Monday, May 31, 2010

Priorities II: Not as Good as the Original

in order - dandy
out of order - not so much
where does that leave me?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost, or the Lack Thereof

have never seen it
am so far out of the loop
are they found at last?

There were some other puns involving salvation and amazing grace, but I'll spare you. I understand there's been an oxygen shortage due to the anticipation. Happy viewing to all those concerned.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Special Rio Bravo Double Feature

Rio Bravo
goddamnit pilgrim
if it takes me forever
I'll prove Will Kane wrong

Feathers (a.k.a. Slim)
is it a rip-off
if you're stealing from yourself?
maybe "revision"?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Influence and Other Semi-relevant Notes

In Influence, Part One I briefly discussed the four authors that most influenced me. Today, I was supposed to focus on filmmakers, but I’ve decided to do something else. Why stick to the plan? You’d much rather be surprised, wouldn’t you?

When I was very young – at the age when you’re not yet old enough to get all of the subtext and the nuances, but young enough to feel as if you’re absorbing the film into your protoplasm (though you’re unaware of such a thing as protoplasm) – I would watch certain films over and over again. I still do this, but there isn’t that sponge-like feeling that what I’m watching is being imprinted on my mind so strongly that only excessive brainwashing could remove all traces of it. I can’t remember not knowing these films, whereas I could give you a more or less exact date for the first time I saw The Red Shoes and . (Not that I enjoyed them any less, but enough parenthesizing.)

During the past few weeks I’ve been trying to remember the very first films I saw, not counting cartoons, because I recall noting a distinction between Disney and grown-up movies. It’s a distinction I wouldn’t necessarily make now, which goes to show one can cease to be a cultural snob if one is so inclined. I can’t remember the absolutely first film I ever saw. I suspect it was animated and I suspect singing animals were involved. So, in no particular order, the first “grown-up” films I saw:

Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953). I blame this one for my early, deeply-entrenched predilection for the color pink. Although the more subversive feminist aspects went right over my precious little head, at the time I was aware that the film was full of sharp dialogue. Albeit I only would’ve said it was “funny.” But I understood that Lorelei and Dorothy had somehow outsmarted everyone and gotten what they wanted and that this was something to be excited about. Go team pink and sparkly.

Singing in the Rain (1952). Music aside, the part that used to hypnotize me was the song-and-dance montage that leads into the “Beautiful Girl” fashion number. (This I blame for a continued fondness for shiny pretty things, practicality be damned, though honestly, I rarely damn practicality.) I was caught by the color and movement, and how the separate parts worked together, or, as I would have said then, “Pretty!” It’s the first montage I remember seeing and it probably accounts for my love of montage in film and collage in art. That’s one advantage film and the visual arts have over literature, I think. True, you can create a similar effect with words – whether it’s fragmented narration or stream-of-consciousness, etc. – but it’s not the same.

Some Like It Hot (1959). Again, the innuendo whooshed miles above my innocent skull, but I knew that the story was clever and full of surprises. By the way, it took me years to realize that the movie was shot in black and white on purpose. I know that now it’s usually considered artistically pretentious to film in black and white, but I wish there’d be a general revival. Romantic-comedy makers take note: it could shake things up more than a bit. We tend to take color for granted now and forget that it can have subtle (and not-so-subtle) bearing on the way we interpret a film. I read something a few weeks ago where the writer was complaining about the prevalent orange-teal color gradient of films today (forgive me – I can’t remember who said this) but I’ve strayed from my original point. Where was I? Oh right.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). This is where I started to get the romance more (sigh…). But the thing that strikes me most now is the sheer exhilaration emanating from the movie – they were thrilled to be swashbuckling and it shows. I don’t know if it was the excitement of working with Technicolor or just the sense that they had a blockbuster. I know the film is quaint and simplistic in a lot of ways, but there’s so much energy it’s almost tangible. And I think that’s a reason why movies adapted from comic books have been so popular lately. Leaving aside the we-want-heroes-because-we-feel-we-don’t-have-them-in-real-life-anymore argument – which certainly makes sense – but I think another reason is the raw energy they tap into.

This raw energy has been largely absent from romantic comedies. Falling in love has become joyless, so going through the motions it’s a wonder that we even bother. I don’t think this is unique to our times, although I do think that Facebook, Twitter, etc. – which make us constantly available to each other - don’t increase romance. Already in Rear Window – 1954, kids - Stella chides Jeff for being cerebral about his feelings for Lisa. Mad Men revolves around the discrepancy between fact and fiction, life and advertising – and Don Draper practically boasts in the first episode that love-as-we-know-it was invented to sell products. Maybe. Or maybe getting the bad guy might just be more satisfying than getting the woman/man of your dreams.

So I propose the following solution: a black and white romantic comedy where Superman and Wonder Woman fall in love. Musical numbers optional.

Perhaps not. Although you have to admit that costume-wise, many comic book heroes wouldn’t seem out of place in a Broadway show. And you have to admit that the names are screaming for the exclamation-mark-in-the-title treatment:

Wonder Woman!
Iron Man!
Sin City!
Captain America!
The Fantastic Four!

Also note how most of these already come equipped with theme songs. Anyway, it’s nice to know that over a century of cinema later (oh how posh we sound, dahling), there’s still plenty to look forward to.

Making that screeching U-turn back to influence and so forth, I’ve been slowly unraveling the knots in my brain, in the process rediscovering that the gray cells don’t operate quite as randomly as I sometimes think. Another of my earth-shattering revelations, I know, but I do what I can to make your creative processes (and the world) better.

I’d like to tell you what I have planned for next time, but then it’ll be more likely that I’ll end up doing something else. Oh well. More on this story as it develops.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tomato, a Question of Location

delicious in sauce
attractive in vintage slang
messy on a stage

By the way, in case any of you fine people are wondering - there is an actual post about to be posted. It's in proofreading hell at the moment but will be redeemed shortly.

Monday, May 3, 2010


over so quickly
a million things left undone
I cry salty tears