Drama is impossible today. I don't know of any. Drama used to be the belief in guilt, and in a higher order. This absolutely cruel didactic is impossible, unacceptable for us moderns. But melodrama has kept it. You are caged. In melodrama you have human, earthly prisons rather than godly creations. Every Greek tragedy ends with the chorus — "those are strange happenings. Those are the ways of the gods". And so it always is in melodrama. His career as a film director lasted more than 40 years, but Douglas Sirk (1900-1987) is remembered for the melodramas he made for Universal in Hollywood between 1954 and 1959, his "divine wallow": Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), The Tarnished Angels (1958, William Faulkner considered it the best screen adaptation of one of his novels), Imitation of Life (1959) -- all considered for decades little more than a camp oddity. Now audiences are beginning to look deeper at the films of Douglas Sirk, at how, in megafan Todd Haynes' words, they are "almost spookily accurate about the emotional truths". Now, lucky Chicagoans can enjoy "Douglas Sirk at Universal", matinees at the Music Box. More inside.
Other loves still breathe deep inside me. This one's too short of breath even to sigh. "First Love", by Wislawa Szymborska. (via the Daily Poems of poems.com)
For all the hoo-ha about Callas first bringing real acting to the operatic stage, one has only to view the footage of Risë Stevens legendary 1952 “Carmen” to see what kind of Method she brought to the Met. Stevens was the definitive gypsy wanton, and her performance has it all— fire, ice, and that impossible balance between elegance and sluttiness. Her technique is superb—licking her fingers before extinguishing the candles in what will be her death chamber, then flicking off the wax; flinging her unwanted lover’s ring at him, spitting out a contemptuous “Tiens!”. The Metropolitan Opera Guild honors the Bronx-born singer, now 92. More inside.
The just ordering of society and the State is a central responsibility of politics. As Augustine once said, a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves: “Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia?”. Eros and Agape, Justice, Charity, Marxism, and the separation of Church and State in Pope Benedictus XVI's first encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est.
"... we are sweeping everything under the carpet, but the oddness is cropping up all over the place. And then, the carpet starts to move…". Michael Haneke, "le manipulateur" who introduced his latest film, Caché, at Cannes with a half-amused “I wish you a disturbing evening”, is the proponent of a "cinema of disturbance". A cinema of loving self-mutilation, where time is non-linear and everything happens in long take shots; in Haneke's world, guilt destroys lives decades after the original sin. All his male characters are "Georges" and his female characters are either "Evas" or "Annas", "because I lack fantasy". Unsurprisingly, he is a Bresson and Tarkovsky fan. He'll direct "Don Giovanni" at the Paris Opera in early 2006: "In 20 years of working in the theater, I only staged one comedy, and that was my single failure".
Love that can't be withstood, Love that scatters fortunes, Love like a green fern shading The cheek of a sleeping girl. Seamus Heaney's search for the soul of Antigone. (more inside, with Christopher Logue)
Dear Mrs Bergman, ... I want you to know how deeply I wish to translate those ideas into images, just to quiet down the turmoil of my brain... Yours very truly and devoted, R. Rossellini Roberto Rossellini writes to Ingrid Bergman. The Swedish movie star had written a fan letter to the Italian Neorealismo director Roberto Rossellini, expressing her desire to work in one of his films: "If you need a Swedish actress who speaks English very well, who has not forgotten her German, who is not very understandable in French, and who in Italian knows only "ti amo", I am ready to come and make a film with you". This is how he responded -- by writing a part for her in his 1949 film "Stromboli." It was the beginning of one of the most famous love stories of the twentieth century. More inside.
The Death of Yesterday Twenty years ago, an everyday virus destroyed Clive Wearing's brain. Now, all he can remember is music -- and his wife. Here, Deborah Wearing tells how their enduring love has become the one constant in a marriage without memory.
In the Mood for Rapture. "Forget the completion anxiety that attended Wong Kar-wai's new film 2046 — four years in the gestating, with scenes still being shot a few weeks ago — what 2046 makes unavoidably clear, is that Wong Kar-wai is the most romantic filmmaker in the world. Love, the playwright Terry Johnson wrote, is something you fall in. Wong's films make art out of that vertiginous feeling. They soar as their characters plummet". It is a sequel of sorts to Wong's In the Mood for Love. It is the story of a writer: in his novel, a mysterious train left for 2046 every once in a while. Everyone who went there had the same intention: to recapture their lost memories. (more inside)