Amoeblog

November 8, 2009

Posted by phil blankenship, November 8, 2009 11:41pm | Post a Comment



Horror, The Universal Language 3: Identity in Seconds (1966) & Face of Another (1966)

Posted by Charles Reece, November 8, 2009 10:15pm | Post a Comment
 seconds poster   face of another poster

Thinking? At last I have discovered it -- thought; this alone is inseparable from me. I am, I exist -- that is certain. But for how long? For as long as I am thinking. For it could be that were I totally to cease from thinking, I should totally cease to exist. -- René Descartes' res cogitans from "Second Meditation" of Meditations on First Philosophy

In hindsight, who could've been more perfect to play the bought face in John Frankenheimer's Seconds than the most infamous of closeted actors, Rock Hudson? Irrespective of his own intrinsic make-up, Rock's bread-and-butter came from being sold as the perfect masculine physiognomy to wannabe-Doris Day housewives everywhere. As such, this film might be considered the actor's ontological biography. Here he plays the new body bought by an aging businessman who's tired of his family and life. Along with the new body comes a new social identity, that of an artist. Sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately, Rock can't forget who he was/is, and when he discovers that the community he now lives in is a group of commodified identities like himself, the horror is manifested. He's the Cartesian cogito lost in a world of pure doubt, where everything is mere appearance and nothing is real, but (here's the clincher) he still has his memories. Not being able to forget the past keeps him from being able to commit to the manufactured fantasy. Consider the way such a realization can screw up sex:

This 'imagined part' becomes visible in an unpleasant experience known to most of us: in the middle of the most intense sexual act, it is possible for us all of a sudden to 'disconnect' -- all of a sudden, a question can emerge: 'What am I doing here, sweating and repeating these stupid gestures?'; pleasure can shift into disgust or into a strange feeling of distance. The key point is that, in this violent upheaval, nothing changed in reality: what caused the shift was merely the change in the other's position with regard to our phantasmic frame. -- Slavoj Žižek, "Love Thy Neighbor? No, Thanks!"

Hiroshi Teshigahara's Face of Another is even more explicit in the horror that comes when a grounding fantasy is realized as such. In a spin on Plato's invisible man fable, Mr. Okuyama (Tatsuya Nakadai) is given a realistic mask after having his face melted in a chemical explosion. The mask is modeled on another man's face, behaves like a regular face, but can be removed. The doctor who invented the mask warns Okuyama that its continued use might distance him from his self, diminishing the sense of moral responsibility (just like invisibility). His "true" face remains hidden under bandages until he applies the new one. The real misery begins when Okuyama tests his wife's fidelity to that old adage of loving one for what's on the inside. As you might expect, grotesque disfigurement wasn't doing much for his sex life, particularly given his constant depressing whine. His wife tries to be supportive, but he's not having it. Instead, he puts on the mask and seduces her as "another man." When he confronts her, she claims to have known it was him all along. But even if she's telling the truth, does it make his realization any less horrific? It suggests (going with Žižek) that she's always been making love to a fantasy based on appearances (his old face was a mask, too), rather than the internal qualities he believes to constitute his core being. He feels (quite rightly, it seems) reduced to another's "phantasmic frame." Clearly, something needs to be violently repressed; what or who will it be? To misquote Sartre, hell is intersubjectivity.

Continue reading...

Classical Music Sale: I. Allegro non troppo

Posted by Job O Brother, November 8, 2009 03:12pm | Post a Comment
guitar
You... shook me aaaallll night long!

Far more people want to shop the Classical Music section than do. This is because many customers, while having heard classical music and enjoyed it, do not know how to differentiate one album from another. No one wants to look like an ignorant buffoon (except your best friend in 7th grade who you’ve long since lost contact with anyhow), so the idea of browsing aisles of classical music without knowing the difference between a chamber piece or a chamber pot (which is a good thing to know, FYI) is enough to send you scurrying back to the latest post-punk, freak-folk, R&B roots-influenced release from [insert hot young band here].

Well, my fragile little reader, relax. I am here to help. I’m going to teach you some basics – enough to allow you to shop without feeling like you’re Sissy Spacek in the opening shower scene of Carrie.

sissy spacek
"I don't know what counterpoint means!!!"

Incidentally, if you’re already educated in classical music, this blog entry isn’t for you. This is for the layman, the curious, the uninitiated. I’m going to be simplifying things and skipping stuff. My main goal is to get people started, and I don’t need you freaking them out with long-winded diatribes about how Stokowski’s transcriptions of Mussorgsky’s works are a bastardization that perverts their core, ethnic vitality in lieu of Westernized concepts of melodic accessibility. [And here’s where I snap my fingers and weave my head back ‘n’ forth like Jackée on 227.]

Carl Ballantine 1917 - 2009

Posted by Whitmore, November 8, 2009 12:35pm | Post a Comment
Carl Ballantine
The comically inept magician known as The Amazing Ballantine or The Great Ballantine or the perfectly over the top moniker, Ballantine: The World's Greatest Magician, has died. The truly amazing Carl Ballantine, the comedian and character actor who is perhaps best known for his role of Lester Gruber, the confident con artist in McHale's Navy, was 92.

He died in his sleep this past week at his home in the Hollywood. I used to see him around the neighborhood all the time, usually at the post office or the grocery store. In a town jammed with celebrity sightings, it was only a Carl Ballantine sighting that would elicit an email or a phone call from several friends of mine.

Born Meyer Kessler in Chicago on September 27, 1917, he started performing magic tricks as a 9 year old, tricks learned from a local barber. By the time he was a teenager he was successful enough as a magician that he supported his family. When he felt a slight change in his magic career was needed, he renamed himself; 'Ballantine' came from an advertisement he saw for Ballantine whisky. One night when a magic trick failed miserably and he threw out a couple of one-liners to cover the error, the Amazing Ballantine was born. His career spanned vaudeville, film, television, Vegas and Broadway. Since the early 1940s, Ballantine always performed in a top hat, white tie and tails, his reason: “If the act dies, I'm dressed for it.”

In 1956 Ballantine was the first magician to play Las Vegas, appearing on a bill at the El Rancho Vegas Casino with Harry James, Betty Grable and Sammy Davis Jr. To promote the show, he rode a horse down the Las Vegas strip.

Ballantine appeared in a number of films, including The Shakiest Gun in the West, (1968), The World’s Greatest Lover (1977), Mr. Saturday Night (1992), and Speedway (1968) starring Elvis Presley, who offered Ballantine a Cadillac. His wife, comedian Ceil Cabot (who died in 2000 after 45 years of marriage), wouldn’t allow him to accept it. His most recent film appearance was in the biopic, Aimee Semple McPherson (2006).

November 6, 2009

Posted by phil blankenship, November 6, 2009 11:11pm | Post a Comment
The Road movie ticket stub
BACK  <<  1336  1337  1338  1339  1340  1341  1342  1343  1344  1345  1346  1347  >>  NEXT