Sunday, August 19, 2007

Birthday yesterday

It was my birthday yesterday - 48. Dean gave me the Criterion Collection 2-dvd set of Fritz Lang's "M", and we've been watching it. I still think 'Testament of Dr. Mabuse' is greater, but 'M' is very good. Lang was not a big fan of sound in movies; this was his first sound film, and still, about 1/3 of the movie is silent. Oddly enough, it works better than a foreboding soundtrack; when you see a nighttime police raid in preparation, the fact that you don't hear anything, when you know you should, creates a lot of anxiety. (I know one of the commentators says that the rental of sound equipment was very expensive, and the silence was partly to save money, but I don't believe it. I think Lang knew what he was doing.)

Nowadays, I think movies are too saturated with sound, especially music. Every single moment seems to be accompanied by music, and I think it's cheating - trying to FORCE us to experience a mood that the script and the acting alone can't produce. When I watch an old movie like 'Casablanca', I keep thinking, "Now, if this were made today, they'd cover this whole scene with loud strings, like a coat of cheap shellac." It's almost uncanny to see a romantic scene WITHOUT music, but they used to do it all the time.

We don't have cakes much in our house - they just end up going stale and being wasted. So I made a peach pie in the morning (yes, *I* had to make the pie for my own birthday! Nobody else can do it as well, so the job always falls to me!) I've also been experimenting with making chutney this week. On Wednesday I tried a Major Grey Chutney, which was a bit complicated, but seems to have turned out well. Today I made a simpler mango chutney, which is very nice and sweet, with just a hint of chili powder in it (plus the vinegar, of course). I'll have to wait 2 weeks at least before we can get a good idea of what they'll taste like. It was very reminiscent of making mincemeat, as a matter of fact.


Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

Happy Birthday Doctor! By coincidence, last week I rented two Lang flicks, "The Woman in the Window" and "Scarlet Street" (I'm on an Edward G. Robinson kick). Both wonderful, particularly "Woman in the Window." Who but Lang could use such an obvious plot device as found at the end of that picture and yet leave you stunned by it?

11:53 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I've actually never seen any of Lang's American films, only his German ones. They're on the list to see. Some people have written that the films he made in Hollywood were actually superior to his German period, because he was working under tighter controls, which produced a more taut, streamlined style. Lang did have a tendency to go on and on if he wasn't stopped.

9:23 am  
Blogger Nicholodeon said...

Happy Birthday, Doc, and many happy returns of the day. And if your birthday is 19 August that turns out to be 06 August in the Julian Calendar, and Orthodox Feast of the Transfiguration.

May you also be transfigured upon the mountaintop.

The discussion of Lang's films is beyond my ken, and am happy Dean knows what to get you. But what happened to the Black and Decker chain saw he was eyeing so that you could get proper logs hewn, split and indoors for the winter fireplaces?

10:40 am  
Blogger Kasia said...

Happy birthday, Dr. M!

Better to make one's own birthday dessert than to have one that's sub-par, I think. May you have many more. :-)

11:16 am  
Blogger Min O'Pause said...

Happy Birthday! What a great present to receive!! I first saw "M" at an art house here in Atlanta. It was amazing seeing it on the big screen.


3:48 pm  

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