18 October 2007

I just got back from conducting a short seminar on The Red Shoes at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, which went surprisingly well. (A friend of a friend is teaching the class, and I was invited to come in as a guest lecturer.) I did a shot-by-shot analysis of a couple of scenes and had a great time. The timing was especially appropriate because Deborah Kerr, star of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Black Narcissus and a longtime companion of Michael Powell, died earlier this week. Kerr was discovered by Powell and Pressburger, and was far more interesting in her early work with the Archers than she was later in Hollywood. The obituaries give scant attention to this period in her career, which is a shame. In particular, nobody who has seen her in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (in three roles!) has ever forgotten it. If you've never seen this movie, well, this is as good a time as any...

04 October 2007

I've just found out that NetBank, the online bank where I used to keep a good chunk of my savings, filed for bankruptcy last week as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis. (It's the first savings and loan to fail in more than fourteen years.) As you probably know from the fine print on your banking statement, deposit accounts are covered up to $100,000 by the FDIC, but a lot of people seem to have been keeping savings in excess of that amount, which means that they get to be creditors in NetBank's worthless receivership. As for me, I switched to a different bank a couple of years ago, but if nothing else, the situation serves as a good reminder of why you shouldn't keep all of your eggs in one basket.

01 October 2007

Last weekend's activities were among the more crowded and culturally diverse in recent memory, so you'll need to be satisfied with a précis. Highlights included:

1. Lust, Caution. Along with Zodiac, Ang Lee's NC-17 epic is one of the most technically accomplished movies I've seen this year, and seems likely to score Oscars for its cinematography, art direction, and costume design. It's long and emotionally reserved, but always absorbing, and it serves as a reminder that Lee is a director who can do just about anything. The level of craft displayed here is astounding, and it's enough to move the story past moments of implausibility that would have wrecked a lesser film. (If Lust, Caution and the amazing Eastern Promises are any indication, the fall movie season is off to a great start.)

2. The Lincoln Center premiere of The Darjeeling Limited. We didn't actually go inside, but we lingered on the red carpet long enough to catch glimpses of Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton, and Leelee Sobieski (who is infinitely more stunning in person than she is on screen).

3. High School Musical: The Ice Show. Don't ask me how I ended up at Madison Square Garden with thousands of screaming six-year-olds, but I did. I'll say this much: Disney puts on a good show, the songs are pretty catchy, and at least now I'll have something to talk about with my cousins at Christmas.

4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. A midnight showing at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas on the Lower East Side. Yes.