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Marvelous Movie Mondays: Ikebana

EPFC | May 29th, 2019

MORTALITY BLOOMS!

guest curator: Karen Azoulay

For the month of May, I will be posting a selection of films that are punctuated with floral and bomb imagery. Flowers can be used to remind us of vulnerability, mortality and the fleeting nature of time. This motif is paired with the brief and the sudden depiction of a bomb. A blooming mushroom cloud clearly evokes war, fear and death. Contextualizing the films within a specific historical moment and place, we cannot forget the political reality that each film was created in.

My final selection is Ikebana, 1956 directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

This film is a fascinating look into the creative work of the director’s father. Sōfu Teshigahara was a master of ikebana (the Japanese art of arranging flowers) and a sculptor. It’s part traditional documentary, and part experimental film. Along with a general history of ikebana, there are countless stunning floral compositions.

The film concludes with a sudden shift in tone – the mushroom cloud of an atomic detonation. Both the director and subject of this film lived through the aftermath of the horrific bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This dark turn contextualizes the film within the political reality of mid-century Japan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk1Fbf6C4wU

Marvelous Movie Mondays: Daisies

EPFC | May 20th, 2019

MORTALITY BLOOMS!
guest curator: Karen Azoulay

For the month of May, I will be posting a selection of films that are punctuated with floral and bomb imagery. Flowers can be used to remind us of vulnerability, mortality and the fleeting nature of time. This motif is paired with the brief and the sudden depiction of a bomb. A blooming mushroom cloud clearly evokes war, fear and death. Contextualizing the films within a specific historical moment and place, we cannot forget the political reality that each film was created in.

My third selection is ‘Daisies’, 1966, directed by Věra Chytilová

After a montage of explosions, we meet to two doll like young women. Since everything is going bad in the world, they decide that they are going to go bad too. Wearing an ironic “virginity” flower crown, one of the young women is slapped into a field of daisies and their surreal adventure ensues.

Delicate daisies, these women are not. Mischievous, giggling and greedy, these friends team up to tease and prank much older men who are trying to date them. This brazen attitude challenges stereotypes and critiques a male attitude towards sex. Chancing upon a massive banquet table piled high with delicacies, they take whatever they want. Trashing the spread, they dig up handfuls of cake, taste everything and even dance on the desserts.

This Czech New Wave film was created during a fraught time. It was banned upon its initial release, in part due to the depictions of wasted food. Only one year later, the Prague Spring brought a loosening of political and cultural restrictions. The new era of freedom ended later that same year due to a Soviet invasion. For the rest of her life, Chytilová was basically blacklisted from making films.

#marvelousmoviemondays

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jpSOGIf_Eo

Marvelous Movie Mondays: House

EPFC | May 14th, 2019

MORTALITY BLOOMS!
guest curator: Karen Azoulay

For the month of May, I will be posting a selection of films that are punctuated with floral and bomb imagery. Flowers can be used to remind us of vulnerability, mortality and the fleeting nature of time. This motif is paired with the brief and the sudden depiction of a bomb. A blooming mushroom cloud clearly evokes war, fear and death. Contextualizing the films within a specific historical moment and place, we cannot forget the political reality that each film was created in.

My second selection is ‘House’, 1977, directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi

“a modern masterpiece of le cinéma du WTF?!”
-Chuck Stephens, from his essay for The Criterion Collection

‘House’ is an extreme work of psychedelic horror. This experimental film follows seven teenage girls on a trip to visit one their aunts. Visually stunning, the gory depictions of dismemberment are more ridiculously surreal than scary. It’s not surprising to learn that Obayashi’s eleven year old daughter came up with most of the violent plot twists.

Although it is refreshing and rare for a movie to be almost entirely comprised of female actors, the one-dimensional characters are unfortunately sexualized in a realm of school girl exploitation.

On the train out of town, the main character regales her giggling pals with the backstory of her aunt. In a short flashback sequence, we see her narration come to life in the frames of black and white film strips. A tragic love story from the 40s, it suggests an ominous tone for the haunted home they are about to experience. This greyscale sequence is interrupted with two pops of red; a foreboding draft card, and a wilting, thorny rose that draws drips of blood. As with the rest of my selections this month, flower symbolism is paired with the explosion of a bomb. A Hiroshima native, the director lost most of his friends to the blast.

The clip below is an excerpt of this scene. I recommend tracking down the full feature for the demonic insanity that follows.

http://www.tcm.turner.com/…/Hausu-Movie-Clip-Over-The-Rainb…

#marvelousmoviemondays

Marvelous Movie Mondays Mortality Blooms

EPFC | May 6th, 2019

MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
guest curator: Karen Azoulay

MORTALITY BLOOMS!

For the month of May, I will be posting a selection of films that are punctuated with floral and bomb imagery. Flowers can be used to remind us of vulnerability, mortality and the fleeting nature of time. This motif is paired with the brief and the sudden depiction of a bomb. A blooming mushroom cloud clearly evokes war, fear and death. Contextualizing the films within a specific historical moment and place, we cannot forget the political reality that each film was created in.

Aside from cinema, there are many cultural moments that depict our deep connections between flowers and war.

Inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae, red poppies are a symbol of remembrance to the fallen soldiers of WWI.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row…

The Flower Power movement used flowers to advocate for peace and love in protest to the Vietnam War. Two iconic photographs were taken in 1967 at the March on the Pentagon. Marc Riboud captured Jan Rose Kasmir as she offered a chrysanthemum to a member of the military police battalion while a bayonet is pointed towards her face. Bernie Boston captured George Edgerly Harris III (aka Hibiscus, cofounder of performance troupe The Cockettes) gently placing a carnation stem down the barrel of a rifle. In response to these events, Allen Ginsberg stated “Flower power meant more than just walking around with flowers in your hair. It really meant the power of Earth. The dissolving power of the pentagon was symbolized by that moment”

———

My first selection is ‘Peace, Little Girl’
credited to the DDB Agency and Tony Schwartz.

In 1964, only two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, this television commercial ‘Peace, Little Girl’ used scare tactics to bolster Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign in the Presidential election. In the age of Vietnam and the Cold War, his approach was inspired by his opponent’s aggressive attitudes regarding the military. Goldwater had previously expressed his willingness to use nuclear weapons if necessary. Stoking fear in order to manipulate voters may seem all too common place now, but this ad is considered to be one of the earliest and most controversial attack ads of all time.

It was only aired once as a paid spot on NBC. It was quickly pulled, which was perhaps a calculated move. Considered a scandal, it was continuously replayed and discussed on several news and talk shows which created a viral effect. The ad is considered to have had a big impact on L.B.J’s landslide victory.

In Western culture, daisies symbolize innocence and purity. Like a child, flowers can been viewed as fragile. Exploring the significance further, several associations come to mind. The phrase ‘pushing up daisies’ is a euphemism for ‘dead and buried’, alluding to wildflowers sprouting up from a burial mound. The act of plucking petals conjures the divination game “loves me, loves me not”, which is a solitary pursuit played in times of infatuation and uncertainty.

The single stem with no more petals to pull reminds us that time is running out…
KABOOM!
“Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riDypP1KfOU

#marvelousmoviemondays

AUTOMATIC DOOM

EPFC | May 3rd, 2019

MARVELOUS MOVIE MONDAYS!!
guest curator: Alex Johnston

The theme for this month: “SAYS WHO?”: MEDIA AND AUTHORITY
How does authority inhere in media? How is it maintained and how is it expressed? Who has the authority to define the past? Who has the authority to determine the future? Who has the authority to speak for whom? Who has the authority to lead? Who has the authority to bury the dead?

Says who?

For the final film in this series, we’ve got Emma Cooney’s hilarious yet melancholy AUTOMATIC DOOM. Inspired by a Sunday night family ritual, the film is a masterful supercut, drawing us in to the weird and world-weary mind of the legendary radio and television writer Andy Rooney. Compiling clips from “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney,” the long-running (1978-2011) concluding segment of the weekly news magazine “60 Minutes,” AUTOMATIC DOOM subverts dominant paradigms of traditional televisual authority figures, celebrating Rooney as an intensely self-aware and humble authoritative voice. Deeply cynical yet deeply sincere, Rooney (and the film) offer the viewer a long curmudgeonly sigh, a humorous rumination on mortality, environmental catastrophe and the virtues and vices of sleep. AUTOMATIC DOOM is a profoundly humane work, showing us not that misery love company, but that company can provide much-needed relief from misery. Through Rooney’s open-hearted reflections on the terrifying miasma of precarity that shapes contemporary life, we feel a little bit less alone in the daily struggle just to muddle through, and to get a good night’s sleep.

Enjoy AUTOMATIC DOOM!

#marvelousmoviemondays

https://vimeo.com/332580083