23 February 2017

Ian Curtis' French counterpart?

I wouldn't say they're doubles, but there's definitely a resemblance there.

Ian Curtis


  François Leterrier in A Man Escaped (1956)

15 February 2017

Georges Méliès

As Antoine de Saint Exupéry notes with wry humour in The Little Prince, 'grown-ups like numbers.' He is right of course, but sometimes numbers  really are awe-inspiring.

Georges Méliès made OVER 500 films during his lifetime, of which, sadly, only around 200 are extant. He himself destroyed a large body of his own work, and other films were either lost to the ravages of time or destroyed during the First World War.

Méliès' life was at every turn full of setbacks, of which the most major was his contract with Pathé films, which ended up destroying his production career. The contract stipulated that Pathé would have the right to edit and distribute Méliès' films. He was forced to break the contract in 1913, and was by then extremely indebted to the company -- so much so that he had no solution but to stop making films. He became a sweet and toy salesman and made just enough to sustain himself -- the enormous amount of critical acclaim that he had gained over years of hard work in the industry failed to translate into material aid.

Méliès revolutionised filmmaking and special effects -- in The One-Man Band (L'Homme Orchestre), he  created dozens of multiples of himself playing different instruments; in Bluebeard (Barbe Bleue), the keys from Bluebeard's rooms danced demonically; in Le Papillon Fantastique, a woman appears out of nowhere and is entrapped in a moving spider's web.

His films incorporate effects in a way which never looks dated,and one of the most bizarre aspects of his work is that it always seems to sit between genres and media. He brought his interest in magic tricks and theatre into his films and as a consequence it is difficult to say if we are watching a theatrical version of cinema or a kind of filmic theatre.

At the same time, some of  Méliès' films have almost scientific concerns -- A Trip to the Moon and The Astronomer's Dream extend the theatrical beyond time and space and are at the same time fraught with the anxiety that human capacity for innovation may be annihilated in the search of arrogant self-affirmation -- do we want other scientific, imaginary, or spiritual worlds because we can impose ourselves on them, or do we want them to appreciate their truth and beauty? 

Ultimately,  Méliès worlds burst through historical and geographical boundaries with uncanny life, striking us anew over a century after their production. And their capacity to transcend such boundaries is likely to extend for  centuries to come.

12 February 2017

Go pianissimo into that good night

There's something about slightly out-of-pitch lo-fi pianos that will pull my heartstrings probably till the day I die (and maybe after that, who knows?)

Probably because it reminds me of that poor on-its-deathbed piano at my school which, in its defence, really knew how to give a lot when it was loved and treated with respect.

I was hardly expecting to find a song like this one in Noah Lennox's repertoire, having only been familiar with his  electronic sample-based Person Pitch work up till now (which also took hold of me and never let go) and I've been unaware of his acoustic past. But it's all perfect.

And there's not much left to say about Broadcast, except that retrospectively 'I Found the End' just accrued more and more tragic meaning...