Friday, February 25, 2011

Camera Obscura: Oscar Snark-Fest; HBO's 'Mildred Pierce'; Peace, Love and Bieber

Live-streaming from backstage at Sunday's Oscar awards, red carpet cams, and endless online access are all set via the Academy's main Oscars page here. With two young hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco pumping the show with snarky oh-so-hip-n-funny ad campaigns, this year's show certainly is opening up to younger viewers and all manner of online social networks, which will allow trolls and hecklers around the world to slop snark bait in real time in virtual arenas.

As a movie-holic, I almost always watch the show, which is sometimes worth watching and sometimes not. While this year's online acts seem interesting, it will be tough to top Ricky Gervais' savage satire on Hollywood at the recent Golden Globes.

One aspect of this year's nominees worth noting - there's plenty of class and economic warfare in the featured films. Odds are favoring "The King's Speech" but I find it nearly impossible to relate to the troubles and triumphs of monarchs. This weekend I'm really hoping that Greta Gerwig lands the Best Actress award at Saturday's Spirit Awards for her work in "Greenberg". Her performance was the best of the year.

On a more technical side - a recent short film exploring the low-tech but vital work of the Foley artist featuring Gary Hecker is a must see. As high-tech as movies have become, the art of creating the sounds that fill every scene and every movement is fascinating. Hecker's work in over 234 films - and in video games too - is profiled in the following video.

The film noir classic "Mildred Pierce" by novelist James M. Cain lands on HBO in late March as a 5-episode series starring Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood as her daughter Veda. Directed by Todd Haynes, the new preview looks like 1930s technicolor and still keeps the grim and graphic tone of Cain's book. Cain, who also wrote "Double Indemnity" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice", expertly captured a visceral time in America, as social and personal roles were radically changing.


America's pop culture machine went into high gear this week reporting that singer Justin Beiber got a haircut. Teen pop stars have been making news for decades in America, but they seem to keep replaying the same things - for example, as noted at the always fascinating blog Cinebeats, at one time it was singer Bobby Sherman who was all the rage, and they include a hilarious peek at one of Bobby's comic book series, well worth a look.

Their post includes the following video of Sherman's first hit single, "Little Woman", and looking at it, I realized Bieber had the same haircut ... before his new adult look anyway. And dig those love beads. Groovy.

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