Monday, February 28, 2011

Cinema and the Switchblade...

It's amazing what some folks do with their free time. Be sure to check out the dude's other compilations. The fellow knows his knives.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Watching the Authors, The Actors, The Publisher, A Lawyer and a Curmudgeon Cavorting...

This vibrant slice of 1920's ambiance shows figures still of interest today: Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Alfred Knopf, Clarence Darrow, H.L. Mencken, Lois Moran (Fitzgerald's inspiration for Rosemary in Tender is the Night), Sinclair Lewis, Paul Robeson, Somerset Maugham, and so on. The succession of cameos may do no more than affirm the pleasure of boozing, but it's a festival of fun and satire.
A quote from a viewer (rlathbury) on YouTube

This short film is part of the Special Features on Warner Brother's 2fer release of Charlie Chaplin's films, A King in New York and A Woman of Paris.

The list of the entire cast is here.

According to IMDB, the "director" of this film's full name was Ralph Waldo Emerson Barton. One could assume his parents tried to fill him up to the brim with deep thoughts and fine literature. This probably accounts for the heavyweight guest lists at his dinner parties.

Either way, this ain't nothin' like my Great-Grand-Dad's home movies.

Those are basically endless reels of him, sitting in a rickety, wooden lawn chair, drinking beer and leering at my Great-Aunt Nancy...

But that, as usual, is another story.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Words for Cold Days #3

...The past had just about been strip-mined for all it is worth. As for the present, it had already been exposed as a long term marketing scheme, existing primarily to provide material for future nostalgia-oriented syndication.

The imagination killers - film, video, all-around media overfarming, abuses of story development analogous to the excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers - had had their way. Impossible to picture anything that had not been pictured. "Their showing that again?" Nothing but old news. Jesus on the mount? Seen it. Car crash in extreme close up? Seen it. War, pestilence, genocide? Seen it. The responses - stockpiling of effective narrative devices, replacement of old-fashioned matte work by more fluid computerized imaging techniques, frantic but insufficient effort (too little and too late) to resuscitate dying genres - emphasised rather than resolved an overall sense of closure.

People had nothing left to make a picture of except that very depletion, pictures of people looking at pictures, wearing them, defacing them, combining them, juxtaposing them in allegedly surprising ways, partially painting over them, submerging them in urine, ripping them and selling the pieces. The pictures wouldn't go away, wouldn't change, wouldn't renew themselves. The opaque icons just accumulated, like the non-biodegradable plastic jetsam piling up on Pacific atolls...

From the surreal, impressionist, kaleidoscopical, jawdroppingly amazing book, The Phantom Empire: Movies in the Mind of the 20th Century by Geoffrey O'Brien. Published by Norton in 1993.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mo Watson on Death

I'm almost an atheist
but I can't commit
to the idea that when we
die there is
really want to be
a ghost.
the sort of
spirit who
appears in the windows
of dilapidated homes
and moans in
a most terrifying manner.
If death is truly
then I will be very


From Mo Watson's book, To Prick My Boil and Never Vice Versa. Published in 1999 by Please Remove Your Hat Lady, I Can't See the Movie Press

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Words for Cold Days #2

When I was a kid I believed in a Business Pope. I thought there was a strict mercantile hierarchy, grocery stores and movie houses down near the bottom, factories and warehouses in the middle, Wall Street up near the top. And a Business Pope running the whole thing. I visualized the Business Pope as a shriveled, ancient white-haired Pluto in a black leather chair. Black-capped chauffeur to the left, white-hipped nurse to the right. Every line on his face would record a decade of evil and cruelty and decay. I knew just what he would look like.

From Donald E. Westlake's novel, 361, originally published in 1962. It was reprinted by the cool folks at Hard Case Crime in 2005.