A Beneficial Reconsideration: The Original Ending of ELECTION

Over ten years ago, I blogged my thoughts about the film ELECTION (scroll down to July 30, 1999 — this was when I maintained the site by hand!), which was easily among my favorite films of the 1990s. I haven’t seen the movie since then, so I don’t know how it holds up. What I have seen, though, is the original ending (embedded below) to the film, which some lucky guy found in a box of videotapes (remember those?) he purchased at a flea market. If you’re a fan of the film, it’s definitely worth watching. It’s also clear why they shot a different ending — given the sardonic edge of the movie, what you see here feels like it was made for a Lifetime Original or something.

Are we running out of movie stars?

Perhaps all my blog posts will be spurred by listening to podcasts. The most recent B.S. Report features screenwriter William Goldman. In their wide-ranging discussion, Goldman points out that, for this first time in film history, there’s only one certifiable, bankable movie star left, one actor who can open a picture — Will Smith. This point was a coincidence for me, as just yesterday, I was looking at the box office take of film actors. If you sort it by average box office gross per film, the top three are Daniel Radcliffe, Robert Pattinson, and Orlando Bloom. It illuminates what has happened with Hollywood — it’s all about the bankable franchise (in this case, Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Lord of the Rings – Pirates of the Carribbean combo). Hollywood doesn’t need stars (and probably doesn’t want them). Vetted properties are what now sells tickets. What has changed? Why don’t actors and actresses have the pull they once had?

Errol Morris and Werner Herzog chat

On the plane ride to New York, I finally got around to watching the ~hour-long conversation between Errol Morris and Werner Herzog at the Toronto International Film Festival, as blogged by Roger Ebert.

It’s great stuff, and worth your time. They have a remarkably casual candor (considering they’re speaking before what is undoubtedly a sizable crowd), and are able to be insightful and inspirational in their discussion.

If you’re like me, and have trouble sitting at your computer watching lengthy-ish videos, may I suggest the application I use, Evom, to convert it for iTunes and automatically sync with your iOS device (I watched it on my iPhone)? (It might be Mac-only. I don’t know.)

David Byrne at TED – The venue determines the music

I enjoyed David Byrne’s talk at TED today. He put forth a theory of creativity that runs contrary to the romantic model. Instead of thinking of creativity as a thing that emerges from the force of soemone’s specific artistic bent, he walked through the history of music and showed how music styles have been highly determined by the venue in which it was played — gregorian chants in the cathedrals, lilting Mozart pieces in parlors, subtle classical in giant concert halls, punchy rhythmic music in small venues where you have to be heard over the crowd, crooners and singers abetted by the microphone to whisper in your ear. Creators think ahead to the space in which the music will be heard, and create for that venue.

I think there’s a strong analogy to the evolution of the moving picture, from those strangely lascivious brief dramas of the nickelodeon to the Academy ratio of the silver screen, widescreen efforts leading to visual spectacles, television shows where close-ups have dominated, etc. The space of the filmic presentation guides the creator as to what they will make.

And Oskar Werner as Jules

Something I hadn’t realized until now is that Jules et Jim (perhaps my favorite Truffaut film) has been on my Tivo for two years now (don’t ask). I first saw the film in college, and what I remembered most was Oskar Werner’s remarkable performance. I didn’t recall if he played Jules or Jim, but watching it now, just found out… Jules!


And isn’t he pretty!

(Though, of course, if memory serves, Jules in the movie is remarkably sad… Again, part of Werner’s remarkable performance is his sensitivity, how he carries that off.)


In my post “Crime dramas shot in the city,” I mention my love for High and Low (my personal favorite Kurosawa flick.) Well, I just found out that on Tuesday Criterion releases a new 2-disc special edition of the film. Their prior DVD release was just the film, no frills. The new one’s got all kinds of goodies (commentary track, making-of documentary, interview with Mifune), which might get me to *purchase* it (and I never ever purchase DVDs).

Crime dramas shot in the city

A few posts back, I linked to a video of Bullitt‘s famous car chase geocoded. As a near-San Franciscan, one of the things I love about Bullitt is the use of real San Francisco locations.

I recently rewatched the mother of all shot-on-location crime pictures, The Naked City. I strongly recommend viewing the Criterion Collection edition, which has a gorgeous picture, audio commentary from the writer who crafted the story, and illuminating interviews.

If it weren’t for The Naked City, you’d have no Law & Order or CSI – this one movie pretty much is the blueprint for all police procedurals to come. And, in addition, it was shot on location in New York City (107 locations!), and used the entire city — not just the shiny parts of Manhattan.

The Naked City was released in 1948, and Bullitt in 1968, so we also have their anniversaries to celebrate. I have no idea if there’s a quality location-shot crime drama from 1988, and I’m pretty certain we haven’t seen any this year.

(It’s also worth noting that The Naked City is the second of a string of 5 amazing pictures helmed by Jules Dassin, perhaps one of the most overlooked/underappreciated directors in Hollywood history.)