Thursday, April 24, 2008

Last Night's Dream

I promise that I will not be posting my dreams here on a regular basis.

I was either watching a program on television or someone was talking to me in person. It's hard to say, as it sometimes is in a dream. But this person was informing me that earlier civilizations didn't value the ear that much. Consequently, painters rarely bothered painting ears on their subjects. Yes, sound and music were important, but the ears themselves were not. That's why you rarely see Christ's ears in paintings. The eyes are important, as were His wounds, but His ears? Not so much.

The dream included images of old paintings that proved this thesis, though whether the paintings exist in the real world I can not say. When I remembered this dream late this morning, I accepted its conclusion as true even if I don't know if I agreed with its reasoning, such as it was. You don't generally see the ears in old painting, particularly religious ones. Do you?

If I wasn't so busy at work today I probably would have probably done some research to see if this was true. This may be like the time I was in an altered state, and realized that one of the things that was special about the word "wasps" is that it was the only word in the English language that made you makes the cymbal sound when you said it. Wah-SSSPSS! I was so taken with this realization that I recorded myself saying it over and over. Wah-SSSPSS! It wasn't until two days later, long after the altered state had passed, that I thought of words like "asps" "grasps" "clasps" and "lisps."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Comments on "The Boy with Green Hair" From My Friend Troy

(Edited from two separate emails.)
I wanted to say thank you for sharing "The Boy With Green Hair" with us. As a surreal parable about the ills of war, it has an odd choice of metaphor - shocking green hair standing in for spring-like renewal. That and "Nature Boy" as the theme song and an amazingly naturalistic performance by a young, young, young Dean Stockwell makes this quite an interesting treat. And intriguingly anti-war for 1948, which is perhaps more compelling, in context.

Reading your commentary on your blog reminded me of the boys interaction with the war orphans and how interesting is was. While they were initially presented as some sort of immovable tableau, only to react to him once he acknowledged their presence, his own take on them was much more pragmatic than theirs to him, which was lofty and surreal, since of course, he was their messiah

They responded to his comments with unreal clarity and a sense of the epic, whereas his retorts were snappy and generally annoyed, an interesting contrast I greatly admired. Here they are - these metaphorical visions of tragic suffering and he's cranky because he woke up with green hair, priceless. But once he gets the message, well then...

I also thought the scene where he gets his head shaved was oddly compelling. As Andrea mentioned, there is little to no music in that scene, at a time when most films were over scored, thereby increasing the sense of anguish. It's amazing how upset the townspeople seem over the situation, like they didn't know what else to do, but had to go through with it anyway. It's like a far subtler version of what Lars Von Trier seems to shoot for in many cases, "Dogville" for example.

Troy -
The difference may be that, unlike Von Trier, the makers of The Boy With Green Hair (Joseph Losey, Betsey Beaton, Ben Barzman) seem to have sympathy for their characters, even those who turn against the boy. They also seem to believe in their film's message - the earnestness and lack of irony is one of the things I respond to. Von Trier doesn't seem to believe in anything within Dogville, which limits the film. He wants an exciting climax of the heroine ordering the massacre of the townspeople who wronged her, but wants to justify her doing so as a philosophical and moral point rather than simple revenge, and then taunts the viewer for wanting to see the massacre. To accomplish these contradictory goals, Von Trier's characters have to indulge in a debate of twisted logic that demonstrates there is no meaning to Dogville beyond audience manipulation.


How 38 years and hanging out with Dennis Hopper can change you:

He is so fucking suave...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Favorite Comment (So Far) About John's DVD of the Month Club

Courtesy of an email from my friend Gavin:

As a neurotic, one of the things I dread most is searching for and deciding on a movie to watch. As a member of John's DVD of the Month Club, all I have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy!

If I was going to advertise, this would be my slogan, even if it meant I ended up with a bunch of neurotics for customers.

Friday, April 04, 2008

John's DVD of the Month Club - April 2008

The Boy With Green Hair

One of the consequences of knowing a great deal about something is that it can sometimes prevent basic pleasure. After getting a degree in film production, I find I analyze movies and television shows rather than simply watch them, as if they’re homework assignments and I’m the teacher who must grade them. This means that most things I like, I “appreciate.” But it also means that I especially treasure anything that overwhelms my critical facilities and reminds me of how it felt to watch a movie when I was young. I’m either engaged or bored, like or dislike, without analyzing the reasons why. Charmed while watching The Boy With Green Hair, I decided to share it with as many people as possible and came up with the idea for the DVD of the Month Club. The movie isn’t as obscure as I thought. Two different people, upon receiving their discs, said “Oh, The Boy With Green Hair. Dean Stockwell.”

I’m not sure what lead me initially to record The Boy With Green Hair rather than one of the other old films on Turner Classic Movies, but it may have had something to do with a story from my youth. The first time my cousins visited us after they moved to Florida, they told stories about what seemed like an exotic and foreign land. My favorite story came from my cousin Pat, who told us he knew a kid with green hair. It seems his hair was normally light blonde, but he went swimming every day and his parents had a tendency to over-chlorinate the pool, to the point that his hair turned a light shade of green. I thought that was the funniest story, though, like most stories that impress a child, it was mixed with a healthy dose of “there but for the grace of God go I,” despite the fact that I have dark-hair and swam infrequently.

Things I liked about the movie:

- The montage of various homes the boy lived in.

- The cartoon-like sequence of Paps singing his song. I’m a sucker for non-authoritative Irish man-child characters because I had one for a father.

- The propaganda: “Be nice to war orphans.” They had to make a movie to tell people that? Overt messages in films are considered obvious and counterproductive, but I love them for their primitive approach. Have the war orphans appear in a quasi-religious vision. Make the main character look directly in the camera and deliver your message. Make sure the audience gets the point. Propaganda in films now is much more subtle and much less fun.

- Given that extreme hair color is barely noticed today, it’s almost quaint to watch a story in which unnatural hair color is not only shocking but threatening. The movie has an individualist vs. conformist theme, but the boy doesn’t really choose to have green hair, he just makes the best of it when it happens.