Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Late Acknowledgments


— of the two Premio Dardos awards given in succession to the blog by a pair of writers whose work I read regularly and with great pleasure — David Cairns, majordomo of Shadowplay, and Glenn Kenny, sole proprietor of Some Came Running. Glenn cites this text (from somewhere) to encapsulate the ethos behind the honor:

"The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the web."

Which is great and all, but — as far as I can tell — there's no statuette. Just a lame virtual proxy: a JPEG of some Vernean malcontraption blowing words out of a spout, hunkered near the phrase which, shrouded in compression-haze, reads like my epitaph: "Best Blog Darts thinker." — Not too inclined to be going-out-like-that, I enlisted four dear friends into taking the role of proxy acceptants displaying real-world statuette-proxies for the crappy proxy-statuette JPEG. (I'm pleased to announce all four will be debuting their satanic girl-group verve at SXSW '10, under the moniker The Szechuan Littlefeathers.) —

Just like with the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, there apparently exist 'rules' for the manner in which a Dardos Award be bestowed. "The rules are: 1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. 2) Pass the award to another 5 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know that they have been selected for this award." — The thing is, I like Part 1 — but I don't much care for Part 2. By my calculation, if each recipient of the Award obeyed that second edict, every blog in the known cosmosphere will have been Dardos-laureled twelve-times-over by some point midway through February 2013. I therefore dissent from Part 2's decree (dictate predicated on sheer madness) — and thus operate in blatant disaccord with the statutes set forth at the Dardos Convention, an act which I am very well aware might undermine the rigorous standards in service to which the Dardos has been conceived.

Without further ado, I hereby announce that I confer the Dardos upon the following five blogs, the authors of which are, I declare, under absolutely no obligation to pass the award on to any living soul whomsoever. All they need do is print that JPEG out on a sheet of high-qual glossy and tack it to the wall above their loved ones' dressing-stations.

Pinakothek by Luc Sante

Absolute power in language and thought — that's what's delivered here by Luc Sante, one of America's greatest writers.

Au carrefour étrange by Losfeld

The mysterious Losfeld is also the author of the excellent blogs Haut perché and french book covers.

My Gleanings by jdcopp

jdcopp (one John Coppola?) does those interested in film-writing an enormous service with his periodic examination of the French revues' respective inquiries into the cinema. jdcopp tallies, collates, shatters old wisdoms-received, and provides a god's-eye assessment through new English translations by the blogger himself, oftentimes of texts that have never been given their due outside of francophone circles.

Visualingual by Maya Drozdz

My college chum Maya Drozdz curates loveliness and craft with her excellent blog. Visualingual strikes a consistent chord of proportion that all should tune to daily via RSS. This blog has probably sparked a million inspired moments to date. (And that's not even taking into account THE SHEER NUMBER OF GIFT-IDEAS.)

And I had a fifth and now I can't remember. (Not that kind of fifth, at least not before 9.) To be continued, then? I suppose if Louis Skorecki had a film blog, I'd just toss the Dardos his way. So in Skorecki's honor, and in continued expression of Cinemasparagus' solidarity with the late Maurice Pialat —



— of some recent Masters of Cinema Series releases on DVD:

Kokoro [Hearts / Heart-and-Soul] by Kon Ichikawa, from 1955. An opportunity for discovering the cinematographic acuity with which Ichikawa conveyed emotional repression. Supplemented by a 48-page booklet which contains a new essay by Tony Rayns; a 1994 interview with Ichikawa conducted by Yuki Mori and presented with new editorial notes by Rayns; and a 1994 note by Mori on the kanji comprising Ichikawa's name.

Taiheiyô hitori-botchi [Alone on the Pacific, aka Alone Across the Pacific] by Kon Ichikawa, from 1963. A bravura exploration of spatial tension and release, as Ichikawa alternates his 'Scope frame between confined structures and open air, darkness and light, Japan and U.S. Supplemented by the Japanese release trailer and two teaser-trailers; and a 24-page booklet containing a 2001 essay on the film by Brent Kliewer, and a new essay on the film's star (and pop-star) Yûjirô Ishihara by Tony Rayns.

The Devil and Daniel Webster by William Dieterle, from 1941. A masterpiece of image-building from Dieterle (and of screen-acting, courtesy Walter Huston) that confirms the powers of a filmmaker many are likely to have encountered for the first time via the footage of A Midsummer Night's Dream embedded in Desplechin's recent A Christmas Tale. Presented in its full director's cut, and supplemented here by a video comparison of the film proper with its initial preview version titled "Here Is a Man"; and a 60-page book that contains a 2000 essay on the film by Tony Williams, newly revised by the author; a 1941 response by Dieterle to the question: "Do you think that the films have a pedagogical mission for the masses? If so, has Hollywood production over the last decade lived up to it?"; a 1941 article about the film by Stephen Vincent Benét; and Benét's 1937 short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster", presented in its entirety.

A Time to Love and a Time to Die by Douglas Sirk, from 1958. Sirk's penultimate American film is one of the most powerful works ever made about love in the midst of war and authority, and about conviction,-mirrors,-and-the-Will. Presented as part of a two-disc edition that contains the original U.S. theatrical trailer for the film (when it was still titled "A Time to Love"); a video annotation of Jean-Luc Godard's brilliant 1959 essay about the film; Robert Fischer's 2007 interview piece Out There in the Dark: Wesley Strick Speaks About Douglas Sirk's Secret; Mirage de la vie, portrait de Doulgas Sirk [Mirage of Life / Imitation of Life: A Portrait of Douglas Sirk], Daniel Schmid's 1984 interview film with Sirk and his wife Hilde; and, as an on-disc PDF, the 1958 dialogue-and-continuity script for the film. Also included is a 36-page booklet containing the aforementioned 1959 Godard essay ("Des larmes et de la vitesse" ["Of Tears and Speed"] ); excerpts from Tag Gallagher's landmark 2005 Sirk essay "White Melodrama: Douglas Sirk"; a "scrapbook" section made out of various notes on the film; and a new and coherent translation (by me) of Goethe's 1806 poem "Selige Sehnsucht" ["Blissful Longing"], presented in parallel-text format with the German original.

Muriel, ou le Temps d'un retour [Muriel, or: The Time of a Return] by Alain Resnais, from 1963. Resnais redefines the language of film-editing (and film-acting) to expose the lies of colonialism and of broader History — from national occupation, through to the personal-past and -present — and, as always, obsesses the theater. It's one of Resnais' greatest films, and it's among the greatest of films. Supplemented here by the original French trailer, and a 44-page booklet that contains an extraordinary, to-be-cherished new essay on the film by B. Kite; a comprehensive and utterly essential new essay by Anna Thorngate; a scrapbook of comments on the film by Ollier, Fieschi, Rivette, and Truffaut; and a poetic 1963 testimonial to the film by none other than Henri Langlois.

It's also important to emphasize that this MoC edition of Muriel restores the proportions of the image to their correct state for the first time on DVD, presented within a 1.78:1 frame. We opened with Glenn K. and we'll close with his consideration of the release over at The Auteurs, which you can read here.



  1. Hey, now! Thanks for the love! Per your issue with this award, I'm not sure that I can pass it on, lest my action render the honor you have bestowed on me meaningless.


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