The End of Kodachrome

Critic and editor Matt Zoller Seitz has written a very thoughtful piece over at Salon about the end of Kodachrome development for print photographs. Bottom line: if you want to get that last roll developed in the rich, deep, and sometimes mysterious colors of the fabled Kodachrome recipe, you’ve got to act now. Right now. Otherwise, we’re kissing goodbye to one of the more long-standing and beloved aspects of the “analog” world. Remember the 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula, the “Afghan Girl” of National Geographic fame? That was Kodachrome. But you’ll never see that texture again. Oh well. Digital is just as good. right?

Well, actually, it’s debatable. Digital photography is not lesser per se, just different. The family slides from my childhood, taken by my not-especially-tech-savvy father in the late 70’s, often look richer, sturdier, and brighter than some contemporary films. Do I sound biased? Maybe. It’s something I think about a lot when watching pictures that are processed digitally. I know I’m leaving the Kodachrome issue behind here, but dear god, did you see the film version of Miami Vice? I wanted to cry, it looked so shitty.

Dennis Hopper: The Greatest Hits

Two weeks ago, on March 26th, Dennis Hopper received a long overdue star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Prior to the event, there had been some speculation as to whether the 73-year-old actor’s ongoing battle with prostate cancer (to say nothing of his pending divorce) would keep him from the ceremony, but Hopper—looking frail but spirited—showed up for what may very well be his last public appearance. Like many, I was oft-inclined to think Hopper indestructible, and after nearly six decades of screen work, it still feels as if we’re to lose him far too soon. Nothing confirms this feeling more than Matt Zoller Seitz’ video tribute to the original easy rider, “The Middle Word in Life.” Culling moments big and small from the whole of Hopper’s magnificent career, it’s both a touching and wondrous thing to behold. Video after the jump.

The only thing missing from this piece is Hooper’s short turn in the bizarro The Story of Mankind. Like all short men in Hollywood, Hopper too got a chance to play Napoleon.

A History of Zombies & Spooky Locales

If you aren’t already familiar with critic and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz’ video essays, then now’s the perfect time to get acquainted. He’s delivered two this week, both of which make for ideal Halloween viewing. The first, Zombie 101, traces the history of the zombie genre, from Jacques Tourneur’s classic voodoo parable I Walked With a Zombie up to more recent, neo-zombie inventions like Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later. The second, Unreal Estate, is a poetic survey of some of cinema’s eeriest establishing shots. The fun here is seeing just how many you can identify. Sure, Psycho is an easy one, but Event Horizon? Both essays after the jump.

Zombie 101 is hosted by the Museum of the Moving Image. To read the introduction, click here.

Unreal Estate is hosted by The L Magazine. To read the introduction, click here.