I may be quiescent, but I’m not altogether inert. Here’s some of what I’ve collected while trolling the blogosphere during the past few weeks:
– Further proof that I’m soooo behind the curve: it took an Indianapolis-based art blogger to clue me in to the coming release of Terry Zwigoff’s new movie, Art School Confidential, starring John Malkovich. (To view the trailer, go here.)
– In other film-related news, Mr. My Stupid Dog reports on the Criterion Collection DVD of John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln:
The Lincoln of this film seems more a product of the 1930s than the 1830s–and in that respect, more like the sainted Democrat FDR than his own Republican self. In Trotti’s script, the rail-splitter has nothing whatsoever to say about race, and the closest he comes to acknowledging the reality of slavery is a not-quite throwaway line: Lincoln states that his family had to leave Kentucky because “with all the slaves comin’ in, white folks had a hard time making a living.” Except for an occasional servant, African-Americans are completely invisible in Ford’s Springfield. Class displaces race in the film’s mythic universe–to the point that when the title character, played by a startlingly young Henry Fonda, faces down an angry lynch mob, both participants and intended victims are White. Like Fritz Lang, who famously used lynch mobs as a metaphor for fascism in his film Fury Ford suggests a parallel between thuggish leaders who goad a mob to violence and equally grotesque forces poised to plunge Europe into a second world war. That Lincoln is singlehandedly able to quell the angry mob points to one of the film’s deepest contradictions: In Young Mr. Lincoln, democratic society is saved from fascist control through the actions of a single Great Leader. (Lang didn’t let America off the hook so easily.)
– Speaking of race, Mr. Something Old, Nothing New has found an online-viewable video of Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs, a miniature masterpiece of animation which is nonetheless banned from TV broadcast on TV because it’s jam-packed with racial stereotypes. See for yourself.
– Mr. Think Denk eats a plate of dumplings and reflects on the meaning of the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata:
I have a hard time seeing where the opening of the Kreutzer “comes from.” There are no easy sources for its particular beauty. The sort of question I feel it asks is Why Do I Exist? or How Did I Come Into Being? And that is what gives it, for me, a kind of surreal beauty: an oddly certain question, a fragment that is strangely and prematurely complete. The piece is mature beyond its measures….
My favorite recording of this wonderful work, incidentally, is a live performance from 1940 by Joseph Szigeti and B