Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tagged! Five Bloggers for a Thinking Siren

The wonderful Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule has tagged the Siren as a Thinking Blogger. Writes Dennis:

Andrew Bemis, proprietor of Cinevistaramascope, one of my favorite blogs, was given a “Thinking Bloggers Award” and commissioned to include five sites to which he would pass the award onto. Mine was one of them. But in order to accept the award, the blogger who receives it must in turn provide a list of five other blogs to which he/she would give the award...

It seems there are rules, however

1) If, and only if your blog is one that is tagged on my list below, you must write a post with links to five other blogs you like that consistently make you think (hence, the Thinking Blogger’s Award).

2) Link to this post so people will know whose good idea all this was.

3) Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” logo with a link to the post you wrote.

So ever since she was given this signal honor the Siren has been thinking hard, all right. She has been thinking about how in blue blazes she is supposed to narrow down her tagging obligations to just five bloggers. There is a phenomenon in the retail industry called "choice paralysis," where you enter some consumer behemoth like Bed Bath & Beyond and are confronted with so many different items you freeze. If you are like the Siren, you wind up avoiding Bed Bath & Beyond because you go in to buy a set of lingerie hooks and come out with a Dirt Devil, an olive-oil sprayer and a green marble paper-towel holder and discover on the subway that you forgot to buy the hooks. It's a dangerous thing, choice paralysis.

Look at the Siren's blogroll! She likes, and reads, all of these ladies and gentlemen. Well, this had to be narrowed down somehow. With great relief, I see one of my choices has been named already, by Cinebeats--Flickhead, the nom de blog of Ray Young. It isn't surprising Cinebeats named him, since these two splendid blogs share a very hip, swinging sensibility. His blog is a visual treat, and the Siren looks forward to seeing the banner mutate month by month. To get the full flavor of Flickhead you have to click through to his longer pieces. His continuing series on Claude Chabrol is the English-language source on the Web for insight on the prolific filmmaker. Thanks, Cinebeats, for making this difficult task just a teensy bit easier. (And now I also see that Flickhead has tagged me, which seems to create some sort of blog-tagging Mutual Assured Destruction. I guess now we shake hands and sign DVDs in the Hall of Mirrors.)

All right then. Five bloggers who make the Siren think:

1. Filmbrain. Writes some of the smartest reviews around--just look at his take on Million-Dollar Baby. The Siren liked some aspects of that one, but boy, does Filmbrain nail the case against it. As anyone who visits the site knows, he is particularly splendid on the subject of Asian filmmakers, but you never know where his eye will light next. Where else can you get a cogent analysis of a Disney film about menstruation? Hip enough to have Anna Karina as his patron saint, square enough to admit he once thought the musical version of Lost Horizon was the world's best movie, Filmbrain is a must-read for the Siren, even if she can't seem to ace his screen-grab quizzes.

2. Girish. The thinking blogger's thinking blogger. Approaches film at a very high level, drawing in literature, critical theory and even pop music in a most intelligent and engaging way. Also one of the kindest, most thoughtful and courteous guys you will ever meet. There is no one the Siren would rather catch a Naruse film with. No wonder his comments section is the Waverly Inn of the film-blogger world, full of the best and the brightest--only no hyper-exclusive reservations policy. All are welcome at Girish's place, you just have to show up with your brain in gear and your point of view fully thought out.

3. Peter Nelhaus of Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee. Years ago Martin Scorsese was being interviewed by 60 Minutes and as one of those cute things they do for their "soft" segments, Leslie Stahl (think it was her) pulled out a TV schedule and started naming movies. Scorsese could identify and give a plot synopsis for each one. If the Siren had to repeat this experiment with a blogger, it would be Peter. No wonder he had a stint on The Ultimate Film Fanatic. Is there a more eclectic film sensibility anywhere on the Web? Let's check out this week: Angel-A, Invitation to a Gunfighter, A Mighty Heart, The Panic in Needle Park, Dance, Girl, Dance--each film, no matter how silly or serious, approached with intelligence and respect. The only bad thing I can say about Peter is that he constantly reminds me of all the movies I still haven't seen.

4. Noel Vera at Critic After Dark. Every year at the Oscars you get a little speech before the Foreign Film award where the presenters, often actors selected for rather tenuous foreign connections, talk about the international nature of filmmaking. Then they show their deep respect by making jokes about the directors' funny-sounding names. True, though, that there is a huge world of film out there and many of us experience only a fraction of it. Noel is based in the Philippines, and he writes with great verve and intelligence about Filipino cinema, trying to convey its variety and influences to an audience that isn't familiar with it. He can do this brilliantly because his own film viewing and blogging ranges over all countries and all genres. Noel comments on many blogs too, and his taste and intellect make every virtual conversation just that much more worthwhile.

5. Goatdog at Goatdog Blog. The Siren rejoices whenever she encounters a Goatdog review link on IMDB, because Michael has a superb eye and the ability to show you something fresh in any movie. Check out this review of Mandalay, a movie the Siren also saw and blogged about. But Michael spotted a highly creative shot that the Siren didn't bother to remark upon, and he sussed its significance, too. He appreciates Olivia de Havilland, silent cinema and even zombie comic books. Michael isn't going to be Goatdog much longer, but by any name he will be a blogger and reviewer to cherish.

Dennis at Sergio Leone named one to grow on, so I am doing the same: Anna at The Crowd Roars. The mysterious Anna concentrates on silent movies and pre-Code talkies, subjects dear to the Siren's heart. Her taste in movies is off-beat and intriguing, and her writing is always well-researched and absorbing.

One last note: have you blogrolled the Siren, but in vain you await her reciprocal listing? Please, drop a line to her email and she will fix the error as soon as possible.

(Above, Carol Lynley in Return to Peyton Place. The Siren has been wanting to use this still for eons.)


Flickhead said...

Thanks for the kind words, Siren. You've made my day!

As a Thinking Blogger, I can't help but wonder: does that photo imply that blogland is a little Peyton Place? Are we all Harper Valley hypocrites?

Campaspe said...

Heh, no! I was saving it for a post that implied I was working hard, searching for le mot juste, while still being glam enough to have a cute dressing table in the background.

I assure you, I *always* back-comb my pageboy just so before sitting down to blog. :)

Flickhead said...

Whew! That's good. Thinking Bloggers were starting to talk...

J.C. Loophole said...

Dear Siren-
Since I've discovered you, I have come to read daily and today's post shows why. No I've discovered even more cinema blogs to read.
I put you on our blogroll for sure a while ago, but do I dare ask to find my link on yours.:
The Shelf
It would make a film lover's day!

Campaspe said...

Thank you very much, J.C. I have been back-reading your blog for a while, and will definitely add it. Cheers!

Peter said...

Wow! Thank you. And let me return the compliment as you were one of the first film bloggers that I discovered and read regularly a little over two years ago. I especially enjoy your observations of films I haven't seen in awhile, and view in a different light.

Cinebeats said...

I'm so happy to see Girish and Peter's blog listed! They are both favorites of mine too. The rules for this thing were very silly and I would have happily included them in a longer list. I hated having to pick only 5 blogs to mention in my own selections.

Dan Leo said...

Hey, Siren, thanks for the tips to some great sites (I've checked 'em all out now) from this relative newcomer to blog-reading and blogging.

Now I just wonder if I'll ever get back to reading those odd artifacts called, um, "books"?

Noel Vera said...

Yikes! The Siren's honored me! Now I really have to deliver!

But it's worth the trouble, ma'am, for the honor. My hat off to you.

Marilyn said...

Boy do I ever disagree about Million Dollar Baby. But you will get me to defend to the death a good melodrama any day of the week. It's an unfairly maligned form that I happen to love. MDB is the best classic melodrama I've seen in recent years.

Anna said...

Thanks for listing me Siren! I'm very flattered to be mentioned in such company and always honoured by your patronage to my blog.

And I liked the part where you described me as mysterious hee hee...

Campaspe said...

Peter, you are most welcome. You were one of my first commenters and it was so encouraging to have a sharp critical mind reading & enjoying what I wrote.

Cinebeats, I could easily have done 10 but I do remember the Shamus seeing himself listed at Dennis's place and teasing about the "homework" assignment, LOL!

Dan, what I really need to do is figure out the Bloglines or RSS thing so I can keep up in a more organized way. Right now I just move down my blogroll and I do miss good things sometimes.

Noel, the pleasure is mine!

Marilyn, you will never hear me dissing melodrama, a genre that is one of the glories of American cinema. I am somewhere between you and Filmbrain, I think. Eastwood is a true classicist in my view, and whenever I see one of his movies I see all kinds of older filmmakers watching over his shoulder. I think the faults were mainly in the screenplay, where some rather static and hackneyed choices were made, such as in the narration. Eastwood certainly knows how to get good performances out of his actors.

Anna, I love your blog and the fact that you take on movies that are lesser-known and need a wider audience. Like the piece on The Front Page -- so well done. I said "mysterious" because you hit the ground running, with great posts from the very beginning. Made me wonder where you've been and what you do for a living. (No need to englighten us, though. Mystery is always half the fun, yes?)

Noel Vera said...

Siren, not a fan of Million Dollar Baby too?

Had a few thoughts on the movie.

goatdog said...

Wow. Thank you so much, Siren. This is such an honor, especially to be included with Filmbrain, Girish, and Peter. I'm not familiar with Noel or Filipino cinema, but I'll plug the wonderful Perfumed Nightmare (the only Filipino film I've ever seen) and run over to his site. And to Anna's--how did I miss her? Silent films, pre-Code talkies, and a blog named after (or so I'm assuming) the film that features James Cagney's best performance? I need to spend more time on your blogroll.

Now what do I do if my favorite blogs have already been tagged by other people?

Noel Vera said...

goatdog, Perfumed Nightmare is an important film in Philippine cinema (and Kidlat Tahimik is a cool, laidback guy), but for my money his far better film is Turumba, a quiet little comedy about how foreign interests descend on a small town and warp their dreams and expectations in all kinds of unexpected ways (this way before Bill Forsyth). It used to be available on vhs in New York's Kino Video, or whatever that place was called.

Thanks for the expressed interest!

Emma said...


Thanks for signing up to my “Performance that Changed Your Life” blogathon. Time has flown, and it is this Saturday! So this is just a poke from me to remind you.

Looking forward to reading your entry,

Campaspe said...

Noel, MDB really divided the critics so it is always good to read a new take. I just saw Army of Shadows and was delighted to read your review via IMDB. You are always very good at dissecting the imagery and I liked the way you also connected the movie with other Melvilles.

Goatdog, I think double-tagging is to be avoided but it has already happened a couple of times, as with Flickhead!

Noel, are you thinking of Kim's? the one on Avenue A is now a pan-Asian restaurant (a good one) but the St. Marks site is still open as far as I know. Kim's always had a great selection but the most famously rude counter help in the New York video world. They became notorious and after a while you started to wonder if they made a conscious effort to be nasty because they had an image to maintain.

Emma, you won't believe it, but my post is being tidied up today. Because the weekend is going to be crazy I am going to jump the gun and probably post it tomorrow, hope that is all right. Cheers!

Noel Vera said...

Siren, it was back in 1991 or 2, so I can't be sure about the video world.

Frankly, I'm not too enthusiastic about Eastwood as a director (I like him as an actor, used by other directors--Leone, Seigel). Unforgiven may be his best work, modest, unpretentious (somewhat), and there is one scene in A Perfect World that is pitch-perfect horrific. Otherwise--Mystic River, Million Dollar--are I felt overblown.