Scrooby's Musings

Started by Scrooby, March 08, 2022, 12:28:53 AM

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Four films that begin with the male lead in bed

Le Samouraï (1967)


Being There (1979)

Mishima (1985)


. . . and one woman

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)



Dorothy Mackaill, 1930s actress from Kingston upon Hull (UK)

It's Saturday night, just a little good-natured fun.




Citizen Kane, 18:53

Taxi Driver, 10:49


1982 : the most significant year in 1980s Hollywood (e.g., Spielberg's ET becomes highest-grossing film of all time and remains so for rest of decade).

The repetition of "82" recalls the repetition of "42" in The Shining

Summer of 42 (1971)


"In the city of Los Angeles on March 23rd, 1958"—the year of Hitchcock's Vertigo, not just any old movie.

Recall the Foreign Correspondent (1940) connection (5:23) :


After Hours (1985), 1:14:35


A spitting image of Charles Whitman.

"Charles Whitman killed 12 people from a 28-story observation tower at the University of Texas. From distances of up to 400 yards." (Full Metal Jacket)

Loading the weapon in a lonely room recalls one of Hollywood's very first police procedurals, The Sniper (1952), directed by the once-blacklisted Edward Dmytryk.


Elementary, yes, but this has to be mentioned : Always (1989), 34:00

PTA perfects a Spielberg shot!?


Jane Eyre (1943), 7:20


Citizen Kane, 55:12

Great Director Scorecard so far :

Welles : 3
Scorsese : 2
Spielberg : 2
Kubrick : 2
Hitchcock : 2




Character as surrogate sacrifice
A main character often suffers so that the audience doesn't have to suffer the same fate. Characters learn Truths so that the audience can thereby learn them as well. Consequently, both self and society should improve after absorption of Art. Charles Foster Kane, for example, has to suffer, so we in the audience might learn not to follow his path.

Example : Barry Lyndon (1975) : when your meek author was a teenager, I told myself, "I refuse to end up like Barry Lyndon at the end. What was his character flaw that brought him to his horrible final position? I know what he didn't do. He didn't think." Hence Barry Lyndon as one of the most consequential movies in the life of this eminently law-abiding and society-loving author.

Or consider Gaspar Noe's Irreversible (2002). A woman has to suffer horror, so that the audience might not : the audience, in watching (or even in refusing to watch), is reminded to take care—especially at night, especially alone, and especially when drinking.

Or Sophocles' Oedipus. He destroys himself by asking questions. Hence the audience says, "I'm not doing that! No questions!" (Note : Comic relief.)

Characters are sacrifices so you might live more virtuously. But what if you're not listening? Who loses?


DEODATO DI ORLANDI, Crucifixion of St Peter (1300-12)




JACOPINO DA REGGIO, The Crucifixion with St Francis (c.1285)

NOTE: Imagery of this sort posted here is universal in scope, and need not be specific to Christians only. One can tell by my last name that I am no card-carrying follower of Christ. These posts are no endeavor to proselytize. Scrooby has no religion but Art. All of this imagery can be absorbed as a metaphor for any type of devotion or spiritual striving.

Moreover, studying old pictorial artwork will contribute to a greater understanding of the condition of a film frame.


LIPPI, Filippino, Disputation with Simon Magus and Crucifixion of Peter (1481–82).

One structural technique used in this fresco is a colossal fundamental of the old masters.

Note the passageway in the center of the frame. This structural set-up conveys, as it does in every Renaissance artwork in which this structure is employed (so to speak), that there is literally a world of difference between the one side and the other.

But this extremely common technique is applied here with an added element to it, which makes the use in this particular example extra interesting : the hill in the distance, dead-center in the frame, is evidently meant to remind the Spectator of the nightmare place of Golgotha.

Note, however, what an apparently beautiful day it is weather-wise out there in the place which reminds us of the human death of a world religion's god : contrast.

(On that last line, see W. H. Auden, "Musee des Beaux Arts".)

Here, an ordinary technique is intensified. The view in the distance conveys both consonance and contrast simultaneously!

One might conclude this artist is a genius. In fact, he is, and the world knows it.


LORENZO VENEZIANO, Crucifixion of Peter (c.1370).

See that foot on the body of the unfortunate man? That foot is the everyday human of the human race. Unfortunately.


MASACCIO, Crucifixion of St Peter (1426).

Note the remarkable symbolism here. This unfortunate man has entered a world of pain. The doorway behind him leads to pitch darkness : not an auspicious sign. But wait. Consider the man's head, and how it is propped up on what looks like a sewer grating. A sewer is underground, just as a grave is. But the man's head is stopped from going under—and the suggestion is that he is not going under. But there's more, which is breathtaking. The sewer grating is equivalent to the holy glow around the heads of the sanctified in Renaissance painting.

This is a breathtaking genius touch. 


Let us pause for a moment to note an extremely strange phenomenon that artists in painting and film must confront : the beautiful visualization of ugliness.

That sounds like a contradiction : a beautiful depiction of the death of a god?

I remember when I saw Mississippi Burning (1988) in the movie theater way back when. In it is one shot of especially horrible American history : the hanging of a black slave. What struck my young mind was the extreme beauty of the shot : the slave is hanging amid a wealth of fiery flames, captured with all the genius of the cinematographer Peter Biziou. If one removes the content of the shot, the shot is wondrously beautiful in color, shadow, nighttime atmosphere—state-of-the-art lensing back in 1988.

Even as a kid I noted the contradiction happening there : We are watching an extremely beautiful shot of something extremely horrible!
This is the precise same problem the Renaissance painters faced when depicting the crucifixion.

Europe has many, many, many thousands of beautiful crucifixions!

This theme/structure dichotomy is an inherent glitch in Art. Isn't it? Generally speaking, what is ugly in life should be captured as ugly in art—right?

But how do you get Spectators to contemplate your ugly subject if the presentation repels the eye?

I have been considering this phenomenon since 1988 and I haven't moved any further from simply noting the problem : Art's strange phenomenon of depicting ugliness beautifully.