Eadweard Muybridge's photographic study of a galloping horse, regarded as a key step in the development of motion pictures

For “Whom” the Bell Tolls

I fired a word yesterday.

The decisive infraction was that, for the second time in two days, I was head-composing a social-media post in which the possible need for “whom” came up, but either I wasn’t sure whether it was the correct usage, or I knew it was correct but it looked/sounded awkward.

Even though they’re just social posts, I still treat them as writing. Even informally, the useful structures of traditional grammar matter to me.

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Production still from 'In the Family'

“In the Family” Reframes the Rules

During a recent trip to Palm Strings, we picked up, in a charming book and gift shop called Just Fabulous, a handy little book: 101 Things I Learned in Film School by Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick. It’s a short and sweet reminder of key tenets of filmmaking.

After seeing In the Family, I wondered if I ought to throw the book out.

It was the briefest of considerations: the tips in the book are time-honored for good reasons. Filmmakers who successfully break them do so by understanding them.

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Devil’s in the Details — But Not How You Think

A New Yorker piece on the Wachowskis and their struggles to film David Mitchell’s outstanding, complex, centuries-spanning novel Cloud Atlas (opening Oct. 26 with me in line), includes a nice detail about a key difference between novels and movies: detail.

The scene in the control room, for example, features an “orison,” a kind of super-smart egg-shaped phone capable of producing 3-D projections, which Mitchell had dreamed up for the futuristic chapters. The Wachowskis, however, had to avoid the cumbersome reality of having characters running around with egg-shaped objects in their pockets; it had never crossed Mitchell’s mind that that could be a problem. “Detail in the novel is dead wood. Excessive detail is your enemy,” Mitchell told me, squeezing the imaginary enemy between his thumb and index finger.

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