Afternoon Abstract: “Meshes of the Afternoon”

The 14-minute Meshes of the Afternoon (1942), by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, is as abstract a film as one can find, which nevertheless evokes a sphere of real meshes for the central figure played by Deren herself.  Meshes are things that ensnare, and the existence of such inevitably make the woman’s home a domain of uncertainty and panic.  An avant garde domain.

MITA is not meant to entertain; it is meant to be art.  The dreamlike violence, such as it is, is old hat now, but the rest of the footage has an up-to-date—a timeless—feel.  And, for good measure, it’s more respectable than, say, many of the photographs of Cindy Sherman.

Filmworks X: In the Mirror of Maya Deren

Filmworks X: In the Mirror of Maya Deren (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On Kelly Clarkson And The Radio

I don’t understand radio stations.

The Kelly Clarkson hit, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” came out in 2009 and only now, in 2015, is a local contemporary-pop station playing it.  It is every bit as catchy as other pop singles released in ’09 and yet it was ignored.  So was “I Don’t Hook Up,” another bit of meaningful ear candy contributing to a pretty decent career.

Perhaps a host of new but not-so-catchy singles is threatening the profits of this local station and so it is going back to what everyone knew would be a hit, even if not everyone cared.

Cover of "My Life Would Suck Without You&...

Cover of My Life Would Suck Without You

The Huston Caper, “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950)

In the 1950 John Huston film, The Asphalt Jungle, we get an idea of what society is up against when a witness is too scared to finger the petty thief Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) in a lineup.  Afterwards, however, conditions prove to be even worse when we learn that the cop who questions the witness is, unlike the other city policemen, on the take.  The “asphalt jungle” is not quite a jungle in this subdued caper movie, but it isn’t pretty either.  All the same, the jewel heist the film is pivoted on slowly becomes undone due to fortune and human weakness—and desperation on the part of the lawyer (Louis Calhern) enlisted to fund the heist.  Interestingly, it is in fact the seedy nightclub owner (Marc Lawrence) who funds it: money comes from all kinds of sources.  It need not be the gentry member who provides it.  He, truth to tell, might be perforce brought down to the shabby guy’s level.

Huston did ace work with compelling material in Jungle, made with Maltese Falcon sophistication and restraint.  Indeed, it outdoes Falcon in incisiveness.  What characters, what a cast!  Calhern has a perfect voice and a humanizing competence.  Hayden’s Dix is appealing in his masculinity, and likable enough that we scratch our heads over what police commissioner Hardy says about him.

Cover of "The Asphalt Jungle"

Cover of The Asphalt Jungle

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