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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(In which we mine for some gold.)

Posted by Job O Brother, February 11, 2013 02:04pm | Post a Comment
counting sheep
Don't try this at (my) home.

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in days; what sleep I have gotten is mostly thanks to the fine folks who make Motrin PM. (In the interest of full disclosure you should know that while McNeil Consumer Healthcare – makers of the aforementioned drug – are not a sponsor of the Amoeblog, they do give us free donuts on Mondays and occasionally wash our cars for an extra buck or two.)

While my Mom was kind enough to pass down to me a knack for cooking and robust health, I also inherited her tenuous sleeping habits. We deal with it similarly, too: we listen to the radio to keep our minds from, as she puts it:

“Going, going, going… just making plans and playing with ideas.”

Or, as I put it:

“Obliterating my peace of mind with the chaos and fury of post-traumatic stress fantasies catalyzed by a cruel and crippling world.”

It’s semantics, really.

Mom likes to treat this with AM radio, a favorite program being Coast to Coast. While this particular broadcast seems to promote a nightmarish reality of government conspiracy, alien invasion, body snatching and morally questionable fringe-sciences, she finds it delightful. That she does speaks to her unwavering trust in our fellow man and her willingness to believe everyone deserves to prove their innate goodness – even if, I suppose, it’s lizard-men from another planet who are covertly running our government.

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(In which we celebrate the birth of Tiny Tim.)

Posted by Job O Brother, April 13, 2011 09:05am | Post a Comment
tiny tim

This week would have seen the birthday of beloved (and truly alternative) musician Tiny Tim, who passed away in 1996 from an acute case of death.

He matters to me because I cannot think of him without feeling a lovely little warmth in my normally cold, cold heart.

Recently, the (coincidentally-named) Amoebite posted a swell interview regarding Tiny Tim, but I wanted to tackle this subject, too – particularly because I am less burdened with fact and honesty and can therefore flesh out what may be as-yet-unknown facets of the artist’s life and career.

depression era
Tiny Tim, before puberty ruined everything

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Khaury on April 12, 1932, in a town just south of Duchess County called New York City (not to be confused with the song "New York City" by Hanoi Rocks). Many historical records list his parents as being people, though this is speculation, and any actual witnesses have long since not been asked.

Young Herbert was given the nickname “Tiny Tim” by locals in his neighborhood because of his habit of walking around on crutches, munching Christmas puddings and asking God to "bless them, every one." (Other nicknames were bestowed as well, such as “that cripple kid who smells like stew” or “faggot,” but none of these stuck.)

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(Où l'on considère les chanteurs français.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 22, 2011 04:32pm | Post a Comment
french poster

When you work at Amoeba Music there’s certain questions you answer over and over again:

“Where’s the restroom?”

“Why’s this one this price and this one this price?”

“Where can I find Edith Piaf?”

That last question is occasionally (to my endless amusement) pronounced as, “Where can I find Edith Pilaf?” to which I always want (but never) answer:

“We file her in-between Condoleezza Rice and Tim Curry. They all go great together.”

My internalized snarkiness aside, I’m all for Edith Piaf. Who could hate La Môme Piaf (her French nickname, literally translated as “That short woman in the black dress with the amazing voice but tragic make-up which someone should seriously having a talking-to-her about”)?

But I think too many people stop with Piaf and don’t investigate the chanson française of her peers, which is a shame because there’s so much to love. Below I offer some performers I think are à l'opposé de terrible.

border

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The Tarantino Solution 3: Inglourious Basterds (2009), A Moral Defense

Posted by Charles Reece, September 27, 2009 11:06pm | Post a Comment
Page 2


Aryan Some Differences

While its propaganda might seem dated, Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin presents a critical alternative to heroism as traditionally depicted in most films, collective instead of individualistic. Along with a wishfullfilling counterfactual approach to history and a five act structure, Inglourious Basterds shares a similar approach to the heroic act, closer to the first 20 or so minutes of Saving Private Ryan than its remaining hour and a half. (I note that two early supporters of Eisenstein's film, who helped bring it to world attention, were Goebbels and -- as Tarantino has it -- his Hollywood role model, David O. Selznick.) Eisenstein's two most prominent characters, the sailors Vakulinchuk and Matyshenko, serve more as inspirational catalysts for the inchoate revolutionary spirit than a John Wayne (or even Tom Hanks) type who dominates narrative destiny through his will. As Bill Nichols suggests in his analysis of the film (in the book Film Analysis), the idea of a revolution begins to widen across each act:

One of Eisenstein's great achievements as a filmmaker is that he provided a model for a cinema of groups, crowds, and masses rather than individuals. In Battleship Potemkin he does so by telling the story of three distinct examples of political awakening over the course of five acts. [...] Each awakening broadens the political scope of the film, from the revolt of one ship's crew through the rising up of one town to the rebellion of the entire fleet. -- p. 163-4

Indeed, as he points out, Vakulinchuk dies in the second act and Matyshenko doesn't reappear until the fifth -- hardly the kind of heroism as charismatic leadership favored by a Leni Reifenstahl or George Lucas (the latter's well-known appropriation from the former receives a nice spoof here). No matter how seemingly innocuous the fantasy (from the Golden Age Superman, despite his defense of labor, to Star Wars), there's always a whiff of authoritarianism that accompanies this great man portrayal of heroism -- that a change for the betterment of all comes solely from the determination of a few. That is, follow those so privileged by God, genetics (Aryan, Kryptonian) or midi-chlorians, not morality per se.

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