Saturday, December 10, 2011

Life of the Mind

Cookies full of arsenic

One of the trends of 50's cinema was studios releasing films they thought would recapture the glory days of 1930s cinema. Ironically, a number of outstanding movies started to arise from that period of 'go for broke' that bucked this very trend. Movies that were seeped in genre material. Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly and Alexander MacKendrick's Sweet Smell of Success in particular. The former a Mickey Spillane noir with a slow burn. The latter being a film with its feet entrenched in a securely rigid structure and its head in a whirlwind of knife cutting dialogue. What sets this apart from its other contemporaries of that decade however, is the biting cynicism. This along with the urban location of New York instead of studio backdrops. It is this stage where we get to watch characters with their feet in the quicksand of lies and filth. Spewing forth barbed dialogue from the screenplay by Clifford Odetts and Ernst Lehman that would make David Mamet blush.

Enjoying the ride

In the realm of comedy stand up, there are the greats: Bruce. Pryor. Carlin. Louie CK. While the 90's saw some of Carlin's best and blisteringly relevant material, another comedian with a knack for infusing social commentary into his stand up took to the mic. Bill Hicks' shtick was always going against the status quo. A free spirit that never backed away from bringing up the ludicrous contradictions that we prescribe to. Rant In E Minor is required listening, folks.

The man up in this beast

Throughout the 80's and 90's, Denzel Washington typified the American hero. The man who would stand up for Andrew Beckett. The man who would go to bat for Ferris Bueller during the attack on Fort Wagner. Something happened after this. The gloves came off and the so called hero was now filling Scott Glenn's chest full of buckshot. While directors are usually a go to field when it comes to perking my ears up, a select core group of actors can invigorate me to want to see what they'll do next. & in 2001, I finally got to see one of my favorite 'do-gooders' play the bad guy. Unfortunately, this was also the last time I really dug one of his performances.

Donner, party of one

Cannibalism is one of the many morbid curiosities and fascinations that I hold. For some reason or another that I can't quite articulate, it has seeped into other interests I have. I'd like to believe that it is because the very nature of cannibalism emphasizes an extreme act of aggression upon a fellow human being. Something I do not condone. But still find all the more interesting in terms of extreme behavior. Curiously, Silence of the Lambs, Texas Chainsaw Massacre & Cannibal Holocaust are among my favorite films. Serial killers being another fascination I hold. But let's not stray too far. Events like the Donner Party Crossing are a prime example as to what I'm getting at here. Ric Burns American Experience documentary does a more than capable job of giving a comprehensive overview of the tragedy.

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