Tuesday, June 4, 2013


One of the nice things about being in college is that you feel completely justified when you go to the book store and spend enormous amounts of money on the semester's set of required tomes. One can easily get stressed out over the exorbitant prices of the books, yet really that's ultimately a poor reaction to being forced to purchase literature. It's really the only time in your life when you must buy books, so financial considerations really need to just take a seat to such a unique situation. 

That does not mean, however, that you want to keep all of those books when classes conclude. I for one only save a handful of the titles I purchase, and I've discovered the best way to dispose of them is through the Amazon Trade-In Store. Simply find search for the title, make sure the ISBN numbers match, print out the free-shipping label, and you're on your way to some Amazon cash.

The original plan behind this was to create a cycle in which I would then use the credit to purchase books for the following semester. But when you have $85 credit and a whole summer before you'll even know what books you'll need during the fall, it can be tough to just let the money sit there. As I was staring at that credit and mulling over a possible order, I discovered many of the Criterion blu rays on the site had been marked down to $19.99. I figured the best looking Criterion blu rays I could get would be the Powell/Pressburger films, and thus I write eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (released only a few months ago at $27.00, so the markdown was a sweet surprise) and Black Narcissus. 

 You can call them Powell and Pressburger, or The Archers. Did they both direct? No, usually it was Powell, while Pressburger came up with the ideas for the screenplays. However, they often wrote the scripts together. I also love that though they stirred up controversy in the movie industry for thirty years, their pinnacle came in the 1940s when production codes were at their tightest. In that decade they released arguably their four greatest films: Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes. No one made movies like these ones in the 1940s. They're all majestic technicolor achievements, visually the equivalent of a modern summer blockbuster, yet the stories they tell are dark and strange. Imagine if Oz the Great and Powerful had the audacity of their work? Unfortunately, it might not have performed as well at the box office. 

I think the fact that their finest achievements came in the 1940s is a huge deal to consider. It's part of the allure of their movies, as if they worked in a separate world and could make what they wished with enormous cameras (I marveled at the size of them in Martin Scorsese's video on Colonel Blimp's restoration) and massive sets and tell stories as if they were their own dark dreams. When Orson Welles compared making movies to having a massive electric train set, I can think of no filmmakers who fulfilled this idea more so than Powell and Pressburger.

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