Amoeblog

Jill Tracy Performs Original Score for Nosferatu at SF's Presidio Officers' Club, 2/18

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 7, 2016 05:51pm | Post a Comment

Jill Tracy's Nosferatu

San Francisco-based singer, pianist, storyteller, and one-time featured Amoeba Music Homegrown Artist Jill Tracy at Amoeba San Francisco, 2010Jill Tracy brings her mesmerizing score for F.W. Murnau's silent German Expressionist classic Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horrors back to San Francisco with a live performance at the Presidio Officers' Club on February 18th. As part of the venue's Presidio Dialogues series, Jill Tracy will perform the score live with The Malcontent Orchestra during the screening of the haunting 1922 vampire masterpiece, preceded by a short musical set.

Murnau’s Nosferatu was the first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, but it was unfortunately also unauthorized. The Stoker estate sued for copyright infringement and won, thus ordering for the incineration of all existing prints. Luckily for film history and fans of vampires everywhere, a few copies had already been distributed worldwide.

There is no other composer and performer better suited to musically evoke the eerie sensuality of Nosferatu than Jill Tracy. This event is one night only, FREE, and seats are limited, so make your reservations now HERE!

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'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'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.


Hans Finsler's Der Sternenhimmel der Zukunft (1932)

The New Objectivity, or Neue Sachlichkeit, arose as a response to both the old objectivity (which is apparently how they viewd Jugendstil) as well as the febrile chaos of Expressionism. The movement was influenced by the contemporaneous Surrealists but its practitioners attempted to approach their subjects with cold, deliberate, and sober detachment where the Surrealists attempted to be automatic, unconscious, and random. The New Objectivity developed at roughly the same time on the page, canvas, and screen – in the late 1910s -- although most of its adherents were painters or photographers. The movement was given its name in 1923 by art critic and historian (and then-director of the Mannheimer Kunsthalle) Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub for an exhibit, Ausstellung nach- expressionistischer Kunst (Post-Expressionist Art).


Still from Die Büchse der Pandora

Painters closely associated with the movement include Albert BirkleAlexander Kanoldt, August Wilhelm Dressler, Bernhard Kretzschmar, Carl Grossberg, Christian Schad, Conrad Felix Müller, Franz Radziwil, Georg Schrimpf, George Grosz, Herbert Böttger, Karl Rössing, Otto Dix, Richard Oelze, Rudolf Dischinger, Rudolf Schlichter, and William Schnarr Berger.


Still from Tagebuch einer Verlorenen 

Photographers associated with the movement include Albert Renger-Patzsch, August Sander, Karl Bloßfeldt, Hans Finsler, and Hein Gorny. Grosz described the movement, or at least his aim, as removing the supernatural God and angels and allowing viewers to see unfiltered reality. Despite their aims and claims of objectivity, the focus on the ugly, and harsh side of life was almost always calculatedly grotesque and exaggerated, especially evident in the paintings and films of the scene.


Georg Wilhelm Pabst at work

Bohemian director Georg Wilhelm Pabst was born in Raudnitz, Austria-Hungary to a railway worker. During World War I he was interned near Brest, France. After working in the theater he began making films, first with Der Schatz. Many of Pabst's films were concerned with the role of women in society and took – as a New Objectivist – an accordingly grim view. Some of his best known films are Die freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street - 1925), Geheimnisse einer Seele (Secrets of a Soul - 1926), Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney (The Loves of Jeanne Ney - 1927), Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box - 1929), and Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl – 1929). The latter two films starred the always excellent Louise Brooks. Pabst continued making films until 1956's Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen (Through the Forest and Through the Trees) and died in Vienna, aged 81, in 1967.


Still from Die Verrufenen

Other filmmakers associated with New Objectivity include Berthold Viertel, Ernő Metzner, and Gerhard Lamprecht. Some of the principals of the New Objectivity would be employed Staatliches Bauhaus. Later filmmakers in whose work I detect the movement's influence include Ernst Lubitsh, Ingmar Bergman, the documentarians of the Cinéma direct and Cinéma vérité movements, and perhaps contemporary cinematic sadists like Lars von Trier and his torture pornographer kin.


Still from Die Unehelichen

Films available from New Objectivist filmmakers (but not necessarily in that style – which ended around 1932) on VHS, DVD, or Blu-Ray include Der Schatz (The Treasure – 1923), Die freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street – 1925), Die Verrufenen (Slums of Berlin – 1925), Die Unehelichen (Children of No Importance – 1926), Geheimnisse einer Seele (Secrets of a Soul 1926), Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney (The Loves of Jeanne Ney – 1927), Abwege (The Devious Path – 1928), Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera – 1928), Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box – 1929), Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl – 1929), Die Weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü (White Hell of Pitz Palu - 1929), City Girl (1930), Vier von der Infanterie (Westfront 1918 – 1930), Emil und die Detektive (Emile and the Detectives – 1931), L'Atlantide (The Mistress of Atlantis - 932), Don Quixote (Adventures of Don Quixote - 1933), A Modern Hero (1934), The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935), Rhodes Of Africa (1936), Le drame de Shanghaï (The Shanghai Drama – 1938), Paracelsus (1943), Irgendwo in Berlin (1946), La voce del silenzio (The Voice of Silence – 1953), Es geschah am 20 (Jackboot Mutiny – 1955), and Der Letzte Akt (The Last 10 Days - 1955).


Der Schatz in its entirety with German intertitles and Portuguese subtitles


*****

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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.

The TRON Aesthetic: The Atari Age of German Expressionism

Posted by Charles Reece, October 25, 2008 01:38pm | Post a Comment
The magnificent scenes of heroism, transcendence and man dominating his surroundings should please the most masculinist among us, including Ayn Rand and Leni Riefenstahl:






The close-ups all have that overly melodramatic silent-era quality to them. Note the way Flynn (Jeff Bridges) has Valentino eyes and Sark (David Warner) looks like a Conrad Veidt villain:



The neon destruction is one of the best visual features of TRON, and I particularly love the Art Deco explosion of the light cycle running into the wall:





Here are some be-yoo-tee-ful shots of various control chambers:



These next three shots are probably the result of Moebius's designs, but in terms of color and shading, the first two remind me of Fleischer Studio's Superman cartoon (itself borrowing heavily from German Expressionism):




This next series points to the way TRON takes the acute Expressionistic angles and frequently pushes them towards abstraction. As can be seen in the third shot, those same angles are used in the realworld, as well:




Undoubtedly, the grid is the most recurring motif in the film (just look at the shots above). Despite the sheer daftness of TRON's storyline, the film provides a persistent visual critique of modern existence under technology centering on the grid. The realworld doesn't look all that different from the simulated one, just in duller, Modernist colors. If anything, the oppression of the office cubicles is far more of a labyrinthine mindfuck than the prison in TRON (Bruce Boxleitner)'s world. This use of office space here is every bit the equal to that in Billy Wilder's The Apartment and Jacques Tati's Playtime:



Little wonder that so many prefer escaping reality into videogame simulacra. Where would you rather be, with Lora (Cindy Morgan) in her lab, or with her cyberpunk avatar, Yori?



Thus, when Flynn gets reconstructed by the Master Control Program (MCP; Warner again) into the world of cyber-spectacle, the film visually suggests there's little ontological difference between the two states, online versus offline -- on or off the grid. Life itself has become a simulation:





Despite the standardized happy ending where modern life has been saved from the evil MCP, the time-lapse photography of the city at daytime turning into night before the credits roll suggests something else, namely that we're never too far away from the oppressive regime of the MCP. Note how similar the night-time city is to the mindscape travel sequence of the title sequence:





[Click on images to enlarge.]