Thursday, January 28, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
It goes to show. If you cut yourself off enough from the filth and depredations of our current century, occasionally you'll lose touch with the glories of past centuries.
Setsuko Hara died last September. I learned of her death this week. She was 95 and passed never having been seen again by the world outside the Shinto temple she retired to in 1963. Hara was the great female star of Japanese movies through the 40s, 50s, and early-60s; but when her mentor (she was his muse) Yasujiro Ozu died in December '63, Hara disappeared into the mists of incomparable moments forever untouched by age, earthly corruptions, or movie marketeering.
For Ozu, she was everything female, aside from sex: sorrow, gentleness, longing, heartbreak, the disappointments of the world. She was also great for Kinoshita and Naruse and Kurosawa, who all saw her more as a flesh-and-blood postwar Japanese woman, someone who ate, felt bitterness, could be petty and deceptive, and actually kissed. Of all the major directors from Japan's golden age, only Mizoguchi never used her. Hara would have melted under his fire.
Her greatest film and perhaps the greatest film from the golden age not directed by Mizoguchi.
Posted by EJK at 7:05 PM
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Through its first six Crackle seasons, Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Drinking Coffee has been an oasis in our current comedy desert of sour knowing nihilistic vomit, with Adolf MacFarlane being, of course, our reigning Vomit Führer; and funny -- actually, not so funny -- how the vomit factory never seems to touch where or what the United States Fourth Reich is and is fast becoming, beyond the gutsy jokes about Donald Trump's hair. CICDC is warm, cheerful, good-hearted and self-deprecatory ~ as we would expect from the comedian who comes closest to defining the word mensch.
(Many other comedy oases can be found, btw, in the 2016 cartoon world: Teen Titans Go!, Adventure Time, Wander Over Yonder, Robot Boy, Gumball, Atomic Betty.)
Comedians in Cars Drinking Coffee is also gentle. Maybe too gentle.
Each episode Jerry chooses and drives a car he thinks matches the personality / style of his guest.
BARACK OBAMA AS THE 1963 CORVETTE STINGRAY?!
Look at the lines on that car: beauty, summer, flash, optimism, grace, masculinity, modesty, wit, sex. No. This is the man who embodies the 1963 Corvette, the man who gave it birth.
Barack Obama is this:
Access to the White House must be quite the coup, yet Jerry is in an agonal state throughout, trying to pretend the stiff is actually interesting and funny. It must have put Seinfeld in mind of this, from January of '93.
Obama isn't even that funny. But this guy is, a lot funnier.
This is the real Barack Obama.
Posted by EJK at 9:00 AM
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Major General Smedley Darlington Butler:
War is just a racket. There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.On the other hand:
I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Posted by EJK at 8:00 PM
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Friday, January 1, 2016
Christ. . .
The exception that proves the point: Charles Burnett.
Funny, because the greatest American filmmaker of his generation can't seem to find work. Since 1995, the year of "When It Rains," Burnett has been allowed to direct nine made-for-TV movies destined for the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime; and a half-dozen mostly self-financed shorts. Theatrical features since 1995? None. (Ron Howard and the Coen Boys?: Forty.)
A strong case can be made that Charles Burnett is the most gifted and important black filmmaker this country has ever had. . . . Given the difficulties he had in the 70s and 80s [and 90s and 00s and 10s] getting films made, Burnett seems in danger of becoming our Carl Dreyer -- the consummate master who makes a film a decade, known only to a small band of film lovers.Rosenbaum lists the 13-minute short "When It Rains" as one of the ten greatest movies ever made.
A good way to begin the New Year.
Posted by EJK at 12:00 PM