Monday, February 12, 2007

Since the last blog, have seen a number of movies, nearing the end of the Netflix Independent Spirit Awards queue, and watched some TV. Blogspot has changed over to Google... i think this is an attempt to get more people signed onto Google accounts.

In the news: Anna Nicole Smith died, and it was covered as if it were a major news item. Why? Aside from being a media freak, whatever did that woman do? Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, whatever else they were, were actresses, and were accomplished at something. The whole spectacle of the news coverage and the men coming out of the woodwork now claiming to be the father of her baby... of course, it's a trailer trash joke, but it's too sordid to be funny.

But it reminded me that the point of Marilyn Monroe was that she started out as a "joke", the pin-up girl brought to life, but it was because of her aspirations, her desire to be an "artist" (hence her studying at the Actors Studio and the trajectory of her marriages, from an American sports hero to America's leading heterosexual playwright) and her "accomplishments" (the performances in "Bus Stop" and "Some Like It Hot" and "The Misfits"), that she attained "status". Monroe wanted (desperately) to be "serous": there was nothing serious about Anna Nicole Smith, not even her death.

On Saturday, Larry and i watched "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" and it was an aggravating movie. But it pointed out so many problems that are now occuring in American movies, and so it was illuminating. Just because something is "real" (based on a true story, autobiographical, whatever) doesn't make it ipso facto "good". It's not a work of art just because it's your life. After it, i felt like i needed to clear my brain, so i watched "Sylvia Scarlett" and then the Ealing comedy "A Run for Your Money". I'd never seen the latter, and it was charming in a sort of stretched out way.

Today, watched "The Magnificent Ambersons" on TCM. An interesting note on Matt Zoller Seitz's blog "The House Next Door" ( Edward Copeland has some questions for the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. One question: is Warren Beatty the only person to be nominated in four categories in the same year (producer, director, writer, and actor) or can Orson Welles also claim that distinction? Well... and here's the bombshell, for "Citizen Kane", the nomination for "Best Picture" is not in the name of RKO Radio (the studio which "distributed" the film) but the production company is listed in the Academy's files as "Orson Welles's Mercury Productions"... so the copyright (which is how the "producer credit" is listed) does not say "RKO Radio"... so Beatrice Welles is right all along: the Welles estate owns "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Journey Into Fear"! And this is from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences! Even in the old studio days, Orson Welles had the copyrights to his films, and NOT the studios! (So, yes, Orson Welles was nominated as Producer, Director, Co-writer, and Actor for "Citizen Kane".)

The studios can't have it both way: Disney has been leading the fight to extend copyright into perpetuity, but then the most celebrated American studio film of all time is under the copyright of one person (and not the studio that funded and released the film) and that copyright is not being honored. If Time Warner and Turner (which have joined Disney in the fight for copyright extension) want copyright extension to be honored, then they've got to pay Beatrice Welles. And the RKO contract (the most lavish contract ever; basically, RKO pledged everything to Welles, final cut and the copyrights and whatever budget he wanted) remains the most "generous" contract in Hollywood history.

My question: has Drew Barrymore ever watched "The Magnificent Ambersons" since the star of the movie, Dolores Costello, was her grandmother?


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