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June 06, 2005


Bill Higgins

Another really valuable source of information I've found on movies (and books for that matter) is Amazon.com. Their personalization engine is really top-notch and often recommends books and movies to me that I've never heard of. These recommendations are created by analyzing previous purchases, rankings I've given, and complex algorithms correlating my preferencs to the preferences of millions of other customers. These days I go to the Amazon home page just to see what new recommendations (contrast this with the typical reaction to a television commercial - i.e. change the channel).

(BTW, I work for IBM, not Amazon, so don't think I'm hijacking your blog to do a surreptitious advertisement for Amazon!)

You mentioned some really good John Wayne movies. All of the John Ford ones were really good, and you can really see how Ford and Wayne matured together as actor and director as they went on. Though not a Ford movie, did you ever see "The Shootist"? It was Wayne's last movie and is really interesting in a postmodern sorta way since it's about a dying man (Wayne's character has cancer) but also a dying breed of man (he was an ex-gunslinger - an 1890's type of man living in a modernizing, more civilized world). This was interesting because at the time Wayne was in real-life dying of cancer and also the western was dying as a popular film genre. This resulted in a Wayne character with a much deeper humanity than in his earlier uber-macho years.

The Ford movies are really amazing for their visuals - especially the landscape shots at sunset. I think I read somewhere that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg really look to Ford's movies for inspirations on these type of establishing shots like they look to Kurosawa for dynamic shots.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Bill, I did indeed see The Shootist (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075213/) and loved it for all the reasons you mentioned. In addition to John Wayne's wonderfully dignified performance, The Shootist had quite a cast, including Lauren Bacall, Jimmy Steward, Ron Howard and a number of others.

Rob Russell

I have to own up, I am an IBMer as well, but irrespective of our shared employer I do feel compelled to agree that it's the ease of access coupled with the interconnectedness of information delivery that's really exciting. It can also be a major distraction, and that's an issue that needs to be addressed. Having studied film history to a small extent about 20 or more years ago, I recall the difficulties faced then in getting a discussion group together, finding a projector, the 16mm film itself, a guest speaker and so on, let alone the time spent physically in libraries researching the topic (using the Dewey decimal system of course). What a difference in today's interconnected and truly globally internetworked world. Whilst I have wonderful memories of actally meeting (face to face) local producers and directors (in Australia), we now act out our interests, hobbies and learning experiences in an almost frictionless manner, on a global stage. Computing has always had that 'magical' quality about it, no more so than right now. But no matter how good it may seem today, tomorrow's vision promises greater integration and convergence of delivery forms and content. With that will come challenges (such as reworking copyright laws to avoid information roadblocks, or working around the major distraction of so many hyperlinks that tempt us from our intended path), but the benefits are clear.

Guillermo Jacubowicz

Hola, Irving. Nice to hear some IBM fellows share the passion for John Ford movies. John Ford was a great American patriot and at the same time very critical to not only the corruption in the establishment but also the missing of some foundational values of the American spirit. I think his movies must be revisited, as well as the vast majority of classic films, but not in the candid and decoratively nostalgic manner some critics and public do. If seriously taken as they deserved those movies will shed some light over our current world problems, since their rich metaphors are as universal as Shakespeare's plays or Greek myths. I'm sure you got the chance to read Guillermo Cabrera Infante's book "Arcadia Todas las Noches" (not sure if there's an English translation). Though I personally don't like his latest works, I think this book compiling five lectures given in Havana in the fifties on five Hollywood directors is very good. I read that book in my early youth and really opened my mind to a different, deeper view, of the movie classics. Saludos.

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