Saturday Morning Coffee Links

While waking up this morning, I caught an interesting segment on KEXP’s broadcast of a Progressive Radio show featuring an interview with Allison Hantschel, one of the bloggers at First Draft and author of the new book, Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith & the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War. The interview spent some time addressing the role of blogs in the media field and the position of neoconservatives in the build-up to the war in Iraq.

The cinetrix is reporting from the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival down in Durham. Her Durham Dispatches, published on Green Cine, provide a great overview of many of the excellent documentaries that are seeking, and likely deserve, a wider audience. The cinetrix notes that tmany of this year’s docs take a close look at Hurricane Katrina and the city of New Orleans (more from the Independent Weekly).

Also from Green Cine, a link to a fun little read: the Writers Guild of America’s 101 Greatest Screenplays. I was a little surprised to see Casablanca get the top spot but can’t really argue with many of their choices. They offer a nice mix of relatively contemporary films (Pulp Fiction and Memento) with some earlier films (I love the selections of North by Northwest, Network and Groundhog Day, among others). Like Andy, I think that Groundhog Day may be one of the more underrated films in the last fifteen or so years.

Also, IFC links to an article discussing Basic Instict 2’s lousy box office and the implications for the erotic thriller, a genre that reached its peak in the Reagan-Bush I era (Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, etc) and now seems virtually endangered. I started an entry on this topic the other day but didn’t like the direction it was taking. Long story short: I don’t think we can blame the decline the erotic thriller on Bush-style conservatism. First, LA Fishbowl points out that the pornography industry is still thriving. But my point would be that many of these erotic thrillers–Fatal Attraction in particular–extramarital sex is punished. While audiences are able to enjoy the prurient pleasures of the affairs, the film’s narrative punishes these moral lapses often quite violently. Bear in mind that the Reagan era is also the moment when we first began learning about AIDS as a sexually-transmitted disease and, in fact, there was a great deal of conservatism around discussions of sex in the 1980s. But I also don’t think this is a pure “reflection” issue. If there has been a move towards cinematic conservatism, it can be attributed to the rise in the megaplex, the giant, “family-friendly” theaters that often reuse to show NC-17 movies.

2 Comments »

  1. McChris Said,

    April 8, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

    I wonder if the thriving porn industry is a causal factor in the decline of the erotic thriller. If porn is more accessible and more easily concealed, people may be less interested in Hollywood soft-core productions. The Internet probably changes porn quite bit – you don’t have to go a dingy store in a seedy part of town when you can order DVDs online or download the directly from content providers, and videos on a harddrive aren’t as obvious to casual glance as videotapes or magazines.

  2. Chuck Said,

    April 8, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

    I wondered the same thing. People could order porn via mail order catalog, too (which would be relatively private), so they didn’t necessarily have to “go to a dingy store in a seedy part of town,” but I’d imagine that ordering on a computer via download does make it easier to conceal an interest in porn.

    My major disagreement with Verhoeven and others (who were cited in one of the articles) is their direct correlation between political and “artistic” conservatism, when no such correlation could be made. And explicit depictions of eroticism are no guarantee that the film is politcially pro-sex or politically liberal for that matter.

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