Monday, July 25, 2011

Mocny Czlowiek (1929)

Lately, I have been smitten by a 1929 silent Polish film called Mocny Czlowiek (A Strong Man). Like Poland itself, which was situated between two dominating powers, Germany and Russia, this extraordinary Polish production shows both German and Russian influence - but remains an especially fine cinematic production. Embedded below is a 3 minute "run through" of the film to a contemporary Polish musical soundtrack.


If you like what you see, and I think you will, follow this YouTube link to watch the entire 78 minute film on YouTube. It is available there in nine parts.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, in memorium


UPDATE: In its July 27th article, "A Bad Girl With a Touch of Genius," the New York Times wrote "Like much else about her, the visual persona Ms. Winehouse concocted over her brief career fused instinct with cunning. She was a 5-foot-3 almanac of visual reference. . . . a lineage of bad girls extending from Cleopatra to Louise Brooks’s Lulu to Salt-n-Pepa, irresistible man traps who always seem to come to the same unfortunate end."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Most treasured book

"Louise Brooks," by Barry Paris has
been published around the world
For a short while now, the San Francisco Chronicle has been running a short feature in its book review called "Special edition: Most treasured book." Earlier contributors have included novelist Isabel Allende, actor Peter Coyote, science writer Mary Roach, linguist and NPR radio commentator Geoffrey Nunberg and other luminaries mostly local to the Bay Area.

Each contributor is given approximately 100 words to talk about their most treasured book. Because of these constraints, it is a difficult assignment; what can one say in only 100 words? However, because of the very specific nature of this topic, it is also an easy assignment. This is the book we value the most, and we want to tell the world about it.

I recently had the honor of being asked to contribute. My most treasured book is Louise Brooks, by Barry Paris. First published by Knopf in hardcover 1989, it has proved to be an enduring work. Because she is something of an icon, and there have been other books both by and about this singular silent film star. This is the place to start.

Because of the 100 word limit, it was difficult for me to fully express how much this book means to me, and how it "changed my life." My contribution appeared in the print version of the newspaper on Sunday, July 10, 2011 and showed up on-line a few days later.

I hope others read this outstanding biography. It is the best book I have ever read. It is the best book I ever will read. My San Francisco Chronicle piece can be found at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/08/RV731K43B3.DTL#ixzz1RuZPn6nK


Friday, July 15, 2011

Diary of a Lost Girl to show in Ireland on Sunday

3epkano will accompany a showing of the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, at the Kinsale Arts Festival in Ireland on Sunday, July 17. For further details on this special event, please visit http://www.kinsaleartsweek.com/event/Music/3epkano/21




3epkano will accompany a showing of the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, at the Kinsale Arts Festival in Ireland on Sunday, July 17. For further details on this special event, please visit http://www.kinsaleartsweek.com/event/Music/3epkano/21

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My most treasured book

I wrote a small piece on "My most treasured" book for the San Francisco Chronicle. It appeared in the print version of the newspaper on Sunday, and showed up on-line today. 

My most treasured book is Louise Brooks, by Barry Paris. It was difficult to express how much this book means to me, and how it changed my life, as I was given a 100 word limit. (Its a short format feature.) Nevertheless, I was flattered to be asked. Earlier contributors include novelist Isabel Allende, actor Peter Coyote, writer Mary Roach, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg and others. I hope reads check out this outstanding biography. It is the best book I have ever read. It is the best book I ever will read. 




Sunday, July 10, 2011

Remembering Theodore Roszak

Theodore Roszak, the writer who coined the term "counter culture," has died. He was 77. Roszak (1933-2011) was a social critic, cultural historian, teacher and author who first came to  prominence in the 1960s with the publication of The Making of a Counter Culture. That bestselling 1968 book chronicled the youth-movements of the time.

Roszak was also a novelist, and a fan of Louise Brooks. His singular 1991 novel, Flicker, was described by Publisher Weekly as a "magical mystery tour of the history of cinema" and "an acid satire on Hollywood." Kirkus Reviews called it a "Huge, deep-delving movie-lover's delight - and as rich a novel about the metaphysics of moviemaking as has ever been." While Booklist said Flicker was "An irresistible book . . . the perfect film buff's novel."


The publisher's description of Flicker goes like this:
"Jonathan Gates could not have anticipated that his student studies would lead him to uncover the secret history of the movies—a tale of intrigue, deception, and death that stretches back to the 14th century. But he succumbs to what will be a lifelong obsession with the mysterious Max Castle, a nearly forgotten genius of the silent screen who later became the greatest director of horror films, only to vanish in the 1940s, at the height of his talent. Now, 20 years later, as Jonathan seeks the truth behind Castle's disappearance, the innocent entertainments of his youth—the sexy sirens, the screwball comedies, the high romance—take on a sinister appearance. His tortured quest takes him from Hollywood's Poverty Row into the shadowy lore of ancient religious heresies. He encounters a cast of exotic characters, including Orson Welles and John Huston, who teach him that there's more to film than meets the eye, and journeys through the dark side of nostalgia, where the Three Stooges and Shirley Temple join company with an alien god whose purposes are anything but entertainment."

Later reviews were glowing. USA Today called Flicker "A novel of great force and originality, nearly every page of which crackles with lust for film," while Los Angeles City Beat, in reference to film critic David Thomson's book,said it was "The boldest novel about film since Suspects." 

Roszak loved movies and movie stars, especially the films and actors of his youth. He also mentioned to me that he was a fan of Louise Brooks, and had seen her surviving films including Pandora's Box. The silent film star, or at least a character modeled after the actress, plays a part in Flicker.

If Flicker sounds like it would make a good movie, you're right. At one point, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) was backing a production of a movie version of the book with screen adaptation written by Jim Uhls (Fight Club). However, like so many worthwhile projects, this one seems to have come to a halt. Read more here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Theodore Roszak dies at age 77

Theodore Roszak, a writer who coined the term "counter-culture," has died at age 77. Roszak was a multi-genre author best known for his seminal 1968 book, The Making of a Counter-Culture. He taught at Stanford University, the University of British Columbia, and San Francisco State University before joining CalState Hayward

Roszak first came to public prominence in 1968, with the publication of The Making of a Counter Culture which chronicled and gave explanation to the European and North American counterculture of the 1960s. His other books include include The Cult of Information, The Gendered Atom: Reflections on the Sexual Psychology of Science, The Voice of the Earth, and Ecopsychology: Healing the Mind, Restoring the Earth. Roszak was twice nominated for the National Book Award.

His fiction includes Flicker and the Tiptree award-winning Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein. His most recent novel, published in 2003, is The Devil and Daniel Silverman.

Roszak described Flicker to me as "a secret history of the movies." Louise Brooks plays a part in the story. Roszak also told me he was a big fan of the actress, and had seen many of her movies. At one point, Darren Aronofsky was backing a production of a movie version of the book.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rolled Stockings writer turns 111

The woman whose story was the basis for the 1927 Louise Brooks’ film, Rolled Stockings, has turned 111 years old.

Today, Frederica Sagor Maas had a birthday. The La Mesa, California resident is one of the last surviving personalities from the silent film era, and perhaps the last living individual associated with one of Louise Brooks’ silent films. Maas is also thought to be the second oldest person in California. Read more about this remarkable woman on SFGate.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Louise Brooks news at paper.li

Paper.li is a "custom newspaper" aggregation utility which builds webpages from articles, blog posts, videos and photos shared on Twitter or Facebook. What results are are not curated, but rather the function of automatic functions like rss feeds and content streams.

It's kinda neat. And kinda not. Actually, its kinda random. Nevertheless, the Louise Brooks Society set up its own paper.li at http://paper.li/LB_Society/1309372490. Check it out. Or not.

In the meantime, here is a charming Louise Brooks tribute video via YouTube.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dryden Theater in Rochester turns 60

The Dryden Theater, where Louise Brooks spent many an hour watching films, turns 60 years old. The theater is part of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

Jack Garner, the noted film critic for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and a friend of the actress, penned an article about the anniversary. Garner wrote:
The Dryden opened in March 1951, thanks to the vision of James Card, the museum's first curator of motion pictures. After Eastman House opened in 1948 as a museum for photography and motion pictures, Card saw the need for an exhibition space to show off the substantial film collection. Card got George Eastman's niece, Ellen, and her husband, George Dryden, behind the project as donors and supporters of a fundraising campaign.
I had a chance to take a peek inside the Dryden Theater when I visited the George Eastman House in 2006 (as pictured right). It was thrilling to think Brooks (and many other early film stars honored at Eastman House) entered the Dryden right where I was standing. More info about the Dryden Theater and the George Eastman House can be found at http://www.eastmanhouse.org/ and on my column at examiner.com.
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