Elizabeth Taylor’s Ash Wednesday: A Barely Topical Midweek Post
February 18, 2015

elizabeth-taylor-in-ash-wednesday-1973

Like many fair-weather Catholics, I only observe the major holidays: Christmas presents, Easter chocolates, year-round guilt and shame, and the 40 days of Lent Facebook status updates. Since I don’t have any more vices to give up this year (except for coffee and meat, which ha ha and NO), this Ash Wednesday I’ve decided to give in to forty days of daily exercise and daily blog posts. Also, since I still haven’t seen Ash Wednesday, I’m giving in to bootleg DVDs and finally ordering this most tantalizing cinemystery. I mean, I get that this is the Elizabeth Taylor plastic surgery melodrama, but this movie looks f**king bonkers, y’all:

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Rest in Peace, Jack Cardiff
April 22, 2009

I hate to be a Debbie Downer at this late hour in the day, but the BBC is reporting that filmmaker Jack Cardiff has passed away at 94.  He had a wonderfully long and varied career as both and a director and a cinematographer.  I think he’s a Technicolor genius, and his cinematography work with Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger on the exceptional melodramas Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes may be some of the greatest ever.  I cannot recommend these films enough; his work in these movies is one of the great cases for film as a true art.  It’s a testament to his talent that, even on YouTube, his ability to capture color is simply stunning.  Let’s celebrate the life of a true artist with (what I believe to be) the crowning achievement of his work:

I recall sitting in a film class and encountering this scene for the first time.  I see plenty of movies, and many of them excite me in some way or another, but this scene was something special.  I crackled with an electric shock, like I was a human battery, as I sat through these moments, and the sensation never leaves me.

If it were not for the way that Mr. Cardiff captured the redness of Sister Rose’s lipstick of eerily calm pinks of the Himalayan sunrise in the sublime manner that he did, I wonder if this scene would have the same hypnotic control over me.  Powell and Pressburger indubitably played a large and important part in crafting the perfect finale of Black Narcissus (they’re the directors, and geniuses in their own right, after all), but the colors–so necessary to the feel and mood and affect of the film–are Cardiff’s doing.  He’s a man of supreme talent, and he shall be missed.

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