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This is the night mail crossing the border - Myth Happens

Sovay
Date: 2016-09-05 05:10
Subject: This is the night mail crossing the border
Security: Public
Music:Nathan Bowles, "Gadarene Fugue"
Tags:patreon

I am returned from the HFA's all-night train-themed marathon with derspatchel and rushthatspeaks. I did not expect to wind up my night by walking home from Harvard Square through Arlington Heights, but then I didn't realize that on Sundays there is no public transit in Boston until six-thirty in the morning and at five o'clock the taxis are scarce on the street. On the bright side, Rob walked with me as far as Arlington Center (where he caught the first 80 of the morning home), I got to eat a spinach croissant and a chocolate cruller along the way, I watched the sun rise, and there were two swans on the Arlington Reservoir. The cats were awake on the futon in identical poses, round little black loaves with tails wrapped around their paws; my mother sent word in the night that she saw them sleeping after being fed, but they looked at me as if to indicate that they had waited up all night for me. I should write about some movies. I may have to sleep first.

[Catch-up work first. Then falling over with cats. Autolycus arranged himself in a long, afternoon-sun-catching coil against my side. Hestia burrowed. Later in the night I comforted Autolycus against the cry of an owl, at which he leapt onto my chest and purred for reassurance. I did not actually sleep.]

I am in wholehearted agreement that a night of train film really ought to kick off with Auguste and Louis Lumière's L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (1896), but it was nice that the HFA screened it in company with other short films from the Lumières' debut at the Grand Café, including La Sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon (1895), Le Débarquement du congrès de photographie à Lyon (1895), the pioneering slapstick Le Jardinier or L'Arroseur arrosé (1895), and Repas de bébé (1895), which I did not realize until I had access to the internet was a home movie of Auguste, Marguerite, and their daughter Andrée Lumière. She's a cute kid. One of her parents hands her a biscuit, she takes a bite, and then she breaks the fourth wall by trying to offer it to whoever she sees on the other side of the camera. I can't yet vouch for animals, but that 41-second clip proves that at the birth of cinema it was already possible to be totally upstaged by a baby.

Hands down, Howard Hawks' Twentieth Century (1934) gives better train than any other movie of its genre. My problem with it as a screwball comedy has to do with the balance of its central couple. If the audience is to believe that Broadway impresario and egomaniac-in-residence Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore1) and his Trilbyish ex-protégé turned Hollywood fame monster Lily Garland (Carole Lombard) actually deserve each another, then they need to be equally terrible, temperamental people who really are happiest when pitching melodramatic lines and grand gestures at one another, preposterous suicide attempts and drop-of-the-hat hysterics and the kitchen sink—if it survived the chewing of the scenery—included. Lily suggests as much in one of her quieter moments: "That's the trouble with you, Oscar. With both of us. We're not people, we're lithographs . . . We're only real in between curtains." Unfortunately, Oscar's opening behavior is so jealously controlling and Lily's flight to Hollywood so understandable that I have trouble rooting for their reunion even when the script shows Lily, alone in her streamlined compartment on the 20th Century Limited, cherishing the hatpin with which Oscar discreetly stuck her to produce her first professional scream. Hawks is usually better with romance than that. He got a similar dynamic right in His Girl Friday (1940). Fortunately, I don't have to care about this romance in order to enjoy the sound of Lombard racketing from queenly disdain to paint-stripping invective in fifteen seconds flat or the sight of Barrymore, having been obliged to disguise himself in order to evade his creditors, discoursing melancholically on the state of his fortunes while picking putty out of his nose. I continue to adore Roscoe Karns' Owen O'Malley as he wanders in and out of scenes with his indefatigable allusions ("Save your dough, Sire—I yield the lamp of learning to no one") and his cockeyed equilibrium; he is never entirely sober, but even being tanked to the gills doesn't help where Oscar and Lily are concerned. He's only in two and a half scenes, but I also enjoy Charles Lane as Oscar's long-suffering stage manager who finally bails to become a successful Broadway producer in his own right; in 1934, the actor was still appearing under his original name of Charles Levison, which now makes a meta-joke out of Oscar's line about "this creature who came to me as an office boy as Max Mandelbaum—and who is now Max Jacobs for some mysterious reason—" He is the only person in the story with their head screwed on straight, which is probably why he spends most of it offstage. For the record, Twentieth Century came out in the late spring of 1934, just under the wire of the Production Code. It shows in the dialogue. Also the lingerie.

I should have recognized Harry Watt and Basil Wright's Night Mail (1936) as soon as I saw the names "Auden" and "Britten" credited along with Alberto Cavalcanti for "Sound Direction," but I couldn't see what Auden had to do with the documentary narration or the post-dubbed dialogue of the postal workers aboard the L.M.S. Royal Scot 6115 Scots Guardsman on her nightly run from Euston to Glasgow until we hit the quatrains. This is the night mail crossing the border, bringing the cheque and the postal order, letters for the rich, letters for the poor, the shop at the corner, the girl next door . . . By then the music was very recognizably Britten's, with the slightly dissonant short strokes of strings leaning on and off one another and the jags and flights of woodwinds, never exactly imitating the quickening train. The photography is fantastic, even if I'm sorry that I cannot hear the real voices of the employees aboard the train as they sort letters and switch off shifts and train the newbies and joke with one another and occasionally discover that an unfamiliar Scottish address is really a place in Wales ("Makes a nice change for you"). It's an impressive, intimate piece of propaganda and an evocative record of a postal service that no longer exists, so I'm not surprised it's a classic of its field. It is not anyone's fault but my brain's that the sound direction got the "Scherzo (Dance of Death)" from Britten's Ballad of Heroes (1939) stuck in my head.

It turns out that I enjoy Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich (1940) significantly more when I am not expecting it to be a real World War II movie. Written and filmed during the "phony war" when hostilities had been declared but mostly confined to Eastern and Northern Europe—before the fall of France, before Dunkirk—it has a weird hindsight air of unreality, almost alt-history despite its insistence on taking place in Czechoslovakia, England, Germany, Switzerland rather than Bandrika or one of its Ruritanian neighbors and deploying a notable amount of newsreel footage in its early scenes. Nothing in the script is as bad as history proved, not concentration camps, not the Gestapo, not the Nazi ethos itself. German efficiency and rigor is no match for English decency and whimsy. A stiff salute and a monocle will get you anywhere in life, or at least in Hitler's Berlin. The Gestapo agent played by Paul Henreid, then a recent enough emigré from Austria that he's credited as "Paul von Hernried," is three-dimensional enough to pose a threat: intelligent and attractive, neither a sadist nor a fool, and so unquestioningly loyal to the new Germany that he'll befriend a woman on orders from his government and betray her unforgivably on the same, though he never ceases to eye her afterward with an odd, unexamined twinge, as if he has just enough self-reflection to wish that things were different, but not enough to change so that they might be. Very little else in the picture is real enough to hurt. It wasn't made to be. Mostly for this reason, I bounced off it somewhat when I first saw it in 2011; I appreciated its cleverness more than I liked it, rather the way Margaret Lockwood's Anna feels about Rex Harrison's shape-changing hero. The second time around, I found the whole thing a lot more fun, especially the doppelgänger-contrasts of Harrison and Henreid. Charters and Caldicott are the other highlight of the film for me, making a welcome return engagement after their success in The Lady Vanishes (1938); I noticed this time that while Basil Radford's Charters harrumphs about the whole idea until he's out of alternatives, Naunton Wayne's Caldicott sees through the impostures of Harrison's character at once, probably because he's always slightly out of phase with practical reality and therefore right in tune with the quick-change polytropy of pier-end ballad-hawker and part-time safe-house-keeper Gus Bennett, now swaggering his way across the Third Reich as the imperious and irresistible Major Ulrich Herzoff, who might after all be plain Dicky Randall from Balliol who once bowled for the Gentlemen and used to have doughnuts—or was it rock cakes?—sent up to his rooms for tea. I just wish he were a trickster I felt affection for, as opposed to one whose style I can admire. I think what I'm trying to say here is that I still prefer Pimpernel Smith (1941). But Night Train to Munich is less of a hot mess than I thought.

About five minutes into the second short of the night, I leaned over to Rob and whispered, "It's like Bugsy Malone meets The Great Train Robbery." Lo and behold, I got home and it turns out that when you throw "short silent children train robbery" into a search engine, what you get back is The Little Train Robbery (1905), an all-child parody of The Great Train Robbery (1903) done by the same director, Edwin S. Porter. So that's a thing.

I'm surprised that Richard Fleischer's The Narrow Margin (1952) didn't come up in the noir marathon three years ago: it's not a lost masterpiece, but it's good. The first scene primes the audience to watch its assumptions, as Charles McGraw's hard-jawed detective Walter Brown, on his way to meet the mobster's widow he's supposed to escort safely from Chicago to Los Angeles so that she can testify before a grand jury, boasts to his partner that he already knows what she's going to be like: "A dish . . . The sixty-cent special. Cheap. Flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy." His older partner cocks him a skeptical eye, but Marie Windsor's Mrs. Frankie Neall certainly appears to fit the bill when she answers her flophouse door, a slinkily high-heeled, barbed-tongued brunette wearing artificial pearls and an unimpressed moue, chain-smoking while she blasts honky-tonk jazz on her portable record player; she demands to see the DA's signature before she goes anywhere with strangers, then all but hip-checks her Chicago minder out of the way with a withering "So long, mother." She cuts her eyes at Brown, laughs at him when he bridles: "Relax, Percy. Your shield's untarnished. I've changed my mind. I wouldn't want any of that nobility to rub off on me." (I can't decide if that's a classical or an Arthurian reference, by the way, but either way I wasn't expecting it.) He makes no bones about letting her know that if he wasn't an honest cop, he wouldn't think twice about leaving her for the hit men who drilled his partner on her stairs. Once aboard the Southern Pacific's Golden State, his distasteful job only complicates as he has to balance the demands of his cynical, needling charge and his lookout for the unknown hit men with the normal stresses of second-class train travel and the unforeseen factor of Mrs. Ann Sinclair (Jacqueline White), an attractive, self-possessed blonde who always seems to catch him, discomfitingly for a tough cop, at his most jittery or awkward moments, and whom he may have inadvertently endangered in return. At times the plot has a feel of Hitchcock, with an enigmatic blonde amidst a whirl of uncertain identities, while the handheld cinematography and the absence of any soundtrack beyond diegetic music and the rattling, sliding, swaying noises of the train itself give the action scenes a modern immediacy. A knock-down, drag-out fight in the lurching, confined space of an in-motion men's room points forward to From Russia with Love (1963). A night-lit window provides a crucial double exposure as expressionist as anything shot by Nicholas Musuraca or John Alton. The best scenes belong to McGraw and Windsor, whose hardboiled bickering ranks them among the great poisonous couples of film noir: "You make me sick to my stomach."–"Well, use your own sink!" Without spoilers, I really think one of the reasons I can't rate The Narrow Margin as a top-shelf noir has to do with its handling of a crucial character, who once they disappear from the narrative might as well have never been there in a way that suggests either a missing scene or priorities I don't agree with. The title is kind of irrelevant, but that happens to movies sometimes.

I'm guessing the brief shot of Marcello Mastroianni on a train was enough to qualify the trailer for Federico Fellini's City of Women (La città delle donne, 1980) for inclusion in this program, but wow, that looked even more like ricocheting around in Fellini's id than the usual.

I had seen nothing by Satyajit Ray before seeing Nayak (1966). It's a complex character study with a simple structure, it reminded me of Fellini's (1963) and Bergman's Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället, 1957), and I don't know if I can make it sound as good as it was, partly because the story is so low-key. The title means The Hero. Uttam Kumar stars as Arindam Mukherjee, a matinée idol of Bengali film traveling to Delhi to receive a national award for his acting; we meet him first as a moving abstract beneath the bars of the credits, combing his hair, coiling the cord of an electric shaver, shrugging on a white shirt, slinging on a studded tie. We don't see his face until he's folded a wad of bills into his pocket, tied the laces of his two-toned shoes, been asked a sudden, revealing question by his agent: what's so good about his latest film that audiences should go see it? The camera flips to the agent's perspective, the slight inquiring challenge on the actor's face. "I'm in it," Arindam answers mildly. "Isn't that enough?" The internet tells me that Kumar was himself a Bengali superstar and Nayak is a showcase not just for his charisma but his subtlety. Not quite forty at the time of filming, he has a quizzical, sensual, boyish face that closes automatically beneath a pair of dark glasses, a thick wave of dark hair and the kind of eyelashes that can be seen from the back row of the theater; he blows smoke rings in his compartment to entertain a silently staring, feverish girl, provocatively introduces himself to an elderly journalist with famously negative opinions about the film industry, signs an autograph with courtesy but no especial interest. It's not headline news yet, but the latest paper contains a story about a drunken altercation he got into the other night. He has a sense of humor and a disarming, slightly rueful smile, but it only reveals so much. Enter Sharmila Tagore's Aditi Sengupta, editor and publisher of a fledgling magazine staffed and written by women only. Initially she approaches him for an interview, which he smilingly rebuffs because film stars "live in a world of shadows—so it's best not to show the public too much of our flesh and blood"; later he returns to her because she's the only person on the train who seems indifferent to his stardom, who might see him as himself and not as a symbol, a stand-in, a "modern Krishna." Quick-minded, dryly spoken, her own wry beauty neither camouflaged nor contradicted by the heavy black frames of her glasses (except insofar as she puts them back on when Arindam compliments her, because that is not why she took them off), she starts taking notes. The journey goes on overnight, with side stories of the other passengers moving alongside Aditi and Arindam's unfolding relationship, intersecting, commenting. Almost nothing changes, which I really like. There are no shocking revelations in his past; there is no redemptive romance in his future. He's talented, but almost certainly not working at a level that challenges him; not as intellectual or as analytical as the woman he's talking to, but intelligent; he drinks too much and he regrets too many things, but he's not a human trash fire or even in danger of doing anything worse than going on as he is, which since it sometimes leaves him drunkenly staring through the half-open door of a passenger car at the way light slides faster and faster along the steel rails of the track might be bad enough. He tells his story to someone who understands him. She is not there to absolve or save him. He'll have to do that himself; by her own choice, her part in the story is finished. "You'll write your notes up from memory?"–"I'll keep them in my memory." The dialogue is a mix of Bengali and English, often within the same sentence; the cinematography is black-and-white and mostly realistic, the major exception being Arindam's nightmares, which are doozies. I can't decide if I think the wasteland of money spiked with skeletal arms holding out loudly jangling telephones is creepier than the nightclub which is also a nighttime forest in which everybody wears sunglasses and nobody looks at Arindam until all of a sudden they won't look away. I have no idea if Ray ever made any genre films, but if so I imagine they were amazing. My mother has a book of his short stories; I'll see if I can find them tonight.

I just want to point out that the ephemera screened throughout this marathon were a quite decent assortment of '60's-era advertisements for theater concessions and local businesses, but when you back an animated circus of drive-in snacks with Marlene Dietrich singing "Lili Marlene," surrealism is achieved.

Calling Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) a love letter to New York City in the '70's is an overstatement, unless it's a love letter that's about half exuberantly affectionate profanity and the other half just the regular kind of profanity, read in a graffiti-snarled subway car amid the teeth-cracking crush of rush hour or the glassy-eyed fluorescence of an end-of-shift morning, the kind where just tearing off the postmark releases a personal time capsule of chain-smoked nicotine and anyway it was delivered two weeks late because of the strike. The plot is the plot, a solid hijacking-cum-heist race against time calibrated to the quirks and loopholes of the New York City Subway; the local color is everything. I always forget the script was written by 1776's Peter Stone, who's very good at the genre of "men who get on each other's nerves expressing it catchily and pungently while nonetheless having to deal with each other long enough to get anything done," though the transit workers, police, hijackers, politicians, and random passers-by of Pelham's New York are a lot swearier than the Continental Congress. If Stephen Hopkins had handed out any of those time-saving cards that read "Dear sir: You are without any doubt a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel, and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket-picking, thrice double-damned no-good son of a bitch" to the cast of this movie, they would have been gone within the first five minutes. Nobody in the film is having a good day. Okay, maybe one of the hijackers, but the man who organized the crime in the first place (Robert Shaw, meticulous and so stone cold that he does crosswords in the cab of the hijacked train while waiting for the transit police to get back to him) calmly states that he believes the man in question to be "mad. Why do you think they threw him out of the Mafia?" Everyone else is underslept or overworked or fighting with their coworkers or lost their wedding ring down the john or is eating more antacids than medically advisable or has the flu or has to lead a tour group or has just been taken hostage by four heavily armed men with fake mustaches and an unknown agenda. And yet somehow most of this movie is hilarious as well as nail-biting and more grounded than most thrillers, because for the most part everyone actually does what needs doing—even the otherwise useless Mayor (Lee Wallace), after enough arm-twisting—they just bitch ceaselessly about it. Walter Matthau is nobody's idea of an action hero as Lieutenant Zach Garber of the New York City Transit Police and in fact, though at one point he holds a gun on another man, his superpower is basically, crankily getting shit done (and definitely not looking good while doing it. If the cinematography is a paean to grimy, run-down '70's New York, the costumes are a record of a regrettable time in American fashions. Garber's flat yellow tie is objectionable enough, but when combined with his test-pattern plaid shirt it becomes the kind of public offense he explains transit cops have to deal with daily: "robbery, assault, murder, drunkenness, illness, vandalism, mishegos . . ."). I keep meaning to track down the score with its funky, brassy, edgy theme that can sound like a threat or a punch line, depending on which end of the movie you're at. The more I write about it, the more I think The Taking of Pelham One Two Three may be the most bad-tempered feel-good movie I know.

I had planned to stay through Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer (2013) after all, but sitting in the dark, staring at moving images, I found my brain sliding glassily off a narrative I had seen twice before and should have been able to track; I didn't want to fall asleep in my seat because I knew it would wreck my already hurting neck and shoulder (I saw a physical therapist last week, it turns out I did something really unpleasant to my left trapezius, I have exercises and restrictions and a bunch of appointments now) and I couldn't accept Rush's very kind offer of a car to nap in for the same reason, so at a quarter to five I decided to leave the theater and take the next 77 home. See the start of this story. Anyway, I got home, had a day, wrote this. It's five in the morning again. I don't even want to calculate how many hours I've been awake. This night's journey brought to you by my fellow travelers at Patreon.

1. I don't normally footnote marathon reviews because then we'd be here all week, but about halfway through Twentieth Century it finally dawned on me that Oscar Jaffe's vocal theatrics sounded familiar—right down to the growl, the soft articulation, and the falsetto break—not so much because I'd seen the movie before, but because when Hans Conried put on his mid-Atlantic Shakespearean, he was doing John Barrymore, quite possibly John Barrymore as Oscar Jaffe. I bounced the idea off Rob, who agreed that he could hear it, but I am much more familiar with Conried's sound than with Barrymore's and I wanted to know if there was any evidence for a deliberate likeness. My copy of Suzanne Gargiulo's Hans Conried: A Biography (2002) is in a box with the rest, but I found what I needed through Google Books: "In 1937, NBC's Streamlined Shakespeare provided Conried with the opportunity to meet and work with the great John Barrymore. The legendary actor was well past his prime by now, but still a commanding presence. Barrymore was deeply impressed with Conried's natural affinity for acting. The elder actor would select Conried as his double to take over for him when he was 'indisposed' for one reason or another . . . In 1939, [Rudy] Vallee decided to try a new format that incorporated live dramatic readings to create a unique diversion for the guests of the [Victor Hugo supper] club, as well as the listeners at home. According to Vallee: 'It was simply a reading by some of the best Hollywood radio personalities of some of our Barrymore Sealtest scripts. We put long, low portable foot lights on the floor, and read the radio scripts just as we would in the radio studio. At the time, Hans Conried was more than willing to perform for me, and since he did an excellent imitation of John Barrymore, we had much fun with these beautifully written scripts in addition to several other acts of the typical nightclub genre. Barrymore came in one night and seemed to enjoy Hans Conried's characterization of the "Great Profile".'" I have to say, I feel pretty smug about this.

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moon_custafer
User: moon_custafer
Date: 2016-09-05 12:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Charters and Caldicott are just odd enough they probably could have fit into Pimpernel Smith, and now I sort of wish they'd put in an appearance. I shall just have to imagine they're in that universe, but lingering around a different intrigue.

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Sovay: Lord Peter Wimsey
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-05 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Lord Peter Wimsey

Charters and Caldicott are just odd enough they probably could have fit into Pimpernel Smith, and now I sort of wish they'd put in an appearance.

You're right. Damn. Somebody get me that for Yuletide.

I shall just have to imagine they're in that universe, but lingering around a different intrigue.

Well, Horatio Smith is running an archaeological dig in the countryside, Charters and Caldicott are in Berlin . . .

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It's just this little chromium switch, here...: Lio at the movies
User: derspatchel
Date: 2016-09-05 16:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Lio at the movies

I am very happy and surprised to hear that the train robbery short was actually directed by Porter. From the costumes of the bandits and shooting locations used I'd suspected it had been filmed on a scout camp of some sort, a hobby production directed by a scoutmaster proud of their new camera and a project all the kids could really get into over the course of a camping week. With or without Porter I was kinda expecting a shot at the end of a kid shooting cork pistols at the camera, but I suppose one can't truly expect that level of meta-filmmaking coming so soon after the advent of, uh, the narrative. Remaking one's own film with kids is advancement enough. But wow what a find.

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Sovay: Claude Rains
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-05 18:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Claude Rains

From the costumes of the bandits and shooting locations used I'd suspected it had been filmed on a scout camp of some sort, a hobby production directed by a scoutmaster proud of their new camera and a project all the kids could really get into over the course of a camping week.

I was trying to find any information about the kids who starred in The Little Train Robbery, because I wondered if they were the children of friends or kids Porter otherwise knew, but all the internet could tell me was that it's considered the first parody film, it didn't do as well at the box office as Edison Studios was hoping (look, people, it was clearly a niche market), and it was filmed at Olympia Park in Pennsylvania, which I assume is where the miniature train came in. I agree that a fourth-wall shot would have been fitting, but I am still delighted that the ringleader girl (multiple sites refer to her as the "Bandit Queen," so she must have been credited as such in the promotional materials) gets away at the end.

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lauradi7: garb
User: lauradi7
Date: 2016-09-05 20:24 (UTC)
Subject: Lumiere babies
Keyword:garb

There is a 1995 film called "Lumiere and Company." For the centennial, 40 directors were set loose on an original 1895 camera. My favorite at the time was Spike Lee's piece
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YurMKgt1RE4
because I imagine that of all the hours of film ever shot, "look at Daddy" is probably one of the main topics. I was glad to discover that the Lumiere films you mentioned are on youtube as well, and was delighted to see young Andree doing her part to begin the genre

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Sovay: Rotwang
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-06 17:44 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Lumiere babies
Keyword:Rotwang

There is a 1995 film called "Lumiere and Company." For the centennial, 40 directors were set loose on an original 1895 camera.

That's very cool. Thanks for the link!

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Rush-That-Speaks: [         ]  is a badass
User: rushthatspeaks
Date: 2016-09-05 20:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:[ ] is a badass

I came to the conclusion that Nayak is intentionally fucking with the viewer on the meta level; I can't recall the last time I saw something turn an audience so neatly into Mobius strips. All that discussion of how Bengali film is terrible, in a Bengali film with a Bengali superstar; the narrative throwing its weight behind the stage being the only true art because film actors and characters are only puppets in the hands of the director and screenwriter, when of course this continues to be a movie; the way it's implied that Sengupta can only be kind at the end because she's a private person and not a part of the grinding and vicious business of cinema, when of course this continues to be a movie. It's no wonder the film contains a festival of Durga, Durga the inaccessible, the invincible, who holds the entire world in the enchantment of maya. I'm not sure I have enough context for all of whatever Satyajit Ray was trying to do, but the bits of it I can get are very impressive.

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Sovay: Claude Rains
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-06 18:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Claude Rains

It's no wonder the film contains a festival of Durga, Durga the inaccessible, the invincible, who holds the entire world in the enchantment of maya. I'm not sure I have enough context for all of whatever Satyajit Ray was trying to do, but the bits of it I can get are very impressive.

I'd known that he worked on The River (1951) with Jean Renoir, but I had otherwise heard of him mostly in context of the Apu Trilogy, which sounded justly legendary and very neorealist; this was very much not. I am going to need to get hold of his collected essays on cinema, because the few pages I can read on Google Books state that he wrote Nayak with Kumar in mind (and also that he's not very impressed with Gregory Peck). Among other things, apparently he wanted to know if Kumar was an actor as well as a star. I have to say this movie must have been a hell of a way of finding out. Other randomly accessible pages tell me that he likes Bergman, loves Chaplin, prefers the fandom/industry aspects of film festivals to the critics-and-jury parts, and that I really want to read the rest of his essay on Blow-Up (1966), because the thing about it that seems most important to him is the reality-blurring ending and I think he's right. He would have known what he was talking about.

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gwynnega: lordpeter mswyrr
User: gwynnega
Date: 2016-09-05 23:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lordpeter mswyrr

his superpower is basically, crankily getting shit done (and definitely not looking good while doing it.

Heh. I'm very fond of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. I'd love to see it on a big screen.

I just put Nayak in my Netflix queue.

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Sovay: Claude Rains
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-06 20:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Claude Rains

I'm very fond of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. I'd love to see it on a big screen.

It does very well by it. I caught all sorts of visual details—and a couple of lines—I'd missed before. My God, though, the fashions.

I just put Nayak in my Netflix queue.

Enjoy!

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some guy named Larry
User: lnhammer
Date: 2016-09-06 15:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Night Mail (1936)

I am most jealous of this one.

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Sovay: PJ Harvey: crow
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-06 21:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:PJ Harvey: crow

I am most jealous of this one.

I hope you have a similar opportunity soon.

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asakiyume
User: asakiyume
Date: 2016-09-08 23:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Nayak sounds nice; I'll have to look for it.

I can't decide if that's a classical or an Arthurian reference -- So what are the references? Did Percival have a special shield? And what's the classical reference?

Your late-night walk home reminds me of my first year of grad school--one night the buses had stopped running, and I walked home w/Wakanomori to my apartment in Belmont ... I think it wasn't as far away as your walk, though! Or maybe about the same? (Not sure)

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Sovay: Claude Rains
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-09 04:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Claude Rains

Nayak sounds nice; I'll have to look for it.

I think you might like it a lot. Unlike many movies I recommend, it's out on DVD.

Your late-night walk home reminds me of my first year of grad school--one night the buses had stopped running, and I walked home w/Wakanomori to my apartment in Belmont ... I think it wasn't as far away as your walk, though! Or maybe about the same? (Not sure)

Where were you walking from? I just calculated the distance I walked on Sunday and it was about six miles.

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asakiyume: Man on Wire
User: asakiyume
Date: 2016-09-09 11:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Man on Wire

From Harvard Square--I think we set out walking from the bus egress on Mt. Auburn (if that's still there).

LOL, hilarious sentence: as if we didn't start walking from there if it is no longer there. But I know you can parse the true meaning.

Edited at 2016-09-09 11:43 am (UTC)

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Sovay: I Claudius
User: sovay
Date: 2016-09-09 20:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:I Claudius

So what are the references? Did Percival have a special shield? And what's the classical reference?

I forgot to reply to this! My best guess was either Percival the Grail knight or Perseus who used his mirror-polished shield to slay the Gorgon. I think the tarnished or untarnished shield is just an allusion to police corruption, but the fact that it also calls up an image of clouded purity is part of what made me think of both heroes. It makes a great noir line either way, but I do wish I knew!

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asakiyume: definitely definitely
User: asakiyume
Date: 2016-09-11 20:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:definitely definitely

It *does* make a great line either way.

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