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‘Satan at Play’ and other vintage movie magic from early 1900s
06.17.2016
08:27 am

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While not exactly dangerous this early film Satán se divierte by Segundo de Chomón is certainly amusing and a work of art. De Chomón was a Spanish filmmaker whose pioneering work in camera tricks and optical illusions was to influence generations of filmmaker. Many of his “tricks” are still used today.

De Chomón is often compared to that other giant of early cinema Georges Méliès—the great French filmmaker whose works included A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904). While there was undoubtedly a rivalry between the two men—with Méliès taking the tape for innovation—de Chomón made his mark by developing a mechanical stencil-based film tinting process that was known as Pathécolor. He also diversified his filmmaking talents into documentaries, dramas and special effects for other directors.

Satán se divierte or Satan at Play aka The Red Specter (1907) is a superb example of De Chomón’s work with its camera tricks—some of which would be later revisited in films like Bride of Frankenstein—stage show magic and beautiful color stencilling.
 
Watch ‘The Devil at Play’ plus ‘Haunted House’ and ‘Voyage to the Planet Jupiter,’ after the jump…
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Disorientation of the senses: William Burroughs makes a ‘sick’ and ‘disgusting’ movie, 1966
06.16.2016
04:26 pm

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WSB by Charles Burns.
 
William Burroughs’ work has always been controversial. When Naked Lunch was first published it was denounced by critics as “obscene,” “repugnant” and “not unlike wading through the drains of a big city.” The poet and arbiter of highbrow taste, Edith Sitwell decried the book stating she did not want “to spend the rest of my life with my nose nailed to other people’s lavatories.” Its publication led to an infamous obscenity trial where Norman Mailer was called as a witness to defend the book and its writer. Mailer famously declared Burroughs as:

....the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.

However, Burroughs was generally unfazed by his detractors—after all he wasn’t writing for them.

When Burroughs decided to make a short film The Cut-Ups with B-movie smut-peddler Antony Balch it was perhaps inevitable that their collaboration caused similar outrage.

When The Cut-Ups was first screened at the Cinephone, Oxford Street, London in 1966:

Members of the audience rushed out saying, ‘It’s disgusting,’ to which the staff would reply, ‘It’s got a U certificate, nothing disgusting about it, nothing the censor objected to.’

According to Burroughs biographer Barry Miles the Cinephone’s manager, Mr. Provisor:

...had never had so many people praise a film, or so many hate it.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Funeral Parade of Roses’: Edgy 1969 Japanese drama that inspired Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
06.15.2016
02:09 pm

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Movies
Queer

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Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses is one of the most audacious and astounding feature films ever made, a visually-stunning hodgepodge of cutting edge 60s graphic design, Warholian underground cinema, documentary filmmaking along with wildly experimental editing techniques. Matsumoto’s dazzling freewheeling filmmaking breaks the Brechtian fourth wall several times—interviewing the actors about their roles and pulling a shot out to reveal the camera and lighting crew—and shows the influence of William Klein’s fashionista extravaganza Who Are You, Polly Magoo?, the films of Jean Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, even Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
 

 
Funeral Parade of Roses is a furious and dizzying bombardment of violence, sex, and drugs. The 1969 film is well-known to have been a major influence on Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, and we see this in the sped-up montage scenes set to classical music, the sound design and editing style, and art direction (not to mention the false-eyelashes and the phallic lollipops). It was produced via the Art Theatre Guild (ATG) the legendary Japanese production company and distributors of the country’s “New Wave” cinema that was shunned by the major studios. In one underground “in-joke” New York’s avant-garde cinema promoter Jonas Mekas is mentioned by name and quoted:

“All definitions of cinema have been erased. The doors are now open.”

 

 
All this and I’ve yet to mention that Funeral Parade of Roses takes place in Tokyo’s gay underworld—Bara no sôretsu is the original Japanese title, “bara” meaning “rose” which equates to the pejorative use of “pansy”—giving it a particularly edgy reputation for a film made in Japan in 1969.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Dali Met Harpo: Read Salvador Dali’s script for the Marx Brothers
06.15.2016
11:01 am

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Salvador Dali loved the Marx Brothers. He loved their madcap, anarchic comedy. In particular Dali loved Harpo Marx—the blonde corkscrew-haired comic mime whose visual comedy—unlike the quick witty repartee of his brother Groucho—was universal and needed no translation. Dali described Harpo as one of America’s three great Surrealists—the other two being Walt Disney and Cecil B. DeMille.

The pair first met at a party in Paris in 1936. Harpo told Dali how much he liked his paintings. Dali told Harpo how much he loved his films—in particular Animal Crackers which he described as “the summit of the evolution of comic cinema.” Dali gushed over Harpo’s performance where he pulled fish and cutlery from his pocket and shot the hats of beautiful women—this was true Surrealism!

Understandably, the two men became friends.

Dali later wrote “an entertaining, if rather implausible account” of his meeting with Harpo for Harper’s Bazaar in 1937:

I met Harpo for the first time in his garden. He was naked, crowned with roses, and in the center of a veritable forest of harps (he was surrounded by at least five hundred harps). He was caressing, like a new Leda, a dazzling white swan, and feeding it a statue of the Venus de Milo made of cheese, which he grated against the strings of the nearest harp. An almost springlike breeze drew a curious murmur from the harp forest. In Harpo’s pupils glows the same spectral light to be observed in Picasso’s.

When Harpo returned to America, Dali sent him a harp wrapped in cellophane with barbed wire for strings and spoons, knives and forks glued all over its frame. In return Harpo sent Dali a photograph of himself playing the harp with bandaged fingers. He invited Dali to Hollywood saying he’d be more than happy to pose for the great artist—if he cared to smear paint all over him. Dali was delighted to take up the offer. In 1937, he arrived in Hollywood with his wife Gala. He visited Harpo and sketched him playing his barbed wire harp with a lobster on his head. Natch.
 
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Dali’s sketch of Harpo playing the harp.
 
Dali brought Harpo a gift—a movie script he wanted the Marx Brothers to make. The script was called Giraffes on Horseback Salads or The Surrealist Woman. It was a series of unconnected scenes typed in blue ribbon over twenty-two pages with various notes written in ink. Dali had already made two infamous films with his friend the director Luis Buñuel—Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or. Now he wanted to cast Harpo and cinema’s “greatest Surrealist act” the Marx Brothers in a film that just might revolutionize Hollywood—or maybe not...

Read Dali’s script and see his sketches for ‘Giraffes on Horseback Salads,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Concept art for David Cronenberg’s ‘Total Recall’ that never was
06.14.2016
02:38 pm

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I’ve heard some great stories about the David Cronenberg movies that almost were. Indeed, I once heard Cronenberg himself tell the tale of taking a phone call from the office of George Lucas, who wanted to feel the Toronto-born director out on the subject of directing Return of the Jedi. Cronenberg sniffed that he didn’t really direct material written by other people, and that was the end of that. (The conversation is all the more ironic if you consider that since that moment, Cronenberg has directed material originated by William S. Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, and Don DeLillo, among others. Maybe he just didn’t think of Lucas as a writer on that level?)

Cronenberg also turned down a chance to direct Top Gun, finding it too jingoistic (plus, as a Canadian, Cronenberg doubly wasn’t into it).

What I didn’t know until recently is that Cronenberg was the first director to be considered to direct Total Recall, which was eventually directed (rather well) by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, previously responsible for Robocop.

Interestingly, Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon had tried to develop Philp K. Dick’s story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” as a script in the 1970s before concluding that the special effects would be too costly—their next project would become Alien, the commercial success of which kick-started the orignal PKD project again. 

Cronenberg worked on pre-production for the PKD project for about a year, a process that generated the fascinating concept art seen below. His choice for the lead role was to have been William Hurt, a far cry from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, er, likely less thoughtful approach to the movie. After Cronenberg’s labors, the producers told him that they admired his treatment but were hoping for something a little bit closer to “Raiders of the Lost Ark Go to Mars,” so Cronenberg returned to a project that would have a tone that interested him much more, that being a remake of the 1958 sci-fi classic The Fly.

Purportedly, Cronenberg’s take on the material would have been lot closer to Dick’s original story than the Verhoeven movie.

The artworks here were created by Ron Miller and his wife Judith Miller, who was responsible for the 3-D models, as well as production designer Pierluigi Basile.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ melting Nazi face candle
06.14.2016
12:38 pm

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This is one of those clever ideas that make me want to kick myself for not thinking of it first... Anyway, Firebox is selling a face-melting Major Arnold Toht candle (the sinister SS agent whose face melts off at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark).

According to UK-based Firebox, “Thankfully it melts a lot slower than his face does in the film.”

Doesn’t emit a blood-curdling screech as it burns

Perhaps a good Father’s Day gift if your dad’s a fan of the film? It’s $28.39 + shipping. 


 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bob Hope’s breathtaking midcentury modern estate—now half price!
06.14.2016
10:55 am

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Design
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The legendary comedian Bob Hope probably did as much as anyone to define the image of the California community of Palm Springs. Among other things, the comedian founded the Palm Springs Bob Hope Golf Classic in 1964 and relentlessly promoted the desert hideaway in the Coachella Valley located a two-hour drive east of Los Angeles.
 

 
In The Frontier of Leisure: Southern California and the Shaping of Modern America, Lawrence Culver explains that Hope’s wife Dolores had become enamored of a house that the great midcentury modern architect John Lautner designed for a Palm Springs interior designer named Arthur Elrod in 1968—you can see it in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever:
 

If Elrod wanted a party house, Bob and Dolores Hope asked for an entertainment complex. Dolores Hope had been enchanted by the Elrod House, and the Hope House revisited the domed Elrod design, with a much larger dome intended to evoke the forms of the mountains nearby. Now, however, the dome was open to the sky and served to enclose a large courtyard. The space devoted to the couple’s personal residence was relatively small, as most of the behemoth structure was intended to be used to entertain, feed, and potentially house hundreds of guests. When Dolores Hope’s husband saw Lautner’s design, he reportedly quipped that “at least when they come down from Mars they’ll know where to go.” Though Bob Hope consented to the project, Lautner and Dolores Hope had a difficult relationship. She repeatedly asked for changes that required redesigns. A devastating fire during construction also slowed building and resulted in a less ambitious design than Lautner’s initial plan. He subsequently looked back on the project with regret, but the Hope residence nevertheless became a Palm Springs landmark.

 
The property is located at 2466 Southridge Drive. The house is 23,366 square feet and contains 10 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms. The lot is roughly six acres in size. As recently as a year ago was on the market for $50 million. Right now, however, the same property is available on Estately for approximately half of that—the current listing price is $24,999,000.

Here’s the description:
 

Mere words cannot describe this majestic and historical piece of architecture which was the largest private residence designed by John Lautner and commissioned by legendary Bob & Dolores Hope. The property has entertained dignitaries from all over the world and is viewed by many as one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in the world.

 
Some affluent DM reader should buy the thing and invite us all over for a party.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Intriguing behind-the-scenes images from ‘Apocalypse Now’
06.14.2016
10:22 am

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“My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam.”—Francis Ford Coppola

Brutal, intense, fascinating, whimsical and yes, even beautiful photographs from behind-the-scenes of Apocalypse Now. As you can tell right off the bat with these images, filming was “Hell on earth.” Dennis Hopper once said of the film, “I felt like I had fought in the war.” The actors and crew battled tropical diseases, monsoons, alcoholism, drug-binges, insects and insanely humid weather. And that’s just the fun stuff.

Death by Films wrote this about the lead actor’s mood during the shooting of Coppala’s war opus:

One day early on, Sheen got completely shitfaced and ordered the crew to film him. He got aggressive, punching out mirrors and even tried to attack Coppola. The director kept rolling, and the footage is now in the scene with Martin Sheen sitting on the edge of his bed.

Martin Sheen has since described the making of Apocalypse Now as “chaos,” and even told friends back home that he genuinely believed he was going to die.

The majority of these photographs, shot in the Philippines, were captured by the celebrated photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who died on May 25, 2015. If you dig these photographs, many of them can be found in Mark’s book Seen Behind the Scene .


Francis Ford Coppola working his movie magic in the Philippines
 

Francis Ford Coppola and Dennis Hopper
 

 

Brando and Coppola
 

Marlon Brando goofing around
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Megaplex’: A celebration of the super ‘awesome’ 1980s in all its cheesy glory
06.13.2016
03:29 pm

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Television

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The 1980s… Madonna sang that she felt “shiny and new,” and so felt we all. Or most of us, anyway. The gritty realism of ‘70s cinema and the social commentary of ‘70s TV—incoming President Reagan apparently banished it all, and the emphasis in entertainment was squarely on fantasy and transformation.

Smash TV, the megamix geniuses recently responsible for “Skinemax” and “Memorex” have completed the third installment, titled “Megaplex.”

To watch “Megaplex” is to be transported into a gleaming and undeniably mind-boggling place dominated by lasers, cyborgs, break-dancing, video games, pro wrestling, and—most importantly—transformative shafts of light. The disbelieving eyeballs repeatedly emphasize the crucial role of wonder in the 1980s aesthetic. The key word for a teenager coming of age during the go-go cable TV Reagan years, as co-creator Ben Craw told me in an email, is “awesome”:
 

When you’re age 4 to about 11, everything is so, so awesome. You are naive, and you haven’t matured yet to the point of irony or self awareness, so not only is everything awesome but you have no sense of shame or restraint in pursuing what you think is awesome.

 
When you’re dscussing the awesomeness of the 1980s, you have to mention Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and, to a lesser extent, Hulk Hogan, and this video features plenty of all of them. (There’s an amazing montage of winning moves from Stallone’s ode to arm-wrestling, Over the Top.)
 

Christopher Walken in Brainstorm
 
It’s tricky to define just what magical thing “Megaplex” is intent on capturing, but it has something to do with the new possibilities afforded by technology. Key texts include the original Tron, Highlander, Electric Dreams, The Last Dragon, Cocoon, Total Recall, Brainstorm...... I’m leaving out so, so many.

Craw’s partner Brendan Shields says that the intent was “to boil down a ton of movies to their most visually interesting couple of minutes and recontextualize them into something bizarre and beautiful.” For his part, Craw says that the video was driven by the need to acknowledge “love for the movie theater, love for the home video, love for cable, it’s all wrapped up together for us.”

Click below to see the video. Note that there is a disclaimer at the start warning of the possibility of “seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sean Young’s Polaroids from the set of ‘Blade Runner’
06.13.2016
12:31 pm

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Young with costar Rutger Hauer, who played the replicant Roy Batty
 
Blade Runner was released in the late June of 1982, where it had great difficulty stealing attention from the behemoth E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, which occupied the #1 slot from its premiere on June 11 until early September (!), when the great cinematic classic known as Zapped! finally dislodged it from the top slot.

I was 12 years old when Blade Runner came out. All of my friends and I understood to the bone that Han Solo (for that was Harrison Ford’s primary identity back then) appearing in a dark and fucked-up cyborg cop adventure was about the coolest thing that had ever happened.

Blade Runner was just Sean Young’s third movie (she had been in Stripes already), and it remains the movie she’s probably best known for. Young is still very active in Hollywood, according to IMDb, which also states that she appeared in a recent noteworthy movie, 2015’s striking horror western Bone Tomahawk (I hadn’t noticed—her role is very small).

Young may have been aware of what a coup appearing in Blade Runner was, in that she seems to have spent much of her time snapping photos with her handy Polaroid camera. She appears to have had zero interest in documenting the astonishing practical effects used in the movie—rather, all of the pics are of herself and her coworkers. She uploaded these pics to her website in 2011, but the site is defunct today—you can see the full set of her Polaroids here.
 

 
Much more after the jump…....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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