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May 19, 2008:

I’D WALK A MILE FOR A CAMEL

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I’ve come to the conclusion that the camel is a very interesting-looking animal. I ask you, where else on all the Internet can you read such an opening salvo? Nowhere, that’s where. When they walk they’re always looking up at the clouds. Occasionally, it looks like they’re chewing a wad of Bazooka bubble gum. Their legs are spindly, and yet they can hold a good deal of weight. They’re cute when they sit down. In fact, I’m not quite sure why Disney or Pixar hasn’t had a movie with a camel as its star. Oh, knowing how these things work, someone from Disney or Pixar will be reading these here notes, and next thing we’ll know we’ll have a film entitled “Camel Story” or “I’d Walk A Mile For A Camel.” Of course, if they decide to make a biopic of ME, they can call it “I’d Walk A Mile For A Kimmel.” In any case, I saw quite a few camels last night and I was quite fascinated by them. What the HELL am I talking about? Don’t I have notes to write? Shouldn’t they have been posted about six minutes ago? But, no, on I go about fershluganah camels. Speaking of camels, yesterday was a nice sort of day – nothing exceptional, but nothing horrible. I got up a little later than planned. That was neither exceptional nor horrible. I then worked for about three hours on Nudie Musical – I think I’ve pretty much cleaned up everything I wasn’t happy with, and I came up with a better way to end it. It’s similar to what I had, but it’s more theatrical now and it involves a reprise of one of the new songs. After that, I had In and Out for luncheon, then came back home and sat on my couch like so much fish.

Yesterday, I watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Charlie Chan in Honolulu. It’s part of a new Chan box-set. Charlie Chan in Honolulu was the first film to feature Sidney Toler as Chan, after the death of the previous Chan, Warner Oland. I hadn’t seen any of the Fox/Toler Chans, just the later Monogram ones, which were certainly entertaining. I really enjoyed Charlie Chan in Honolulu – it’s very short, has a lot of comedy, and Toler takes to the part as if he’d been doing it for years. Also, I just adore Phyllis Brooks and she has the female lead in the film. Not much of a mystery, but very entertaining, nonetheless.

I then found out that the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian was showing Khartoum, in a brand new 70mm print, and the allure of it was all too strong, so off I went to check it out. Khartoum was shot in Ultra Panavision 70, perhaps the widest screen ratio for 70mm ever, weighing in at 2:76. Two other roadshow films shot in that super wide process were Ben-Hur and Mutiny On The Bounty. Well, most theaters that played these films didn’t show them quite that wide because they just didn’t have screens that could accommodate that extreme width – so they compromised around 2:54 or thereabouts. Of course, Ben-Hur and Mutiny both played the Egyptian, and the Egyptian showed them at full width and it was spectacular. Unfortunately, when the Cinematheque completely redesigned and reconfigured the theater, they now have a screen that is nowhere near the size it should be to properly display 70mm, let alone the ultra wide Ultra Panavision 70. They opened the masking as far as they could, and brought down the top masking to make it 2:76, but it was like seeing it in a multiplex cinema and didn’t have the impact it should have. In fact, the gentleman who introduced the film even said it was a shame that the screen couldn’t be ten feet wider – if it were, then the top masking would go up to compensate and it really would be something to behold. I’d never seen Khartoum, even though I own the DVD. Well, even in the compromised setting of the Cinematheque, and even with some projection-related problems, it was hugely impressive. Anyone who thinks Blu-Ray or hi-def is the be all and end all and in any way, shape or form replicates a theatrical screening doesn’t really understand what film looks like. And especially 70mm. This was a brand new print, apparently struck for an upcoming European DVD release. Interestingly, when they strike these new prints they only strike the picture, not the sound. But the Cinematheque convinced them to make a DTS disc and they did. The sound, while not heavy on the surrounds, was robust and full. But it was the image, even on the compromised screen, that was mind-boggling. It was beyond sharp and mighty impressive. The color of the print was probably perfect, but the projection bulbs these days have a yellowish cast to them which renders prints a little heavy on the yellow side. Even so, the colors popped off the screen gorgeously. The film is a bit of an oddity. It’s very talky, but has a few really good action scenes. The two giant stars, Mr. Charlton Heston and Mr. Laurence Olivier, only meet twice – once at the beginning of the film and once at the end. Both scenes don’t amount to more than twelve or fifteen minutes of the 128-minute running time. But, while I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best epics, it has its moments, the script is fairly literate, and the performances are wonderful – the excellent supporting cast includes Richard Harrison, Ralph Richardson, Michael Hordern, and a whole slew of well-known British character actors. When I got home, I put on the DVD – taken from a faded 35mm print, it was basically one of the most wretched-looking things I’ve ever seen. I only wish the DGA, with one of the finest theaters in town, would do a 70mm festival – boy would Khartoum have looked incredible on their huge screen. Of course, one of the pleasures of Khartoum was the camels. I just couldn’t stop watching the camels. Their performances were riveting.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I’d walk a mile for a camel, but, really, would the camel walk a mile for a Kimmel?

Today was supposed to be book design day, but Mr. Geissman suddenly has a project that he has to finish, so we’ll try to do it tomorrow evening, which is annoying because he gets very tired very easily in the evening, and then the process takes twice as long. Plus, I cleared the entire day today, and finding out so late means I cannot schedule anything. Oh, well.

The rest of the week will be busy with writing and meetings and setting up the informal reading of the musical I’m mentoring so we can hear the whole thing from start to finish. I have a little work to do on the final number and what happens after, but that shouldn’t take too long.

I’ll also be setting up an informal reading of Nudie Musical after that, but I have to relearn how to play all the film songs – I haven’t played them in years.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, not have a book design day, I must do some errands, I must work on a few things, and I’ll probably print out the Nudie Musical script because it will be easier to read that way, and to check for spacing problems and typos. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s everyone’s favorite Internet game, the Initials Game, made popular right here at haineshisway.com. So, remember, one name per post, and it must be a celebrity, sports figure, cartoon character, book character, but not your friends and neighbors. Today’s initials are: A.A. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I go walk a mile for a camel.

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