August 2nd, 2004

Manchucocoa

When I got to The Loft I was excited to see lots of people milling about in the lobby. I smiled at them and walked into the downstairs theater in search of a seat. And there was an emotional camel scene on the screen! Yes, things were running late. But after a few minutes of talking with Fredoluv, Tim, Susan and Richard, The Manchurian Candidate -- was the camel movie some sort of tie-in? -- finally got going.

I decided to teach the film this fall never having seen it, so I watched with an eye to how it might play to the young and impressionable. Strangely, I suspect. All I had heard about it going in, aside from the barest plotline, was that Frank Sinatra had supposedly done his best acting for the picture on first takes and that there were scenes where things were deliberately out of focus. I'm not sure either of those tidbits are true. I will say this: the fact that the projector kept going out focus served to enhance whatever shots may have been deliberately blurry.

The trick of the film is to make you realize that "brainwashing" is a lot more diffused -- not to mention diffuse -- than the main plot indicates. All the characters seem programmed to respond to certain cues. I especially like the scene at the end of the picture where Frank Sinatra's Major Marco and his superior interrupt their desperate search for the missing Raymond Shaw to salue the American flag during "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's clear that they can't help themselves.

The main plot reinforces American paranoia about communists while the film's details are arranged in a manner that actively subverts the anti-communist fervor of a thinly hooded McCarthyism. I kept feeling myself getting pulled in opposite directions. In this respect, The Manchurian Candidate reminded me a lot of Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly.

My highlight of the evening came after the film was done. It wasn't a very good print. I'm sure I missed several important lines. On the other hand, by staying close to Fredoluv and Tim, Susan and I were able to obtain our own little piece of The Manchurian Candidate:

The end of one of the reels had become hopelessly damaged, so the supervising Loft employee made an executive decision and snipped off a few frames for us.

Tomorrow Kim and I are slated to see Jonathan Demme's remake. One or both of us will report back afterwards. I know the anticipation must be killing you.

  • Current Music
    Vollmilch - Die Ärzte - Die Ärzte früher!

MTV Without the Music or Television

Back in the early days of my relationship with Kim I rediscovered my love for photography, which had lain nearly dormant since my year in Germany. Because it was the first Bush Era and I was feeling the need for something new, I experimented freely with portraiture. I learned to include myself in pictures. And I made love to the diagonal like a man bored with the horizon of expectations.

The fruit of this excessive freedom? Boxes of pictures that recall those heady days when the out-of-focus and off-kilter made MTV's 120 Minutes look like the critique portion of an introductory filmmaking class. Still, not all my results are too embarrassing to gaze upon. I mean, who wouldn't want to frolic about on the absurdly high cliffs north of the Russian River, courting death between Highway 1 and the sea? It's not everyone who gets to star in their own music video:

No, that's not a wig I'm wearing.

  • Current Music
    Sueisfine - My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything