Monday, December 30, 2013
Since we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are pleased as pomegranates to support indie filmmakers, we this fundraiser for producer/director Stephanie Stender. The following teaser for La Sirene, her short film inspired by the early cinema of illusionist Georges Méliès, demonstrates visual flair and an imaginative, stylish approach.
La Sirene, starring Boston burlesque star Lolli Hoops (among several fetching mermaids), is a homage to silent movies as well as to pioneering filmmaker Méliès.
The fundraiser expires tomorrow. It is the hope of Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog that La Sirene will be just the first of many films by Stephanie and Doorstop Productions.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Europe, since the days when the visionary Ladislaw Starewicz was cranking out positively amazing work, before World War I, first in Russia, then later in France, has remained a veritable creamy center of stop-motion animation goodness. One of the art's very finest practitioners was Czechoslovakian puppet animation innovator Jiří Trnka. Here's his WW2 classic, Springman Vs. The S.S.
Another stop-motion master from Czechoslovakia was the great Karel Zeman.
There's nothing like some gorgeous stop-motion wizardry to that pesky post-holiday letdown to a screeching halt! Zeman's classic feature, The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne exemplifies the 1950's stop-motion boom that also included Joop Geesink's Dollywood animation, the wondrous fantasy films (and Dynamation) of Ray Harryhausen and George Pal's science fiction features.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Monday, December 23, 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
Intrepid composer, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney has written a holiday ditty Mr. Blogmeister likes infinitely better than Santa Claus Is Coming To Town or that irritating Frosty The Snowman here, THE HAPPY SOLSTICE SONG! Take it, Ralph!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
As far as Mr. Blogmeister goes, the shopping mega-malls, department stores and big box monstrosities can all go commit a physically impossible sexual act, since this 2013 Christmas season, The Raymond Scott Archives is offering SUCH-A-DEAL involving Scott's classic Manhattan Research, Inc. album.
The groundbreaking album features Mr. Scott playing electronic instruments he designed, with Dorothy Collins on vocals. Did Brian Eno and Pere Ubu's Allen Ravenstine hear this album?
I'll listen to Manhattan Research with pleasure, wonder if Ray had coffee with Morton Subotnick and/or Frank Zappa and extend a tip of the Jack Buchanan-Fred Astaire-Jimmie Hatlo top hat to Raymond Scott archivist and keeper of the Powerhouse flame Jeff E. Winner.
And I'll also watch this clip!
THIS AND ALL RAYMOND SCOTT ALBUMS, plus a few days to get away from it all with Madame Blogmeister (that means the inevitable mandatory viewings of Cockeyed Cavaliers Bogey and Eddie Robinson in Brother Orchid (puncuated by gratuitous Eddie G. Robinson impersonations), preceded by the Leo n' Charley comedy masterpiece Mighty Like A Moose, AND a chance for me personally to live another day reasonably healthy plus at least one moment in 2014 of Peace On Earth - is what Your Correspondent wants for Christmas.
Monday, December 16, 2013
The following production number from A Damsel In Distress pretty much encapsulates everything I love about 1930's musicals and movies in general. While the video transfer here is definitely a tad on the muddy side, this scene sends Mr. Blogmeister into sheer delight every time, Take it, Fred, George and Gracie!
Saturday, December 14, 2013
As an antidote to syrupy, smarmy, cloying, unbearably heartwarming holiday "entertainment", the Noir City festival, Eddie Muller and the intrepid historians/archivists of the Film Noir Foundation present this hard-boiled holiday double bill, straight, no chaser, at San Francisco's iconic Castro Theatre.
Allen Baron, the writer-director-star of Blast Of Silence, will be there in person!
The Noir City festival returns with a wide-ranging international lineup, featuring pungent noir nuggets from Argentina, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Norway and Spain, from January 24 - February 1, 2014.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
As music lovers around the world mourn the passing of guitar genius Jim Hall today, we also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birthday of entertainer, ultra-swingin' multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ray Nance, a.k.a. Mr. Floor Show.
For sold-out audiences around the world, Mr. Nance rocked the house with the mighty Duke Ellington Orchestra.
In the following classic clip of Duke and his killer big band playing "The Hawk Talks", Mr. Nance and his magic trumpet join in at 2:38 (after Louis Bellson's kick-ass drum solo).
Could Ray sing like Billy Eckstine or Nat King Cole? Absolutely - now listen to this!
Trumpet? Cornet? Flugelhorn? Got it!
Violin? Sure! Viola? "String Swing"? Natch!
Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog raises a toast to the great Ray Nance - we feel 100 years young just listening to him!
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
"There was nothing else like it being made in America for Americans." Henry Selick
On a very short list of films that instantaneously send Mr. Blogmeister straight to Happyland: the inventive clay animation of Art Clokey.
Art's very creative "let's see what we can do with clay, unfettered imagination and a hip soundtrack" film GUMBASIA and the earliest Gumby cartoons (from 1956-1957) rank, in this blogger's opinion, among the greatest stop-motion films ever made. Clokey had a unique and uncanny ability to combine the experimental and exploratory with pure entertainment.
The earliest Gumbys possess an expressive, beautiful and genuine quality akin to primitive art and offer a childlike sense of innocence and wonder. No film before or since has merged futurism, fantasy elements and a child's eye view of the universe quite like Clokey's Moon Trip and Gumby On The Moon.
Clokey taps into the creativity that exists in the heart and soul before, inevitably, the unimaginative, the well-meaning, the insensitive, the authority figures attempt (too often successfully) to beat it out of us.
Clokey's films, especially Gumbasia and the first series of Gumby cartoons, made in 1956-1958, express his vision and sense of wonder in a most direct and straightforward way.
In direct opposition with the gentle, good-natured ambiance that were a hallmark of the Gumby cartoons, Art Clokey's long life was filled with tragedy. Art's mother left his dad for a policeman who was renting a room from them, ran away and abandoned Art, only to reconcile decades later. Art's father died in a car accident soon afterwards. Much of this is covered in the late Robina Marchesi's documentary Gumby Dharma, which offers both a biography and a quick overview of Clokey's clay animation innovations.
In a curious stroke of luck and serendipity, Art was subsequently adopted by composer Joseph W. Clokey and his wife: both avid travelers, adventurers, endlessly curious and film nuts. When Art met Dr. Clokey's 16mm camera, a creative artist was born.
The world travels with the Clokeys were the cornerstones of Art's identity as a filmmaker.