Monthly Archives: May 2012

Be a Patriot–Read My Post!

Another Film Annex post is read to go. This time, my armed forces-themed coverage fits well, as we are hovering around the time of a national holiday honoring those who serve (and not just a national holiday of beer and burgers, though that is how most of us choose to recognize it).

This week, I’m highlighting the journey of Marine Dustin Norwood as part of Film Annex’s G.I.V.E. program. Hear him talk about his time in Afghanistan as well as what comes next. Read my blog on Film Annex to find out more. It’s your duty as my friend and as an American!

On a serious note, I’d like to give a sincere thanks to all those who have served this country through it’s many engagements, conflicts, situations, or whatever you like to call them. Watching the stories of returning veterans since I’ve had the job at Film Annex just reinforces my notion that I could never make it in the army, and I’m impressed by and grateful to those who choose to put themselves in harm’s way so I don’t have to. I don’t always agree with the reasons for why we go to war, but I’ll never say anything against those who fight for what they believe in. Many thanks to you all.

Viewer’s Choice: Hugh Hefner

So I’ve been watching a lot of porn lately.

No, not for that. Jeez. No, I’m doing research for a new web series I’m writing (it’s going to be super awesome and I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it as it comes along. DISCLAIMER: it’s not going to be actual pornography, so you can all relax). Anyways, as an additional, more academic approach to the topic, I’ve also been watching a lot of documentaries about the porn industry, and Hefner’s biography happened to be one of them.

NOTE: This review was requested by my friend Tim. So we all have him to blame.

Er, I mean…thank.

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel (2009)

Biographical Documentary
Running Time: 2 hrs 4 mins
Plot: From his humble beginnings as a cartoonist to one of the most iconic celebrities in America, Hugh Hefner’s life has been one of controversy, conflict and, though it may come as a surprise to some, high ideals and commitment to excellence.
Available on: Netflix

Before watching this documentary, I didn’t really have an opinion on Hugh Hefner. I didn’t like him and I didn’t dislike him. I’ve never been a big fan of Playboy, but it didn’t offend me either. To me, naked women are boring. However, after watching this film, I have to say I have a great respect for Hefner.

Yep, you heard me right. Respect. Now before you get all hot and bothered about how I could possibly respect a man who distributes pornography for a living, read on. Here’s a list of awesome things I didn’t know about Hugh Hefner before I watched this documentary:

  • He’s a proponent of free speech. Seems obvious that he would be, but it never really struck me just how involved he was until now.
  • He is a ridiculous perfectionist. He reviews every issue, every picture, in painstaking detail to make sure it’s fit for publication. Yes, okay, it’s pictures of naked people. But so what? Commitment to perfection is still commendable in any artistic pursuit, even porn.
  • He was a huge civil rights activist. His television show, Playboy’s Penthouse (1959-1960), actually featured a lot of African-American musicians and racially mixed ensembles that couldn’t book a show at most other venues.
  • He was an outspoken anti-war figure during Vietnam, and his public appearances reflected that opinion. One event the documentary notes in particular is the appearance of the rock group Country Joe and the Fish on Hefner’s second short-lived television show, Playboy After Dark  (1969-1970), where they performed their extremely controversial anti-war song “I Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag” .

He’s also responsible for giving me my new favorite quote to live by: “If I was going to be damned, I wanted to be damned for what I really believed, not what they pretended I believed.” It sounds a little trite, and maybe it is, but as I find myself applying it to situations in my life, it has given me a startling amount of clarity. People are judgmental no matter what. You can’t get around it. So you might as well be judged for what you actually are rather than what people think you are. Be yourself, and everyone else will just have to find a way to deal with it.

Now, I am just as liberated and modern and blah blah blah as the next woman, and as such I don’t presume to tell other women what to do with their lives. Maybe I don’t want to put on rabbit ears and tail (I think I’d look better in bat wings, or maybe as some kind of jungle cat), but far be it for me to tell other women what they can and can’t do with their lives. Maybe Playboy objectifies women as sex objects, but if the women in the photo is fine with it, then that’s fine with me. I know some people will say that this objectification causes men to see all women as sex objects, but to me it’s all about context. Sometimes women are sexual, and sometimes they aren’t, and men are not so stupid that they can’t tell the difference.

Okay, maybe some are. But those men are going act like jerks anyway, naked pictures or no.

You Tell Me

Instead of trying to guess what you people are interested in, watch that stuff and then write about it (which is SO much work), I’m flipping the tables. Here’s a list of what I’ve been watching recently enough to have in my Netflix Recently Watched list. If there’s anything you see that you want to know more about, leave a comment and I’ll write you a post.

Warning: I’m still on a big Investigation Discovery kick, but I removed all the titles I’ve already mentioned in previous posts.

What? It’s good to have on in the background while I’m working/writing/cleaning…shut up it’s my life!

Anyways….commence listing!

  • Ally McBeal
  • Auction Kings
  • Best Evidence
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • Cold Blood
  • Family Guy
  • Gangland
  • Groundhog Day
  • Hardcover Mysteries
  • How It’s Made
  • Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel
  • I (Almost) Got Away With It
  • Inside Deep Throat
  • Monk
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Porn: The Business of Pleasure
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Star Trek
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: Voyager
  • Star Trek: Enterprise

So now you know…I’m a huge geek who loves sci-fi, cartoons, and crime shows. Shock, I’m sure.

Pick your favorite and I’ll write a lil’ something special, just for you!

Film Annex Article #6: Francesco Rulli and the ADP

So, I started out trying to write an article on Citadel, the co-founding organization of the Afghan Development Project (you remember–from last time). While I was searching, I stumbled upon this interview with Film Annex founder Francesco Rulli. It is a 9-minute piece of him talking about his motivation behind the Afghan Development Project, GIVE, and a number of other ideas that I’ve been covering in my articles over the past few weeks. He’s a very good speaker, a very cool and forward-thinking businessman, and even though 9 minutes is a long time out of your day to spend watching a web video, I would say it is at least worth watching part of it.

Rulli Speaks on the Afghan Development Project (Full article, as well as links to videos and more information, is available on my Film Annex page.)

Thanks for reading!

Good-for-You Film: The Graduate

I felt so bad after last week’s junk TV article, I’ve decided to start a thread of posts called “Good for You Films (and Television).” These are the must-watch classics/quality films and TV shows that, lucky us, are available for free on Netflix, Hulu, or wherever I can find them. Maybe this will help us pull ourselves into a less depraved state of viewing.

And by us, I mostly mean me.

The Graduate (1967)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft
Running Time: 1 hr 45 min
Plot: Dustin Hoffman is a tremulous college graduate (hence the title) who isn’t sure what to do about this future. While he’s figuring out life, the universe and everything, he carries on an affair with the wife of one of his parents’ friends. Then, because he doesn’t have enough issues, he begins a relationship/falls in love with her daughter.
Available on: Netflix

Once in a while, it’s fun to watch a movie that makes you feel super smart if you went to film school or have a naturally cinematic eye.  I could spent an article talking about the cinematography and how at every turn it constricts or marginalizes Hoffman’s character, reflecting the way he is constricted in his life…but that feels kinda impersonal. Plus, if my textbooks were any indication, it’s nothing new that you can’t find covered in a dozen other books by people who are way smarter than I am.

I will say that, having seen this, I can see it’s influence in a lot of other films. Garden State is really the one that I kept occurring to me in terms of cinematic style, general themes, and the role of music in the story. Watch them back to back and see what I mean.

Instead, I’d like to talk about something that really effected me: the treatment of the main character, Ben (Dustin Hoffman) by the film as a whole. The only reason the cinematography is so effective is because it puts you in touch with Ben’s psyche, and the only reason that works is because you spend the entire film with Ben. He is in every scene, certainly every shot. I feel like in contemporary film, it is rare to spend an entire film with one person–not a pair of people, not jumping back and forth between subplots, but with ONE person. Especially someone who spends so much time in silence, wrapped up in his own brain. These silences are where the cinematography really has a chance to shine and it feels like he is speaking volumes.

It’s this connection between the excellent camera work and a hands down brilliant acting job by Dustin Hoffman that really drives this movie into your heart. You’re not placed inside the character, but right next to him, and you go through everything with him, feel exactly what he feels, especially the really uncomfortable stuff. It’s the kind of reaction, and the kind of film that you watch and say, “I want to make a movie like that.”