Thursday, January 08, 2015


Some good books here! I'm reading a biography of film director, Geoge Cukor (that's him, above). It's a library book but I'm considering buying a copy of my own just so I can underline's that good! The book is just brimming with practical information about how he did what he did.

With a couple of well-known exceptions Cukor got along remarkably well with his producers and writers. That's because he was only too happy to take their advice, and why not? Those guys were interested in plots, Cukor was interested in performances. He believed it was his job to maximize a good actor's charisma, to see that it got into every frame of every shot.

According to the book he was gay, but he turned that to his advantage. Being secretly that way prompted him to perceive his screen characters as outsiders like himself. He got good at making us sympathize with their attempts to fit in. If the script wasn't written that way he'd subtly add it in the handling. An interesting technique, eh?

Another book I've started is Ann Radcliffe's 1790 Gothic novel, "The Mistress of Udolpho" (above). It's full of castles and sepulchres, trap doors, sealed rooms and underground passages lit by torches. What do you think of this sample.....

"From Beaujeu the road had constantly ascended, conducting the travelers into the higher regions of the air, where immense glaciers exhibited their frozen horrors. Around on every side far as the eye could penetrate, were seen only forms of grandeur...the long perspective of mountaintops, tinged with ethereal blue, or white with snow, valleys of ice and forests of gloomy fir."

And this:

"...the waxen figure of a woman, made by her lover who had found her dead and buried upon his return...a lizard is sucking her mouth, a worm is creeping out of one of her cheeks, a mouse is gnawing one of her ears, and a huge swollen toad on her forehead is preying on one of her eyes." 

You don't have to buy it; the book is free on Project Gutenberg. I warn you though, the prose can be frustratingly dense and old-fashioned. It's strange to think that this book with all it's novelties and ghosts was popular in George Washington's time. The British soldiers who fought at Yorktown might have read similar books in their tents at night. Come to think of it, maybe the Americans did too.

The last thing I have to recommend is a Jon Favreau film called "Chef." It's about a chef who tires of working for other people and sets off on his own. It's a wonderful tribute to every small businessman who's ever rolled up his sleeves and taken the plunge.

The film is rated "R," which is too bad because it glorifies hard work. That's something every kid needs to see.


Unknown said...

Hey Eddie. I think you and Joshua would be really interested in reading this post. It's a great supplement to the article you posted the other day.

I read this post before myself but I just remembered it now. There unfortunately is a lot of bias still against older forms of jazz in the big magazines and stuff and it does seem that hot jazz and swing really get most people that listen to it energized as opposed to the more artsy content that came later, which as I said before I still really love on its own.

Anyway, I'm quite appalled by the news of the cartoonists getting killed over drawing Muhammad in a magazine. It's just more evidence to me of how sick people are just using their religion to justify bigotry, hatred, and discrimination towards others and a big reason why I became an atheist last year. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Roberto: I know how you feel but it's worth noting that there's such a thing as aetheist fundamentalsm, too. Some aetheists have a simplistic view of history which portrays all Christians as torturers and witch burners and who would bulldoze beautiful old cathedrals to make room for parking lots.

Unknown said...

I haven't heard of the term atheist fundamentalism, but I have heard of a brand of atheism called millitant atheism that sounds a lot like what you're describing. I have personally no problem with people if they want to believe in a certain kind of religion as long as they're not trying to use it to justify committing heinous acts or if they don't try to use legislation to force their ideals onto others.

You've reminded me of this video from someone I watched who ranted against this kind of atheism.

Rodolfo said...

Mo says, "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter".

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Rodolpho: Thanks! Geez, for that all those people were killed?