Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Film Studies for Free explores fan culture, and so can you!

We love Film Studies for Free, a blog that curates links to openly accessible scholarly film resources. You might notice them in the blogroll on the right-hand side of this page (they're a little below the Music Library... keep looking!)

We wanted to highlight a particularly good recent posting from FSFF about researching fan culture. So much scholarly ink is spilled over movie-making we often forget how integral fan and media reactions can be in the film world too. FSFF's index is quite comprehensive, focusing primarily on print film publications but also research methods for studying fan culture.

This isn't exactly easy reading, but it's a valuable guide for anyone interested in researched film fan and media culture. Maybe you didn't even know that was something you could research until now!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Farce is strong with this video: old blooper reel from Star Wars unearthed

It's nearly customary at this point for movies to include gag reels, either as a bonus during the credits or as a special feature on the DVD release. Hilarious as they may be, outtakes from The Avengers are very much expected.

That's why it's so unique that this new blooper montage from the original Star Wars recently appeared on the web. The movie is 36 years old, and we're still finding footage from discarded takes to put online. None of the cast or crew likely expected that this would ever see the light of day, so it's fun to see their candid reactions – especially Alec Guinness's panicked reaction upon realizing he's in a movie with a Wookie. The highlight is easily the botched Stormtrooper invasion that ends with a significant chunk of the set being destroyed.

No doubt that more of these clips will be unearthed from the Lucasfilm archive as the release of the next movie in the franchise approaches. Enjoy this fun little piece of film history!

Monday, October 28, 2013

See Dallas Buyers Club early on Tuesday

Matthew McConaughey shocking physical transformation for his portrayal of AIDS patient Ron Woodroof has made Dallas Buyers Club one of the most anticipated films of the year. Despite an early screen presence characterized by mediocre romantic comedies like Failure to Launch, McConaughey's career has dramatically rebounded with the help of serious and popular films including Mud and The Lincoln Lawyer. DBC could be his chance to cement himself as a top-notch actor.

Dallas Buyers Club premieres on November 1st, but we have tickets to see an advance screening TOMORROW!

The movie screens tomorrow at 7pm at the E Street Landmark Theater. Tickets seat up to two people. Visit us to pick up a pass and get a chance to see a potential landmark movie days before everyone else.

(As always, passes are available in-person at the desk only. Seating is available on a limited basis, so you are encouraged to show up early.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Killer cars? Flying fish? Notable directors with unusual starts

The most recent batch of Academy Award contenders to come out – 12 Years a Slave, The Contender, Gravity, etc. – all come from renowned or at least established directors. Except for perhaps Neil Blomkamp and Benh Zeitlin, few directors can claim that their first films received Oscar nods. Where, then, did these acclaimed directors get their starts?

It's probably not surprising that many had inauspicious starts. The folks at mental_floss put together a surprising and entertaining list of first major works by notable film figures. Though Christopher Nolan got his start in dark, psychological thrillers early in his career, others like James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola were slumming it with movies like Piranha II: The Spawning. If anything, this proves that you should never judge a director by their first work... unless, like Stanley Kubrick, they decide to destroy it.

For the curious, most of these films are available in Media Services. Maybe this weekend you'll want to watch an early Spielberg movie about killer trucks!

THX 1138 – HU DVD 1401
Shallow Grave – HU DVD 1910
Fear and Desire – HU DVD 2675
The Squaw Man – HU DVD 3701
Following – HU DVD 3886
The Duellists – HU DVD 5368
Dark Star – HU DVD 6517
Duel – HU DVD 7047
Dementia 13 – HU DVD 864

Monday, October 21, 2013

How digital film changes the racial politics of cinematography

Many filmmakers have reacted negatively to the industry's transition from physical film to digital recordings. For all its benefits – immediate playback, easier editing, color correction – some argue that digital filming loses some the warm qualities that make physical film prints enticing. They aren't convinced of the benefits, so physical film still has a number of adherents; even the new Star Wars movie will use 35mm film.

Add another benefit to that list. A recent article from The Washington Post highlights how digital filmmaking has allowed cinematographers to capture a wider and deeper range of skin tones. The physical nature of film historically posed a challenge for capturing non-white faces. Now, post-production and higher-quality digital cameras, it's is less of a problem. This has been a boon for films by and about African-Americans; the Post cites 12 Years a Slave in particular. It's all a little technical to read, but it's fascinating to see how technology can inform the politics of film.

(This great article comes to us courtesy of AU film professor Jeff Middents. Thanks Professor!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reminder: Closing early today at 9pm

Because of scheduled campus-wide power outages, the library will close at 9pm tonight. Please keep this in mind if you're planning to watch movies in the library... or even watch movies on your own! Many of the residence halls will not have power for several hours.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Win a FREE 1TB HARD DRIVE for coming to the New Media Center!

Midterms season is in full swing, and students are starting work on their big end-of-year projects. But where do you store your giant video project? If only you could get a new flash drive or hard drive for free...

Good news: our friends at the New Media Center are giving them away!

If you attend a New Media Center training session between now and November 15th, you could win a 32 GB flash drive or a 1 terabyte hard drive! Simply show up to any of the New Media Center's training sessions to enter.

Good luck. This is a prize worth winning!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Brave our Halloween giveaway and you might win a free movie!

We've been getting into the Halloween spirit for a while now. Time to share some of it with you!

In preparation for everyone's favorite terror-based holiday, we're giving away digital copies of True Blood Season 4, Hitchcock, and Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2, Which one will you get? It's random! Maybe that's the scariest part.

For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite horror movie villain. Next Wednesday, we'll pick three random winners from our blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and in-person entries to get a free movie.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is "cinema" having a crisis? Not quite, says A. O. Scott

A. O. Scott is one of the most notable film writers who actively engages questions about the future of the moving image medium. His articles, though controversial, always offer a unique and thoughtful perspective on the impending and foreboding issues facing the film industry.

Scott is deeply familiar with the exodus of creative talent away from Oscar-winning films to prestigious television shows. In this most recent New York Times column, he tackles the similar issue of whether "the church of cinema" is facing cultural irrelevance in an age of seeming digital omnipotence.

Those foreseeing the end of film, the author argues, have not paid attention to how the medium has historically reacted to new changes. Many expected the advent of home media to demolish the theater; instead, it led to the rise of super-popular blockbusters. Even further back, some scholars expected that the advent of the paperback would destroy literature. Both these developments instead led to democratization, in which those beyond the cultural elite could enjoy media more easily. "To worry that [film will die]," Scott argues, "is to risk sliding into a reactionary, wrong-side of history mind-set."

The article is a worthwhile read for anyone on the Soderbergh side of the fence. The future of film may be filled with more energy and innovation than previous projections.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Be the first for Last Vegas!

Summer movie season may be over, but that's not stopping us from giving out movie passes!

This time around, we've acquired passes to Last Vegas, the new comedy film in which Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and others essentially play themselves having a bachelor party. We're never ones to turn down an opportunity to hang out with Michael Douglas, and neither should you.

The movie screens tomorrow at 7pm at the Regal Theater in Gallery Place. Because it's so soon, we have very few passes to give out this time. Come to Media Services to pick up your passes now!

(Passes are available in-person at the desk only. Seating is available on a limited basis. Get there early!)

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tired of Michael Myers? Try scary television

Halloween is approaching in three weeks, and with the weather outside finally feeling appropriately fall-y, we're getting into the spirit! Normally at this point we would tell you about the scary movies in our collection that you can find through our Pinterest page, but we want to take a second to look at the less-examined side of the horror coin: scary television.

Though film may have all the iconic characters (Norman Bates, Jason, et al.), television has a rich history of scaring the bejesus out of us. Even when the shows aren't especially scary, horror motifs and supernatural elements like ghouls, vampires, and werewolves have a home on the small screen among such classics as The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt.

With that in mind, here are a few television shows from our collection that fit the horror mold or are at least appropriate for Halloween. See you in 22 days!

The X-Files – HU DVD 8131
American Horror Story – HU DVD 10608
Angel – HU DVD 14000-14014
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – HU DVD 14005-14011
The Twilight Zone – HU DVD 14063-14067
Alfred Hitchcock Presents – HU DVD 14068
Twin Peaks – HU DVD 14069-14070
The Walking Dead – HU DVD 14093-14095

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Why widescreen? All aspect ratio questions answered in 18 minutes

The average media consumer is probably familiar with two aspect ratios, 4:3 and 16:9. Those are the dimensions commonly associated with standard-definition and high-definition TVs, respectively. Most media we consume has been formatted into one of these ratios for the sake of home viewing, but as you'd know if you've ever had to watch a letterboxed film, studios still choose to film in wider and narrower formats. Yet some filmmakers like Yasujiro Ozu say widescreen looks like "a roll of toilet paper." Why? has put together a terrific 18-minute primer on the history of aspect ratios. Everyone has something to learn from this video, ranging from why 4:3 caught on as the first aspect ratio to how the experimental Cinerama format played a role in the development of widescreen. This was very much made for the most hardcore film buffs, but if you've ever gotten frustrated by the black bars on a movie you watched, this video might answer a few questions.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New Acquisitions - October 2013

Been a while, hasn't it? Since the start of the semester, we've had a slew of new DVDs show up in in the library. You might be most interested in big names like The Great Gatsby and the second season of HBO's Girls, but the past few months of acquisitions cast a very wide and intriguing net. Perhaps you're interested in Midnight's Children, based on the Salman Rushdie novel. If history isn't your think, consider the documentary about legendary transhuman futurist Ray Kurzweil. Or you may want to watch a lecture about privilege from noted activist Tim Wise.

Dare you go out on a limb and watch Executive Koala, the bizarre Japanese film about a white-collar koala?

Read on for a full list...

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Military fiction writer Tom Clancy dies at 66

Tom Clancy, famed espionage author, died unexpectedly this morning. Clancy's brand of Cold War-inspired military dramas redefined the thriller genre; his influence is felt everywhere from bookstores to the popular video game franchises that bear his name.

Clancy is perhaps best known for the film adaptations of his Jack Ryan series, including The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and The Sum of All Fears. His films have immense popularity, and a fifth one is currently slated for release this Christmas. Though his brand and style will no doubt continue and be mimicked for years to come, Tom Clancy's presence will no doubt be missed in the world of literature and film.

Two of the Jack Ryan films are available to check out in the AU Library:

The Hunt for Red October – HU DVD 260
The Sum of All Fears – HU DVD 9175

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Buy, buy, buy! All Criterion DVDs half-off for the next day

We don't like to run blatant promotional material, but this is a special circumstance.

The Criterion Collection, widely regarded as the gold standard for home media releases, is holding a one-day sale on their entire collection. Every Criterion DVD and Blu-ray is 50% off until noon tomorrow. This includes their collection sets and the Eclipse series.

If you have an interest in film, this is a sale you cannot pass up. Criterion DVDs tend to be pricey but stocked with worthwhile extras. The DVD for La Cage aux Folles, for instance, comes with exclusive interviews, archival footage, critical essays, and an updated transfer. With the sale price, this will only run you $15, roughly the same as buying the cheap copy on Amazon.

Head to Criterion's website to save some significant money on films while you can!