There’s no doubt about it: 2007 was a very good year for the film industry in New Mexico. You don’t need to look any further than the recent Academy Award nominations to prove that. In all, 14 Oscar nominations went out to films shot here in our state. Leading the pack, of course, was the Coen brothers’ crime thriller No Country for Old Men. The film landed nominations for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Tommy Lee Jones, who lent his formidable acting chops to No Country, wound up with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for another film shot here in state, Paul Haggis’ post-Iraq War mystery In The Valley of Elah. The sci-fi summer blockbuster Transformers picked up nominations for Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Rounding out the honors was the Western remake 3:10 to Yuma, which was nominated for awards in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Not too shabby a showing.
Black History Month is upon us. Sadly, many of us tend to think of history in the most somber of terms. To us, Black history means riots and marches and speeches and the struggle for freedom, integration and voting rights. But men and women of African descent have contributed to all segments of our society--not just the political. Given just 28 days (29 this year!) to reflect upon the whole of Black history, most Americans tend to just hit the highlights, ignoring the subtler gifts Black people have given America in the form of literature, dance, art and film.
Computers can be fun. You can play Quake 4 on them. You can download porn on them. You can use them to communicate with friends halfway around the globe. But in order for computers to be even remotely engaging, you need to be physically interacting with one. Simply sitting and staring at a computer screen is boring. In fact, it’s a hell of a lot like work. Which is why movies about computers are no fun at all. That was proved almost 13 years ago with the would-be cyber-thriller The Net. Watching Sandra Bullock sit at a computer terminal and type for an hour and a half was pretty much the opposite of thrilling. Entertaining, computer-inspired movies like Tron and The Matrix are only enjoyable because they aren’t really about computers. They’re about fictional, high-tech fantasy worlds. They're what we wish computers were really like: giant virtual-reality theme parks full of LightCycles, slo-mo kung fu fights and Monica Bellucci in a rubber dress.
It’s been nearly a month since the bulk of TV’s talkers came back to the airwaves, many of them flaunting the still-active Writers Guild of America strike. David Letterman’s “Late Show” and Craig Ferguson’s “Late Late Show” (both of which are produced by Letterman’s Worldwide Pants company) were able to negotiate an independent contract with the Writers Guild, allowing them to operate with their writing staffs and without union pickets on their sidewalks. The rest of the lot--including Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart and Steven Colbert--have had to do without benefit of the union blessing, making for a whole list of winners and losers.