Riso Amaro [1949)

Robert Bresson said, “I believe in cinema.”

In English?  Like that?  I don’t know.

But it is truly the thought which counts here.

Because I believe in cinema.

Cinema.

Maybe it’s my favorite word.

My religion.

The great omnist hymn of all lands.

Of all the hands which have pitched in to turn the wheels of the mind.

And so this film, Bitter Rice, is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

Not because it is flowery and seductive. [It’s not flowery.]

Not because there are perfumed stars in diamonds. [There’s no perfume.]

But because it is real.

As real as cinema gets.

Not the hyperreal of Harmony Korine’s Gummo.

Not even the transparent real of documentary footage.

But a real which is uniquely Italian.

To say neorealism is to cheapen the whole creation.

This is a masterpiece by director Giuseppe De Santis.

You must live through the rain to understand it.

You must have had no hope to fathom the slop.

You must wade in de water.

Because you are seeing Italian opera.

There’s no speech in the field.

No talking.

Workers are in the prison of labor.

Same kinds of rules.

But if you sing, that’s tolerated.

And so it all must be sung.  In the fields.

Puccini famously bragged about his facility.

Give him a grocery list, he said.

And Willie Sutton had his hygiene and motivators covered.

Even if he never uttered the famous phrase.

He ENJOYED robbing banks.

And, yes, that was where the money was.

And so the field workers not only display humanism.

Not only embody feminism.

But engage in a little triage worthy of Sutton’s law.

Taking the poor girl to the embankment.

[They’re all poor.  This is 1949 Italy.]

It’s not psychotic fugue, but psychogenic fugue.

Fugue state.

Thuringia.

The Axis Powers played a very bad game of chess.

Stretto was the shit hitting the fan.

“Ride of the Valkyries” mixed with heavy artillery mixed with vocalizations of agony.

Ristretto is what you get at Starbucks.

But, dear friends, don’t stop after the first half.

Let it finish.

Let it bleed.

Shine a light.

For Silvana Mangano.

Sylvania.  Someone has etched the word “hope” into the light bulb’s socket.

In the Schwarzwald.

The deep eerie mystery of the woods.  And Hitler’s aerie.

[Godwin golden mean]

34 21 13 8

almost Fibonacci but ending

aND nothing more Italian that an actress named Doris Dowling.

But that’s the way it went.

Direct descendent of opera verismo.

Our old favorites Mascagni and Leoncavallo.

But Netflix hasn’t gotten at the heart of what this means.

“Strong female lead” or some such rubbish.

Nice try…

But Riso Amaro blows all those venal pigeonholing strategies out of the water.

Cinema is not my God.

Cinema is my religion.

 

-PD

Paisà [1946)

Something about the late night.

And a war movie.

Makes me tired of fighting.

The ongoing war.

Identify:  friend or foe?

The Italian partisans were fighting against their own fascist government.

They were fighting against the Nazis.

This will be a little late in coming, but an idea can have a soft opening.

Applied Memetics.

Memetic engineering.

We bombed Sicily.

Clear the beaches.

A daughter-in-law (it is implied) was killed by our bombs.

Boom boom.

And now she cannot even have her wake in peace.

She was an egg for a larger omelet.  That should be remembered both ways.

Disgusting.  And no other way around it.

Warfare in 1943.

Is it a road?

No, it’s lava.

So many misunderstandings in war.

I’m an American.

Me.

The author.

It is the country of my birth.

And I love my country.

The partisans were fighting the fascists.

The fascists were the outgoing government.

More clearly, I defend the pillars.

Free speech.

Push the limits.

USE your free speech.

Get the word out.

Be wrong.

Apologize.

Try to get it right.

Study science.

Drunk in Naples.

Thinking of DeFord Bailey.

Born same day as me.

Harmonica Frank.

Ain’t talkin’.  Just walkin’.

You gonna have to eat those boots if you lose them.

Which is a contradiction.

Maria Michi was such a bitch in Roma, città aperta.

You remember?

We she comes face to face with torture???

And so the OSS fought with the partisans.

Training in explosives.  And survival.  Every possible scenario.

Basics.  Navigation of small boats.

Because poetry is always dangerous.

You might analyze an entire Yankees season in two minutes, but I am large vast, I contain mul,ti,tudes,,,

Improved upon by the collective unconscious.

What?

Well, Maria Michi redeems herself here.

Still a whore.

But a heart of gold.

Straight from central casting (as Webster Tarpley might say).

I believe it was The Thrills.

Love in vain?

Two lights…diverged in a forest…AC/DC

I alternate between direct and oblique.

That was Rome.

Most notable for war is Florence.

The Rucellai gardens…ah.

I haven’t heard that name in a long time—

Wan excrement.

Nick Tosches.

We take up Machiavelli to study war.

Because there is something worth defending.

As faded as it is.

Over five-hundred years ago…they were already lamenting.

It’s nothing new.

What Sean Elliott correctly calls curmudgeon talk.

Will Harriet Medin taste youth one more time?

Because the great painter-warrior seems to be in danger.

Across the Arno.

Putting the Po in poverty.

Lou Reed became Transformer.

The Wolf.  Lupo.

Call me Winston.

That Rosser Reeves should have died in 1984.

Better living through chemistry.

Thank God for mental illness.

Tonight I’m gonna rock you tonight.

Second request.

Uffizi with crated antiquity.

A more high-dollar GoldenEye.

Impenetrable.

We always rebel against our kind.

Youth.

The imperfect circle of mimesis morphed.

And meme.

Daddy-O.

Like watercolors one bleedingintotheother.

Which we would have called word painting for J.S.  In a cantata.  Or oratorio.

Wasn’t a “years of lead” scale attack.  Uffizi.  1993.

But we seem to trace the progression of honorable men (OSS) to bizarre hydra (CIA).

Short sword for thrusting.

To each, his own.

The British (like the Catholics) are portrayed as spoiled twats.

[The Catholics (director Rossellini being Italian) are portrayed lovingly as myopic outliers]

Shakespeare would have been appalled by Shakespeare in Love.

And right before the “Fine” a noyade.

Viz. know your history.

I am guilty as hell.

Of being an idiot.

But I have a lust for life beneath this quiet desperation.

 

-PD

Planes, Trains and Automobiles [1987)

When I was a kid, this was a big family favorite.

It was one of those rare times when profanity got a pass.

That second time Steve Martin goes off…on Edie McClurg (the rental car lady).

But even funnier is the first time Martin pops off…in the Braidwood Motel in Wichita, Kansas…and John Candy just takes it.

Yes, there are some priceless moments in this film.

In some ways, this film defined an era.

Trading Places was an early-decade success (1983) for John Landis.

And then Walter Hill succeeded with a similar type of story, treated in his inimitable way, in 1985 (Brewster’s Millions).

But by 1987 the decade needed summation…and this particular genre which transcended classification needed a testament.

This is that film.

Funny enough, this was the same year the Coen brothers really started hitting ’em out of the park (Raising Arizona).  That film also is a veritable classic, but it is forward-looking.  It is almost like comedy in the hands of a David Lynch.

John Hughes was seemingly retrospective with Planes, Trains and Automobiles…like the J.S. Bach of the 1980s…summing up a decade of dirigist American comedy.

Hughes had a lot of career left to go in 1987, but this was a sort of highpoint…especially if considering only his directorial efforts.

Sure…Hughes was more counterculture earlier in the decade, but he wasn’t above putting his heart into a morality play like this one.

But to paint this film as a vanilla affair is not really accurate.

Consider Steve Martin’s yuppie character…a “marketing” professional on a business trip to New York from Chicago.

Martin’s character represents everything that was wrong with America in the 1980s.

Sadly, Neal Page (Martin) represents the problem which persists in America today.

Perhaps Isidore Isou’s famous class distinction fits here.

Neal Page, marketing professional, is an intern (as opposed to externe)…a cog in the wheel of production.

The Neal Pages of today would learn their marketing from an abomination such as Marian Burk Wood’s The Marketing Plan Handbook.

The Neal Pages of corporate America read a Wood phrase such as, “For the purposes of developing a marketing plan, advertising’s two basic decisions concern the message (what content will be communicated) and the media…,” without ever thinking Marshall McLuhan.

A savvy seller of used books might file The World is Flat in “Sociology” (in addition to the more strictly-applicable “Business”) in an effort to unload what must surely be one of the most overprinted books of recent memory.

But what bookseller ever thinks to place Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man (1964) in the “Business” section…or in the Marketing/Advertising “disciplines”?

Marketers, no doubt, would have a glib answer.

But marketers rarely know more than their insular, myopic areas of pseudo-specialty.

The “right” answer…the culturally literate answer…the answer Marian Burk Wood was either too dumb to include…or too convinced that her dumbed-down readers would not get…is McLuhan’s:

“…the medium is the message.”

The first sentence of the fucking book!

Chapter 1 (also, conveniently titled, The Medium Is The Message):

“In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message.”

But the character Neal Page wouldn’t have known that…and that’s why he gets “schooled” in business by the portly, genuine Del Griffith (John Candy).

Of course, Candy’s character wouldn’t have known this either…but at least he wouldn’t have been a venal, meretricious, entitled prick like Neal Page.

And so Neal Page didn’t really go the extra mile in business school…  He just took all the bullshit shoveled down his throat as gospel truth.

Therefore, Page wouldn’t have known this gem either…a parallel to McCluhan from just three years later (1967).

Again, the first fucking sentence of the book:

“The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.  All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”

Ok, so I gave him two sentences.  Those are the words of Guy Debord from his masterpiece La société du spectacle (The Society of the Spectacle) [translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith].

Notice the similarities to McCluhan.

But, of course, Debord was referencing the big daddy of them all:

“The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’…”

Karl Marx.  Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (1867).  Translated by Ben Fowkes.

And so today’s marketing professionals are either brain-dead (thanks to authors like Wood) or craven cynics thanks to equally worthless authors such as Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller.

These last two have contributed a tome to the pseudo-discipline of “marketing” entitled A Framework for Marketing Management.

If anything has ever called for the revocation of tenure, it is the appalling lack of intellectual curiosity these two professors (from Northwestern and Dartmouth, respectively) show over the course of their overpriced bible for aspiring C-level automata.

Consider their statement, “…make low-profit customers more profitable or terminate them.”  Now do you see why America has problems?

And again, “Spend proportionately more effort on the most valuable customers.”

Thank God for the Del Griffiths of this world.

People are not statistics to be terminated.

God bless John Candy and John Hughes for poignantly reminding us of the only true value in life.

Relationships.

Not to be “leveraged”.

Just people.

Plain and simple.

As Del Griffith says, “What you see is what you get.”

Genuine.

THAT’S the marketing of the future!

And it can’t be contrived…

 

-PD

 

 

Masculin feminin: 15 faits precis [1966)

I don’t write about the film, I write about me.  I don’t write about the film, I write about the world.  No.  I write about the film the best I can.  I am on a mission to start every sentence with I…from now to the end of eternity.  Not quite.

I don’t know what pops up in your reader.  You know about the reader?  Tell me about the reader, Charles…  Yes?  And???  Right.  The reader writes.  Correct!

We are some macro-blogging mofos.  Four times I wrote it and four times it autocorrected to micro.  And so the stupid hyphen.  Just like the titles.  Diacritical marks are the first to go in totalitarian societies.  Then the dollar words.  Soon, all words which might express inefficient, ineffective concepts such as tenderness.

Now we are rolling.  Give the anarchist a cigarette!

D’accord…

Allors…

Jean-Pierre Léaud was the Jason Schwartzman of the 60s…or vice versa.  And while we might think primarily of Truffaut, here we see Léaud in a truly penetrating role.

Chantal Goya.  She plays the ice-cold bitch pretty well…completely meretricious, vacuous, etc.

And then we run into red hypertext “links” for Catherine-Isabelle Duport and Michel Debord.

Yeah, we all know:  the children of Marx and Coca-Cola.  Could have been.  Tarzan vs. IBM.  Could have been.  The ape and the onion.  Mercury Rev.

Well, yes:  it could have been.  Today.  Particularly dreary.  All week.  Usually I embrace it.  Pretend like I’m Liam Gallagher in Manchester.  But not today.  Not this week.  Only shadows in the night gets it right.

It’s a bummer.  I’m too old to be young.  Too perverted to be romantic.  Too romantic to live.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

And yes:  I catch the aspect ratio.  I yell Trotskyite.  Not really, but parallel.  I detest the cowardice…when I myself am a basket-case.  It’s ok.  We are human.

We remember Marx and Coca-Cola, but we forget James Bond and Vietnam.  We forget the military-industrial complex.

Let me tell you how it happened.  I lay down as always with my sea-foam-green (eau-de-nil) headphones ready to continue my reflection on the great oeuvre.  And my computer doesn’t cooperate.  It’s as if I have conjured the spirit of JLG.  The sound outraces the picture.  Chaplin-fast to Notre Musique-slow.  The waves come crashing in.  Ingmar is hijacked and ridiculized.

Translation:  my computer won’t play the disc.  After 15 minutes of relatively good play, it jerks and stops and pauses and reloads in an endless loop.  It’s like as a kid with that De La Soul CD…I’d physically pick up the player an inch and let it drop down.  Somehow it would catch.  It was just that disc.  No, not this time.

I have cared for this film like a child.  It is one of many baby Jesuses in my Jodorowsky stable.  Manger.

And so I traveled far to rewatch this.  Fifteen paces maybe.  15.  So what?

Et allors?

Pauvre Wikipedia.  Lion-wannabe.  Quick!  Call Tim Rice and Elton John.  Pathetic.

Yes, she keeps abreast of the pop charts.  Cashbox.  And he likes her type of breasts.  Why not say it?

And isn’t there anything else you like about me?  Well, Miss 19, there’s not much more to like.  A Big Mac and a pair of Nikes and you’re happy.

Yes, Seymour Glass.  I’m sure he just backed up too far on the balcony…trying to get all two of them in the picture…in Florida…like Richard Manuel.

Duport eats a bananafish.  Marquis de Sade.  Such a perfect day.  Cassis and mineral water.  And Orangina for Marlène Jobert.  Perhaps.  Who cares.

You can tell a redhead even in black and white.  She should have been more famous.  Eva Green’s mom.

yé-yé all day long

Mozart

the orchestra is fantastic

clarinet concerto

middle movement

Paul.  Again with the Paul.  It started tentatively in Vivre sa vie.  And then Paul Javal.  Contempt.  In the name of the father.  And now again without Christian name like Le Chiffre.  James Bond and Vietnam.  Same complex.  Inferiority.  Military-industrial.

With that I am at 666 words.  Ed Sanders decides to consult Harry Smith on how to levitate the Pentagon.  Exercise the demons.  Nothing like a demon with love handles. Give ’em a good workout.

B-A-C-H.  Psychotic fugue on the Mashed Potato.  Dee Dee Sharp.

What other kind of fugue is there?!?  Jonny Greenwood would surely tell you it’s reversible.  Amnesiac.

ménage à quatre

bullshit

intellectual parlor games

Wikipedia

I know.  I know.  Hawaiian.  Quick!  Vite!

caméra-couteau

probing, probing

like Tony Parker

pass the goddamn ball

I’m not sure you want to know.  I am a lip-reader.  Baudelaire.  Au lecteur.  Samuel Fuller.  Les Fleurs du mal.  No one under 18 admitted.  Strictly no admittance.  778 words and I haven’t gotten to the film.

-PD