Wednesday, September 26, 2012

And So the Horror Begins...

... the horror of self-realization.

It's not even October yet and already I'm writing about it over at TCM in a post on the feel of horror.  And I'm bringing it up here as well, mainly because old timey gothic horror movies from the sixties are about the only thing inspiring me lately in the cinematic world.  It happens.

You write and watch and sometimes, none of it feels right.  I've gone through a dry spell here that's been longer than any I've previously had and I'd love to give you a long list of excuses (work's got me bogged down, too many deadlines, stress and anxiety from college loans for kids, etc) but that would just be so much bullshit.  Yes, yes and yes to each of those reasons and no to all of them.  The truth is, I haven't felt very inspired.

I learned long ago that everyone goes through artistic periods in their life and, cinematically, I'm currently in the "I'm dissatisfied with every movie I watch" period.  It's an awful period and one that is, to me, utterly inexplicable.  I love cinema and have since I was a kid but lately everything I watch leaves me cold.  I'll like certain aspects but not the whole thing.  I see others get excited by a movie and all I can think is, "What? That?  What's so exciting about that?"  And I hate it (the reaction, that is, not the movie).

I've been actively watching movies, week in and week out, for decades now and after viewing thousands I now find myself constantly gravitating back to movies I've already seen.  I find this annoying and grating and yet I keep doing it.  I even write down titles of movies I haven't seen but that I very much want to see in a folder I have in my e-mail so I can pick one to watch when I have the time.  And then, when the time comes, I look at the titles of unseen movies and think, "Nah, I want to watch [insert movie name here] again."   Last week I had a slew of movies I haven't yet seen and when I had time to watch a movie I instead chose to watch Tucker: The Man and His Dream again.

Now, my question to myself, and it was sincere, was, "Why?!  Why <b>Tucker</b>?"  The answer bothered me because it was no more than, "damned if I know."  I think it honestly had something to do with the time period it took place in and that's it.  I just wanted a period piece to watch and so I watched it.

And all of this is reflected in my writing here, or the conspicuous lack thereof.  But now it seems as if the Gothic horror of the sixties and the low-budget black and white chillers from the same period are thrilling me once again.  Perhaps devoting myself to a single genre for a month is a needed dose of "get off your ass and write."  Perhaps.  In the meantime, get ready for horror and not the "I just looked in the mirror and finally realized my life is meaningless" horror but the kind with fangs, spells and spirits.  See you on the other side of September.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Things That Suck About Film History #2

It sucks that Anna May Wong couldn't get the lead in The Good Earth because her co-star, Paul Muni, would have been a white man and instead of Hollywood saying, "Well, then, we'll just get an actor of Chinese descent to play the lead male role," they cast the lovely and great and talented (and white) Luis Rainer. Now, this post isn't about all the awful racism that persisted in Hollywood for decades (if I wanted to, every one of these "Things that Suck about Film History" posts could be about racism), it's about how wonderful and beautiful and talented Anna May Wong was and why Hollywood should have done more for her.

But they didn't.

Movies with non-white leads didn't play well in the states and Anna had to take a backseat to white leads in all but a few of her movies. Hollywood may have claimed they couldn't violate anti-miscegenation laws by having her kiss a white actor (as if a state government would have actually sought legal retribution against the studios for such an act) but really, they just knew that it would freak out the locals and the box office would take a hit. And it sucks. They could have stood up to that notion and possibly discovered that enough people still wanted to see an adaptation of The Good Earth and wouldn't care about so-called race-mixing in the leads.

A lot of times in life, we discover something we feared was baseless. There would have been a vocal and racist minority raising a fuss but, for the most part, I believe it would have been a great success. Of course, an even better outcome would have been to cast all Chinese-Americans in all of the roles, but for starters at least, Wong should have gotten the part. Wong simply came around too soon for her talents to be fully explored in a society not yet ready for it. And it sucks.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Let's Get Back to Work

The Labor Day split between summer and fall is upon us and it's time to get back to work.  Like Jack Pierce putting the face on Boris Karloff for The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, d. Whale), it's time to put our face back on and start making preparations for the harvest season in these parts and start preparing posts for October.  It's also time to re-evaluate why we do these things, why we write about movies and read about them and talk about them.  But mainly, it's time to start posting again.  Happy Labor Day everyone.