January 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Media Rare #12

Plus! Selected Short Subjects

"Mexicoke is legendary because it's made with cane sugar instead of nasty high fructose corn syrup"

By Casey St. Charnez

Media Rare

Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.

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Following are a few varied vignettes I've been mulling, none substantial enough to reach my self-imposed goal of 600 words, no matter how I might pad and pad and pad and pad and pad and pad. Here we go...

I am addicted to Mexicoke!

Or what I call Mexico-manufactured Coca-Cola. Though I am well aware that the New Mexico soda of choice is clearly Dr. Pepper, when I found some imported bottles on the Smith's drink aisle a couple of months ago, I had to try it. Mexicoke is legendary because it's made with cane sugar instead of nasty high fructose corn syrup. Lisa can't stand U.S. soft drinks, as her maternal grandfather was a Louisiana-based sugar chemist who flew all over the Caribbean--including Cuba!--to test sucrose purity. True sweetness runs in her family. Accordingly, we'd long ceased imbibing American pop. For this taste test, I jammed a pair of 10-ouncers into the freezer for 15 minutes. Upon upending the freshly frosted, familiar hourglass bottles, we swigged what turned out to be the best of its kind we'd ever had. Even Target stocks it now. In other words, how about it, Brent (The Screen) and Jesse (CCA)?

How I spent my Christmas break

Went to the movies, of course. Prioritizing, I saw Hugo, Tintin, and The Darkest Hour. The list included Mission: Impossible, but it wasn't in 3-D, and that seemed preeminent. Foremost was my desire to see how Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg handled the new (to them) dimension. Scorsese's Hugo transforms the screen into a giant shadow box, with little audience protrusion save for close-ups of Sacha Baron Cohen's nose. Spielberg's Tintin, contrariwise, delights in poking you in the eye with an extended index finger, like 50s deepies. Little-seen, The Darkest Hour demonstrated what all in-depth filmmakers learned from Avatar--namely, dust motes floating around the theater are the easiest atmospheric effect. MI4 will have to wait. Not that it needed 3-D, but I still sure want to see that Burj Khalifa skyscraper (www.burjkhalifa.ae) on the big screen. Speaking of big, here's the next rant:

Go big, sez Regal

A current house ad for the Regal Entertainment Group starts with an aspect ratio-filling blast. Then, its image gets smaller and smaller until it's shown on a flat-screen set with the caption "No Movie Should Be Reduced to This," capped by the dictate "Go Big or Go Home." Like 3-D, this is so '50s, when theaters advertised "Movies Are Your Best Entertainment," responding to the threat of network television. This fear birthed spectacles like The King and I (1956), Ben-Hur (1959) and Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), in literal larger-than-life CinemaScope 55, Camera 65 and Super Panavision 70. And, yes, they all still look diminished on TV, even  a 72-incher.

More peeks at the end of the world

Some readers have been kind enough to expand on my "It's the End of the World as We Know It" column with additional suggestions. How could I leave out On the Beach (1959) and its atomic self-extermination, or The Last Wave (1974), with death by aboriginal prophecy (an arrestingly interconnected double feature, yes?). However, both movies toast the race, not the Earth. I'm talking full-on, like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) wherein intergalactics demolish the planet to make room for a space freeway. Now that's entertainment.

Final words

Okay: Nothing life-altering here, but I finally got some things off my chest, and didn't have to pad and pad after all--(pause for word count)--and pad and pad and pad and pad.

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