Madison, Wisconsin, would seem an unlikely place to be a hotbed of film study. But for a variety of reasons, not the least being the presence of the University of Wisconsin, it is. The UW has had more than its share of film-related folk roaming its hallowed halls, including the esteemed actor Fredric March, a benefactor and namesake of the Play Circle; Andrew Bergman, director; the Zucker brothers, producers and directors (Airplane!); Joseph McBride, Michael Wilmington and Patrick McGilligan, critics and writers about film; and the list goes on.
The university also hosts Cinematheque, an independent film series, and is the progenitor and backbone of the Wisconsin Film Festival. During the '70s the campus was awash in film societies, which kept the projectors rolling almost nonstop. Those ubiquitous film societies sparked film fever at the UW and produced a generation of alumni now embedded in the film industry.
Kristin Thompson is an independent movie scholar living in Madison and, not coincidentally, married to retired professor of film studies David Bordwell, a prominent film authority. Her recently published book, The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood, investigates the making and marketing of the epic fantasy trilogy. Our Kent Williams, film reviewer and critic at large, interviewed her to learn what it was that made this production experience significant enough to merit a book. She made three trips to New Zealand, where the films were shot, and publication of the book is a major event in film scholarship.
For something completely different, yet still related to the subject of fantasy, a couple of University of Texas psychologists asked 2,000 people why they had sex (!?) and came up with 237 reasons. Well, local humorist Michael Feldman was aroused to the extent that he attempted his own catalog of justification for hanky-panky. The host of the public radio quiz show Whad'Ya Know? delivered to us "Fifty-eight Reasons for Having Sex."
At least he surpassed Paul Simon's 50 ways to leave your lover. Read the compendium on page 37 and see how it stacks up with your own tally. And, in a pinch, feel free to borrow any of Feldman's rationales. Consider it a public service.