Saturday, May 30, 2009

Who's That Girl?

"Wallander" Sidetracked (2008)

Kurt Wallander is a police inspector in the Swedish town of Ystad and is confronted with a case involving a serial killer.

Above average TV crime, very well staged and great acting, especially Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. The murders are gruesome, but not shown on screen.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Emma Beam

ph: Michael Webber

Vignettes #19

I've already mentioned that in our childhood I had to watch over my sister whose a few years younger than I am.

This was in the early 70s, I was maybe 12 years old. On Saturdays there was no school, and my parents had their day off as well, so before breakfast we'd go to the nearby bakery to get fresh bread and to the stationary store to get the weekend paper. On that particular Saturday my mother sent me off with my sister to do just that.

At the stationary store we had to wait in line for a few minutes. My sister noticed that she could manage to get her little fingers in below the glass cabinet where all the sweets were displayed. Amazed she showed me what she had just discovered. I told her to keep her fingers out of the cabinet.

After I had paid for the paper and we had left the store my sister showed me triumphantly that she had actually caught a small pack of bubblegum out of that cabinet. I got real angry and told her that she had just stolen that bubblegum and that we'd get into big trouble at home, if Mama'd find out. So I ordered her to go back to the store, give it back and apologize.

Of course she refused at first, but I didn't let her get out of this. I watched her go back to the store, and there she just stood in front of the entrance door as if waiting. I thought she was just a bit scared to go in, but as soon as a customer leaving the store opened that door, she threw the bubblegum into the store and ran back to me...

Today my sister refuses to admit that this ever happened and accuses me of having made it all up.

A Scan a Day

Indeterminacy 102

Richard Lippold called up and said,
“Would you come to dinner and bring the
I-Ching?” I said I would. It
turned out he’d written a letter to the
Metropolitan proposing that he be commissioned
for a certain figure to do The Sun.
This letter withheld nothing about the
excellence of his art, and so he
hesitated to send it, not wishing to
seem presumptuous. Using the coin
oracle, we consulted the I-Ching.
It mentioned a letter. Advice to
send it was given. Success was
promised, but the need for patience was
mentioned. A few weeks later,
Richard Lippold called to say that his
proposal had been answered but without
commitment, and that that should make
clear to me as it did to him what to
think of the I-Ching. A year
passed. The Metropolitan Museum
finally commissioned The Sun. Richard
Lippold still does not see eye to eye with
me on the subject of chance operations.

Kamila Filipcikova

ph: David Sims

You Kill Me (2007)

A professional hit man is an alcoholic and is forced to join the AA so he can do his job again.

Black comedy with a lot of cynicism and understated acting. Not as funny as In Bruges, but enjoyable.

Frank Falenczyk: It isn't that I'm sorry I killed them; it's that I'm sorry I killed them badly.
Frank Falenczyk: I missed dinner last night because I got drunk with little Irish people.

Vlada Roslyakova

New stuff

Who's That Girl?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Song a Day

Eric Dolphy - 245

I love jazz, and there are a few jazz musicians which I consider giants of innovation, those who have altered our sense what music is or can be. Eric Dolphy is among them.
His album Out to Lunch I consider as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. This title, 245, is from the album Outward Bound.

Leah De Wavrin

ph: Camilla Akrans

Indeterminacy X1

In connection with my current
studies with Duchamp,

it turns out
that I’m a poor chessplayer.

My mind seems in some respect
so that I make
obviously stupid moves.

I do not
for a moment doubt that this
lack of intelligence affects
my music and thinking generally.

However, I have a redeeming
I was
gifted with a sunny disposition.

- John Cage

Who's That Girl?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

In pre-WWI Brooklyn, young Francie struggles to keep her idealism alive in the face of poverty.

This adaptation of a classic novel is itself a classic: perfect in almost all details, very moving without too much sentimentality and with some grandiose acting. Cinema as it should be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sasha Grey

Indeterminacy 19

People are always saying that the
East is the East and the West
is the West and you have to keep
from mixing them up.
When I first began to study Oriental
philosophy, I also worried
about whether it was mine to study.
I don’t worry any
more about that. At
Darmstadt I was talking about
the reason back of pulverization
and fragmentation:
for instance, using
syllables instead of words in a vocal
text, letters instead
of syllables. I
said, “We take things
apart in order that they may
become the Buddha.
And if that seems too Oriental
an idea for you,” I said,
“Remember the early Christian
Gnostic statement, ‘Split
the stick and there is Jesus!’ ”

- John Cage

Who's That Girl?

Vignettes #18

Before I decided to study philosophy and German language and literature I did think of taking up psychology. However, the specific branch of psychology at our university in Regensburg was fully orientated on statistical research. My belief still is that the human psyche is a bit more complicated than simple numerations can describe.

Nevertheless I did have to deal with one specific psychology professor, since he and I attended several interdisciplinary seminars together. These are classes with a variety of faculties dealing with a certain topic and dealt with from each point of view and sharing the results. From every faculty at least one professor would attend plus students from that particular branch.

One such seminar was about censorship, and the psychologists were to illustrate the effects of pornography on its recipients. The professor let one of his female assistants do the report on about 25-30 major experiments and their results on the topic. Some were just questionnaires, others were real physical tests like placing sensors on a test person's penis while he watched a porn movie. Describing that last experiment he went over to his assistant, placed his hands on her shoulders and remarked that the test persons gladly had those sensors applied by his wonderful assistant. She went all red in an instant.

In about 2 hours we heard about all the results, one experiment contradicting the other or producing plainly different possibilities for interpretation. After ending the report there was a discussion, and very soon one law professor angrily remarked what use all that experimentation had, if you can't really pin it down to any singular result.

The psychology professor objected, and the law professor - a bit surprised - replied: "Now what supposedly has been proven?" And the psychologist said triumphantly: "Without the slightest doubt the experiments have proven that porn creates arousal!"

The expression on his face revealed that he genuinely did not know why everyone was laughing.

A Scan a Day

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Song a Day

Broadcast - Black Cat

A few years ago a MySpace friend recommended the band Broadcast to me, I checked them out, bought several albums and am now eternally hooked to this beautiful song...

Sapphire her burning eyes
Model euphonic paradigms
Awkwardness happening to someone you love
Awkwardness happening to someone you love
The black cat the black cat
Curiouser and curiouser
The black cat the black cat
Curiouser and curiouser

Shadowing masonic verve
Follows the pharaoh and the worm
Awkwardness happening to someone you love
Awkwardness happening to someone you love
The black cat the black cat
Curiouser and curiouser
The black cat the black cat
Curiouser and curiouser

Mirror mirror on the wall
Into the purring night you call
Awkwardness happening to someone you love
Awkwardness happening to someone you love
The black cat the black cat
Curiouser and curiouser
The black cat the black cat
Curiouser and curiouser

Awkwardness happening
Awkwardness happening

Alana Zimmer

ph: Vanina Sorrenti

Indeterminacy 30

Morris Graves used to have an old Ford
in Seattle. He had
removed all the seats and put in
a table and chairs so that
the car was like a small furnished
room with books, a vase
with flowers and so forth.
One day he
drove up to a luncheonette,
parked, opened the
door on the street side,
unrolled a red carpet across
the sidewalk. Then
he walked on the carpet,
went in, and
ordered a hamburger.
Meanwhile a crowd gathered,
expecting something strange
to happen.
However, all Graves did
was eat the hamburger,
pay his bill, get
back in the car, roll up the
carpet, and drive off.

- John Cage

Sara Shimada

Opening Night (1977)

An actress suffers a personal breakdown in her personal life after a fan dies trying to see her.

A tour de force with a formidable Gena Rowlands performing the downward spiral with perfection. The movie itself is staged in a semi-documentary style with no fancy camera work or settings.

June Marlowe

(via: vintagephoto)

S.W.A.T. (2003)

An imprisoned drug kingpin offers a huge cash reward to anyone that can break him out of police custody and only the LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics team can prevent it.

Average actioner, good for an afternoon, if you don't have anything better to do.

Who's That Girl?

New stuff

Edita Vilkeviciute

You, Me and Dupree (2006)

A best man stays on as a house guest with the newlyweds, much to the couple's annoyance.

Mildy entertaining comedy, nothing special, but not bad either.

A Scan a Day

Vignettes #17

Working as a projectionist at a cinema you every once in a while experience some catastrophes or plainly weird mishaps which are amusing tales among colleagues. One such colleague, Richard, who worked at my competitor's cinema, told me this story.

A university professor had requested a special screening of the infamous Belgian experimental movie Vase de Noces for one of his film classes, actually a quite unusual choice, since the movie is definitely not for the squeamish. It was on an afternoon, and Richard opened the cinema, let the professor with his class in and then started the movie. Usually a projectionist doesn't watch every screening, but it is advisable to check the screen and the projector every so often.

After about 15 minutes Richard looked inside the auditorium and noticed that the sound was there, but the screen was black, no picture! In panic he ran up to the projection room and fixed the problem: he had simply forgotten to lift the clap which releases the light (and the picture) into the auditorium.

As so often, nobody had complained, so Richard decided not to mention or apologize for the incident, if nobody else mentioned it to him. After the screening was over the professor held a long discussion in the auditorium with his class about the movie.

Since Richard knew how far out the movie was, he got curious after a while and silently slipped into the auditorium to hear what they were talking about.

The topic was about the use of blackness as an artistic cinematic device!

Anne Saint Marie

ph: Irving Penn?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yapian zhanzheng (1997)

The Opium War USA
Der Opiumkrieg Germany

Costume drama about the war between UK and China that led to Britain's acquisition of Hong Kong 157 years ago.

Supposedly the most expensive movie production in the history of Chinese cinema this is a well produced historic drama, if not a bit biased - naturally. Not really that suspenseful, but watchable.

Sally Yoshino

Moral 63 (1963)

A high class girl is arrested and reveals the deatils of her connections for a yellow press journalist.

An attempt to stage political satire in a swinging 60s style without any luck.

Fay Wray

Rosen für den Staatsanwalt (1959)

April 1945. Because he stole two bars of chocolate, the soldier Rudi is sentenced to death by the court-martial judge Dr. Schramm, but manages to escape from the firing squad at the last minute. After the war he bumps into Dr. Schramm again...

Classic post-war German satire that deals with the repercussions of the Third Reich. It's fairly entertaining, but the political stance seems lame and a bit dated.