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Friday News: Sherlock Holmes enters public domain, Chelsea Handler signs with Netflix, women writers and alcohol, and World Cup sex rules

Friday News: Sherlock Holmes enters public domain, Chelsea Handler signs with...

JUDGES RELEASE SHERLOCK – Score one for the public domain, as the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed the character of Sherlock Holmes — in all but the last works — out of copyright jail. What do you think the chances are that the estate will appeal (they have historically been very aggressive)?

The court ruling (PDF) releases the character into the public domain while maintaing the copyright on the final stories. In the argument, the judges cite Star Wars as a contemporary example, stating that the release of Episode III no more extends the copyright on the original 1977 film than do the last ten stories protect Sherlock. –The Rumpus

Chelsea Handler Inks Mega-Deal for Netflix Late Night Show – I think this is an absolutely fascinating development in the development of Netflix. Not only are they venturing further into original programming — and more specifically into talk shows — but they are partnering with someone who has been known to push pretty much every envelope possible. In a deal that includes stand-up specials, as well as docu-comedy programs, as well as a new type of talk show, Handler has indicated that she wanted to work with Netflix in part because of their willingness to take risks. And maybe this kind of deal will benefit consumers who have grown increasingly frustrated with the monopolized environment of cable TV and satellite companies.

For Netflix, this represents a continued pushing into original programming for its growing global subscriber-base of more than 48 million. In a recent interview with THR, original content VP Cindy Holland was asked about the possibility of late night, to which she noted she wouldn’t shut the door on any kind of experimentation and that her colleagues have no preconceived notions about what will and won’t work on the service. –Yahoo via The Hollywood Reporter

‘Every hour a glass of wine’ – the female writers who drank – This piece looks closely at the work of a number of female writers who also happened to be alcoholics. On one level it’s interesting, because we tend to focus on the link between alcoholism and male writers, ignoring that many prolific and incredibly talented female writers also struggled with substance abuse. At the same time, I’m not a big fan of psychologizing the lives of writers in the way of ‘they had a horrible childhood, then started drinking and writing.’ Okay, that’s a simplification, but I think the piece would have been even more interesting if it had not relied so heavily on some of those premises. Still, an interesting look at the lives and works of Marguerite Duras, Jean Rhys (whose novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, is a retelling of Jane Eyre, focusing on Rochester’s first wife), Elizabeth Bishop, Patricia Highsmith, Jane Bowles, and others.

Duras’s nightmarish childhood raises the question of origins, of what causes alcohol addiction and whether it is different for men and women. Alcoholism is roughly 50% hereditable, a matter of genetic predisposition, which is to say that environmental factors such as early life experience and societal pressure play a considerable role. Picking through the biographies of alcoholic female writers, one finds again and again the same dismal family histories that are present in the lives of their male counterparts, from Ernest Hemingway to F Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams to John Cheever–The Guardian

The complete guide to World Cup sex rules – For anyone contemplating a Romance featuring World Cup players, you might want to consult this primer on the World Cup Sex Rules. Quartz has kindly put together what amounts to an encyclopedic collection of national do’s and don’ts.

We listed teams that have restrictions that are more nuanced as “it’s complicated.” For instance, Costa Rican players are banned from having sex until the second round (or presumably elimination.) The French team’s rules on the matter hinge on the frequency, the type, and timing of intimacy. (France’s former team doctor has said (link in French) that sex is “relaxing” for players, but shouldn’t be an all-night activity.) Nigeria allows wives but not girlfriends and the hosting Brazilian team can have sex as long as it’s not “acrobatic.” –Quartz

Friday Film Review: Young Frankenstein

Friday Film Review: Young Frankenstein

imagesYoung Frankenstein (1974)
Genre: Comedy Spoof
Grade: B+

“Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you!”

When Mel Brooks is on, he’s fabulous and this is one of his directorial efforts which holds up for me just as well today as it did then. Over the years, I’ve discovered that not all of his movies work for me (History of the World, Part I) and some that did then (Spaceballs and Robin Hood, Men in Tights) don’t now. But this film has a great cast, doing fabulous work on wonderful sets that ends with not just one but two romances.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) – and that’s pronounced Fronkensteen – initially has little interest when told of his inheritance from his greatgrandfather in Transylvania. He’s a world renowned brain expert who pooh poohs the work of his famous cookoo grandfather and is due to be married to his fiancee Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn) in two weeks. But he’s persuaded to at least visit the old home castle and is supplied with laboratory assistant Inga (Terri Garr), general dogsbody Igor (Marty Feldman) and a housekeeper named Frau Blucher – whinnying! – (Cloris Leachman).

On his first night there, mysterious violin music leads him to the private library of his grandfather where Frederick discovers a neatly bound account – “How I Did It” – of the Baron’s work. After an all night cram session, Frederick decides that It. Just. Might. Work – if he can find the right body (it needs to be big) and the right brain. Fired with enthusiasm, he and Igor dig up a freshly hung corpse – filthy work only made worse when it starts raining – after which he sends Igor to the brain depositary to snatch the brain a brilliant scientist – oopsie when Igor drops it. Can Frederick correct where his grandfather went wrong and get the angry villagers to give him and the Creature (Peter Boyle) a chance?

After thinking about it and listening to the commentary by Mel Brooks, I’ve decided that Young Frankenstein works because they’re actually playing it fairly straight – which makes it all the more funny. And because the movie has emotion as well as comedy. Brooks says it can’t just be funny and nothing else – and this is why some of his later films fall flat for me. Actually the best relationship here is that between Frederick and the Creature.

Wilder, with his wild Einstein hair, is the one who initially gets you interested in the film and who carries that interest along. He can play “on the edge of insanity” better than a lot of actors as seen when he questions Igor about exactly whose brain is now in the Creature’s body. Terri Garr looks sweet and innocent, yet sexy, so Brooks can get away with all the double entendre jokes (“What knockers!”). Marty Feldman is the only one who could play Igor and he elevates the role beyond a mere gopher. I love watching to see which side his hump will be on in any one scene.

Peter Boyle does an amazing job getting me to love the Creature even though his lines are limited for most of the movie to whimpers, Hmmmmmms and Mmmmmmms. But when, after the brain transference, he does finally speak he makes an eloquent plea for those judged as “different” by society. Madeline Kahn chose the smaller role of Elizabeth but it’s only smaller in terms of the number of lines she has. When she’s onscreen, she’s dazzling. Leachman is a delight as the woman whose name makes horses whinny in fright.

And lets not forget the angry villagers with pitchforks and torches. Never underestimate villagers with pitchforks and torches. Kenneth Mars is the Inspector whose thick accent even the other villagers can’t always understand (“Footschtops!”) but who knows how to win a dart game. However I think one of the loveliest scenes in the film is that between the Creature and a blind hermit. I don’t know how many times I saw the movie before realizing who plays the hermit.

The film isn’t above silly sight gags – such as the “walk this way” arrival in Transylvania and “extra hand” after digging up the body scenes – but since they’re funny too, I agree with Brooks and Wilder in including them. But in the screenplay and choice of B&W photography, Brooks and Wilder reveal a comfortable knowledge about and genuine love of the films they’re spoofing. Honestly I’ve never watched the originals, but after seeing Young Frankenstein I feel that not only have I seen them but that someone’s gone them one better.

~Jayne