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On Expo - Film - In concert

This month's blogs: 2005 April (6) | 2005 April (5) | 2005 April (4) | 2005 April (3) | 2005 April (2) | 2005 April (1)

WWW jahsonic.com

"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, Apr 23; 21:09 ::: Piero Manzoni

Piero Manzoni, 1961 © VBK, Wien, 2002
image sourced here.

2005, Apr 23; 21:09 ::: Movie clichés

Clint Eastwood, photo unidentified

In many films it can be observed that with relative frequency that certain plot idioms, gimmicks, and "clichés", often for no justifiable reason, repeated time and time again. They are often seen with such regularity that they are expected and disliked for that very reason. For any given genre of film there will often be an associated litany of "clichés" that often help to define the genre itself. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_movie_clich%E9s [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 23; 21:09 ::: Sherlock Holmes

Illustration by Sidney Paget for "The Greek Interpreter", Strand Magazine, September 1893.
image sourced here. [Apr 2005]

see also: 1893

2005, Apr 23; 20:18 ::: Graveyard

Hilversum graveyard, photocredit unidentified
image sourced here. [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 23; 20:06 ::: Cleopatra

Cleopatra (1934) - Cecil B. DeMille
image sourced here. [Apr 2005]

see also: 1934

2005, Apr 23; 19:33 ::: Eerie

eerie forest
image sourced here. [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 23; 18:23 ::: Fascination (1979) - Jean Rollin

Franka Mai and Brigitte Lahaie
image sourced here. [Apr 2005]

Women treat their anemia by drinking fresh blood at a slaughterhouse
image sourced here. [Apr 2005]

The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) - Mark Rappaport [FR] [DE] [UK]

A pair of society women dressed in all their finery stand in the middle of an abattoir, animal carcasses hanging behind them and blood splashed across the floor. Giggling and fidgeting, they drink their prescribed glass of ox blood. The startling, unreal image of high-society manners in the midst of gore and death pitches Jean Rollin's 1979 feature Fascination into a turn-of-the-century culture come unhinged. When a well-dressed rogue, fleeing from angry partners he double-crossed, takes refuge in a lavish, moat-protected mansion, servant girls Franca Mai and Brigitte Lahaie cajole, tease, and seduce him into staying for their nighttime soiree. "You have stumbled into Elizabeth and Eva's life, the universe of madness and death," mutters one of them as they await the cabal where he is the guest of honor. Shot on a starvation budget and populated with stiff performers, Rollin's direction is arch and at times sloppy and his story never more than an outline. It's the mix of dreamy and nightmarish imagery that gives Fascination its fascination: blonde Lahaie stalking victims with a scythe, the bourgeois blood cult swarming over a fresh victim like wild animals, alabaster faces streaked in blood. While it lacks the delirious spontaneity of his earlier vampire films Shiver of the Vampires and Requiem for a Vampire, the languid pace and austere beauty creates an often-mesmerizing fantasy. The DVD also features the original theatrical trailer, a gallery of production stills, and a Rollin filmography. --Sean Axmaker via Amazon.com

definition of fascination

    1. The capability of eliciting intense interest or of being very attractive.
    2. The state of being intensely interested or attracted: listened in fascination.
    3. An intensely interesting, attractive quality or trait.

The power or quality of attracting: allure, allurement, appeal, attraction, attractiveness, call, charisma, charm, draw, enchantment, enticement, glamour, lure, magnetism, witchery. Informal pull. See like/dislike. --Roget's Thesaurus

Jean Rollin
Jean Rollin (1938- ) is a French director of fantastic cinema.

A master of cinematography, heavily influenced by near-contemporary French New Wave and earlier German Expressionism, his art films have been rightfully compared to a sort of visual poetry. His surreal images juxtapose the horrific and the erotic, often with minimal dialogue or action and sparse, but effective, scores. Like F.W. Murnau before him, Rollin typically employs the conventions of the horror genre, especially vampires, as a framing device for his unsettling images. As a result, the plot and dialogue of his films tend to be silly at best, and nonsensical at their worst, although these elements are really quite immaterial to the visual art for which his films are known.

Unfortunately, his peculiar combination of high-art and erotic horror camp failed to generate financial or critical success. On the other hand, his ability to incorporate sexuality into his art allowed him to recieve some financial support from the adult film industry, who hired him to direct some non-artistic adult films, which he did under the pseudonym 'Michel Gentil'.

After the rerelease of many of art-house horror films on DVD in the US and UK, his work has started to attract critical and academic attention, as well as a small cult following. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Rollin [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 23; 18:13 ::: Cinématon - Gérard Courant

Comment pourriez-vous qualifier, dans ces grandes lignes, le principe du Cinématon ?

Gérard Courant : Le Cinématon répond à des règles très précises.
Tous les portraits, sans exception, sont réalisés selon les mêmes règles, je dirais les mêmes contraintes, les mêmes commandements.

Voici les 10 commandements du Cinématon :

    1) La caméra cadre un gros plan fixe du visage d’une personnalité des arts et du spectacle.
    2) La caméra cinématographique est fixée sur un trépied.
    3) La caméra filme pendant 3 minutes 25 secondes, le temps d’un chargeur "Super 8".
    4) Il y a une seule prise.
    5) Il n’y a pas de son.
    6) Il n’y a pas de changement de mise au point.
    7) Il n’y a pas de modification de cadrage en cours de tournage.
    8) Il n’y a pas de coupure pendant le tournage et pas de montage.
    9) La personne filmée est libre de faire ce qu’elle veut.
    10) Le "cinématoné" accepte que son portrait soit montré au public.

2005, Apr 23; 17:55 ::: Intense actor: Sean Penn

Sean Penn in
Bad Boys (1983)
image sourced here.

2005, Apr 23; 16:14 ::: Fictional character

King Kong (1933) - Cooper, Schoedsack

Fictional character
A fictional character is any person who appears in a work of fiction. More accurately, a fictional character is the person or conscious entity we imagine to exist within the world of such a work. In addition to people, characters can be aliens, animals, gods or, occasionally, inanimate objects. Characters are almost always at the center of fictional texts, especially novels and plays. It is, in fact, hard to imagine a novel or play without characters, though such texts have been attempted (James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is one of the most famous examples). In poetry, there is almost always some sort of person present, but often only in the form of a narrator or an imagined listener.

In various forms of theatre, performance arts and cinema (except for animation and CGI movies), fictional characters are performed by actors, dancers and singers. In animations and puppetry, they are voiced by voice actors, though there have been several examples, particularly, in machinima, where characters are voiced by computer generated voices. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictional_character [Apr 2005]

Some unusual uses of characters
Post-modern fiction frequently incorporates real characters into fictional and even realistic surroundings. In film, the appearance of a real person as himself inside of a fictional story is a type of cameo. For instance, Woody Allen's Annie Hall has Allen's character call in Marshall McLuhan to resolve a disagreement.

In some experimental fiction, the author acts as a character within his own text. One of the earliest examples of this is Niebla ("Fog") by Miguel de Unamuno (1907), in which the main character visits Unamuno in his office to discuss his fate in the novel. Paul Auster also employs this device in his novel City of Glass (1985), which opens with the main character getting a phone call for Paul Auster. At first the main character explains that the caller has reached a wrong number, but eventually he decides to pretend to be Auster and see where it leads him. In Immortality by Milan Kundera, the author references himself in a storyline seemingly separate from that of his fictional characters, but at the end of the novel, Kundera meets his own characters.

With the rise of the star system in Hollywood, many famous actors are so familiar that it can be hard to limit our reading of their character to a single film. In some sense, Bruce Lee is always Bruce Lee, Woody Allen is always Woody Allen, and Harrison Ford is always Harrison Ford; all often portray characters that are very alike, so audiences fuse the star persona with the characters they tend to play. Spike Jonze's film Being John Malkovich explores the strange situation of characters in film.

Some fiction and drama make constant reference to a character who is never seen. This often becomes a sort of joke with the audience. This device is the centrepoint of one of the most unusual and original plays of the 20th century, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, in which Godot of the title never arrives. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictional_character#Some_unusual_uses_of_characters [Apr 2005]

Being John Malkovitch (1999) - Spike Jonze [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Being John Malkovich is a 1999 film written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze.

The film centers around a puppeteer named Craig Schwartz, who gets a job at the Lestercorp company in the fictional Mertin-Flemmer building in New York City. One day he finds a door in the wall of an office; going through it, he is transported into the brain of actor John Malkovich. He sees, hears, and feels everything Malkovich experiences for about fifteen minutes, and is then deposited into a ditch next to the New Jersey Turnpike. Schwartz and Maxine, a co-worker to whom he is unrequitedly attracted, set up a night business charging people to experience it. Schwartz eventually becomes adept at controlling Malkovich and resides in the body for several months before an ending in which he is absorbed into the body of the unborn baby of Maxine and Malkovich (conceived while Schwartz's wife Lotte was inside Malkovich).

The film was widely praised for its originality, both in terms of the script and Jonze's direction. Kaufman's blending of fact and outrageous fiction was a theme continued in his next film with Jonze, Adaptation (which features Kaufman himself as a character and briefly touches on the making of Being John Malkovich). Jonze's direction and the performances of the lead actors was also viewed favourably by most critics. As well as Malkovich's performance as himself (or at least a version of himself; his middle name in the film is Horatio, which is not his real middle name), Cameron Diaz's small role attracted considerable attention, at least partly as she was almost unrecognizable as the dowdy Lotte. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_John_Malkovitch [Apr 2005]

see also: character - persona - actor - actress

2005, Apr 23; 15:16 ::: The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) - Mark Rappaport

The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) - Mark Rappaport [FR] [DE] [UK]

inspired by http://herpessimplex.blogspot.com/2005/04/adult-kindergarden.html

who further writes:

+++ jahsonic has been killing it lately... roger corman, folk is not a four letter word, henri-georges clouzot's la prisonniere, and sophia loren (click on that picture, there's more). and this fascinating tidbit:

Female ejaculation and the British film censors
In the United Kingdom, the British Board of Film Classification denies the existence of the phenomenon of female ejaculation, regarding it instead as urination during sex, thus banning its depiction under its rules that ban the depiction of urolagnia.

that site is a vortex i get hopelessly sucked into nearly every day... via clicking on the word misappropriation in an entry about garage music i went from an entry about (correct) appropriation in which the example used titian's venus of urbino to thinking about the mark rappaport films (in which he appropriates that painting amongst others--like peter greenaway but in his own way) to searching jahsonic for mark rappaport which led me to a huge-ass essay by dr. harry m. benshoff which i shall probably read in some distant future but nonetheless looks interesting. --mid-sized mammal via http://herpessimplex.blogspot.com/2005/04/adult-kindergarden.html [Apr 2005]

see also: gay cinema

2005, Apr 23; 14:30 ::: Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great of Russia (before 1773) Alexi Petrovich Antropovore (1716-1795)
image sourced here.

Catherine II (April 21, 1729 - November 6, 1796), born Sophie Augusta Fredericka, known as Catherine the Great, reigned as empress of Russia from June 28, 1762, to her death on November 6, 1796. A cousin to Gustav III of Sweden and Charles XIII of Sweden, Catherine exemplified an "enlightened monarch." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_II_of_Russia [Jan 2005]

Catherine was known for her sexual appetite and her many lovers. She had a secret room constructed, filled with paintings and sculptures depicting the most raunchy sexual acts imaginable. Even the individual items of furniture were constructed out of elements depicting giant sexual organs and decorated in tune with the theme. Ironically the craftsmen employed for this purpose were the very same who decorated Russia's churches. Many of the images depicted rape, pedophilia and zoophilia in realistic and graphic anatomical detail. However, the often-told story that she had sex with a horse and died as a result is baseless. In fact, Catherine supposedly suffered a stroke while sitting on a commode on November 5, 1796, and subsequently died in bed without having regained consciousness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_II_of_Russia#Personal_life [Oct 2004]

Catherine and Voltaire
Catherine the Great of Russia read Voltaire's writing for seventeen years before she began a correspondence with him. In her first letter to Voltaire written in 1763, she stated:

"... by chance your works fell into my hands; and since then I have never stopped reading them, have not wished to have anything to do with books which were not written as well and from which the same profit could not be derived. "

When Voltaire died in 1778 his niece, Mme Denis, inherited his estate. Catherine offered to purchase Voltaire's library and manuscripts and Mme Denis agreed to sell them. Catherine paid 135,398 livres for the library of 6,210 books. The library was sent to St. Petersburg. http://www.visitvoltaire.com/v_catherine_the_great.htm [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 22; 12:53 ::: La Pucelle d'Orléans (1762) - Voltaire

The Pucelle, if morally inferior, is from a literary point of view of far more value, it is desultory to a degree; it is a base libel on religion and history; it differs from its model Lodovico Ariosto in being, not, as Ariosto is, a mixture of romance and burlesque, but a sometimes tedious tissue of burlesque pure and simple. Nevertheless, with all the Pucelle 's faults, it is amusing. The minor poems are as much above the Pucelle as the Pucelle is above the Henriade. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaire [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 22; 12:53 ::: The Velvet Underground (1963) Michael Leigh

The Velvet Underground (1963) Michael Leigh
image sourced here.

The Velvet Underground (1963) Michael Leigh [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Swingers and swappers, strippers and streetwalkers, sadists, masochists, and sexual mavericks of every persuasion; are all documented in this legendary expose of the diseased underbelly of '60s American society.

The book that lent its name to the seminal New York rock 'n' roll group, whose songs were to mirror its themes of depravity and social malaise. Welcome to the sexual twilight zone... --via Amazon.com

2005, Apr 22; 11:19 ::: Elinor Glyn (1864 - 1943)

Elinor Glyn (October 17, 1864 - September 23, 1943), born Nellie Sutherland in Jersey, was the author of It, Three Weeks, Beyond the Rocks, and other novels in a similarly softcore vein. She was also the sister of Titanic survivor and fashion designer Lady Lucy Duff Gordon.

Although her writing would not be considered scandalous by 21st century standards, she pioneered mass-market women's erotic fiction. She coined the use of It as a euphemism for sexuality, or sex appeal.

On the back of the popularity and notoriety of her books, she moved to Hollywood where she promoted the concept of the vamp, helping to make a star of actress Clara Bow (the It Girl).

A scriptwriter for the early movie industry, she also had a brief career as one of the earliest female directors. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elinor_Glyn [Apr 2005]

See also: It

2005, Apr 22; 11:19 ::: Softcore

Christina Lindberg
image sourced here.

Dagmar Lassander
image sourced here.

see also: Femina Ridens (1969) - softcore

2005, Apr 22; 11:08 ::: Lui

Lui no 205
image sourced here.

2005, Apr 22; 10:51 ::: Spermula (1976) - Charles Matton

image sourced here.

Dayle Haddon
image sourced here.


Charles Matton photographs under the name Pascalini.

Charles Matton, cinéaste et peintre français, expose depuis 1960 et filme depuis 1967. Il vit et travaille à Paris.

En 1997, il a reçu pour le film Rembrandt le Grand prix du meilleur scénariste, avec sa femme, Sylvie Matton.

Rembrandt est son quatrième long métrage. --http://perso.wanadoo.fr/calounet/biographies/matton_biographie.htm [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 22; 09:27 ::: Le Locataire/The Tenant (1976) - Roman Polanski

Le Locataire/The Tenant (1976) - Roman Polanski [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Polish film poster for Le Locataire

Isabelle Adjani and Roman Polanski watching a kung fu film in Le Locataire

The apartment from Le Locataire

Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant are all part of an unofficial but deliberate trilogy on the subject of apartment-dweller paranoia.

see also: 1976 - Roland Topor - Roman Polanski - psychological horror

2005, Apr 22; 09:12 ::: Mina Loy (1882 - 1966)

Mina Loy (1909), photo by Stephen Haweis

Mina Loy (December 27, 1882 - September 25, 1966) was an artist, poet, Futurist, actor, Christian Scientist, designer of lamps and bohemian extraordinaire. She was one of the last 1st generation modernists to achieve posthumous recognition. Her poetry was admired by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mina_Loy [Apr 2005]

The Futurists’ bullish aggression and marginalization of women led to the disillusionment of many of its initial female followers, including Mina Loy. After writing a feminist Futurist manifesto and a number of important Futurist plays between 1913 and 1915, Loy left the movement and attacked its misogyny in her satirical play The Pamperers (1916). The messianic phallocentrism of the early days of the movement is summed up, perhaps unconsciously, in the final words of the manifesto: ‘Erect on the summit of the world, once again we hurl defiance to the stars!’ (Marinetti, 1996: 293). However, the often abhorrent first manifesto was also something of an aberration, as none of the subsequent manifestos contained overt misogyny, nor did they even approach the excessive aggression and right-wing political rhetoric of the first. Kirby is quick to point out that very few Futurist plays and ‘were political in any way and none was explicitly Fascist’ (1971: 5).--Futurism e-visited, Steve Dixon, http://www.brunel.ac.uk/depts/pfa/bstjournal/3no2/Papers/Steve%20Dixon.htm [offline]

see also: 1909

2005, Apr 22; 07:50 ::: Russion avant-garde

Beat the white with the Red wedge (1919) El Lissitzky
image sourced here.

see also: 1919

2005, Apr 21; 17:19 ::: Thomas Couture on cult of personality

Romans in the Decadence of the Empire (1847) - Thomas Couture

Asked by a publisher to do an autobiography, Thomas Couture (1815-1879) responded with words that are even more appropriate today:

"Biography is the exaltation of personality --- and personality is the scourge of our time."
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Couture [Apr 2005]

see also: biography

2005, Apr 21; 16:54 ::: Romanticism, decadence and modernism

The The Decadent movement was a transitional stage between romanticism and modernism.

The great red dragon and the woman clothed with the sun (c. 1800) - William Blake

Pornokrates (1879) - Félicien Rops

Bauhaus building in Dessau, Germany (1926) - Walter Gropius

2005, Apr 21; 13:45 ::: Sexus (1964) - José Bénazéraf

still from Sexus (1964) - José Bénazéraf
image sourced here.

The original title [of Sexus] was La Plus Longue Nuit. They sold a lot of Henry Miller books on the basis of the movie, but I suspect that a lot of people went to the movie thinking it was the film version of that book. We had another José Bénazéraf movie, The Fourth Sex, and I've seen all his movies. He really has a feel for making an erotic movie. There's a degenerate streak in his films, which he lives. You literally can smell the film. It's a gift. And he has impeccable taste in choosing his girls. Sexus was a very strong picture at the time. We were a little worried about it because it had a couple of lesbian striptease acts. --Radley Metzger via http://www.vidmarc.demon.co.uk/mondo-erotico/metzger/interviews/aristo1.html [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 21; 13:28 ::: Elke Sommer

Elke Sommer, photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

2005, Apr 21; 13:23 ::: Satanik (1968) - Piero Vivarelli

Satanik (1968) - Piero Vivarelli [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Satanik ("Killing" in the original Italian edition -- see "Publishing History" below) is a terrifying and diabolical master criminal. Totally without mercy, Satanik mostly goes after other criminals, usually to steal their loot or whatever they're after. His real identity remains unknown. No one knows who he is. Satanik uses a special brand of flesh-like masks he designed to make himself look like any of his targets. He also uses darts filled with Mjanico, the "green death", an Amazonian poison which kills its victims slowly and painfully.

Dana, photocredit unidentified
sourced here.

Satanik's only companion is his lover, the equally mysterious Dana, probably the only person in the world to know his secret identity. Dana ably assists Satanik in his criminal endeavors.

Satanik's nemesis is Inspector Mercier, a smart, relentless policeman who is always hot on his trail, but somehow loses every time.

Satanik's literary ancestor was Fantômas, the brain-child of French writers Marcel Allain (1885-1970) and Pierre Souvestre (1874-1914).

Fantômas was created in 1911 and appeared in a total of thirty-two volumes written by the two collaborators, then a subsequent eleven volumes written by Allain alone after Souvestre's death.

Arch-criminal Fantômas is one of the most popular characters in the history of French pulp literature. His adversaries are determined policeman Juve (who may be Fantômas' brother?) and young journalist Jerôme Fandor, who eventually falls in love with Fantômas' own daughter. Another recurring character is the tragic figure of Fantômas' lover, Lady Beltham, who is constantly torn between her passion for the villain and her horror at his criminal schemes.

The character and the monstrously complicated plots designed by Allain & Souvestre were greatly admired by the French surrealists. --http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/satanik.htm [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 21; 12:51 ::: Necronomicon

H.R. Giger's Necronomicon (1978) - H. R. Giger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The Necronomicon is a fictional book of magic, invented by H. P. Lovecraft and frequently featured in his Cthulhu mythos tales.

Probable derivations

  • Various writers in the school of the Cthulhu Mythos have "quoted" from the Necronomicon, amongst them Clark Ashton Smith and August Derleth.
  • Necronomicon was the title of a book of paintings by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger (published in 1978); it was a quite appropriate title for his particularly sinister style of blended machinery and flesh.
  • In Sam Raimi's popular movies Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis appears as an evil book of magic. (And in Evil Dead, the first of the trilogy that also includes them, hearing a recording of an academic reading from a similar book is blamed for all of the character Ash's later trouble.)
  • Science fiction author Neal Stephenson derived the title of his book Cryptonomicon from the Necronomicon featured in the Evil Dead movies, not knowing that the name had originated with H. P. Lovecraft.
  • The 1968 Jess Franco movie Necronomicon.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld features an "evil book" known as the Necrotelecomnicon, a parody of the title.
  • In The Simpsons, Bob Dole reads from the Necronomicon at the Republican headquarters.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Billy steals Grim's copy of "The Bad Book" to raise Yog Soloth
  • In an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock accidentally gives Meatwad the Necronomicon.
  • In a level of Max Payne, Max encounters Necronomicon and Paradise Lost, among people who believe in the somewhat unrelated norse mythology
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necronomicon [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 21; 12:21 ::: Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye (2004) - Andrew Repasky McElhinney

Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye (2004) - Andrew Repasky McElhinney
image sourced here.

Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye (2004) - Andrew Repasky McElhinney
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379797 [Apr 2005]

After the credits of Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye, we find ourselves in a kind of theatre where, to the tune of "Puttin' On My Top Hat," two young women (Melissa Elizabeth Forgione, Courtney Shea) are dancing on stage for an audience of one: a decadent young man (Sean Timothy Sexton) who looks like Robert Downey, Jr., at the end of Less Than Zero.  The dancers look like Mr. Peanut, the Planter's Peanuts ad icon - giant top-hatted heads mounted on tap-dancing legs - except that their "eyes" are breasts.  The young man seems to be controlling their movements with the kind of toggle-switch used for video games, which is cradled in his lap.

This witty visual metaphor for our sexual fantasies kicks off the third feature by Philadelphia's Andrew Repasky McElhinney, who is rapidly gaining an international reputation. Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye, should accelerate that process. McElhinney's first two features, Magdalen and A Chronicle of Corpses, are available on DVD from Alpha New Cinema.

Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye consists of a series of dreamlike episodes whose cumulative shock value I will only hint at.  In this respect the film is faithful to the spirit, if not the letter, of Story of the Eye, the first novel by French writer Georges Bataille. Published under a pen-name in 1928, Story of the Eye created a scandal when it first appeared.  Today it is part of the post-structuralist canon taught in our universities, along with Bataille's later theoretical writings on death, eroticism, economic theory and mystical experience.  But Bataille's first published work, written at the urging of his analyst, still has the power to rattle our cages. 

Andrew Repasky McElhinney has made a film that performs the same service, even in these jaded times, without literally transposing the action of the book. Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye does begin, however, with a brief account of Bataille's life, and uses intertitles culled from the book.

In the haunted, specter-like narrative of Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye, the young man passes through a series of fantasy episodes for which he supplies the audience, and ultimately becomes one of the actors in the final fantasy, not unlike the heroine of Cafe Flesh, a minor masterpiece of post-apocalyptic pornography by Stephen (“Rinse Dream”) Sayadian, who is credited as one of the chief inspirations for the film.  The other inspiration cited is Louis Feuillade, grandfather of the Saturday matinee serial, who was admired by the surrealists for yoking imaginative episodes of fantasy and terror together to create careening cinematic express trains whose connection to narrative was tenuous, and to dreams, profound.

In Story of the Eye Bataille deconstructs his own narrative by revealing that it was generated from repressed childhood memories which returned to him as lewd fantasies - a verbatim quote to that effect appears as one of the intertitles in Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye.  Rather than copying those fantasies, McElhinney and his co-screenwriters have spun their own, which "Charlie Mackie" (McElhinney's editorial alter ego) has linked to Bataille's excavated memories via the intertitles and other associations. 

The most famous, is the image Bataille saw as a child of his blind, mad father throwing his head back as he urinated, so that only the whites of his eyes were visible - a memory which passed into the writer's unconscious and generated the obsessive images of eyes, testicles and eggs that structure the narrative of the novel.  In Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye a glimpse of Querelle Haynes rolling his eyes up is followed by an intertitle about the blindness of Bataille's father, and then by the "Oedipal" execution of Black Jam Daddy, Claude Barrington White. 

Later, a brief glimpse through a window of a head being thrown back - a flashback to one of the most traumatic events of 20th Century history - causes one of the sisters (Courtney Shea) to imitate the father in Story of the Eye, even to "his vaguely sardonic and absent laugh," as Bataille describes it.  At this point it's as if the buried images in Georges Bataille's unconscious mind are motivating not only the events of the film, but what Bataille called the nightmare of society.  "Our personal hallucination," he writes of one of the moments in the book where the narrator and his female accomplice have attained the apogee of lustful lunacy they are always seeking, "now developed as boundlessly as, perhaps, the total nightmare of human society."

French critic/filmmaker Jacques Rivette once said that any good film should be seen twice - "Once for surprise and once for ravishment" - and I have been deliberately vague about the details of Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye 's content so that spectators can enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed.  Some of them, including a few admirers of Andrew Repasky McElhinney 's previous feature films, may be outraged by the surprises in this one, but others, like this reviewer, will applaud it as the filmmaker’s best work yet, and a promise of great work to come.

Bill Krohn has been the Los Angles correspondent of Cahiers du cinema since 1978. --http://www.armcinema25.com/GBSOTE_Local_Dec1003.html [Apr 2005]

See also: 1928 - 2004 - - Georges Bataille - Histoire de l'oeil

2005, Apr 21; 11:46 ::: Olga films - Joseph P. Mawra

Audrey Campbell photo by Lee Kraft.
image sourced here.

BEFORE THE END of Hollywood’s production code and the rise of hard-core pornography, some of independent film’s most creative minds were hard at work in the exploitation, soft-core and nudie genres. A few elevated their craft into an art form. Russ Meyer, Joseph Sarno and Radley Metzger all flourished during the 1960s, offering that extra something the European imports didn’t – violence, plus an underlying American sense of morality.

A lesser-known name is Joseph P. Mawra, director of such cult fare as All Men Are Apes and Shanty Tramp. Mawra struck paydirt in 1964, just as American sex films were spicing things up with torture and bondage – new subgenres that included the "nudie-roughie" and the "nudie-kinkie." Mawra’s cult hit White Slaves of Chinatown introduced the sadistic Olga Saglo (Audrey Campbell), adept in white slavery and narcotics pushing. In the film, Olga works for an unnamed syndicate, procuring girls for well-off older men and even peddling dope to schoolkids. She also ruthlessly tortures her female victims in a basement dungeon, turning them into prostitutes and drug pushers after breaking their spirit.

A huge underground hit in the U.S. and all over Europe, White Slaves spawned two sequels in the same year, Olga’s Girls and Olga’s House of Shame, each effortlessly surpassing the shocks of the previous entry. Lensed in black and white with almost no synchronized-sound dialogue and without scripts, they have more in common with Beat-noir horror films such as John J. Parker’s Dementia than they do with most of the sexploitation of the day. Heavy-handed narration and an ominous classical soundtrack give the proceedings a surreal tinge. At the heart of the Olga films’ attraction, of course, is Olga herself, memorably played by Campbell, a striking New York model/actress looking for theater work at the time. Bringing to life the beautiful and sinister Olga, Campbell was able to convey more with a look than most actresses of today do with pages of dialogue. In 1972 the Village Voice named her "the most talented performer to come up through exploitation film." --http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/summer2001/reports/named_olga.php [Apr 2005]

2005, Apr 21; 10:56 ::: Incredibly Strange Films (1986) - V. Vale , Andrea Juno

Incredibly Strange Films (1986) - V. Vale , Andrea Juno [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

The following is an excerpt from the introduction of the RE/Search book entitled Incredibly Strange Movies by V. Vale and Andera Juno.

This is a functional guide to territory largely neglected by the film-criticism establishment -- encompassing tens of thousands of films. Most of the films discussed test the limits of contemporary (middle class) cultural acceptability, mainly because in varying ways they don't meet certain "standards" utilized in evaluating direction, acting, dialogue, sets, continuity, technical cinematography, etc. Many of the films are overtly "lower class" or "low brow" in content and art direction. However, a high percentage of these works disdained by the would-be dictators of public opinion are sources of pure enjoyment and delight, despite improbable plots, "bad" acting, or ragged film technique. At issue is the notion of "good taste," which functions as a filter to block out entire areas of experience judged--and damned--as unworthy of investigation.

The concepts of "good taste" are intricately woven into society's control process and class structure. Aesthetics are not an objective body of laws suspended above us like Plato's supreme "Ideas"; they are rooted in the fundamental mechanics of how to control the population and maintain the status quo.

Our sophisticated, "democratic" Western civilization regulates the population's access to information, as well as its innermost attitudes, through media--particularly film and video. The power to literally create desire, fashion, consumer trends, opinions, aspirations and even one's very identity is expressed through film and video. This force--power through persuasion--reaches deep into the backbrain, rendering more brutal, physical control tactics obsolete. Since the '60s, film has ceased being a popular creative medium.

The whole '60s avant-garde filmmaking, from Brakhage to [Bruce] Connor [Conner?], was based on the cheap availability of 16mm film, cameras, etc; many of the films in this book were originally shot in 16mm. After this became too expensive, Super-8 became the medium of choice. Several years ago, the major manufacturers began de-emphasizing professional-quality Super-8 cameras, film stocks, etc, saying, "People don't really want it. Editing is too hard for most people, and everyone's switching to video, anyway." The result: the number of low-budget films being produced has dropped drastically.

The value of low-budget films is: they can be transcendent of expressions of a single person's individual vision and quirky originality. When a corporation decides to invest $20 million in a film, a chain of command regulates each step, and no one person is allowed free rein. Meeting with lawyers, accountants, and corporate boards are what films in Hollywood are all about.

So what makes films like Herschell Gordon Lewis' The Wizard of Gore or Ray Dennis Steckler's The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies worthwhile? First of all: unfettered creativity. Often the films are eccentric--even extreme--presentations by individuals freely expressing their imaginations, who throughout the filmmaking process improvise creative solutions to problems posed either by circumstance or budget--mostly the latter. Secondly, they often present unpopular--even radical--views addressing social, political, racial or sexual inequities, hypocrisy in religion or government; or, in other ways they assault taboos related to the presentation of sexuality, violence, and other mores. (Cf. George Romero's Dead trilogy which features intelligent, problem-solving black heroes, or Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! which showcases tough girls outwitting--and even physically outdoing--sexist men.) Thirdly, occasionally films are made of such unique stature (Cf. Daughter of Horror) as to stand virtually outside any genre or classification, thus extending the boundaries of what has been done in the medium, as well as providing--at best--inexplicably marvelous experiences.

--Vale and Juno, 1985 via http://www.geocities.com/aychepling/movie.html [Apr 2005]

Note: Jim Morton of "Trashola newsletter" guest-edits: Russ Meyer article, biker films, J.D. films, beach party films, LSD films, women in prison films, Ed Wood Jr. article, sexploitation films, educational films, "Daughter of Horror" article, "Spider Baby" article and the A-Z of film personalities.

See also: Incredibly Strange Films (1986) - V. Vale , Andrea Juno - Immoral Tales: Sex And Horror Cinema In Europe 1956-1984

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