Friday, September 13, 2013

In 2010 Tom Hooper won the top Oscars and garnered innumerable accolades for himself and all others involved in his quiet drama about the fears of a speech impaired King George VI.

The King's Speech was wisely released in a manner to attract critical attention and the marketing team undoubtedly dived headlong into the game of "Oscar baiting."

Movies void of explosions, sex, horror, murder, slapstick, Scarlett Johansson, or anything remotely titillating are faced with difficult marketing problems. Critical acclaim - especially in the form of a prestigious Oscar - can be the saving grace needed to bring in the audience ( read - the money)  needed to make the film successful for the backers.

For this reason a large portion of a films budget goes not into the making of the film itself, but in getting an audience interested in seeing it. Nothing new here. Oscar winning films often use similar marketing strategies - for example they debut toward the end of the year so as to be fresh on the minds of Academy voters.

Nothing is more central to an Oscar campaign than the face of a movie - its poster.

As with any visual design the goal is  Look at me! Remember me! As with most forms of advertisement, movie posters are grouped to together - so the competition for eye time is fierce.

A successful  movie poster needs to be visually intriguing, or at least "cool." It needs to fit the style, tone and often message of the film. If there are people involved with film that audiences like the movie poster can successfully advertise them. It should immediately suggest its target audience - for example a poster for Hostel or Saw will differ obviously from Finding Nemo or Shrek.

These below are studio posters - put out by the marketing team of the film. At worst their generic formula will rely heavily (sometimes solely) on star power, fail on giving genre details, remind the viewer they are photoshopped and leave the viewer confused rather than curious.

What follows ranges from bizarre to bland and boring:

But, on occasion they go beyond and present something that does more than provide the simple details. Whether through mystery, nostalgia, or simple beauty these posters will standout from the others and arouse curiosity. The best ones evoke theme and employ foreshadowing.


Then there are fan made posters. Here the fad is minimalist and fan posters often have more nuance as they are created by . . . fans who have seen the movie many times and love it.  These  films already have their audience and their designers only have their customers to answer to and so are likely to try a more daring approach.

Back to The King's Speech. Oscar contenders need to look smart, carry dramatic weight, and attract with sophistication. They are not necessarily art-house films, but they are not summer blockbusters either.

First the mediocre:

There is nothing particularly striking about these posters. The first and third will attract attention, but only for a moment. The second looks like every poster of family drama ever made and has little at all to do with the actual movie.  They all suffer from odd facial expressions that are puzzling to the viewer - serene? whimsical? Worst of all they are each rather forgettable. 

And then there is worst example. When Hooper saw this poster he was horrified and called it an absolute "train smash." 


This tics each of the requirements on the bad list: horribly photoshopped, no clear ideas or themes, baffling expressions - are Carter and Rush playing some sort of prank on Firth? There are no marks of sophistication, no dramatic weight. It looks like a low-budget Hallmark movie.   And the awful tagline: "When God couldn't save the King, The Queen turned to someone who could."

And the best:

The color pulls the viewer in immediately - it is not an average color for a film poster. The images are very simply, yet richly detailed.  It is not crowded - just one simple line of praise. Indeed, it plays off current trends of minimalism. It is vague, but in a way that is thought-provoking rather than bewildering. 

This poster is much better suited to the subtle drama that took home the Best Picture prize of 2010. 

Two images by the intriguing Stephan C Archetti of the incomparable Michael Caine.

Archetti, plays with thirds and balance here in a way that I find remarkable. We know that we read images - our eyes darting from the left to the right and spending time where the most intrinsic weight is deposited. Asymmetry pulls us against the weight just enough to hold everything in balance. What I enjoy about Archetti's images of Caine is that I become conscious of this reading when I view these. I can feel my eyes moving. The wide angle creates a sort of optical gymnasium - there is no rest here.

I sense beauty - we all do. Even people who might bury their perception of the Aesthetic in cynicism or scorch it with lust feel the influence. They may call it something different - or they may have lost the ability to call it anything. Nonetheless.

I however seek to find a sort of beauty - or create it. The better word is pursue. I pursue beauty.

It then seems, at first, very strange that I should have trouble identifying something that is beautiful. Is it because beauty is so subjective? I hardly think so. The position of a completely objective beauty is nearly impossible to defend, but so really is a completely subjective beauty - eyes and their beholders notwithstanding.

No, I think it is because of the way beauty (beauty has had the terrible misfortune to become a tragically and pathetically abused word) is defined. And I do not really mean defined because the truth is that there no longer exists a definition for the word. Is it something that pleases my senses? Can I taste beauty? Certainly I can hear it. Can I feel it - like a slow touch on my skin or an electric kiss? Can the totally abstract be beautiful? Can a feeling feel beautiful? Is "beautiful" feminine like "pretty" has become?

Is beautiful a word that means something inherently more than another? Is it greater than cute, or quaint, or pretty? Is it less than gorgeous or stunning? Does it suddenly change if you are speaking to an English person or an American person?

And then there is a question of utility. Kant thought that art - and perhaps beauty - was not truly art if it was useful in any way - that it must stand alone. But many have trouble of separating the two at all. Utility, they say, is beauty.

But the task here is to write about something that is beautiful. A specific something. In this case it must somehow surpass the common and "stupefy." It must ring into the senses with force. It must be a violent intruder into the mind. That is a lot to require in a search. And so maybe it is not so strange that I spent much more time than I originally anticipated I would. I scoured my online galleries of paintings, searched fashion blogs, watched youtube clips of films I admire ---

In the end this was the image that I chose.

The image shows the nude body of a woman firmly grasped by a pair of masculine hands . The soft gradient of highlight to shadow placed starkly against the black of the surrounding accentuates the sense of intimacy already created by the apparent context of the nudity and all it implies. The suggestion of intimacy is furthered by the texture - the indent of her of her flesh where it is pressed upon by his hands gives a sensuous and powerful sense of texture. 

To me what makes this photograph arresting is the knowledge of what it truly is. Far from a boudoir snapshot of soft skin - this is solid, unyielding marble. The photograph is a detail from a sculpture by the master Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  That knowledge adds a sense of wonder and amazement. How could something so sensual be hewn from stone? It is far outside my skill to accomplish and therefore startling. And what is more, the intimacy is a fraud an illusion accomplished by the photographer (whose name I cannot discover), for this is not an image of tender love. 

This is The Rape of Persephone.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Three Short Films Starring Kevin Spacey

in descending order of quality  . . .

Friday, May 4, 2012

"As I had once done thus in my breaking away from my Parents, so I could not be content now, but I must go and leave the happy View I had of being a rich and thriving Man in my new Plantation, only to pursue a rash and immoderate Desire of rising faster than the Nature of the Thing admitted; and thus I cast my self down again into the deepest Gulph of human Misery that ever Man fell into, or perhaps could be consistent with Life and a State of Health in the World."

"Thus we never see the true State of our Condition, till it is illustrated to us by its Contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it."

Foley Art and Sound Design

My appreciation and passion for Peter Jackson's serial epic really began to blossom when I received the special edition of The Fellowship of the Ring as a Christmas gift years back. It was beautifully packaged and certainly more discs that had ever belonged to single movie in my collection. What started then as a curious forage into the enormous labyrinth  of bonus features (quite literally hours upon hours) soon lead to generous portions of my week spent in rapt attention  - I was fascinated. Never before had I been so interested in the production of a film and I quickly discovered that the "behind-the-scenes footage" held as much for me as the feature itself. Probably more.

One aspect I remember being captivated by was the foley team. I knew nothing at the time of sound effects or design and I was enchanted by the basic ingenuity of the team. It was simply a thought that had never occurred to me; Here were these grown men splashing through water with plungers and whacking boards together! They were experts at animal noises and the many curious little sounds we hear everyday . . .  I suppose I thought there was some magic computer program where one would simple tap in the sound effect they were looking for and slap onto the movie. It is a tribute to the art that it seldom ever draws any attention to itself.

"Foley Art" is so named due to its creator - a certain Jack Foley. Jack was a radio man called into Universal Studios at the end of the silent era when the Warner's new sound sensation The Jazz Singer was proving a wild success. This was 1927 and Jack and his team were assigned to create the sounds for Universal's big picture Show Boat that now must be made a "sound film." Microphones of the day could only pick up dialogue, so all additional sound had to be created in post-production. This task required deft hands as it was all done in real time - the movie would be projected on a screen, recording  was started and Jack and his team would create the sound as the movie played on the screen - being careful to synchronize footsteps, gunshots etc. with what was happening in front of them.

Like all film techniques, technology has significantly changed the game, but to me foley art will always have a simple charm. Just try the clip below and see if you aren't interested.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Premier Screening of "The Approach"

Viewing the premiere showing of a film is an invigorating experience. Even screening a poor film can be exciting when an entire audience is watching the movie for the first time and the talent behind the production are seated with the viewers. I was at Grauman's in Hollywood for the premiere of Gary Marshall's Valentine's Day. I was writing film critique then for a local newspaper and I gave the review appropriate to its shallow, messy narrative - but what a time it was! The whole of Hollywood was in that movie and you can't help but enjoy yourself a little when Julia Roberts and Jim Belushi are seated a couple rows behind you, even if what Taylor Lautner or Ashton Kutcher are doing on the screen in front of you is abysmal at best. And then add Jessicas Alba and Biel sauntering down the isle next to you . . .

Whether the energy is negative or positive - it is simply more abundant at a premiere. People clap and smile easily - they laugh or cry; generally willing to do whatever is required of them.

The atmosphere is much the same with student films. There are no celebrities and million dollar budgets, but there are plenty of proud friends and nervous, tired students. Generally, in the beginning,  the student film has attracted only "movie people" and the families of movie people so the audience is eager, focused, and ready to delve out praise whether it is deserved or not.

With The Approach I'd prepared myself to smile and clap no matter what happened, so I was both pleased and relieved when the Dixie State documentary class played a surprisingly savvy 40min documentary short.

I was impressed directly with the shots pouring over the red mountains of Southern Utah, setting the backdrop for the documentary on rock climbing in the scenic canyons. The choice of rock climbing as the subject of the student film is a fitting choice. It is such a visceral sport, allowing for an array of wide, sunlit shots and sweeping landscapes. It also serves as a bit of compensation for the lack of a large budget.

 I say the documentary's subject was rock climbing, but thankfully that is not true. The Approach wisely avoids consideration of different climbs or equipment and instead lets unfold a much more interesting analysis on the way people choose to pursue their passion for rock climbing. It is a tribute to the film that for the most part the directing and editing permit this to occur organically. No text is imposed on the screen to tell us the names of people or locations, rather these are given way to speak for themselves.

The only trouble The Approach really hits is when it tries to restrain the story to something it isn't. It does this in two ways the first is an opening that tells us the movie will be about two people - it decidedly is not and saying that it is only serves to confuse the audience. The second way is through a sort of poetic narration that seems to interject itself because, well because isn't that how documentaries work? The story told itself well enough that much of the narration felt very misplaced and coddling.

In the end I found that the film raised questions in my mind. It invited reflection on how we as a society (and I myself) approach life and its passions. Any film that can invite that introspection has succeeded on some level. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Director Tarsem and the Production of The Fall

It is only with his two most recent films that Tarsem Singh (known through his work only as Tarsem)  has begun to gain some  recognition with the general movie-going  public. Doubtless a director with such a limited   filmography would never have been permitted to control such magnanimous budgets, as these films were given, if it were not for the stunning undertaking of The Fall

The Fall was not a tremendous financial success (except in the art house circuit) and featured no actors who had even neared the status of being a household name at the time of its theatrical release in 2008, but the film has a striking impact on all who view it. Critic Roger Ebert named it one of the great films of that year. He has written about the film on numerous occasions and calls it "an extravagant visual orgy, a free fall from reality into uncharted realms. A movie [to] see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it."

The Indian-born music video director had begun work on the film some two decades before the release of his opus. Traveling and making connections he intended to utilize when the time was right. The movie was financed with millions of dollars from his own pocket as he wanted to have complete artistic control of its production. 

Certainly the intensely visceral director would not have been able to create what he did with the burden of production control. The movie was shot in over 20 different countries across Europe, Africa, and Asia and he ignored Hollywood tradition, paying his cast and crew on equal basis. 

The years of writing and scouting for locations culminated to production when Tarsem finally found the little girl (Catinca Untaru) he needed for the lead role. He had always known that role was the key and when he saw her he knew production had to begin immediately, stating that in even four months she would not be the same girl - the one he needed.

The story centers around the relationship between two patients at a hospital. The young girl with a broken arm and a suicidal man (Lee Pace) who has been paralyzed performing a movie stunt. Tarsem felt the relationship was essential to film's success and worked very hard to establish an authentic environment. When the characters first meet the actors are also meeting for the first time - Catinca could not even speak English yet

To aid in the organic development of their relationship all of the segments in the hospital (a large portion of the film) were shot in sequence. It was Catinca's first time around a film production and she did not fully understand what it meant. In order to preserve this, studio sets and stages were avoided and even the interior scenes were shot on location. Tarsem went still further into method-inducing by having Pace actually pretend to be paralyzed in front of the cast and crew - indeed he hired an unknown actor to be sure only they two would know he wasn't paralyzed. The entire production team remained unaware that he could actually walk until nearly half-way through the production.

Tarsem kept a very close hold on all artistic decisions. In both of the two documentaries made on the creation of  The Fall he can be observed meticulously surveying (and often bodily interjecting to manipulate) costume production, choreography, photography and virtually every aspect of the production. 

His years of planning The Fall  had kept him from many other films. His desire for complete control left him wary to commence the project and it might have waited much longer were it not for his personal friendship with filmmakers Spike Jonze and David Fincher who told him to either make it or stop talking about it. Both of the prestigious directors were instrumental in the release and publicity of Tarsem's creation. 

Tasem has mused that every director working in music videos and commercials talks about one day using their own money to make their masterpiece movie, but no one ever does.

Then David Fincher adds "[You] happen to be the fool who has done it."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Car je ne sais pas ce que je fais: je ne fais point ce que je veux, et je fais ce que je hais. -Romans 7:15

Monday, March 19, 2012

“And earth was heaven a little the worse for wear. And heaven was earth, done up again to look like new. ”  

The Moonstone in Lovell's Library.

“I am an average good Christian, when you don't push my Christianity too far. And all the rest of you—which is a great comfort—are, in this respect, much the same as I am.”  

"the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels." -T. S. Eliot 


Extrait de Les Fleurs du Mal, Charles Baudelaire, 1868.  Nous sommes les mortels condamnés.

Be good, my Sorrow: hush now: settle down. You sighed for dusk, and now it comes: look there!A denser atmosphere obscures the town, To some restoring peace, to others care.
While the lewd multitude, like hungry beasts, By pleasure scourged (no thug so fierce as he!) Go forth to seek remorse among their feasts — Come, take my hand; escape from them with me.
From balconies of sky, around us yet, Lean the dead years in fashions that have ceased. Out of the depth of waters smiles Regret.
The sun sinks moribund beneath an arch, And like a long shroud rustling from the East, Hark, Love, the gentle Night is on the march.


Pre-Production Research: Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet on set in 1967. 

One of the most celebrated and gifted directors of the age, Sidney Lumet  also had the distinction of writing one of the greatest books ever written on film making. Making Movies was the simple title and having read it is nearly as good as having had a personal tête-à-tête with Lumet on each step of his artistic process.

 Lumet came to Hollywood from television and by  first feature film he had already gained a nomination for Best Director by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Despite great acclaim with critics and audiences throughout his lengthy career, the famed film maker frequently spoke out against auteur theory and attributed his success to the collaborative efforts of his production team. He frowned upon the way other directors would dismiss the ideas and vision of the writers, actors, and cinematographers.

 Lumet developed an artistic process over his 56 year career which he divulged liberally throughout his life. For the sake of this essay only two main aspects will be examined. The information as it pertains to pre-production will be separated thusly:

The Script

Lumet admitted that though it sometimes resulted in bad films, he would choose the films he wanted to do instinctively - rarely reading a script twice before he had made his mind up. (Making Movies pg. 12)  He was careful to read each screenplay in one sitting to capture the flow of the story. The initial exposure to the story was never heavily analyzed, rather he would allow the mood and tempo to "wash over" him. (MM pg. 13)  

He chose his films for many different reasons and from several different sources. One film was chosen simply so he could work with a certain cinematographer and learn to better direct films in color.

Once a script was decided upon his next work was to begin to pull it apart starting with the identifying of the central theme. (MM pg. 15-16)  When he had determined what the film was about he would then begin to work out the style of the film; "I work from the inside out. What the movie is about will determine how it will be cast, how it will look, how it will be edited, how it will be musically scored, how it will be mixed, how the titles will look, and, with a good studio, how it will be released. What it's about will determine how it is made." (MM pg. 13)

Working with actors - Rehearsal 

As a person and as a director Lumet was keenly sensitive to the emotional, physical, and artistic plights of the actors he worked with. He drew from his own former experiences as an actor - ever careful to respect the fears, limitations, strengths of the acting talent he worked with. As a result he became known as "an actor's director," garnering memorable performances from many of the great actors (Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Katherine Hepburn, Philip Seymour Hoffman etc.). 

In each of his films Lumet would have a couple weeks set aside for rehearsal with the actors and the writer - even the producer if they were on good terms. (MM pg. 52)  These rehearsals would include blocking and props though Lumet would not yet concern himself with what the camera might later be doing. Nor would he plan the blocking before hand, preferring instead to let these things flow naturally through interpretation.

These sessions were for the actors and himself, a chance to develop a relationship of trust with each other and with the script. (MM pg. 55)


The great benefit to him in these rehearsals was the chance to catch artistic problems before they gained solid hold. He relates the following story working with Paul Newman on The Verdict: 

"When we broke for the day, I asked Paul to stay a moment. I told him that while things looked promising we really hadn't hit the emotional level we both knew was there in David Mamet's screenplay. I said his characterization was fine but hadn't yet evolved into a living, breathing person. Was there a problem? Paul said that he didn't have the lines memorized yet and that when he did, it would all flow better. I told him I didn't think it was the lines. I said that there was a certain aspect of [the] character that was missing so far. I told him I wouldn't invade his privacy, but only he could choose whether or not to reveal that part of the character and therefore that aspect of himself. I couldn't help him with that decision. We lived near each other and rode home together. The ride that evening was silent. Paul was thinking. On Monday, Paul came in to rehearsal and sparks flew. He was superb. His character and the picture took life.

"I know that decision to reveal the part of himself that the character required was painful for him . . . I would've hated to leave Paul's decision until we were actually shooting the movie . . . A much poorer film would have resulted. It was the rehearsal period that gave us the time not only to prepare the mechanical aspects of the picture but to develop the closeness needed for private emotional revelations" (MM pg. 52-54)

Sidney Lumet's career was prolific and varied. He sought no distinct common style. "I hate any style if you can spot it." He noted that in most of his movies, "I don't think there's a visual style, because I try very hard to find the visual style that [particular] story needs." (New York Times 2007)  

No critic would claim each of Lumet's works masterful, but there can be no question of his influence and status as one of the great American directors. 


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is easier than the lay of light cloth against the pale and supple curves? Or the warmth of bare skin?
And where are the haunting fancies of pink lips? Or the dreams of breath against breath?
Where is the hellish pleading for lengthy embraces? For slow nights? Or tears for broken things?

I know rage from my fingers to my clenching throat and even the heat of it drips slowly from my inward fountain and my pulse turns cold and barren like before the rain.

I can hear wind where there is none and when I look I see a vast white wall opening like the hall of a great alabaster prison. And bright, bright and piercing.  Inside there is only absence,  the silent numb of encasement till slowly greyish shadows seep from my iris and darken in harsh, crude lines - like charcoal scraped thick over parchment. A world forms in dull hues. I am not watching. 

I can hear a voice. It is clear and palpable. It is the voice of my love. But it is my voice and my sleeping heart begins to stir - to recoil. The stillness is broken like so many falling curtains. In sudden panic I know. I know! And there is a maddening clutching attempt to lay hold, to tighten my arms around it as though it were an object.  In one great feverish moment something deep and  wounded screams in hopeful fury - I feel nothing! There is nothing! I see the horror now - the great treasures of the ages strewn before me and my greed is dead. Food but my gluttony is sated. Cool water but I am quenched. Coy calling figures but I am passionless. 

I realize that in nothing there is people. They crowd around me. Hundreds - thousands! They are laughing and talking. They are eating and drinking and sweating. There is noise now. A great blanket of voices. 
They are near me and I call out to them, but my lips are motionless. Suddenly I am waving, thrashing and jumping - grabbing clothes and beating at them, but I have not moved. I am quivering, but I am still. I am roaring like I have seen beasts roar, but I am silent. 

They are all there - here. The wise dead, the foolish youth, the families are here. She is here. Old friends are here. The greatest are here. Men with slanted hearts and soft whispery voices are watching me.  And my panic is fading, slipping from my mind. A warning mumble growing still fainter and fainter until it is a muffled buzz. An insect behind glass. 

My body is laughing. My body is weeping. My body is breathing. My body is speaking. My body is awake. 

But I have fallen to sleep. 

the full version of The Enemy has finally become available - though not in the greatest quality 

Jamie Beck 05 thumb1 35 Beautifully Animated Photographs a.k.a. Cinemagraphs

Saturday, February 11, 2012

John Keats - When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be

-John Keats

Friday, February 10, 2012

the music video isn't as horrid as most - the song's been trimmed slightly

inside of my head

Was there any better than Cole Porter? 

I've Got You Under My Skin

I've got you under my skin
I've got you deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart that you're really a part of me
I've got you under my skin

I'd tried so not to give in
I said to myself, "This affair never will go so well"
But why should I try to resist when, baby, I know so well
I've got you under my skin

I'd sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of havin' you near
In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, repeats in my ear

"Don't you know, little fool, you never can win?
Use your mentality, wake up to reality"
But each time that I do just the thought of you makes me stop
Before I begin 'cause I've got you under my skin

I would sacrifice anything come what might
For the sake of havin' you near
In spite of the warning voice that comes in the night
And repeats, how it yells in my ear

"Don't you know, little fool, you never can win?
Why not use your mentality, step up, wake up to reality"
But each time I do just the thought of you makes me stop
Just before I begin 'cause I've got you under my skin
Yes, I've got you under my skin

also here


Writing on Writing

Some candid and intriguing points by a Pulitzer prize winning critic and essayist with one of the most interesting blogs on the internet.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Way

I have posted before about the best words ever written on Frank Sinatra. In 1969 the iconic singer was ready to put his career to rest. Songwriter Paul Anka borrowed a melody from a French song and wrote the words to My Way.
     "At one o'clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, 'If Frank were writing this, what would he say?' And I started, metaphorically, 'And now the end is near.' I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was 'my this' and 'my that'. We were in the 'me generation' and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: 'I ate it up and spit it out.' But that's the way he talked. I used to be around steam rooms with the Rat Pack guys – they liked to talk like Mob guys, even though they would have been scared of their own shadows."
    Sinatra has never been my favorite artist, but he is a fascinating figure. A powerful, troubled man who built a startling empire from nothing. Whatever his faults you can feel the power of this song. Every time I hear it, it sits down deep inside me - probing my mind with haunting questions and sending a pensive energy that throbs through my body and remains some time after the song is over. 
For what is a man? What has he got?
If not himself then he has naught !

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink."

"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."

Wandering Limbs by Kimbra

The young Kiwi singer is often lost within her quirky Jazz chords and sharp style. She takes sounds from misty jazz and fills them with life - and often pizzazz. Kimbra can sing -she can really sing. That true kind of deep soulful movement from somewhere inside the lungs. This is a lovely number, evoking a beautifully reminiscent strain of thoughts - those somber, pale and powerful moments of stark intimacy, poignant love and, of course, keen misery. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A softer, more pulled apart version of the controversial songstress' new song "Born to Die." For the studio version complete with more skin and live tigers click HERE.
There are also a few live versions with lyrics a little more . . .wild. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tranquil. Ethereal. Agnes Obel

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Four Things I Am Learning - Though Often Too Slowly: 

 -Always, always, always consider that it is your fault. It is often true and being willing to lose an argument or take something from criticism can only teach you. I find when I take the time to consider that I am in the wrong I learn more than by almost any other way.

-You can only live happily in one day at a time. The past is gone and you don't know what comes next. Our primary occupation should not be to guess at the future, but to do whatever is directly before us - no matter how small that may be. This will prepare a man for what comes more than any guesswork and it will allow him to live each day.

- If you are the center of your world you will find every reason to be bitter, angry, and unhappy.  When a man's first love is himself he will grow to resent and respond with bitterness or whining to everything that stands in the way of his comfort. For it stands in the way of what he loves most. But if a man can learn to give his life to greater causes and to other people, he will come to realize that his discomfort does not stand in the way of those things. Indeed, discomfort will become a door to greater opportunity.

-Your actions determine your thoughts and your thoughts determine your circumstances. It is in your mind that you decide what your life is. Your inward thoughts determine your outward circumstances. If a man wishes to elevate his thoughts -and therefore his situation- he will do so by changing his actions. As the  great psychiatrist William James said, "Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not."

Myrna Loy



      Learn to think logically, communicate clearly, and respond aesthetically.
                                            -Paul H. Thompson


Saturday, November 5, 2011


Cecil Beaton 
from The Blue Castle, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which tuned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.

Pride and Prejudice (1894)
(via Art and Illustration Corner)

"I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."