02 Mar 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – “The Silent Skirmish”

When Kevin Brownlow completed years of restoration work on Napoleon (1927) – Abel Gance’s culminating work of the silent cinema – Francis Ford Coppola sought the right to distribute the film in the United States. Although Coppola had nothing to do with the years of painstaking research and reconstruction efforts, he demanded that the film conform to a strict 4 hour running time. Reluctantly, cuts were made, the film re-edited, re-tinted and toned, and wrongly projected at full sound speed, compromising Brownlow’s five hour long restoration. Coppola’s father, Carmine, provided a score. Here, as elsewhere, the premiere of Napoleon at the Radio City Music Hall was greeted with much acclaim and fanfare. Coppola reaped much glory while Kevin Brownlow remained a marginal figure in the minds of the American public.

Brownlow has since further restored another half hour of Gance’s epic. This 2000 restoration did not simply extend length; materials previously only available in 16/17.5 mm reduction prints have now been replaced by superior 35 mm elements and new digital restoration equipment has revealed a quality of image that simply could not be obtained twenty years earlier. Certainly, such work is deserving of high honor and our utmost gratitude… Francis Ford Coppola doesn’t think so.

Coppola will not permit a release of this latest restoration in the United States and has even threatened lawsuits should it be exhibited overseas (victory – Napoleon has screened in Europe unobstructed.) Why does Coppola want to suppress an achievement so important to anyone who cares about this art form? Embarrassingly enough, petty nepotism may be the reason.

Coppola supposedly wants his father’s score alone to accompany the film. In this digital day and age, it is nearly impossible to believe that THIS is our Gordian Knot. One can only assume that Coppola just wants a cut of the money.

Francis Ford Coppola might have a piece of the 1980 edition but what of Kevin Brownlow’s quite substantial subsequent work on the film? What right does Coppola have to a film personally bestowed to Brownlow by Mr. Gance himself? Coppola has no moral right to claim this work as his own, surely a judge would recognize this and rule in favor of Brownlow and the British Film Institute. Right?

Perhaps, but Coppola is ruthless and Brownlow and the publicly-funded BFI lack the cash reserves that Coppola (backed by Universal) could simply toss away. A prolonged legal battle would place Brownlow and his endeavors in a difficult position. Stalemate.

So Napoleon remains frozen, currently too complicated to exhibit theatrically on a widespread basis, exiled to the vaults. This film constitutes Kevin Brownlow’s life work, a half century of study, fragment collecting, preservation, writing, and restoration have been lavished on this one film. The profound impression that Abel Gance’s masterpiece has left on Brownlow has only left a positive impact on film and film history. Coppola’s inexcusable behavior, his hypocrisy, foolishness, and greed, is a disgrace.

- Jonas Erickson

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23 Feb 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 2 Comments Tagged , , , , ,

Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – “21st Century Job Search”

Let’s face it: it’s a full-time job applying for a job in 2011.

In the “old days,” a person would write up their resume and a cover letter and submit it (via snail mail or fax) for employment.  Typically, those potential employers would courteously call or send a letter to rejected applicants.

Not anymore in the 21st Century.

Instead, job seekers are now told to visit the company’s website.  Job-seekers then spend all day on their computers, downloading their resumes to online automated computer programs which culls information (often incorrectly) from downloaded resumes.  Then job hopefuls spend hours filling in fields on numerous pages with redundant information — information provided on the already-downloaded resume.

Candidates essentially retype their resumes.

And if job-seekers haven’t gone completely bonkers at this point, near the end of this modern-technological process they get to view their  ”new” resumes.  This new resume is often a complete mess … formatting completely annihilated.

If the applicants persevere, they then spend another hour or so fixing the problems created by the online program.  Or commit themselves to an institution.

And some of these “opportunities” are scams.  The only benefit is providing applicants hundreds of spam emails in return.  That is a joy!

When computer programs determine the best candidate for positions, what does that say about the companies themselves?  What kind of “people” will be their employees?

If a computer program determines the workforce for companies, I can only conclude that such companies will be comprised of people who are the reflections of a computer program: cold, impersonal, and static.

The future isn’t an “us” … it’s inhuman.


I would love to read your success and horror stories about finding/not finding work in 2011.  Please submit your comments below and let’s talk!

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16 Feb 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – “A Man Escaped”

A Man Escaped (French: Un condamné à mort s’est échappé)

France, 1956, Gaumont Film Company

Directed by Robert Bresson

What Robert Bresson accomplished with A Man Escaped is everything the generic thriller aims for but rarely achieves: extreme highs and lows, expectation, tension and suspense. A Man Escaped, however, is no thriller.

Bresson’s path is straight but not narrow. Every shot, glance, action, thought, and sound exists to reflect the inner condition. Austerity, coolness, no apparent emotion, all suggestion. Bresson does not allow his performers to exhibit feeling. Camera movement, composition, editing, and sound design replace the conventional human expression found in acting. It is documentary divorced from reality and remarried to dramatic fiction, naturalism that isn’t at the service of phony “realism” but abstraction.

The title itself betrays precisely what happens in the film; a Lieutenant of the French Resistance is arrested, sentenced to death, and escapes. This is the story of André Devigny, told to a T, no detail left untouched. This is only the plot of the film, so what is it about this picture, one that lays all of its cards out before us, that is so emotionally stirring? The condition of salvation, of freedom, both existential and spiritual.

– Jonas Erickson

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09 Feb 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , ,

Wednesday’s “BL-ARGH!” – “Feeding My Brain” (or “The Beauty of Grey Skies”)

When Radiohead offered their seventh studio album In Rainbows for digital download in October 2007, customers could name their own price for the music.  Since “free” could have been my price, some thought me a chump for paying anything (I believe I paid $8); it’s a great album.  I wasn’t raised Catholic, but I possess guilt issues which prevent me from being a complete freeloader.

Offering anything on the Internet is a precarious venture due to the money thing.  I was aware of this while I developed “ARGH! Central” and remain ambivalent.  It’s a looming cloud.  Luckily, grey skies invigorate my Scandinavian blood.

If not for the Internet, regardless of its pitfalls, the ideas within www.arghcentral.com would remain private, hidden away inside ink-splotched, dusty sketchbooks.  This forum allows me the privilege of sharing my silliness with you.  I hope it provides you something every weekday; at the very least, a smile.

Allow me to draw your attention to the central image above, “Feed My Brain.” It can be found throughout the site.  What is its function?  Clicking on “Feed My Brain” transports you to a PayPal account, enabling you to donate directly to “ARGH! Central” without engaging a middleman.

Contributions drain directly to me.  I like to think of it as a ballot box: your donations are votes of confidence.  Merchandise (T-shirts, posters, mugs and more) for sale works nearly the same way.

If you cannot afford to feed my brain or buy my stuff, spreading the word (via Twitter, Facebook, or old-fashioned communication — email, texting, talking, screaming and mind-reading — about “ARGH! Central” to friends, family, and/or foes is equally valuable.  Anything helps.  (FYI: for comparison’s sake, the Confession: A Roman Catholic App for iPhone costs $1.99.)

I love what I’m doing here on “ARGH! Central.” I hope you like it, too.

I appreciate your willingness to stand with me under the clouds, (maybe rainbows in the far distance) discovering the beauty of grey skies.

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02 Feb 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 2. Weekday "ARGH!", 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

“Meth-Head Crossing”

A friend, Wendy Gillihan, told me a story about how a meth-head ran into the side of her car while she traveled on a busy North Seattle street.  This poor soul was on foot, not in or on a vehicle.

After slamming into the side of her car, he spun around and continued running.  She pulled into a gas station parking lot and dialed 911 because she thought he may have been hurt.  But he returned and began circling her car.  She rolled her down her car window, telling him she was calling 911.  When he realized that cops might arrive, he disappeared.

It seems practical to erect caution signs to drivers, warning them about entering Meth-Head crossing zones.

“METH-HEAD CROSSING” t-shirts, coffee mugs and more can be purchased HERE!

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