Amoeblog

Women of the Western

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 16, 2009 06:48pm | Post a Comment
 

Ever since the dawn of film theory, film critics have loved the Western; probably because its engagement with formula and its psychological subtext are so obvious, so close to the surface, that theorizing about westerns is a bit like kicking gravel and striking oil. The genre bears a similarity to tales of knights errant, who similarly were bound by codes of honor and used strength and wit to defeat malevolence, &c &c &c... Part of what makes the Western attractive for film theorists is the way it shifts and evolves too -- spiraling off subgenres like Curry Westerns, Northerns, Oesterns, Red Westerns ands Spaghetti Westerns -- and engages other genres like samurai films and noir. But whereas a little bit of research turns up several scholarly works addressing women's place in the Western, I haven't been able to find any that focus on female-centric Westerns, nor been able to uncover a clever or cutesy name for the subgenre. When I started this blog, I thought I'd come up with a tiny handful, but was quickly surprised at how many Westerns feature females in roles of central importance.

   
Real women of the west. washing clothes (left), famous madame Chicago Joe (center), bandit Belle Starr (right)

The Wild West was, to be sure, a male-dominated place. Of course, there were women too who, just like their male counterparts, were probably more likely to run a ranch or work in town than to find work as gunslingers, bandits and bounty hunters... although there were those too. The National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame has, since its founding, sought to better document the contributions of women in the west. Although women in Westerns generally seem to symbolize civilization/the east, making cowboys uneasy with their use of risque talk and their attempts to transport urban conventions to an untamed land, in real life, that role would've been impractical and probably abandoned pretty quickly. When there's work to be done, propriety and traditional societal constructions would just get in the way. In fact, in Wyoming, for example, women gained the right to vote in 1869, over 40 years before the ratification of the nineteenth amendment. The photographs of Evelyn Cameron depict no-nonsense women who have little in common with the dippy, ditzy cowgirls of Gil Elvgren's art or Hollywood cowgirls. Of course, I'm not suggesting that Hollywood is in the business of portraying reality, but it's interesting to look at the decisions they make when constructing mythology.

Continue reading...

(In which we consider Peaches considering Joni Mitchell.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 16, 2009 06:40pm | Post a Comment
fruit
This has been a busy week, dear readers. Lots of phone interviews, dinner parties, and soundtrack-slinging at Ye Olde Amoeba Music Hollywood.

I was gabbing with Peaches about her new album last Wednesday. It’s called I Feel Cream (release date in the U.S. is May 5) and it’s a blast! Definitely a departure from its predecessors, in that it’s more diverse in sound and moods. Peaches sings a lot more. There are moments where it sounds like the lovechild of modern R&B and older tracks by darlings of the Industrial genre, Front 242.

peaches i feel cream

Anyway, I asked her about musical influences that might surprise people (it’s already well documented that she loves hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll). This led to her gushing about Joni Mitchell, and this performance in particular, which rocked her world:


That voice! A miracle. I just can’t get enough of it…


She really is one of my favorite things in the world of music, and while not everyone shares my passion for her sound, anyone who appreciates songwriting as a craft must acknowledge that, as a writer of music and lyrics, she remains one of the greatest artists of modern pop music. She’s credited with inventing about 50 different guitar tunings, and the list of musicians who cite her as an influence – Peaches included – reads like a Who’s Who of music.

Price Tag Gallery

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, March 16, 2009 12:20am | Post a Comment








This Week At The New Beverly!

Posted by phil blankenship, March 15, 2009 05:22pm | Post a Comment
This Week At The New Beverly!

The March / April calendar is now online:
www.NewBevCinema.com

Printed calendars are here - Help spread the word - pick one up for yourself and a few for your friends!


Sunday,Monday & Tuesday March 15, 16, 17

Ashes Of Time Redux
(1994/2008)
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0109688/
dir. Wong Kar Wai, starring Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Jacky Cheung
Sun: 3:20 & 7:30; Mon/Tue: 7:30

Once Upon A Time In China
(1991)

http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0103285/
dir. Tsui Hark, starring Jet Li, Biao Yuen, Rosamund Kwan, Jacky Cheung
Sun: 5:15 & 9:25; Mon/Tue: 9:25


Happy Birthday Cecil Taylor

Posted by Whitmore, March 15, 2009 01:31pm | Post a Comment

Sometime in my mid-teens I started reading about this mad pianist; how his flying elbows and insane musical gyrations splintered keyboards, whose uncompromising musical destination was one part tsunami, one part Armageddon. I was actually warned about Cecil Taylor by a music teacher of mine, "It isn’t really music … it's ugly … beating the hell out of a keyboard isn’t musical.” My classical guitar teacher also went so far as to bring god and the devil into the conversation; you would have thought I was asking for directions to the crossroads. 
 
I eventually made my way over to Platterpuss Records on Hollywood Blvd near Vermont Ave and with some change stolen from my mom’s piggy bank I bought an old used copy of Taylor’s 1966 album Unit Structures. I ran back home and threw the LP on my ridiculously crappy turntable with the flashing color pin-wheels and as predicted … the music scared the holy shit out of me. Except for one thing-- although I understood little of what was going on, I was mesmerized. Later I heard beyond the chaos and ferocity, and began getting clued in to improvisation, tone clusters, polyrhythms and all the other intricacies layered in Cecil Taylor’s music, like spirituality, a sense of history and oddly enough -- and contrary to my teachers' way of thinking -- beauty. A couple of weeks later I traded in a bunch of pop records at Joe’s Records on Hyperion Blvd and bought a used copy of Conquistador. From that point on I had a significantly different take on music. Happy birthday Cecil Taylor!
 
“Practice, to be studious at the instrument, as well as looking at a bridge, or dancing, or writing a poem, or reading, or attempting to make your home more beautiful. What goes into an improvisation is what goes into one's preparation, then allowing the prepared senses to execute at the highest level devoid of psychological or logical interference. You ask, without logic, where does the form come from? It seems something that may be forgotten is that as we begin our day and proceed through it there is a form in existence that we create out of, that the day and night itself is for. And what we choose to vary in the daily routine provides in itself the fresh building blocks to construct a living form which is easily translated into a specific act of making a musical composition.” - Cecil Taylor


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