Thursday, April 30, 2009
i don't think the 1986 documentary 'what happened to kerouac' is in need of an answer. life happens. what is precious about this film is the footage of this true pioneer who crossed many a blank page without a guide and left us a new map to follow. from the beautiful beat of his heart to the alcohol fevered disdain, jack will always be a hero to people of every generation. while watching his appearance on the steve allen t.v. show, never have i so much wanted to jump into the television and wring someone's neck. the lack of respect coming from the host was truly unacceptable. if this sort of behavior toward his work is any indication of other slights, it is no wonder kerouac sought ways to 'turn off.' his sort of brilliance reminds me of phillip k. dick, another writer possessed of a brain that seems to sizzle. this is a valuable offering.
like beat laureate jack kerouac, phillip k. dick wrote very fast. even though i think he is an amazing writer, i could not say it is a relaxing experience to enter his world. he must have been so very grateful for his talent as it surely gave him the means to free the visions from his brain. carrere's excellent biography of this fascinating writer had my head spinning. the author of, among many others, 'do androids dream of electric sheep' and 'the man in the high castle' was very high indeed. my heart broke for him.
phillip k. dick wrote many awesome books which i have really enjoyed. among the brilliant stories he managed to transfer from his truly electric mind onto paper is one of my favorite novels ever. 'do androids dream of electric sheep' was published in 1968. the poetic title drew me in and i loved every moment. never have i desired to see 'blade runner', the film version of the book. that is not the case with walter tevis, another writer of speculative fiction who is my very favorite author of all. both these writers had great success in the film world, having many of their works adapted for movies. something about the mind of phillip makes me feel that the printed word is the safest place to stop with him.
photo: from 'bladerunner'
when the dog 'matisse' became a star from being in 'down and out in beverly hills', people with border collies must have been so pleased. as one who is on her second border collie, i feel sure that there will be more in my life. as my worn out tee shirt that i purchased at a road side pub while driving through ireland says above the image of collies, 'beauty and brains.'
robert mitchum and his son james. they appeared together in 'thunder road.' anyone interested in the man who starred in perhaps the greatest film noir of all time, 'out of the past', is in for a serious treat. robert's life story is incredibly eventful and can be enjoyed by reading the biography, 'baby, i don't care.'
i believe we have a winner. during her seventeen years as the reigning elf of the silents, mabel acted in 226 films. 226! even if some were shorts, anyone who has made a video knows how detailed the process can be.
she wrote, directed and owned her own movie studio. it is amazing how much one can achieve in a short life.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
marisa pavan and pier angeli were twins. born in italy, these actresses were astonishingly pretty and both achieved international success, including major awards and nominations. marisa is most famous for playing the daughter of anna magnani in 'the rose tattoo.' pier was both compared to garbo and involved with james dean. they are the stuff of legends in the history of cinema.
in 1975 an absolute gem of a film came from master filmmaker akira kurosawa. based on the memoir of a russian explorer's friendship with his guide, 'dersu uzala' is another masterpiece from the man who created several. not only is kurosawa responsible for over thirty films, he introduced the amazing actor toshiro mifune to the whole world. from 'rashomon' to 'ran' this director has been a great inspiration. nestled among the movies that depict heroes and villains in epic proportions is the inimitable tribesman 'dersu.'
watching the intimate relationship develop between the explorer and the nomad who guides him through the siberian frontier is a lesson in life. battling the elements replaces battling the enemy in kurosawa's touching drama.
physical, mental, and spiritual questions weave through the story and the small and humble 'dersu' offers beautiful answers. never was man's bewilderment in the face of wilderness treated so tenderly. this is possibly my husband's favorite film.
she remains one of the truly adored and respected actresses. born lucile de vasconcellos langhanke, mary astor (1906-1987) never fails to win my admiration. her last film 'hush hush sweet charlotte' offered this incredible image. she looks like a noble brought down by hard times yet holding on to custom.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
gangland usa. guns, gin and grapefruit. the pre-code classic, 'the public enemy' has one of the most famous scenes in films. it does not take place in a bank but at the breakfast table. hard as the scene is to witness, you have to imagine they were all laughing once they heard, 'cut!'
james cagney is an incredible actor. even though he could play kind and thoughtful, he made his name in roles like this. jean harlow? incandescent.
Monday, April 27, 2009
of all the amazing british actors to grace both stage and screen, the top three will forever be laurence olivier, ralph richardson, and john gielgud. they are all deeply delightful and very different from one another. olivier may have been the most traditionally handsome but both ralph and john can equally own one's complete attention. i adore them all.
personal favorites: olivier in 'rebecca' and the 'entertainer' and ralph in 'the heiress' and 'the fallen idol.' john gielgud is so ridiculously wonderful in his role as jeremy irons father in 'brideshead revisited' that his few scenes are worth the price of admission. that said, 'brideshead' itself is heaven.
adultery and it's consequences. in 1972 the great film director joseph mankiewicz must have had a ball working with actors michael caine and laurence olivier. i surely hope so as it was joseph's swan song. 'sleuth' is every kind of fun, thanks to the cast as well as the script. joe knew a thing or two about incredible writing.
rich man plays cat and mouse with not so rich man. getting even was never so wickedly entertaining. the game takes place in the grand home of olivier whose wife is having an affair with caine. how to teach the third party a lesson has them both dipping their toes into terror. trapped on the stairs, thinking the sight of his fingers clutching the balcony will be the last he will see in the known world, michael caine is at his best. it is a maniacally moving and brilliant movie.