Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Agee Redux, Part 2

A little over a year ago, I noted the forthcoming publication of two new volumes (both of which I copyedited) in the Works of James Agee series by the University of Tennessee Press. I'm happy to announce that one of those, The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter: First and Final Screenplays, has just become available. One could call it a heavy tome in both the literal and figurative senses. It comes in at more than 900 pages and lists for $90. Loaded with annotations and supplementary materials (including variant scenes, correspondence, and Agee's notes), it features the first-draft screenplays and shooting scripts for both movies. The editing of Prof. Jeffrey Couchman (College of Staten Island) represents film scholarship at its best. If you're a serious cinephile interested in classic Hollywood cinema and the complex, collaborative processes through which words on a page become images on the screen, the book is one I can't recommend highly enough. Click here for more information.

Due out later this spring is the definitive edition of Agee's film criticism, edited by Prof. Charles Maland (University of Tennessee). It's a superb work as well, presenting a panoramic view of 1940s cinema through the eyes of one of the first film critics to command respectful attention. And this volume will be the first to include all of Agee's unsigned reviews from Time.

To be sure, my involvement with these two books makes me biased. But that doesn't make my praise here any less sincere.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Great Oscars Screw-Up . . . My (Conspiracy) Theory

I think Trump did it.

I believe that the tangerine Twitter tot, knowing he would get a lot of dissing at the Oscars ceremony, had one of his minions (probably someone who knew Steve Bannon from his Hollywood days) mix up the envelopes that led to La La Land being mistakenly announced as the Best Picture winner instead of Moonlight. That way, the headlines would all be about the epic flub that ended the show, not all the digs that our so-called president received over the course of the evening. I also suspect that Steve Harvey, who made a similar flub at the Miss Universe pageant (once owned by Trump, BTW!), came up with the idea and passed it along during his visit to Trump Tower a while back. See, it all makes sense.

You heard it here first, and that's all I'll say about the Oscars this year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Fall of 'House of Cards'?

It will be interesting to see whether the Netflix series House of Cards will survive the Trump presidency. It's not that I expect Trump to order its cancellation. It's just that the show's seemingly farfetched scenarios may have a hard time keeping up with the new reality in Washington.

P.S. Ditto for Scandal, Veep, Homeland, and Madam Secretary.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Let's Extend the 'Game of Thrones' Analogy, Shall We?

New York Times opinion writer Maureen Dowd today turned over the bulk of her column to her right-wing brother Kevin, who used the space to gloat over Trump's Electoral College victory. It seems that, along with some Trump "champagne," he brought a little statuette of Cersei, the conniving queen of Game of Thrones, to the family's Thanksgiving dinner. That was to represent the now-vanquished Hillary Clinton.

Well, if Clinton is Cersei, then Trump is Ramsay Bolton, the woman-abusing sociopath of the North and everybody's favorite "man you love to hate" for the past several seasons. Let's hope some Jon Snow (i.e., charismatic progressive) rises from the dead (the current disarray of the Democratic Party) to beat the crap out of Ramsay before turning him over to Sansa Stark (women everywhere), who then feeds him to his own starving dogs (the legions of working-class Trump supporters he will surely betray).