Thursday, 21 December 2017

HITCHCOCK: what we can learn from the Great Director

Alfred (Studio publicity photo, 1955, Wikipedia)
In the early 1970s that a friend took me to an art cinema in a seedy part of Los Angeles. It was a double bill: 'The 39 Steps' and 'The Lady Vanishes', both directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I was hooked. Loved some of his later movies, for instance, 'Rear Window' and 'Psycho', but it was the black and whites that I wanted to see. They were hard to find. Then one night I googled 'The Lady Vanishes' on youtube. A whole bunch of copies of the film showed up on the screen. I punched one and there it was, with a side-bar of more choices. I found at least 12 of his films. It was when I watched 'The Lady Vanishes' five times that I began to think I had to go into rehab. Then l I heard a Hitchcock lecture. Orsen Welles watched 'The Lady....' 11times. I found sites where he was interviewed about how, why and what he liked about making movies. He liked the planning. He didn't like when the actors came on board. He talked about mistakes he would never repeat (blowing up a kid on a bus), and how he accomplished certain scenes, such as the 'stabbing in the shower' in 'Psycho'. His genius was that he made art house movies that entertained and engaged the average viewer. Intellectuals and casual moviegoers were, and still are fans.

In 2017 there was a worldwide Hitchcock movie festival: Welcome Mr. Hitchcock', For me a dream come true. But at my art cinema, the choice was only half-good. Yes, the showed 'Psycho' and 'Vertigo' (along with 'The Birds', my least favorite). 'Jamaica Inn' – a minor movie. But they also show 'Young and Innocent' and 'Shadow of a Doubt', so the festival wasn't a total washout. Camilla, LMP story editor and Big Feminist always points out that Hitchcock was an infamous misogynist. His wife was his closest collaborator, but he had an obsession for beautiful blondes: for instance, Kim Novack, Tippi Hedren, Madelaine Carrol, Eva-Marie Saint.

His love-hate relationship with his female stars sometimes took an ugly turn. Tippi Hedren was put through hell when they were making 'Marnie'*. Some Hitchcock scholars think that 'Marnie', who gets raped by her husband on their wedding night was a Hitchcock fantasy. He could play cruel practical jokes on his cast and crew. Still, he had no trouble finding people who wanted to work with him. It was the meticulous planning of each project that sets him apart: each scene is a small gem and together they make a stunning whole. No detail was left to chance: dialogue (often sassy and sexy), the use of supporting players and animals for comic relief and to advance the plot, clothes, locations, lighting, camera angles which created suspense, unusual characters (often un-PC). This is where Erkki says 'Shut up Maggy'. The sad part is, we'll never see another new movie by him. But we're lucky to have a cache of old movies that still look fresh. You are always Welcome Mr. Hitchcock.

Source: Youtube
* 'Marnie' was made into an opera 

According to a google search, Hitchcock made 85 movies, here are 12 of my repeats.

Young and Innocent 1937
The Lady Vanishes 1938
The 39 Steps 1935
Shadow of a Doubt 1943
Saboteur 1942
Sabotage 1936
North By Northwest
Notorious 1946
Rear Window1054
Psycho 1960

PS: Littlemargie (and Erkki) will be on vacation for two weeks.

Maggy, I only tell you to shut up if you babble when I try to concentrate on something -  which does not apply this time ;-)

- Eki

Monday, 18 December 2017

MOLESTARS: famous dudes sacked

Skip this paragraph, or in fact, the whole page, if you've heard and read all you want to know about celebrities caught in the sexual harassment net. But what keeps the story in the news is how long it took to happen. Two top US morning tv show hosts got the ax. Viewers were stunned.  Matt Lauer, NBC star and cash cow on the Today show, and Charlie Rose, the co-host of the CBS Morning Show vanished overnight.

The MolesSTAR club

Donald Trump, their MoleSTAR-in-Chief (12 women have gone on record accusing  President Trump of sexual abuse, including a former Miss Finland). He was caught on an open mic, bragging about how if you've got power, you can do anything.' Billy Bush, former Access Hollywood host and seven other people who were on that bus heard him say, 'You can grab their pussies'. They all laughed. Billy B. got fired for lending a gleeful ear to the locker-room-boy-talk. The next day Trump apologized. Sort of. And his wife Melania, in an interview, said that this locker-room talk was wrong. Then the whole thing died and the women, who accused Trump disappeared. He now says It's not my voice.What a bitter-sweet irony if the anti-sexual harassment revolution was ignited by the tainted president of the United States.

A friend told she thinks women, especially, have to be aware and alert about sexual harassment. She worked at a film production company in New York City. Her boss asked her to take a script over to a producer staying at the Plaza hotel. She called his room from the front hotel desk and the producer told her to bring it up. When he opened the door he was wearing nothing but a towel and told her to come in. She handed him the script and said him she had to get back to the office. And got the hell out of there. Anything or nothing could have happened if she had gone into his room. #metoo can take a lot of credit for uniting and spotlighting the anti-sexual harassment movement, which has has been under the radar screen for eons.  Women from all over the world have tweeted their stories in 140 (now 280) characters. Time* magazine passed on Donald J. Trump for 'Person of the year' 2017, Instead, they chose the Silence Breakers  -  the women behind the anti-sexual harassment revolution.The PRESS and  The INTERNET ain't all Fake News.

PS:  We're want to hear what Camilla Karsh (the shark) has to say. She's our Big Feminist.

Sources: New York Times, Financial Times Weekend, Arizona Daily Star, CNN

Next Week: HITCHCOCK: what we can learn from the Great Director

We've had our own, perhaps smaller but still nasty #metoo scandal here in Finland, in the film industry. The names have not been publicized but they are supposedly a known secret in the industry circles. I guess I'm not insider enough to be in on the secret. Which is probably a good thing.

- Eki

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

SOCIAL MEDIALAND: an evil empire? Or harmless useful tool?

Erkki, get out your BIG guns because I've got plenty of ammunition. User addiction to smartphones and social media like other hardcore drugs it's hard to kick the habit. They are designed to get you hooked.When I shot gottaGETinTOUCH, a rap video about cell phone addiction, almost all the subjects looked the same: heads bent, zoned-out, fingers dancing on the keyboard. Flesh and blood humanoids. The SM version of 'Night of the Living Dead'. I can hear Erkki say, 'Hey, wait a minute.' And give me a dozen examples of how the internet has changed the way we live for the better. True. Movements such as #metoo are perfect examples. And yes, the internet is a great way to keep in touch with family, friends, business contact, get news and information in nanoseconds. But, smartphones and social media are also designed to be addictive.
gottaGETinTOUCH (2016)

A whole new, sometimes weird culture has evolved. For instance, South Koreans, are among the world's most prolific texters. According to the New York Times, some of the most addicted users have developed bigger thumps. Thumbers are pros, Indexers are amateurs. The language of texters is acronyms. Of course, there's an online list. Your smartphone's predictive can write your bio: type 'I was born @therealbradg. JK Rowlings tied it. 2 million others tried it too. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google observed that every two days we generate as much information as was created in the entire history of civilization until 2003. When Erkki wants some info, he whips out his phone and talks to it (in English). It answers right back. People who can't navigate in this high technosphere are NETbehinders.

Two teenagers heard the lyrics to gottaGETinTOUCH. They screamed.'That's us, can we be in it'? I told them that I had read girls, on average, texted about 100 times a day.They said, 'At least.' (boys average around 60). Anyone with half a brain, knows kids are among vulnerable. Two books on social media have made the top of the New York Times non-fiction best-sellers list: 'Regaining Conversation' by Sherry Turkle, a media scholar at MIT (Massachusetts Institue of Technolgy) and 'Irresistible' by Adam Alter. If you're a parent buy them both. It's no secret that smartphones and SM sites encourage constant use by giving rewards for checking in all the time. According to USA TODAY, teenage suicides are rising – school and the internet are to blame. Many top tech execs enroll their children in private schools, such as WALDORF, where young students are not allowed any electronic device. One thing is as certain, we can't put this genie back into the bottle. Over to you Erkki.

PS: Erkki told me not to worry about typos and misspelled words. His computer has an automatic spellcheck. Whew. What a relief.

Sources: New York Times, Financial Times Weekend, The ECONOMIST, USAToday

Next week: MolestSTARS: how the internet helped bring some bad dudes down

I use Grammarly, which in addition to spell-checking does some rudimentary grammar checks: punctuation etc. It's pretty neat, IMO.

- Eki