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Fibre-Opti/Con

Our shining city on a hill has been diminished to a fibre-optic flicker in the night.

For over a century the American electorate, if not the world, has been programed to watch; movies, then TV. Chance the gardener anybody?

Early in our new century binge watching caught on.

Expectations were high for a dynastic (Clinton v. Bush) presidential contest in 2016. (Game Of Thrones)

But a champion for the “forgotten ones”…cough…appeared on an escalator descending from a tower. (The Apprentice)

Then came the primaries. (Breaking Bad)

The contest that ensued had its own twists and turns. (The Americans, House of Cards)

The final outcome…bada boom…bada bang. (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire)

Anybody remember Chuck Jones? He and his crew figured out that when things stopped making sense everything could actually start making sense. They made an art of it.

180+ days in…

Psst…That’s not all, folks!

 

Senior Discount

Waiting in line for the bargain matinee: a feature, a newsreel, and a cartoon.

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Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.

Film Flummery

In November of 2013 I posted this blog under the title Up, Up, and Away.

While reading a review of Falling Upwards: How We Took To the Air, Richard Holmes history of ballooning in the 18th and 19th centuries, a white rabbit hopped across my mind and slid down a black hole deep into my subconscious. I quickly gave chase. I’m not quite sure what happened next, that’s why I’m telling you all this. Perhaps you might understand better, help me get a handle on the neuro/illogical stuff that goes on down there.

I began to spark on the story I was in the midst of reading; two French brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier, initiated the first hot air balloon flights in Paris in 1783. From then on balloonists, untethered,o were able to view our world anew, some early daredevils even soaring to heights of 10,000 feet.

Then, in 1858, the great French photographer Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) departed terra firma in a hot air balloon, camera in hand. He might have been the first person  to have taken aerial photographs, depicting the world as we’d experienced it up till then from a new and quite different POV.

Who knows what happened on a molecular, neurological, phenomenological level to our minds once we were able to escape the pull of gravity, both physically and by proxy, through the photographic image.

Jumping ahead to 1895, another pair of French brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, are credited with presenting the first public movie screening at the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe in Paris. As the story goes, the Lumieres had photographed, head-on, a steam locomotive, smoke billowing, entering the Gare du Nord train station. The experience, some claim apocryphal, so unhinged the audience gathered, that many ran from the theater, fearing for their lives.

Paralleling this story is the story of the magician George Méliès, who in 1888 purchased the Theatre Robert Houdin from Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the famed French magician, who is considered the father of the modern style of conjuring. As I understand it, Méliès rented office space in his newly purchased building to Auguste and Louis Lumière. Still following? After the Lumieres made their groundbreaking presentation Méliès chucked his magic gig, [taking] his place in history as  cinema’s first fantasist. Martin Scorsese paid homage to all this in his wonderful film Hugo (2011).

And here’s the kicker. A slew of professional magicians, mountebanks, and grifters immediately appropriated the Lumiere’s invention as their own and scattered to the four corners of the earth introducing new populations to this brand new medium, cinema.

Movies, mountebanks, and balloonatics; concepts to conjure with.

So it was with much interest that I learned about Nadar’s When I Was a Photographer (Quand j’étais photographe), now translated for the first time into English, which offers us the opportunity to revisit a bizarre and compelling character, active and present at the inception of the cinema. (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/23/books-felix-nadar-france-photography-flight)

La Ronde

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Cats & Lies

There is a Coven in the White House. The Coven assembled in the presence of their HighPriest aka our Insane  Clown President himself to chant his praises : Pence, Sessions, Bannon, Kushner, Ivanka, Ross, Ryan, McConnell, Spicer, Sanders, Miller, Conway…

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvZIWXxa-3g

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Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered

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Cats & Lies

Certainly,  it’s a witch hunt.

There’s an Insane Clown/man witch residing in the White House. So, who else could it be? After all, his mentor Roy Cohn hunted witches and warlocks his entire life.

A good case could be made for a “mouse” hunt? But, we’re talking POTUS…not lumbering Mike Pence…or Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.

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A Chimes For Our Times

I was reading a review in which the reviewer noted that the director, though good at directing actors, wasn’t much of a visual stylist. In part this is why certain movies can be good but not great. Certain films are good yet not filmic. There are films and there are films. It’s a critical component of why certain films rise above others.

Criterion has just released a brilliant restoration of  Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight (1965). It is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in recent memory. Chimes actually never got a proper release. It is like watching a new Welles film for the very first time. Not only does it belie the notion that no great work came from Welles in his later years, but here we have one of our greatest directors, in his late period, working at the height of his creative powers.

Welles took material from five of Shakespeare’s plays and shaped them into a screenplay about the relationship between Sir John Falstaff and Prince Hal, who would become King Henry V.  It had deep psychological significance for Welles, this “surrogate” father and son story.

One aspect of the film that really struck me was that you can watch Chimes with the sound turned off and still appreciate its greatness. Welles’ expressive command of the film language is that good. The viewer can silence the words of Shakespeare and still savor the achievement of the filmmaking. It is a lasting testament to Welles’ command of film syntax. It’s why Welles tops most people’s list of the world’s great filmmakers.

Truth At 140 Characters A Tweet

Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames a second. – Jean-Luc Godard

How old school. That from one of cinema’s great French (née Swiss) intellectual con men.

These days I struggle to wrest reality from alt. reality. Add to this that for many years I’ve sat in darkened rooms watching many, many films. It was my window onto our world.

Then, the election of 2016 happened and everything got turned on its head.

How could narrative film or the rapidly morphing world of “documentary” ever hold a candle to the surreal “narrative” that’s overtaken Washington?

We have an Insane Clown residing in the White House surrounded and buoyed by his grifter offspring and coterie of enablers.

With the flash of a thought jumping across a synapse, his tweets seismically disrupt the earth beneath a lot of people’s feet.

So I  find myself preoccupied with my political wonk side. I tend to my political blog, Cats & Lies, Fracking the body politic (raisingkanesite.wordpress.com), more than to my long running film blog.

Addicted, afflicted, conflicted. Only a mere 6-months ago we were basking in the “glow” of an Obama/Biden “Pax Americana.” In comparison that is.

I’m blogging less on f/stop while insinuating more film references into my overactive, over/reactive political blog, Cats & Lies.

Please pardon. This too will pass.

On the film side of things, Criterion’s restoration of Welles’ Chimes at Midnight is the film to watch.

And please remember to check each complete entry with media attached at efstopfitzgerald.wordpress.com.

(What’s the difference between a cat and a lie. A cat has only nine lives. – Mark Twain)

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