14 October 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

Fifty years ago this October a Swedish film, not signed by Ingmar Bergman, captured the heart of audiences around the world. “Elvira Madigan” was directed by Bo Widerberg, a full-blown romantic despite his trenchant essays on society and cinema, who by his mid-30s had established himself as a counterweight to Bergman’s massive influence in Swedish cinema. Widerberg had delivered a waspish attack on the Master’s metaphysical cinema, in which man is either humbled or exalted, and which Widerberg judged out of touch with the everyday reality of a Sweden struggling to assert itself as a modern democracy, an “experiment in welfare” as he termed it.

. . . .

The true story of Sixten Sparre and Hedvig Jensen, with embellishment through the years, had become almost legend in Denmark. She, a tightrope artist performing with her stepfather’s circus, had met the Swedish nobleman Count Sparre while on tour in southern Sweden during the late 19th century. Both succumbed to a coup de foudre, but their stricken affair proved stillborn, for Sixten was married and the gulf between their social classes unbridgeable. They committed suicide together on the Danish island of Tåsinge.

Widerberg worked from a mere 25-page script, without dialogue. He gave his actors Thommy Berggren and Pia Degermark their lines about three minutes prior to shooting, so as to endow them with an immediacy, if not spontaneity. The 17-year-old Degermark won the Best Actress prize at Cannes that year.

. . . .

At first look, “Elvira Madigan” appears a mere wisp of romantic agony, its tale too trite to bear the weight of analysis. But in terms of sound and imagery, it’s an abiding classic. Jörgen Persson’s cinematography catches the breath with its gorgeous, shimmering palette derived from a Swedish summer. Its textural grace is tinged with Scandinavian premonitions of death—the raspberries and cream signaling the intensity of happiness, the gurgle of spilled wine prefiguring the final loss of blood and vitality. Silence is used to great effect, and natural sounds, such as the buzz of bees or the soughing of wind in the trees, give the film an extra dimension. Widerberg’s use of the Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major matched the dreamlike melancholy of Sixten and Elvira’s ill-fated journey.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

PG is surprised a DVD exists.



14 October 2017


See Isak Dinesen

Appeals Court Skeptical About Overturning Marvin Gaye Family’s “Blurred Lines” Victory

11 October 2017

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The $5.3 million punishment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for infringing Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” to create “Blurred Lines” made quite a loud noise throughout the music industry. Since the jury’s 2015 verdict, song theft claims have flourished, and some recording stars like Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran have settled allegations rather than face the music at a trial. On Friday, the “Blurred Lines” creators got an opportunity before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to argue why a legal error was made. But those who found the “Blurred Lines” trial result discordant may have to brace themselves for the next verse in this dispute. Not only did the three judges who heard the appeal seem skeptical about overturning the district court’s judgment, but there may be decent chance that Gaye’s family is in line for an even bigger victory.

At the hearing, 9th Circuit judge R. Randy Smith called the “Blurred Lines” appeal an “important” one. Twice. And he let the attorneys argue beyond their time allotments in what’s often a sign that a big decision is coming.

. . . .

Before the mid-1970s, sound recordings weren’t protectable under copyright law. Congress changed that, but given that Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” was one of the last songs before the legislative change went into effect, his family was forced to litigate the “Blurred Lines” case under a certain disadvantage that no modern music creator would today face. Only protectable elements were given weight — and according to U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt, that meant forgoing any analysis of Gaye’s original “Got to Give It Up” recording. Instead, what’s protectable is whatever was expressed by the sheet music deposited at the U.S. Copyright Office. Jurors never got to hear Gaye’s original song. Instead, each side had musicologists testifying about that sheet music and whether there was any substantial similarity.

The appellants are contending that Judge Kronstadt committed reversible error a few different ways. First, by not sufficiently filtering out unprotectable elements when refusing a summary judgment motion before trial. Second, by allowing the other side’s musicologists to draw inferences beyond what was expressed in the sheet music. And third, by not properly instructing the jury on the need to disregard unprotectable elements like the “groove” on Marvin Gaye’s hit.

Thicke and Williams, though, are now the underdogs.

“This court has never overturned a verdict in a music copyright case and this shouldn’t be the first,” said Lisa Blatt, the Arnold & Porter attorney for the Gayes.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

You can be the judge.

Marvin Gaye-

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams-

Electric Dreams

10 October 2017


28 September 2017

Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel.

Another Murder on the Orient Express

24 September 2017

Audible launches Canadian dedicated service

19 September 2017

From ITWorld Canada:

Audible is launching its first Canadian dedicated service, marking the first time the Amazon subsidiary is launching a bilingual website. is live as of today, Sept. 13, offering 300,000 audiobooks and other audio content, including 100 new titles from Canadian authors in English and French. What differentiates it from its U.S. counterpart,, is that now Audible is specifically curated for English speaking and French speaking Canadians.

“A tremendous amount of writers and authors come out of Canada, and we want to recognize Canada as a unique destination with multiple cultures,” said Chris Cooper, head of international at Audible, over the phone with IT World Canada. “We want to really service Canadians with an authentic Canadian approach.”

In order to do that, Audible has specifically curated both the English and French versions of the site so that users won’t just see a translated version of the same page. This is the first time curation by language is being offered in a market, and the company has earmarked $12 million CAD over the next three years to invest in Canadian writers and voices.

“You can go back and forth with ease and just recognize the other cultures. We want to be part of the social fabric and be respectful; be a respectful visitor and resident and realize that there are cultural differences,” said Cooper.

. . . .

The launch of a dedicated Canadian service comes at just the right time, as last week Toronto-based Kobo launched its own audiobook service that will feature audiobooks from a range of publishers that Kobo already works with on the e-books front. Similarly, Kobo members can buy audiobooks individually or by subscribing to a monthly service for one download per month.

. . . .

Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn, in an email to IT World Canada said Audible isn’t really new competition since it’s been around since the 1990s. Besides, Kobo has already grappled with the competition posed by Amazon.

“Kindle was the only game in town for eBooks when we started, and yet we grew to be the dominant player in Canada by focusing on Canadian authors and publisher partnerships, and ultimately, Canadian readers,” he said. “We believe there is a huge playing field here for audiobooks.”

Link to the rest at ITWorld Canada and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

In case Canadian visitors to TPV didn’t catch it in the OP, Audible understands you’re not the part of the United States that is located somewhere north of Montana. Audible understands that some of you like to speak English and others prefer French.

Audible is also sensitive to the hockey and non-hockey elements of Canadian culture and knows Molson is not the Canadian Budweiser.



Amazon in Manhattan

19 September 2017

Unified autoplay

16 September 2017

From Chromium Blog:

Users watch and listen to a lot of media, and autoplay can make it faster and easier to consume on the web. However, one of the most frequent user concerns is unexpected media playback, which can use data, consume power, and make unwanted noise while browsing. To address this, Chrome will be making autoplay more consistent with user expectations and will give users more control over audio.

Starting in Chrome 64, autoplay will be allowed when either the media won’t play sound, or the user has indicated an interest in the media. This will allow autoplay to occur when users want media to play, and respect users’ wishes when they don’t. These changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.

Not all users have the same preferences for autoplay media, so Chrome 63 will add a new user option to completely disable audio for individual sites. This site muting option will persist between browsing sessions, allowing users to customize when and where audio will play.

Link to the rest at Chromium Blog and thanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for the tip.

This can’t happen soon enough for PG.

Eat the Ice Cream

9 September 2017

Nothing to do with books, but PG will remember it the next few times he eats ice cream.

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