Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Status report

Okay, I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, and I’m not even sure where I am with all of them. Probably the best way to deal with it is to submit a formal status report. Here goes.

  • Cannes Film Festival: The Cannes Festival started Wednesday, and once again I am not there. I am never there. But I could be there. I am geographically as close to it as I have ever been. Someday I will be there. I never thought Woody Allen would go there before I did, but he has—to show his film Hollywood Ending. The International Herald Tribune quoted him as saying, “The festival has invited me many times, and the French have been very supportive of my films, very affectionate with me. I felt I should come as a gesture of reciprocity.” I can vouch for this. I once saw Allen’s Love and War in Paris, and the audience went crazy for it. Heck, they even cheered when a Russian character made a comment about how awful the French are. The French have a thing for geeky American comedians. These are, after all, the same people who made Jerry Lewis a god.

  • Seattle International Film Festival: I’m not going to this film festival either. I’m not happy about it, but there it is. Didn’t work out. It’s too far away. What can I say?

  • Spider-Man: Haven’t seen it yet. But I hope to sometime in the not-too-distant future. I hear it’s supposed to open in Ireland before too long. I’ve heard that it’s made a bit of money so far in the States. I’m happy, since centuries ago I bought (and still have, somewhere) the first fifty or so issues of The Amazing Spider-Man comic book.

  • Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones: Haven’t seen this either, but I hope to soon. It opens in Ireland on Friday. The title Attack of the Clones seems oddly appropriate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Friday is election day in Ireland.

  • Dark Shadows: Ages ago I promised to write more about why I thought this was such a great TV series. I still mean to. I just haven’t gotten around to it. But keep waiting. I promise it will be worth it.

  • Wide-screen television: I haven’t bought one of these yet, either. I’m not sure how this got on the agenda, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Wide-screen televisions have become very popular in Ireland. Everyone seems to have one now. Even my father-in-law, who once refused to use a cordless phone that was given to him as Christmas gift because he didn’t trust new-fangled technology, has one in his kitchen across from the turf-burning stove. I hadn’t noticed a similar trend in the States, but it is only a matter of time since HDTV will be broadcast in this format. And they will definitely be great for watching movies. The strange thing is that virtually all television is still broadcast in 4:3 format, while the new televisions have a ratio of 16:9. You have an option of having the television stretch the image to fill the screen width or you can leave the image unchanged with black borders on either side. The latter choice is annoying and the former choice is apparently the default one on most sets, so everyone has the image stretched. This has an interesting consequence. These TV sets make most everyone look overweight. This is particularly noticeable on children’s television, which is what I mostly get to watch anymore. This is so striking because most characters on television for kids are obese to begin with. Exhibit A is the rotund Barney the Dinosaur, exhibit B is the corpulent Bear in the Big Blue House, and do I even have to bring up the not-so-pleasingly plump Teletubbies? The list goes on. This brings up an interesting question: Why are so many people concerned about the effect of the preponderance of skinny actors on television and in movies—not to mention skeletal fashion models—on the self-image of adolescents? These bony role models are apparently only correcting the image of oversize role models that kids grow up with in their younger years. Anyway, as these wide-screen TVs grow ubiquitous, the problem will vanish anyway. While the wide-screen TV sets make politicians and newscasters look unflatteringly large and bulky, the good news is that the gaunt Ally McBeals of the TV world actually look like normal people when stretched to 16:9. This just goes to prove that there is a technological solution for everything.

    -S.L., 16 May 2002

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