Posts tagged ‘movies’

We’ve Been Liebstered! (I didn’t know what it meant either…)

The Liebster AwardThe Kitty Packard Pictorial has been Liebstered! C’est a dire, we’ve been presented with the “Liebster Blog” award from one of our favorite fellow film fanatics, The Lady Eve Sidwich, the cinemaven behind The Lady Eve’s Reel Life. Take a sampling of her recent posts and you’ll see exactly why this blog stands so well out of the crowd. From a profile of legendary art director Lyle Wheeler, to a portrait of early Hollywood playground Catalina Island to serious critical analysis of rarely seen screen gems, Eve’s Reel Life is  at once intelligent and academic, yet wonderfully entertaining.

Thank you so much Eve for singling us out– MWAH! Read more ►

Call for Entries: The 2012 Laugh and Live Silent Film Festival

Next year, an entirely new kind of silent film festival is coming to Hollywood. The Laugh and Live Film Festival, presented by Los Angeles-based film historian Sparrow Morgan, will be the first festival of its kind: focusing on reviving, not just interest in silent film, but the very medium of silent film itself.

The Pictorial is, quite frankly, STOKED.

Fairbanks at UCLA

Sparrow Morgan is a Los Angeles-based film historian who has founded the festival in honor of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.– a man who was an early champion of the medium of film itself, as a founding member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and a founding faculty member of the UCLA film school. It is a fitting full-circle tribute, naming a festival dedicated to the revitalization of silent film in honor of a man so vital to the medium itself. Morgan is also responsible for founding of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Fairbanks Memorial: a yearly celebration of silent film and the history of Hollywood, taking place on the Fairbanks Lawn at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, coinciding with the birthday of Douglas Fairbanks Sr, on May 23.

The festival’s first press release was recently released and it is with the highest of excitement that we post it here:

Los Angeles based film historian Sparrow Morgan is proud to
announce The Laugh and Live Festival, the first and only event showcasing contemporary silent films.

Scheduled for May 2012, time, date, and details on speci!c events will be forthcoming.

Founded in honor of Douglas Fairbanks Sr, for whose charming book of advice the festival is named, The Laugh and Live Festival aims to increase the participants’ and audience’s understanding and appreciation of
silent film not only as an historical art form, but challenges them to consider silent film as a viable modern format.

“Interest in silent film has been increasing in recent years, but most of the viewing public still consider it an acquired taste, something one needs a film degree to understand, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Morgan. “Silent film, especially the early one-reel nickelodeon serials, were made with the express purpose of entertaining a wide audience. It was all about the action, the drama, and the excitement, not unlike modern day soap operas. The art came later.”

It is in this spirit that The Laugh and Live Festival will be offering a lecture track devoted to the entertainment and enrichment of the general public, as well as workshops and lectures for aspiring filmmakers hosted by historians and filmmakers alike.

The crown jewel of the Laugh and Live Festival will be its screenings of contemporary short-format silent films by student and non-professional filmmakers.

Pictorial Palette: Edward Hopper’s New York Movie

“New York Movie” by Edward Hopper, 1939

I have been remiss with my Pictorial Palettes as of late– infuriatingly so, because I truly do love these romantic indulgences of conjecture and color. So I am reinstating the tradition with Edward Hopper’s 1939 piece “”New York Movie.” A departure from our previous palettes, which were full color photo portraits or film stills, this is a celebrated piece of art from one of America’s foremost modern artists.

Edward Hopper’s realistic visualizations of early/mid 20th century America– from “Automat” to “Compartment C” to his seminal “Nighthawks”– are candid, rarely pretty, always pensive and often melancholy. The ominous, dark reality of the brightly lit American Dream, Hopper’s paintings (for me, anyway) are to American art what Charles Bukowski was to American literature and David Lynch is to American film.

“Automat” (1927); “Compartment C” (1938); “Nighthawks” (1942)

Hopper began his career as a rather reluctant  illustrator and, as a freelancer, even designed movie posters. He was an avid movie-goer, and as “New York Movie” shows, was intimately familiar with them. The National Gallery of Art made the observance of this particularly mysterious piece that the movie itself is not the focus here– indeed the image itself is undecipherable– but rather the focus is on the mood and atmosphere of the theater. And, of course, Hopper’s thoughtful usherette. Her interest in the film has, visibly, long since waned and the realities of her own life eat at her there under Hopper’s dim orange glow. Hers is a beautiful, stately silhouette, one you can easily envision draped in a satin gown by Orry-Kelly in an MGM melodrama.

Offset by the ornate movie palace decor of the period, Hopper succeeds in effectively conjuring a figure of  loneliness and melancholy. As Gardner’s Art Through the Ages points out, “motion is stopped and time suspended, as if the artist recorded the major details of a personal memory… [Hopper produced] paintings of overwhelming loneliness and echoing isolation of modern life in the United States.” In “New York Movie,” the movies are still a means of escape to the Depression-era moviegoers in the audience, but for Hopper’s usherette the smoke and mirrors have dissipated and all that’s left is the cold reality waiting outside.

hexes: #4E1120; #A91B17; #083964; #FBB426

Death Walk: Louis Malle

Louis Malle. The letters are languorous and they roll (make that, rrrollllll) off the tongue slow… and sexy … and, well, French. He’s a conundrum. A New Wave filmmaker very much apart from his fellow New Wave filmmakers. He was not one of the Cahiers, did not have a byline with Truffaut or Rivette. He did not particularly put stock in the Auteur theory and, to prove it, created a body of work that is extraordinarily diverse… perhaps stubbornly so.

For me, Malle is the cinematic equivalent of Rene Magritte. Magritte, refusing to surrender to definition, insisted that interpretation of his paintings was futile. Malle, likewise, alternated from the mainstream to the avant garde. Melodramatic? Sure, at times,  if he needed to be. Inspired and deliriously visionary? Always.

Skirting, flirting with brilliance… perhaps Malle reached greatness by never overtly (or consciously) striving for it.

“Filmmakers don’t work for posterity,” he once wrote. “We create with celluloid and chemical pigments that … fade away. In 200 years there will be nothing left of our work but dust.”

With all due respect, Monsieur Malle, I hope to God you’re wrong.

Au Revoir les Enfants may be one of Malle’s most famous works, but my favorite is Elevator to the Gallows. Is it Noveau Vague? Noir? Define it as you wish. I don’t care. I love it for many reasons–especially this scene. It lasts only two minutes. No action. No dialogue. Just … emotion. The lens focusing, blurring, sharpening on the beautifully broody Jeanne Moreau. Here she wanders through the streets of Paris in a state of torture over her lover whom she believes has abandoned their plan to murder her husband for a happily-ever-after Life on the Lam.

It’s quiet. It’s visceral. It’s understated, underplayed, under-exposed and utterly… Louis Malle.



The Self-Styled Siren is one the absolute undisputed best blogs on classic film. And this past week, it has played host to a most noble endeavor: For the Love of Film Noir Blogathon. Everyone from the New York Times to Leonard Maltin has been, in at least some form, involved in promoting awareness of the need to preserve these ever so precious pieces of smoky black and white celluloid. A true army of bloggers joined forces to promote the cause and the results have been fascinating to say the very least!

Hop on over to the Self Styled Siren to read… to remember … to raise awareness … to really make a difference!