Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Debate

The unresolved debate is, Who Makes the Movie? Is it the writer, the director, producer, editor, actors or simply a collaboration of all film departments? When it comes to most movies, either one, or all of the above can be reasonably argued. But with the good movie, there is really no argument: the good movie makes itself.

There is something that happens in the creation of some movies that is beyond the abilities and talents of the artists involved. The film takes on a life of its own and makes demands of its contributors a quality of effort that they have seldom, if ever, reached before or even after. Casablanca is such a film. D.O.A. is another. I don't want to make a list, but many a Best Picture Oscar winner would be on it. Bombay Millionaire was one, and this year, I think The Hurt Locker will be another.

When you see The Hurt Locker, you will recognize it as a film that made itself. The writer, director, actors and etc. were hard working mid-wives to the process. Being true to its own instinctive nature, it might not be a major motion picture or lasting work of art, but it is what it wanted to be and its titular filmmakers were artistic enough to not get in its way.

Avatar, on the other hand was made by a filmmaker. His brain and hand are all over the product. He knew what he wanted and he damn well got it on film. But the end result is not recognizably organic. It is manufactured. Though it is a credit to the dedication, determination and skills of the filmmaker, it is machine made, mechanistic and heartless.

The Motion Picture Academy's choice this year will come down to these two films. The self-made film and the machine made film. And the world waits breathlessly for the result.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Chicago Dog

Peter sent me a link to a Chowhound reference to a little hot dog stand in Berkeley that features Chicago style hot dogs. The photo of the stand is very reminiscent of the stands where I scarfed down a dog or two-at-a-time in my youth. I look forward to trying it out on my next trip to the Bay Area, but not without some reservation.

As I replied to Peter, the Chicago dog I've encountered in California is essentially a rebuilt version of the one familiar to me. The only place outside of Chicago that I have found it's true incarnation is at an annual stand at the L.A. County Fair in Pomona every September. Other stands in the L.A. area that offer a Chicago style dog generally offer a polish sausage as their basic ingredient. I like Polish, Hungarian, German and many other sausages, but a Chicago dog is a wiener, and industrial standard wieners seldom have the right blend of spicy mystery meat in a tight tube that pops its juice when you first bite into it that is required in a good Chicago dog.

Today's dogs can be tasty, but I don't rate any as better than L.A.'s Original Tommy's Famous, which is similar to a Chicago dog but with added chili and cortidos. The original Chicago, like many other sinful sandwiches in the Midwest, includes French fries in the bun. As you know, taking the mixed flavors on the palate in each bite is a different experience than taking a bite of this then a bite of that, and it's amazing how big a bite a mouth can manage.

A hot dog is one thing, a chili dog is another, and a Chicago dog is something else, again. And I was never able to eat just one.

it's private
powered by