Pandora’s Box

Louise Brooks. starring in Pandora’s Box 1929

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I looked like this when I was younger. Or had the same hairdo (Shingle Bob). Wiki Commons image

I present tonight for your mild amusement a 1986 BBC documentary, in which the once beautiful, and still intelligent (well, not outside this documentary, as the lady is now deceased) Ms. Brooks tells the fascinating story of her Hollywood career, and details events in the making of Pandora’s Box, which, though later it became a classic, didn’t get good reviews on its release in 1929. This, despite the fact that the story had had many successes already on stage and film, with the Danish star of another version of the movie, Asta Neilson, playing the heroine, Lulu. We could nickname her Loopy Lulu, as her love life seems a bit out of whack, to say the least. I don’t wish to spoil the plot entirely for you, but Jack the Ripper enters into it towards the end. Talk about a plot twist! It’s a pretty dark plot all round, and the absence of dialogue just adds to atmosphere. Let Ms. Brooks tell the story first; she is a great yacker, and can tell it well.

 

I can’t find footage of Asta Neilson in Earth Spirit, so you’ll have to settle for her doing her Hamlet act instead. Here’s a nifty little clip of that. It’s a bit, well, faggy, frankly, but maybe it’s just me that thinks that Hamlet may have been a bit of an Emo (and no, Neon [also now deceased, but doing a Banquo’s ghost on it, but I digress] I’m not an Emo, probably I’m more of a Neko, if anything at all), but not necessarily gay as such. Who knows, if a Hamlet without any talking is a thing, gayness without gayness might be too. Projector, please!

Who cares, except as it’s relevant to giving good Shakespeare. Here, have some Laurence, who gives great Shakespeare.

And for comparative purposes, the same soliloquy given by Richard Harris, who, although going down the drama queen route some, is delivering the goods in a much more robust fashion, partly because he has to emote loudly enough so those in the cheap seats can hear every syllable.

I’ve been yakking too much, I know. Aw, shaddup already, I hear you say (I hear voices so frequently these days).  A bit of silence would be a relief at this stage. Zip.

Extras: Here’s some nice alternative atmospheric music you can open up in another window if you don’t like the original score.Catgirltweet

My Fantasies

I love listening to classical music. It can bring you to the most wonderful places in your imagination. Disney’s masterful feature animation ‘Fantasia‘ visits a good few of these places, and how gloriously imaginative is the music of the great composers like Modest Mussorgsky, whose ‘Night On Bald Mountain‘  provides a ‘musical picture’ on the theme of a St. John’s Night Witches Sabbath. Disney caught the menace in the music perfectly in the imagery and movement of the animated spectres and spooks of darkness.

Loving it as much as I am? I hope so, because this movie certainly made classical music accessible to its audience in 1940, as I hope it will for you too, if you aren’t already a classical music fan. If you fancy listening to some more, with a change in tempo, here’s some more of the magic of Disney. Ludvig van Beethoven does depressed and moody awfully well, but the Pastoral Symphony (Opus no. 68 ) is one of his sweeter, happier works.

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Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6 (Pastoral) script

Disney’s images to accompany the music are charming and sweet too. The following video features two versions of the same footage alongside each other for comparison. If you are the sort of person who likes fiddling about with reading the sleeve of the album cover too while listening, I can’t help you out, but I can provide a link to an analysis of some of the metaphors and mythological references that abound in the movie.

Satyr With A Pipe

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Let’s make it a night, settle down and relax in style like a satyr, pull up a log and grab a pipe to blow bubbles in order to not-think better, kick the shoes off to let the hooves breathe,  and enjoy taking a nice trip with these cute little mushrooms, who like dancing around to the Nutcracker Suite by llyich Tchaikovsky.

Is This America?

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Childish by badjonni flickr. Chet reproduced by Kristine flickr.

Have you seen Childish Gambino‘s ‘This is America‘ music video yet? It’s full of metaphors and works well as a piece of video art, as well as it does in a musical sense (if you are into that kind of thing  (mellow, funk or classical is more my vibe). But its  meaning is ambiguous, and may also have layers of meanings not accessible to the conscious mind at first viewing. Some good videos have been made which discuss possible meanings in the video. I thought you might like to have a look, if you have not already come across this song. Even if you have, it’s worth having another look with the analysis afterwards.

Decide for yourself; is it mainly a black/racism theme, a violence/gun theme, a gang theme, a mass-media culture/semiotics theme; maybe a political left/right theme, or all of the above, perhaps most, or what else? Part of the video’s power is that it doesn’t provide the answers for us. And that’s not a bad partial definition of art itself, which, as Picasso once said, tends to ‘elude investigation‘.

If you found your poor nerves jangled after all that tension and post-postmodern anxiety that is the staple emotional state involved in modern American culture, maybe I could suggest a soothing antidote. It’s more of a blue pill than a red one,  a musical biographical movie that features sadness, drugs and angst, along with the sublime trumpet playing of Chet Baker. And you won’t get lost in the plot.

Are you a classical nerd? Quick quiz, then. Name the following tune.

The Midweek Movie

Tonight’s big movie is Luc Besson’s ‘La Femme Nikita’, one of my all-time faves, from a brilliant director, who has done so many good movies it’s hard to choose just one. With that in mind, dear viewer, I’ll let you choose between Nikita, about a trained assassin (this original version sooo much better than the American piece of poo)  and ‘The Big Blue’, a gentler tale about rival free-diving champions who are also friends, featuring spectacular underwater shots and great cinematography  all round. Something to suit everyone hopefully. Gotta get rid of those irritating pop-up ads at the beginning, but it’s all free, no registration or further annoyances involved, so click away for a minute and you’re in business.

First, the trailer, to get you in the mood:

Multiple Choice Movies:

Movie number 1. I’m in the mood for action. Let me see ‘La Femme Nikita.

Nikita

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Movie number 2. I’m in a mellow mood. Let me see ‘The Big Blue‘.

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Movie Night: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?

bette-davis-on-crawfordSmallerTired out after a hard day at work, or just enjoying a lazy weekend doss? Snuggle up on the couch in your favourite blankie, with a hot drink, an optional teddy bear or a cat/dog,  and break out a classic movie. ‘What Ever Happened To Baby Jane’ is  one of my favourite old movies, with the always spectacular Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. If you have never seen it, it’s a real treat, an over-the-top, full on psychological drama directed in 1962 by Robert Aldrich,

Great stuff. Love those old-time movie gals.

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Cuckoo’s Calling

It’s Friday night, and tonight’s big movie is ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, a brilliant movie, which was also an amazing book by that Merry Prankster Ken Kesey. Comedy and tragedy mingle in this wonderful commentary on society. The whole movie is streamed free on this link, but be quick to shut down all the pesky pop-up windows to watch it, and a minute or so’s effort is required to get to the play button.  It’s well worth it, as it’s pure genius.

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http://www2.0123movies.com/movies-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest-1975-0123movies.html 

Here’s an interesting analysis of the movie. People have written papers and stuff about it and everything.

Parallels could be drawn between this movie/book and psychological experiments that have been done on the nature of violence and institutionalised living, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment, which pretty much showed that people are willing to go along with all sorts of evil behaviour. It also demonstrates that evil can be shut down quickly, as Philip Zimbardo’s future wife did with the experiment, when she pointed out to him how cruel he was being in continuing with it when it turned ugly. Heartening stuff, and proof that the world of good and evil can interact and influence one another.

I am inclined to think that maternal deprivation is at the core of Nurse Rached’s hatred of people. I have included a video showing an experiment on this, which I remember seeing as a child. It disturbed me very much at the time, and I have to warn you that if you love animals this will probably have you in tears in no time. Come to think of it, the Cuckoo’s Nest movie will probably do the same.

Gaslighting 101

Husband locked you in the attic? Everyone saying you’re insane? Not to worry, ‘cos it’s Saturday night and time to curl up with a good movie. Grab that popcorn the maid slid under the door.  Tonight’s big movie is a cult classic, called ‘Gaslight’. Let’s look at the trailer first, to see if it catches our fancy, shall we?

Looks interesting. Might be worth uncorking the sherry too. Let’s go, baby! Gee, hope it doesn’t give me nightmares. Wouldn’t want to wake the servants with my screaming, again!

Don’t let those noises coming from upstairs drive you crazy either.

Hanging Munchkins and Other Mysteries From Oz

The Wizard of Oz PosterEaster is a great time to bring the kids to the movies, isn’t it? The Wizard of Oz is a favourite family movie of many a parent, and one the whole family can still enjoy watching together. The colour is glorious, providing a feast for the eyes, as well as the imagination. I still remember seeing the film in the cinema as a kid (no, not the original release, in 1939, you cheeky thing) and marveling at the magic of the wonderful story that was unfolding before me.The Wizard of Oz book cover Particularly vivid is the memory of how the sepia-toned beginning of the story suddenly gave way to the magnificent, glowing technicolor as the story begin to unfold. And boy, what a story it was; what kid, or adult for that matter wouldn’t enjoy it? Surprisingly,  although the original book (click here to download it), and a subsequent stage play had proved successful, the film initially didn’t do too well at the box office, although it is now a much-loved movie classic, and hasn’t lost its charm for later generations of film-lovers.

There are lots of stories besides the plot to entertain you, however, when it comes to the movie, and some of them are a bit more reminiscent of a horror movie than a kid’s classic. Like the one about the hanging munchkin, which is outlined in the following clip. Weird stuff! But seeing is believing, right?

What about the unfortunate series of events that makes the curse of Tutankhamun seem trivial by comparison?

It gets weirder. Some folks maintain that the movie functions as an MK-Ultra mind-control tool, and is chock a block full of Illuminati symbolism. Here’s a video and some reading material on that whole business.

This next video is one of a series to goes deeper into some of the theories about the metaphors used and possible meanings. Tip: You can slow down the speed using the  settings control at the bottom right of the player if you find the writing moving a bit too fast for you to read at a comfortable pace.

Want more weird, but not in the mood for a movie? Here’s a scary radio programme you might enjoy. You may even brush up your knowledge of mythology in relation to the MK-Ultra theories, or see the connections, if you are still finding them a bit nebulous or incredible. One thing’s for sure, it’s a pretty interesting story. Oh my!

Don’t fancy any of the above? Just wanna light up some of the funny stuff and listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon? It’s not my kinda thing, but each to their own. This one’s for you, The whole album paired with the movie. You might even want to discuss the synchronicities between the movie visuals and the soundtrack, which are, some think, pretty freaky, man. Now that’s deep.

The Big Movie

Ok, so Christmas is over, and the cheesy decorations are down. The extra pounds and broken resolutions are all that remain. But you can still loll about on the weekends in your pyjamas, and if it looks like it’s not going to stop raining ’till June, never fear, ‘cos the internet’s here.

When I was a kid ‘Now, Voyager’ was one of my favourite ‘girl’ movies, the sort of movie I used to always miss the first few minutes of on Saturday afternoons, when my big brother used to try to switch the station on me, and I used to silently hope there wasn’t a cowboy movie on the other station. The heroine in this one had an even tougher time with her mum than I had with my brother, and I was delighted with the twists and turns of the story, which is shown in full below. Leave your brain in the off position and enjoy the afternoon matinee. As for you lads out there, leave that button alone.
Click here to see movie

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Image: reneelouise21.wordpress.com

 

Favourite  moment: “Don’t ask for the moon – we have the stars.”

Read Bette Davis’s story here