/ Movies / archive
I scribble movie stuff in my Movie Scrapbook, Karouac-like, in a long string. Sections of the string may graduate to their own post, stuffy string gets moved to an archive file. Once upon a time I used a series of archive files, not wanting ony one to be too long or too slow; now I combine into one, the web being so much faster in 2015 than in 1995 when I commenced personal web space.
2016 01 16 Last evening Jan and I watched High Society: Cole Porter songs, Bing Crosby as supposedly a jazz singer (a rich, Newport jazz singer with a hint that Bing invented the Newport Jazz Festival), Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong … Grace Kelly. Stupid, offensive, repellant movie (another of Hollywood’s serve-em-up alcohol and tobacco films), great songs.
We streamed on my Mac, her entertainment center festered to impossible. I got very excited as a came to recognize this and that member of the Armstrong band: Barrett Deems, Trummy young … I put aside my lifelong dislike of Bing Crosby: could not follow suit for Grace Kelly, all my old revulsions from the 1950s came right back. She takes her robe off, models her bathing suit at poolside, and I cursed myself as I tried to find a stray pubic hair, a hint of beaver, even the slightest impression of nipple. I had my hands as nearly always roaming over this and that female part of my girl, but we were looking at Princess Grace before she was a princess. Jan told me, for the nth time that she had a tiny tiny waist in the 1950s, down in the twenties (said a narrow waist wasn’t that unusual then). Of course unlike Grace she’s a petite thing. She’s shown me the picture of her from the front page of the Herald Tribune, 1953, with her cheerleaders squad: she got stalked from that one.
I’ll see if I’ve scanned that pic. Meantime, here’s another from that period more or less:
At that moment I was fondling her belly: fits right in my hand, I love it: one of a number of things of hers that fit right in my hand. And I told her: I bet you were as cute as you say in 1953: but: you can’t tell me that you were any cuter then than you are right now!
more to come, on Satchmo, jazz … Bing, Grace …
Hip Mira Nair Hop
2016 01 15 I just started to stream The Reluctant Fundamentalist. NetFlix placed me five or so minutes into the DVD. That means that I’d already seen those minutes. Or does it mean that NetFlix can’t keep track of what all I watch? Then I remembered: yes! I was so taken by the chanting that accompanies, intercuts with the credits, that I paused the flick to research the music. I heard it as chamber music! Wonderful. See IMdb on that film’s music.
Now I just did the same thing again! Again I had to pause, look up stuff, write this …
M. Night’s Lady
2016 01 14 Shyamalan is the guy who gave us The Sixth Sense: fabulous. Everything since ought to have been brilliant, riveting, moving. How come it’s all dreck after merde?
‘Cept for one thing: Bryce Dallas Howard! In Lady in the Water she channels the PreRaphaelites!
Hollywood Comix: Masterpiece Theater
2016 01 12 It used to be comix were one thing, movies another. That changed forever once Mario Puza pitched in with Superman. That was a first, that will always be a “best”: but some really great other comix have followed: Spider Man, the Hulk. I really hate most of what was done with Batman, but some parts of the efforts were also fabulous.
Only now am I watching, and enjoying the hell out of, a distaff turn: Catwoman.
Wow, Halle Berry!!! The choreography is good too: and the rest of the casting.
Further along I add: the guy is very appealing, reminds me of Gary Sinese. Also, Sharon Stone is marvelous as a cosmetics cyborg.
This comic is rooted in the real world far more than Superman, Spiderman; Clark Kent is an assistant copy boy or some such nothing job: Spiderman’s secret identity is some parallel kind of a spittoon-licker; Catwoman’s other half works on cosmetic layout markups, the cosmetic company pushing poisons, carcinogenics … Now that’s real!
Big Foot Bully
2015 12 16 Governments’ interferences in individual and group lives has been one of my obsessions. I just streamed a couple of movies that contributed in unexpected and welcome ways: Dinosaur13 and Forks Over Knives. In the former teams of paleontologists hunt for fossils in North Dakota. Sue dicovers the biggest, most complete (least incomplete) T rex fossil ever, gets in named after her. The team buys the whole magilla’s matrix from the rancher whose land they’ve been scouting. And they start separating, cleaning, reassembling, labeling the bits. Who shows up but the federal government: the bureauctrats, who don’t know shit from Shinola about paleontology, T rex, fossils, science, not to mention manners, law, fair play, bludgeon their way around. To save their find for posterity, the paleontologists due the feds’ work for them, aiding the theft of their work: like King Solomon’s whore nursing the kidnapped baby for the thief, for the baby’s sake.
Forks traces the identity between federal nutritional guidelines, Fortune500 states, and heart disease: federally approved diets trigger obesity, cancer … boy, but count the lobbyists’ profits! We don’t need a healthy populous, we need a loaded bottom line. Again, the bureaucrats don’t know shit about the subject, but boy, can they muscle in and take over.
Understand, I’m the perfect guy to recognize these things: I’m the guy who offered an internet of coordinated resource data bases as a free alternative to the compulsory school system. The public could have finessed the government, the state appointed teachers, the education bureaucrats, the cancer causers: we could have gotten our foot out of the mercantile society’s bear trap. But no: the Temple with its evil money changers can sandbag Jesus, sidestep and supervise reform. The government can steal science from the scientists: not really of course, but they can commandeer the word, they can commandeer all words: the thieves and entrench and supervise the reformers. Stalin takes command of the Revolution.
One detail I loved in particular was learning how Cornell University sold health down the river.
2015 12 17 Another thing I loved, in Dino13 was the revelation of layers of authority in federal land regulation. The law changed from county to county, from ranch to ranch: from this part of this ranch to that part of the other ranch. The paleontologists have their find confiscated, not by fellow experts but by federal bullies, who themselves don’t know what the law says, especially since the law changes its mind every other second what the law says. The judge decides what the law is — fossils legally are real estate — in the middle of the trial. How can you arrest someone for breaking undefined laws?
I don’t understand what right any government has to write, define, break, or enforce any laws whatsoever: if laws come from God, let God decide. If laws come from nature, ask nature. If laws are arbitrary, whimsical, unfair by intention, then just get on with doing whatever we’re doing: destroying the possibility of a just society.
TED Talks mounts some wonderful studies, streamable. I just watching Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on bonobo apes, African Congo. She accuses us of siding too readily with the nature side of murture / nature debates: yes, a pendulum swing from the other way: me too. So far she’s making some case for nurture. A bonobo just reached into her pocket, took her lighter, lit the fire, tended it. A minute later a bonobo gets in the golf cart and drives off: she’s got the cart in reverse, she’s hanging onto the steering wheel, not steering it. She’s turned her body the wrong way, now she’s in forward ripping the other way. How come she hasn’t crashed? Regardless: how many of us would have put money on the bonobo lighting the fire, or even igniting the lighter? On driving the golf cart at all, never mind safely or well?
A female uses a scissors to trim the fur of a baby, the baby takes the scissors, the mother takes it back: scary.
But the non plus untra is showing the bonobo writing after a fashion, and “speaking” a bit! I’m floored.
Meantime I love Susan Savage-Rumbaugh’s tone. She’s funny; and has a bosom I’m ready to nuzzle.
Montgolfier Bottom Feeding
2015 12 01 watched a movie, Ben Franklin’s Balloons: Franklin was on hand for the Montgolfier brothers early ascents. King Louis also got excited, they were exciting times. The balloons are beautiful, but there was one visual excellence the film kept returning to: bunch of gawkers from the public were trying to scale walls, forests, gardens to get better view. The mural artist chose a perspective right up the dress of an amply buttocked female! Cheesh, they showed her undersides, then they showed her again. It was OK with me, Christmas what loins.
It’s a detail in a big painting, crowd scene. The imagined woman subject must know what she’s wearing, and what she isn’t. In Louis’ court females were accustomed to showing their snatch at the drop of a curtsy. This woman snapped up the whole countryside.
Nice movie, worth watching more than once. I loved the female balloon designer and builder: a real woman, not a model, not an actress. I love the fictitious one and the real one.
2015 11 30 What an experience! Last night I watched Dark Star: HS Giger’s World, in awe. I knew the work, the effect, from posters in bookstore windows and from Alien, but I didn’t know the name, knew nothing about the guy. It was something to be reminded of other artists as well, related artists, Ernst Fuchs, Dali …
It was glorious to get to see HansRuedi young; painful to see him decrepit: especially knowing that he was as frail as he looked: tripped, fell, died. But he was ready, didn’t mind, could have lived differently, perhaps: or perhaps not. Goombye.
2015 11 30 I began streaming Return to Sender because of the blond in close up on the poster image: Rosamund Pike. She didn’t look that great but looked great enough to warrant a closer look. And almost immediately I was rewarded: she’s sitting on a step, the camera in her crotch, painting her toenails: got a blind date coming up. She stands up, walks around, senses somebody at her door, oh, her date. Never mind all that: point is: she’s wearing shorts that illuminate the three-dimensionality of her bottom as nicely as you could ever hope to see. Scrumptious bottom. Oh, god, please, let that moistness be lubricant, not something that belongs in the toilet. Too late for me, I’m committed to bury my face there and smooch.
Well, the guy comes in, he’s prettier than she is, very annoying, and I bailed out of the movie before long.
But: I found myself going back, gotta get another glimpse of those shimmering shorts. I think I’m purged of it now though. However, Rosamund Pike was worth more than one look, demanded it. Not just her ass, her face too.
Females! Bless them.
2015 11 27 watching Transcendence, what dreck. Johnny Depp can weird one out, I knew that before I ordered it. What I didn’t anticipate is how nice the female side would be. Rebecca Hall? Never heard of her. But nice, quite nice. Kate Mara, as blond, oh man. More and more I recall, warm, warmth, her indelible bosom, as she showed it in Shooter.
1950! Roberto Rossellini’s The Flowers of Saint Francis
Script by Fellini!
I knew Fellini was a holy man from first being felled by La Strada: confirmed in Nights of Cabiria. (I saw La Strada when it came out, but it may have been 1960 or 1961 before I saw Cabiria.) But Rossellini? I knew he was great from having seen flashes of Open City in the early 1950s, but I never thought of him as a holy man, not even a secular holy man till General Della Rovere (1959): the lout finds courage and martyrs himself: for solidarity.
But here’s a Roman Catholic story, told with “Christian” simplicity. 1950, I see it sixty-five years later: and it passes for holy for me today.
Partly, largely, that’s Saint Francis, broadening meekness, humility, simplicity near comedy, beyond comedy.
Passes for Holy
I repeat (K.’s repeating) Durkheim’s distiction that a belief system needn’t have a god to be a religion: no, what all religions have in common is a faith that its members can tell a difference between sacred and profane. Rossellini can claim to be an atheist all he wants; but would he claim that his movie about Francis isn’t holy?
These comments now split: film talk stays here; religious talk, cultural talk gets transplanted to / Religion /: including atheist talk, embrassing how Pasolini films dovetail right in, anthropologically, just a couple of years later: Fellini wrote Rossellini scripts, Pasolini wrote Fellini scripts!
I’m not gulping the Francis movie; I’m tasting it, smecking it in tiny tastes. (Took a week before I finished it.) The Rossellini / Francis branch of pk babble tells of the scene in which Francis and his brethren beg alms from a great house and get cudgeled down the hill for their trouble: they then rejoice that God has elevated them by humiliating them. I illustrate though with an image of a different humiliation: not of Francis but of Brother Ginepre: the tyrant threatens Ginepre, Genipre just looks meekly at the tyrant. Finally the tyrant orders that his siege be lifted! Meekness wins?!? Anyway the tyrant was played by a familiar Italian character actor, the only professional in the cast: otherwise all amateur. I mention it to make a different point: the film costumes the tyrant in armor that no one including the tyrant can don: this king of the hill is no king without a team of bureaucrats, soldiers, courtiers to help him “dress”! I love it: the kleptocracy is helpless without a group will to be absurd.
Giant Green Porn
2015 11 06 Isabella Rossellini took a giant step onto stage and screen with her Green Porno. What a great production. I laughed out loud repeatedly. The monologue is as accurate as it is profound; but it could be silent and still be great: her costumes speak volumes.
She gets more comic use of 25′ retractible tape meansure than I could have imagined. Funny addition, I saw that gag in a Mad comic in 1951 or so, a Plastic Man lampoon, but her gag was better: measuring erections length among barnacles, gorillas, seals. Some of the stellar moments: Isabella as a starfish, as a snail (with her anus right above her face), Isabella as some orgasmic however ugly mud creature … Isabella’s praise of David Attenborough was pretty stellar itself.
But dig it, her paper cut out props, her costumes, are as good as stacks of muppet inventions.
Well, her father was a dramatic genius, so why not? Her mother was no slouch either. (Ingrid Bergman mailed Roberto Rossellini a bikini photo when she was still a teen!)
Thumbnail comedy is familiar, so is thumbnail bathos: but I found one of her scenes especially poignant:
She’s established the true pattern that ruminant males battle for mating privileges. She’s refinded to point to notice that some sneaky males mate with a harem female while the alpha is battling a would-be. So: Isabella is one of four does ready for the alpha. Oh, choose me, choose me, each female says. Battle, mating pair; battle mating pair. The third doe is whisked off for a honeymoon and Isabella is still there, pleading, Choose me! Meantime the male alternates and the green horns, were they paying any attention could have made off with her eager self; but no, they have a homosexual gangband instead! Talk about bathos!
On the subject: the most starling moment: the porpoises are banging, then gangbanging: now a male sticks his phallus in another male’s blow hole! Good god!
What stage craft! Book! and movie form too.
2015 11 05 Just talking about Mark Rylance, just going Wow, I queue a couple of his flix to stream, and I get Blitz: that is to say I get Jason Stratham: wow and more wow. The movie is dreck, I’d already bailed out of it once before, but the franchise is imminant, manifest, visible, fabulous: harks me back to Clint’s macho magnum franchise, when he almost singlehandedly channeled Bogart, and Cagney, and Edward G … with his absurd Dirty Harry scripts. I hate cops, I hate police brutality, I see every cop as a hair trigger from murder, every cop as a bully … I see every police department as an enemy of freedom, another fascist brick, a coalition of slave owners terrorizing the exploited class.
Blitz skillfully exploits a buncha talented actors, especially the males. The psycho cop killer is ratty and hateful. At the end the two hero cops, Janson’s bully and the other guy’s queer, put a bullet between the bad guy’s eyes, mocking his “rights”. Ugh, everything I hate about civilization.
[pk Cop Stories] But I love Clint reciting his “blow your head clean off” routine, I love the “punks” trembling, wishing, wishing they could dare.
Yesterday Sean Penn’s damn muscles were almost as annoying as Sly Stalone’s: so profoundly short of Arnold S’s pectoral perfection. But apart from that, if ever there was a guy who broadcast strength from every pore it’s Jason.
When I was writing my By the Hair of the Comet novel in 1982, I practiced writing scenese just like that: but my source wasn’t Clint, it was Mifune! Kurosawa!! Everything channeled Yojimbo or Sanjuro when it did’nt channel Roshomon or the Seven Samurai.
You’d think this Christian liked violence! Well, in a sense I do.
I would like to have seen Mongul with Jesus, tried to monitor his reactions, track his blood pressure …
Sean Penn is a good actor, we all know that, right? A great actor sometimes. I just watched The Gunman, enjoying the hell out of its macho bullshit, good turns by Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, all very good, Sean showing his muscles … But that’s not why I’m writing this. There are two performers I’d expected nothing from, not knowing them, but got nearly everything damn thing from. First, the chick: Jasmine Trinca: got to see more of her. But what really blew my socks off was Mark Rylance. Gotta see more. Too bad I can’t see him on the stage: in the wheel house of his fame.
I also commend the movie’s location shots in Barcelona. A bull fight sets one stage, very damn well: but the credits proclaim Barcelona an anti-bull fighting city: protest that those scenes were not in Barcelona!
2015 11 03 Last evening Jan and I watched The Help. Its mismatches to my expectations derailed my attention: I became aware of a growing set of things I hadn’t followed well enough to “get”. Emma Stone is reason enough to watch anything and there was no problem there. Hollywood earns its ticket by filling two hours with familiar talents: Jeez, what a cast, Oh, there’s So and so … And Who’s that funny character actor again? Anyway, by the end the movie and the teary moments were piling up I kinds of wished I’d payed better attention all along. I’ve mailed it back, I’m gonna let it recede, then watch it fresh, knowing a bit better what I’m seeing.
I remember the ’60s: as I remember the ’50s, and the ’40s. All my life I’ve been helpless in a selfish, racist, dishonest society, all its institutions, like all its member-individuals bulwarked against self-realization.
It does no good to tell the media that they’re a fictions factory: they know it, but their charter is to keep weaving the fictions.
Fer instance: it’s made clear that Skeeter has gone to college, that she wants to write. So go and write: I do, always have. Oh, but she wants to write something significant; and she wants to get paid, not crucified for it! She works for some Jackson Miss paper, contacts Harper & Row. The Yankee organ is willing to insult the south, maybe, but Mary Steenburgen’s Harper & Row is pure capitalist self-indulgence. No, no: you can’t look for help, honest, anything but self-indulgence from the principal kleptocratic institutions.
But then in Part II of the movie everybody is reading Skeeter’s book, everybody is laughing and recognizing the truth: the way the ’60s was actually filled by commuters reading Catch-22 on the train, on the subway, while walking …
The question is: can a dishonest society of dishonest members, far from intelligent, nevertheless write anything that actually models reality? And can the studio make a buck?
I’m gonna watch it again, paying special attention to Dallas Bryce Howard’s character.
And I want to see who plays the Jackson paper’s editor who hires Skeeter.
And I want to look at Skeeter’s hip some more.
2013 04 01 Last night Jan and I watched Michelangelo Antonioni’s Story of a Love Affair, 1950. It’s five years now that I’ve been feeding her my favorite movies, books, poems …
Lucia Bosè by Giuseppe De Santis
I started with my absolute favorite movies — Fellini, Kurosawa — but quickly discovered that many such were not readily available via the internet. With a budget you can get nearly anything; broke you have to take what you can get. We got La Strada, but didn’t get I Vitelloni, Nights of Cabiria … Somehow it’s five 1/2 years and Antonioni hasn’t been mentioned! So, Story of a Love Affair took a step toward correcting that: soon we’ll take the real step and watch L’Aventura.
La Strada came out in 1954. I’d seen “foreign” movies before then, but this I believe was the first such I ever took myself to: and by the end of the 1950s I’d seen it God knows how many times. Ditto Roshomon. Come 1960 we had movies to go permanently nuts over: La Dolce Vita, Wild Strawberries …
And L’Aventura came out. More than several friends (and professors) at Columbia were talk-talk-talking about it. I’d never heard of him: figured it had to be a young guy, a Turk, boy, was I wrong.
I went, checked it out. I could barely walk as I exited the theater: but I absolutely couldn’t get on a bus. I remember strolling home, walking up Fifth Avenue: from midtown, ’50s, the whole length of Central Park. Stopped across from my beloved Guggenheim Museum, my soul in reinforced concrete: dwelt on Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece: and saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece: and Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece, miscibling together, mating, like mixing absinthe and water. Midtown back to Columbia was a hell of a hike, perfect for deep meditation.
I’d never heard of Antonioni! he’d been churning out films for a decade by then.
Let me tell you, I sure loved sharing him with Jan.
Story of a Love Affair reminded me of so many things. The compositions, the shots, were brilliant. Take interesting architecture, conceive of a complex shot … Are you watching, Tarkovsky? Place good looking actors, female, male, dress them like mannequins … One woman in her fur looked like Rodin’s Balzac!
One thing that was really a riot is how much 1950s Antonioni reminded me of Hollywood! Double Indemnity! 1944!
Well, for the rest of the 1960s I gawked at Antonioni, he flooded the world with his compositions. Only now do I realize: he’d been doing that all along!
Favorite Antonioni Aside
Jim Zito was my favorite professor. Jim Zito was the favorite professor of lots of my friends. I’ll never forget Jim Zito, around the quad, telling me and a couple of others that the NYT had published his letter to the editors re: L’Aventura. In his words, Zito said that he had “explained” L’Aventura to the NYT‘s film dunce, Bosley Crowther. “I’m so embarrassed,” Jim said.
We already knew Zito liked to hide his light under a moderate-sized bushel. He was happy with a half-a-dozen fans; didn’t want millions.
But somehow decades and decades passed without my ever getting hold of that Times issue: so I’ve still never read Zito’s explanation: have no idea how much I’d agree, disagree, learn …
So, decades after his death, I was becoming friends of a sort, via email, with his widow. I asked her to send me a copy. … She still hasn’t!
Did I sense fear in her that I was going to plagiarize it? Poor bastard had been dead too damn long. I wish I could post something in his words here.
If I want to hurt the widow Zito I should publish our emails! She wanted the world to know about her husband; she did not want the world to know about me! And the world is solidly on her side, at least regarding me.
I grabbed a pic, don’t know what movie the one above is from. Jan kept commenting how beautiful she was. One thing about streaming, I’ll pause a movie every other minute to cross reference something. Looking up Bosè we discover she was born in 1931! That’s Jan’s birth year. So, Lucia’s six months older. We’d like to see her now; I’d like to show her how great Jan looks: at 83 1/2. Wow, female beauty.
I’ve told the story how I actually had some real absinth once, 1958. Pernot Bros., bottled in Paris, 1880-something (from the wine cellar of a guy directly across the street from the Guggenheim!). Have you ever been in a Degas painting? a Toulouse-Lautrec? I have! Absinthe is both alcoholic, strong as rum, and narcotic, a hallucinogen. I added a drop to a half-glass of water and was hit like a sledge in anise-smother.
Rimbaud on Morningside Heights
(From age fifteen (1953) to 1978 I drank too much, but I’m so susceptible it could have been much much worse.)
Just finished watching The Day of the Siege: September Eleven 1683. And now what I want to know is: did the World Trade attackers deliberately choose the date that Ottoman Turks attacked Vienna in 1683? What could their motive possibly have been? They lost then? wanted to lose again? They were making magical excuses?
Meantime, this movie, which I’ve been tasting in pieces over months and months, seems to be so much trash: except: I sure like the Sicilian actor who played Mustafa, and I sure like the blond who played the princess.
2013 03 31 It’s sure a bunch of decades now in which I’ve loathed Ken Burns PBS documentaries: Little Lord Fauntleroy with a sinecure. Still, I’ve seen a lot of them, every word of a lot of them, some of them multiple times: it’s like I’ve read the Bible a lot; not that I trust it: I trust it to be an utterly human document, full of lies, deceits, self-decptions … The thing about a Ken Burns documentary is no matter how far short of really good he falls, someone else, nearly anyone else, would have fallen a lot shorter. We won’t let Jesus live or preach: we should consider ourselves lucky to be stuck with Peter, with Paul …
(Wait a minute, wait a minute: I don’t mean Little Lord Fauntleroy; I must mean Gainsborough’s Blue Boy.
God, I love that painting: not least because my favorite student wrote a poem comparing it to me: a deep soul suffering in the wrong wrapper.)
(But I don’t care what name is used, what myth referred to: I see Burns and I see an oaf in a silly suit with a silly haircut wrapped in inappropriate privilege.)
(Once in the 1960s, drunk as a skunk at a friend’s Westchester home, a school for retards, I became hypnotized by a cookie tin which displayed the Blue Boy.
I’ve seen many a Burns film, squawking the while; though there are many more Burns films I have not seen: The West was one.
And I bailed out quick.
A minute into it “defines” “the west” as North America west of the Mississippi. Once upon a time it was anythiung west of the Hudson, then anything west of Pittsburgh: or, anything west, including Pittsburgh.
Argh, I may give it a further chance. If I do I may be back.
For one thing I’m curious to see if the Burns team will mention Sutter’s discovery of a pass through the Rockies. No one went with him: then everyone went: and stole his land, killed his cattle, stole his gold …
2015 03 24 I recently watched a DVD on the Roman invasion of Druidical Brittan, a few years BCE. The doc wasted our time calling those Druids “pagan”: perennial pk point: the term pagan is almost meaningless once you realize that Christians millennia ago called every belief system that wasn’t their orthodoxy of Christianity “pagan”: meaningless, like Greeks calling all non-Greeks barbarians. It sounds like a disinction, but it isn’t the distinction it pretends to be.
But that’s not why I launch this note. The DVD authors report the Romans pushing the Celts westward. The desperate Druids, their Briton elders and priests as it were, gather on their sacred island off Wales, as far west as they can be pushed. (Bardsey Island? It’s named in the DVD.) They can’t beat the Romans back with military force: that’s already failed. They try the only thing they see themselves as having left, all resources otherwise exhausted: magic. The Druids try their most extreme rituals: sacrifice, human sacrifice, cannibalism: eat the victim, ritualistically of course. Now, damn you gods, feel sorry for us!
(Like in my solipsist story, the guy screams at his tormentors, “I know how to stop you”: and he blows his own brains out.)
Anthropologists examine a mummified corpse from those events. The find that the murdered man was a Celtic aristocrat. The Druids don’t waste magic sacrificing a slave, or an enemy, or a girl, or a hag; no: they sacrifice their best: their most vauable: light the cigar with a $1,000 bill.
The the DVD casts an actor to look resigned as the priests split his skull with an axe, strangle him with a garrote, and slit his throat.
Anyway, the Romans advance. They’re met by a wall of screaming women and mad-eyed Druids, cutting themselves, trying to force the magic to kick in.
(Jesus died slowly on the cross (though a lot quicker than oother crucifixion victime who lingered for days: Jesus had to be dispatched before sun down, the arrival of Sabbath.)
And I had a typical pk daydream (typical pk-“Kafka”esque daydream). I put myself in the young victim’s place: and tried to imagine the guy’s trying to discipline himself to believe that he’s helping his people to live: like Chistians imagine that Jesus got himself crucified deliberately: so he could be the Paschal lamb. Imagine Jesus’ struggle to continue to believe that while he tries to breath upwards against gravity and the tear of his flesh.
Kafka’s Penal Colony imagines prisoners having their crime written in their flesh. Eventually they recognize the message, and die in ecstasy: “Ah, it says ‘I’m a Sodomite’! I’m a Sodomite! Yes, yes.” But in Kafka’s story the machine breaks, the torture scribbles nonsense on the victim. The victim dies without receiving any ecstatic understanding.
Imagine Jesus becoming an atheist just as sun set: tortured for no good reason.
My own tortures cycle and recycle: I’m in ecstasy, I despair, my ectasy is renewed, my despair is renewed.
At the moment I’m in despair: communication is impossible, it doesn’t matter what I said, or wrote, how well I said it, or wrote it, or how I suffer: the kleptocrats control the churches, the schools, the media … I lose, we all lose.
Mankind gives himself a gold star for intelligence, but only because we can’t see the mirror straight.
Oh, another thought! Imagine the Romans arresting Jesus for attempting suicide. The kleptocracy can’t allow despire: their monopoly on resources, stupidity, and violence is absolute.
The Madness of King George
2013 03 23 I’m so glad Jan & I watched this movie last night: gotta say a couple of things, quick:
1) The writer was Alan Bennett. I knew I knew the name, but had to think for a minute: ah, but wikipedia makes recall unimportant, you don’t need much memory when you can look anything up, quick. Alan Bennett is one of the geniuses behind Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Beyond the Fringe. I saw him perform in that culture: they set the stage for Monty Python!
2) I’ve long known a lot more about English royalty than I, as an American, wanted to know, or thought I ought to know: Elizabeth, Henry, James, Charles … But the kings after Shakespeare and Milton I don’t know worth a damn. I know lots of what happened under the Georges, not not dick about the Georges. I know lots about Regency England, but nothing about the Prince Regent, George IV to be. So: I was ready for a fill in.
3) The cast is fabulous. You can see Helen Mirren’s quality a mile away; it took the bulk of the film before I began to see how great Nigel Hawthorne was being, had been all along. Know the character, then judge the representation, the evocation. Elizabeth, Lady Pembroke, was something to see. And Pitt, and Fox: lots and lots.
It wasn’t till this morning that I realized that the actor who played Fox played the crippled brave victim in Downton Abbey.
4) Dear to my anarchist heart: several things: the king is supposed to be king: but Parliament also rules: and what’s Parliament: a bunch of greedy venal men who can’t discuss anything rationally (yet they talk about reason as though it were their tool). Meantime, the experts, the doctors, insane ignoramuses, are the real rulers …
Detail apropos: Prince George wants power, wants wealth, wants to have his cake, his Catholic wife, and be king too (and, damn, he was the Regent too (except this movie depicts him failing to become full regent)): but advisers say he must be patient, time is needed: there’s nothing left in the trough: pigs like his father have scarfed everything! The only honest politicing I saw in the story came from Mad George, George III: he actually values farming: crops, livestock: pigs, sheep.
Nukes Are Nice
2015 03 17 Happy St. Pat’s.
A lot of liberal anti-nuke people do an about face in this doc: persuasion, propaganda by emotion by sincerity, parents moaning for their innocent children; there’snot a scrap of reasonable discussion. All the arguers seem to swallow first and foremost that we need AC, fast food, cell phones: money, more money: power, power, power.
How about going back to a world population of a half a billion? (How about a hundred million? how about 100,000?) How about letting it be dark when it’s dark. How about putting on a coat when it’s cold? planting trees for when it’s hot? How about accepting that we are incapable of intelligent discussion of anything, we don’t even know who we’re interrupting, who we’ve misread, whom sabotaged. …
If Caesar fucks us again and again, why is Caesar still in power? Why are those who interrupted Jesus with a cross still interrupting and crucifying other manmen, saints, gods? Of course they don’t know they’re doing it, and they can’t be told.
Jan and I had wonderful times a few months back watching The Red & the Black. That novel had an inordinate influence on me back in the late 1950s, way out of proportion to how much of it I read or didn’t read, with what care. Sometimes the most effective literature is literature people haven’t read at all, just respond to: The Waste Land. I really wish Jan and I could immerse ourselves similarly in The Charterhouse of Parma. That Stendahl is really something. So French. So astute, so deep socially.
My Colombian roommate (from Bogota) read all assignments in French, regardless of what language they were written in. Shakespeare: first he’d read the play in French, fast: then slower in English. The exception was Cervantes, that was one thing Nick read in his native Spanish, the only such thing I knew of.
Nick explained: French is the easiest, fastest language to read: it’s so “logical”. (Well, if I had tried to read things in French, I’d still be on page one these sixty years later.) (No, that’s a joke, I would have learned a bit, speeded up a bit, gotten better at it. My French was above average then but far from fluent.)
Anyway, I see clear and clear, there is something about French literature, and French culture. Last night Jan and I watched Bel Ami. Turned out it’s based on a work by Guy de Maupassant. Wow. Now we gotta see more. Gotta also surf some Balzac, there must be some Balzac we can stream. (There’s more de Maupassant in the offing, but we’ll have to wait, be patient. Meantime, boy do they have French culture, French genius, in common. 2015 03 17 And so we did: last night we watched a film of Balzac’s La Cousine Bette Jessica Lange. Man, now that’s irony, brilliant dramaturgy. Bette is the family door mat, she’s put up with it all her life, worked for the family, sacrificed self. The alert audience instantly sees that none of the dialogue is literally true, everything is between the lines, if not opposite. If she’s about to say, Actually, I’m pretty pissed off, they interrupt her and say, Oh, don’t thank us … Fabulous. Now we need more. (The 1971 serial was ordered but is way delayed.)
Bel Ami was wonderfully cast, especially the women, but the men were terrific too. The hero is an actor who’d turned my stomach, damn insufferable pretty boy, but here he was just prefect. Kristin Scott Thomas is an actress who’d previousy repelled more than attracted me, but here I was purely applauding.
I repeat: some mere titles affect us more than other whole carefully read volumes: sometimes we “learn” more from a friend’s repetition of his professor’s point than you learn from your own professor. (Sixty years after the fact James Shenton’s substitute performance, merely recounting Dostoieevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, remains more vivid than the whole year from the mouth of the regular prof.) Anyway, one pearl from long-ago undergrad classes comes a dorm neighbor’s class, not mine: part of a string of comp lit experiences is recounted in my Sleepless in Comp Lit; here’s another:
the prof asked his class, What do Moby Dick and Anna Karenina have in common? The class scowled, ventured a fumble or two, then asked the young prof: who had a rep for brilliance. Oh, I’m not sure, I didn’t have any particular didacticism in mind, I wanted to hear your thoughts rattle around … But: if forced to answer … I’ll say …
Neither could have been written by a Frenchman!
Oh, man! That’s great! So profound!
I’ll echo further, think of the corollary: there’s a lot in common between “American” and “Russian”: a lot more than we were likely to say in the wake of MaCarthy.
The context is French: rationalism! order!
(Gotta remember something else: my army friend Phil: hated rationalism, insulted any hint of world order. could be very funny.)
Now: picture Henry David Thoreau trying to read Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma! (Also: picture Tolstoy (or Bakunin) reading Thoreau!
Man I wish old Nick were here right now, my Colombian, to discuss this with me: in the context of Stendhal, de Maupassant, Balzac … Nick, I wasn’t ready for The Red & the Black in 1957: or Charterhouse. (But I was way ahead of Nick with Melville, Twain! and ripe for Tolstoy.)
One quality to envy the French for: they save a lot of effort by not bothering with hypocrisy: they look at history, at man, at society without any compulsion to pretend it’s something it’s not: we’re stupid, selfish, venal: now, get on with the story: and, so, What then follows?
They can say, I’m gonna vote for whoever gave me the biggest bribe; they don’t have to spin wheels explaining how your hand out is really Adam Smith’s God’s invisible hand. The French don’t have to coerce theology into a pretzel.
The Immigrant (2013 film)
2015 03 09 Last night Jan and I watched the recent film, The Immigrant. We both liked it: in particular it dovetails with my adulthood themes:
A word about the cast I get out of the way, clear the deck for important considerations:
Marion Cotillard is terrific: beautiful, affecting: we both were moved by her La Vie en Rose, playing Edith Piaf. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing: so good looking yet I can watch a role for quite a spell before realizing it’s him, again. We haven’t seen that much of Jeremy Renner, but he’s a definite screen capture.
Now: plot, meaning, relevance:
Hierarcy of Slaves
Cotillard’s Ewa lands at Ellis Island: the immigrant. There’s the statue of Liberty, talking about freedom; here’s the reality, not commonly mapped, true maps getting burned forthwith.
Ewa and her sister, all the poor immigrants are stacked around the ship like cordwood-cattle, no sanitation, no privacy. She gets raped: now the authorities can further abuse power by labeling her as “immoral”. Certain “suits” inspect the current cargo, held helpless by the authorities: it’s a slave market pretending to be a free market, a democracy. One suit in particular, Phoenix’s Bruno Weiss, spots Ewa, recognizes a nugget. The authorities hold her still while Bruno inspects her. They’ve already subtracted her sister Magda from the consignment: they seem to be right about one thing, she has TB. The transfer her to a “hospital” where they can pretend to care for her. Bruno and the bureaucrats are familiar with the hierarchy of bribes; anyone can get into the US, depending on who you pay and how much.
Ewa is asked about friends or familty, she declares an aunt and uncle, shows there address, across the river in Brooklyn. The authorities tell her there’s no such address, no such people: meanwhile they signal the uncle, warn him that his relatives are a liability, keep the aunt in the dark.
It’s a marvel to watch Bruno bribe Ewa loose from the handlers, take her to his “theater”: read brothel display stage, and before her eyes and ours, convice her that he’s freeing her, is helping her. He whores her out, she blasses him as a savior: except she’s not quite as stupid as she’s supposed to be.
Compare Ewa’s treatment with the treatment of slaves in a slave market: rule one: break up families, mix cultures, deracinate: isolate by non-common language.
(Wonderful to hear Bruno explain to Ewa that he speaks Yiddish, so he’s “respected”: a man to be reckoned with. (She in contrast is just garbage.)
(Marvelous later on when the cops knock Bruno around with their billy clubs, they riffle his inert body for what they can steal, find $1,000 in his sock: accompany the mugging with antisemeitc asides about where “they” might hide things on their person.)
When Columbus landed here and there around the Caribbean, these “Indians” said Hi, those Indians shot arrows; but no natives asked him for his green card, no natives posted quotas, or prices, or laws.
There’s a delicious scene where Ewa goes to a church to seek a priest with a confessional. Ewa starts to confess, the priest asks questions, gets everything wrong, jumps to conclusions, assigns pennance … as Bruno, in the shadows, eavesdrops. One additional blasphemy the film could have committed, but didn’t. The priest doesn’t call her uncle and sell her down the river again, with a hoard of cardinals, each with his hand out, dividing the penny a hundred ways. Thus, the Church is the only institution not shown to be 100% corrupt, venal, merely stupid, incompetent.
Wonderful ending with Phoenix looking much like Brando in On the Waterfront. Beat to shit and gone, dying, he confesses to Ewa how he’s lied to her, deceived her, robbed her, debauched her, enslaved her: but by this time she’s loves the son-of-a-bitch back. She does though take the sister and their train tickets to California, get the hell away from Ellis Island and its lies, leaves Bruno dead.
2013 03 04 I enjoyed the hell out of the first couple of episodes the other evening, the subject is right up my alley: perception, psychology among my subjects; but last night the episode on “magic” and illusion pissed me off. The series started out to contribute toward education and science, then it flushed itself away as entertainment: more deceptions by deceivers. The presenters showed five cards: instructed viewers to take 5 seconds to memorize one card. I did as told, I focused on the Queen of Hearts. Fine. Then they showed four cards. Lo: the Queen of Hearts was not among theem. So what? Later they explained that none of the four cards were the same as the original five: therefore, your card, no matter which one you picked, was not among them. I repeat: so what? They didn’t say to memorize five cards: they didn’t say Explain what happened to your card …
Had they shown five cards, then four, had the second four been all different, I might have noticed, so might you, we might not have noticed. The writers weren’t teaching psychology, they were playing tricks on us.
I’ve loved Jane Austen since high school, who doesn’t? The major stuff I’ve read and re-read (though not in recent decades). The minor stuff I’ve seen BBC versions of: again and again. So have you, so has everyone: in the English(&American)-dominant world.
But now Jan and I came upon something new: to me. Death Comes to Pemberly. PD James penned a sequel to Pride & Prejudice! A TV series.
I’ve clarified elsewhere, I repeat here: I’ve never been much of a mystery reader. I read Sherlock Holmes as a kid, by the end of high school I was finding fault with it, fed up: the “rationality” was fake: rational people wouldn’t have been fooled. In college though I started conscious readings of American hard-boiled fiction. We all knew it from the movies: The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep … Now I was reading and rereading this stuff.
My mother, my sister, still read Doyle: and also read Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot … Not me, that was silly fiction, chick dreck: chichi. So: PD James career came and went without my being aware of it, except as a genre, a sub-breed.
Now: writing a sequel to Jane Austen takes some chutzpah in this world, some balls, or some major stupidity. (It’s like me when I announced that my PhD thesis would be on Shakespeare! Don’t be a fool (tamper with the sacred at your peril).) (Of course it didn’t matter what my thesis argued; no one heard the argument!) (Like no one would hear me if I took holy orders, then tried to convince cardinals and pope that God should best be addressed as “Mildred”. The Times won’t be aware you ever said anything. Neither will the Vatican, or the Library of Congress.)
But James got away with it. She was already established. (Pretty funny: cause if you read her encyclopedia bio (as I just did at wikipedia), she had a very unlikely career: rose despite, not because-of. So: lucky us, bravo for her, bravo for BBC …
Illusion of Authenticity
It ain’t just English teachers who’ll recognize Austen’s tone: especially with Pride & Prejudice! That’s one of the best loved works, ever. The TV Pemberly begins. Ah, there’s Elizabeth, there’s a sister, and another. That one’s the dumb whore, now here comes Jane. There’s Mrs. Bennett, Mr. Bennett. Ah, there’s Darcy, and Pemberly. We know, and love, all this stuff.
The diction lulls us with familiarity. There’ll be the oddball here and there, like me, who wonders what these kleptocrats have invested in, where do they get off feeling superior? They fool themselves, they fool the servants … Some Austen movie of recent decades did that: uncovering drawings of abuse, rape, of slaves: sugar plantation: all that money, all that hypocrisy … These damn Chrisitians … And look: they’re utterly confident, can’t imagine alternatives, that their kleptocracy will sustain, endure.
See what I mean? We’re rolling merrily along … then, it starts to change. No, this isn’t Austen, the tone isn’t right. The actors are the same, the architecture is the same. Superficially the culture, the persons, are the same; but they’re not. Suddenly there’s a death, presumably a murder: here comes a bureaucracy! a magistrate, a sheriff. Darcy isn’t in charge, and Elisabeth with him; some magistrate can replace intelligence and judgment with impatience and stupidity.
Here’s a diction example: see what you think, add a comment, email …
Somebody says “soldiering for king and country is never foolish”.
Austen never wrote that! Did she! Maybe Baroness James wrote that, maybe the BBC wrote that … Maybe it slipped past most viewers, morons all, or nearly all. It stuck in my craw. Am I the only one?
Le mot (in)juste.
That’s post-WW I; not pre-Victorian. I’n it?
2015 03 02 Jan and I just finished the three part sequel. Wickham is accused of murdering the dead guy, the jury finds him guilty, the judge sentences him to be hanged: and Elizabeth gets a written confession for the murder from a bedridden local, shows the paper to the officials just in time to save Wickham: he’s already standing on the gallows with the rope around his neck. Thus Wickham is saved but the justice system had nonetheless condemned him: wrongly. Darcy lives on, Elizabeth lives on, Georgiana married her love: but: the incompetent government with its incompetent justice system still rules. How can we stand it? How dare we says these words, Justice, with a straight face?
I repeat: that’s true of all of our abstractions. At Wickham’s trial, arraignment, everything, representatives of social order, lawyers, magistrates interrupt each other insisting on “facts”. Do these clown ever have an facts straight? Are they qualified to know a fact from a fiction? Not in my eye: they’re dedicated to fictions, enemies of facts. But people continue to have the illusion that if Rome chisels “J-u-s-t-c-e” over a marble entrance, then there must be something there called justice. If Christians keep repeating that if only they believe then God will save them, forgive them, forgive them for murdering God … Facts must be facts if bureaucrats keep saying “fact”.
We say “God” as though we can summon God to haunt us. Ditto all such abstractions.
Never mind God: think of any spirit, any abstraction: imagine a demon in the clouds watching us blather about God, or Justice, or Facts … Like watching fish in a pond, cattle in a pen, or mosquitos in a swarm.
Alien Parochial Skirts
I just scribbled about Walkabout‘s talent for keep the audience glued on-alert for glimpses of the actress’s crotch, but now I want to rewrite it from scratch: and work in comparisons: Tarantino’s Kill Bill shows school girls displaying dress codes that prescribe skirts, very short, and in tartan: then shows those girls showing martial expertise with some very unlady-like, very un-school-girl-like heavy steel weaponry: KickAss doing the identical thing with one adorable fell cherub. In another session I’ll weave all.
Chloë Grace Moretz!
Walkabout‘s girl doesn’t bash anyone with a mace and chain, but she does display her naivte in odd settings: Australia’s outback, at its most severe.
Jan and I watched a DVD of Walkabout last night, mostly loving it. The other evening, having just been totally enthralled by Ibsen’s Enemy of the People, we were somewhat less engaged by a BBC TV production of ditto’s Wild Duck: until I started to recognize the actress playing Hedvig: good golly, it’s Jenny Agutter! And memories came flooding back, memories not shared by Jan: Walkabout, Logan’s Run, American Warewolf in London … I told Jan that she absolutely had to see more Jenny Agutter. I bumped Walkabout to the top of our queue and told her how I’d spent a couple of hours staring at that actress’s crotch when she played a girl in her little school skirt.
I hope you know the movie (especially I hope you know the 1971 US release and the Critereon auteur’s cut). If you know either, whether you’re male or female, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The role dresses Jenny Agutter in a school girl uniform, adorably assembled, the skirt hem a mere fraction of an inch below the panty border. The girl is forever bending over, angling her legs to get up, the camera views her from every angle, always teasing the audience, the audience primed for a secret peek up a young girl’s skirt, there’ll be a moment of panty crotch in the next moment for sure. The Puritans, the censors, will be looking even more avidly than the lecher.
But, I assured Jan: no crotch shot ever actually came: two hours of ever-just-beyond the bar.
Till we saw it now! in 2015.! Before long I assured Jan that this wasn’t the film I’d seen in 1971. Here we were seeing Jenny’s crotch, Jenny’s pubes, Jenny’s tits … maybe not as amply as we’d have liked but a lot more than I’d reported.
So: this morning I do some research. Yes, a lot was cut from the US release in 1971. Yes, Jenny Agitter was shocked at how liberally the director was displaying her female attributes. We see her hanging upside down from a tree, all of her panties showing, crotch, bottom … We see a skinny-dip scene go on and on: all the pubic triangle we could expect, short of porn …
And I learned something quite unexpected: Jenny Agitter was fourteen when shooting began. Law required some restraint with the young actress. Ah, but there were delays, financial don’t you know. By the time shooting resumed Jenny was sixteen! and fair game under the law! Whoopie, here she comes, hanging upside down, sunbathing naked, failing to conceal her boobs with a transparent shirt that she fails to don too quick.
I look up a bunch of stuff: and am vividly reminded how in 1976 other cameras were still trying to glimpse her pubes.
I gotta say one last thing on the subject of Jenny Agutter’s attractions: Nice legs, we get a lot of leg in the above-mentioned films. We get teased with a lot of crotch hints however much of little actual crotch follows. We get to see her distinctive array of features, that ineffable something of her nose, from lots of angles, her odd lip … But, at the end, for a moment, a moment intimate but alien (we don’t know this girl after all), we behold her face!
Now: explain those eyes to me.
Actually, from early on when the girl and boy are first sun-bitten, we’ve had lots of great closeups of the girl. But all those great closeups make sense in their immediate context: they’re out in the desert, there’s no water to wash with, no mirror to see oneself … this last closeup makes sense only in the context of years having passed, of looking back, of remembering … If she didn’t understand the black boy’s mating ritual at the time, maybe she does a bit now: yes, she loved him a bit too.
Beating on Women
2014 12 26 I was just commending Jennifer Lawrence for acting beat-up well, Winter’s Bone. Damn, if but by utter coincidence I didn’t just see a scene in a 1990 movie where Angelica Houston gets punched in the belly, splay-hooved: Grifters. Oof, no foolin’. I’m reminded of other good-uns: Once Were Warriors, for example.
I remember friends exclaiming that Ashes & Diamonds looked like they’d really machine gunned some guys: the Maori gal in Warriors gets klobbered, one punch flies her across the tavern, and her face looked like a rotten melon. Still the world’s most perfect puckered ass.
2014 12 22 Jan & I decided it was time for us to see Driving Miss Daisy again. Each saw it long before we met. Each of us last evening was surprised at how little the movie matched our memories. First I declare: we both loved it, thought it was marvelous, brilliantly done. Of course neither of us could have had a clue in 1989 how many great roles Morgan Freeman would come to have over the coming decades: time for a retrospective on the basis of his great presence alone. Of course in 1989 we’d each have thought that we’d seen plenty of Jessica Tandy, one more was just icing, America’s pretty-good answer to all those British thesbian dames.
Back to Miss Daisy in a minute: let me also declare that this morning I decided that it was past time that I saw The Fly for the first time. I’ve long respected Jeff Goldblum: wasn’t it high time I saw one of his biggest hits? Yes, wonderful: Goldblum is one actor where where you can see every acting muscule at work without ever missing how good his acting is: you wouldn’t even think he was good looking except that he’s acting great looking, but total effect! and I didn’t mention it to Jan: not her kind of thing. So Daisy is a treasure; Fly is just an oddity, made a little better than one might think was warranted for a bit of juvenile-sf vulgarity. (Not all sf is juvenile or vulgar but The Fly rode both trains to the limit.)
Lots of things could be said about both, I’m here to say one thing about each:
Daisy: The old black guy tends the even older Jewish lady in what becomes loving friendship. At one point they drive out of George and into Alabama, Atlanta to Mobile. Freeman stands in the grass at the roadside, Tandy in the back seat of the Cadillac. Till that moment everything has been nicely tended, nicely gardened, lush flowering shrubs, social ugliness largely concealed, but not altogether: race, class, ethnicity conspicuous from the opening scenes. And now abrasive racism enters the sound track: “Hey, Boy! Wha’choo doin’ with that car?” Freeman doesn’t answer the two (white) Alabama cops protecting the Caddy from unwelcome touch. It’s the first time we see uniforms in this south: but Nazis, brownshirts, centurions are always about to keep the right people in place by putting the wrong people unlovingly in their place! Tandy answers, “It’s my car.” She’s a retired teacher, but she doesn’t try to educate these thugs. The cops ask her name, wrinkle their nose at hearing something odd as well as Germanic. Not only do the klepto-thugs got a n- in the grass, they got a kike in the Caddy.
[Bowdlerizing K., 2016 08 06, euphemizing the most popularly offensive words, so ironic for the freedom guy]
Very well done. Even the racists in the audience will shrivel a bit at that blatancy.
Cops Profiled Too! http://news.yahoo.com/off-duty-black-cops-york-feel-threat-fellow-170110366.html
When Ford shows John Wayne whirling his Winchester, the Duke looks like finally the right thugs are stealing the land to the Pacific. “You stole the land from the Apache, now I’m stealing it from you,” says Duke to the Mexican. When Cronenberg shows Jeff Goldblum looking gorgious something odd and Ashkenazi tingles all over the screen. But then, overwhelmingly, there’s Geena Davis with her unbelievably pert mouth animating her unbelievably pert face smiling at the tall buff Jew. Jeez, they look like Mutt & Jeff together.
A second later they’re in bed, good. She takes her shirt off, we strain to get a glimpse of … whatever: yes, a rear profile of bosom, a scrumtious round of buttock. Then she puts her shirt on, faces the camera, we strain to see a little puss below the shirt tails: and we don’t. Her boob in profile just escapes showing a little nip.
Sure. What did I expect? That’s the Hollywood we’ve long known, and dismissed, and despised, and made fun of.
Except, recently, I watch Sex and Lucia, or Nymphomania, or Flanders … and they’re not just teasing around the borders of bosom and pudendum, they’re putting the camera almost inside!
Come on! I wanna see adorable Geena Davis like a smear on a slide in a microscope!
2015 01 28 related discussion of Walkabout coming
I’ve loved Monty Python’s Flying Circus since the first evening it was broadcast in America. I had the good fortune to be dining with my old college buddy, my hotdog partner, who’d just returned from a year in England, architect exchange (and our wives): David knew to alert us to what was coming up. I’ve loved every Python since then, sometimes this participant the most, sometimes that one: now Cleese, now Palin, now Gilliam.
I remember seeing an interview with Graham Chapman where he talked about his drinking: Ugh, Errol Flynn, one drunk after another.
Anyway, last evening I try streaming a Graham Chapman thing, Anatomy of a Liar: and found myself repelled! more than a little: particularly at a vulgar skit with lyrics “Sit on my Face and tell me that you love me”. How come I never saw that before? If BBC is gonna censor it, how come they ever allowed it in the first place? Different cultures, no matter how derivative, compare differently: the c-word, the f-word: they’re all different from shore to shore; but I can’t believe that cock-sucking or cuny-lapping is more casual there than here!
C-, cuny (Bowdlerizing K. 2016 07 29)
I loved Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, saw plenty of neoRealism. I thought I knew the basic repertoire. But in the 1960s one of the repertoire theaters — The New Yorker I think — advertised a midnight show of a Rossellini I’d never heard of: The Rise of Louis XIV. Turned out to have been made for French TV: my buddy and I loved it.
In particular I loved how Rossellini used the architecture of Versailles to make sense of the elaborate manners of the time: how do you move thirty people around in a room too small for three and still conduct the business of government: by having a strict hierarchy, everyone knows who has to defer to whom, bow so low, scrunch up into how little space, become invisible: everyone ignoring everyone’s farts, breath, etc. I raved about that movie for decades.
Well now I see, consequence of prolonged poverty, of being the deschooler, Rossellini made a bunch of French teleplays. Today I’m watching Blaise Pascal. I’m prostrate to the floor, breathing worship.
Again Rossellini makes stage sense of the architecture, people scurrying up and down teeny stair cases, the urgencies of a functioning house in a society based on service.
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Jeez, what a great witch trial! They’ve tortured this woman till she positively wants to be burned at the stake, demands it, believes burning will save her soul.
Now I’ve finished it, itching to see more Rossellini teleplays, also stimulated to see that his daughter (with Ingrid Bergman) was active in the production.
Again, I’m so impressed by how Rossellini fits the ideas to the time: genius mired in muck, most people just mired, without the genius. We further see Blaise Pascal being a jerk as well as a genius: watch the relationships between father and son, father and daughter, brother and sister … Even sometime extremely difficult, like the Jansenism, is very well handled: Blaise converts his sister to his Jansenism, his sister has joined a nunnery, now the Jesuits order the nunnery to impose authority on the Jansenists. She dies, young, from the strain. But best is brother refusing to allow sister to use her “own” property, her dowry: sister has served the father, now ailing brother wants the sister to serve him: Therefore, she canNot have her wealth. Irony upon hypocrisy.
I repeat how much I love Hadewijch, now I gotta try more of this Bruno Dumont, I try Camille Claudel 1915 (2013), hear of Camille Claudel for the first time, drool as I anticipate meeting any of Rodin’s models’ haunches.
I loved Dumont’s unsparing view of the Church, of fanatical faith; at first I’m thrilled: here’s a similarly unsparing view of a WWI mental institution: another faith, likewise unwarranted. Is Dumont going to be the film version of Illich(/pk)? the undeceived chronicler of institutions?
Maybe but it became too much for me, I couldn’t bear it, poor damn artist, they took her art away, locked her among defectives. Poor Claudel. I’ll check on more Dumont, will report further.
2014 12 02 I saw everything Woody Allen did in the 1960s. I was aware of him around Greenwich Village, I was aware that he flirted with my girlfriend more than once. I passed the club where he did standup every day, never went in, but always attended his movies: I was a movie theater guy, not a comedy club guy. He was both, more the latter than the former. I loved him, I got fed up with him, I came to hold him in contempt … I participated to some extent in the mass hatred that always backfires against anybody the public has openly held in affection: that is, I didn’t mind when he was getting raked over the coals as a childmolester, a foster partent muff diver … I’ve been talking about him since 1961 or so at least, writing about him online since 1995, quoting him, citing him …. So how come I only just this morning saw for the first time, his Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)? Shows how busy I was (and broke) in 1972! My army buddy Phil had described it to me, had had me in hysterics.
Right now I’m paused after the first vignette: Woody plays the fool who gives the queen some Spanish fly, she’s ready to let even the fool roll around on her, Woody is perfection as the inept seducer, still carrying the aphrodosiac-bearing cup even as they arrive at the bed … and is utterly butter-thumbs as he encounters the king’s chastity belt!
Other fine examples of seduction ineptitude crowd my memory. I guess my favorite was always Peter Sellers fumbling champagne, glasses and Elke Somer in Shot in the Dark. Walter Mathau also showed skill in missing every beat with Elaine Nichols.
What kid doesn’t remember his first encounter seeing a chastity belt in the museum? Engagement rings, wedding rings, these things are so ubiquitous that we don’t notice them as clear traces of bondage, chattel display, control of property: Here are my slaves, this is all mine … Here in Allen’s flick it’s priceless, the Fool hammers at the pussy-lock while making a string of snatch jokes: Lynn Redgrave bears through it all with class.
Just last week I wrote my son that a Mel Brooks schtick had so taken my breath away that I literally thought I’d breathed my last. I rolled from the desk chair onto the love seat thinking that that would be my final location. It was a timing thing, in Young Frankenstein. But here next I watch What Is Sodomy, and I go almost equally paralyzed with laughter: the Armenian shepherd transfers his lust for a sheep to Gene Wilder’s otherwise limp doctor. Has ever a joke worked more perfectly?
Lynn Redgrave in her chastity belt prompted me to seek a prop to illustrate my first encounter with a chastity belt at the Museum of Natural History. I decided to go with a statuesque blond, didn’t care to display the Russian script below the image, chose another instead …
Very disturbing. Everyone should die for shame. What a species we’re members of, what a history. I can’t help but love the pussy, that overrides the repulsion at bondage. The pussy is covered in a cage: we see both, but primarily we see the pussy: the pussy eclipses the cage. 2014 12 11 For days now I’m haunted by the Claudel film: and by the mistral that blows through it. But what I’m most haunted by currently (not counting the Verdi earworming in my head) is the above pic: the c-s in cages. I adored Woody’s chastity belt gags, I looked for a museum illustration, inserted this one: and now it’s driving me crazy. Are those wretches really shackled? ankles as well as crotch? Do they get to wash their fart mists off the iron?
Crotch is the most addictive thing you can see; it’s also the most repulsive. Irresistible, repulsive. These girls look like they got bored with being looked at a long time ago. Are they in a real seraglio? in a burlesque theater? Do the cops know?
Greatest Gag (back to Woody, Sex)
the bottle of Woolite!
Back to Woody in a minute
All About Eve
2014 11 22 I finally saw that famous movie all the way through, I don’t think I could have sat still without Jan at my side. I’d seen the beginning plenty of times, marveled at some of the performances, but alway bailed out.
This review is a review of a review, more than a review of the movie: best thing about the experience was I discovered the film writing of Joseph John Lanthier: linked from Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t offer a link: the links are afflicted with popups, they’re diseased. but his review of All About Eve is superbly expressed and on the money in my book.
I haven’t beeen so impressed by a review since The Village Voice covered The Tree of Wooden Clogs: see the movie, worship the movie, and worship the review.
Now: why have I bailed out of this famous movie all of the prior visits of my 76 years? We’re presented with a group of theater people, successful, famous, rich, vain. They’re basking in the success of their current hit, Bette Davis plays the star. Fine: what’s the play about? Why is it a success? We meet the star, her gofers, the playwright, the director, the producer/backer … a reviewer … and a hanger-on. what deep human themes does the play probe? Çan you imagine fuss about Hamlet with no mention of what Hamlet dips us in? No: the movie was about nothing more than celebrity, and how celebrity drains the soul from people. Fuck ’em, turn the page.
A detail at the beginning annoyed me: Celeste Holm shows up at the theater in a taxi, she tells the cabbie to wait for her, she enters the theater: she never returns to the cab! Had she prepaid him? How could he know what to charge without knowing how long she’d be gone? The movie immediately shouts, we don’t care about economic exploitation by class. We don’t hear a peep from the cabbie, we don’t know who his lawyer is …
Lanthier’s review notices another omission: Thelma Ritter establishes her role with some interest, then disappears. At the end of the movie Anne Baxter’s Eve goes home, mixes a drink, notices some woman sitting on her couch: Who’s that, says Jan, Thelma Ritter, says I. I was waiting for the other Thelma Ritter shoe to drop, it never did. No, it was some other ambitious theater predator, another Eve.
2014 10 27 Spend a minute at K., browse around, you’ll see: I love a lot of things: music, books, movies … friends (however few). I mention the girl, I show the girl, I rave about the girl: or the actor: Anthony Hopkins: or the character: Hanibal Lecter … But here I’m here to mention actors I despise. Powers Booth, William Shatner.
I’ll never forget camping on the mountain with bk. He’d brought some paper back sf, Asimov’s Magazine maybe. He was laughing, shared a passage or two, then just handed me the pamphlet. Somebody was raking Shatner over the coals, could have been Harlan Ellison: laughed and laughed, both of us.
Just now I was watching Hatfields & McCoys: under the beard and all the hair, I knew I knew that guy, that actor. Sho’ nuff: Powers Booth.
Actually, the two I mention relate: you can watch them acting, you can see they’re so pleased with themselves, you can imagine somebody saying, yes, that’s acting. Yes: it is: like a sore thumb.
Ibsen to AntiChrist
2014 10 27 Help me out here: What Ibsen play is Lars von Trier’s AntiChrist reminding me of? Little Eyolf? von Trier’s film opens with a guy and a gal getting it on in the shower. A toddler works his way out of his crib. Uh oh, disaster is about to strike. Lovers fuck; parents are supposed to have more than one thing on their mind.
As an undergraduate, like second semester sophomore year, I took Eric Bentley’s modern drama course. Jeez we read a zillion plays: including a lot of Ibsen. It was all new to me: I’d read some O’Neill in high school, some Shaw, maybe a little Williams: now I’m piling on the Ibsen and the Stein, and the Brecht. In grad school [wha hoppin here? if I remember, I’ll add]
2014 10 22 scribbled to bk (I edit slightly)
I’m paused midway in a movie, The Journey of August King, quite moved by it. There have been lots of slavery movies, some very good, but King has a trait that’s rare:
slave pix show a divided society, 90/10, 80/20 people who stupidly follow the old god, a minority who see light: the great big bad majority vs the lone hero or two.
Not here, it’s North Carolina: and Everyone is involved in slavery,
it’s the law, most obey the law, there’s plenty of reason to fear the law, the law makes no apology for its violence. The core-bad don’t care if most are uncomfortable with the law.
Annalees’ bleeding feet: Thandie Newton is very attractive!
The Nazis come in, look for Jews: what if they find a Jew in your closet? They take the Jew away, maybe kill the Jew,
But how about if they took you and the Jew away? that’s this August King atmosphere.
The title character first refuses to help the girl: “It’s against the law.” But then he helps her anyway, can’t stop, loses nearly everything: and that’s only the beginning. His lawful neighbors inform him that they may burn his house down, all they have to do is suspect him of not respecting his neighbor’s property rights: that is, their right to own slaves, murder them, rape them, if they wish.
There’s a detail, an ambiguous detail, that I liked: after Annalees has gone on her way the neighbors come to judge August. Previously we’d seen a strong featured farm-strong woman looking at August. Why? Does she watch him like a hawk to see when this widower will make a move on her? Is she wondering if he got his wick wet with the n- gal? I watched her like a hawk and don’t have a clue. Or were we given enough information to identify and her relation to their wayward neighbor: is she already someone’s wife? She’s counting his dishes for sure.
These Christians accuse August of looking like a prophet! No, no: Christians judge themselves; they don’t want any messages from God, absolutely no messengers.
I enjoyed watching that again, Paul Hogan extraordinary, it’s easy to think that he is that character. I read a good article: he was like a construction worker, had everyman tastes. Australian media saw they could use him to test market things: if he liked it others would like it. And so it was. Good humor.
2015 01 29 Jan and I watched Walkabout last evening. I wanted to show her Jenny Agutter: but I wound up also looking up the “actor” who played the black boy: the Aborigine: damn if I didn’t wind up finding him very familiar too. Don chu know, he is very familiar! Walkabout, Croc, Rabbit Proof Fence … Go, man.
2014 10 14 What is it about Morgan Freeman? What does he do that so great? I don’t know, he one of those naturals. One can explain part of a Jimmy Stewart, hard to explain all. Is it just that he gets great intelligent human material while every body else gets sorry dreck? Is he the most discriminating actor? or on a really long lucky streak?
2014 10 12 Taking a dip in the TV series, enjoying it: except for one thing: it shows the king, everybody (everybody but the bishops) rutting like rabbits, fucking and sucking. No, absolutely not: the Tudors were Christians, they took their religion seriously, swallowed its sexual repressions, they were leaders of repressing sex. I don’t mean that there was no adultery or that no one got knocked up; but their hypocrisy, their back sliding was occasional, not routine, not defiant. Henry married the girl, then fucked her. [2015 01 29 I may have overstated that: Ann Boleyn may have been pregnant when Henry married her.]
There are species where there a zillion females and only one or two males: there are even species where there are a zillion females and zero males; but there are no species where there are a zillion males and only one or two females. Selective looking can mislead if our sample isn’t scientific. A dozen men, all with tommy guns: somewhere else in Chicago there are a dozen females, and three dozen kids. Men all over the prairie? go back a hundred miles, two hundred: the women were left in St Louis: temporarily. Either the men will go back, or the women will follow, or they’ll all fail and die.
While here, I gotta say: I’ve been aware that there is an actress named Jennifer Lawrence for a year or two. I actually tried to watch some muddle called Hunger Games: I didn’t see what any fuss was about. She was female, I could see that. She had a bosom, hips, I could see that: round in the bottom like an insect. So what, the world is full of ’em. Last night I tried Silver Linings Playbook. What an annoying story, why don’t these people just kill each other? push each other down the sewer. I wanted to bail out. Discipline my boy, keep at it. What, do you think movies are for entertainment? not for you, they’re not. I stuck to it. Jennifer Lawrence didn’t so mush as enter for quite a while. Come on, they’re supposed to dance or something: I’m a dancer: get to it. But, before she showed our hero klutz his first step I was beginning to see it. She’s deadpan, but that voice! it’s hypnotic!
Here’s an actress who wasn’t doing anything; she wasn’t doing anything but turning me into a fan. Lindsay Lohan I “discovered” last year. These girls really do have something. Yeah, she’s a star, it’s no bullshit. And the studios can fill any number of movies with supporters, one girl cuter than the other.
I’m pleased to mention several here.
2014 10 04 Confession
I now realize I had seen a bit of her previously: House at the End of the Street: had bailed out after ten minutes. Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Shue, whom I’ve loved since Leaving Las Vegas. I appreciated the female flesh but Jennifer was annoying me more than Shue’s ass was mesmerizing me. OK now: discipline: I restarted from the beginning: and in no time was fully addicted, can’t take my eyes off her. Now I’ll seek her: Jennifer Lawrence. What a wonderful world with such wonders in it.
The prose gets stretched as I move sections of what had been a string to independent posts.
Sinatra’s role in Manchurian Candidate chilled me, heated me, back and forth. As a kid in the ’40s and the ’50s Sinatra was one of the culture’s gold standards. The other evening, watching a doc on Teenagers, footage of Frankie singing at the Paramont, solo, all those screaming girls, melted me like butter. And in the ’50s his character in From Her to Eternity inspired worship from any kid I knew, from me too, automatic. But then, like so many other things, all of a sudden, it was too much: we’d OD’d, the price dropped. I started hearing awful things about him personally: exploited his wife … Some where along in there I was becoming an adult, could tolerate complexities, contradictory information, mixed attitudes.
Now, me 76 years old, Sinatra dead, still popular, still a star, I watch this cold war clap trap and I have all the lifetime of feelings about Sinatra running hot and cold. Eternity‘s Frankie as enlisted man, dumb lifer; Frankie as an officer, a hard drinking, psychological mine field major was repulsive. There there’d be a close up, the god, I’d go all worshipful again …
No matter what else Sinatra ever did or was one thing can never change in my biography. The first girl I was ever really in love with came to my pad in NY, late summer. I put on Sinatra’s Songs for Swinging Lovers. Jackie and I made love lying, standing, sitting, swinging from the ceiling. Plenty of Bird, Bud … but Sinatra was a staple that night. That autumn I visited her in Boston. She threw her roommates out, gave us her place to ourselves, and she played Sinatra, Stan Getz, and more Sinatra. Immortal.
2014 09 30 Sometimes you see a movie, read a book, hear a tune that seems to have little to recommend it, but there you are, watching, listening, reading anyway, when the things suddenly provides a memorable detail. I here commend the role played by Sheryl Lee in Fall Time.
I’d never heard of her, then she appeared, seemed very ordinary: common, chubby victim of circumstance. I was watching the flick because Mickey Rourke was in it. His acting, persona, whatever, something, instantly grabbed me in Body Heat, and I (and bk) were mutually impressed. Since then he’s annoyed me more often than impressed me, but still: I streamed the film. (Whoa, now I see she appeared in Twin Peaks, a movie phenom I ignored: now I’ll watch it, with interest. (Twenty minutes, I’ve seen enough.)) Sheryl Lee plays a woman sitting at someone else’s desk in a bank, in come some fake crooks, tripping over some real crooks. Sheryl Lee get’s kidnapped, carrying the bags of money. She’s giving the stupid kid with the gun first aid, she’s horny, she’s responding to him, aiming her fat crotch at his face, groping her panties open, gropping his fly open … I really thought it was well done. And what follows too. A jewel in a cheap setting.
20214 09 29 Just added The Amityville Horror (2005) to my still short list of horror flicks I’ve sampled. I cross out what I first scribbled, make a different comment: the youngest child, the daughter, played by Chloë Grace Moretz: I’ve enjoyed twisted mouths on a number of actresses recently, Clémence Poésy, Holly Hunter … here’s another dousey: especially when her stepfather grabs and distorts her face. I was only moderately impressed by Chloë Grace Moretz the first time I saw her, in Hugo. Amityville is the proper introduction.
I’ll also praise the gothic melodrama squeezed from the house itself, the roof, the boathouse …
2014 09 28 Charlie Chaplin was one of the many sacred entities in my childhood: Jesus on the cross, the tramp kicking people in the pants, falling down, tipping his hat. It seemed given to me that everything Chaplin did was sacred, and profoundly Christian: had to be: this was a Christian country, right? Jesus belonged in it, Chaplin belonged in it. At a certain age they made us study the best known of the sacred objects: first the bible was just something we read, then the bible was something we had to study, guided by an elder: then, the Constitution.
Whew, Chaplin was exempt from that commandment, until I read an age and school level where everything needed to be studied. Chaplin’s autobiography came out, I read it: and read another biography.
Last night I watched the relevant biopic, Chaplin, for the first time.
There’s a great deal to be said but I’ll just mention one detail that poked me in the eye: somewhere well into it, Chaplin not yet 86’d from the US by Hoover and his rogue FBI, the phone rings Chaplin picks it up. In another scene there’s a reference to letting the phone ring three times before answering it; neglect on the part of anyone present: as McLuhan explains: telephone’s are a commanding intrustion: you don’t own your life or your time, the phone does, all enslaved to interruption.
OK, so what?
Chaplin didn’t have a phone! not in his home.
We all know how Chaplin made more money in Hollywood than anyone in history before him. Yes, but he used that money to buy stock in MaBell! He sold it and other stocks before the crash of 1929: that’s why Chaplin was and remained very rich! He was rich, he got very rich off his phone stock; but he never allowed one in his house: in the period that I saw covered in those bios. So: the biopic script writer is making it up; or, they know more than me on this point, but chose not to explain it.
I commend the cast. I love Chaplin, still do, love Robert Downey Jr., but tis is one of those things where it’s a mistake to cast an icon: the icon is already an icon. Though I have to admit some fabulous biopics have proved exceptions: Ray, Walk the Line … But the recent James Brown flick for example had the good sense to cast Brown’s dance step but to use Brown’s own voice on the tracks.
Anyway, one area to shine in which the movie did shine was in casting the many beautifies in Chaplin’s life: starting with 16 year old pert bosomed Hetty. Chaplin responded to jail bait, so do I, so do we all. It was a neat stroke to cast the same actress as Hetty, Chaplin’s first love, and Oona O’Neill, Chaplin’s last love, his immortal love.
Spills over to Movie Scrapbook Archive 2
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