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Posts Tagged ‘Turner Classic Movies’

gc-myers-995-125-party-lights-small1I saw a short segment on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) that they run between their films at this time of year.  It’s their look back at  all of the people associated with filmdom who have died this past year. Every year it seems that I find myself being surprised at the number of well known actors, directors, composers, etc who have passed away in that year.

This year was no different.

But they flashed a shot of David Bowie and it reminded me of the musical talents that passed away this year.  Bowie. Prince. Leonard Cohen and so many more that some were lost in the shuffle.

One who slipped away somewhat unnoticed in those surreal days after the election [sic] was musician and songwriter Leon Russell.  A wonderful writer and a gifted pianist, he collaborated with just about everybody in the recording industry in a career that spanned almost 60 years.

I never thought he got his rightful appreciation after his death so I thought I’d share a Christmas song of his that also goes under the radar in the great flood of holiday music that overwhelms every year at this time.  It’s called Slippin’ Into Christmas and has a bluesy edge that kind of fits this year.

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Scene From”Black Narcissus”

Last month I wrote here about color influences and focused on the film work of filmmaker Jack Cardiff, particularly in the the movies of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.  Tonight, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is featuring an entire evening of the Cardiff-shot films of Powell and Pressburger as well as the documentary, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff.  If you like films with a distinct look and a unique storyline, this is a great night to tune in.

 
The Cardiff documentary is very good and gives great insight to this innovative mind behind the movies.  For instance, it talks about the film Black Narcissus which is set in a convent in the Himalayas, with spectacular shots such as the one shown above.  The film is so wonderfully shot and lit that the viewer always feels that the film was shot on location in the high mountains.  Their is depth and naturalness in every view yet it was completely shot on a British studio lot with long views composed of papier-mache mountains and painted backdrops.   One of the people who worked on the film said that the sets were so brilliant that when you walked by a window with the mountains in the distance, you forgot for a moment where you were and believed you were  in the Himalyas.
 
The evening starts with The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp  , a movie I really hold in high esteem, and moves on to the Cardiff documentary.  That is followed by A Matter of Life and Death which was originally released as Stairway to Heaven .  It’s a great film with wonderful fantasy scenes shot in a reverse Technicolor monochrome that are quite striking.  The film, though not well known here, is considered by many film critics to be one of the greatest British films.
 
Then comes the incredible color and beauty of the ballet-based The Red Shoes.  I don’t know ballet but this is a spectacular film. The evening finishes up early in the morning with Black Narcissus
 
All are beautiful to see.  All have stories that are a bit unusual.  All have great impact.  I can’t speak for every taste here, knowing that many might see these and just not see what I see in them.  But for those who love great films, this is a great night to see some of the best.

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I wrote some time ago about how a series of my paintings from several years back, the Outlaws series, had been influenced heavily by the imagery from a number of silent movies.  One that I mentioned specifically was Sunrise, the 1927 film from the great German Expressionist director FW Murnau of Nosferatu fame.  I mention this today because TCM is showing the film tonight at 9 PM EST.

The film was made at a really interesting time in the history of films.  Just as talking pictures were emerging ,  silent films were reaching their apex of artistic expression.  Within a few years they would be gone completely.

This film is the answer to a trivia question in that it won won the award for Best Picture  at the first Oscars ceremony in 1928.  Trivia fans will be shouting at this point saying that I’m wrong, that Wings won the first Best Picture award.  Well, they’re correct but I so am I, as Sunrise won the award for Best Picture: Unique and Artistic Production. There were originally two awards to honor two separate  aspects of the industry- the popular and the artistic.  This practice ended after this ceremony and  Sunrise became the only winner of the award for a unique and artistic film.

The cinematography in this film is beautiful and there is a long continuous shot from inside a streetcar that shows the city passing by that is breathtaking for its freshness, even by today’s standards.  The story is a fable telling the story of farmer and his wife and his struggles with a big-city temptress who nearly lures him into murdering his wife.  It is beautifully expressed and is a must-see for anyone who has seen more than enough special effects extravaganzas of the Transformers sort.  It is considered by many critics to be the finest silent film ever made and some even rank it up there with Citizen Kane as one of the greatest films ever.

I always hesitate in recommending films because we all have such different and subjective preferences, but if you get a chance and have any interest, take a look tonight on TCM.

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