Monday, May 27, 2019


Keep Him in Mind

Perhaps Visconti's supreme achievement, in its as-close-to-as-intended length of 4 hours 18 minutes. A game of rooms, mansions, castles, a subterranean swan lake, the Neuschwanstein spire, passing through all the major themes of Visconti's oeuvre, such that the film-work itself represents the super-palace of Luchino's ego, so dense with signs made out of the opulent appointments (surely the most singularly lavish film in the history of cinema, outdoing even Kubrick's Barry Lyndon) that were it not for the more overt talkings-to-camera, the picture's Marxist precedents might be perceptible solely in its 'system of things.'


Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Thing from Another World


(All images are details from iPhone photos taken of the film playing from the Warner Bros. Blu-ray.)


No big stars among the Air Force 2 crew, mostly character actors you might recognize from a handful of RKOs, and a humanoid alien of eight feet in length trapped under ice.

The confines onboard the plane when the squad brings back the pick-axed chunk of ice-submerged humanoid are pretty tight, a reset of the Air Force set, and one of the guys reading "Air Force Magazine”... Grazing over the Arctic this is literally the Cold War, no sign of Korea just yet but...

But some good-natured ripostes shoot through the crew: ribbing the captain’s sartorial discipline an underling gets clapped back — “Would you like to do double-guard-duty tonight?” A visiting camp nurse once made as big an impression on the fellas as this ice-encased xenonoid: “Say, what ever happened to that nurse?” Good healthy stuff.

A nervous humor among nervous men.

Preposterous, service-men dorms where colleagues electric-shave, but how else could it be, even in the face of extraterrestrial derangement? This one NDO (nondescript officer), he comes through, alerts the pork-faced lead, smudged Gabin (Kenneth Tobey) that he's starting to be able to see through the ice at these hands... They talk to each other looking at their watches like ‘50s homosexuals whispering at the eleventh hour...

Then the nightclub ambience, the only menopausal woman out of two, Margaret Sheridan, better even than ever-exhausting Ann in Hawks’ previous picture, I Was a Male War Bride; the rental period for Golden Exits has ended... ”You can tie my hands if you want?" "That might not be such a bad idea..." "I mean that." "You suggested it." "Alright, I'll bring a rope." One of the most erotic exchanges in Hollywood cinema since Josef von Sternberg or Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Black Cat. She ties Tobey up to an office chair and all but promises to shove a cake-mixer in his crotch. Jump forward four minutes and it’s Karl Freund’s The Mummy (the anglo bumbling male jack-ass wasn’t invented in ‘90s media). Romero, J-horror... Carpenter... “A smear of… plant-sap….” — As Rivette wrote in his first published article, “Nous ne sommes plus innocents” (“We Are No Longer Innocent”), in 1950 at the age of 22: “on réalise des films de synthèse, inexperte encore et naïve, d’où toute sève s’était enfuie.” He was not speaking of Hawks here (he hadn’t encountered him fully by this early point due to circulation-scarcity outside of the ciné-clubs; give the hitchcocko-hawksiens a couple more years to embellish their program) or even other unnamed in anything but what I take to be a neutral register. Dr. Carrington: “There are only phenomena to study...” ‘Are,’ then ‘why??’ —

The secret lives of plants, the movies themselves: forever silent over subtext, but apply the stethoscope and you hear “almost the screaming of a newborn child who’s hungry...” — movies, or cinephiles? The creature here is made of Beyond Meat, and this “thing” about whether Hawks produced and helmed, or did Nyby co-realize: I always imagine Christian Nyby resembling Lee Harvey Oswald…

“What’s Carrington doing with 35 units of blood-plasma, Nikki?”