather a sort of parody in Nabokov's sense when he said, "satire teaches a lesson, parody is a game."


Hitler and Joseph Goebbels were admirers of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, likely hearing echos of their own call for the restoration of a soul to the dehumanizing technocracy of modernity ("the mediator between the brain and hands must be the heart!"). However, humanity, like violence, depends on the details. They didn't see an analogy of the oppressed workers at the bottom of Lang's pseudo-utopia -- who kept it running for the pleasure of the bourgeoisie and rich -- to the Nazis' use of Jewish slave labor in factories like Mittelwork where the V-2 bomb was manufactured. As Col. Landa spells out to the farmer in Chapter 1, the Jews were seen as racially other, not deserving of the moral obligation that obtains to one's neighbors in the ethnic Lebenstraum (living space). For a similar reason, American kids aren't expected to look in abhorrence at singing grapes being used to sell their own execution or anthropomorphic squirrel-operated machinery in The Flintstones. Ignoring such human traits is fine in fantasy, but not when someone tries to supplant the real with the fantastic. And, as Landa argues, the Jews weren't seen even as the equivalent of squirrels (much less the happily working and talking kind), but rats. It's this kind of rationalization that makes the bureaucratization of evil possible.

So when Tarantino parodies the burning in Lang's Nazi-favored film with Shosanna's own version, there's more going on than geeky appropriation. At the moment in Goebbel's Nation's Pride when Pvt. Zoller (the Nazi "Sergeant York") asks, "who wants to send a message to Germany?," Shosanna's image cuts in to answer that she does, commanding Marcel standing behind the screen to set fire to the film stock. The real Shosanna is already dead, killed in the projection booth by the real Zoller as she was showing a bit of compassion for the not-quite-dead wouldbe rapist, having just shot him in the back. The last bit of human compassion having been drilled out her in grieving slow motion (one of the few nods to Enzo Castellari's Inglorious Bastards), the only thing left is a mechanically reproduced image to be shown only once in a particular place, creating an aura of terror for this particular group of "art" lovers.


In Metropolis, it is the mechanical Maria who is put to the stake, having tricked the workers into destroying the machines that would keep the city functioning. I'm not going to summarize the serpentine plot of Lang's film (read it here if you dare), so suffice it to say the means-end utopia was brought down by a robot simulation of one of the oppressed (Maria) that was the bypodruct of the city ruler's faulty/inhumane ratiocinations. (That is, Fredersen, the ruler, gained possession of Hel, the love of the inventor Rotwang, eventually using her up -- she died during childbirth -- which led to Rotwang making the robot as a replacement, but it had its own demonic plans that involved taking the form of Maria.) Thus, Shosanna (and maybe Tarantino) saw the analogy that Goebbels and Hitler didn't. Define another's humanity out of your ratio-moral system and the only interaction left possible is with the robotic husk. Shosanna's moral choice in such an immoral situation was, like Bonhoffer's, to point the demonic reproduction to which she had been reduced back at the Nazis and let it take its course.

The Tarantino Solution 1: Inglourious Basterds (2009), A Moral Defense

Posted by Charles Reece, September 13, 2009 11:00pm | Post a Comment
inglorious basterds logo

So, there's been a whole lot of hoo-ha surrounding what's quite obviously the most interesting and entertaining movie of the year, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The moralistic critics have done their best to trivialize the white power movement's Holocaust revisionism by suggesting the film turns "Jews into Nazis" (Daniel Mendelsohn) and one wonders "what it was (and is) about the film that seems morally akin to Holocaust denial" (Jonathan Rosenbaum). On the other, "with friends like these ...," side, the defense hasn't amounted to much, either, the typical suggestion being some variation on the line that as pure entertainiment/fantasy, the movie has no morality, nor does it need it. Patooehy! I agree that entertainment is the film's virtue, but disagree that it occurs at the expense of morality. In fact, its morality grounds and justifies what Mendelsohn and Rosenbaum see as the Jews acting like Nazis, but what I call the aesthetic enjoyment of the film. Thus, I think a moral defense is in order. Be forewarned: MANY SPOILERS WILL OCCUR!


The Dreyfus Affair

What all retributive theories seem to share is the claim that the relation between crime and punishment is (primarily) conceptual (or “internal”). The justification of punishment is that punishment in itself is an appropriate response to crime. [...] Reaffirming the wrongness of the crime is good in itself, good enough (all else equal) to justify the punishment. Telling the truth about a crime is itself an important good.
                      -- Moral philosopher Michael Davis explaining the basic tenet of retributive justice

In his review, Mendelsohn is particularly offended by the final chapter that features Shosanna Dreyfus trapping --  with the aid of her boyfriend, Marcel -- the entire Nazi high command in a theater, then burning it down (referencing some science learned from Hitchcock). The fact that Shosanna is a Jew who barely escaped with her own life after watching a group of Nazis being led by Colonel Hans Landa slaughter her family in chapter one has no bearing on Mendelsohn's indignation. Violence is evidently content-free, the violent what-fer being morally equated to the violent crime. Even the dimmest of ardent capital punishment opponents should be able to free himself from Mendelsohn's mental paper bag here. That is, even if one holds that the state should never be able to kill murderers, it takes quite a bit of willpower to get mixed up on the order of events involved: there would be no state-sanctioned violence without the criminal act of murder occurring first. Now, there might be other good, moral reasons for not wanting the state to kill murderers, but they in no way make the two killings morally equivalent, or equally justified. Similarly, not all vengeful fantasies are the same, either. Here's a thought experiment:

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BOUQUET OF ROSE

Posted by Charles Reece, August 23, 2009 04:06pm | Post a Comment
Sure, he interrupts too much to reiterate points that are already clear, but Charlie Rose has a solid track record for getting some pretty good interviews on the tube. All of his shows are archived online and can be watched for free. Here's what's been accompanying my suppers [click pic for the show]:

guillermo del toro

Guillermo del Toro talks about pain, being fat, vampires, The Hobbit, and what makes for good fantasy.

philip johnson

Rose is at his best when he's talking architecture. Here he talks to Philip Johnson about the architect's early days as a fascist and his homosexuality.

quentin tarantino

One of Rose's favorite guests is Quentin Tarantino who's appeared at least 9 times on the show. If there's a guy who likes to hear himself talk more than Rose, it's Tarantino. Thus, much boisterous conversation about film ensues. Also, it's interesting to compare the above interview with the director at the beginning of his superstardom to the way he sees himself now.

david foster wallace

Along with the Johnson interview, this one with writer David Foster Wallace is a favorite of mine. The man is just so genuine in his answers. He critiques the television interview while giving one and has a lot to say about film, particularly David Lynch. Speaking of whom:

david lynch eating panties

Here's Lynch being Lynch.

peter singer goat

Rose doesn't have philosophers on too much, but here's a recent interview with Peter Singer on moral obligation and poverty.

Tarantino Wows His Fans @ Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Amoebite, August 21, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
tarantino records amoeba records

Thursday night, August 20, Amoeba Hollywood made a miraculous transformation into Tarantino Records, with a banner of Quentin Tarantino's stark black and white image draped over the mural on the Ivar St. side of the building, for the premiere of Tarantino's newest film, Inglourious Basterds. Three hundred lucky fans woke up at the crack of dawn two days earlier, on Tuesday August 18, to secure their place in line to meet the iconic director, and to see the special midnight showing of Inglourious Basterds at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. Tickets quickly sold out Tuesday morning and, on the day of Quentin's appearance, the excitement was palpable.

quentin tarantino inglourious basterds

Fans lined up outside the store, greeted by a bank of “soldiers” standing by the front doors and then escorted into place inside by Amoeba staff. Once inside, fans were treated to blistering jams such as "Pour Some Sugar on Me," courtesy of DJ Charisma from Power 106, as they waited patiently in the signing line, some of them dressed as Vincent Vega, Jules Winnfield, and other characters from Tarantino films. Tarantino was beaming as he fed off the enraptured crowd, posing for pictures with babies, signing records, DVDs, action figures, and books, sending away fan after fan with a huge smile on their face. Showing immense love for his fans, he dubbed them "the true believers" and the "Thursday mother fuckers," to which they roared in approval.

quentin tarantino amoeba music

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