Tuesday Media Notes

I’ve got a slightly longer post brewing about (articles about) the box office failure of Iraq War films, but I just wanted to mention some media/film notes that have crossed my radar this morning over a surprisingly leisurely cup of coffee this morning:

  • In my article on Jem Cohen’s wonderful film, Chain, I briefly mentioned the controversy over New York City’s proposed new rules for obtaining a permit to film in the city.  Thanks to a number of complaints, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting has revised those rules and re-opened the comment period until December 13.  Agnes has the full-text of the new rules, which certainly look better than the previous draft, but as one of the commenters at PictureNY observes, the definition of “obstruction” may lead to some complications for documentary filmmakers shooting on the city’s sidewalks.
  • In my Introduction to Film course this week, I’ve been teaching Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line, which famously helped to clear Randall Dale Adams of the murder of Robert Wood (or, at least, evidence that Morris uncovered during his research for the film did).  I enjoy using the film as an example of documentary films that have genuinely made a difference in the world (even if only for a small number of people), and now it appears that another high-profile documentary, Paradise Lost, about the Arkansas murder case known as The West Memphis Three, may be having a similar impact.  Monday, it was revealed that there was no DNA from the three defendants found at the scene of the crime.  While Morris’s investigative work in The Thin Blue Line may be unrivaled, HBO’s Paradise Lost (and its follow-up) helped keep public attention on the case.  It will be interesting to see how this new evidence affects the case.
  • Back in 2004, I admitted my fascination with the reality TV show, High School Reunion.  That interest has faded away in the glow of the hundreds of channels available on digital cable.  In fact, I had no idea it was still on until I learned, via a MySpace email, that my high school class is being “considered” for the show.  I have no idea how to process this information, other than to be somewhat mystified by the fact that I’ve been out of high school for nearly twenty years (side note: being “mystified” is not the same thing as feeling old).  I have no plans to apply to appear on the show, but I wonder whether my train-wreck fascination with the show will be revived if people I once knew (albeit many years ago) are involved.

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