DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Author: DC (page 2 of 807)

KillSwitch presents … The Neglected and Neglectful Howard Devoto *

* (restored)
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“I am angry, I am ill and I’m as ugly as sin
My irritability keeps me alive and kicking
I know the meaning of life, it doesn’t help me a bit
I know beauty and I know a good thing when I see it

This is a song from under the floorboards
this is a song from where the wall is cracked
by force of habit, I am an insect
I have to confess I’m proud as hell of that fact

I know the highest and the best
I accord them all due respect
but the brightest jewel inside of me
glows with pleasure at my own stupidity

I used to make phantoms I could later chase
images of all that could be desired
then I got tired of counting all of these blessings
and then I just got tired”

— ‘Song from Under the Floorboards’

 

‘The major characteristic of Howard Devoto’s work has been integrity and an avoidance of formula. His aims as the original singer with Buzzcocks were exhausted after one record — their Spiral Scratch EP is replete with wit and wisdom about the dynamics of the then burgeoning punk trend, and indeed the first to acknowledge it as a gimmick. What else was there to say? Punk’s chief aim was to spark a new beginning, fresh sounds and boundless opportunities. It had nothing to do with a career. Howard knew this and jumped ship, leaving cohorts Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle and John Maher to become perhaps the most joyous pop group of the late-Seventies.

 

Early Years

 

Buzzcocks ‘Breakdown’


Buzzcocks ‘I Can’t Control Myself’


Magazine ‘Shot by Both Sides’


Magazine ‘Touch and Go’

 


1977: Howard Devoto interviewed by Jon Savage

Jon Savage: Do you think we live in insane times ? Howard Devoto: Some of us do – some of us don’t. Do you want to do something new with punk ? Nobody invents new colours or new feelings. The first snowfall is fresh and in some sense new. But it isn’t different necessarily from last year’s snow. Nor is it old goods in a new wrapper. What do you want to do with Magazine? Improve people’s memories. Do you want to be popular at a mass level ? I can take it or leave it. Your music seems to deliberately want to leave gaps. It’s a matter of not trying to tell the whole story about something – when you can’t. Not trying to make up the bits that are going to fit… Like writing about something and giving the impression you know everything about it… I guess so. But I feel really concerned about mistaken impressions – mishearing – and ambiguous experience. Just on straight sense things – when you think you’ve seen something – and it doesn’t turn out to be what you’ve seen; I think there’s always a way of learning that as well – it doesn’t always happen by accident. You seem to be stating complex ideas in simple language in your range… Yes – but they’re not worked out. I leave a lot of loose ends for me and everybody. Just taking certain phrases out of context and putting them together…

‘Where The Buzzcocks were obtainable, Devoto was obscure. He had quickly formed Magazine, who went on to produce four albums of bombastic introspection between 1978 and 1981. Their early work dealt with weighty and perpetual imbalance — political unrest (‘Shot By Both Sides’), the powerless American president who dies at the hands of an assassin (‘Motorcade’) and prostitution (‘Touch and Go’). To the casual listener they were just brilliant rock songs, with lyrical whimsy that held up to close scrutiny. Later work became more ambiguous and on The Correct Use Of Soap (1980) the group made their most complete work. There you can find ‘A Song From Under The Floorboards’ and ‘Sweetheart Contract’, which exist amongst a string of great singles.

 

Middle years

 


Magazine ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’


Magazine ‘Give Me Everything’


Magazine ‘Motorcade’


Magazine ‘Cut Out Shapes’


Magazine ‘Model Worker’


Magazine ‘Because You’re Frightened’


Magazine ‘Song From Under The Floorboards’

 


(l. to r.) John McGeogh, Dave Formula, Devoto, Barry Adamson, Devoto, Bob Dickinson


The rest of Magazine:

John McGeogh (guitarist): McGeogh left Magazine after The Correct Use of Soap album to become the guitarist for Siouxie and the Banshees during their most creative period. He quit the Banshees to join PiL, playing on their seminal Flowers of Romance album, a.o. He was later a member of The Armoury Show, a short lived band fronted by Richard Jobson of The Skids, and of Steve Strange’s supergroup Visage, as well as playing guitar on a number of other artists’ albums, including Peter Murphy, Generation X, Ultravox, Matthew Sweet, and others. He died in his sleep in 2004.

Bob Dickinson (guitarist): After departing Magazine, Dickinson gave up rock music for world sacred music, writing the book ‘Music and the Earth Spirit.’ With composer Steven Dennison, he mans the music website Text Music

Barry Adamson (bass): After the demise of Magazine, Adamson become one of the founding members of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, recording and performing with them for the majority of their existence. In addition, he became a respected composer of scores for independent films and has released a number of highly acclaimed solo albums. A collection of his solo and film music, The Murky World of Barry Adamson, was released in 2000.

John Doyle (drummer): After Magazine, Doyle was briefly a member of The Armoury Show with John McGeogh. He became a widely used session musician working mostly in the traditional and contemporary Irish music field. He’s also a character actor who has appeared in a number of films, including Babe and Bliss.

Dave Formula (keyboards): Post-Magazine, Formula became the keyboardist for Ultravox during their most commercially successful period fronted by Midge Ure in the early to late 80s, and was also a member of Steve Strange’s Visage. He’s currently keyboardist for post-funk band The Finks.

‘By the time of The Correct Use of Soap, Magazine had reached an internal impasse. John McGeoch, their guitarist, left because of a frustration with Magazine’s lack of commercial success. One more album followed, the patchy Magic, Murder and the Weather. Devoto continued solo with his Jerky Versions Of The Dream album which he has since disowned and, honourably, retired from music after a clear sense that he had produced a poor record. Only Noko (now of Apollo Four Forty) persuaded him to record subsequent to this, with their commercially unsuccessful but nonetheless valuable Luxuria group. Other than a few guest appearances with This Mortal Coil, Mansun, and Apollo Four Forty, Howard didn’t record again until his unexpected reunion with The Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley three years ago for the one-off project Buzzkunst. Since then he has returned to his real name, Howard Trafford, and currently works as a supervisor in a photo library somewhere in London.’ — Ian Greaves, 3 AM Magazine

 

Later years

 


Howard Devoto ‘Rainy Season’


Luxuria ‘Red Neck’


Luxuria ‘Beastbox’


Buzzkunst ”Til the stars in his eyes are dead’ & ‘Going Off’

 

Shotbybothsides.com is as close to an official Howard Devoto website as exists. Its concentration is on his work with Magazine, but The Buzzocks, Luxuria, Buzzkunst, and Devoto’s solo work are well covered. The site includes a complete discography and a thorough database of Devoto -related press and facts, as well as a decent if not quite up -to -the -minute news section.

 

Jess Harvel, Rhythm of Cruelty: Howard Devoto and the Post-Punk Revival: ‘Even with the new respect/admiration/costume play/lip-service paid to artists previously thought consigned to the dustbin of pop history, where does this new round of myth raiding leave them in the cold actual glare of 2002? Ask Afrikaa Bambaataa, playing an MTV dance show to a couple hundred (and a couple hundred thousand around the world) kids asking who the fuck these old guys in fringe vests were and where is Paul Oakenfold already? Ask ESG who have been coaxed out of a long-suffering silence wherein they witnessed their earliest JB’s- as- proto- house records being sampled almost as much as JB himself only to end in dwindling returns for both sampler and sampled. Ask The Human League, who’s Secrets was one of the best records of 2001, proving they were still most adept at the world they had so completely changed, even as they were eclipsed by their sad, ugly children. Ask Howard Devoto.’ (Read the rest here)

 

Read another excellent, comprehensive piece entitled Clarity Has Reared It’s Ugly Head Again… The Music of Howard Devoto by Stewart Osborne

 

Quite a wide rangle of contemporary music artists cite Howard Devoto as a major influence, from Jarvis Cocker and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart to Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, who’s stated that collaborating with Devoto is one of his biggest dreams. Another Devoto devotee is Momus, who wrote a great song about him entitled ‘The Most Important Man Alive.’ You can read the lyrics here.
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*

p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi, D!!! Oh, cool, you watched one of his films. And it was relevant. Great and stormy are a good combination, and, yeah, when you’re marked I’d be curious to see the marking. Haha, I actually can’t think of a single roller coaster that doesn’t have at least a slightly dumb name. I guess ‘X2’ (one of the best coasters) is a tolerable name, under the circumstances. I continue to rise above my lag, thank you. Will do, on the celebrity reveal. Nice, shocking (ha ha) love, thank you. Love going home with the prettiest Emo boy he’s ever seen only to discover his entire apartment is covered, floor to ceiling, with a handmade shrine to Limp Bizkit, G. ** Tosh Berman, My great pleasure, sir. ** _Black_Acrylic, Really glad you liked it, B! ** Bill, Hi, Bill. You were in the majority. Will do about the SF trip if it ends up in the cards. A dinner would be nice. I’ll have a think about diners. Dodie, … Your new short piece! Thank you, thank you! I’ll be on it the very second I’m no longer on this. Everyone, A rare treat for us all in the form of a new, short sound/music piece by the great visual/sonic artist and d.l. Mr. Bill Hsu. It’s called ‘Bel(l)ow(s)’ and it’s right here. Swamp it, folks. ** Brendan, Hi, Brendan. I was just running around in your general hood during a short but long, long awaited escape to the West. Awesome that you’re a Hammid fan. Me too, and we’re needles in a haystack, I think. New work, new show! I might even get to see it if our film funding comes through on schedule whereupon Zac and I will be in LA a ton. And a little bird told me the also great Jack Skelley is writing something for/with you? Yum, if so. I’m good. Miss(ed) you too! ** Misanthrope, That I expected, you’re right. Almost at the big 50, are you? No sweat, you have years of fieriness left to go. Enjoy the beach house stint. That seems like a no brainer. Take it easy and feel better. You can’t be too careful these days, duh. And good luck conquering Benatar. ‘Stop Using Sex as a Weapon’ next maybe? ** Brian, Hey, Brian. Re: Deren, I especially highly recommend ‘Ritual in Transfigured Time’. That’s my fave. Personally, I’d start your Jodorowsky voyage with ‘El Topo’. I think it’s his best, pretty much by far. So sorry about your week starting problems, especially with your dog. Stressful. Bestest wishes. Curious to hear your thoughts on ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. Very divisive, that one, it seems. I haven’t heard the new Eilish. I read that it’s kind of ‘jazzy’, which made me a little wary. I’m almost crystal clear in the head again. So close to reality that I can imagine it. Have a great one, man. ** Okay. Years ago someone who tagged themselves KillSwitch made this fruitful post for the blog about the great, anti-prolific songwriting auteur and singer Howard Devoto. And now it’s alive again. Very worth your time,I think. See you tomorrow.

Alexander Hammid Day

 

‘Alexandr Hackenschmied (December 17, 1907 – 26 July 26, 2004). He was one of the most significant personalities of Czech film and photograph avant-garde. In the beginning of the 1930’s, he was a distinct promoter of world avant-garde movements and he organized one of the first avant-garde film projections in Prague, showing various films including those of Man Ray.

‘He was a leading photographer, film director, cinematographer and editor in Czechoslovakia between the two world wars. In 1938, he immigrated to the U.S. and became involved in American avant-garde cinema. He officially changed his name to Alexander Hammid when he became a citizen of the United States in 1942.

‘He is best known for three films: Crisis (1939), Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and To Be Alive! (1964). Meshes of the Afternoon was made with his wife Maya Deren, to whom he was married from 1942 to 1947.

‘He also directed The Forgotten Village in 1941, a documentary examining the conflicts between the coming of modernization and the traditional culture of a small Mexican village. This film was banned for its depiction of childbirth.

‘It was in the United States where he met and married Eleanora Deren. He was the artist who later named her “Maya”, the name she became known for. Meshes of the Afternoon was a home movie made by the two of them. At that point, Maya had no experience in filmmaking.

‘On her Wikipedia page it states “Maya Deren was one of the most important American experimental filmmakers and entrepreneurial promoters of the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s. Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, film theorist, poet, lecturer, writer and photographer.” It was her collaboration and relationship with Alexander that set this in motion.

‘In 1965, Alexander won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for To Be Alive! Hammid also worked in partnership with filmmaker Francis Thompson (1908–2003) for over 25 years, producing numerous “in-house” documentaries as well as several films for general viewership.

‘One of the most notable of these is the first IMAX format film, To Fly! (1976), which premiered at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) at the museum’s grand opening celebration on July 1, 1976. The film is a brief summary of the history of flight, from 19th century balloons through 21st century space probes, while simultaneously showing off the new Imax film medium. The evolution of flying technology is portrayed in parallel with the story of the westward exploration of America and the rural-to-cosmopolitan transformation of American society.

‘Hammid was the pioneer of multi-projection and IMAX films, with his work being shown at various world exhibitions. To Fly! was produced in conjunction with MacGillivray Freeman Films and it continues to play regularly at the Air and Space Museum.

‘Hammid lived to be 96 years old and his associates suggest his Buddhist lifestyle, which he adopted after making a film in India for his longevity. If you are interested in his life and work, we highly recommend Aimless Walk (Bezúčelná procházka): Alexander Hammid (1996) based on his life and work by Austrian film director, Martina Kudláček who directed the documentary.’ — Everything Czech

 

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Stills





































 

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Further

Alexander Hammid @ IMDb
Alexander Hammid profile @ monoskop
Alexander Hammid, Filmmaker Known for Many Styles
Alexander Hammid and the Avant Garde
AH @ MUBI
the american dream of alexander hammid
Alexander Hammid: From Prague to New York – A Lifetime of Filmmaking and Artistic Collaborations
Maya Deren by Alexand(e)r (Hammid) Hackenschmied
Alexander Hammid @ Letterboxd
Negative Traces: Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid in Los Angeles
We Are Young!
Private Lives: and the Films of Alexander Hammid

 

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Extras


Aimless Walk


Alexandr Hackenschmied (Fototorst)

 

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Two Memories of Alexander-Sasha Hammid
by Jonas Mekas

 

Alexander Hammid died on July 26, 2004 at the age of 96.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1908, he gained fame with two films he made together with Herbert Kline, Crisis (1939) and Lights Out in Europe (1940)—the two films in which he warned the West about the rise of Nazi Germany. In 1943, in Los Angeles, he married Maya Deren and was the co-maker of her first film, Meshes of the Afternoon. Later he made many important documentary films of musicians and dancers including Arturo Toscanini, Pablo Casals, and Martha Graham. He was known for his very direct style and great respect and love for the subject he was filming.

MEMORY ONE

The year was 1953. I had just moved into 95 Orchard Street place. The rent was $14.95 a month. During the days I worked at Lenard Perskie’s Graphic Studios on West 22nd Street, doing camera work. We did work for the international edition of Life magazine. I remember making for Archipenko copies of his old photographs. But my real work was to catch up with the best of New York’s culture. Especially, from the day that I landed in New York—that happened on October 29, 1940—I submerged myself into the world of cinema. One of my universities was the MoMA and its 5:30pm daily screenings. Another was Cinema 16 and its monthly screenings of experimental films at the Needle Trades School on West 24th Street. I had to see—and did see—everything that was screened in New York and I had to read everything that had been published on cinema in English. One publication that was always mentioned with great respect, in special publications on film as an art, was a mysterious book entitled An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film by a certain Maya Deren. I combed all the bookshops and libraries, but could not locate it. I got so frustrated in my search that I decided to locate the author of the book. I had heard that she actually lived here in New York on Morton Street. I was so obsessed with the book that I decided to call and ask her to lend me a copy of the book. And so I did.

A husky voice came on the line. She was Maya Deren, she said. I presented her with my problem. “Come, of course I’ll lend you the book,” she said. We made an appointment.

At the appointed time I arrive, ring the doorbell, and begin to climb up to I think the fifth floor. I arrive at the top of the stairs and there is this woman, Maya Deren, staring at me very weirdly. I expected to meet her very simply and normally. Instead, I found this woman who seemed sort of panicky. I looked at her strange stare and I didn’t know how to react. She was really panicky.

“Anything wrong?” I managed to stammer.

The silent panic continued another moment, then Maya said:

“I really thought you were Sasha. You looked so much like Sasha and I had not expected him.”

I was a little bit confused. But as she received me and we talked it became clear that Sasha was her recently divorced husband Sasha Hammid. Still in my old European Displaced Persons camp cloths, I was very European looking and when she showed me some pictures of Sasha I understood how close our resemblance was.

That’s how I met Maya Deren. Not as myself, but as a doppelganger of Alexander-Sasha Hammid. But we became very good friends immediately. And, of course, I walked out that afternoon clutching in my hands the thin volume of Anagram.

MEMORY TWO

I met Sasha Hammid in real life in 1961. I was in the process of making my first “real” film, Guns of the Trees. Adolfas, my brother, thought we should get a car to help us move around. I don’t drive, but Adolfas does. We were told that Hammid had a car he was trying to sell. So we went to see him.

The first thing that we really appreciated was that the Hammids, Sasha and his wife Hella, treated us with a good meal. We were always hungry in those days; we put every penny either into our filming or Film Culture magazine. So a meal was always very welcome. Hella even gave us a big bag of food to take home with us. We especially liked her bread, which she baked herself. And of course we bought their old used car. They sold it to us for practically nothing. Their children called it Papacar. The Papacar served us faithfully during the filming of Guns. Whenever we visited the Hammids, the children always were asking us about Papacar. They were very attached to it.

Sasha helped us in another emergency. We had need of a tripod. When we told this to Sasha, he went to the closet and brought a beautiful giro-tripod. “Here it is, use it.” So we took it and used it for a lot of shooting. But one night we were stupid enough to leave it in the Papacar in the street. Next morning it was gone. Luckily, Adolfas was smart enough to insure it. For months we hid from Sasha the fact that his tripod was stolen. Then three months later, we got the insurance money, $300 of it. So we stopped to see Sasha at 1 West 89th Street, where he always lived, and we handed him the money, apologizing profusely.

Sasha looked at us in disbelief then he began laughing. “Yes,” he said, “thank you very much, but that tripod was worth only 30 dollars.”

We couldn’t believe it. We were quite ignorant about the prices of movie equipment. But we had to believe Sasha. So we had some good food and some good wine and we celebrated the stealing of the tripod. I think we split the money.

As years went, we had many good days and evenings with the Hammids. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.

 

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14 of Alexander Hammid’s 20 films

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The Prague Castle (1931)
‘Hammid bought a handheld camera Bell-Howell and made his second film, Na Pražském hradě [Prague Castle], in close collaboration with the composer of the sound track, striving for an organic intertwining of image and music.’ — letterboxd


the entirety

 

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w/ Herbert Kline Crisis (1939)
Crisis is a feature-length documentary about the 1938 Sudeten Crisis. It was released briefly before the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939.’ — collaged


the entirety

 

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w/ Herbert Kline The Forgotten Village (1941)
‘In this powerful 68-minute documentary is an unnamed, poverty-stricken Mexican community. In grim detail, the film records the life-cycle of a typical peasant family, from birth to death. The narration was written by John Steinbeck.’ — MUBI


the entirety

 

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w/ Maya Deren Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)
Meshes of the Afternoon is the 14-minute avant-garde film that director Maya Deren made in collaboration with her then husband, Alexander Hamid. The film is silent except for snippets of added sound, such as the ticking of a clock. In 1957, the Japanese composer Teiji Ito, Deren’s second husband, added an ambient, dreamy soundtrack to the film. The action centres around a woman (played by Deren) who repeatedly follows another woman, the latter of whom is dressed in black, is holding a flower and has a mirror for a face. Every time this mysterious presence disappears around the corner, Deren enters a house. The second time she goes inside, her first version is still there; the third time, there are three of her. The film is black-and-white with sharp shadows and many diagonal lines, and was shot with a camera that follows the woman from striking angles. A knife, a telephone and a key return time and again and sometimes abruptly merge. Subsequently, a man (played by Hamid) enters this menacing, circular fantasy world. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, director Deren was a prominent experimental filmmaker in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. Meshes of the Afternoon won the Grand Prix Internationale at the 1947 Cannes Film Festival.’ — idfa


the entirety

 

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w/ Maya Deren Witches Cradle (1943)
Witch’s Cradle, is a silent, unfinished film of around 12 minutes’ duration dating from 1943. When exactly in 1943 it was made is uncertain, but it would appear that it pre-dates even Meshes of the Afternoon, the film Deren made with Alexander Hammid in the same year which established Deren, previously known only as a dancer, as a vital force of non-linear filmmaking. That alone would prevent the footage from being a mere cutting-room curio, but it is her collaborator who also ensures this fragment’s status as an important document of filmic Modernism. Marcel Duchamp collaborated with Deren and Hammid on the film. Duchamp himself is seen briefly in Witch’s Cradle; Deren doesn’t appear in front of the camera (as she would in almost all of her later films).’ — Quasimodo King


the entirety

 

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Valley of the Tennessee (1944)
‘U.S. Goverment film about the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s and 1940s.’ — MUBI


the entirety

 

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Hymn of the Nations (1944)
‘An American documentary, Hymn of the Nations, using archival footage from 1943 and 1944, includes a stirring performance by the NBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Arturo Toscanini, and accompanied by Jan Peerce and the Westminster Choir in New York City, which was broadcast nationally on the radio at 5 p.m. on Sunday January 31, 1943. This documentary film, directed by Alexander Hammid, presents the performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s overture to the Italian opera “Forza del Destino” (The Power of Fate) and also his Inno delle nazioni (Hymn of Nations).’ — Perry J Greenbaum


the entirety

 

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Library of Congress (1945)
‘There’s so much to like in this Academy Award-nominated film, which celebrates reading and scholarship and humankind. The shots of patrons looking through the card catalogue speak — well, volumes. Watch too for other forms of beautiful technology and several musical surprises. Alexander Hammid directed. The narrator is Ralph Bellamy. The book that the boy is reading at the beginning and end is Lucy Salamanca’s Fortress of Freedom: The Story of the Library of Congress (1942).’ — collaged


the entirety

 

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A Better Tomorrow (1945)
A Better Tomorrow is a documentary short that focuses on New York City progressive public schools. One of the more inspiring and hopeful movies ever made about American politics, in that it believes that devoted young people of color can bring about change.’ — m_hulot


Excerpt

 

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w/ Maya Deren The Private Life of a Cat (1947)
‘A day in the life of a cat, filmed from a cat’s-eye view. This film was circulated in two versions: a silent version without narration and a somewhat longer sound version with a narration read by filmmaker Alexander Hammid’s then-wife, Maya Deren.’ — MUBI


the entirety

 

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Angry Boy (1950)
‘Simple, affecting case study produced for social workers and psychologists and illustrating how counseling can help children come to terms with anger. Young Tommy Randall has been caught stealing money from his teacher’s purse and receives help from a psychiatrist. A psychiatric social worker enables his mother to better understand her relationship with her son. This sensitive documentary is filled with revealing behavioral details. Shot in the Huron Valley Child Guidance Clinic near Ann Arbor, Michigan. Also released in 16mm. Known for his avant-garde works, Alexander Hammid made other psychological films in the 1950s.’ — Old Reel Server


the entirety

 

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The Gentleman in Room Six (1951)
‘With Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Norma Winters. Cinematography by the great Boris Kaufman. Offbeat little drama about a bitter guy who lives in a hotel and (spoiler alert) is Hitler.’– unpopulararts


the entirety

 

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Night Journey (1961)
Night Journey, the dance, had its premiere only two and a half years after Appalachian Spring, and it is a close cousin. It too has a stream-of-consciousness narration: Jocasta, as she is about to kill herself, remembering what has happened to her. It too contains soul-delving solos, broken up by ensemble dances. Here, however, the ensemble is a darker element. As the story was taken from Greek tragedy, so the corps is the equivalent of Greek tragedy’s chorus. They tell us how to feel: afraid mostly. In this piece Graham pushed her habitual economy to its limits.’ — Joan Acocella


the entirety

 

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To Be Alive (1965)
‘Most of the exhibits of the New York World’s Fair were real: models and buildings that portrayed the future and the past. But one of the most acclaimed exhibit of the fair was the Johnson’s Wax pavilion – a short movie called to be alive!

‘Part of it was a gimmick. This was a few years after Cinerama brought the (mixed) wonders of a super wide screen to theaters, but the fad had not quiet died yet. To be alive! tried something similar, but instead of having three cameras projecting across one extra wide screen, it use three regular-sized screens separated by a foot of black. This was easier to deal with technically, and audiences learned to ignore the black space immediately.

The movie is the musings of a narrator, who, tired of the rat race,* starts to wax poetic about how things were when he was a child. The movie starts with the life of a child, and then follows a life span as it celebrates human existence.

‘The strength of the film is in its images, which show people from all over the world, doing what the love and enjoying the world around them. The three-screen format was a feast for the eyes.

‘The film was a sensation. The New York Critics Film Circle gave it a special award, unprecedented for a nontheatrical film. It was considered ineligible for an Oscar because of its format, so they cut it down into on single-screen version that played in LA and won the award for documentary short.’ — Chuck Rothman


the entirety

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi!!! God, I hope your heat abates. We’re being so lucky here in Paris. Velocicoaster was fantastic, very fast and inventive. Would definitely be in my top 10 favorite coasters. Did you get your tattoo? What’s ‘the figure’? What did your bro get? Ha ha, I spent a few minutes trying to unsuccessfully (but pleasurably) imagine what having his asscheeks as lungs would feel like. I finally got a full night of sleep last night, so I’m ready for your orgy love, thank you, and of course you’re invited. We can split the dungeon rental. Love inviting you along to a coffee I’m having in the next couple of days with a famous young pop star (whom I can’t name, at least not yet) and his boyfriend, G. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I expected to loathe ‘Tenet’, and I was so surprised that I didn’t that I might have given it more credit than it’s due, but I thought, Okay, a 200+ million dollar tricky, incoherent film is kind of cool. ** Bill, Hi. Those slaves made ‘The Sluts’ seem like a milk-fed puppy. I think my publisher is at least thinking of getting me to SF for a bookstore reading re: ‘I Wished’, and I’ll push for that. Would be very cool to see you! ** David Ehrenstein, Howdy, David. Okay … Everyone, Mr. Ehrenstein has a message/offer for y’all. Here he is to tell you about it. David: ‘Dear Dennisitas. I’m having a sale. LAVISHLY ILLUSTRATED FILM BOOKS FOR SALE. Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman”, George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky,” Audrey Hepburn $50.00 each. numerous books, CDs and DVDs for sale at bargain prices. Call me and come over ASAP. Cheers, David Ehrenstein.’ I hadn’t heard that use of that term before. I wonder if S.E. Hinton took the name of Ponyboy Curtis in ‘The Outsiders’ from that. ** Steve Erickson, God knows the world needs non-creepy executioners. I mostly admire Tim Hunter because of ‘River’s Edge’, but I remember thinking ‘Tex’ was quite good, and ‘The Failures’ was pretty interesting, as I recall. I have friends who think highly of ‘Control’, but I haven’t seen it. Ha ha, a ‘Meg’ sequel. ** _Black_Acrylic, Yes, the blog clock is functioning again. Excellent that you’re writing and going to take that short stories class. Love what you did when you were back in the heat of your writing prioritising days. ** Corey Heiferman, Very kind of you to hope Cargo would get to snuggle up in bubble wrap. Great about the poetry nights, and about the festival! You’re cooking. Oh, hm, I don’t specifically recall how doing the reading series at Beyond Baroque way back when affected my writing. I seem to have written a lot. I think the fact that I was doing a lot of readings myself back then probably had a big affect. Maybe not the same thing, but it took me quite a while to get my footing as a writer in the early years of doing the blog. It really ate up my creativity and rhythm for a while. But I eventually sorted it. Is that what you mean? ** T, A pretty penny, wouldn’t you think? Me too re: being so impressed and envious about the slaves’ (and escorts’) writing. Funny that. I do edit the texts a bit, but the meat and spin of them is all theirs. I always imagine they’re very emotional when they write their texts, and I think that’s where a lot of the force and maybe creativity comes in, but I guess they could be calculating bastards for all I know. Anyway, yeah, good stuff. Yes, moot your idea to him! He could be your gift horse (whatever that means). My weekend was basically a wash of sleep deprivation-related blah, but the bad spell might have broken last night. Life feels possible this morning. At least you got through the reunion with your wits intact? Oh, Nemours. I see that one can travel from there to Paris, to and fro, by RER in 1 hr 9 minutes. Only 8 stops. And your Paris arrival/departure spot is Gare de Lyon. Not bad at all. Let’s definitely hang. Yeah, keep me posted. And happy Monday! ** Misanthrope, Thanks, pal. What’s been going on with you? ** Brian, Hi, Brian! Yeah, a wilder than even usual bunch. Totally get the anxiety. Like I’m sure I’ve said, to me, moving homes is inherently really stressful, even if it’s just across town. But, yeah, the liberation once you’re in the new digs and arranging your stuff there can be quite heady. So glad you liked ‘Satyricon’. An all-time fave, and, me too, definitely my fave of his films. Nuts. Those sets. Those set pieces. It even makes Jodorowsky’s extravaganzas seem like high school productions. My weekend was just a haze due to awful, awful jet lag, but I think, hope, I’m in the clear as of today, but we’ll see. I’m raring to make up for lost time. Is your week dawning all right? Best of the best! ** Right. Alexander Hammid is best known, when he’s known at all, as Mr. Maya Deren, but he made some very interesting films both with and without her. Investigate the oeuvre, if you will. See you tomorrow.

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