Monday, June 16, 2008

A Blog-Pause

I'm scribbling away to meet three deadlines and need to take a brief blog break. I should be back within a week or two. Take care, all.


Blogger girish said...

Clearly, my will power to stay away is weaker than I imagined.

Great news: a new DVD transfer of one of my favorite Busby Berkeleys, The Gang's All Here. Dave Kehr writes on Carmen Miranda in the NYT:

"Between Miranda and her sympathetic co-conspirator at Universal, the Dominican Republic’s no less preposterous Maria Montez (“Cobra Woman,” 1944), and Lupe Vélez, RKO’s “Mexican Spitfire,” the 1940s saw the birth of an unexpected New Woman — the “Latin bombshell,” imported from south of the border to boost the Roosevelt administration’s Good Neighbor policy. Miranda was a radical break from Alice Faye and Betty Grable, the two original “Fox Blondes” who dominated that studio’s musical production.

"Unlike the accessible, warmly appealing lace-curtain Irishwoman represented by Faye and the airbrushed, impossibly perfect pinup portrayed by Grable, Miranda, who died in 1955, was a startlingly unknown quantity, willing to lampoon both feminine decorum and North American notions of South American exoticism. [...]

"“The Gang’s All Here” is Miranda’s sole collaboration with Busby Berkeley, the Broadway choreographer turned Hollywood director who was one of her few peers in Hollywood in terms of rampant eccentricity. Berkeley had been enduring a dull period at MGM when Fox borrowed him for “The Gang’s All Here,” and his built-up resentment against MGM’s conservative aesthetics exploded in several audaciously conceived and boldly executed production numbers.

"The opening one lasts six minutes and is covered in only two shots, as Berkeley keeps the visuals evolving through constant camera movement rather than editing. This remarkable sequence, set to a medley of the standard “Aquarela do Brasil” and a new song, “You Discover You’re in New York,” by Leo Robin and Harry Warren, evolves through three distinct levels: a wholly abstract environment that proceeds from a dot (which grows into the face of a singer) and a series of lines (which become the hull of a boat), as the undefined space evolves into a New York dock, wheresugar, coffee and Miranda’s gigantic hats are being unloaded from the S.S. Brazil.

"A pull back reveals that this vast scene is supposedly happening on the tiny stage of a New York nightclub, suggesting that the extravagant spectacle is taking place entirely within the fevered imaginations of the club patrons."

June 17, 2008 10:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Lots of good reading around:
-- At The Auteurs' Notebook: Danny Kasman on the New York Asian Film fest ("The most exciting film festival each year in New York is neither the prestigious New York Film Festival nor the Tribeca"); David Phelps on Mizoguchi; Glenn Kenny on Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here.
-- 4 new pieces at Moving Image Source: Jonathan Rosenbaum on Marcel L'Herbier; Adam Nayman on Peter Lynch; Mark Asch on Tomu Uchida; and Tom Charity on the "Defining Moments in Movies" book.

June 20, 2008 8:04 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Hello, all. 2 of my 3 assignments are in, just one to go. Hope to be back here with a post at some point Tuesday. Until then...

June 22, 2008 11:22 PM  
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