Category Archives: film

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].

‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ in motion

The Seven Deadly Sins (2011) is a video animation by Belgian artist Antoine Roegiers based on The Seven Deadly Sins or the Seven Vices by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Bruegel is the best-known Bosch follower and Karel van Mander called him “Pieter the Droll” in his Schilder-boeck:

“Oock sietmen weynigh stucken van hem, die een aenschouwer wijslijck sonder lacchen can aensien, ja hoe stuer wijnbrouwigh en statigh hy oock is, hy moet ten minsten meese-muylen oft grinnicken.”
“There are few works by his hand which the observer can contemplate solemnly or with a straight face. However stiff, morose or surly he may be, he cannot help chuckling or at any rate smiling.”

— Here reprinted in F. Grossmann’s translation (Bruegel, The Paintings, [London, Phaidon Press, n.d.], pp. 7 ff.)

 

Alfred Hitchcock @110

Alfred Hitchcock @110


Alfred Hitchcock KBE (August 13 1899April 29 1980) was a highly influential film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres.

Hitchcock’s films draw heavily on both fear and fantasy, and are known for their witticisms. They often portray innocent people caught up in circumstances beyond their control or understanding.

Until the later part of his career, Hitchcock was far more popular with film audiences than with film critics, especially the elite British and American critics. In the late 1950s the French New Wave critics, especially Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and François Truffaut, were among the first to see and promote his films as artistic works. Hitchcock was one of the first directors to whom they applied their auteur theory, which stresses the artistic authority of the director in the film-making process.

Psychoanalytical film theorists such as Slavoj Žižek (The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema) have noticed how Hitchcock often applied Freudian concepts to his psychological thrillers, as in Rebecca, Spellbound, Vertigo, Psycho, and Marnie. Additionally, Hitchcock often dealt with matters that he felt were sexually perverse or kinky, and many of his films aimed to subvert the restrictive Hollywood Production Code.

Cover: Murders on the Half-Skull by Alfred Hitchcock (1970, Dell [New York]). Cover artist ID anyone?

RIP Karl Malden (1912 – 2009)

RIP Karl Malden (1912 – 2009)

Click for sources

Carroll Baker in
Baby Doll (1956) – Elia Kazan [amazon.com]
image sourced here.

Karl Malden is personally best-remembered for his portrayal of vulnerable and gullible chumps. The epitome of the weak character is the naive cuckold in Baby Doll.

Baby Doll is a 1956 film which tells the story of the childlike bride of a Mississippi cotton gin owner, who becomes the pawn in a battle between her husband and his enemy.

The movie was written by Tennessee Williams and was based on his one act play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. It was directed by Elia Kazan.

The film is credited with both the name and originating the popularity of the babydoll nightgown, which derives from the costume worn by Baker’s character.

The Catholic Legion of Decency succeeded in having the film withdrawn from release in most U.S. theaters because of their objections over its sexual themes. The movie was banned in many countries like Sweden, due to its allegedly exaggerated sexual content. The film was also condemned by Time, which called it the “dirtiest American-made motion picture that had ever been legally exhibited”.

Baby Doll is World Cinema Classic #110

PS In one of my other favorite performances he plays a blind man in The Cat o’ Nine Tails (Dario Argento) in which he reminded me of the blind mother in Peeping Tom. There he is quite different from the chump stereotype.

Gratuitous nudity #17

Gratuitous nudity #17

via www.vintagesleaze.com Cinema X Cinema X was a british film magazine best known for its coverage of sexploitation films. Early issues of the magazine were undated, but it is believed the first issue was published in 1969. The first film to grace the cover of Cinema X was Loving Feeling directed by Norman J. Warren.  Other films covered in the first issue were I Am Curious (Yellow), Curse of the Crimson Altar and Therese and Isabelle, people interviewed in the premiere issue included Norman J Warren, John Trevelyan and Anthony Newley. Related:  Continental Film Review British exploitation Sexploitation film slicks 1963–1973 Erotic film magazine British sex film Bachoo Sen

via www.vintagesleaze.com

Cinema X was a british film magazine best known for its coverage of sexploitation films. Early issues of the magazine were undated, but it is believed the first issue was published in 1969. The first film to grace the cover of Cinema X was Loving Feeling directed by Norman J. Warren. Other films covered in the first issue were I Am Curious (Yellow), Curse of the Crimson Altar and Therese and Isabelle, people interviewed in the premiere issue included Norman J Warren, John Trevelyan and Anthony Newley.

Related: