Treadmill Television: Running in Place

A film essayist I very much admire, Rod Heath, tweeted this recently after he had finished watching DEADWOOD. While satisfied and entertained, he felt the need to communicate a deeper frustration with the state of television:

“These shows mistake being busy for complex, and mannerism for style.”

None of this was meant to cast a shadow over the critical and viewer success of DEADWOOD, merely that the laudits surrounding it and many other shows often mistake complicated for complex. It’s been a personal gripe of mine for years.

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GRAND HOTEL: It Actually Is Kind of Grand


It’s been years since I watched GRAND HOTEL, the movie based on the play based on the book that was so successful its narrative structure came to bear its name. That structure, multiple stories and characters, some intertwining, others not, became known as the “Grand Hotel Theme.” It is also notable as the only movie to win Best Picture without receiving a single nomination in any other category, which is somewhat insane considering the talent involved. Granted, there weren’t a lot of competitive categories at the 5th Academy Awards but they had acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and art direction categories, all of which GRAND HOTEL had a shot at winning. Particular the art direction by Cedric Gibbons and the cinematography by William Daniels.

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Out with the Old… or Not.

Over ten years ago, I started blogging. Not about movies, but about politics. I got linked to in more than one post at the burgeoning Huffington Post, a blog so new no one had yet thought to give it a nickname, and found my own posts getting not only increased readership but increased vitriol. It wasn’t what I wanted to spend my time doing, arguing with hostile, belligerent anons screaming at me for writing opinions that differed from their own. I decided movies and music would be much better, even though I had avoided doing so. Why? Because I was already known for movies and music and had jobs here and there writing them up. I wanted to delve into the world of political journalism but quickly found I didn’t have the stomach for it. More importantly, I realized the arts beckoned far too strongly.

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