Archive for Glenn Kenny

New Arrivals

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by dcairns

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Two from Masters of Cinema, on my window sill —

For mysterious reasons the picture is empinkened like faded Eastmancolor.

A TOUCH OF ZEN has a video essay by me and editor Timo Langer.

A NEW LEAF has a video essay by me with editor Stephen Horne. And a text piece by chum Glenn Kenny, the second time I’ve shared disc-space with the bard of Brooklyn (THE GANG’S ALL HERE is highly recommended).

Buy both and you can decide which of my editors you like best, or whether you prefer King Hu or Elaine May. I like both! It’s like snails and oysters, with me.

The Indiegogo campaign for THE NORTHLEACH HORROR is raging away — we have reached halfway to our target already, thanks to some super-generous patrons of the arts. Am worried that we may have exhausted our supply of really generous dedicated friends, family and followers — prove me wrong by helping out, or spread the word!

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The Sunday Intertitle: The Man in Black

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by dcairns

Thanks to a not-quite-chance remark by one-man blogstorm Glenn Kenny on FaceBook, I found myself reflecting on my deplorable lack of direct experience in the matter of Tom Mix. I mainly knew the western star from his image on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, and from a possibly untrue story put about by sci-fi novelist Philip Jose Farmer that Mix died when he crashed his car and a metal suitcase containing a million dollars was flung forward from the back seat of his roadster, breaking his neck.

(The director of today’s epic, Lynn Reynolds, also died young, shooting himself at a party after quarreling with his wife. PISTOLS DON’T ARGUE.

Clearly, it was time to lose my Mix virginity, and the film to do it with was RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE. Based on a Zane Grey novel, and surprisingly hard-edged, this is a tale of long-deferred vengeance comparable to THE SEARCHERS and RANCHO NOTORIOUS in its toughness and single-minded patience. All the stereotypes you could wish are present and correct, but their 1920s versions are so old as to be new, they all come with little variations that amuse and crinkle the eyes. Domestic life is introduced as a rapid-fire whirl of headache and fuss, about as far from the docile domesticity celebrated in John Ford as you can get.

Villains are oily, educated, and sort of soft, as typified by Warner Oland, the inscrutable Swede daringly cast in a non-Chinese role. A baggy, shifty, pouch of a face, barely sufficient to contain the guts of his head.

Heroes are tough, beautiful, direct, simple. Tom Mix, as hard and sharp as a man chiseled from diamond. While everybody else rides dusty and threadbare, Mix is pretty rock ‘n’ roll in his shiny black duds and hair-oil. Face like an overweight knife. Lose the single glove though, it makes you look psycho.

With a big budget, Lynn Reynolds could employ fifty head of cattle for each intertitle.

Underplaying in the best western tradition, Mix manages to seem pretty cool despite the borderline ridiculous costume and proto-clichéd attitude. He’s definitely got something! The movie rattles along, surprisingly fast-cut and complicated: I haven’t seen a cowboy flick this overstuffed with characters and incidents since SILVERADO. In one dazzling sequence, he survives unscathed when shot off his horse (how?), but can’t raise his head above sagebrush level as he’s surrounded by desperadoes. Lassooing his saddle, he swiftly improvises a sled made from branches, and has his horse tow him from the scene, raising a dust trail that chokes and befuddles his pursuers. I am frankly astounded I haven’t seen that trick in another movie.

Intriguingly, the distrust of civilisation that animates, say, STAGECOACH, is already present, with the representatives of law being corrupt and vicious (Mix heroically shoots a judge in his courtroom!) and the happy ending located in a lost valley (probably dinosaur-infested) away from the rest of humankind. Rousseau would have liked westerns.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2010 by dcairns

“I have nothing to say.” Pierre Batcheff sulks in UN CHIEN ANDALOU.

Dorothy McGuire gives us the silent treatment in Robert Siodmak’s THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE.

I was very intrigued by this piece by Glenn Kenny, pointing out links between UN CHIEN ANDALOU and Siodmak’s CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, shots of the moon), so it hit me with some force when I suddenly recognized the connection between the above movies, which should have been obvious to me years ago since I know them both well… Siodmak and Bunuel were indeed near-contemporaries, with the German filmmaker establishing his career in Paris just after Bunuel had left. I think they just missed each other in Hollywood as well. But the two striking connections are enough to make the case for a definite influence of the Spanish surrealist upon the German noir master.