Amoeblog

We just tell it how we see it, nothing more, nothing less -- Neue Sachlichkeit in film

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 26, 2014 06:12am | Post a Comment
Albert Renger-Patzsch, Hochofenwerk Herrenwyk, Lübeck, 1928
Albert Renger-Patzsch's Hochofenwerk Herrenwyk, Lübeck (1928)


Germany
's interwar Weimar Republic may've existed amidst political chaos but it was an incredibly fertile time for the arts. German Expressionism, although it first developed around 1900, only flowered on the screen during the interwar period. Emerging Fascists enjoyed the themes of  Arnold Fanck and Leni Riefenstahl's Mountain Movies. Less well-remembered today was the New Objectivity, an movements whose chief practitioner in film was G.W. Pabst, whose debut film, Der Schatz (The Treasure - 1923), opened in theaters on today (26 February) in 1923.

August Sander The Architect Hans Heinz Luttgen and his Wife Dora 1926
August Sander's The Architect Hans Heinz Luttgen and his Wife Dora (1926)

German Expressionism, the best known cinematic expression of the culture and era, first arose in poetry and painting but ultimately made its way to the screen, exemplified by excellent and still widely-enjoyed films like Der Student von Prag (The Student of Prague), Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem), Der müde Tod (Destiny), Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu), Schatten, Eine nächtliche Halluzination (Warning Shadows), and Der letzte Mann (The Last Laugh). The Mountain Movies, or Bergfilm, are generally viewed less seriously as art and are undoubtedly interesting to modern audiences primarily for their fascist themes and frequent involvement of Leni Riefenstahl.

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Happy birthday, Edvard Munch

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 12, 2012 05:43pm | Post a Comment
Today is the 149th birthday of Norwegian painter and printmaker, Edvard Munch

Self Portrait (in distress) 1919

Munch was born 12 December in the village of Ådalsbruk in Løten, in 1863. His father was a doctor named Christian Munch and his mother was Laura Catherine Bjølstad. He was often ill as a child and reportedly drew to occupy his considerable time spent in bed.


In 1881, Munch enrolled at Den kongelige tegneskole. Along with fellow students, he had his first public exhibition in 1883. Some of his early work was in the Naturalism and Impressionism traditions. After falling in with nihilist/philosopher/writer/anarchist Hans Jæger, and his circle, Kristianiabohêmen, Munch began attempting to paint from his soul.

Det Syke Barn 1885


Munch's first "soul painting," Det Syke Barn (The Sick Child) depicted his sister Johanne Sophie on her deathbed -- she died from TB when just fifteen.

The Scream (1893) The Scream (1910) The Scream parody The Scream parody
(l-r) Munch's original Munch's last ...and parodies


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[Insert wordless visual here.]

Posted by Job O Brother, March 30, 2009 03:55pm | Post a Comment
silent film

Not to lure you away from the safe and nurturing environment that is the Amoeblog, but, for those of you interested in reading it with your eyes, here is a link to a recent interview I had with one of my favorites, Marianne Faithfull.

Now then, on to a topic that is not oft spoke of; that is, silent films. Amoeba Music Hollywood has a small but rich silent film section which, at this writing, is located on the mezzanine. I’m taking this opportunity to advocate a greater appreciation and exploration of this antiquated genre.

For many people, silent films are a known but ignored craft, as though the technological progress that married sound to film rendered the silent precursors an inferior product. While I do hail “talkies” as a wonderful invention, I still feel there is much joy to be had in silent cinema. If nothing else, knowing a bit about it can be enough to get you laid by art-school chicks taking a break from experimenting with bisexuality.

louise brooks

The first silent I saw that rocked me was the tragic drama Pandora’s Box [original, German title: Die Büchse der Pandora]. Released in 1929 and directed by Austrian Georg Wilhelm Pabst, it stars the gorgeous and gifted Louise Brooks in the lead role.


Another gem I treasure is Wings, the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture (and the only silent film to do so). Released in 1927 and directed by William A. Wellman, it stars Clara Bow, the quintessential flapper icon, and has a cameo by not-yet-superstar Gary Cooper.

Lisette Model

Posted by Whitmore, August 24, 2008 01:33pm | Post a Comment

If any of you west coast jetsetters are planning on swooping down onto the Big Apple this next week, there is an exhibition at New York’s Zabriskie Gallery of a photographer whose work is definitely worth checking out.

Born Elise Amelie Felicie Stern in Vienna in 1901, Lisette Model was schooled as a classical musician, but soon after arriving in Paris in 1926 she took to the visual arts, picking up photography. She moved to Manhattan in 1938. Later that year she was hired as a staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar, and began to photograph not only street life, especially the Lower East Side, but also the nightlife of New York City’s cafés and bars. Model, along with Berenice Abbott and Weegee, became the photographers who most captured the ebb and flow of mid-century New York and its anomalous collection of eccentrics, curiosities, elastic cityscapes and culture.

In 1951 Model was swayed by Berenice Abbott to teach at the New School for Social Research in New York. Several of her students would become some of the most prominent photographers of the second half of the 20th century, including Rosalind Solomon, Bruce Weber and her most famous protégé, Diane Arbus. Model would continue to teach until her death in 1983.

Lisette Model was said to be direct yet enigmatic at the same time, inventing her myth and simultaneously denying its existence. She had a knack for intimacy, and even when photographing her most unusual subjects she maintained and revealed their self-owned dignity. Then again, some of her photographs have a harsh, claustrophobic feeling, situated along a dark and troubling and misanthropic edge.

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Merde.

Posted by Whitmore, November 1, 2007 09:04pm | Post a Comment

Merde.

Alfred Jarry had a profound, incalculable effect on most every art and literary movement of the 20th century movements influencing Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism, Expressionism, Cubism, and especially the Theatre of the Absurd. You can start with Marcel Duchamp and Andre Breton and keep right on swerving through the better names of the century; poets Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Tristan Tzara, artists like Picasso, entertainers such as The Marx Brothers, the Goons, Spike Jones, the Bonzo Dog Band, Monty Python, even Mad magazine.

Playwrights Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee all owe much to Jarry, as do other literary greats like Jean Genet, Antonin Artaud, Douglas Adams, Robert Anton Wilson, Boris Vian, George Perec, and J.G. Ballard. In fact, I swear even George Bush and his entire administration have been heavily influenced by the absurdities of Alfred Jarry and his masterpiece, Ubu Roi featuring the bloated, thick and stupid future king, Pere Ubu.

Well, One hundred years ago today Alfred Jarry died of alcoholism and tuberculosis in Paris at the age of thirty-four. Every aspect of his life was a performance of self. More than just writing about Ubu, he lived as Ubu. He blew through a small fortune he inherited from his parents, served in the military, developed a taste for absinthe, and took to wandering around Paris inebriated; alcohol, he said, was his “holy water.” He costumed himself in black biking gear, often in a long hooded cape carrying a green umbrella and two pistols. He also assumed many of the characteristics he wrote for his fictional Pere Ubu: talking in a high falsetto, adopting a mechanical / monotone speaking style, enunciating every single syllable with no inflection or nuance, and Jarry always spoke of himself in the royal "we.”

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