/ Movies /
Mesrine: Killer Instinct
2016 04 17 In the 1960s I adored Jean-Pierre Cassel, especially The Love Game, loved Philippe de Broca too. As the decades passed I saw Jean-Pierre Cassel in more mature roles: good but not the same. It’s a trip to now be magnetized to his son Vincent. How did the other come from the one? It’s like imagining that Danny Kaye sired George Raft.
I’m now watching Mesrine: Killer Instinct for the second time: hateful, but good anyway. Good lines:
Mesrine shows his buddy his gun, the buddy shrugs, disapproving.
Don’t tell me you’re not strapped, Mesrine challenges him. Buddy says:
If I carry, I draw. If I draw, I shoot. So, no. No thank you.
Goodbye Greer Chips
2016 04 07 I’ve heard Goodbye, Mr. Chips revered all my life, both the novel (1934) and the movie (1939). I’m one year older than the movie, Jan is older still. Greer Garson was just coming into her fame. I may have only been a boy but I was well aware of her fame, her appeal in the 1940s …
Jan and I well remembered Mrs. Miniver, but neither of us had seen Chips.
I’m losing my eyesight, and other senses. Jan is cute but 84: we easily could have cashed our own chips out without ever having seen it. Fortunately The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, with Ingrid Bergman as well as Robert Donat came streaming through the Mac last week: I decided we needed to see more of both actors, which brought us, gratefully, Donat as Mr. Chips.
A reviewer of 1939 hailed Chips as among the best films of any year! I expected it to be sentimental twaddle. I’m not a fan of British (or any other) imperialism, I don’t genuflect to the British public school system … Anyway, the movie is a marvel: so glad we saw it.
The other day we were loving Deborah Kerr, and have loved Norma Shearer. We love Celtic genes, Scotts and Iirish women with red hair!
And now I’ve loved learning that “Greer” is a short form of MacGregor, a Garson family name.
2016 04 28 It’s just a couple of weeks ago that I jotted the above. But momentarily today I couldn’t remember what I’d seen Greer Garson in: we’re about to watch Mrs. Miniver: Greer’s on our mind. Just wonderful to review these stars from the ’30s and ’40s: young Liz Taylor too. Etc. Meantime, movies spin off and spin off further: Chips led us to Inn of the 6th Happiness: and to Ingrid Bergman, God love her, via Robert Donat. a Robert Mitchum destroyer vs sub marine led us to Inn: Kurt Jurgens, marvelous.
King Solomon’s Mines
2016 03 23 The DVD for King Solomon’s Mines just arrived: and a vivid memory from 1950 beamed into my skull: Deborah Kerr hires Stewart Granger to guide her search for her husband, missing in Africa’s bush. I see her standing there in the jungle, dressed within an inch of her Victorian life: Stewart Granger grabs her by the blouse, practically grabbing her Victorian boob, and yanks her some ventilation. “And take those corsets off too!” Ooo, symbols for rape, for conquest. Our animal natures win: according to this brand of anthro-theology. Of course it’s ambiguous, perfectly: he’s not grabbing her stuffy boob, he’s ventilating her stuffiness, much needed, she should thank him. (Eventually she will.)
So: this movie was 1950. Ryder Haggard’s novel was 1885. I saw the movie when it was new, 1950 or 1951, I would have been around twelve. And of course I was by then long addicted to National Geographic: naked boobs by the hundred; but no white women’s boobs! no invasions of Deborah Kerr’s bodice.
Jeez, did I love her. And still do, and didn’t we all? Go, Scots redhead.
I don’t doubt that Ryder Haggard influenced National Geographic as he influenced so much of my reading: Henry Miller, Bomba, Tarzan …
I just learned that Eroll Flynn had been cast for Quartermaine: oh well, Granger got it, so it was Granger who freed Kerr’s bosom, influenced all of us to hell and gone: a gentleman, but not to the point of suicide, not to the point of suffocation.
Now I can’t wait to actually watch it, see how right (or wrong) I’ve got that scene, from way back in our innocence.
Another thing: Hollywood provides African drums for the audio behind the credits. Mahvelous. Wow, was I influenced by that movie: Africa, our home, all our home: home to the insufferable Brits.
OK, next day. Jan and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Cannibalism, tribal coups, revenge, justice: and nature burbling out of the cracks. (And yes, I had the bodice scene exactly right.)
The guy who plays the Watusi’s tattooed king, dances with his skinny spear, his magic wand is fabulous. Now I cast back and remember how many such seven footers I’ve met in intervening years. I particularly recall one who borrowed and never returned my Olatungi African drum music record, on Columbia. Michael Babatunde Olatungi.
2016 02 28 “It’s a disgrace to have an exclusionary policy represent American culture.” Al Sharpton
pk asks, “What other kind could we have and also be in any way truthful? truthful to ourselves? We’re racists, mono-culturalists, always have been: we sabotage those who’d liberalize us. death cheats against life, nothing new there.
Game of Thrones
2016 05 05 Several months ago I scribbled some notes on Game of Thrones. I saw disk one, reacted against it. Now, utterly by accident, I saw it again: again I hated it: till I thawed, and grew to enjoy it. I take back much of what I said. I’ll watch more: and say more: from scratch: in particular about its preposterous gender stance. We want to read our sexual politics into our dungeons and dragons fictions. Next round I hope I discuss it better. I indent the original, take it with a grain of salt:
Role Playing Rubbish
2016 01 21 I’m trying to watch Game of Thrones, am reminded of my son playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 1970s. One detail I’ll comment on before seeing more than a few minutes of the movie: soldiers are exposed to horrors, dismemberment and a witch woman terrifies them. Back at the castle a ten year old boy gets his nose rubbed in horror and practices archery. The boys have their noses rubbed in death and horror. The boy is a klutz with the bow. A young girl steps forward and zing, hits the target with her arrow. Fine: but when the guys, males, soldiers don’t stare down the blood they’re decapitated. Now this show-off girl embarrasses this ten year old prince! Uh, I don’t think so. We didn’t see girls being trained in archery. Either the movie isn’t showing the actual culture or the girl is an outlaw. But no one chops her head off! Her sabotage of the gender hierarchy, the male hierarchy, is ignored! No, I don’t think so. What rubbish.
Later on, I’ve seen more, the inconsistent, a-historic, continues, and builds. The script is showing the children to be liberals, Jeffersonians: girls are equal, but not in the culture, the culture being ignorant, hypocritical, illiberal.
I’m beginning to like the girl: and I like what the MakeUp Dept is doing with her: her eyebrows are bushy, weird. Hollywood can derive character from the luxuriant chaotic eyebrows of an actor like Milo O’Shea (or Martin Scorsese, or me), but eyebrows have to be a few decades old before they achieve that potential for character: no young girl has Milo O”Sea eyebrows!
But I’m making a fundamental error here: who said the drama was trying for realism? Once you swallow Darth Vader you ought to be able to swallow a girl archer in a society that trains only boys, the girl must be allowed Milo O’Shea’s facial hair …
I’ve seen disk 1: 2 episodes. I think that’s enough for now. (It’s more than clear enough that the plot is not finished with the rambunctious little girl: the prince accuses her of disarming him, beating him up, having her direwolf bite him: the king scoffs, “You let a little girl disarm you?” scoff, sputter. jerky kid is caught.
damn power outage, just lost a half a point’s worth of prose.
2016 05 04 Damn me if I didn’t order Game of Thrones without any memory of seeing it just last January! Ugh, my suffering serves me right.
The archers who freed England of feudalism didn’t expect good archery till a bowman had practiced for a lifetime. The thirty year old was better than the twenty year old, and the ten year old couldn’t do it.
The white-haired blond grew on me. Addictive.
This is gonna be hairy, I’ll develop in a separate scrapbook.
2014 09 24 Some actors stand us on our ear they’re so attractive: Coop, Bogey; Lillian, Marilyn. I can love Brando to pieces and then love only Mifune. I’ve been streaming lots of movies recently, documentaries too, and picked up a few new stars to gawk at. I’ve been watching Jason Statham, can’t get enough. I’ve been watching Colin Farrell: him I’ve been aware of for years now. I streamed In Bruges, great cast, watched it again after a month or two: to the result that I am utterly smitten with Clémence Poésy.
What does she have, what does she do? I can’t take my eyes off of her. She’s skinny as a pipe cleaner, she’s got a nice face but lots of girls are even prettier. Partly, it’s the shape of her mouth. Mostly it’s how she times her personality to radiate on cue.
The other evening I was marveling at JLo: sharing the screen with Statham. I haven’t loved Lopez as long as the rest of the world has, but I’ve loved her plenty long, a couple of decades at least. What does she do that keeps us looking? I suddenly thought of what Hanibal Lecter says about Clarice Starling: for the moment I just paraphrase a string of things: she’s a rube, she strings her hopes absurdly high, she’s so vulnerable, she’s so transparent … we root for her!
Last night’s Poésy movie also starred Michael Caine: gosh, he’s around 80, still great. Actually he was sort of absurd in this movie, Last Love, but it doesn’t matter, we can’t take our eyes off of him either, or close our ears: we have to hear every beat of his poor tortured speech. Every cockney should be so self-conscious, to such effect. Last Love started out so promising, boy did it degenerate. But don’t miss that pair, don’t miss their chemistry.
Carey Grant and Audrey Hepburn addicted me but also made me want to retch; this Last Love pair I just love love love: till the script, the direction, the conception made me retract, pull back, sigh.
2014 09 21 I’ve seen great movies all my life: Chaplin as a kid, Cocteau, Ford, Wayne … So many great movies came out when I was just getting mensch enough to respond: La Strada, Roshomon, Pather Panchali … Then in college I really started paying attention: more Bergman, Antonioni, Mizoguchi … And for five years now I’ve fed great movies to my beloved: and for her sake, proving to be for my own too we also devoured chick flix, all the more English period pieces: wonderful, all. Now we stream stuff. Sample it, watch more, or not, finish it, don’t: so what. With Jan up north, dammit for another three weeks yet! I’m streaming rubbish right into my cranium. Some of it turns out to be fabulous, and I’m now watching some for a second or third time: Atonement, Hanna … In Bruges … Some trash is worth while for one moment of a very attractive actor. What moron would watch Bette Davis, and Bette Davis, and never discover Saoirse Ronan? There are some. We’ve been some till recently. No telling who we’re still missing. If you’re in France, you’re not in Rio.
I just bailed out of a series of examples of truly inept rubbish, I’ll never know what might have come up in the next frame, I’m gone. For example, representative, one was about Thor and some ware wolves. It looked good at first: attractive Viking ship, attractive actors, standing, rowing, looking inscrutable … then we see that some of the great looking people are women: fabulous long hair. Good so far, keep it up. I’m not knocked out by the Thor actor, but what the hell, bring on Freya, bring on the Walkyrie. Unfortunately, some then begin to stir, to move, to speak, and all that shit should have washed out the scupper hole. It seems they’ve sailed to the end of the world, it seems they were looking for honor, for conquest. Then why in hell did they bring the chix along? They’re going to explore. Someone says, Stay here and guard the ship and the women, and some woman answers, Hell, we’re going too. No discussion, no argument, the woman are going: on their own say so!!!
One guy, big guy, has been dragged off by a ware wolf. The women aren’t phased, they’re still there! Uh, excuse me: whether women go adventuring, fight, bear arms or stay home, hide by the fire, are profound questions, answered over millennia, not in rubbish sound tracks. Anyway, the women come along. They find a shed. It’s full of men and women, in equal numbers! Last month’s adventurers.
I’m reminded of one of the first novels I ever really hated: The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand. The protagonist is an architect, a genius: Frank Lloyd Wright, imagined by a Nazi. We’re told he’s great, we’re told that no one appreciates him: turn the page and he has a state or two or three filled with fans, rich fans, he has more commissions than he could fill in ten careers. No body likes him, he’s just the most successful architect in the world. Well which is he: a success? or a failure? Is this the end of the world, or is it a crowded stop on the IRT express train?
If group B or group A brought all the women along, and they all got captured, where are the children? If nothing happened to them in a month, except a little hunger, what are they worried about? These ware wolves are really inept? vegetarian Buddhists?
Yesterday I streamed a Korean kendo flick. Guys fights a duel, it’s annonced he’s the greatest swordsman who ever lived. He goes on a journey, he winds up in the Wild West. He winds up with Kate Bosworth, Kate winds up treating herself as having learned “the sword”! Now she’s his peer! Of course she’s never seen him fight, he, we’ve never seen her fight! She’s cute. I loved her when she was fourteen. But: I don’t care how cute her crotch is, I don’t care how she looks in a bikini, without a bikini, on a surfboard, where does she get off … I bailed. And what I bailed from just before that was more of the same.
2014 09 16 In Bruges
I’m watching In Bruges for the second time, streaming, sampling to remind myself who Clémence Poésy is. I loved it the first time where it was obviously good from the first frames, but this time around I know what the weirdness means: and it’s great! I love it! The cast is to wow over, very much so the females: Clémence Poésy, Thekla Reuten, Anna Madeley … Reuten I’d only recently heard of, boy is she climbing my monument fast.
2014 09 09 I put Double Indemnity on m streaming list a few months ago, have been watching bits and pieces of it, Fred MacMurray never appealed to me much, I loved Barbara Stanwyck in the ’50s, didn’t know why, it was all too sophisticated for me, her hair I guess, her smokiness, Edward G. Robinson of course is fascinating. Anyway, there’s a shtick they do, Robinson’s cigar is always out, Fred is always snapping a kitchen match alight against his thumb nail, hands the flame to Edward G., Edward G. lights his cigar, blows out the match, throws it away: all in one motion. At the end though Fred’s Walter Neff is dying, he fails to light the match, Robinson takes the match from him, Edward G. lights Fred’s cig.
There’s something insane there, not that many people noticed it in 1944, and now few smoke and no one uses kitchen “safety” matches, for anything, so they’ll never know. I used to pull that stupid stunt, snapping the phosphorus tip against my thumb nail, so cool, so sophisticated, such a dumb schmuck teen. Buddy, let me tell you, one time, the phosphorus tip broke off and buried itself, burning, under my thumb nail! Jesus! Bastard almost killed me, hurt for days! A little late to ask Fred, or Edward G., or Humphrey if it ever happened to them. or to Lauren.
2014 09 16 There’s something about that phosphorus burning under the nail, shut off from the fresh air: the phosphorus, once kindled, wants to burn, demands oxygen. It doesn’t care where it gets it: it’ll cannibalize the oxygen right out of your flesh, right out of your blood, your bones: you’re not just getting burned, you’re getting devoured! eaten from inside out.
Salters Bookstore, on Broadway and 115th, after it had replaced Riker’s there, 1960s, had that Raquel poster in the window. I’d stand there and stare at it. Oh, I’d read some book titles too, so I wasn’t totally embarrassed-self-conscious. I remember vividly what I saw, what was so unusual then, so riveting, I gotta explain: people who weren’t adults in 1960 won’t have a clue: the composition has us looking up into Rachel’s crotch: her crotch cover, her little square inch of loincloth leather, conceals the pudendum, but you can see through her legs, you can see a little bit of the curve of her right buttock!! Standing in front of her, you can see her behind! Maybe only a fragment, but holy Christ! in 1965 or so!
By 1957, certainly by 1961, I was seeing greatly shaped female crotch, bottom, lips for hours and hours every single day if not every single hour: it wasn’t that we’d never seen crotch; it was that we’d never seen Raquel’s crotch, from below, through to her fanny, as a cave woman! Not on a big screen, not as a poster in a bookstore window.
Those dinosaurs could have gobbled us in a second, standing there, staring, like hypnotized chickens.
20114 08 06 Taking a glance at 42, the Jackie Robinson story. The postwar Dogers give Robinson a chance. His instructions are to play well, win; turn the other cheek to all insults. Ten years later I was fighting racism by loving and promoting jazz: so very much black music in a white, cheat-by-all-means society. And now here I am watching somebody’s dramatization of it, Harrison Ford fabulous as Branch Rickey, the target audience encouraged to sympathize with the liberals, whereas in fact almost any of them would have stood and fought among the racists: keeping any underclass under, by any means necessary.
Great scene with rival player coach Ben Chapman shouting trash at him. Jackie tries to ignore it, to hold his temper. My point is: the bulk of both teams also ignored it! the stadium audience ignored it, the radio announcer ignored it, the home listeners ignored it … just Americans being Christ-killing kleptocrats, and proud of it. What else is new?
Eventually we did ignore it less: but are we “better”? or just meaninglessly modified?
A couple of hours later: I finished it, terrific movie, quite moving: terrific cast, performances. I absolutely adore Mrs. Jackie’s very special Afro hips.
Gotta comment on one thing I particularly enjoyed: I wasn’t a baseball fan as a kid, I paid a price for my ignorance: I’ve told the stoory of the older kid, new in the neighborhood, who jumped on me and beat me up when he drew a blank from me as he asked Which was I: Dodger fan? or Yankee fan? Huh? I didn’t know what he was talking about: so he assumed “Yankee” and made me pay.
Well, in those years following, later 1940s, early 1950s, I delivered my papers, collected the weekly bill, and absorbed more of the Yankee Dodger succession of World Series than I might have had I not been given lumps over it. I noticed: the Yankees always won, the Dodgers always gnashed their teeth. I came to know names from both sides: Joe Dimaggio, Phil Rizutoo, Yogi Berra … Casey Stengel … Roy Campanella, Pete Reiser, Ralph Branca, Eddie Stanky … Branch Rickey … So: since then I’ve heard of Jeter and Bonds and Ortiz; but names will never again possibly carry the aura that those Yankee and Dodger names do from Jackie Robinson’s reign.
And it’s true: Jackie’s fame transcended the sport.
Del Toro’s Labyrinth
2014 08 01 Pan’s Labyrinth: Del Toro is skilled, hard-working, doesn’t seem to have funding difficulties … brilliant … surrounded by other brilliant artists — anything with Maribel Verdu is worth a watch … so how come I typically don’t like it much? find it gray, ugly, stupid?
whoops, missing graphic of Maribel Verdu
I was moved by the ending, moved to tears, but it took hours to get there.
My “Monthly” posts are schedules to be reborn the first of every month: scrapbooks as renewable.
My on line writing has long burgeoned with babble about movies. I use movies to illustrate social, political, philosophical points: linguistic points, semantic points … and I also just blab about movies, as a form of Chat. It’s the latter category that has had menus of contents here for some time: Movies: under Art Favorites, under Chat.
I made a scrapbook, then I made it a monthly: now I split it into a scrapbook and a monthly.
This material should get moved either to the scrapbook or will get promoted to its own posts.
2014 05 20 I repeat: Mark Cousins: The Story of Film: An Odyssey.
See it, memorize it, see it some more.
One point of his I rant on at Patent Pirates. Here’s another from his cornocopeia:
Women in Film
Movie making was a new industry at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Therefore, minorities weren’t (yet) (routinely) excluded. Jews’ contribution we can guess at from the omnipresence of Jewish sounding names in movies; but who knew about women? One female secretary was allowed to teach herself directing, editing, writing: after hours, provided she’d already completed all her secretarial tasks! Another woman auteur-ed a masterpiece of film: it was shown: and credited to DW Griffith!
(Compare my story about noticing the call number for George Eliot in the library: it’s coded under L. Her pan name was E: her real name was E (Mary Ann Evans). So where’d the L come from? She lived with George Lewes! The scholars had to give her identity to some man. She wasn’t married so they just stretched the “truth” further, and further … to make the world agree with their patriarchal mythology!
I’m back, a few hours later, with details: One, two: kerpow! Left, right: Wham! Cousins cites film historian Carrie Beacham. Beacham says that film was developed by women, immigrants, Jews: people not welcome in other professions.
Before 1925 half! of all films were written by women! Not just chick flix; all films!
Alice Guy-Blachet was the first woman director, and the first studio boss.
This material can be found c. 48 minutes into the film: streaming shows the time elapsed.
2014 05 01 Did you ever dislike a star, were even repelled by them, then see something, like it, love them in it? Helen Hunt was popular on TV but not with me. I avoided her, I avoided TV sicoms in general: some exceptions, always exceptions: Taxi, Seinfeld.
But then I saw As Good As It Gets: not for Helen Hunt, for Jack Nicholson: positives about him swept over negatives about her. Except that I liked the movie! and I like her in it. I loved her in it!
And then I saw As Good as It Gets (1997). She was a key part of what was good about it. A couple of years later (2000), it happened again: Cast Away. (Somewhere in there Twister wasn’t bad.) OK, I was converted; but I would never have raved about her: till last night. Jan and I watched A Good Woman (2004). Man, oh man: that was a great performance: not many actresses could have done half so well: she looked alternately young, old, nice, a frigid conniving bitch, a criminal, selfish, shallow, loving, self-sacrificing … just wonderful playing off Scarlett Johansson. Damn right Tom Wilkinson’s earl would know what she was and still want to marry her: by all means, marry me for my money.
I put up with chick flix for Jan’s sake, I ordered this as a chick flick, was pleasantly surprised to see that it was an Oscar Wilde adaptation, Lady Windemere’s Fan. But before long I was OKing on Wild’e oh-so-rhetorically-formal witticisms. But over all, very glad to have seen it: Scarlett Johansson, of course, mama mia, and whammo bango, Helen Hunt. Bravo.
Paz Vega, Sex & Lucia
2014 04 18 The Spanish produce the most tasteful erotica I’ve seen in movies. And they’ve got a stack of good actresses. I first thought that after seeing La Belle Epoche, thought it further as my jaw dropped for Almodovar.
I thought highly of Spanglish, really liked the actress Paz Vega, so I went ahead and streamed Sex & Lucia: not a title I would normally pursue. No matter how many movies one sees, there are others one’s back is turned to: you may see every western, but did you see the Indian films? the Chinese films? The only porn I’ve seen in my life, seventy-five and a half years of it now, came unsolicited in the mail, then unsolicited in the email. Deep Throat came and went with me hearning aboout it but without my seeing a single frame. Meantime I certainly saw plenty of eroticism in standard cinema: tit shots in early 1960s French film … Ooo: little did we realize how much female flesh had been adored on screen before the censors ruled our lives. Every once in a while we’d be teased with a hint of pudendum, a moment in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example … I’ve mentioned elsewhere my first exposures to diirty pictures, dirty movies, dirty magazines, back in the 1940s, very ugly, shameful, amateur. I’ve still never bought a single issue of Playboy; but I’ve seen them. I knew cheap smut, and slick manipulations all along. So here I’d see what a title like Sex & Lucia was up to.
Wow. Slick and erotic and beautiful and well acted, written, produced … holy mackeral.
What I want to know is: what happened to the Spanish? In the 1950s my friends visited Spain and the girl was spat at for wearing a short sleeve blouse! Now they’re all walking around in public blowing each other? I could imagine such things in Berlin, but not in Madrid.
Actually, maybe I’ve seen more than I let on: Bunuel was fantastic, a hero, but Almodovar doesn’t fool around either.
Lucia PS: The flick did one thing that astonished me: we look at this girl’s tits, then that girl’s tits, this and that snatch, up this and that ass. See male erections, cocks in the mouth, tongues in the pussy, open ass spread over the face, great water shots, beach scenes, and now one of the studs is with a little girl! His daughter, apparently. Now we see the little girl swimming with the camera up her coo … If everybody sucks and fucks everybody, if the Church has taken a dive into oblivion, then do we also suck and fuck the eight year old? the four year old? Do we really want to look up inside the underage virgin?
2014 04 15 I sure love this new Dr. Who series, with Billie Piper.
Last night I watched a pair of episodes that I was not enjoying especially, fidgeting a bit: the one where Rose and the Doctor land in London in 1941 during an air raid, and the little kid in a gas mask is looking for his Mommy. But then it did something that vaulted it among my favorites. Some other time traveller is there, he heals Rose’s rope-burned hands with a sprinkle of nanobots. The nanonurses heal her in seconds. Meantime, London, and soon the world, is being turned into inviable clones of a dead boy the bots had found and turned into a zombie, not knowing what they were doing. Ah, but for the climax, the zomboy finds the appealing perfect English girl, Nancy. She actually is his mommy. The bots swarm her, are about to zombify her, another damn stupid clone, when the swarm realizes that her DNA is already the sensible “original”: so, instead of over-writing her code, they correct the boy’s to match hers, his actual mother, a healthy normal human specimen! Then the swarm corrects all the zombies!
Wonderful. It isn’t everyday anymore that my beloved science fiction can give me a nice meme thrill.
Meantime, Billie Piper’s Rose is so cute: nice to look at, nice to listen to, nice and curvy, not too moral, not a whore, not too stupid … She shows her bosom but doesn’t flaunt it, intelligently handled in every detail, nice full bottom, fully female.
One nice thing about media, these digital images, like the images of the silver screen, are odorless (and germ-free). When we imagine smooching Rose in the midst of her ample buttocks, we don’t have to worry about the details of her personal hygiene, she’s perfect. Well, these last couple of days I’m catching up a bit on horror films, a neglected if not despised area in my life, and I stream the first five minutes of Scream. Drew Barrymore is on the phone with some pervert stalker. Now her fat little face was adorable in ET, so long ago: but now, oh my god, her fat ass looks like chubby teen Britney Spears. No, no, keep that disgusting pooper away from me, she’s trying to swallow me, males so susceptible to curves we have no defense.
The Asphalt Jungle
2014 04 09 Sixty-four years buried! finally free! John Houston’s The Asphalt Jungle came out in 1950. I was very much into Tarzan novels at the time. I’d read all the Bomba the Jungle Boy books. I heard Rudyard Kipling poems all around me that talked of jungles. I really wanted to be a cave man, but I’d settle for being a jungle boy. (Of course I’d need to take my beloved jazz with me.) I heard that The Asphalt Jungle had arrived at our Fantasy theater. I wanted to see it. My mother corrected me. No, I did not want to see it. This was an adult film. It wasn’t for me, I wouldn’t like it.
Last night Jan and I slipped the DVD into the slot. Finally, I’m going to see my “jungle” movie. But of course what we saw was a noir classic: John Houston! Marilyn Monroe!
Elsewhere at K. I’ve told how in 1974, running the Circle Gallery on Madison Avenue, I’d put a huge Milton Green serigraph of Marylyn Monroe in the window. I look up, and there looking in the window and smiling was long John Houston. I waved, he winked, and I left him to look all he wanted.
Houston did so much: The Maltese Falcon (1941) is still champ.
2014 01 04 I just edited a pic of Jean Pierre Leaud in Goddarrd’s La Chinoise, am reminded of how wonderfully Francois Truffault has used him as an alter ego since the 1950s, and I reminded of another Gallic favorite I don’t recall having yet mentioned online: Phillipe deBroca and Jean Pierre Cassel.
The Love Game
I’ve been unable to rent The Love Game on DVD these last few years so Jan doesn’t yet know what I’m talking about. But I was able to share with Jan familiarity with Jean Pierre Cassel’s great cinematic offspring: Vincent Cassel. I think he’s great as Mesrine. And I love him too as Otto Gross, the anarchist shrink, in A Dangerous Method.
2013 10 12 The Gift just made me laugh out loud. Cate Blanchett’s weird beauty is well suited to her role here as a ESP pro: a seedy pro, but they pay her. (Correction: they give her “gifts”: local law doesn’t permit wages for witches.) She drives a wreck, has kids, has a fan base. She meets her kid’s principal’s girl friend. Katie Holmes manifests the girl friend as so cute I wanted to smash her with a rock. (First time I ever saw her (Ice Storm) she proved that room temperature was just fine for dissolving flesh into helpless longing: statutory rape is suddenly pure reason. Anyway the cutie beards the wacko psycho, says What’s my future? and Cate gets all a-tremble: a pencil rolls off a desk, the screen shows flayed feet and shanks … That’s even better than a rock: Cutie is about to get stomped: and its magic: fate, gods, witches.
If this Katie ever actually spent more than five minutes alone with Tom Cruise, she deserves every scratch, cut and scrape. (I duplicate here the ethos of the film itself: the bad guy there commits, or threatens every crime, except the one he’s jailed for: and everyone says, Serves him right.
More important I have to coordinate some comments on horror films, recalling what I’d scribbled about Nightmare on Elm Street and some other Wes Craven stuff:
I’ve been on a number of “I love this actress” kicks, including opening my eyes to a couple of roles by Amanda Seyfried after being struck by her buxom talent in Mean Girls. (She’s struck in the boobs by a football: and we go, “Look at that girl!” So I was looking at her in Gone: She plays a girl who’s been abducted, the cops didn’t find anything, didn’t really look, didn’t bother to imagine that anything she said might be true or even partly true; they’re the government; you’re the schmuck citizen: they can crucify Jesus and give themselves a raise, out of your pocket, after they’ve raped you in several other ways first.
So: I said, in several of those earlier files, the horror genre, for all the preposterousness of much of what it seems to portray, idiot teens, preposterous society, is perfectly true to life in how the adults, the parents, the police, the media, never believe a single true fact about the danger they’re all in. Well, Amanda Seyfried’s nemesis in this other exercise is played by Daniel Sunjata. Never heard of him, but boy did he and (the team) succeed in making me hate him.
And behold, mixed ethnicity! So the White House isn’t the only muddied house!
I liked a couple of things about this Gone. The villain had abducted her, but she got away! She’d stabbed him with a bone! Now she believes that the same villain has abducted her sister. She decides she’s not gonna take the same crap from the cops this time, not in quite the same way. So: she goes to the same park the guy had taken her to, marches up to the same hole in the earth … Next thing we know, though it’s dark, murky, we don’t really know anything, she seems to have overpowered the guy: again! He didn’t learn a thing last time! Then we find out that her sister isn’t in the hole; she’s hiding under their own porch at home: and the villain knows it!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I love Amanda Seyfried, I love to look at her, her eye balls are so weird. She’s so round: her boobs, her tush, her eye balls. But I would have liked this movie much more if the villain hadn’t been such a helpless patsy schmuck.
Anyway: she’s stabbed the abductor first time around: did he prosecute? Did the cops ask if he wanted to prosecute? Second time around she coldcocks him, shoots him, pours gas on him, lights him up, presumably burning him badly, presumably to death: Do the cops investigate?
The cops haven’t even found the hole from the first time!
So she sends them a map! Is she crazy? And they still don’t arrest her for murder?
The funeral parlor guy in the Godfather wants the guys who molested his daughter dead. The godfather points out to him that beating the guys up would be a justice, but killing the guy wasn’t called for. Ah but then Puzo is no longer around to reason with the movie makers.
2013 10 13 Back to The Gift: J.K. Simmons plays the no-sensible-inquiry-can-take-place-while-I’m-in-charge-(and-I’m-in-charge) sheriff. He’s as intelligent, as inquisitive, as fair, every-bit-as-fair, as the priest torturing the girl for heresy.
I haven’t seen nearly enough horror and ouija board movies. I’m thrilled to discover that behind my back, despite my ignorance, my contempt for them, they display an attitude the exact same as mine toward the Nazis who run civilization: with the difference that they go ahead and live in that universe while I do not: not without kicking.
2013 08 29 I’m a awe of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. I didn’t think much of it for the first half hour or so, was ready to bail out. Murk: some of that may be my monitor, some may be my age, most may be my hatred of things federal, my mistrust of human political centralization: we’re dangerous unorganized, we’re lethal centralized. Trying for unfair advantage we’ll kill everything: ourselves too, eventually.
But, in the second half, and by the end, I came to think that this is one of Clint’s greatest achievements: and that’s saying something.
The film is the biography of all of us, of the 20th century. Clint embarrasses all of us retracing how J. Edgar had us by the nose and the White House by the balls. G men, we thought that was “good” once upon a time. Like a medieval trusting his “Church.” GREAT film for irony.
I loved the scenes where Robert Kennedy tried his power politics on Hoover: like the White House was the government while Hoover and his FBI were just employees of the government! Hoover calmly kicks RFK in the balls as it were: and RFK knows he’s been kicked. Wonderful.
RFK tells Hoover to leave his report with him, RFK. Of course. Hoover complies. RFK has it! Then Hoover says calmly, “I have my own copy.” And RFK turns to an ice statue. God, that’s delicious.
Wonderful watching J. Edgar amass power by keeping himself and his agency sober while everybody else floats away on drunken hubris. (His sober-hubris will get him too, in time.
Naomi Watts is fantastic as the dedicated secretary. Hoover avoids women, except for his monstrous won’t-go-away mother. Miss Gandy gives up men: what does she believe in instead? The US? Hoover himself? Power? herself?!?!?
Regardless, she gets it. Marvelous to watch her taking dictation for an anonymous hate threat to Martin Luther King: as she sees that she’s actually worked for Stalin, for Hitler: the US another tyranny: lies, threats, false evidence: by the Edison of evidence: Hoover.
Hoover: the Edison of evidence
Nixon has always been my favorite modern president: epitome of evil, stupidity, dishonesty. Nixon has always known the noose Hoover had the White House in: Roosevelt, Eisenhower … Nixon knows about J. Edgar’s secret files … Finally, the bastard is dead. Nix gets word. “That cocksucker,” he exclaims. “Get those files!” he orders.
Ah, but loyal Miss Gandy, using fed dictatorial powers to destroy evidence, shreds everything. That’s a meta-betrayal, a betrayal of all betrayals, the evidence-king’s legacy is to destroy evidence.
Cut to Nix, on TV, pipe to America’s consumer-audience brain-stem, pabuluum feeder, brain drip. Nix waxes sentimental: J. Edgar had always been one of his best friends, favorite people, great American. (The cocksucker.)
This is a deep movie. Bravo.
The make-up is a great element. We’ve all marveled at this and that movie with great make-up: Babette’s Feast, Back to the Future. One of my favorite examples of aging beauty where I love the age, never loved the beauty, King Kong vs Cape Fear, e.g.; here, ironically, another King Kong: Naomi Watts! Miss Gandy.
Naomi Watts is Sooo beautiful no matter how the costumes, the make-up, age her: some Naomi Watts shows through.
I’m floored by this Armie Hammer. Think of his great grandfather, then look at him: now, look at him in make-up as lifelong companion to the American Stalin.
The scenes with that old queer and his career-long companion are very moving: Clint! making homosexual complexity tug our heart strings, bravo.
Ironies abound. Hoover comes on the crime scene, local law enforcement contaminating all evidence. Hoover will now take forensic science as his own, develop it, pervert it, abuse it, render it damned. He congratulates the NJ cop, Now you’ve contaminated the evidence.
Hey bozos. Hoover breathing NJ air is contaminating the whole universe!
Employees note: by all means absorb my note about Eisenhower at Columbia: History of Schools
Related: Secret Honor
A fiction of the disgraced Nixon’s dialogue with himself. Marvelous, probably very true if hardly factual. Did the authors of J. Edgar have access to a hate letter J. Edgar forged to Martin Luther King? Is it a fact that Hoover tried to intimidate King so he would not accept the Nobel Peace Prize? What does the prize mean anyway when Nixon also won it? No, no: fiction, honest fiction, unfettered fiction, may be the most efficient form of truth we have.
Hoover and his FBI
I’m just remembering a nugget claimed as fact I heard decades ago: Hoover advertised his agency as being for crime fighting: Hoover was masterful at getting ever bigger budgets: (and never forget that “crime” is defined by the people who make up new laws every year: people have fermented beer or cider forever, suddenly it’s a crime: people never paid taxes, suddenly not paying is a crime …) but crime was a cover; the real reason Hoover got all that budget was because the base purpose of the FBI was to beat up anarchists, make sure they are homeless, friendless, can’t make a living …
However true or untrue that is, it’s certainly what the state and its agencies, the state and its citizens, have done to me, since childhood: but with both fists and all their boots since 1969. 1970, 2006, 2007 … All of K. details.
2013 08 03 My daring went north yesterday, so now for two months I’ll watch DVDs by myself, or without her at least. We’ll still talk about it a few times a week: she has unlimited phone service from Nova Scotia as she does when in Sebring, but I’ll be holding my own hand. The other night I offered us Barabbas. She wanted nothing to do with it. We’ve seen zero Biblical epics together: junk I used to watch all the time, in the 1950s. At least Jan and I read Bart Ehrman biblical scholarship somewhat regularly. (Best: best: we’re currently reading Tolstoy! that is, I’m reading to her.)
Jan rejected Barabbas even when I told her it was Anthony Quinn. Even when I added that Jack Palance was in it. She doesn’t remember Shane: she may not know Palance by name or face. Anyway I was pleased to learn: Jack Palance had been a boxer! a heavy weight! Ah, now I appreciated his gladiator the more: appreciated his Jack Wilson the more too!
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
2015 08 10 I’m paused in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, pretty well into it, but now can’t wait to say this: great idea, American history from the 1950s to nearly the present through the experience of a White House butler, black, one time cotton chopper. What a great cast: the cast alone should make it first rate. So how come it ain’t?
2015 08 11 A scene or two brought a tear to my eye, a small tear: his missuz’ death for example. Oprah Winfrey goes clunk. I liked the cutting back and forth between “history” and “personal”.
Netflix offers a five star system with which to rate movies. Ridiculous: Gradations of quality are near infinite,
I watch Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia. I’ve been watching bits and pieces for years now. Some of it’s annoying, so maybe I’ll just give it four stars. But no: there are several places that by themselves should get five stars: even if Homer and Shakespeare are five stars. Boy: if I feel inadequate, how inadequate is Netflix? how inadequate are my neighbors?
2015 07 19 I was just raving about some attractive filming of females, ranging from films I’ve seen recently and harking back to films encountered in the 1950s: Emma Stone, Monica Bellucci … Jeanne Moreau … I just joked that Monica Bellucci’s body (and face) (and hair) qualfified for multiple awards as, in Malena, her legs when akimbo, her crotch was stage center, her left boob did this, her right boob did that … and I have to mention something else magically female:
Have you heard about the fourteen year old Israeli girl just hired as Dior’s lead model?
Read the story, it’s something: from sleeping in a broken bed, content in poverty, to being launched over age-blue-laws to star for Dior!
I’ll look at a female image, I’ll look at a female: all my life; but I don’t seek porn, I try to keep stars in perspective, I don’t gad after models … Till now! Look at that face! Look at that girl!
She’s an angel! with a model’s dead-pan! Yet nothing seems sexed about her at all. We see her drawers through the gauze, but so what? she’s a Madonna! We worship, not lust for her.
Rossetti, the PreRaphaelites would have gone crazy.
One fabulous thing is … she knows it! She’s controlling this!
2015 07 04 The arts exercise our powers to recognize patterns, to note similarities, and differences. At 76 3/4 I know that my pattern recognitions are regularly out of step with the majority: Christians are expected to see themselves as different, as superior: Americans, ditto, but with a secular bent. But pk sees Christians as the same: no different: or, essentially the same, trivially different. The Jews killed Jesus (Uh, wasn’t that the Romans?); yeah, but the Christians killed Hypatia! How is that so different?
(The Americans who had a contract out on Einstein for being too smart for his own good, were identified, convicted, and fined: $5!!! That’ll show the world how Americans respect genius.
Jesus was too good … Einstein was too smart … So am I, so am I.)
Anyway, last night Jan and I watched Malena.
Monica Bellucci as Malèna
Italy under the Fascists: Mussolini. A Sicilian town is ravished by Malèna’s beauty. The men want to rape her, the boys at puberty aren’t sure what they want, the women want to gouge her eyes out.
In college my friends (those who could afford to go to Europe every summer (and as many Christmases and Easters as they wanted (one pal, the son of the only man whose father had never not been on the NYT list of New Yorkers with incomes in seven figures, said the fares are so low now you can’t afford not to go!) told me that in Italy (and in Spain) any female tush on the street was public property: walk the square and if you are at all shapely, and youthful, you are guaranteed to get a lot of male groping of your ass. Gangs of males own the earth: the women see it, from hiding, and jeer, and hate, and count breaths toward revenge.
How different from New York, from New Orleans? Yes, but also No: that’s a very human pattern.
(Bellucci is fabulous at knowing to keep her gaze downcast, humble (non-sentient) as she walks her errands.)
Malèna’s husband is off to the war, her father is deaf (and a fool), her husband is reported dead:
Allied bombs rain on the towns. Malèna gets raped by this and that male above the middle ground of the kleptocracy. She dies her hair, she’s seen accepting gifts from Nazis … first chance, the town’s women are seen ripping her to shreds, dragging her over rough ground, shearing her hair, abusing her magnificent bosoms.
I didn’t see that behavior in high school, or as a teacher, nor as an art dealer; but I was never in a place being rained on by Allied bombs. No, we’re the droppers, not the droppees. But: I know from assorted readings that such behavior is deeply normal in human societies. The rapists, the men, the women, the pubescents, despise Jesus, oh, he’s so goody-goody, putting the rest of us to shame … It is not flattering to be lusted after, to be resented …
So different? So much the same!
The males form gangs, the gangs dominate the public places. (Rats dominate the sewer.) Check out behaviors by gender (and by age, and maturity) in other cultures: the Muslims? are they more “Christian”? Try being a fly on the wall here or there in Africa. … There are societies around the world where females are caged from puberty onward. The harem has its own architecture.
Goodbye, Simple Simon
2015 07 04 I stream movies from NetFlix, I also rent DVDs from NewFlix via the snail mail. I try to watch the DVDs promptly, Jan knows this and cooperates, to an extent: the faster I mail ’em back, the move movies we get to see, for the one monthly price. With the mail there’s sometimes a movie on hand; with the streaming, there’s always a hundred movies on hand.
I’m forever fidgeting the queues, moving a title up or down, simmering at the back burner, or promoting to Now. But inevitably time passes and I may not remember why I rented a title. When Jan and I started this activity five, six years ago, it was clear: La Strada, Roshomon …. I wanted to show them to Jan becaue they’re among the greatest movies ever made. That is, they’re among the core experiences of my life, esthetic, intellectual, cultural. Some of the auteurs are my heroes, my gods … But sometimes I don’t remember why I put the damn title on the list.
Just now, last night: Malena: the movie was over before I remembered: Oh, yes. Monica Bellucci: I wanted Jan and me to recognize her, got to see something she’s in for that to be possible (though now one can just Google images, one never has to actually experience anything!) Two seconds in I said, “Oh, I’ve seen this.” Still, Jan or not, I had to watch further to absorb Monica Bellucci: a grand activity.
The night before we watched The Goodbye Girl. Why? I don’t remember! To try to remember who Marsha Mason was? I don’t remember.
I expected from moment to moment to see something that would prompt recognition: oh, yes, Marsha Mason, or Neil Simon … I began to remember, a bit, hating Neil Simon in the 1960s (and the 1970s). He was famous, rich, admired, loved, successful; my play put on at NYU in 1964 was a total dud: I don’t think my friends who agreed to read their parts had a clue what I was up to. (That was Hilary, Phil, and David Smith, the latter subsequently using his PhD to launch his career at Toledo University.) (Oh, and yours truly: I had the lead: I played the fumbling fool: a la Chekov’s farces, via Robert Benchley five minute radio spots.) Half century ago: no one has since come up to me and said, “Oh, I think I see what you were doing: Goddard might have understood. Or maybe Brecht.” (Or maybe Chekov, or maybe Benchley.) No. Zero. Subsequently, I say what I say, already braced, already numb, that no one will understand. After a certain period of crucifixion, it still hurts: it’s just that you’re not surprised that hurts: of course it hurts: and, of course they crucify you: they’re incapable of learning. People flocked to Simon plays, Simon movies. I finally saw one: a movie, Barefoot in the Park. It was hard to pk to be aware of Neil Simon in the 1960s: it was harder in the 1970s: I’d been conceiving the internet since the late ’60, actually offered digital data-basing with my Free Learning Exchange in 1970. Zilch. Nada. Zippo. The public eagerly stole networking when it was finessed on them as an accomplished theft, like how the US stole California from Sutter: we’d ignored Sutter when he invited us, then we klonked him on the head once it was gold we could steal. pk got Nada; but Neil Simon people saw voluntarily: paid to see him! It was hard and I hated him. I knew the name of every donar to FLEX: and his name was not among the contributors (as, neither was yours!)
Anyway, Jan and I watch The Goodbye Girl. A string of things annoyed me, I’ll mention only the set of things that stuck the most violently in my craw; they all have to do with Shakespeare.
Richard Dryfus’ actor has a gig as Richard III. He butts heads with the director. He wants to play Richard the usual way: as a cripple, as a hunchback; the director wants a flaming queer without any limp. With a different tone that might have been OK: moronic ways to murder Shakespeare are supported by simple truth, just look around you: there’s some funding available for shoving Shakespeare in our eye, the schools do it, but there’s lots of funding, uncritical funding for blatant perversion: drama-murder.
Regardless, the Simon audience has to watch Richard Dryfus prance around the stage, butchering familiar lines.
That’s something Simon seems to do regularly: again and again we hear the line “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York …” At no point does anyone, on the stage, on in the audience, betray a clue what the line means! It’s a great line, a great great line: if you understand what it says; it’s just so much noise if you don’t!
2015 07 07 In college I heard a woman referred to who’d seen Shakespeare for the first time: It’s all just quotes, she observed! Didn’t have a clue that they weren’t quotes until he wrote them. (Shakespeare in Love shows Sweet Will hearing a harangue on the street including the curse, “A plague on both your houses”. Fine: so Shakespeare was quoting somebody: but his quoting is what made it quotable!) Anyhow: that’s what Simon does: he plagiarizes our best know literature, then insults the source.
Marsh Mason’s ten year old daughter complains that Richard III is “boring”. Boring? The play is played around the world for four hundred years because it’s boring?! American kids get indulged no matter what cultural, intellectual blasphemy they utter?
But maybe worst: the “experts” inform Mason and daughter that Shakespeare himself was a flaming fag. They say it as though it were a fact, not an egregious misreading, an ad hominem assumption..
Jan turns to me. “I didn’t know that!”
“Good”, I answer: “because it isn’t true!”
A coupld of decades ago I got an email from a student in Turkey who complained to me, internationally visible Shakespeare scholar, that his English teacher said that Shakespeare was queer. I told him to tell his teacher to read my explanations on the subject. No: the student came back to me: his teacher had merely corrected him, ignoring me, by authority!
Hell, Shakespeare did write a hundred odd sonnets, explicitly love sonnets, to a male. That would certainly make one tend to sniff homosexuality.
But let me point out a couple of things, real quick:
- Shakespeare wrote those sonnets during plague years. The theaters were closed, poets had to scrounge alternate ways to make a living. And the low numbered sonnets are addressed more to the young man’s father than to the young man: Shakespeare was groveling, hoping for cash; sincerity was not in evidence.
- Clearly the love declared is 99% Platonic!
A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion:
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.
The love is for the poet, the lover’s dick is strictly for the ladies!
Forget about arguing that Shakespeare could have been bisexual. Sure, and so could anybody; but this sonnet is unequivocal: male male love is real: male male fucking is not something endorsed by Shakespeare.
Odd Men: Reed, Mason, Newton
2015 06 12 I was so looking forward to introducing Jan to Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out: 1940s Irish noir: James Mason, an IRA cell chief, the people’s hero, flubs a robbery, ripping off the man to finance revolution, and bumps around Belfast for two hours, dying. Did he sound Irish? No: English as hell; but what a voice: held us till Burton came along.
Anyway, I knew Carol Reed through The Third Man: what a great movie. It’s the movie that made me realize that there was more to urban noir than Orson Wells. Wells was fabulous, in icon, but the movie was directed by Carol Reed. So: Odd Man Out was the first Carol Reed movie I sought out because it was Carol Reed. Wow, what a bonus. And pure bonus comes from Robert Newton’s Lukey, the mad painter who connives to get the dying cell chief brought to him. Lukey want to see death in James Masn’s eyes and capture it in oil on canvas. Till we meet Lukey Odd Man Out is a very good movie, but Robert Newton’s madman puts it on an altogether higher plane.
Note that Oliver Twist is also Carol Reed, with Robert Newton paying an indelible Bill Sikes.
And never ever ever forget that it’s Robert Newton who gave us our indelible Long John Silver.
Newton in Shaw
Alas, Jan didn’t care at all for Odd Man Out. She bailed. Later, watching it myself, the tears rolled down my cheeks.
I love the left-handed insults to England, to British rule, to imperialists minding everyone’s business: with Jails, and Germs, and Guns: and utterly unconscionable cops.
Conserving the Revolution
2015 06 09 Some of my movie blab ventures close to objectivity, to film history, to film criticism — and when I say “film” I mean “life”: life, evolution, etcetera. Inevitably any of it may be autobiographical. Where was I when ? What film, hymn, poem nudged me to the left, tickled my most ancient prejudices …? As an academic, of sorts, an anti-acedemy revolutionary, I, like all of us to some extent, live a decade late, a century late, a millennium late: I listen to Bach, worship Bach, long after his music was current, cutting edge. I missed “the ’60s” because I was busy getting saturated with what the Fortune500 wanted our knees to jerk to: I was reading Shakespeare, trying to explain how I read Shakespeare; not smoking dope and gawking at the ‘Stones.
Tom Wolfe did his grad stint at Yale but then got the culture to pay him to be current. I read his Electric Kook Air Acid Test after it was current. I read Ken Kesey after it was current. Now I see a movie about the Grateful Dead half a century after they lived the Acid Test in San Francisco and all-about. Now I watch my culture as a foreign movie, way after it’s dead, grateful or otherwise.
I watch The Other One: the Long Strange Journey of Bob Weir. Never heard of him till last week. Jerry Garcia I know only from the Wolfe book. Maybe he mentioned Garcia and Weir, the co-founders. It didn’t register on me. Now I watch old footage of this Bob Weir as a baby faced acid head, chicks sliming him 24/7 with their hot boxes. It’s a hoot, the other Dead all joking how they reaped his leftovers, everyone of them ugly, him angelic.
OK. I got it. I watched it piecemeal, a piece made a meal. (PS Do you realize that piecemeal is the only adverb in its class? that the suffix -meal meant -like? See? You were listening to the dead, toking weed, dropping acid; I was studying English: from of olde.
Something happened. I fell in love with Bob Weir. If his music had appealed to me, I should have heard it: some of it should have filtered through my filters. I should at least once have listened to the Grateful Dead, should have read more Kesey, or at least a little Kerouac: realized that that was Neal Cassidy driving the Merry Pranksters’ bus.
There was Bob Weir, changing music. He didn’t go to Julliard, he didn’t sit like a schmuck while stiffs told him how to be original, he didn’t get a can of paint and dribble and splash; he did what he wanted to do, and it so happened it changed the world. I still don’t give a damn for the music, I was busy listening to Bird change music in the 1940s from the safety of the 1950s. But something happened. Bob Weir, getting ravished by every girl around San Francisco Bay and beyond, gets ravished by an exceptionally cute sixteen years old: and he’s with her an hour later, a day later, a week later … a life time following. They have children, they raise them carefully, and well. … My God: a human family: stable: with property: affluent!
Did the Pope say Follow Bob Weir? Not a bit of it. The Church has long been even more out of it than the state. Did the druggies say Follow Bob Weir>? Apparently they did, not that anyone but Tom Wolfe paid attention. Well, a little late, very late, I don’t doubt too late, I’m getting a little bit of it. The human family. Three of four of us just might survive not matter what happens to the multi-billions.
2015 05 19 I’ve known better than to confuse the actor with the part for a long time. But human psychology just keeps on operating some of the time no matter how smart or wise you are: by the time we’re old we’re back to committing childish fallacies. I so hated Nixon that I also hated poor Mrs. Nixon: and then I hated Joan Allen for acting so appropriately Mrs. Nixon on the screen. I knew better. (And I didn’t do it altogether) but I also didn’t censor myself from doing it at least a little bit. (Hating the actress was cathartic!)
So now I’m watching W. Spread out over months, I’m delectating on morsel after morsel: the movie is amazing, Oliver Stone understands his own ironies! But it’s also promulgating old confusions: forinstance: Elizabeth Banks is so gorgious, so female, so attractive, I go Gah!, and half forgive George W. Bush on behalf of his movie-dopelganger wife. (Oliver Stone is setting the table, doing the casting, in all of these cases.) Meantime, Ellen Burstyn’s Barbara Bush is so near perfect, that in my case it hardly does any good: I hate her anyway.
Caesar Gets the Girl
Elizabeth Banks’ beauty may serve to remind us that Caesar got the girl: and so did the gladiator. Caesars and gladiators got lots of girls: much of human behavior tracks to adultery: hypocritical monogamy. Wilt Chamberlin build himself a basketball-court-sized bed and filled it with beauties. Magic Johnson did the same: and got AIDS, for all the world to see! Tiger Woods gets the world’s most beautiful bride, and mother for his legit kids, but shacks with the other world’s-most-beautiful girl in every port, embarrassing a famous blond beauty in the international press, the idiot. I was just watching a David Attenborough nature doc: the female elephant goes into heat, a big bull elephant courts her, mounts her, rams his eight-foot-long schlong into her: the female elephant bellows for all the world to hear — “Jeez, what a loud girl”, a roommate once remarked from several rooms away from the bedroom in which my partner was having public orgasms while blowing me. But this elephant, like all rutting female elephants, was not just announcing her ecstasy, she was broadcasting her fertility: any other bull elephant was welcome to come and pry the present bull elephant off her back and try taking his place. Will Wilt Chamberlin survive Magic Johnson getting into the sack with him and his troop of females? And when Tiger Woods joins them all? I’m glald my roommate didn’t try getting into my waterbed with me and Linda! PS, if she was loud when giving me head, she was likewise loud when I was giving her head too! She was loud, loud, loud.
Btw after the bull had climaxed and while the cow was bellowing the whole elephant clan formed something Attenborough called a mating pandemonium! All the elephants including the babies had a kind of communal orgasm.
I remember watching a spectacular beauty sit in Ivan Lendl’s box at his tennis matches. I found him ugly however dominant on the court; I found her world-class. TV coverage broadcast her bellows for her, reaching Wilt the Stilt, Magic, LeBron … The other day Ricky Fowler won a golf tournament: a spectacular cat-walker positioned herself where Fowler could insert his tongue into her abdomen as the world watched. A minute later he was paddling her pussy with his finger tips. Yes: Caesar gets the girl, so does this and that gladiator.
And so did JFK, and his damn brother, and Nixon, and Bush … except that even Elizabeth Banks isn’t quite as beautiful as Tiger’s Elin!
Anyway, the Caesars don’t lack for bellowing females. But notice: you can monitor a stack of presidents and find Martha … and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mamie Eisenhower … while waiting and wondering for Elizabeth Banks, or Marilyn Monroe! How come?
Clinton kept a fat girl under his desk: how come it wasn’t Emma Watson? or Emma Stone?
Caesar & Cleopatra
2015 04 29 It’s some time now that I’ve had Caesar & Cleopatra on my streaming list. That GBS play was filmed in 1945. I first saw it approximately ten years after that. I first read the play along around in there: 1955, 1956: then read it carefully and officially (in Hilary’s company) (for the 6-points-on-GBS-class of Prof. Dan Laurence) in 1963. I was getting peeved that Jan wasn’t requesting it, the months slid by, I put it under her nose several times a week. Finally, last evening, I pushed it on her. I could feel her sulk. What’s with Jan and the Roman Empire? She bailed oout of HBO’s Rome, wouldn’t let me turn her head back that way. She knows that GBS is of the first importance in my life: what’s she putting it all off for?
I’ll come back to that, as I’ll return to a series of points on the subject. First: 1955 or so I was so impressed by Claude Reins’ Caesar. I love “Hollywood”s cadrre of British gentlemen. Just last week we saw again how fabulous James Mason was in that class of character: his Gustave Flaubert was masterful in Mme Bovary! In that context I commended Reins: he’s so good at “intelligent” dialogue. The trouble with GBS’s Caesar is that by 2015, after sixty years of it, I’m thoroughly fed up with Shaw’s idea of how clever Caesar was: I no longer agree that Caesar was very clever by the time he met Cleopatra. I like the idea that he developed her as a competent kleptocrat ruler/executive, that sounds accurate; but I’ll be damned if at 76 I can swallow Caesar as a Christian Buddhist Marxist wise bureaucrat. I gag at the idea of “good” coercion.
Reins did not impress me much this time around. And I’m reminded of how fed up I am with most British gentlemen: I never want to see David Niven again.
From high school I adored Shaw’s wit, his sense of play, or irony: I loved his strong women, I loved his perverse aphorisms; but I never altogether swallowed his acceptance of law, of authority, his genuflections toward Stalin, Marx … Hitler, concentration camps …
So much of C&C is filler: the same joke repeated over and over. C&C has good moments, some of the scenes play well, but …
On the other hand we ought to be able to cut GBS some slack: he was born in the same culture that Marx and Stalin and Churchill and Hitler were born in.
2015 10 26 I remember a time in the 1960s discussing acting quality / role quality with my best movie friend: he maintained vociferously that an actor could not give a great performance in a dumb role, there was nothing to work with. I don’t recall jumping onto his bandwagon but I did see some perspective to his point. Regardless I thought of his rant last night as Jan and I watched Bette Davis in Dark Victory. It’s a nitwit movie centered on whether doctors should tell the truth as they see it to patients. Sentiment at the time, 1939, was No: Be Kind: Ignorance is bliss, happiness the goal, never mind philosophy. Whatever the rest of the world thinks I grew up into a belief that doctors as well as presidents as well as pastors should tell the truth, or at least what they think is the truth. So: Bette Davis may be the stellar actor, but how good can she be if her character is out of phase with morality? Answer: Bette Davis is The greatest actress: Bette Davis living in a fantasy world, expecting illusion, demanding illusion, is still the greatest actress.
Stagy? you bet: very stagy.
2015 10 19 NetFlix puts titles on its buffet that never would have come to the neighborhood theater of my youth. Neither would they have been shown on TV. Quentin Tarantino grew up watching stuff no previous generation had ever heard of. When I was a kid music was my preoccupation: first joke music, the Firehouse Five, then dixie, then swing, then jazz: bepop, modern. Then blues got added, then folk. By the early 1960s Ramblin’ Jack Elliott was a favorite. So, fifteen or so years ago when I saw a video on Ramblin’ Jack I grabbed it: but it turned out to have been made by his neglected daughter: it wasn’t about Ramblin’ Jack and his music, it wasn’t about Woody Guthrie and how Jack followed him, channeled him, became the library on New Deal hillbillies. No, the movie was about the daughter, neglected by the father, while the father got drunk and stripped naked while mesmerizing groups of spellbound women. Imagine a book on Thomas Jefferson that focuses on Jeff eating breakfast and fucking his slave woman.
I shoudda been warned, because a year or so ago I eagerly grabbed a DVD on BB King: one of the great great greats. Well, there was the great great BB, old, and fat, and far too familiar sounding: making jokes about needing viagara!
And last month I saw footage of Muddy Waters, the greatest since the proliferation of recording. Muddy used to dominate the bandstand. He’d uncork a shaken beer battle and spray brewers cum all over the audience as he sang “I’m a Man!” But in this DVD Muddy was old and tired and had to sit on a chair on stage. At least Pete Seger apologized when he had to sit in a chair on stage.
OK, I’d been warned.
So last night I launch a stream on Glen Campbell. Thanks to a DVD on The Wrecking Crew, studio musicians who played the instruments for any number of pop hits —
Take the Beach Boys for example: Brian Wilson “writes” a song. The Beach Boys will learn to perform it, to sing it and to play in on their instruments, in six months of regular practice they’ll be good at it. But modern times can’t wait six months: Brian Wilson teaches the parts to the studio musicians of the Wrecking Crew. They can sight read, or hear-play the song lickity-split. The Beach Boys finally learn to play and sing their parts and sing and play them well, but they’ve had millions and millions of dollars rolling in for those six months, because by using the Wrecking Crew for the instrumentals, they got the hit out overnight.
Take Ronald Reagan for comparison: he could learn the speeach in six months, he could give the speech pretty well in six months. But while he’s being rehearsed, learning his lines, the US has gone on, making billions with the policies of the speech, bombing more gooks all over the world: profit, profit, no time to waste on integrity. or intelligence.
OK, so in six months you see and hear the Beach Boys on stage, doing the song; but when you first heard it, it was Glen Campbell speed-learning the virtuoso guitar parts. Brian Wilson thought it, the Wrecking Crew played it, the Beach Boys sang it, and six months later Brian Wilson could front the group playing his own fast licks on stage.
OK, so now I’m watching a Glen Campbell movie: and it’s all about him having Altzheimers so bad he doesn’t know what day it is or how to stay on his X on the stage where the camera is aimed and pre-focused. Ugh. Who ever imagined?
But I’ll confess. I was enjoying this anyway. And I’ll volunteer why: Campbell’s nth wife is B-e-a-utiful, and his nth daughters look just like their adorable mom, and they take such loving care of poor Glen that it’s a wonder to see.
My grad school thesis on Shakespeare’s Sonnets argued among many other things that the sonnets are not about what Shakespeare had for breakfast or what he said to his girl friend in bed: they’re about basic patterns in civilized western behavior: they’re about epistemological issues, sumarizable as ideal versus real: theoretical versus experienced.
I would relish a nice musical bioPic on JS Bach: I’d tolerate a detail or two about whether the boy soprano had kibes while learning his part in the Matthew Passion, maybe Bach himself had the ague … but please, mostly, keep the music and the persons separate.
2015 10 17 Watching Restoration I was reminded of how the camera loves Robert Downey Jr. The audience sure loves him too. What I didn’t know to anticipate was how well the camera established a bond, not to mention desire, between Downey and Meg Ryan. Her collaboration with surgery is well documented: here her relationship to the protagonist sounded a depth or two. Nice.
A minute later I was watching Moonrise Kingdom, apprehensive, ready to bail out at any moment, Wes Anderson’s tricks putting me on annoyance alert in advance: but I must say, the two kids actually started working up some chemistry between them. I’l wait till Jan is back from Nova Scotia and sitting at my side in our love seat before the monitor before venturing further.
Of course the girl, twelve or so years old, is wearing a short skirt which juts if not puckers in front so were perpetually sure we’re about to catch a little junior beaver (and actually we do see plenty of her white panties as she crawls into their tent). This girl may be worth keeping an eye on.
When the Salt has Lost its Savor
2015 10 12 In the 1950s I worshipped Fellini as much as I’d tingled at Chaplin. It drove me crazy in the 1960s when film reviewers were dissing Fellini, talking about how great Fellini had been in his early- and mid-’50s films and how sad and bloated it had all become by La Dolce Vita. But then seeing La Dolce Vita I half-agreed: till it too wooed me, and I became so smitten with it too that I could hardly breathe. But by the time Boccaccio ’70 came along … it was cloying as well as bloated. I couldn’t stand it. Last week I tried to watch Boccaccio ’70 afresh: I felt suffocated, like the time my fat friend wrestled me to the ground and sat on my face: I couldn’t breathe! and had I breathed I’d have been breathing Lenny’s ass! I bailed out. Enough already.
Just today I loaded the rental To Rome with Love, the Woody Allen tribute to … lots of things. Immediately there were jokes so great I had to pause the flick and email the joke to my son. But I found myself pausing the movie every other five minutes. That seems to happen to me all the time these days, whether I love the movie or hate it. I’m half-blind, I’m more than half-deaf: I usually have my glasses on but frequently have forgotten my hearing aids: they don’t work all that well anyway. And the movie has too much talk. Too many plots, too many actors: much too much dialogue. By the time I read the subtitles I’ve missed seeing what the actors are doing: so I’m forever backing up, reading again, watching the action again. How many people would go to the movies or even stream one if everyone had to read, and ponder, and review, and catch up … Pause, sprint, sprint some more.
I may take a vacation from movies. But by the time I’m ready to try again I may be even more blind: and less in love with Fellini, and Woody … Fortunately I’ve seen most of the great ones already, repeatedly.
2015 10 11 Coming up on twenty-five years of K. I’ve written the following more than a few times:
Calvinist me, unwilling to waste anything, unable to afford to waste anything.
Today I’m remembering an ecstatic form of movie masochism I submitted myself to in the 1960s:
I saw Pather Panchali when it came out. It numbed me but I loved it. I saw it again: then again, and again.
When Aparajito came out I saw it. It wasn’t Pather Panchali but it too was great. So I pounced on The World of Apu, movie three in the trilogy: loved it too however much less. So: by the late 1960s, early 1970 I’d seen them all at least twice, PP, the original, multiple times. So, one day I see the sign on the Carnegie Cinema, around the corner from Carnegie Hall: all three on one bill. What did I do? I decided to inflict a Ray marathon on myself. The box office opened at noon. I was there, saw Pather Panchali for the nth time. Two hours, whew: and that’s a long two hours: a life time of suffering. But so great. At this moment I can hear, and feel, grandma’s head clonking on the tree stump when she dies. So, I visited the mens room, and Aparajito came on.
I could have used some dinner before long movie three started, but this was my Ray marathon, I had to stay the course. It was well into evening before I stumbled from the theater, feeling like a stylites, some guy balancing on one foot on a pole high above a river. The suffering is without price.
PS I knew the above image before I saw Pather Panchali: it was featured at MOMA in The Family of Man: 1955! Now I see the movie was released that same year, but I saw the Steichen show immediately, didn’t see the Roy movie or hear the Ravi Shankar score for another couple of years: later ’50s. See? I loved Ravi Shankar years before I ever heard of him! Lots of us did.
I’ll be back to further develop the “Calvinist” waste not want no theme. And to tie in another association: I avoided The Rocky Horror Show and the The Rocky Horror Picture Show through the 1970s and so forth till this week. I finally gave up, ordered the DVD, started to watch. It made me sick, but I’d paid the rental fee, dammit, waste not.
No, I finally caved in to my revulsion, quit it, mailed it back.
Client Privilege, Sherwood Cathedral
2015 09 28
I just start to watch a movie, Addicted. NetFlix promises addiction to sex. We open with a well-groomed, clearly affluent, exceptionally beautiful woman finding a parking space right in front of her city destination. She takes the elevator, knocks at an office. A well-groomed, clearly affluent, exceptionally attractive woman bids her welcome: make yourself comfortable, sit anywhere. What you tell me here, the office holder says, is strictly confidential, no one sees these notes, she waves her notepad, but me.
When I was a kid I was very impressed to hear that if Robin Hood could get to the cathedral and enter it, the Sheriff of Nottingham could not arrest him. Outside the church, the sheriff could make mincemeat of him; inside, couldn’t touch him. Then, growing up, a classmate with a hotrod would peel rubber on Sunrise Highway right in front of a cop cruiser, race to the border of the next town, two blocks away. There my showoff classmate would thumb his nose at the cops. The Rockville Centre cops could stop you and ticket you: in Rockville Centre; but if you could cross the border into Baldwin before they nabbped you, you had escaped their clutches.
Now, these days, if the IS terrorist crashes the airliner into the WTC but somehow lands east of Staten Island, is he safe from the cops, from the FBI, the CIA …? Uh, I doubt it.
And in medieval times, would Robin Hood really have been immune to the secular law once in the upposedly “sacred” church?
A friend of mine, founder of the Sebring Militia, was pastor of his own church, was pope for that religion, his own invention. The Sebring cops went to his house (his church, his cathedral, that is) dragged him out onto his walkway, and pistol whipped him within an inch of his life before dumping him in the county jail. If David Chapman wasn’t safe in his cathedral, would Robin Hood really have been safe in his?
You know, my class mate back in 1955, roaring across the RVC / Baldwin border: I bet he knew those cops, they coulda been his cousins. I bet he rigged the performance with them, rehearsed it.
Anyway: the chic black professional, shrink, psychologist, some kind of secular priest, promises the new client that what she says there (in this “church” of “experts”) is confidential. Talk in the street and the papparazi can blab it; talk in the office and it’s the secular equivalent of sacred. (Unless you’re Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist: then the CIA can waltz in: steal, disrupt, destroy, incriminate.)
This is: any kleptocrat can promise the anything to the Jew: but does the Nazi then have to deliver? Not to the Jew, he doesn’t.
Once upon a time the good Catholic could confess to the priest believing there to be a sacred trust between them. What you whispered in the confessional booth was private: between you, God, and the priest. Supposedly, in theory, you could confess to murder. The priest would then intreat you to surrundewr to the secular authorities and trust to God’s mercy in the sacred realm.
Really? What if you confess to unspeakable acts committed on the statue of the Virgin? Can that priest really be trusted to keep mum? About as much as the CIA could be trusted to recognize non-US waters east of Staten Island. About as much as David Chapman should have trusted the sanctity of his home-vatican.