Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Jason gives an important update on...the lack of updates here

My regular readers...if there are any left...may have noticed I haven't posted anything here since around last June.

Yeah, I've been busy, both personally and in my day job, and I don't care to elaborate. So I decided to scale back. At least for this year, I'm only guaranteeing coverage when I'm accredited press at a film festival. When I'm a paying customer, I get to sit back and enjoy the movies without worrying what I'll write about them. Even when something really impresses me--like Peter Jackson's THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD--if the muse doesn't strike, I'll keep my thoughts to myself...and to my personal friends (remember having actual conversations in person, not just shouting into the online void?)

So the next time I guarantee I'll be writing regularly will be Cinequest, March 5-17. Before that, you can see me in person at Noir City and SF Indiefest, where I'll be reprising my starring role of "guy who sits in front row center for damn near every movie." And occasionally, if the muse strikes, I might write about a movie here or there.

Speaking of...I've gotta tell you about this amazing movie I saw at Noir City last weekend. THE WELL (1951) is a simple story of a little girl trapped in a well. And it's inspired by a true story of a child who was trapped in a well in a small Northern California town (the movie was shot in Marysville and Yuba City.) But the movie takes a daring approach, by making it a story of a little black girl trapped in the well, and the racial suspicions that boil over when she goes missing. A white guy (Harry Morgan of M*A*S*H back when he was still going by Henry Morgan) who was just passing through town was spotted talking to her and buying her flowers. But without evidence of wrongdoing, the sheriff doesn't want word getting out. But it gets out anyway. And people talk, and suspicions grow into outright violence. I don't think I've ever seen a film that deals with race issues in quite this way, and it couldn't be done today (and not just because of the off-putting casual use of the N-word.) It's important that this is a peaceful, liberal town where races have gotten along so far. It's not the deep south with a history of slavery and lynchings, this is good, liberal Northern California. But while the races get along fine when everything is good, put in some fear and suspicions run wild on both sides until it's a full blown race riot.

Just as importantly, when the truth is discovered, the whole town comes together to rescue her, in a final reel that features heavy machinery and amazing camera work by Ernest Laszlo. But there's still the way everyone is side-eyeing each other. You can tell that in some ways this town will never fully recover. Not from a child trapped in a well, but from what they all did to each other.

Frightened parents and the town sheriff look to rescue a little girl

Oh, and I've still been keeping up my tally of total minutes spent watching movies. The total is now up to 493,419 minutes.