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Reply with quote  #1 

This is a new thread on your remark about the most fearful villain in the history of movies. I didn't want to branch into film criticism on that thread,

I agree about Night of the Hunter. But Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lechter has to come in a very close second plus Mitchums Cape Fear followed by an equally chilling version by Robert DeNiro.

Night of the Hunter though was one of the most exceptional films from an era of eminently forgettable films, the fifties. It was the only film that the great actor Charles Laughhton ever directed and what a job he did. No one will ever forget the left and right hand of love and hate respectively or the scene of Shelly Winters floating in the river Wow! As a film fanatico I believe that NOH was one of the classics.

Regarding Heath Ledgers' Joker. It was a superb version of this character but I agree that it in such a stylized character real adult fear is diminished. He won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor but I think that because of his untimely death the GGs wanted to acknowledge this potentially great actor. It is very sad to see him gone. Brokeback Mountain was a masterpiece by Ang Lee, a countryman of your adopted island. Ledger made that movie's premise come alive.

Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #2 

Thanks for the new thread on movie criticism, Stan. I know of your long-time interest in films and how much time you invest in exploring them each year at the Toronto Film Festival and other assorted venues. I only mentioned Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter in passing because some other person on another blog first mentioned that performance as one of his/her scariest film experiences. Just the mention of that movie instantaneously brought up in my memory the two fist-tattoos you mention as well as an evil little jingle sung by cruel, taunting children mocking the orphans of an executed criminal as a shadow on the ground moved back and forth, projected there by the swaying body of their dead father as his lifeless body swung from the end of a rope:   

"Hing, hang, hung. Look what the hangman done."

What a horrible, enthralling film experience -- one to stay with a person for a lifetime.

Speaking of the 1950's (most of my elementary school years): as an impressionable youngster, I spent a lot of time at Saturday matinee double features -- where my mother would park me (to get a little adult time to herself) -- and I can still remember cringing in exquisite fear at Invasion of the Body Snatchers (remade in 1978 and again recently). At the time, I barely registered all the Republican McCarthyite terrorism of liberals and Democrats during the Eisenhower years -- what in fact lay behind Jack Finney's serialized novel of the same name in Collier's Magazine. Mostly, my younger brother and I, along with our adolescent hoodlum friends, would simply sit through dark weekend hours enjoying the vicarious fear offered up by a seemingly endless series of horribly bad "Dracula" movies starring Christopher Lee and/or Bela Lugosi. I can't remember if Boris Karloff (as Frankenstein's monster) and Lon Chaney, Jr. (as The Wolfman) came out during that period, before, or later. In any event, all that really classic horror/fantasy stuff sort of blends together in my memory. But for sure, Night of the Hunter stands out all by itself, for legitimate reasons of quality film-making.

Here in Kaohsiung, we can buy really inexpensive DVDs of all those classic black-and-white movies; and Carol has taken to stocking up on every Alfred Hitchcock film she can get her hands on. She just loves them. For some reason, though, we don't have much in the really-scary-lady genre except for Kathy Bates in Misery and Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane.

That should about do it for now. We can discuss this subject endlessly, I have no doubt. You have a far better and more exhaustive knowledge of movies than I do, and I would love hearing your literary and film criticism. But I've got to go drill a big hole in an outside wall so that I can finish installing the exhaust duct for the new stove hood in Carol's kitchen. I swear, when I finish this latest DIY construction project, I plan on doing nothing but photography, sculpture, and poetry for the next several months. I think I've finally passed the cut off age for hurting myself physically each and every day. I'll just keep rehearsing mentally that conversation between the masochist, who begged: "Hurt me!" and the sadist, who replied: "No." But that would only remind me of Bill Murray and Steve Martin in The Little Shop of Horrors, and here we go again ...

Reply with quote  #3 
Stan, you forgot the best part of it:  He was a preacher, who used fire and brimstone to terrify his poor benighted wife. 

I saw that late in life, and was struck by how much more honest our movies were then, or maybe we just expected more honest viewers to relate to them.  Or was it that we just had not learned yet how to be slick.  Yet here was this bad man, played by Robert Mitchum. 

It epitomizes the desertification of the US film industry in the wake of the McCarthy era.  Or does to me.  Good pick. 

Hi, Guys.  I've been busy, but will check in later and bring you up to date. 

Reply with quote  #4 
But I will tell you about a little gem I caught on TV last night (PBS, independent Lens or California Gold or something).  It's called, "24 hours on craigslist" and it charming.

I'm basking in the glow of the pilot who landed that plane in the Hudson River's being a part of the Bay Ara (Danville).  I'm thinking of Craigslist and Wikipedia as the wonders they are, something like Mother Theresa's handiwork, things done in the best spirit of the worldwide web, not to make anybody rich, but to just supply something that people will find useful.  There it is again, the golden mean, or is it the holy grail?

Meanwhile the Israelis are taking good advantage of the dwindling hours of President Doormat's tenure to run riot in Gaza.  I'm thinking, California needs to lead. 

Reply with quote  #5 

Just a note if you will on movies. I believe just the opposite. Movies made today, at least the independent type that I mostly view are far more honest than the old 40s and fifties versions. Themes are explored today that were taboo pre 70s, and many producers today have foreign or independent funding which was unheard of in the "old" studio rules days. I disagree vehemently that todays movies atre not far more honest and imbued with greater content. I saw 24 bfilms last year at the Totonto festival. Most of them were superb IMHO.

Reply with quote  #6 
Yes.  You are right there.  I have been watching Link TV and seen some great, great ones, not often made by USians, though.  I admit, I was talking of US movies. 

Since O has declared his opposition to reinstating the fairness doctrine, I'll have to hope that the new tone of brutal honesty and sincerity will trickle down to our advertising-flaggelated, and spun to a fare thee well viewing public. 

Reply with quote  #7 

In another thread you mentioned the Golden Mean. This struck my mathematicians soul because it is one of the most beautiful natural equations of nature. To start off the Golden Mean is directly related to another mathematical wonder called Fibonacci series. This was propounded by the mathematician Fibonacci to account for rabbit multiplication through reproduction. If you take a number then add the next sequential number such as 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55..... etc it is called the Fibonacci series. It of course goes on to infinity. However if you were to divide any number in the sequence say 55 by the previous number in the sequence 34 it turns out to be approaching the number 1.618. This irrational number (yeah even numbers get fucked up once in a while) is the Golden Mean. It is also represented by a line divided so that the ratio of the shorter part to the longer part is equal to the ration of the longer part to the whole line. enough already! It is the sequence used by nature to do all things, like flower petals, the hair on your head, the shape of a snail. These are all arranged in the sequence of the Golden Mean. The ancients realized this number early in human history and most of their structures are designed in that ratio, roughly. BTW another interesting aspect of this number (I'm sorry the mathematician within must out) There is only ONE number that if you added it to 1 it would equal its own square ie.
1 + x = X2
This also turns out to be the Golden Mean. So it is truly a golden ratio or sequence or whatever and possesses near magical qualities to me.

If it could be used to navigate human behavior we would live in a better world for sure.

Reply with quote  #8 
Well, boy, Stan.  You sure surprised me there.  I often piggyback on phrases I only dimly understand, and one of them was "the golden mean".  As an artist, I always thought it was roughly the dimensions of an 8½x11 piece of paper.  I actually don't really remember what the definition of it was but somewhere foggily in my mind it is described as the perfect rectangle.  Your description of it, although you didn't mention it, sort of looks like pi.  Uh oh, I have probably savaged your mathematical sensibilities about 4 times in 4 sentences already.  Over the years, it has distilled down to an ideal of some sort, but thanks for telling me more about it.  I see it still has the power to thrill!!

My friend who had the heart bypass operation (almost a year ago, now) never rested as I knew he wouldn't.  He's apparently going to be a little batty for the foreseeable future, though he wasn't before, looks 10 years older.  Fucking Kaiser. 

I hope Mike is doing OK. 
Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #9 
Thanks for the concern, Kate. So far, I feel fine. I just completed my first week post-procedure and I already weigh 5 kilograms (about 11 pounds) less than a week ago. Carol and her mother (an absolutely great vegetarian cook) keep me completely fat-free, diet wise; I get plenty of rest; I take my anti-coagulent and blood-thinning medicines precisely on schedule once a day; and my leisurely exercise routine (2 hour-and-a-half-long walks -- one in the morning and one at night -- don't cause me to even work up a sweat or experience the slightest shortage of breath. In fact, this morning I extended my walk down along the Love River out to the harbor and through some parks and industrial sections of town devoted to servicing all the merchant shipping that comes through Kaohsiung. In the course of a little over two hours, I saw some really picturesque rust-bucket boats and heaps of heavy hardware either new, in repair, or destined for the recycling furnace. I plan to take the digital camera out tomorrow or the next day for some snapshots.

I try to combine at least one of my walks with some practical purpose, though, just so as to make more efficient use of my time. The day before yesterday, for example, Carol and I broke out a portable luggage carrier and hauled one of my custom-made electric guitars down to a local music shop where a pretty good Taiwanese technical guy (who calls himself "Frank"¡^straightend the neck, shimmed up the top string nut to prevent some annoying string buzz, and just generally intonated the strings and did a full blown set up of the instrument. One less thing to worry about. My other three electric guitars (two Fenders and a Gibson) seem just fine and probably don't need any extra work to make them playable. Now, if only my left arm would completely recover its strength from the catheter insertion, I can get back to learning to play again.

On another combined exercise/business walk, Carol and I strolled across town last night to see the optometrist lady (who has known Carol since her high-school days) to pick up a new set of glasses for me. They didn't cost too much, since the Taiwanese government wants to stimulate the sagging economy and so it mailed out "voucher" coupons this year to everyone in the sum of 3,600 NT dollars (34 NT = 1 USD, currently). Carol used hers to mostly pay for a new 22-inch high definition flat screen TV monitor for my library/study/music-room. As a certified spouse, I even got the same coupon allotment and these paid for about 80% of my glasses. As a patriotic resident alien, I always want to do my part to stimulate the local economy -- especially with essentially free money. That hardly hurt at all.

As my weight drops and my diet improves, I feel a new sense of energy. I also try to reflect with gratitude every day upon the good fortune that brought me to this island three years ago now. The move saved my life. No doubt about it. Now, every time I read something from a friend or write something myself, I try to remember how my own careless eating and living habits almost cost me everything and everyone that I value and love in this world. I really hope that this new lease on a new life will allow me to contribute something creative and interesting to my new society here in Taiwan as well as the old society I left behind in America. I haven't yet figured out my situation yet, but so far I think I have started out again in the right direction.

I hope your friend recovers from his bypass operation. Unfortunately, one of the side effects from stent implantations and bypass surgery comes in the form of tiny little "emboli" that leak into the bloodstream and eventually work their way around to the brain where they can sometimes cause what the doctors call "loss of executive function," or "mini-strokes." This doesn't always amount to much decline in IQ, etc., but the technical literature says that the damage does show up in measurable amounts. So, if I begin to sound more stupid and deranged than usual, perhaps this side-effect will explain it. Either that, or I've just gotten royally pissed off again about some new betrayal of we the people by our corrupt and incompetent government.

I've got to go take care of a little business now, but I'll try to write a little more regularly keeping everyone up to date on how I feel and what I've managed to accomplish with all this extra life the Taiwanese national health care system has so generously afforded me. Thanks again for your concerned thoughts. I appreciate them more than I can say.     
Reply with quote  #10 
Hey, good to hear from you!  You sound just like the Old Mike!  I can't tell the difference between obsession and royal-pissed-offness myself.  Kudos to Carol's mother, and the good doctors (& optometrists) of Taiwan.  Here's hoping for many, many more years of the good life for you! 
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