Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957)

The Condemned Man's Guide to One-upping a Cockroach Near an Anthill

One of the most shell-shocked, punishing, and emotionally brutal anti-war films ever made was a favorite of young Marlon Brando's; I can see Brando in Timothy Carey's face.

A shot in the farce of corruption; atrocious blunders made in the name of cowardly self-interest; so-called friendly fire; and authoritarianism when it comes to military strategy and execution, it was banned in Spain, under Franco until the mid 80s.

The beautifully composed photography: long tracking shots of trench suffering; flawless cast portraiture; and simply posed character interactions in a satisfying range of settings defy Paths of Glory's naive low budget status. Instead of romanticizing warfare, like most battle-oriented pictures, it seduces more poetically. Kubrick uses silence, singing, muffled sounds, flare light, well-choreographed gesture, limited points of view, and the embodiment of hopeless hope, most profoundly by Kubrick's soon-to-be-wife Christiane in the movie's pinnacle chapter.

Somehow the Brooklyn accents work to convey the attitudes of beaten down, scapegoated French soldiers circling around impossibility. I wonder if there's a Timothy Carey fan club. Until now, I've been unfamiliar with his work. Ralph Meeker also won me over. The determined young Kirk Douglas makes a rare lawerly hero who comes to realize that the enemy is not the occupants of the anthill, but the one closer at hand, giving the orders and meting out the glorious medals.

I think I like Kubrick best as a beginner, before he learned too much. Although I tend to like older films in general. They rely on fewer gimmicks. Their minimal ingredients boil down to quality stock.

Paths of Glory played at the PFA on Friday night, Jul 11, 2008, as part of the United Artists series, where United Artists concept of a "studio without a studio" was celebrated.


Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels

AKA Duo luo tian shi (1995)

I saw this for the first time on DVD last night—spectacular. In a sub plot, a mute filmaker learns to speak with his camera. The madcap antics, jerky movements, and silent flirtations are reminiscent of Chaplin or Keaton. There are a number of scenes (not the bloody gun fights) that I don't think I'd ever experience in any other film, or from any other filmmaker: the love turning a couple to water in black and white; the old school chum on the bus trying to sell insurance to a hired gun; the father being accosted silently by his manic son in bed and on the toilet; the speed cleaning of a killer's crash pad by a masked maiden; the two clothed femme masturbation scenes that are anything but anti-climactic; the first phone conversation with Blondie.

This was originally a chapter of Chungking Express, another fave.


Tic Toc Choc

Couperin's Tic Toc Choc, played by pianist Alexandre Tharaud with hip hop dancer Anthony Benichol and actor Boris Ventura Diaz—


Bicycle Art by Terri Saul Now Showing in Vancouver

The world is different when you ride a bike...

North American artists and designers share their visions of the world of the Bikeosphere, celebrating the symbiosis of urban sustainability, cycling culture and style.

Momentum Magazine’s Bikeosphere Art & Fashion Show highlights city
cycling as a beautiful and attainable lifestyle choice for North America.

July 18, 2008

7:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Centre A Gallery
23 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC

For information call 604-669-9850

$5. admission / refreshments / cash bar / fashion show / music / good times / bike art for sale

Proceeds of art sales go to the artists, all other proceeds to fund Momentum Magazine.

Momentum Magazine


PFA Goodness

I'm looking forward to seeing these upcoming films at the PFA: The Shanghai Gesture, The Pearl, Paths of Glory, The Killing, The Apartment, Goldfinger, La Dolce Vita, for starters. They've got a great summer schedule including The Long View: A Celebration of Wide Screen.

Apologies for not blogging lately. This smoky air has left me breathless.