film. shakespeare. tv. social media. teaching.

Rick Perry and the GOP Love Them Some Executions

One of the moments that propelled me to remove my gaze from my computer screen to the TV is the one depicted above: when the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, spoke of the 200+ people the state has executed during his tenure and the audience applauded as though they were at a Dallas Cowboys game. Here’s the exchange (transcript from the NY Times; video below):

Thank You, Gene Kelly, for Not Directing Cabaret

Certainly, Gene Kelly had the technical skills to direct Cabaret. But the sensibilities to produce a 1970s musical “game-changer”? Probably not. And again, that’s a good thing. Where Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and On the Town (1949), for example, soared because of Kelly’s (and Stanley Donen’s) creative direction, jubilant mise-en-scene, and tight control (see “You Were Meant for Me” for “control”), Cabaret does the same because of Fosse’s

Hangin’ with the Ghosts of Buster Keaton and John Barrymore: Movie Palaces and Murals in Toledo, OH

The only theatre I’ve considered in this post that still stands in downtown Toledo is the Valentine. Why? For starters, it was not overbuilt like The Paramount. Owners renovated it to fit certain time periods (a gaudy Chinese modern in the 1940s). Portions of its building were rented out as City Hall offices. And its acoustics are tremendous. Again, like many theatre chains in the 1950s and 1960s, the Valentine had problems; it closed down in the mid-1970s and remained that way for nearly thirty years, until a $28 million dollar restoration put it back on the map.

On Academics and Fansites (or, My Justification for Creating Gene Kelly Fans)

I created Gene Kelly Fans for a purely selfish and scholarly reason: if (or when) I decide to craft a book-length manuscript on Gene Kelly and his star image, I want all of the GK news, videos, commentary, images, tweets, and tributes I’ve come across over the past few years to be stored in one place, easily accessible with links, tags, categories, etc. Another reason to maintain such a site

Animated GIFs, Cinemagraphs, and Our Return to Early Cinema

For those unfamiliar with the term, an animated gif is a “single graphic file that contains a series of images which are displayed sequentially to give the illusion of movement” (Motive Glossary). Basically, it’s the same thing that initiated the movies. Sure it is. Think back to your first cinema history course, when you learned about the zoetrope, that popular Victorian-era device that allowed users to view static pictures of a juggler or a bird as though he was moving. Gather ’round the kids, spin the wheel, look through the slats, and watch that dove fly, fly away.

The Bias of All That: Gene Kelly and His Wives

In the first half of her memoir, The Memory of All That: Love and Politics in New York, Hollywood, and Paris, actor/activist Betsy Blair writes fondly about her relationship with and marriage to Hollywood song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. The reader learns, for instance, what Gene was wearing when the sixteen-year-old Blair first laid eyes on him: “an open-necked white shirt, a dark long-sleeved sweater, dark trousers, and moccasins. He seemed to be balanced on the balls of his feet, ready to spring like a cat” (9).

Why I’m Excusing Some of the Problems in AMC’s The Killing

Several critics panned Sunday night’s episode of The Killing, “Undertow.” Reviewers for Slate, LA Times, Salon, and The AV Club reamed AMC’s “nordic noir” for its ridiculous plot twists, goofy coincidences (Rosie’s pink Grand Canyon shirt), and red herrings (the terrorism subplot). “It’s all MacGuffins, with no narrative payoff,” one critic sighs.

As I tweeted after watching, I didn’t think “Undertow” was all that bad. Sure, the political storyline was a snooze-fest, but it always is.

Bridesmaids and the Critical Hysteria Surrounding It

If Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011) fails financially, Hollywood will never make another female-centric comedy again. At least that’s the word on the street. First, apparently Bridesmaids is The Movie that will decide if women can carry blockbusters and subsequently liberate female viewers from the dreadful Katherine Heigl-helmed romantic comedies to which they’ll surely be subjected next summer. Second, any woman who refuses to watch Bridesmaids in its theatrical release is seemingly shirking her societal duty.

Obi Wan Obama, Bin Laden’s Death, and Tumblr

For those who don’t maintain one, a Tumblelog is a microblog (like Twitter) that “lets you effortlessly share anything: text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, and/or email.” According to Tumblr, the average user creates about a dozen original posts each month and reblogs roughly three posts from those whom they follow. At least half of these are photos while the remainder are split between text, links, quotes, music, and video. Indeed, most of what comes across my dashboard (i.e., my homepage) are photos, the main items for which I created a Tumblr account.

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