31 August 2011

Interview with Jean-Pierre Melville

I saw Le Doulos last weekend: brilliantly atmospheric, with enough plot twists to make even Raymond Chandler's head spin. Funny to see M. Melville wearing the same hat my Colorado grandpa favored.

Lately, I've been thinking about what artisanal filmmaking might mean; Melville's a few years ahead of me. But how great that would be to have your film studio right below your apartment. Just like a baker or a painter, living above the shop.

Kubrick's fan note to Bergman

30 August 2011

American youth

Stormy, a dancer at the Portland, Oregon strip club Devils Point counts her money, holding some in her mouth. 
The young women who work at Devils Point, a strip club in Portland, Oregon, are part of one of the largest stripper scenes in all of the United States. With more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the U.S., the industry is as much a part of daily life for young people in Portland as the neighborhood bar is. In fact, girls can dance as soon as they turn 18, as long as they don't spend time on the floor of the bar. These girls must stay in the dressing room or in the private dance room with clients.


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Mist of blood: Coppola's notebook for the Godfather

28 August 2011

An open letter to Canon

An open letter to Canon from safetyhammer on Vimeo.

This is pure gold: tight, hilarious and right on target. 
Time to go practice with the damn thing.

"We would like to remind patron that The Tree of Life is uniquely visionary . . ."

“We would like to remind patrons that The Tree of Life is a uniquely visionary and deeply philosophical film from an auteur director,” wrote the management of the Avon Theatre. “It does not follow a traditional linear narrative approach to storytelling. We encourage patrons to read up on the film before choosing to see it, and for those electing to attend, please go in with an opened mind and know that the Avon has a NO-REFUND policy once you have purchased a ticket to see one of our films.”
  • A cinema in Stamford, Connecticut took the rare step of displaying a poster warning filmgoers not to expect a refund if they paid to see Tree of Life and walked out. (via The Guardian)

25 August 2011


“Hemingway gave us a haunting clue to it,” she replied. “In his obsession with the Spanish bullfights, he spoke of the lust of the crowd and its desire to feel something special, a raw authenticity, even in so brutal a setting. What he mentions is the hush that would come over the crowd at the entrance of the toreadors. The people could sense the difference between those who did it for the fame, the paycheck, and those who had the old spirit: the nobility, bravery, heart, ‘duende.’ I believe this also happens in the theater. The crowd can sense the one with the authentic message, the connection to the truth.”

Knuckle (reminds me of my family)

A Sundance favorite, this doc follows bare knuckle fighters and three feuding families.
Can't wait.


21 August 2011

From the last entries in Mayakovsky's notebook

She loves me? She loves me not?
I wring 
My hands and scatter the broken-off fingers.
LIke petals you pluck from some 
White little flower along your way.
You hold them up to the breeze,
They’ve told your fortune,
They drift off into May.
Now a haircut
Lays bare thorns of gray,
Though my morning shave shows me
On the bib the salt of age,
I hope, I believe
I will never weaken.
Never be caught
Showing good sense.

                       - Vladimir Mayakovsky                         
                          (adapted by Frederick Seidel)

17 August 2011

Attention Google

How thoroughly and how radically Google has already transformed the information economy has not been well understood. The merchandise of the information economy is not information; it is attention. These commodities have an inverse relationship. When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive. Attention is what we, the users, give to Google, and our attention is what Google sells—concentrated, focused, and crystallized.

How Google Dominates Us, by James Gleick in the NYRB

Picasso was a gun slinger

16 August 2011

Cassavetes, Falk and Gazzara talk about Husbands on Cavett

See also parts one and two of this interview where the boys tear the place up.

15 August 2011

Interrogations in the Ukraine -- Donald Weber

From a documentary photo project by Donald Weber.

Some, though, took time to break. One man kept denying his guilt and, in a slight to the officer interrogating him, broke into Fenya, a cant language spoken by Ukrainian thieves. “The officer was losing his grip on who had authority,” remembers Weber, who snapped a photo as the officer pressed his gun to the suspect’s head. 
The moment ...  lasted just seconds. But when the gun returned to the officer’s holster, everything about the interrogation had changed. The suspect began to speak with respect, and soon he confessed.

13 August 2011

I'm so vain, and I bet this post is about me

It's amazing how vain middle-aged men can be. Women, supposedly, are the more vain of the two sexes. If you see how women check themselves out in store windows, you could be led to believe that. But, it's more complicated than simple narcissism because dressing is more like going into battle. The have to stand up to the fierce scrutiny of other women. When they look, it's more with a keen eye to assessing the result, and less about pleasure in their own appearance.

Of course, that happens, too. With women, it's a lovely thing, to catch them looking at themselves with the satisfaction of a baby examining its own toes. (Babies, however, do not show talons a few seconds later.)

Men have more latitude. Age is kinder to us. If you're lucky, you end up craggy and more manly as you grow old. The subcutaneous fat that leaves your cheeks fallen could be chiseling your features. Cheekbones appear, along with back hair and bristles in your ears. You look as if you own wisdom along with the grey hair. At least, you believe so. And experience itself has different levels. Some comes just by dragging your sorry ass around long enough. (Experiences really worth the living are bought by more than simple breathing.) Thus the potent male fantasy that this guy represents:

Not older. Seasoned. Yes, seasoned, dammit.

We have another advantage, at least, here in the U.S. Few guys take care of themselves at all. Women are better at that, and they have more tools that they can acceptably deploy -- makeup, dye, botox, lifts. Plus, they tend not to go bald. So when you do work in a few sit ups, change out of sweats and get rid of the baseball cap, you stand out. It's laughably easy. Just ditch the blue oxford shirt and khakis, and you're suddenly Gary Cooper.

(You have to use caution, though. Edge into dandy territory, and women will hate you, or worse, treat you as if you're their gay pal. They loathe it when you dip into their arsenal.)

Generally, men become more vain as they age in an inverse progression. With less to be vain about, they generally grow more conscious of their looks just as they're about to leave forever. They spend more time fussing over the few strands of hair left than they ever did when their hair was thick. As their torsos sag and breasts threaten to develop, they buy better clothes than their younger brothers, and better fitted, alas, so it clings to the loosening flesh. And swimsuits -- when was the last time you saw a young buff dude in Speedos (not counting the movie 300?) But your middle-aging guy seems irresistably drawn to them.

The nightmare scenario.

I've been thinking about this because I lost 20 pounds. That's enough to bring me within range of my lean college self. I actually followed a diet, the slow-carb method in Tim Ferriss' book, The Four Hour Body.  So after not thinking about my appearance much beyond your simple maintenance and making sure no spinach was between my teeth, suddenly I'm almost svelte -- trust me -- and looking at the reflection in the mirror in a less functional way. I'm drawn to procedures and practices I've never considered before, other than to ridicule them. I try on clothes, even pants, to see if they fit. I compare brands. I occasionally moisturize. I resist, but the urge, unmistakably, is there.

This is scary. My hair cutter keeps talking about "coloring" my hair. And I, shamefully, listen. Will I end up like the guy in the picture above -- the character played so brilliantly by Dirk Borgarde in Death in Venice?  Will I develop a crush on some inappropriately aged young woman? What other compulsions and quirks are lurking in this fucked up closet of male middle age? Seriously, I've even considered buying a red sports car -- the ultimate stereotype. But, you know, those new Mustangs are pretty sweet, and I bet I could swing a loan.

Notice me, you bitches and bastards, see me fly my Speedo flag high!

The less you have, the more you treasure it. Scarcity breeds value.  Those few last hairs on the scalp, the final hints of a full bicep, a waist -- all are cause for rejoicing

Of course, this is all a flame out before the last big diet. The eternal diet where you lose your flesh, then your bones, and soon the clean bones are gone.

These precious days dwindle down.

In the meantime, this song is all about me, motherfuckers:

12 August 2011

10 August 2011

Members of the Danish Resistance

From Sartorialist (of all places): a reader submitted this photo, and said, "My Grandfather was a freedom fighter in Denmark during the second World War. This picture makes me feel very proud of him!" (Mette Lind Jørgensen)

I look at it and think -- look how happy those guys are! A glint of glee in nearly every eye. 
Lucky bastards! Even though war's not a picnic, not even in Denmark. But you'd be forgiven for believing it to be one, judging from this picture. Take away the submachine gun, and they could be going out for a hunt; take away all the guns and it almost looks like a wedding party.
Maybe it's naive to say, but, really, how great it would be to go out and shoot and blow up things for a good cause, and to live to tell your grandchildren.