Sunday, January 10, 2010
Mission to Moscow Screening at BAM; Panel Discussion to Follow
The Siren is taking one last opportunity to promote her live, in-person, one-night-only appearance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as part of the panel discussing Mission to Moscow, and oh my goodness, is there a lot to discuss. Ed Hulse will be there. Glenn Kenny is already doing his homework. Lou Lumenick is ready, and how. And the Siren is also studying up. Do join us for a screening and get ready to talk about this, one of the most notorious films of the entire studio era: Jan. 12th at 7 p.m., at the BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn.
To paraphrase Virginia O'Hanlon's letter, Papa says, "if you see it in the Times, it's so." And if Dave Kehr himself says it, it's really really so. So the Siren points to the last sentence of this write-up and announces that she has added "critic" to her "blogger" status, or if you prefer from the Sunday edition, "film writer"--like a frequent-flyer upgrade, except that she suspects there won't be that much more leg room. The Siren isn't sure what to do now to indicate the changed status, however. Repaint the foyer?
Anyone wanting to know why the Siren and Robert Avrech get along swimmingly need look no farther than these posts (part 1 and part 2) on Big Hollywood about the top ten movies he screened in 2009. The latest date is 1950, and the film is Madeleine, a neglected classic and favorite of the Siren's. Most of the choices are pre-1934. Plus he digs Constance Bennett in a big way, too.
The proprietor of the great Lombard fansite Carole & Co. occasionally comments here, to the Siren's delight, and last week he went a bit off-topic at his own place to offer a preview post for Shadows of Russia. Check the splendid photos of the St. Petersburg rail station.
The Siren watched Rasputin and the Empress and The Scarlet Empress live on Wednesday and is watching Reds and Red Danube off the DVR. So far she must say that the battle of the Empresses was won by Catherine in a walk, despite Dietrich's signal inability to play innocence. Don't get me wrong, I love Marlene, but that was one woman who emerged from the womb knowing the facts of life. But the stunning look of the movie had it all over Rasputin, despite Lionel's working his beard for all it was worth. The Scarlet Empress is one of the most beautiful black-and-white movies ever made, and also one of the most erotic.
As for Rasputin, it's a crash-course in scene stealing, with that art reaching its apex in the scene where John Barrymore first threatens Lionel. It's The Beard vs the Sword, as John refuses to look directly at Lionel, causing the monk to almost bulge his eyes out of the socket in an attempt to force eye contact. There's also the frightening scene where Rasputin forces little Alexi to watch a battle between a fly and an ant--hard to watch at times, between the terrorizing of a child and the grossness of seeing insects so close.
This week, it's the comedies, and the funny thing is that, as I note here in an article for Moving Image Source, the comedies have the most trenchantly anti-Stalin moments in the series.
Back soon with more thoughts.