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Rebellion is a sign of two vital things: intelligence and having a spine. Both are rarer, much rarer than we would think. If you are told you are rebellious say, “Thank you.”

“We start out thinking about what we will do with our lives. We end up doing what life gives us to do.”–Chuck Jones. David Beard in a Toronto Star piece from 1980, “Reg Hartt is overworked, under-financed and snubbed. We should be paying tribute to him” Beard is right about the snubbed part but who wants to be liked by such people? Certainly not myself.

I was in my teens when the Silver Age DC Comics introduced The flash, the Green Lantern, the Justice League and the rest. I loved them. My younger brother read the Marvel comics which, at the time, I disdained.

Behind The Punisher are posters for The Reg Hartt Film Fest. Cover artist Tim Bradstreet told me he had been in Toronto for a signing, had seen a display of my street flyers, liked it , took a picture and looked for a moment when he could use it as a background. ” I changed the names on the other flyers. I kept your name on your flyers,” he said. Doing that Bradstreet made me a part of the Marvel Universe.

In the mid 1970s I ran the late Captain George’s Memory Lane Comic store on Markham street in Toronto while George was in the hospital. For the first time I read Marvel’s superhero comics. I was at once impressed by the high quality of the writing.

Animation director Chuck Jones said, “We start out thinking about what we will do with our lives. We wind up doing what our life gives us to do.”

The trick is to do what life gives us to do well. It has been said that mediocre people dream of doing extraordinary things that will make them famous while extraordinary people do ordinary things extraordinarily well.

Today I am equally impressed with the extremely high quality of the films being produced by Marvel themselves. The writing is top notch. The casting is top notch. The direction is top notch. The special effects are top notch.

I, also, am impressed by BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. I seem to be in a minority here. I rarely go to the movies anymore. Sitting through a ton of commercials is not my idea of a good time. As movie attendance has dropped and is dropping I’d hazard a guess that feeling is one shared by many. It once was that going to the movies was fun. It rarely is that anymore.

I went to the movies to see that.

Harry Cohn built Columbia Pictures up from a studio that began out of what once was a bordell0 (that is not an Italian desert) on Gower Gulch in Hollywood into the studio that produced LAWRENCE OF ARABIA with one very simple test. Harry looked at every picture his studio produced. As soon as his ass itched Harry said, “Fix it.”

Folks cracked jokes about Harry having the monitor ass of the universe.

What he was saying really was, “You have lost my attention. Go back and get it.’

Far too many of the movies we see today lose my attention swiftly.

BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN did not. It did things the fans did not like, yes. No serious artist can concern themselves with the reaction of fans to our work. When Bob Dylan switched from acoustic to electric his fans were outraged. They said, “If you don’t play acoustic we are going home.” Dylan replied, “Good-bye.”

BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN is the second chapter in a story that began with MAN OF STEEL. When I first saw that I did not like it. Now, however, I find that I do…immensely. It is taking us in a new direction. That direction may not be where the fans want to go. Too bad for them. Those films, like their MARVEL counterparts, represent a whole new kind of film making.

I also very much liked THE GREEN LANTERN (2011). It, too, was laying down the foundation for a new kind of screen story telling. It is unfortunate that the plug was pulled on Ryan Renold’s GREEN LANTERN. He did an aces high job on DEADPOOL. 

Are comic books art? Are movies based on comic books art? Not all but some are. For my money The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a work of art unfolding. So too is the DC Cinematic Universe. I personally find these films immensely exciting. Tim Burton was lazy and sloppy with his BATMAN movies. The people behind these new entries are neither lazy nor sloppy. Join me while I take a look at their work.

Brit artist Peter More calls my Cineforum, “The best place on earth in which to see a movie.”

“Reg Hartt is overworked, under-financed and snubbed. He treats animation, cartoons if you will, as art. We should be paying tribute to him.”–David Beard.

We are not over worked when the work we do is fun. We are not under-financed when we live by faith. The vast majority of truly creative men and women were snubbed by those who presumed themselves to be their betters.

A few years ago one of this country’s most prestigious universities invited me to teach. “You will like it here. We get the cream of the crop. We get the ones with money,” I was told.

I hung up the phone. “Where in the wide history of the world do we find art created by the excessively wealthy, powerful or educated,” writes David Mamet in his book TRUE AND FALSE.

A hero is one who stands up for others. Ed Keenan, of THE TORONTO STAR, said to me, “Reg, you are the only person in this city who stands up.”

I replied, “There are others, not many it is true but they are there.

When comic books were at their most despised they sold copies in the millions. Today comic books are honored but their readership is nowhere near what it was.

Likewise, in the book THE CINEMA YEAR BY YEAR (1894–2002) David Thomson writes, “Silent cinema may seem very antique, very quaint, until you realize the plain fact of history–that it was in the 1920s that the highest proportion of the public all over the world went to the movies. We like to think of the cinema as a popular art; we marvel at the huge-box-office figures for Titanic, Harry Potter, Spiderman, and every new episode of STAR WARS. But in truth in 2002 something like 15 per cent of us go regularly to the movies; in the 1920s that figure was 65 per cent or more.

The movies as an art form and an industry begins with D. W. Griffith. At a time when most movies cost a dime Griffith released THE BIRTH OF A NATION at the unheard of price for a movie of $2 a seat which today would be just short of $50.

Both the industry and the media stated loudly that the public would not pay that kind of money for a movie. They were both wrong. They were wrong big. In first release THE BIRTH OF A NATION was seen by over four times the population of America in that country alone. No other film maker has taken Griffith’s risk nor matched his success. Griffith is the one truly great hero of the art and the industry of the motion picture though people today refuse to acknowledge that.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events;small minds discuss people,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. She’s right.

We are in a hour when small minds dominate everything.

We are in a time that needs heroes more than ever.

The thing I most like about these new DC and MARVEL motion pictures is that they are about ideas.

A young Russian said to me, “In our country we had an iron curtain and we knew it. In your country you have an iron curtain of the mind and don’t know it.

A few of us do.

–Reg Hartt 2017-10-23.




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