Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cats are invading our backyard, and the dill has grown wild and is overtaking everything. When we moved in, there were about three alley cats that prowled around.... now, they've had babies, those kittens are growing up, and there are about seven or eight of them now roaming the alley. At first, the kittens were cute, but now they're wrecking our backyard (they've been scratching at the grass, tearing it up so that they mark a spot where they then use daily...) and there are fleas! Yesterday, i went and cut a lot of the dill seeds....

Anyway, today went to see "Ugetsu", which remains a magical movie. Tomorrow it's "Sansho Dayu"; this morning, TCM played "Stromboli". Reminds me that Peter Wollen concluded his book "Signs and Meaning in the Cinema" with the statement that, for the record, the best of Rossellini, Mizoguchi and Renoir is better than anything ever made in Hollywood. So in one day: better than Hollywood.

A lot to discuss... but Michael Giltz's analysis of the Emmys on his blog (www.popsurfing.blogspot.com) has been hilarious. Of course, Larry and i didn't bother to watch the Emmys: we NEVER watch the Emmys. Watched "H.M. Pulham, Esq." last night; this is an example of the "auteur" fallacy. Stanley Donen (when interviewed by Steve Harvey) once berated Andrew Sarris, because (as Donen put it) how the hell does he know what's personal to me? "Funny Face" (a film which Donen developed, and which he moved from MGM to Paramount in order to get Audrey Hepburn as the star, and which he shaped the script with Leonard Gershe) was (in Sarris's view) not a "personal" project for Donen. (All three of the movies he did with Audrey Hepburn were "personal" projects for Donen.) Anyway, "H.M. Pulham, Esq." is a "personal" project for King Vidor: the script is credited to Vidor and his wife, Elizabeth Hill; and when the credits come to "Directed by" Vidor (literally) signs the movie (his name in his own handwriting). He is saying, this is a personal movie for me. As much as "The Big Parade" or "The Crowd" or "Hallelujah" or "Our Daily Bread". And it's a lovely movie, superbly well crafted, even well acted, though the casting is problematic. Robert Young is fine, but Hedy Lamarr really tries, but she's just not the go-getting Midwestern girl of the book. It's not just that Hedy Lamarr isn't quite an actress, but she's so European. But i've always liked "H.M. Pulham, Esq." and i'm glad that King Vidor liked it, too.

But talk about insanity: Larry and i watched part of "Tortilla Flat"! MGM and John Steinbeck: a bad combination to begin with. Stir in Spencer Tracy, John Garfield, and Hedy Lamarr as Mexicans, and it's beyond parody! What the hell are they all speaking? I'd seen the movie when i was a child, and i had already read the book, but it didn't seem so absolutely hopeless as it did yesterday. When Akim Tamiroff comes off as the closest to "authentic"... this is why Hollywood used to have a bad name....

But a lot more to report. But how do we get rid of the cats, now that they've overtaken our yard?


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