I’ve been impressed lately with Phil Hall’s The Bootleg Files reviews over at Cinema Crazed, wherein he’s tracked down information about barely-known titles not released on, uh, authorized discs. Phil was one of the first critics to welcome me at the Online Film Critics Society, going on sixteen years ago. I think he’s found a good vein of reporting here, as every Bootleg entry I’ve read has been news, and I tend to be one of those people with the illusion that I’ve seen everything. This week the subject is The Bootleg Files: Afrique 50. Phil’s back-story explanation of the film’s suppression says a lot about colonial politics — the filmmaker René Vautier paid the price for defying French law, when he filmed actual conditions in French West Africa. I knew that the French were really touchy about such subjects, because they even censored the old western Major Dundee, taking out dialogue that implied that French colonial Legionnaires used torture. Phil’s column serves a useful purpose. Each entry begins with ‘just the facts’ data: ‘where last seen,’ ‘reason for bootleg status,’ ‘chances of seeing a commercial DVD release.’ Good show.
I’m hoping for a full report next week on the much touted new “ScreenX” format, from a special correspondent. Movie audiences (prompted by David Letterman) rejected Peter Jackson’s attempt to raise the frame rate in his Hobbit movies, but maybe they’ll respond favorably to what sounds like an exaggeration of Abel Gance’s silent ‘Polyvision’ tryptich effect. Apparently, either the whole show or certain sequences will open up to cover a 270- degree field of vision. That slice of a circle goes beyond ear-to-ear coverage . . . are they looking for a virtual reality effect? I’ll be curious to learn more about the format: is it worthwhile? Does the image have seams? Do the ‘sides’ show matching live action, or is everything relevant concentrated in the front panel (if there are indeed panels)? Does the camera pan to follow action, or do we instead turn our heads? What happens in close-ups and fast cutting? The good part about this is that my contact knows enough to give an accurate report. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter article on the film and the ScreenX format.
Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson