Category Archives: film

RIP Mel Gordon (1947 – 2018)

Research occasioned by the death of Adam Parfrey (see prev. post) brought to my attention that one of the writers who were often published by Parfrey, Mel Gordon, also recently died.

Mel Gordon was a theatrical historian. He wrote on 1920s BerlinGrand GuignollazziHanussenDadadrugs and Expressionism.

From left to right: Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant (2001) The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber (2006) Horizontal Collaborations (2015) Voluptuous Panic (2006) The Stanislavsky Technique (2000)

From left to right:

Why I like the rhetoric of censors so much

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (1981) is one of the best anti-pornography documents around, better than Perversion for Profit (1965).

I found Not a Love Story while researching my paper and being sidetracked into feminist antiporn rhetoric.

The most blatant variety of this rhetoric is the part where they say that pornography leads to rape, first expressed by Robin Morgan in 1974 when she said “pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice“.

Recent feminists such as Anne W. Eaton have toned down their statements from the once virulent rhetoric of women such as Robin Morgan, but Rae Langton, a well respected source in the current debate, still references Ed Donnerstein in “Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts“, her much-cited paper of 1993.

Researching Ed Donnerstein brought this film to my attention. He is interviewed on the effects of violent porn.

New to me was a soundbite uttered by Robin Morgan who states that “the first things that the Nazis did when they moved into Poland was to engineer a huge proliferation of pornography.”

The statement baffled me and I knew right away that I would not be able to find whether this was true or not, the only thing I could hope to discover is who first spread this piece of information.

After some googling I found this information cited in Take Back the Night (1980) by Laura Lederer. Some more googling and I discovered that it can be pinpointed to Pamela Hansford Johnson’s statement “when the Nazis took on the government of Poland, they flooded the Polish bookstalls with pornography” recorded in On Iniquity (1967), an attack on permissive society occasioned by the Moors murders.

I’ve previously mentioned why I like the rhetoric of censors so much but must write more about it, see in praise of censorship. This documentary is up here in its entirety but for how long considering the amount of explicit imagery?

PS 1. There is another explicit video on censorship, which has escaped the YouTube censor, I’ve written on it here and the video is still there.

PS 2. If you know where Pamela Hansford Johnson got her info from, I’d love to hear from you.

RIP Stéphane Audran (1932 – 2018)

Stéphane Audran was a French actress, known for her performances in award-winning movies such as The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and Babette’s Feast (1987) and in critically acclaimed films like The Big Red One (1980) and Violette Nozière (1978).

A well-known photo of the actress shows her sitting at a dressing table doing her toenails. It is from the film from the film La Femme Infidèle (1968).

Above is the clip of that film with Audran tending to her nails.

RIP André S. Labarthe (1931 – 2018)

André S. Labarthe was a French actor, film producer and director.

He starred alongside Anna Karina in the 1962 film Vivre sa vie and was a celebrated television documentary maker.

He directed the documentary Georges Bataille – À perte de vue (1997) and David Cronenberg: I Have to Make the Word Be Flesh (1999).

Georges Bataille – À perte de vue (1997)

David Cronenberg: I Have to Make the Word Be Flesh (1999)

 

Dance of the Peacock by Makhmud Esambayev

Dance of the Peacock by Chechen actor/dancer Makhmud Esambayev is a clip[1] which is currently doing the rounds on Facebook.

It intrigued me because of its kitschiness and I decided to investigate.

It did not take long to figure out that the soundtrack to which Esambayev is dancing, is a cover of the theme of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Sergio Leone. It has a drum break which is not in the original.

It took me more than an hour to find the original film the clip was taken from.

First I found a version with a little bit more footage at the beginning (below).

For a while I thought it came from a children’s movie and I scrubbed through two. These were actually quite nice.

Then, by machine translating the Russian Wikipedia page of Esambayev I found out that the clip comes from a film called Dances of the Peoples of the World (above) in which the Chechen dancer performs a huge number of various dances: “Chaban” (Chechen-Ingush, Uzbek), “Warrior” (Bashkir), “Golden God” (Indian), ritual “Dance of Fire” to the music of de Falla, “La Corrida” (Spanish ) and “Dance with knives” (Tajik)”.

A nude boy and extreme close-ups in ‘Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!’

As I was researching my master thesis and examining the tautology of genre, I stumbled upon Sholem Stein’s list of unusual westerns.

Luck would have it that the first film on the list, Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!, is on YouTube, so I watched it.

Did it live up to its expectations?

Not really. It’s a silly film.

Two notes:

It gratuitously features a nude boy, just as El Topo did. But not as nude here and only seen from the back.

And then there are the close-upsSergio Leone style, including tiny drops of sweat.

A way out of the ‘tautological genre-trap’

I finally started writing my master thesis for a degree in philosophy.

The subject?

“Can porn be art?”

The answer: “Yes it can be but usually it’s not.”

Anyway, to get to this answer, one needs to define art and porn.

Defining art is notoriously difficult.

Defining porn less so. First you need to get rid of the tautological genre-trap (see genre theory, corpus and tautology).

Page 135 from ‘Theories of Film’ (1974)

I finally read the original page on which the problem of the tautological genre-trap is first elaborated [above].

The page is from Andrew Tudor’s 1974 Theories of Film, the chapter’s title is “Critical Method: Auteur and Genre”, the page 135.

The text reads:

“To take a genre such as a ‘Western’, analyse it, and list its principal characteristics, is to beg the question that we must first isolate the body of films which are ‘Westerns’. But they can only be isolated on the basis of the ‘principal characteristics’ which can only be discovered from the films themselves after they have been isolated. That is, we are caught in a circle that first requires that the films be isolated, for which purposes a criterion is necessary, but the criterion is, in turn, meant to emerge from the empirically established common characteristics of the films.”

Tudor calls this an ’empiricist dilemma’.

More philosophically, you might call ‘genre’ an ostensive definition.

My way out of this quagmire?

Make use of Venn-diagrams. Some works are part of the ‘western’ set but can overlap with other sets.

RIP German sex educator Oswalt Kolle (1928 – 2010)

Oswalt Kolle played a significant role in the sexual revolution in Germany.

Of all sexual revolutions (see here), the one that occurred in the 1960s was the most pervasive, due to mass media, the pill and general economic prosperity.

It was a funny revolution. A friend once told me that it was just an excuse for all alpha males to bang as many women as they could get their hands on. This is an exaggeration, of course, but contains some truth.

It was the start of sex education in state schools, like the Sexualkundeatlas of 1969, but also of state-funded sexual education films Helga – Vom Werden des menschlichen Lebens.

Illustration Zázrak Lásky (Czech translation of Wunder der Liebe by Oswalt Kolle). For more visuals of Oswalt Kolle’s products, see my old page here[1].