September 29, 2015
It's funny, I started Silents & Talkies as a place to share classic movie art but here I am six years later feeling guilty for wanting to share art here? I've just come to think of this as more of a writing-only kind of blog for some reason.
Anyway! I did a set of brooches inspired by 1930's horror movies and thought it would be sacrilegious if I didn't share it here, too. If you've been following my blog for a while you know that my favorite movies to watch in October are the creepy two-strip technicolor films from the 30's, like Doctor X and The Mystery of the Wax Museum. There's something about Lionel Atwill and an eerie green film tint that just screams "Halloween!" to me! And I have nothing against modern horror, but give me Bela Lugosi, atmospheric fog, cobweb-covered sets and I'm a happy camper.
My classic horror scream brooch was loosely inspired by Fay Wray (it would have been completed inspired by her if my drawing had actually looked more like her when it was finished, haha! I will never stop struggling with getting faces right.)
The vampire brooch was inspired by Luna from Mark of the Vampire (this has one of the best horror movie endings, in my opinion) I'm so smitten with how that one came out! :D
Obviously the bride of Frankenstein brooch is Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein, and then the graveyard brooch is kind of a composite of every eerie cemetery scene in every scary 30's movie. That one is probably my favorite, since I think it really captures the atmosphere that makes me loves these films so much.
All of the brooches are available in my shop, here. I think I might do prints or a notecard set soon, too, but the brooches take longer to make so I wanted to get them in the shop early to make sure they can ship in time for Halloween :)
September 24, 2015
Now, Voyager is a film I've revisited so many times over the last decade that I could probably shut my eyes and see the film flicker across my closed eyelids, frame for frame. It's a movie that I come back to time and time again when I'm feeling a certain sadness about life and loneliness because, like Charlotte Vale, no one ever called me darling before.
When I was 22 the film gave me a sense of hope. I, too, could blossom into a new woman and go out into the world and find a Paul Henreid to buy me perfume and camellias. Now I'm getting closer to 30. I'm having a very difficult time with it, to be honest. Even typing the words "I'm getting closer to 30" is rough. I may not have bushy eyebrows and an overbearing mother but I'm seeing more and more of myself in the Aunt Charlotte who needed to lose 20 pounds of weight and 100 pounds of anxiety. I'm not sure what it is about my impending milestone that feels like a deadline to me, but there it is -- after the big 3-0 it's spinsterhood or bust.
I have a tendency to write more about my relationship to movies than the movies themselves, but movies have that effect on me. It's hard to separate my thoughts about Now, Voyager from the feelings the movie arouses in me. Almost every movie that I love has some emotional tug on me, whether it's tied to the experience of seeing the film (who I saw it with, what was happening in my life the first time I watched it) or to the content and how it speaks to me personally. Quite frankly even Sunday in New York originally sparked my interest because it was about a girl who had been a virgin a little longer than everyone else. It's since become my favorite movie for other reasons but that initial kinship that I felt with Jane Fonda's character will always be present when I re-watch it.
And so it is with Now, Voyager. The feelings I had as a 16 year old, as a 20 year old, as a 25 year old watching this movie resurface whenever I hear the familiar strains of Max Steiner's score. I can remember feeling hopeful, and then I can remember when that hope started to fade. I've always been kind of cynical about love, but movies that once left me smiling stupidly as the credits rolled by now leave me feeling world-weary and selfish. The last time I watched Now, Voyager I snarkily wondered "Why can't *I* have that?," slightly jealous that Charlotte broke out of her silver cocoon while I was still trapped in mine.
But then I wonder, why is it that this one single element of movies is the one thing I deserve in my life (and everyone else deserves, too.) I don't expect to have Brigitte Bardot's hair or Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe. I accept those things as unattainable and enjoy their films anyway. I'd love to work on the set of a tv show like TGS on 30 Rock, but I know that it's not realistic for me. Even when people in movies travel or have picnics in the park I think "well doesn't that seem nice" but I don't resent the characters for doing something I'm not. So why is it that the absence of love in my life makes it difficult for me to tolerate love in movies?
Honestly all of these thoughts were swirling through my mind before the credits even started on Now, Voyager earlier tonight. I've been feeling very blue about my upcoming birthday (I'm actually turning 29, I'm just obsessed with 30 lurking on the horizon) and words like "death, alone, mortality" have been dominating my thoughts. Perfect time to watch Now, Voyager, I figured. Either it would restore my faith in love or I could commiserate with pre-makeover Bette Davis. Win/Win.
So do I have hope now that someday things will magically change and all of my worrying during my 20's that I'd end up alone would be for naught? No. At this point I've pretty much abandoned any dreams I might have had that I'll find someone. I'm not even kidding, I can't even fathom a future in which I'm not on my own. I can't imagine someone telling me they love me.
However, I also saw in Charlotte an independent woman who decided to live her life to the fullest even if she couldn't have Jerry. She threw herself into working on the new addition to the sanitarium and hosted parties at her house. Even before she went back to Cascade and discovered Tina was there, she had broken off her engagement and was more than prepared to lead a fulfilling life alone.
Movies speak to us when we need to hear them. They tell us things that resonate based on where we are in our lives, and they comfort us when we need comforting. Now, Voyager has been there for me since I was 15 years old, lying in bed trying not to cry because I was about to turn 16 the next day and I still hadn't been kissed. It was there when I was 23, feeling alone and in desperate need of some hope. When I was 26 and starting to lose faith that love would find me, I felt a kindred spirit in Spinster Aunt Charlotte. And now, at *GULP* almost 30, I found comfort in Charlotte's warm embrace of solitude.
I'm still going to have days where I'm blue about life and love -- it's pretty much inescapable. And I'm sure I'll still turn to Now, Voyager to help me through it. No one has ever called me darling before, but movies have provided me so much love and understanding over the years that they're basically my boyfriend.
Don't let's ask for love, Jerry. We have the movies.
September 10, 2015
Since my favorite pastime is wasting time, I decided to illustrate the plot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in emoji. I had way more fun doing this than I probably should have, but that's kind of the whole point of wasting time, isn't it? And maybe it isn't really a waste at all if you decide to turn it into a blog post. That legitimizes the time spent on a project, at least a tiny bit, right?
Anyway, if you've seen the movie hopefully this will give you a little chuckle. I don't think it *really* spoils anything if you still haven't seen it, since it's kind of cryptic, but maybe if you were on the fence you'll be like "well now I NEED to find out how a goat, bread, and toilets factor into this cold war spy movie!"
Hopefully this will turn into a little series here (assuming I don't totally abandon it like I have 90% of my other series ideas) I really want to do one for Dr. Zhivago next, but be forewarned it'll probably just be a lot of snowflakes and broken hearts...
September 08, 2015
I just watched L'Alliance, a French film from 1971 starring Anna Karina. Initially I wasn't planning on writing anything about it, I only wanted to share this one screenshot that I took. I liked the dialogue, Anna Karina's face is always cool, and the screenshot itself seemed like one of those movie moments that could easily become a "this scene just GETS ME" screencap that I turn into my facebook cover photo.
But then I was talking to my dad about the movie and the more I explained the plot the more I realized I actually really liked it and maybe I had more to say than I originally thought. Maybe the movie meant more to me than social networking wallpaper.
The film begins with a marriage broker trying to find a wife for a peculiar man, played by Jean-Claude Carrière, who seems way more interested in his future wife's real estate holdings than her personality or appearance. She can be dull or exciting, blonde or brunette, but if she doesn't have a closet (or at least a closed off extra room) then he's looking elsewhere. In Anna Karina he finally finds the square footage he's been waiting for. They marry immediately.
They seem sort of happy at first. Her new husband is really preoccupied with insects on their honeymoon, but that's to be expected of any newlywed, right?
Once they get back to the enormous apartment, he starts setting up his Veterinary practice and obsessing over a locked closet that houses a bunch of old junk, a fishing pole, and some very large slippers. He becomes tormented by those slippers, constantly trying to figure out whose large feet once slipped inside of them. They have dinner guests and he literally puts his foot next to the man's shoe to see if it's the right size. What even. He starts recording verbal diary entries documenting his wife's every move (she goes shopping every day but she never buys anything? What is she hiding??) and, of course, the case of the very large slippers.
Meanwhile the house is becoming a miniature zoo with monkeys, birds, lizards and rodents taking up every square inch of the sizable apartment. The maid is growing concerned that the animals are going to attack her somehow, they seem to be getting more and more agitated by the day. The animals make for a really awesome backdrop to this psychological thriller. The still silence that is the hallmark of any nighttime scene in this genre is punctuated by creepy bird calls or the sounds of little claws clanging on cages.
The movie is very Gaslight, if both parties were Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. I mean, they both seem like they're driving each other insane AND they both seem like they're going insane. It's ridiculously well done and super eerie. And **SPOILER ALERT** it is actually building up to an ending that has literally NOTHING to do with the drama that preceded it. But I think that's the point. **SERIOUSLY I AM TOTALLY SPOILING THE ENDING NOW SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK** The film ends with the animals going absolutely haywire. The maid finally quits, sure that the animals are about to form a revolt, and Anna Karina runs to her husband to find out what's going on. I was positive that there was going to be some kind of off the wall kooky explanation - he was actually an alien, or the animals were aliens, or he had devised some kind of serum from insect blood that would make animals into his slaves, maybe? - but the animals are actually sensing something cataclysmic is about to happen. Husband and wife share their first and only moment of trust, they embrace, and an atomic bomb wipes out civilization. Bugs crawl away from the debris, the only survivors of man's holocaust.
*STILL SPOILERS* In retrospect, the ending was foreshadowed a few times in the movie. During their honeymoon she remarks that her father used to kick anthills and then laugh at all the ants scrambling around their broken home. She always wondered if there was someone out there waiting to kick us, and laugh as our own world fell to pieces. Later on, a scientist comes to visit and explains that humans will likely be wiped out soon and that the only creature to survive atomic blasts are insects.
I don't know what the author (It's Jean-Claude Carrière -- the actor who played the husband, by the way. Awesome little piece of trivia right there) intended by this ending, but what I took away from the film was how everyday life, with all of its little human dramas, could come to a screeching halt. Sort of like the ending of Fail Safe, nuclear annihilation ends day to day life in a heartbeat. We aren't meant to find out who owned the slippers or where Anna Karina went shopping. We don't get a conclusion to the story wrapped up neatly and tied with a ribbon because nuclear winter is the conclusion to everything. It doesn't care about the fate of this twisted couple, so we don't get to care either. *END SPOILERS*
All in all, I think it was a very interesting, thought provoking movie that I'll probably have on my mind for quite a while. It's also beautifully filmed and Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Carrière are excellent in their strange, compelling and complex roles. I had a hard time finding a copy but if you can get your hands on one I'd definitely recommend it. Just be prepared (if you avoided my spoilers) that it's not a conventional thriller.
Anna Karina's character often came home from shopping trips empty-handed. I cannot relate. Anna Karina's character went to the cinema alone. She is my spirit animal.