The Blues Brothers is in my Top One Hundred favorite movies of all time. While it never won an Oscar, it remains a cinematic treasure to moviegoers everywhere. The magical team chemistry of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi is at its brightest. They would later team up to do Neighbors, which didn’t capture the same magic. It could be that in The Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd and John Landis joined forces to write the script, or that John Landis was definitely on top of his directorial game. But I’d like to think it was an even larger group effort. The music of The Blues Brothers and the exceptional performances of the musicians explode across the screen. The entire film feels like a celebration of sound and life. The villains of the movie are those that go against sound and life. And we know from the get-go that they don’t stand a chance to hamper the boys who “are on a Mission from God.”
The Home of the Creative Mind
Welcome to PooBahSpiel, the online voice and home of the creative mind of Mark Monlux, Illustrator Extraordinaire. Prepare yourself for an endless regaling of art directly from the hand of this stellar artist. And brace yourself against his mighty wind of pontification. Updates are kinda weekly and show daily sketches, current projects, and other really nifty stuff.
Monday, December 18, 2017
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
There’s nearly as much to the story behind the making of Old Acquaintance as there is to the movie’s story. The most notorious being that the two female leads loathed each other. Maybe it was because Bette Davis had had an affair with Miriam’s husband during production of another movie some time before. They were pros when the camera rolled. And no doubt, their off-screen relationship helped with their on-screen performance. Old Acquaintance easily passes the Bechdel Test. The women have names, they talk to each other, and their conversation isn’t about men. Men are a topic a portion of the time, but a great deal of the conversation has to do with careers and life goals. I noticed something else about the men. There’s hardly a scene where two of them are in the same room, let alone talking to each other. And something I found very interesting is that the main male characters in the story bear a strong resemblance to each other with slicked back hair, pencil mustaches, and wry smiles. When the war comes around, they become even more identical. The dialog is well written, so much so that the audience is tuned into the dialog, listening for the carefully selected words. When a blunt statement is finally made, it’s almost a shock as well as a catharsis. Old Acquaintance is a well-told and visually strong movie that’s become a staple amongst classics. And while I have fun with it in the strip, this film truly does show off Bette Davis’s eyes.
Monday, December 4, 2017
Newsreels used to be a way of presenting news that was otherwise only heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. But it wasn’t long before the oddities of the world were also brought into theaters, the all too common history of sensationalism winning out over substance. While these short news features were a way to warm up the audience before the feature attraction, Mondo Cane is the first of these slightly blue voyeuristic vignettes I know of to arrive as a feature length film. Mondo Cane was the first to string together a collective of odd known and unknown cultural rites for the purpose of shock and social commentary. The depths of grief reflecting the deep love Americans feel towards pets was parlayed against dogs being used by different cultures as a meat source. Stereotypes were brazenly reinforced to a level of absurdity so that the audience fights back with the rational thought of the absurdity of stereotypes. The awful dubbing and odd selections of music* to go with the scenes are orchestrated to poke a stick at many societies’ conventions. Mondo Cane set the template for a series of exploitation documentaries. These in turn inspired others to craft their own documentaries in the same style. Sex, death, gluttony, and fanaticism have all been explored and have become a standard recipe used in reality television shows and Internet videos. Mondo Cane came out the year I was born and a lifetime of exposure has numbed me a bit to the movie’s original source material.
*The score, "More (Theme from Mondo Cane)," was nominated for an Oscar.