Wednesday, 18 May 2022

yea i didn’t falter—just kept on going, man! i knew nirvana was straight around the corner. i turned the corner and ran smack into betty crocker! she was running across the sky yelling you never outgrow your need for milk:

The low-budget 1978 sci-fi movie Laserblast starring Roddy McDowall (previously), Kim Milford (original cast member of Hair, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and both Jesus and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar), Cheryl Lynn “Rainbeaux” Smith and introducing Eddie Deezen received the MST3K treatment on this day in 1996 as the season finale of its seventh and last on the Comedy Central cable channel, before being untethered (the Umbilicus of the Satellite of Love cut) the mad scientist lair Deep 13 and drifting into interstellar space—foreshadowing its imminent move to the Sci-Fi network. A teenage loner discovers a powerful piece of alien technology that slowly corrupts him and compels him to seek revenge (a popular genre at the time) against those who’ve wronged him.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

eine stadt sucht einen mรถrder

Debuting on this day in the UFA Palast am Zoo in Berlin in 1931, the film M by Fritz Lang (previously here and here) and co-written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou was the director’s first sound motion picture and includes innovations like tracking shots and a leitmotif in the form of eerie whistling of Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King—” done by Lang as Peter Lorre could not carry a tune. The plot, criticised initially for being too long at one-hundred fourteen minutes, is the prototypically noir police procedural and “courtroom” drama (apprehended and tried by his peers) about the capture and trial of a serial killer of children and is counted among the greatest cinematic works of all time. Lang himself considered it to be his magnum opus with pointed social commentary for his adopted homeland of Germany, which he reviled for allowing Nazism to take root. Auf die Kinder muss man besser aufpassen… Sie alle!

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

็“ฆๅฐ”็‰นไฟๅซ่จๆ‹‰็ƒญ็ช

A cinematic masterwork in its own right, the film by director Hajrudin Krvavac, premiering just over a half century ago in mid-April, Walter Defends Sarajevo, stands on its own merits with intrigues, betrayals, complex characters, action sequences and an overarching message of triumph and defiance aligned with the Yugoslav ideal of harmony and inclusion in a multi-ethnic state, the film tells the story of heroic resistance to occupation in a plot to foil the Nazi forces 1945 attempt to withdraw from the Balkans and regroup, based loosely on the sacrifice of partisan leader Vladimir Peric who fought under the code name and whose real identity was unknown to the enemy, and has the distinction of being a real contender for the most viewed production of all time. Its release coinciding with the gradual introduction of foreign films and during a time of tensions between the Soviet Union and China, the censors began admitting select works—mostly documentaries from Romania, Hungary and the Yugoslav Republics—but Walter Defends Sarajevo was unique among this class and unlike what most in China had experienced beforehand. Previewed as a radio-play a generation committed the dialogue to heart before the screenings began, playing to a billion individuals over the course of a year in theatres, schools, factories and village squares. Spoiler alert: the operative of the Sicherheitsdienst deployed to capture and kill ‘Walter’ muses during the film’s iconic ending why he was never able to find his nemesis and comes to the realisation—“Sehen Sie dieses Stadt? Das ist Walter!” Still shown to the this day, its influence can be seen in the Chinese film industry.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

strange drama of a captive sweetheart

Based on the 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton of the same name, the psychological thriller by George Cukor starring Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Charles Boyer and introducing Angela Lansbury has its theatrical premiere on this day in 1944. To avoid confusion with a previous adaptation from four years prior, it was released as The Murder in Thorton Square for the UK box office, while the 1940 film was titled Angel Street in America. While departing from the stage piece significantly, the plot remains true to the essential premise of a husband undermining his wife’s grasp on reality in order to cover up his own crime spree, gradually isolating her from society and accusing her of kleptomaniacal tendencies. The title has been denominalised (that is—verbed) by popular psychology to describe the manipulation of Bergman’s character, persuaded that when she noticed the lamps dimming and flickering (as Boyer had brought up the lights on the sealed off upper storeys) it was all in her imagination. Though uncredited, the role of the butler was played by actor and entertainer and Hollywood that-guy Arthur Blake who was a respected female impersonator whose act included Zazu Pitts, Tallulah Bankhead, Carmen Miranda and Betty Davis among other celebrities and was even invited to the White House by FDR to do his impersonation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, much to her delight.

Monday, 2 May 2022

fan mail from a flounder?

Given the MST3K treatment for the first time on this day in 1999 in their tenth season, the surpassing bad 1971 sci-fi horror film also released under the titles ZaAt (the name of the chemical compound), Hydra and Attack of the Swamp Creatures relates the plot of a mad scientist first to transform himself into a catfish-like monster (sort of like the hybrid God-Emperor primate-sandworm) then drug an entire town’s water supply with the same serum to create a community of merpeople. The mad scientist then turns his focus to revenge on his fellow researchers who ridiculed his work.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

rapunzelstiltskin


Though off-the-shelf as it were an under-nuanced in my hands, we are finding this text-to-image generator inexhaustibly engrossing (previously), especially once we were able to get a better feel of how it operated and could choose an accessible subject and prompt equally familiar thematic variations. We selected a coquetry of “Disney Princesses” with each panel filtered through the style of commercially popular, ideally mononymous, artist. Here is an assortment of some of the better and less nightmare-addled results, and mouse over the images to see the influencing painter. I think Rembrandt is my favourite.  Give Latent Diffusion a try yourself and be sure to share the outcome. 


 

 

 

Thursday, 28 April 2022

hollywood on the tiber

Dedicated on this day in 1937 by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the sprawling studio complex in Rome, Cinecittร , was built in accordance with the motto ”il cinema รจ l‘arma piรน forte“—that is, movies are the most powerful weapons. Their aims however were not exclusively for propaganda with the primary goal of reviving the country‘s flagging film industry, which had virtually collapsed in the early 1930s. Subject to bombardment during World War II and post-war was host to an encampment for displaced persons. Rebuilt in the early 1950s, the studio site garnered the titular nickname with over three-thousand productions, including Roman Holiday, Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, The Agony and the Ecstasy plus numerous films by Franco Zeffirelli and Federico Fellini. More recently the the studios were the set of the BBC/HBO co-production Rome and The Young Pope, a full-scale mock-up of St Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel on site, just a few kilometres away from the actual location.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

you are not drinking a piรฑa coladas at trader vic’s, young man, you’re just not old enough

First aired on this day in 1997, the 1957 b-movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf starring Michael Landon (Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven) as troubled youth Tony Rivers was lampooned by MST3K. A fight in school garners Tony (Landon) the attention of the local detective who persuades him to speak with a staff psychologist who proposes a regimen of hypnotherapy to help deal with his bouts of anger.  Reluctant at first but then convinced he needs to seek help to curb his violent (often dairy-based) inclinations after another brawl during a Halloween party, Tony submits to seeing the doctor, who has the patient pegged rather as the ideal test-candidate for an experimental serum developed to regress personality and bring out primitive instincts. One side-effect of the treatment is of course lycanthropy.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

doctor tongue’s 3d house of pancakes

On this day in 1953, the American period horror film directed by Andrรฉ De Toth and starring Vincent Price (previously) as a disfigured sculptor who resolves to repopulate his destroyed wax-museum with murdered townsfolk coated in paraffin on display, House of Wax, had its premiere opening in New York City before general release on 25 April. Whilst Colombia pictures’ noir remake of Ralph Bellamy’s The Man Who Lived Twice, Man in the Dark was the first studio 3D release, albeit in black and white, bet this film by two days, this was the first major production company colour-presentation with stereophonic sound that could be screened in regular theatres (the independent Bwana Devil—which had packed audiences in cinemas in 3D glasses—preceded both by a few months and the success caught off guard). Also starting Phyllis Kirk, Dabbs Greer and Charles Bronson, the film featured some clever and startling foreground effects despite the irony of the director being unable to perceive depth himself due to blindness in one eye caused by an accident as an adolescent and wore a balck eyepatch for the rest of his life.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

the forbidden zone was once a paradise—your breed made a desert of it ages ago

Opening to critical acclaim and considered an instant sci-fi classic, Planet of the Apes with screenplay by Rod Serling (previously) and starring Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Charlton Heston went into general release in cinemas in the United States on this day in 1968. The original franchise spanning four sequels before the reboots, the film was based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planรจte des Singes about an Earth crew of astronauts who crash-land on a strange world where simians are the dominant species.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

i’ll do my exploring in the laboratory, if you don’t mind

First subjected to the MST3K deluxe treatment on this day in 1997, Terror from the Year 5000 is a Samuel Z Arkoff and Robert J Gurney Jr. collaboration from 1958 about a science experiment that first involves an exchange of objects and artefacts from the distant future, sort of like the show’s regular invention exchange segment. Eventually (about an hour into the movie) this trading beckons a disfigured, Greek-speaking envoy to travel to the present and present a warning about the nuclear holocaust in the hope intervention will change the timeline. The Observers’ forcing Bobo and Dr Pearl Forrester to engage in combat is a reference to “The Gamesters of Triskelion” when the disembodied minds called The Providers demanded Uhura, Kirk and Chekov fight to the death.

Saturday, 5 March 2022

black tulip

Premiered in 2019 during the Venice Film Festival and the country’s Oscar entry for 2021, the Ukrainian dystopian, post-apocalyptic Atlantis by Valentyn Vasyanovych is set in 2025 and profiles the trials of a recovery organisation in a desolate wildness rendered arid and nearly uninhabitable after a protracted war with Russia and securing an arguably pyrrhic victory with asymmetrical fighting—with the message ultimately hopeful and optimistic rather than the cynical echoes of the reputed words of Caledonian chieftain Calgacus who fought the Romans in Scotland: they make a desert and call it peace. Categorised at least formerly as science fiction, the movie is available for streaming and to invoke another loose quotation, this time by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.”

Thursday, 3 March 2022

8x8

wild chapluns and pea beasts: the vibrant art of Maria Prymachenko, via Kottke

ill-gotten assets: those who are tracking the jets, yachts and other property of sanctioned Russian oligarchs, via Maps Mania (with more resources)

subway hands: a collection by Hannah La Follette Ryan—via Everlasting Blรถrt
blades & brass: a 1967 short to commemorate the first indoor hockey match, held on this day in 1875  

nostromo: a sixty-second Alien remake using household items (see also)

try to keep up: five news take-aways for today

megamix: Hood Internet (previously) celebrates entering the Naughts with a 90s retrospective, via Boing Boing 

world central kitchen: chef and humanitarian Josรฉ Andrรฉs helps out in Ukraine, via Super Punch

Sunday, 20 February 2022

the shape of things to come

Via our faithful chronicler, we are informed that on this day in 1936, the adaptation of the H.G. Wells’ dialectical novel Things to Come had its cinematic debut, outlining the social and political predictions set forth by his 1933 work from the perspective of a twenty-second century diplomat examining the consequences of a nascent second world war continuing well into the 1960s with belligerents having well forgotten what’s at stake and what they are fighting for. With civilisation exhausted and entering a new Dark Age (with zombie plague included, a generational feud of the Passworthys versus the Cabals), a technocracy of fighter pilots struggle to preserve and advance human knowledge, leaving the confines of this globe for the wider Cosmos.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

der totentanz

Premiering on this day in 1912 at the newly constructed “Glashaus” studio in the Neubabelsberg district of Potsdamm—what would become the production company—the silent picture in three acts, The Dance of Death, directed by Danish filmmaker Urban Gad with camera work by Guido Seeber, only is known to exist in fragments. The movie relates the tragedy of Bella Burk (Asta Nielsen) whose engineering husband (Oskar Fuchs) is badly injured during a factory mishap and is no longer able to support the family. Bella finds employment as in a vaudeville act as a singer and dancer, scandalising audiences and critics with her exotic belly dance which would have otherwise proved merely scintillating if it wasn’t ultimately a fatal mental breaking point for the new object of her affection and infidelity, the troupe’s composer, Czerneck, portrayed by Fritz Weidemann.

Saturday, 5 February 2022

8x8

eye-in-the-sky: a collection of superlative drone photography 

gravitational lensing: tentatively, astronomers find evidence of the first rogue, marauding black hole over a backdrop of nebular clouds 

wheel of fortune: Wordle but with common quotations and idioms—via Memo of the Air

para||el: a short film about divergent realities by Mรฉnilmonde  

building & loan: more on the economics of gift-cards—see also  

staying toasty: bread hats and loafers, see also  

three little words: what3words (see previously) solves some problems for vehicle guidance and navigation, causes others—via Duck Soup  

to open every kind of lock: burglars’ spells and incantations 

scotus: a former law clerk writes the Wikipedia articles on Biden’s prospective nominees to the US Supreme Court in order to insert doubt and skepticism, via Super Punch  

bird’s eye view: a parrot in New Zealand pilfers a family’s Go-Pro and films some nice scenery

Sunday, 30 January 2022

fashion icon

Continuing a very fine tradition of celebrities dressed as a range of a certain thing, the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt presents an extensive and growing thread of Lady Gaga as mushrooms. The paired gilled fungus is called the Pleurotus citrinopileatus (the Golden Oyster Mushroom or Tamogitake), edible and all-around useful, it is also being studied for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which could be harnessed for future health applications.

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

7x7

reset: audiences of a hugely popular show in China about a video game programmer stuck in a time loop are upset about its positive ending  

orszรกgos kรฉktรบra: Hungary’s national long distance walking route (see also) from Irottkล‘ to the Austrian border 

the book of fate: an 1822 edition that appealed to contemporary British preoccupation with Ancient Egypt and Napoleon  

we only remember ‘long polio’: contemplating the lingering, debilitating effect of severe cases  

boharat cairo: a foundry explores the possibilities of Arabic script expression 

 encanto: we need to talk about Bruno  

where is my mind: an edit of problematic fav Fight Club available for streaming in China follows some different rules

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

batmobile lost a wheel

Having previously poured over the custom automotive creations of George Barris (previously here and here) and his various commissions for film and television, we enjoyed this introduction to the body of work of Jay Ohrberg, which aside from super-stretch limousines, include KITT from the last season of Knight Rider (see above), the DeLorean from Back to the Future and ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters. Much more from Messy Nessy Chic at the link above.

Friday, 21 January 2022

dmc-12

With iconic gull-wing doors and a brushed steel exterior, the first DeLorean sports cars—designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro—came off the production line on this day in 1981 in Dunmurry, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Before the enterprise folded in December of 1982 with John DeLorean’s Motor Company filing for bankruptcy, allegedly turning to drug-smuggling to make up for shortfalls in financing, about nine thousand cars were made with around six thousand still roadworthy. Several custom models were produced including a gold-plated one as a promotional deal with a credit card company for its gold members and turbo-charged versions and most notably of course for featuring as the time-machine of the Back to the Future Franchise.