March 30, 2009

adele's song in rosalinda

Why can't this --

-- be more common? Oh... Rosalinda!! has been in my head since watching it. My mind conjures fantasy and farce brought to the awesome heights of abstraction. Has this been properly explored? It seems few intellectuals are interested enough in fantasy and farce to raise it to abstraction. Realism is our dominant trend. Realism has been brought to total abstraction. Realism pervades even today's most robust farces (which are not very robust, not even farces, and replace narrative boldness with vulgarity (a timid substitute)), and every musical must realistically excuse itself to be taken seriously.

This may be why Rosalinda is a forgotten part of P+P's filmography. But probably not; the Archers are well known for their aesthetic outrageousness. And I am now completely taken with their experiments in opera and ballet. This is not only a valid exercise in film, it has not been taken nearly far enough. Adele's song above is given a life I had never known it had; but in spite of the new English lyrics, the impossibly colorful set, the film acting, the somewhat dynamic staging and occasional crosscuts, it is still too similar to the original operetta.

Rosalinda's too static. Too much concentration on the singer. A playful song needs more playful images. Needs more life. Opera and old plays seem to offer a lot of opportunity for experimentation; much of it is obscure... and will probably remain so while filming popular books and remaking popular films remains the dominant commercial trend. Strange that a society should find no utility in its past and culture. Or maybe not so strange. We seem to have no interest in our future either. Oh, I'm getting off-topic...

March 25, 2009

angels of Nice

They'd be cooler pointing down. Uh, or pointing with a different finger...?

March 22, 2009

soviet toys

Had I not seen it, I would not have believed it. I had known Vertov praised some virtues of animation, even had an animator as part of the kinok crew, and that he was interested in advertisement films, but to see that he actually took part in such films is fascinating. I must share it:

These people are about to put on a play for you...

The feasting capitalist. He gets fat very quickly...

Fat on food, wine, and women.

Here comes the worker. Nice hammer.

He exposes the capitalist for what he really is.

The capitalist's body is fed. What about his soul? The old and new religion fight it out, rock-em-sock-em style. Draw.

The worker tries gutting capitalist wealth. His might fails

No, taxes won't do it either.

Comrade! The farmer offers his help; the hammer and sickle join forces...

and it works!

The money is invested in the nation.

And the capitalist is under sharp guard.

Goodbye capitalism, religion, decadence -- the worker's are on top!
[There's a lot in this film I am missing -- I wish somebody would explain it to me.]

Most people take a look back at Vertov's kino-eye philosophy and focus on his realist ("life as it is") aspects. The influential theorists and scholars of realism -- Grierson, Kracauer, Bazin, Rotha, etc. -- and the subsequent evolution of nonfiction films into "documentary" exposition (like cinema verite) has developed this emphasis of the real. They vastly simplify Vertov's philosophy. I think this animation shows that the thrust of Vertov's theories was not realism or even the "pure cinema" most of the contemporary avant-garde was after, but rather political transformation. Vertov's cinema is primarily a political cinema, meant to partake in building society towards its ultimate Utopia. Anyone who approaches Vertov's films should keep this in mind.

Anyway, however simple, it is an effective film.

March 21, 2009


Postcard taken from this blog. Also has the basics on Annabella's bio.

Clair, Fejos... men of sophistication. I don't know why I haven't seen more of her films. (Because they are not easy to find?) Desperately seeking her other Fejos film, the Sunshine one.

14 Juillet image courtesy of gaston.

Oddly I don't have a cap of her in Le Million. Brunette there. Wonderful.

March 19, 2009

melancholy, escapism

The work I've been balancing this semester has been isolating and stressful (not an emotion I often feel); the result is a deep, surreal melancholy. Further into my shell I retract, my energy fading, my expressions lost. This is pure intellect. I have lost connection with the world.

Nostalgic longing arises. I am impulsively drawn to Love Me Tonight, to Under the Roofs of Paris, to Manhattan -- my definition of comfort movies. But why? With which bittersweet moods do we cathartically align? What is this harmony of joy and sorrow in which our identities sing?

This is undoubtedly escapism. The intellect dies where the spirit is born. The bond I forge with these films is irrational, insane, almost immoral. But necessary. Nostalgia is redemptive. I awoke last night to find Top Hat playing on TCM -- Astaire's voice, arriving 70 years passed, violently stirred the spirit in me. However severe the intellect's alienation, I find it combated by this boundless, nostalgic spirit.

Escapism. The intellect suppressed by pure emotion. Critics are wrong to dismiss it. We are not animals of intellect, but of emotive cycles. Emotive spirals. Our moods change, our spirits seek changing nourishment. Even within ourselves we demand diversity.

Watching Ginger and Fred dancing, my intellect is dumbstruck; thought-paralysis -- painfully, poetically liberating. No critical study of this moment would be worth it. The intellect can only survive with intermissions of the wonderfully, gleefully, irresponsibly irrational.

I am on my way to escapism. I hope this bout of awesome melancholy lasts.