Monday, June 01, 2015

Daily Dose of Darkness

Well, the weekend came and went, overall pretty fun.  Leading up to the arrival of guest, my sister and nephew, we'd been having some rough weather off and on.  Last Thursday I believe it was around midnight a huge deluge hit with thunder and lightning and sure enough it knocked out the power.  I went ahead and just went to bed afterwards because what else you gonna do?  But first I reported it to the power company here.  The recorded message said it would be back on two days later around midnight--that would be after my guest were to arrive.  I hoped they were just giving me the worse case scenario.  And sure enough they were as it back on the next day around noon.

Anyway we had some fun and took a side trip to Canton, to the 1st Monday Trade Days, which is rather large flea market affair.  It was still rainy then, but we chanced it and really it was pretty perfect weather for it.  We also met my niece and her daughter over there.  Once everyone had gotten together we gave the flea market a look.   It never rained much at all, and we just looked around. The niece bought a few things.  Some of it was under a roof just in case a downpour happened.  We ate a lunch of sandwiches over there, and later headed back home.

Once we got back we rested a bit and the nephew had some computer stuff he needed to do, I took a nap, and my sister ran by my aunt's to say hello.  We later convened and went to grab another bite to eat at a tasty Mexican restaurant.  When we got back we decided to watch The Imitation Game.

It was a really good biopic about Alan Turing, who was the math genius who cracked the Nazi Enigma code during World War II, which provided a key role in winning the war.  Some say his efforts were the beginning of the computer age.  The lead role was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who generally has turned in good performances,  and Keira Knightly was also a co-star, as well as a few other well known actors.  The film starts out in the present day, shifts back to before the war, and then back to his days in boarding school, and shifts between those timelines during the film filling you in on the man's life, but it's pretty easy to keep them all straight.  Benedict does a good job of portraying the eccentric math genius, and how his personality doesn't exactly endear him to his co-workers and peers.  I don't know how much is truth or fiction in the film, but I assume a large chunk of it is more or less made up to create the drama.  All in all though it was an enjoyable film.  I enjoyed it more than Unbroken--another film on WWII.

TCM is presenting a free summer course on film noir online in conjunction with their movies this month.  I went ahead and signed up for it, just to see what the thing was about, and maybe to get a better perspective on noir.  It is evidently pretty self-paced and open.  You can do as little or as much as you like.  There's no test or paperwork or whatever.  It's mostly for grins.  But if you sign up as I did they'll send you emails on what's showing and what to look out for within the film, which you would not get if you don't sign up.  Plus they'll alert you as to what noir films are showing that week, that's the draw for me.

The first email has been sent out along with what movie to watch this Friday, which is Fritz Lang's M.  Luckily for me I have it also on VHS, but have never watched it.  It's showing here too early around 5am, and that's a bit early for my routine.  At any rate, you don't have to watch everything, and you can do as you like, but the emails are informative as well.   Within the first email they have:  

Welcome to your Daily Dose of Darkness.
This is a course feature that runs Mondays through Thursdays. There will be four Daily Doses of Darkness each week. The Daily Dose is designed with your busy schedules in mind. Each Daily Dose provides you with a short, five-minute observation or insight into film noir to keep you engaged in the course. Each Daily Dose is self-contained and focuses on a single film clip from a movie in TCM's Summer of Darkness lineup. 
The theme of the first week of Daily Doses is "Dynamic Openings." The first four Doses feature the opening scenes from films airing on June 5.

Daily Dose #1: The Nasty Man in Black (The Opening Scene of Fritz Lang's M)

Watch M on TCM: June 5, 2015 at 6:00am EDT
Curator's Note: Watch the opening scene from Fritz Lang's 1931 film, M. What do you notice in these early moments from M as you watch the action unfold in the context of film noir? How is director Fritz Lang staging his characters, moving his camera, and controlling the lighting to establish a seemingly ordinary working class city neighborhood, albeit with an underpinning of dread and unease? What seems wrong about this place? Do we have any warning signs of trouble to come? What are some of the aspects of this scene that you feel are related to the film noir style? In particular, while film noir is considered a very visual cinematic style, pay attention to M's sound design. Listen to how Lang is building up the film's increasingly tense and unsettling mood and atmosphere by skillfully incorporating sounds originating from inside the film's world (such as children's voices, cuckoo clocks, church bells, and car horns). Curated by Richard Edwards
Watch Film Clip: 

Further Reflections:  
After watching the clip, please go to Twitter (#NoirSummer) or the TCM Summer of Darkness Message Board to continue your reflections on this clip. Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):
-- What word or combination of words best conveys the mood that Fritz Lang is trying to create in this opening scene?
-- In what ways can the opening of M be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style?

At any rate, it might be a fun course.  While on the topic of film, I also found out about another film blog, called Some Came Running, which they recommended, so I bookmarked it.  It looks fairly interesting so thought I'd share it.  I've just barely looked at it, but here's a link:


At 7:25 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I'm glad you got the power back in short order. The candlelight thing loses its charm fairly quickly.

I've heard all good things about The Imitation Game though I haven't yet watched it. M is a great film -- edgy subject matter even by today's standards.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yes, power failure is always distressing as you never really know when they'll get it back on. A town about thirty miles from here, Henderson, had several outages that were out for a pretty long time(days). I'm not sure if everything there is back to normal yet or not. They had a tornado or some bad straight line winds. But if it's going to hit it might as well be bedtime.

You should enjoyed The Imitation Game. It was one of the better movies I've seen in a while. I really like Cumberbatch as an actor for the most part. I watched it a couple of times. I'm looking forward to M. I remember seeing a nicely painted comic version of it with Jon Muth artwork some years ago, and caused me to be curious.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Ok that on line course by TCM sounds like a lot of fun. Sadly, we don't have access to TCM any more. That is one of my few regrets at dropping cable completely. Oh well. I do have "M" in my cue on Hulu. It is such an influential movie, and one of those I need to check out to maintain my movie fan street creed. :)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman--I figured I probably wouldn't be able to keep up with it being summer, and all the outdoor activities, but I went ahead and signed up just to see what all they would be watching and to see how they might analyze the films and such. They do offer a few links just to watch certain scenes, but the downside is that the emails do tend to clog up the mailbox.


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