Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 21, 2014 (Tokyo)

March 21, 2014

I can’t even imagine what it was like to be in a movie theater in 1903 and to see “The Great Train Robbery, ” starring Broncho Billy Anderson.  The film was written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter, and Broncho Billy played at least three roles in this ten minute film.  The film is renowned for its composite editing, camera movement and on location shooting.  Also perhaps the first to use cross cutting, where two scenes are taking place but at the same time.  “Broncho Billy was the first cowboy movie star, and to think that was only 111 years ago!

Cinema has consistently been a big part of my life. Ever since my dad took me to see Roger Vadim’s “And God Created Woman.” I think I was around three years old at the time, and my dad wanted to see this film badly, and it was playing at a small movie house (still there I believe) in Larkspur California.  It was an odd experience for me because me going to the movie turned out to be a huge argument between my dad and the manager at the theater.  He just wanted to refuse me entrance, due that I was a child, but my father insisted that he had every right to take his son (even though at 3) to see this Bardot experience.  After making a fuss, and not compromising his stand, I was let in.  What happened afterwards led me to a life-long love for Brigitte Bardot. In the nutshell, it also led me to Boris Vian, because Vadim was a friend of that genius and social light of Saint-Germain des Prés.

Bardot’s sexuality on the big screen and Broncho Billy aiming his gun towards the audience in “The Great Train Robbery” had the same effect on me.  I was nicely devastated over the experience and to this day it has been a major influence or even fuel for my writings and thoughts.  As a young adult, I became a huge fan of Russ Meyer’s work as well.  To some he’s the ultimate sex film exploration filmmaker, but I have other thoughts about him than his reputation.  What I really admire him for is his ability to take one to another world, and that landscape is Meyer-world.  It has its own logic, rules, and aesthetic.  I think it's similar to something like “Star Wars” or “The Hobbit.” Those types of films make their own world, and one enters that world knowing that they are going to live there.  I feel exactly the same with Meyer, because being in his presence (via his films) I’m transported into a place that makes no sense to me, and that is the sole reason why I love his work so much.

I tend to love artists who transport me to their world, and I have to see everything through their eyes.  The late and great Vivian Stanshall was another artist who made me appreciate the finer eccentricities of the British state of mind.  Perhaps he was insane, but I totally understood the world, regardless of the fact that some of his commentary was totally foreign to me.  But as they say in gangster films, I got the ‘drift’ of it all. 
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