Wizard of Oz Scarecrow and Tinman Scenes in 4K

Oriel Malik remastered a few scenes from the Wizard of Oz in 4K quality video and it is like watching the movie for the first time. The detail that you can see on the Scarecrow’s face is something I never noticed. And the artwork on the backdrops of the scene is also so vivid. Below is the scene of them meeting the Tin Man and the quality and detail is just as impressive – the scenery pops and it is transformative. There has long been a rumor that you can see one of the Munchkin actors hanging from a tree in the “Tinman” scene, however that rumor has long been debunked as instead being a bird from the LA Zoo being used as a prop.

The Gaps in The “Yellowjackets” Storyline

Over the course of the past two years, as we have all been home because of the pandemic, I’ve been consuming a lot of movies and TV. I have been diligent about checking out reviews and listening to critics before diving into new TV shows because I already am ‘in deep’ on too many TV shows. Whenever I engaged in any of the many ‘prestige’ television shows that are out there, a key criteria is the legitimacy and believability of the storyline relative to the premise of the show. And what I mean by this is the following: if, for example, a show is based on a fantasy premise, then it needs to effectively create the world-view that you are entering and set the proper context and boundaries in which the fantasy can operate within before it becomes truly unbelievable to the viewer. Similarly with ‘real world’ stories, the same thing applies. The story needs to be rooted in reality and clearly be cognizant of the timeframe and context in which it is set.

One show I have recently been watching is “Yellowjackets” on Showtime. The show’s storyline centers on what happens in the 25 years since a plane crash stranded a fictitious 1996 NJ high school girls soccer team in the wilderness after they won the state championship and were heading to Seattle to participate in a national high school soccer tournament (i.e. a tournament that presumably includes each state’s high school champion). The show is really good and does a great job of balancing the storylines of what has become of the survivors in present day 2021 and the closely held secrets of what really happened to the survivors in the wilderness back in 1996.

As good as the show and the acting is, there are a few glaring gaps with the 1996 portion of the storyline that I just can not get past. I’m going to do my best not to spoil anything about the show.

  • The show says that the survivors of the crash are stranded in the wilderness for 19 months. There is no part of me that would believe that a plane full of upper-middle class (mostly) white girls from a seemingly well-off suburban NJ town would be left out in the wilderness for almost two years. I went to a soccer crazy high school in a town very similar to the one portrayed in the 1996 storyline of “Yellowjackets” and there is no way on earth that parents in the town would have let this go without a full-on 24/7 search and rescue effort until the crash site was discovered.
  • Also depicted in the 1996 storyline are several pretty severe injuries from those that survived the crash – both as a direct result of the crash and from attacks from wildlife in the area where they were stranded. I honestly don’t buy that those that suffered these injuries would have recovered the way they did in the show. The injuries were just too bad, and it would have been too easy for things to go sideways.
  • As is well documented, the show says that the plane crashed ‘in the wilderness of Ontario’ as a result of the pilots having to fly further north than the normal route to Seattle in order to avoid a severe storm. The storm that they were avoiding must have been some sort of super storm because after looking at typical flight paths from Newark to Seattle, they would have really had to go far out of their way to be routed over that area of Canada. Further, the wilderness depicted in the show at the crash site seemed much more in keeping with the terrain of the Canadian Rockies compared to Ontario.
  • I really wish the show did more to bring in the storyline of what was happening in NJ in the weeks or months after the accident. It would have been much more realistic to engage with the families back in NJ and to understand what they were doing to try to determine what happened to the team and their plane. It is such a major gap in the show. Maybe the show-runners did not feel that they could effectively juggle three major story arch’s (1996 crash site, the 1996 families trying to find their kids, and the survivors living ‘today’ in 2021) and while I can appreciate that, you don’t need to look too much further than ‘Game of Thrones’ to see how a show has deftly threaded a similar needle. They could have, for example, dedicated one ‘stand alone’ episode within the season to the families at home in NJ and how they were coping and trying to solve finding the plane. They could have extended the season from 10 to 12 episodes to accommodate the same. There were several options available it would seem to me.

The acting in this show is really good, and there has been a lot of speculation as to where the story will go in its second season. There are some serious “Lost” vibes being bantered about in online forums – mainly due to several ‘cult’ like and super-natural themes that are presented early on and via one key character. Definitely check the show out! Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I am and you can get past the concerns I have noted!

Alright alright alright

A ‘supercut’ of all the iconic scenes that Matthew McConaughey was in from the movie “Dazed & Confused”. I re-watched this movie a few months ago and just loved every scene that Wooderson was in. I wanted to be there. I wanted to hang out with him. He jumped off the screen.

The backstory of how he got the role is pretty awesome, as detailed in this excerpt from his recently released book Greenlights. To his credit, it wasn’t the ageless ‘Alright, alright, alright’ scene that he keyed on when reading the script – since it was essentially improvised and didn’t exist in the script. He focused in on, in my mind, the even more iconic line:

That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

The whole scene when he is hanging out at the drive in with the guys, hanging on the wall, just dripping ‘cool’ is fantastic. He owned every piece of that scene, culminating in him delivering that line. The back story on how he thought through how he was going to present Wooderson for that scene is great:

Wooderson was 22 years old but still hanging out around the high school. That line opened up an entire world into who he was, an encyclopedia into his psyche and spirit. I thought about my brother Pat when he was a senior, and I was 11. He was my big brother, my hero. One day, Pat’s Z28 was in the shop so Mom and I were picking him up from high school.

We were slowly pulling through campus in our ’77 wood-paneled station wagon, Mom driving, me peering out the window in the back seat. Pat was not where we had planned to meet him.

“Where is he?” asked Mom.

Turning my head to look left and right and then out the back window, I saw him about a hundred yards behind us, leaning against the brick wall in the shade of the school’s smoking section, one knee bent, boot sole against the side of the building, pulling on a Marlboro, cooler than James Dean and two feet taller.

“Ther — !!” I started to shriek, then caught my tongue because I realized he’d get in trouble for smoking.

“What’s that?” Mom asked.

“Nothin, Mom, nothin.”

That image of my big brother, leaning against that wall, casually smoking that cigarette in his low-elbow, loose-wristed, lazy-fingered way, through my romantic 11-year-old little brother eyes, was the epitome of cool. He was literally 10 feet tall. It left an engraved impression in my heart and mind.

And 11 years later, Wooderson was born from that impression.

Matthew McConaughey

Twenty eight years later, Mr. McConaughey is still super cool and still riding the wave of that iconic performance.

Quit A Dream Job To Pursue A Film Career…

Said no reasonable parent. Ever.

I am sure that there are all sorts of stories out there about people leaving a plum job to pursue some insane pipe dream, only to actually crush it in that ‘pipe dream’.

Here is a case in point. Colin Levy worked at Pixar. He worked on films like Finding Dory, In and Out, Monsters University and several others. Not a bad place to be as, speaking from personal experience, I was lucky enough to take a tour of the Pixar campus last year as the son of a family friend currently works there and he was gracious enough to give me and my family a tour when we were out in San Francisco. Working at Pixar has to be absolutely awesome. Colin pretty much had the world at his fingertips. So what did he do? He quit to pursue becoming a filmmaker.

And wow, his first crack at it is pretty impressive. It is called Skywatch. It is only 10 minutes long, but wow, it is an impressive effort. Really interesting nugget of an idea – a sci-fi thriller that includes drones in a futuristic world where things can be delivered to your living room through a wall unit. What could go wrong? Great execution. Very well produced and directed. Within the first minute, you get the idea of what is going on.

I’m already looking forward to the full length feature!

UPDATE: Here is a short on how he got an Oscar nominated actor (Jude Law) to be in his short film.

Wonder Woman 1984

I think I’m all in.

Gal Gadot. Big fan.

New Order theme music. Check.

Making me remember the network version of Wonder Woman from the 1980s starring Lynda Carter. Check.

DC Comics has a looooong way to go to catch up to the juggernaut that Marvel has created. And it is likely they never will actually catch up unless they get someone as good as Chris Nolan to work on Batman and other characters. But, they have a franchise player here in Wonder Woman.

The Real Starcourt Mall

Starcourt Mall – Stranger Things – via The Verge

The first three season of Netflix’s Stranger Things has been nothing short of a cultural revelation. Yes, the 2nd season was a little weak but the most recent 3rd season that was released over the July 4th weekend has received rave reviews and is considered on par with the series’ breakthrough first season.

A key ‘character’ in the 3rd season was the Starcourt Mall, an astoundingly accurate depiction of 1980s mall culture. While many thought that the mall that was used in the show was built on a soundstage, the reality is that the production crew at Netflix were able to find an actual, ‘stuck in the 1980s’ mall in Gwinnett, Georgia (Stranger Things is shot in and around Georgia).

There’s a reason why the Starcourt Mall, the principal location for the third season of Stranger Things looks so real: it’s built inside of a real shopping mall. Specifically, it was built inside of Georgia’s Gwinnett Place Mall, which was built just a year before the latest season of Netflix’s show is set.

Along with other historically believable shops that the show’s characters visit throughout the course of the show, there are almost a half-dozen extra stores that were built and filled with period-appropriate signage and products, but they never appeared on camera. Typically, film sets aren’t a full structure or room; it’s cheaper to build the bare minimum needed for a shot. That Netflix opted to build out entire stores suggests that the filmmakers wanted a bit of flexibility with how they shot the show, allowing them to shoot from any angle without worrying about an unfinished background.

Jon Porter – The Verge

As a teen of the 1980s, I have been so impressed with the accuracy and attention to detail that Netflix has shown with the production of this show. They have absolutely *nailed* what it was like to be a teen in the 1980s – from the pop culture references to the way they constructed the Starcourt Mall.

Sadly, Netflix is in the process of dismantling the mall in Gwinnett. There were some rumblings that they were going to leave the Stranger Things version of the mall intact for a while so it could be used as a promotional destination but that ended up not happening. I definitely would have wanted to try a cone from Scoops Ahoy.

Karaoke World Championships

Photo Credit: Hannah Ewens @hannahrosewens

Yes, it exists. In Helsinki, Finland. Because the Fins LOVE karaoke.

Spots can also be found in abundance in the activity’s lesser-known cultural home: Helsinki, Finland. It’s a small capital city with about 30 karaoke bars one every few minutes walk in the center. Many pubs also have their own machines. There is a metal karaoke bar, a gay karaoke bar, and there is a public library with a karaoke booth. It is possible that many Finnish people love karaoke even more than the Japanese.

Hanna Ewens at Vice was on the first plane to Helsinki when she heard about these championships. Yet, once she got there, the existential but critical question that has vexed humanity for years raised its ugly head again – what exactly is karaoke?

What is karaoke? For the first of many times this weekend, I try to work it out. It’s not the same as an open mic night where you sing your own songs, with no recorded track, and a level of professionalism expected (for instance, actually knowing the words). Neither is it a Stars in Their Eyes-type scenario, since there’s no pressure to perform the song like the artist. It’s not drag, because, apart from one contestant dressed like a queen and a couple of guys singing Whitney Houston numbers, there isn’t anything political or subversive about what we’ve seen so far.

The true success of karaoke is the fact that the interpretation of what is considered ‘good’ can not be defined by any rules – it really is in the hands of those that witness the performance, coupled with the contextual elements that surround the performance: What song did the performer choose? What was the context which drove the choice of song? What or how did their outfit enhance the performance? The considerations could be endless. Knowing a good karaoke performance is sort of like porn – you know it when you see it.

Photo Credit – Hannah Ewens

Clown Only Screening of Stephen King’s “IT”

This is just wrong in so many ways.

The one redeeming element of this idea is how it came about. Back when Wonder Woman was released, the Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater in Austin, TX held an ‘all women’ screening of the movie. As this screening was announced on Facebook, a snarky commenter, on a lark, suggested they have “an all male screening of Thor:Ragnarock or a special screening of IT that’s only for those who identify as clowns.”

Now that’s listening to customer feedback.

Photo Source: Entertainment Weekly