Amoeblog

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode with Clint Mansell

Posted by Amoebite, May 15, 2018 07:22pm | Post a Comment

Clint Mansell What's In My Bag?

Clint Mansell had a sincere message to give in our new What's In My Bag? episode. The composer and musician, who is originally from England but now resides in the U.S., selected a stack of films by foreign directors who came to America and left a lasting impression on our culture, including The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin. "We've got to remember that we're all here, in it together, and we gotta share, and good stuff comes when we're kind to one another. And also, magic gets made."

Clint Mansell is an English musician, composer, and former frontman of industrial/alternative rock group Pop Will Eat Itself. After the dissolution of the group, Mansell moved to the United States. He Loving Vincent OST - Clint Manselltransitioned into film scoring when Darren Aronofsky hired him to write a soundtrack for his 1998 debut Pi. The partnership was fruitful and Aronofsky brought Mansell on again for the score of his 2000 cult flick Requiem for a Dream. Since then the pair have partnered on each of the director's subsequent films, including The Wrestler and Black Swan. Mansell received a Grammy nomination for his contributions to the latter film.

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SF Silent Film Festival's A Day of Silents, December 3

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 14, 2016 04:49pm | Post a Comment

SF Silent Film Festival Day of Silents

Launch into the holiday season with San Francisco Silent Film Festival's event A Day of Silents on Saturday, December 3rd at the glorious Castro Theatre. In one epic day, the SFSFF offers six amazing programs with live musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra and Donald Sosin!

The silent hits just keep coming as the day kicks off at 10am with a program of Charlie Chaplin shorts Charlie Chaplinmade with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in 1915. Then at 12:15pm, Ernst Lubitsch’s 1926 comedy So This Is Paris roars across the screen to live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin. Sergei Eisenstein’s first full-length feature, Strike (1925), screens at 2:15pm with Alloy Orchestra providing powerful musical accompaniment. At 4:45pm, catch Different From the Others (1919), possibly the oldest surviving film with a homosexual protagonist, which has been restored by the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command (1928), about an exiled Russian general who "goes Hollywood," plays at 7pm with music by Alloy Orchestra. The last film of the night brings Gloria Swanson to the screen for Sadie Thompson, the 1928 drama about a San Franciscan prostitute on the island of Pago Pago, at 9:15pm.

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Celebrate 100 Years of Chaplin's Little Tramp with SF Silent Film Fest's Charlie Chaplin Centennial Celebration

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 16, 2013 06:17pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba Music is thrilled to join the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on January 11th at the Castro Charlie Chaplin The KidTheatre for a day-long centennial celebration of Charlie Chaplin's beloved "Little Tramp" character. Yes, 100 years ago the Little Tramp appeared in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), the funniest of the Keystone films that set the stage for Chaplin’s ascendancy as a star. This "little fellow," as Chaplin called him, became an icon of world cinema and catapulted Chaplin to fame.

SFSFF's celebration will feature three programs of Chaplin's indelible contribution to cinema. Three comedy shorts from Chaplin's time at the Mutual Film Corporation - The Vagabond (1916), The Cure (1917), and Easy Street (1917) - start the day off, with piano accompaniment by John Mirsalis. Chaplin's first feature, The Kid (1921) will be preceded by the aforementioned Kid Auto Races at Venice and accompanied by the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra conducted by Timothy Brock. Preceding The Kid, compete in the Charlie Chaplin Look-Alike contest! Come dressed as the Little Tramp and win a prize! The Gold Rush (1925) will also be accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra conducted by Brock. Timothy Brock is an acclaimed composer/conductor specializing in concert works of the early 20th-centure and silent films. He restored Chaplin's original scores for The charlie chaplin shortsKid and The Gold Rush.

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[Insert wordless visual here.]

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

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.


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.


Clara Bow emerged from a childhood fraught with poverty and abuse to become a top Hollywood box-office draw. Her brash manners earned her scorn among celebrity circles, however, and after retiring from the movie business, she was reduced to living inside a milk carton and selling her toes for Necco Wafers.*




Clara Bow, coupled with pop vocal singer, Helen Kane, was the inspiration behind Max Fleischer's beloved cartoon character, Betty Boop.


I would be remiss to write about silent films without mentioning the biggest star to come out of them, namely, Charlie Chaplin. It is convenient that, while I am often annoyed by the actors which are today hailed as great, contemporary stars, I am satisfied that Chaplin is absolutely warranted the admiration he’s bestowed.


Chaplin distinguished himself as an actor, director, composer, and sex machine. After a career on the stage, he found greater fame in film as an actor for the Keystone Film Company. He debuted his now famous character “the Tramp” in two films: Kid Auto Races at Venice and Mabel's Strange Predicament, both released in 1914.




Hold on a second – I’ve a powerful thirst… I’m gonna go get a frosty beverage. While I do, enjoy this performance by Petula Clark of a song written by Charlie Chaplin…


…Okay. I’m back, with thirst quenched. Going on…

Because his political views were decidedly left-of-center, he was targeted by pretty, pretty princess J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. When Chaplin returned to his native England for the premiere of his film Limelight, Hoover sabotaged the actor’s U.S. re-entry permit. Chaplin eventually made his new home in Switzerland, where he spent his time on his hobby, collecting teenage, blonde girls.


Next, let us consider the great actress Theda Bara. While Bara made over 40 films (between 1914 and 1946), only six of these remain available in their complete form. Cleopatra, one of her most popular films, is now lost; only 40 seconds of film footage and photographs of Bara in her costume remain. Bara’s aesthetics have gone on to inspire future artists, like Siouxsie Sioux and, less obviously, Eazy-E*. She eventually married a wealthy man who wanted her to give up acting in films, so she switched her format to the bedroom [insert drum roll].




Different From the Others [original, German title: Anders als die Andern], released in 1919, is important as one of the first (and, perhaps, the first) films to portray homosexuals in a compassionate light. A product of the Weimer Republic, the film was eventually considered “decadent” by Hitler and the Nazi Party, and copies found were burned.




One of the actors from Different From the Others, Conrad Veidt, went on to achieve fame for his role in another film I fancy: the early horror flick, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [original, German title: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari]. A neat-o example of the German Expressionist style, the film, with its eerie backdrops of painted-on shadows and warped stages, remains spine-tingling. It’s great for Halloween parties, or for snuggling and seducing art-school chicks taking a break from experimenting with bisexuality.


I am currently enjoying Die Nibelungen, director Fritz Lang’s cinematic version of the epic poem Nibelungenlied, written around the year 1200. I’m not finished watching it, so I’ll reserve commenting too much, for fear of making a fool of myself and reporting that it stars Sandy Duncan in her greatest performance to-date and is the only sex-comedy to be filmed using goat’s milk feta instead of the more traditional celluloid. I will say, however, that so far, it’s rather phat.


Most of the films mentioned here are available in the Silent Film section of Amoeba Music Hollywood. Next time you’re in the mood to challenge your ADHD and enrich your film viewing experience, be bold and give one of these a try. You can always pick up a copy of something starring Reese Witherspoon to watch afterwards, if need be. Tsk.


*Not actually true.