This week’s kitty is gazing ominously at the title character of Edward Dmytryk’s The Sniper, which I wrote about recently. Never have I seen a cat with more accusing eyes. And now, some links:
This week’s sexual search terms include “slippery teen twat first time with looney toons” (ewww…?) and the amusingly self-censoring “bondage mind-effing.” Mind-effing!
Edward Dmytryk was fresh from the Hollywood Ten when he made The Sniper (1952), which I wrote about over at Movie Mezzanine. It’s an especially intense little noir, lingering as it does over the pained face of its title character, who’s played by Arthur Franz in what I swear is one of the 1950s’ most underrated performances. Rarely have I seen an actor capture psychosis so vividly, yet with surprising subtlety. The closest thing Franz has to a co-star is Adolphe Menjou—a leader of the Hollywood witchhunts, as a matter of fact—as police detective “Frank Kafka.” Yeah, it’s a surprisingly literate thriller!
Incidentally, in that piece I mention Dmytryk’s “bisected compositions,” and I’d like to briefly expand on that. I’m consistently impressed by the mise-en-scène in this movie, as Franz is pressed to one side of the frame and something about the world he loathes (stranger, coworker, dunk tank woman, smokestack painter, landlady) occupies the other. It’s such an economical use of screen space, such a visceral way of visualizing misanthropy, and thanks to Dmytryk’s bold use of lines and angles, it also results in some beautiful compositions. The Sniper is top-shelf noir in an pulpy, unassuming package.
Inspired by today’s Kindertrauma Funhouse, the above picture comes from Roger Corman’s early black comedy A Bucket of Blood (1959), something of a companion piece to Little Shop of Horrors (1960). In it, Dick Miller plays Walter Paisley (a character he would play many more times), a busboy who wants to be a beatnik artist. He gets the chance when he accidentally stabs his landlady’s poor kitty, Frankie, and turns the corpse into a sculpture. What follows is Corman’s usual Faustian drama wrapped in dark humor, all filmed on recycled sets with a budget of pocket change. And yet another horror movie kitty bites the dust (or, I guess, bites the clay).
And now, to celebrate our lucky 13th Link Dump, I’ve got a ginormous parade of links that runs the gamut from depressing to hilarious to fascinating and back again. The Internet was pretty talkative this week, and now you get to reap the fruits of my copy-and-paste labor. Enjoy!
- As you’ve probably heard, actor/comedian extraordinaire Leslie Nielsen died last Sunday at age 84. The Internet is full of remembrances; here are a few from Paracinema, My Life, at 24 Frames Per Second, True Classics, and Roger Ebert. Also, here are my own Twitter-bound reminiscences.
- Here are two awesome LGBTQ lists: one of comic book characters and one of 2010 books.
- Empire has a fun time-waster: a poster quiz featuring individual letters from movie posters. I got 16/46, including Showgirls. (Who could forget that typography?) What score can you get?
- Over at Splitsider, former Simpsons writer/producer (and Mission Hill co-creator) has been writing about the Simpsons writing process; most recently, he’s done a detailed look at the evolution of “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song.”
- The Criterion Collection! Female filmmakers!
- Leo McCarey’s hard-to-find My Son John (1952) is on Netflix Instant! Let’s all go watch it, quick! [Thanks to the Self-Styled Siren for the tip-off.]
- Artforum has 2010 Top 10 movie lists from John Waters and Mark Webber. The latter’s list is mostly avant-garde, while Waters’ is predictably wild and eclectic. Alas, out of all 20, I’ve only seen Dogtooth and Life During Wartime. Better get watching! (And more: Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw’s best of 2010.)
- From a Vanity Fair interview: Johnny Depp on his characters’ sexualities and his desire to play Hamlet.
- Terence Malick’s making a movie immediately after The Tree of Life!! Has anyone checked to make sure this is the same Malick we’re talking about? His new project (potentially titled The Burial) will – according to the TheWrap.com article linked above – feature Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem.
- Hey, it’s that time again! Censorship Time! Thanks to the Catholic League and Speaker of the House John Boehner, a David Wojnarowicz video piece has been removed from an exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery. Don’t you just love the abuse of political power to supplant the artistic expression of a man who’s been dead since 1992? JESUS. (Literally – the piece was about Jesus.) [GLAAD has another article about the censorship.]
- As a pick-me-up, how about some terrible but still funny typography jokes?
- Matt Mazur of PopMatters wrote a long, in-depth essay on one of my favorite movies, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. I love it when people do that.
- Speaking of long, in-depth essays on movies I love, Ed Howard at Only the Cinema has one on Edward Dmytryk’s disturbing, underrated film noir The Sniper! “Stop me. Find me and stop me. I’m going to do it again.” Arthur Franz is terrifying.
- We all love Criterion’s gorgeous DVD cover designs, but some genius decided to make fake Criterion-style covers for movies like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and Bio-Dome (1996). Delightful.
- This just in! Sarah Dopp wants to make a marketplace for genderplayful clothing! It’s a super-cool idea, and you should totally show your support! Yeah!
We’re running tragically low on funny/weird search terms because of how WordPress has reformatted their system, but I still have some porntastic treats for you. For example, “the horny lady in the caravan” is a pretty enigmatic search, as is the horrendously spelled “sex pusy bleak girlls.” One of those four words is not like the others. (It’s “bleak.”) Someone sought out “xander berkeley + sexuality,” which I applaud. (Berkeley, for what it’s worth, is an underappreciated character actor in films, TV, and animation; he played insensitive husbands in two of my favorite films of the ’90s, Candyman and [Safe].) And finally, we had that old classic, “pussy om nom nom.” And a merry pussy om nom nom to you too, dear reader!
[Note from Ashley: Andreas is no longer allowed to pick the pictures for the link dumps. He picks too many disturbing pictures of kitties and it upsets me greatly.]