Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same name (1591–95) by William Shakespeare. The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and starred Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (Pasqualino De Santis) and Best Costume Design (Danilo Donati); it was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. Laurence Olivier spoke the film's prologue and epilogue and reportedly dubbed the voice of the Italian actor playing Lord Montague, but was not credited in the film.
Being the most financially successful film of a Shakespeare play during that time, it was popular among teenagers partly because the film used actors who were close to the age of the characters from the original play for the first time. Several critics also welcomed the film enthusiastically
Sunday, March 02, 2014
Chappaqua is a 1966 cult film written and directed by Conrad Rooks. The film is based on Rooks' experiences with drug addiction and includes cameo appearances by William S. Burroughs, Swami Satchidananda, Allen Ginsberg, Moondog, Ornette Coleman, The Fugs, and Ravi Shankar. Rooks had commissioned Coleman to compose music for the film, but his score, which has become known as the Chappaqua Suite was not used. Ravi Shankar then composed a score.
The film briefly depicts Chappaqua, New York, a hamlet in Westchester County, in a few minutes of wintry panoramas. In the film, the hamlet is an overt symbol of drug-free suburban childhood innocence. It also serves as one of the film's many nods to Native American culture. The word "chappaqua" derives from the Wappinger (a nation of the Algonquian peoples) word for "laurel swamp."
1959 was the seismic year jazz broke away from complex bebop music to new forms, allowing soloists unprecedented freedom to explore and express. It was also a pivotal year for America: the nation was finding its groove, enjoying undreamt-of freedom and wealth social, racial and upheavals were just around the corner and jazz was ahead of the curve.
Four major jazz albums were made, each a high watermark for the artists and a powerful reflection of the times. Each opened up dramatic new possibilities for jazz which continue to be felt Miles Davis Kind of Blue Dave Brubeck, Time Out Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um; and Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come.
Rarely seen archive performances help vibrantly bring the era to life and explore what made these albums vital both in 1959 and the 50 years since. The programme contains interviews with Lou Reed, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Joe Morello (Brubecks drummer) and Jimmy Cobb (the only surviving member of Miles band) along with a host of jazz movers and shakers from the 50s and beyond.
Saturday, March 01, 2014
In November of 1966, the great jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus was forcibly evicted from his apartment in New York City. Thomas Reichman’s documentary Mingus (above) captures the sad moment when the musician, with his five-year-old daughter Carolyn at his side, looks through his scattered belongings the night before city officials arrive to cart everything away.
With the camera rolling, Mingus plays a few notes on a piano and then picks up a rifle and shoots a bullet into the ceiling. He finds a bottle of wine and gives a sip to his daughter. He recites his own version of the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag–the white flag. I pledge allegiance to the flag of America. When they say “black” or “negro,” it means you’re not an American. I pledge allegiance to your flag. Not that I have to, but just for the hell of it I pledge allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The white flag, with no stripes, no stars. It is a prestige badge worn by a profitable minority.Scenes from the apartment are intercut with footage of Mingus and his sextet performing at a little club in Peabody, Massachusetts called Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike. The combo features Mingus on bass, Dannie Richmond on drums, Charles McPherson on alto saxophone, John Gilmore on tenor saxophone, Lonnie Hillyer on trumpet and Walter Bishop, Jr., on piano. The music includes parts of “All the Things You Are,” Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Secret Love.”
But the film is more about the man than the music. It records an especially painful moment in Mingus’s life. He had hoped to use the loft at 5 Great Jones Street in Greenwich Village as a music school. In the final sequence, a crowd of reporters and cameramen jostle for position to record the humiliating scene as Mingus’s belongings, including his musical instruments, are hauled out to the curb and loaded onto a truck. Tears appear in Mingus’s eyes when the police block him from going back into the building. When the cops find hypodermic needles among his things, Mingus himself is loaded into a police car and taken away.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
We had a VHS copy of this back in the early 90s, passed it round and marveled at the mad genius of the weirdos from Waco. If you have not encountered the Butthole Surfers before, be prepared for something confronting, ecstatic and intense. Musically they occupy the intersection between psychedelia and punk and deranged Saturday morning cartoons as programmed by a visionary but slightly dangerous outsider artist.
Butthole Surfers - Blind Eye See's All - Live Detroit '85
Blind Eye See's All is a home video by the Butthole Surfers, which was released in 1986 through Touch and Go Video.
* Gibby Haynes - vocals, saxophone, guitar on "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave", "Mark Says Alright" and "PSY"; bass guitar on "Something"
* Paul Leary - lead guitar, vocals on "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave", "Bar-be-que Pope" and "Something"; bass guitar on "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave"
* King Coffey - drums
* Teresa Taylor - drums
* Trevor Malcolm - bass guitar, sousaphone on "Something"
. The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave
. One Hundred Million People Dead
. Bar-be-que Pope
. Cowboy Bob
. Dum Dum
. Mexican Caravan
. Lady Sniff
. Mark Says Alright
Butthole Surfers collection on the Internet Archive of live recordings.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Ukrainian: Тіні забутих предків, Tini zabutykh predkiv), also called Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, Shadows of Our Ancestors, or Wild Horses of Fire – is a 1964 film by the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Parajanov based on the classic book by Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. The film was Parajanov's first major work and earned him international acclaim for its rich use of costume and color. The film also features a detailed portrayal of Ukrainian Hutsul culture, showing not only the harsh Carpathian environment and brutal family rivalries, but also the beauty of Hutsul traditions, music, costumes, and dialect.
In a small Hutsul village in the Carpathian mountains of Ukraine, a young man, Ivan, falls in love with the daughter of the man who killed his father. Though their families share a bitter enmity, Ivan and Marichka have known each other since childhood. In preparation for their marriage, Ivan leaves the village to work and earn money for a household. While he is gone, Marichka accidentally slips into a river and drowns while trying to rescue a lost lamb.
Ivan returns and falls into despair after seeing Marichka's body. He continues to work, enduring a period of joyless toil, until he meets another woman, Palagna, while shoeing a horse. Ivan and Palagna get married in a traditional Hutsul wedding in which they are blindfolded and yoked together. The marriage quickly turns sour, however, as Ivan remains obsessed with the memory of Marichka. Estranged from her emotionally distant husband, Palagna becomes involved with a local sorcerer, while Ivan begins to experience hallucinations.
At a tavern, Ivan witnesses the sorcerer embrace Palagna and strike one of his friends. Roused into an uncharacteristic fury, Ivan snatches up his axe, only to be struck down by the sorcerer. Ivan stumbles into the nearby woods and perceives Marichka's spirit to be with him, reflected in the water and gliding amongst the trees. As reality merges into dream, the colorless shade of Marichka reaches out across a great space and touches Ivan's outstretched hand. Ivan screams and dies. The community gives him a traditional Hutsul burial while children watch through crossbraced windows.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Director Sergei Paradjanov made a practice of making highly idiosyncratic films based on the folklore of regions in the former Soviet Union. In 1969 he made this film, based in part on the life of the 18th-century Armenian poet-monk, Sayat Nova.
Seriously out of favor with Soviet authorities (he was imprisoned in 1974 for his homosexuality, among other things), this film was not seen in the international arena until 1977. Then, The Color of Pomegranates was widely acclaimed for its poetic and non-narrative blending of historical and biographical Armenian imagery.
Cast: Sofiko Chiaureli, Melkon Aleksanyan, Vilen Galstyan, Giorgi Gegechkori
Narrated by: Armen Dzhigarkhanyan
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Jon Ronson discovers a twitter spam bot with the username Jon_Ronson.The spam bot was created by academics working formerly at Warwick University. Jon Ronson discusses his frustration with the fact many of the tweets seem plausible, even though they are about things he would never talk about himself. With the creators of this account refusing to take it down, it seems the only way to resolve this is by meeting them.
Jon Ronson arranges a meeting with the creators of the twitter spambot 'Jon_Ronson'. After some heated discussion and confusion in this interview, he discovers the academics' true agenda.
ABOUT ESCAPE & CONTROL:
Escape & Control is an online documentary series in which internationally acclaimed journalist and filmmaker Jon Ronson (Adventures with Extremists, The Men Who Stare At Goats and The Psychopath Test) turns his attentions to the Internet.
It can sometimes feel like we're creating a new kind of democracy online, where we control and regulate each other instead of being told how to behave by those in authority. But there are people out there who don't like this idea at all. So they want to come up with ways to control it.
Sometimes maybe even secret ways...
With searing interviews, unravelling mysteries and some great fun along the way, Jon Ronson is setting off on an adventure that may mean you'll never look at your mouse in the same way again.
Written and Directed by Jon Ronson
Music by Jeffrey Lewis
Filmed, edited and produced by Remy Lamont
Produced by Lucy Greenwell
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
Critique of Separation (English subtitles) from 1000littlehammers on Vimeo.
Shot September-October 1960 and edited January-February 1961. Production: Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni. 20-minute short, 35 mm, black and white. GTC Laboratory; sound recorded at Studio Marignan.
Cameraman: André Mrugalski. Editing: Chantal Delattre. Assistant Cameraman: Bernard Davidson. Continuity: Claude Brabant. Grip: Bernard Largemain.
Before the credits, a hodgepodge of meaningless images is punctuated by a series of text frames — “Coming soon to this screen . . . One of the greatest antifilms of all time! . . . Real people! A true story! . . . On a theme the cinema has never dared to confront!” — while Caroline Rittener reads the following passage from André Martinet’s Elements of General Linguistics: “When one considers how natural and beneficial it is for man to identify his language with reality, one realizes the level of sophistication he had to attain in order to be able to dissociate them and make each an object of study.” All the rest of the film’s commentary is spoken by Guy Debord. Caroline Rittener also plays the young woman in the film. The music is by François Couperin and Bodin de Boismortier.
The images in Critique of Separation are often taken from comics, ID photos and newspapers, or from other films. In many cases subtitles are added, which may be rather difficult to follow at the same time as the spoken commentary. The people who have been directly filmed are almost always none other than members of the film crew.
The relation between the images, the spoken commentary and the subtitles is neither complementary nor indifferent, but is intended to itself be critical. —Technical Notes on "Critique of Separation
Critique of Separation by Guy Debord
Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni (1961)
Translated by Ken Knabb
WE DON'T KNOW what to say. Words are formed into sequences; gestures are recognized. Outside us. Of course some methods are mastered, some results verified. Quite often it’s amusing. But so many things we wanted have not been attained; or only partially and not like we thought. What communication have we desired, or experienced, or only simulated? What true project has been lost?
The cinematic spectacle has its rules, which enable one to produce satisfactory products. But dissatisfaction is the reality that must be taken as a point of departure. Whether dramatic or documentary, the cinema functions to present a false, isolated coherence as a substitute for a communication and an activity that are absent. To demystify documentary cinema it is necessary to dissolve what is called its subject matter.
A well-established rule is that anything in a film that is said other than by way of images must be repeated or else the spectators will miss it. That may be true. But this sort of incomprehension is present in all everyday encounters. Something must be specified, but there’s not enough time and you are not sure of having been understood. Before you have said or done what was necessary, the other person’s already gone. Across the street. Overseas. There will never be another chance.
After all the dead time and lost moments, there remain these endlessly traversed postcard landscapes; this distance organized between each and everyone. Childhood? It’s right here; we have never gotten out of it.
Our epoch accumulates powers and dreams of itself as being rational. But no one recognizes these powers as their own. No one becomes an adult — there is only the possible eventual transformation of this long restlessness into a routine somnolence. Because no one ceases to be held under guardianship. The problem is not that people live more or less poorly, but that they live in a way that is always out of their control.
At the same time, it is a world in which we have been taught change. Nothing stops. It changes more every day; and I know that those who day after day produce it against themselves can appropriate it for themselves.
The only adventure, we said, is to contest the totality, whose center is this way of living, where we can test our strength but never use it. In reality no adventure is directly formed for us. The adventures form part of the whole range of legends transmitted by cinema or in other ways; part of the whole spectacular sham of history.
Until the environment is collectively dominated, there will be no individuals — only specters haunting the objects anarchically presented to them by others. In chance situations we meet separated people moving randomly. Their divergent emotions neutralize each other and maintain their solid environment of boredom. As long as we are unable to make our own history, to freely create situations, striving toward unity will introduce other separations. The quest for a central activity leads to the formation of new specializations.
And only a few encounters were like signals emanating from a more intense life, a life that has not really been found.
What cannot be forgotten reappears in dreams. At the end of this type of dream, half asleep, the events are still for a brief moment taken as real. Then the reactions they give rise to become clearer, more distinct, more reasonable; like, so many mornings, the memory of what one drank the night before. Then comes the awareness that it’s all false; that “it was only a dream”; that there are no new realities and no going back into it. Nothing you can hold on to. These dreams are flashes from the unresolved past. They unilaterally illuminate moments previously lived in confusion and doubt. They strikingly publicize those of our needs that have not been answered. Here is daylight, and here are perspectives that now no longer mean anything. The sectors of a city are, at a certain level, decipherable. But the personal meaning they have had for us is incommunicable, like all that secrecy of private life regarding which we possess nothing but pitiful documents.
Official news is elsewhere. The society sends back to itself its own historical image as a merely superficial and static history of its rulers. Those who incarnate the external fatality of what is done. The sector of rulers is the very sector of the spectacle. The cinema suits them well. Regardless of its subject matter, the cinema presents heroes and exemplary conduct modeled on the same old pattern as the rulers.
All existing equilibrium, however, is brought back into question each time unknown people try to live differently. But it’s always far away. We learn of it through the papers and newscasts. We remain outside it, confronted with just another spectacle. We are separated from it by our own nonintervention. It makes us disappointed in ourselves. At what moment was choice postponed? We haven’t found the arms we needed. We have let things go.
I have let time slip away. I have lost what I should have defended.
This general critique of separation obviously contains and covers some particular memories. A less recognized pain, the awareness of a less explainable indignity. Exactly what separation was it? How quickly we have lived! It is to this point in our unreflecting history that I bring us back.
Everything that concerns the sphere of loss — that is to say, the past time I have lost, as well as disappearance, escape, and more generally the flowing past of things, and even what in the prevalent and therefore most vulgar social sense of the use of time is called wasted time — all this finds in that strangely apt old military expression, en enfants perdus, its meeting ground with the sphere of discovery, of exploration of unknown terrains; with all the forms of quest, investigation, adventure, avant-garde. It is the crossroads where we have found and lost ourselves.
All this, it must be admitted, is not clear. It is a completely typical drunken monologue, with its incomprehensible allusions and tiresome delivery. With its vain phrases which do not await response, and its overbearing explanations. And its silences.
The poverty of means has to plainly express the scandalous poverty of the subject.
The events that happen in individual existence as it is organized, the events that really concern us and require our participation, are generally precisely those that merit nothing more than our being distant, bored, indifferent spectators. In contrast, the situation that is seen in some artistic transposition is rather often attractive, something that would merit our participating in it. This is a paradox to reverse, to put back on its feet. This is what must be realized in acts. As for this idiotic spectacle of the fragmented and filtered past, full of sound and fury: it is not a question now of transmitting it — of “rendering” it, as is said — in another neatly ordered spectacle that would play the game of neatly ordered comprehension and participation. No. Any coherent artistic expression already expresses the coherence of the past, already expresses passivity. It is necessary to destroy memory in art. To undermine the conventions of its communication. To demoralize its fans. What a task! As in a blurry drunken vision, the memory and language of the film fade out simultaneously. At the extreme, the miserable subjectivity is reversed into a certain sort of objectivity: a documentary on the conditions of non-communication.
For example, I don’t talk about her. False face. False relationship. A real person is separated from the interpreter of that person, if only by the time passed between the event and its evocation, by a distance that continually increases, that is increasing at this very moment. Just as the conserved expression itself remains separated from those who hear it abstractly and without any power over it.
The spectacle in its entirety is the era, an era in which a certain youth has recognized itself. It is the gap between this image and its results; the gap between the vision, the tastes, the refusals and the projects that previously defined it and the way it has advanced into ordinary life.
We have invented nothing. We adapt ourselves, with a few variations, into the network of possible courses. We get used to it, it seems.
No one has the enthusiasm on returning from a venture that they had on setting out on it. My dears, adventure is dead.
Who will resist? It is necessary to go beyond this partial defeat. Of course. And how to do it?
This is a film that interrupts itself and does not come to an end.
All conclusions remain to be drawn, everything has to be recalculated.
The problem continues to be posed, its expression is becoming more complicated. We have to resort to other measures.
Just as there was no profound reason to begin this abstract message, so there is none for concluding it.
I have scarcely begun to make you understand that I don’t intend to play the game.