Attention spans are wonderful things. Too bad they are noticeably lacking in society today. I would appreciate even a small attention span, going to dinner with someone or walking along having a conversation without them looking at their cell phone, sitting down to watch a movie in its entirety without needing to log on to the Internet, and so on. So I’m reaching here when I suggest watching silent films. An activity that not only requires one to read (how dare I suggest such a thing), but paying attention to body language, facial expressions, and a story entirely dependent upon the viewer actually grasping it. Plus, there are no explosions to distract you and no computer generated creatures to stifle your own creative insights. Forgive me for wanting you to use basic reasoning skills, an imagination, and an awareness while viewing a film.
I thought I would start with a couple of my favorite horror films. (With other installments for other genres to come.) If you are of the minority (as I am) and love silent films, then you most definitely know about Nosferatu (1922) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). If you are of the other or some how think silent movies are “dumb” or “too old”, then you are greatly missing out (and mistaken).
For those who haven’t seen Nosferatu, it is the story of Dracula. Pretty simple. Although it is a German expressionist film, it doesn’t carry heavy signs of it. That fact makes it no less beautiful in it’s scenery and lighting, nor it’s artistry. The use of shadows, sweeping shots of the sea, and towering buildings all speak to an expressionist subtlety.
My nostalgia isn’t always fun and playful objects or a yearning for an era, sometimes it hits closer to the heart in a less inviting way. British singer Adele’s newest album includes a song called “Someone Like You.” While I have never been a particular fan of hers, this song has struck a chord with me (as I’m sure it has with multitudes of others). I posted this song (VH1 Unplugged) on Facebook several weeks ago, and since have seen various other friends posting it. It seems I can’t quite escape it. I’ve included a video of her performing it at the 2011 Brit Awards (Her emotion at the end is achingly beautiful). Her voice is beautiful and I enjoy her much more in this acoustic live environment other than what I have heard on her albums. But I digress. I sometimes like to wallow in my emotions (it makes for good artistic expression when I paint, and come to think of it, when I write) and this song leaves me dripping with inadequacy, foolish illusion, and a fleeting uneasiness. So I thought I’d resurrect something I wrote a few years ago (I’m also feeling a bit lazy), that sort of reminds me of this song. And I have no problem looking a little foolish over it. (I wear that hat quite well.) Humility for the sake of art . . . or something like that.
I’ve always loved Ricky Nelson’s version, but this one is simple yet brilliant. Makes me melt.
I don’t think any words can do justice to how I feel about She & Him and the impressions their sound evokes, but I’ll try. Ethereal, unassuming, heartbreak yet hopeful, enchanting, at times bubbly, and nostalgic. (Ah, yes, of course.) In 2008, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward brought a little class and a cozy haven to the music industry with the release of Volume One, their debut album. And took much too long to grace us with another beautiful album, releasing Volume Two in March 2010. I like to describe their sound as a little 60s pop, a little folksy, and a little old country. And they may not be everyone’s cup of tea (most people I know have never heard of them, even with my incessant chatter and recommendation of them), but in an era where music is more about looks and digitally created voices, they are a breath of fresh air. And you can tell they have fun with their videos. They’re a bit quirky and bizarre at times, but playful as well, and they never seem to take themselves too seriously. Take their newest video, Don’t Look Back. I love the colors, stylized 60s kitsch, and “futuristic” technology. It’s silly, and makes me smile.
It will come as no surprise to find out Mad Men is my favorite TV show. (And really, the only one that I watch regularly and with true devotion.) Of course, how could I resist those dresses, that music, the cars, all that drinking and smoking, the turmoil of the era, and the everything-is-perfect-with-seedy-undertones appearance? In 2007, I was instantly hooked at the first promo I saw for it, with that little silhouetted ad man and Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good” playing.
The Season 4 DVD is released today, which makes it a glorious day, one that you would think can have no negative connotations associated with it. But as the Season 5 premiere is being delayed by contract negotiations, I write with a heavy heart. Let’s hope it all gets worked out quickly and smoothly!