Cartoon time on video Wednesday! The Academy Award-nominated The Jaywalker (1956) exhibits all the modern trademarks of the studio it came from, UPA. I wish Columbia would get off their collective butts and release this stuff on DVD.
Remember that groovy Lady Godiva painting I posted about a couple of months ago? Shortly after acquiring it, I was having some difficulty finding any info on the painting or its creator, John Strejan. After posting a photo of the art on flickr, I heard from Strejan’s nephew. He confirmed that the painting was indeed by his uncle, painted in the ’60s before he became well-known as a pop-up book artist. Furthermore, he shared photos of four other paintings from the same period!
Love these. Mr. Strejan must have had a thing for full-figured gals.
The Ballad of Narayama (1983). Interesting film, a winner of the Cannes Palm d’Or award in 1984, follows a year with the inhabitants of a remote 19th century Japanese village. Mostly the story concerns Orin, one of the village elders, a healthy older woman who nevertheless must obey the village tradition that sends every resident off to a faraway mountain to die once he or she turns 70 years old. Although it sounds like a heavy handed affair, director Shohei Imamura handles the material with the same leisurely lightness and eye for detail that was a hallmark of his later film The Eel. The film contains a lot of uncomfortable scenes displaying the villager’s barbaric nature (accented with shots of wildlife copulating, eating each other, etc.), but there’s a lot of humor and heart in the characters as well. It’s also one of the few films that causes the viewer to ponder one’s own mortality.
Chinatown (1974). Last weekend’s showing was the third time I’ve seen Chinatown, a film that holds up well to multiple viewings. It’s still excellent, potent as ever, and the beautiful photography of various 1930s L.A. locales (including Diane Ladd’s wonderful Mission style apartment complex) serves as a great primer for our trip there next week. Interesting that we should give this a rewatch in the same week that a) director Roman Polanski gets arrested on a 31-year-old molestation charge, and b) MacKenzie Phillips grabs headlines for revealing a consensual sex relationship with her own father. Good timing.
King Kelly of the U.S.A. (1934). A chintzy, at times incomprehensible musical made by the z-budget Monogram studio. Forgotten tenor Guy Robertson stars as a cocky showman who meets the woman of his dreams on a transatlantic cruise. As it turns out, the woman is the princess of a country known for its fine mops (??) and Robertson must find a way too win both her heart and her kingdom. I rented this because Joyce Compton has a supporting role as a chorine who is improbably paired in a romantic duo with that limp-wristed classic movie icon, Franklin Pangborn. Compton and Pangborn display their reliable comic timing in their few scenes together, inadvertently highlighting the lead actors’ blandness (Robertson seems like Jimmy Cagney’s less charismatic older brother). Strangely, they both vanish halfway through the movie without explanation. In this movie’s bizarre universe, that move actually makes sense. As seen on Cartoon Brew, this cheesy animated clip is typical of the movie’s weird awfulness:
L’Avventura (1960). I added this to my Netflix queue after director Michelangelo Antonioni passed away in 2007. Considered a milestone in foreign cinema, the film opens with an intriguing tale of a woman (gorgeous Monica Vitti) accompanying her girlfriend on a boating trip to a remote Italian island with their superficial crowd. When the friend mysteriously disappears, Vitti and the woman’s boyfriend head up the search — becoming lovers in the process. The first half of this film was fascinating, beautifully acted and photographed. Once the characters leave the island, however, it descends into a glacially paced monument to pretentiousness. Lots of talking, lots of scenes which don’t add to the plot or mood or anything. The kind of film that gives foreign films a bad name, basically, which is a shame since the first part was so captivating. Like her contemporary Anouk Aimee, Monica Vitti is such a magnetic presence that I’d watch her in anything — so it wasn’t a total write-off.
Prince & The Revolution — Parade: Music from the Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon. When I want to feel old, I’ll just remind myself that I bought this album the year it first came out — on vinyl. That was 23 years ago. Although I’ve never seen the film it scores (or any Prince film, for that matter), this is my second favorite Prince LP after the legendary Purple Rain. The album has a playful aura of European sophistication — which wouldn’t ordinarily mesh with the Purple One’s funky grooves, but strangely it works wonderfully. Given how eclectic the tunes are, this is also a surprisingly consistent album. I love how the album’s first half flows together. The only tune that sticks out is the huge hit “Kiss,” a song that’s perhaps too powerful and unique to be confined to an LP. Perhaps Prince should have pulled a Madonna “Into The Groove” move and issued it as a single-only release.
The Scrubbles.net redesign continues … after a lot of trial and tribulation, the layout is now the way I originally envisioned it to be. Unfortunately, the header looks a bit lost — downright illegible, even — amid the background pattern. Back to Photoshop for more tweaks. The final design will be here, eventually.
There’s also the cross-platform issue. Although this page looks fine ‘n dandy in Safari and Firefox on my Mac, I’ve noticed that viewing it with Internet Explorer on Windows seriously screws with the layout. Apparently it displays just a header and a footer with nothing in between. This might be an issue only with older versions of IE or Windows. PC users, can you give me any feedback on how the site looks on your end?
Spotted this on my friend Dan’s Facebook. Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead shilling Kodak cameras in the ’60s. I love it when they do commercials in character like this: