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Rent to Own, Breaking Away and HDTV Eye Candy

Jason Kottke links to some explanations of the film Primer, which I’d seen last year. If you haven’t seen the film already, don’t look at these articles. Treat yourself first to this perplexing film (hopefully without any foreknowledge–that would spoil the fun!). Expect something different. On another film note, I was delighted to hear that the film version of Milan Kundera’s The Joke is out on DVD. A simple faithful rendering of the book, lovely and honest.

(I’ve been reading Arnold Bennett’s beautiful Old Wives’ Tale and was astonished to find that no one had adapted it to a film–not in the last 80 years anyway. That fact gives filmmakers like myself reason to pause).

For those who don’t notice, I keep an ongoing journal of books and movies I’ve been experiencing. Here’s my thoughts about the film Breaking Away:

Watching again, the script looked less remarkable than I remembered previously (although it had some good one liners). The race at the end is absolutely amazing, from every angle. Watching it again, what strikes me the most is the sound and sound editing. During the race, everything is muted, except for the whirring of the bicycles, punctured briefly by crowd noises and very low noises of the announcer. It is almost a dreamlike state. When the main rider comes to the pitstop after the fall, he’s groaning in agony on the bench, while his less-athletic teammates are staring in utter confusion. “Get on the bike! ” the injured boy yells, “Get on the bike!” That moment, when you realize that his teammates were totally unprepared to do any riding during the race and had been intending to let the biker dude do all the riding, is just a fabulous moment. And then the few seconds, where the three of them awkwardly figure out who’s going to take up the bike is frustrating, agonizing, hilarious all wrapped up together!

In preparation for my HDTV purchase, I’m making a list of must-have DVD’s that would make good eye-candy for widescreen. My list so far includes: Kwaidan, Baraka, Koyannasqatsi, Solaris, Hoop Dreams, Tokyo Story, and from the bargain bin: Bring It On (got to watch those cheerleader stunts in widescreen!), Singin’ in the Rain, Rear Window, Ran, Finding Nemo. (Feel free to suggest some other eye candy (Westerns? Bollywood? Sci Fi?)

This raises the question of consumption and ownership of artistic content. I’d had a prolonged discussion with a friend about how expensive the Criterion Collection editions of classic movies were. Why do we really need to own copies of movies we love anyway? Can’t we just rent? Musicals and comedies (and yes, even porn) probably benefit by repeat reviewing. They are a good retreat from the horrors and banality of modern society. We are already used to watching reruns of TV shows, but rereading books is a habit I’ve gotten away from.

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