Seen and Unseen: The Films of Marie Louise Alemann

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MADDY: The pleasure of discovery is always dampened when you realize that what you’ve discovered was dismissed from the canon in the first place. Such is almost always the case with female experimental filmmakers, as if the initial medium weren’t niche enough. Luckily, Emily and I had to chance to watch a screening of the films of Argentinian filmmaker Marie Louise Alemann. A significant figure in the Argentinian experimental film scene of the 1970s and 1980s, she is all but unheard of here in North America. Shifting between documenting happenings with her fellow artists Narcisa Hirsch, Claudio Caldini, and others, Butoh performance, criticisms of the dictatorship, and razor sharp depictions of female experience, the handful of Alemann’s films we saw were of a considerable talent. What really struck me was how each of her films were so different from each other, and yet they still made up a consistent whole. The programmer, Federico Windhausen, lamented after the screening that they were not in the order he wanted, but still managed to work. Because of this I made some assumptions about the work – who she collaborated with, how the collaborations worked, when she made it, what her focus was, etc., only to realize that they probably weren’t the right assumptions to make.

EMILY: Yes, one thing I really loved about the scrambled order was that it confused those assumptions. Windhausen mentioned in his introductory remarks that many of the films Alemann directed were filmed by her friends and collaborators, such as Claudio Caldini and Narcisa Hirsch, presumably because so much of Alemann’s work draws on her own embodiment and performance. The last film that we ended up seeing was an untitled one by Juan Jose Mugni, which the program notes inform us was made as a “tribute to Alemann’s face, which she sought to use as an enigmatic and multi-purpose mask in many of her films.” To me this film so clearly showed how Alemann was in control of its image of herself. It did not seem to me to be a series of passive representations of her (something we have been taught to expect in a structure of film production organized around the objectification of women) but rather a vital creative act she directed.* It was to this power that Mugni paid tribute. Maybe I especially liked this because it brought together the site at which I am habitually restricted to searching for women’s creative power in film (the female performance as both enabled and constrained by the conditions of film production) and a host of radical possibilites for that power in an experimental space of collaboration, through which film is given direction and force from both behind and in front of the camera.

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*To direct (per the Oxford English Dictionary)
To write (a letter or message) expressly to.
To address (spoken words) to any one; to utter (speech) so that it may directly reach a person.
To impart, communicate expressly, give in charge to a person.
To keep in right order; to regulate, control, govern the actions of.
To give authoritative instructions to; to ordain, order, or appoint (a person) to do a thing, (a thing) to be done.
To supervise and control the making of a film or the production of a play, etc.; to guide or train (an actor, etc.) in his performance.

How interesting that in the contemporary and classical film industry “direction” is about organizing objects, people, images in ways that collect at the authoritative end of this spectrum of control (think Griffith with his megaphone or, my favourite, Abel Gance directing with a revolver–images of masculine power) while the sense of communication–direction in service of transmitting a message to someone–is subdued, even though that is ostensibly the point of making a movie. Even in movies she does not “direct,” Alemann’s (silent) face and body still direct messages to the viewer and so send viewers in particular directions. Alemann’s wider artistic practice disrupted film direction’s model of gendered authority in other ways, too. I loved the story Windhausen told about how she would teach all of the housewives she met on the beach during her summer vacations how to use their super 8 cameras: she acted as a mentor for films and directors not recognized as “real” films or directors.

MADDY: The close-up of a woman’s face is one of those key cinematic images that just keeps recurring (lately it seems to be thriving in music videos). I’m reminded of early cinema, and Munsterberg’s writings on the close-up. Generally a close-up is a shot that’s used to direct and focus the viewer’s attention on one spot, but is still tied up in ideas of truth and authenticity. If we see the close-up on the face, there is nothing that can hide from us, and there’s the impression that we’re seeing some kind of truth here. But Alemann is much too smart for that. Her close-ups are interspersed with filters (which she controls), paint dripping, and other means of distortion. The rapid cuts, instead of a long take (as is the norm with the close up of the female face) also challenge any passive looking, or any chance of suture. As you’ve said so well already, she is not an object of our gaze, but rather a very stark reminder of who is in control of what we are watching, and by extension how we understand it.

Not to be a gender essentialist, but this feels like a very female understanding of the world. It’s a fact at this point that by constantly being considered objects to be looked at, first and foremost, women’s humanity has become secondary. To take on a project where what one sees is clearly constructed, and constantly being altered, is a very clear challenge to those norms. She has a similar project in Autobiografico 2 (1974), with her face spray painted silver and her body tied up to trees with a coarse rope. There are rapid cuts here as well, but here they slowly reveal information, for example, that she is tied up to trees is only gradually shown to the audience. The initial shots are of her face, and then parts of her body, and then the trees tied up with parts of the rope. As the cuts show more and more, the rope begins to untie itself, and eventually it becomes completely untied. The rapid cutting loosens the ropes that bind her, and also gives and takes from the audience. The pleasure of seeing is postponed, and when we are finally able to see “the whole picture” of her entrapment, she is freed. Though Alemann is tied up, she is control of the camera, and by extension in control of her own experience.

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EMILY: This interplay between performance, direction, and the camera is important in all of the work that we saw from Alemann but I’m thinking of it right now particularly in the context of Legitima defensa (Self-defense, 1980), which was my favourite of all of the films shown that night. In this black and white short, the camera slowly follows Alemann as she circles around a room in an indeterminate location. Alemann’s hair is hidden beneath a white cap and her face is covered with white paint. She confronts the camera with aggressive facial expressions (smiles? grimaces? threats?) and holds a long wooden staff at the ready, presumably for attack. The soundtrack is screams and groans – at least I think so. All I remember is being profoundly unsettled. I loved this movie, first of all, because the intensity of Alemann’s performance in it gave me literal goosebumps. As well, the film was such an incredible exploration of the relationship between the camera and its subject. The camera follows Alemann around, documenting her–this surveillance evoking at once the traditional position of women as the object of the camera’s gaze and the specific political context of Alemann’s life under a repressive and violent dictatorship in Argentina during the Dirty War. In this film Alemann flips the experience of being watched. Her eyes never leave the camera and never blink. With the staff in her hand she could easily break the lens but doesn’t, and the camera follows her direction as it is forced to keep this danger in its sight. She controls its movement. She is flagrantly visible and will not be disappeared, but even though her face is the camera’s obsessive focus it cannot be deciphered under her layers of paint and performance. It was so interesting to see this film in juxtaposition with Sensasion 77: Mimetismo (Sensation 77: Mimicry, 1977) which is about hiding from sight/the camera.

MADDY: I remember being so struck by her eyes in Self-Defense. Wide-open and aggressive, a stark contrast to her white face. She circles around the room challenging the camera, and at times is clearly seen, but against some walls she almost disappears. Still, her eyes remain. Which I think is the key element to both of her explicitly political works: When a corrupt government tries to disappear its subjects, nothing can truly be disappeared. Something always remains, whether it be the person or the actions of the government. In Sensasion 77 Alemann is trying to disguise herself amongst foliage, but also failing. For me, to film someone trying to hide, is a very conscious decision that is inherently critical. I’m trying to hide, but I’m filming it, so there will always be a record of this act. So it is a false hiding, or rather, hiding to show something else.

Windhausen mentioned that Alemann’s group was visited by the fascist government over concerns of subversive works, and after watching these films the artists were left to continue as they were. He noted that the government was afraid of militant works, those that would inspire an uprising. These works, though deeply subversive and critical, weren’t about challenging the government. They’re more insidious, more intelligent. I can see why they weren’t arrested over them, but I think that’s their merit. They’re more about life under dictatorship, the everyday quality of fear and desperation. But both are radical challenges, both in what they depict, and in their very existence.

And I think a woman depicting her everyday existence, under any form of oppression, is inherently radical.

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My favourite movies of 2015

Usually I post a list of my favourite new-to-me films on Facebook for personal archiving reasons, but this year I’m going to take advantage of Femina Ridens to hold forth at even more tedious length on movies that meant a lot to me in 2015. This is partly to share a collection of films that I recommend (and would love to talk further about with people), and partly so that I, with my sieve-like memory,  don’t forget what I’ve watched and why it was important. This is a long list (31 movies), but I stopped cutting at the point when it felt too painful to remove any of these films. Here they are, in chronological order:

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Carol’s ghost: Chantal Akerman, Todd Haynes, and the problem of representation

Like so many people, we at Femina Ridens have been grieving the loss of Chantal Akerman since her death at the beginning of October. A conversation that Maddy, Chelsea, and I had this morning  foregrounded how much this loss requires us to grapple not only with Akerman’s incredible body of work, but also with the work that she didn’t do: that is, with the conditions of possibility under which her films were completed or left unfinished. Our conversation was sparked by an interview with Eric de Kuyper, Akerman’s friend and collaborator, which was posted online by the European Journal of Media Studies. Among many other topics, he shares information about some of Akerman’s unrealized projects:

de Kuyper: In a filmography there are always these blind spots: written scenarios which were never shot, projects which never materialised. For instance, after working on La Captive (2000), we wrote a wonderful adaptation of Chéri and La fin de Chéri by Colette. Too late, we discovered that all the rights for the French writer were blocked by Stephan Frears, who made a rather mediocre film on Colette some years later. Our next project was the adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, which was later published under the title Carol. Again, our work had to be interrupted because of film rights. We had learned our lesson. Carol is coming out now, but by Todd Haynes, not by Chantal Akerman.

We were all stunned by the thought of these never-to-be-made films, and had the following exchange (here edited and expanded) about what knowing this means for us:

Chelsea:  I am so sad we’ll never see Akerman’s Carol.

Maddy: My interest in the film has almost entirely evaporated now that I know this, no offense Haynes.

Chelsea: Same… He can’t even compete with hypothetical, incomplete Akerman.

Emily: The fact that the project was abandoned because they couldn’t get the rights is messing me up.

Chelsea: ARE WE BLAMING TODD? I’M BLAMING TODD…

Emily: I love Haynes but this is so painful. It really shows how women’s stories are taken away from women — in this case, if not by Haynes specifically, then by the system that allows him to have a career and be funded for a film like Carol.

Chelsea: I’m kind of indifferent to Haynes, though I loved Safe… but yeah.

Maddy: What if Akerman had done Safe, though?

Chelsea: You’re killing me!!!

Emily:  (To be clear I fully support blaming Haynes.)

Maddy: Fuck Todd.

Chelsea:  He works in a system that allows him to succeed and put up barriers for Akerman. And she was much more skilled! I feel like if anyone could do this story justice it would be her.

Maddy: Cinema is a history of possibilities taken away from directors who aren’t white men.

Emily: Also, if I’m not mistaken, Haynes dedicated Carol to Akerman at a screening … knowing this that feels so cruel.

Chelsea: Was this before she died?

Emily: It was after. [And I was wrong: he didn’t dedicate the film itself to her, but rather that night’s screening of the film.]

Chelsea: This is gross… The story is like, made for Akerman. We’ll never get films for queer women by queer women.

Emily: This really brings home for me how fucked everything is for women, queer women, and so many other marginalized people in film. Even the amazing representations we cherish were so often made in place of the shadow ghost versions that could have been made by the people they represent.

Maddy: Often I feel like the “female canon” is us making do with what little we’ve been offered. Representation has always been middling, so we have to build from what little there is. Everything could have been better, works should have been done by others. Especially since there are so many filmmakers who are better suited.

Emily: Yes, we’re so hungry for any scraps….

Chelsea: I’m sick of all representation being mediated by white men, then praising these white men for ANY sensitivity.

Emily: I’m thinking again of that Facebook thread where Akerman said, “everyone inspired by me should pay me.”

Maddy: It was Annelise who pointed out that now it’s just heartbreaking:

Annelise: I thought this was funny once, now it breaks my heart. Why didn’t she get the money, or even the respect she deserved?

akerman

Chelsea: Everyone wants to cite Akerman as an influence for cred, but no one wants to actually support women artists.

“I think the weight of that loss is still being understood,” Haynes began, revealing he was still reeling from Akerman’s death. He called Jeanne Dielman “so inspiring as a filmmaker and as someone thinking about female subjects and how they’re depicted and what we’ve come to expect is occupied onscreen when we’re dealt the story of women’s lives and what is important and what is not important.” – THR

Emily: It’s upsetting to me that the takeway from Akerman’s work here is “be inspired.” I think her work is inspiring for women and other people who have been largely barred from the opportunity to make films or to see films that represent them.  And it’s not that it can’t be meaningful for someone like Haynes… but it’s different for him to see an Akerman film and then, by using it as an “inspiration,” mine it for his own work (which, because of his social location, is more commercially viable, more widely seen, and more lauded).

Chelsea: And it’s almost absurd that men making films about women must learn that women are people in college. “Not until adulthood did I realize that women are misrepresented!” And then: “Have I done anything to help women artists represent themselves? Ummm… But I gotta work too…”

Maddy: Remember how Spielberg has the rights to Martin Luther King’s speeches, so they couldn’t be used in Selma?

Emily: The systems in place mean that your story isn’t your own anymore, and you are left hoping that it will be sold back to you in a form that you can still recognize.

THINGS WE CURRENTLY LOVE SEPTEMBER

Dana

Lady Lamb – After

Lady Lamb’s (formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) new album After is one of my favorite little gems from 2015. I had never heard her music before this album, so this album fell into my lap as a fully formed treasure. The strength of Lady Lamb’s lyrics – about love and loss and modern anxieties – are bolstered by the sometimes sweet, sometimes surprisingly hard rocking tunes she crafts around her words. It’s definitely not the “young woman makes quiet folk record” cliché, but instead, young woman takes the world around her as she experiences it and creates a moving record of her truth.

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Marjorie Cameron

One of the biggest experiences of cultural FOMO I have suffered in the last few years was the Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman exhibit at Los Angeles’ MOCA last last year. The more I read about Cameron, her relationship to Jack Parsons and other male occultists of her day, and her art, the more I am just in awe of this incredibly powerful woman. Finally, the Deitch Gallery brought an expanded version of the MOCA show to their gallery in New York, and I was lucky enough to be able to check it out this past week. It’s in a beautiful, sunlight space with bare white walls, belying the dark imagery in Cameron’s art. Dark, yet incredibly compelling and, to me, remarkably inspiring. I am strongly considering getting the sketch pictured above, from the Songs for the Witch Woman series, tattooed on my leg or side, as a reminder of the power of witch women, and also because of how plain beautiful it is. Taking Cameron’s inspiration to heart for future projects!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes 😦

Fall is incontrovertibly the best season (sorry to one of my favorite writers, Jia Tolentino, who is just totally wrong on this), and, being really real with you all, it’s partially because of pumpkin spice flavors!! Especially Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I am one of those basic bitches who love a PSL; I got the pre-release coupon for an early cup, I even think the PSL promoted tweets are cute? But really, fall is the best, cinnamon-y flavors are the best, and now I will be enjoying pumpkin spice fever until after Christmas.

Emily

Knitting

I’m an anxious person generally, and I’m currently going through a stressful professional time. Knitting has become at once hobby, coping mechanism, and bulwark against despair. I had attempted to learn to knit about 4 times previously (efforts going back 10 years), and gave up each time, frustrated that my hands couldn’t or wouldn’t make the right figures. This time something clicked, and I immediately felt like a witch. Making objects out of yarn is extraordinarily satisfying and grounding, combining precision, attention, and a long process of learning with a sense of provisionality and play, while offering me material evidence of my competence. It’s a joy, and I’m grateful it’s part of my life right now.

The Ocean

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My boyfriend and I recently made a trip to Prince Edward Island for our friends’ wedding. I grew up on the Island between the ages of 8 and 18, but, for various reasons, I haven’t visited in almost a decade, and haven’t seen the Atlantic Ocean in nearly as long. I didn’t realize how important it was to me, how viscerally I’d missed it, until we arrived at Greenwich Dunes and I immediately ran into the waves and started crying. It’s already been too long since I’ve been back.

Hot toddies

Cut up a whole hunk of ginger root into pieces (you don’t need to peel it) and put it in a pot with a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves, and a few pieces of lemon peel. Add 5 cups of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about half an hour. Strain the liquid, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug, then top the mug up with some of the ginger mixture you’ve made. Add honey generously and, if you wish, the alcoholic spirit of your choice. Drink and feel cozy as fuck.

Julia

Summer lingered long through September here, and I am grateful. The month ended with a supermoon and an eclipse, so I stared long and hard at the shadows of the moon trying to make sense of space, time, light and darkness. Something tells me I won’t find the solution overnight.

Nicolas Provost – Papillon d’Amour

I watched more short films in September 2015 than I have in the past year. Quebec City’s Film Festival has hit its stride this year in its 5th edition, and my favourites were the local short films screened in all kinds of contexts – in shipping containers, in decadent moldy theatres, in gorgeous palaces. Simultaneously, the first Quebec City edition of Cinédanse took place at the Musée de la Civilisation. I could list off the gorgeous shorts I had the chance to see screened, but the one that struck me the most and that translates best onto screens of any size is this piece by Nicholas Provost, from 2010. Simple, short, and fucking intense. Also now I need to rewatch Rashomon.

Reading poetry and shit

I’ve been making a real effort to read more fiction in French these days but I keep getting sidetracked by badass poets. Namely,

Warsan Shire
Elaine Kahn
Louise Glück
Anne Boyer
Alice Notley

Also people can you stop posting Warsan’s work without crediting her? That would be great. That happened a lot this month with her poem  “Home” and it pissed me off.

Wide-brimmed hats

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For years and years and years, I have lusted for cloche hats. They look so good. I love pretending I am a modern-day flapper when I wear the ones I have. As my hair grows long, and longer, I am confronted with the reality that cloche hats look best on chin-length hair – or shorter. Well guess what. Wide-brimmed hats look fucking awesome when your hair is longer. So here are some selfies of me with wide-brimmed hats, including a fancy-ass French one I wish I could afford.

P.S. YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE WAS AWESOME ABOUT SEPTEMBER? Meeting Emily. That was pretty awesome. [Emily interjects virtually: YES, IT WAS AMAZING <3<3<3]

Madeleine W

I’m a sucker for anything involving trees in the title, which occasionally leads me astray (I’m avoiding watching The Place Beyond The Pines even though it has the best title of all time??) but lately I’ve been rewarded by pine trees, specifically in Alice Notley’s Into The Pines and AroarA’s Into The Pines.

The latter is a sort of adaptation of the former, taking Notley’s already experimental book of poetry, and writing a song for each of the poems. Having listened to the album to the point of memorization before reading the book, I had a really weird reading experience. The book of poems is one of the best things I’ve read in a long time, and I’m not sure why it took me years to finally get around to reading it. I often write down or post on tumblr my favourite lines, but it got to the point where the entire book was my favourite line. I resisted posting more, feeling like each line was reduced when outside of the poem it is part of. Which is a weird thing to feel, considering the album takes a few lines and writes a song about it. I experienced it in the wrong order, and I wonder if I would like the album as much if I’d read the poems first. Initially I want to say I now have context for these lines, but rather I have a linguistic context within the book versus the musical context of the song. Both are complete works, with their own world and wholeness. Both ache with a long sadness, and have the haunted shiver you can only find in the dark woods. The lines from the poems, “I was born to be your poet,” “I am a dead man’s eyes and I haven’t seen anything for eternity,” “I’m going to find your soul,” aren’t missing anything in the songs. They have a new home, with just as much meaning. A really remarkable project, I wonder if it could work with others.

Keep your laughter off of my melodrama

Earlier this month I saw Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession at the cinema for the first time. The film was as gorgeous as ever, and watching it on the big screen allowed me to see and love new, small parts of the movie’s impeccable whole: the precisely overdrawn fuchsia line of Jane Wyman’s upper lip; Rock Hudson’s physical response when she touches his face for the first time (more devastating still because of its subtlety). The audience I saw it with mostly thought that all of this was hilarious.

Now, of course there are aspects of Magnificent Obsession that are so ridiculous as to become funny (Sirk himself labeled the Lloyd C. Douglas novel upon which the film was based “the most confused book you can imagine”) but people weren’t chuckling simply at Otto Kruger’s ersatz Jesus floating serenely above an operating room; nor did their laughter extend further to the movie’s frequent moments of intentional humour (think of the eyerolling barfly waiting to snatch Hudson up, or Judy Nugent’s deadpan tomboy reading the news). Actually, it would be easier to create a list of elements of the film that didn’t provoke laughter than of those that did: snickers erupted at Barbara Rush’s grief upon her father’s sudden death; at Hudson and Wyman’s tacit, then explicit confessions of their love for each other; at Wyman lying unconscious and near death on a stretcher; and at Agnes Moorehead’s stricken reaction to her companion’s illness, to name only a few moments of derision.

Allow me some reflections: first, that Sirk’s films were long viewed by supposedly discerning (male) critics as a collection of trashy women’s weepies before later being elevated by the institution of film studies to the oeuvre of a master auteur. This conversion from kitsch to canon, it seems to me, is often implicitly credited to the critical facility of Sirk’s latter-day viewers, who are able to watch with dry eyes and so discern the director’s critique of oppressive social norms. To understand these films properly, in other words, one must view them analytically rather than emotionally, objectively rather than through a process of identification: they might be women’s pictures, but to view them as a 50s housewife may have is to fail to understand them appropriately. Second, the excessiveness, artificiality, and hothouse sentiment of melodrama as a genre (features frequently invoked either apologetically or with a sardonically raised eyebrow even in positive assessments of Sirk’s work) are still received by contemporary viewers more often than not as failures of “naturalism” or “plausibility” instead of deliberate aesthetic and political choices (the natural and the plausible being understood here as un- or barely-mediated transmissions of “the real” rather than constructed norms). While Sirk’s films have largely been rescued from the embarrassments of melodrama by a critical establishment that deems them valuable, the audience with which I watched Magnificent Obsession were unable to view it—a soapy film poised on the border of acceptable Sirkism, unlike the more serious, more lauded All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life—without a laughter that simultaneously disciplined the film’s histrionic qualities by signaling their inappropriateness and marked viewers’ refusal of the emotional identifications invited by this melodramatic grammar.

Even though the introductory talk that evening, given by Guy Maddin, concentrated on what melodrama gives us—on how it offers us the truth uninhibited, or, in the words of the Eric Bentley chapter Maddin referenced, invites us into “the naturalism of the dream life”—the film bro acolytes lining up to shake Maddin’s hand after the screening were not very invested in approaching Magnificent Obsession on its own terms. Sirk might be an important director, sure, but who could be expected to take this stuff seriously? The audience’s laughter was a public declaration that they were above it all: crying at the movies (pathetic!), feelings more generally (unintellectual!), and the film itself (a bizarre curiosity! a naïve joke! how funny!).

In one of my favourite pieces of film writing, Rainer Werner Fassbinder records a different reaction to Sirk’s work. Fassbinder writes of the director’s deeply compassionate perspective (“Sirk has made the most tender [films] I know, films by a man who loves human beings and doesn’t despise them as we do”), and of the social critique embedded in this tenderness (in Imitation of Life, Fassbinder notes, Sirk delineates how the characters’ “thoughts, wishes, [and] dreams…grow directly out of their social reality or are manipulated by it. I don’t know any other film that shows this phenomenon so clearly and so despairingly”). Fassbinder’s reading of six of Sirk’s films is sharp and carefully observed; it is also grounded in emotion. He writes of Written on the Wind’s commentary on 1950s social structures that, within the film, “everything good and ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful’ is always very disgusting, and everything evil, weak, and confused makes you feel sympathy.” He writes of the infamous television scene in All That Heaven Allows that “Jane sits there on Christmas Eve; the children are going to leave her, and have given her a television set. At that point everyone in the moviehouse breaks down. They suddenly understand something about the world and what it does to people.” Fassbinder’s strongest articulation of the radical potential of melodramatic emotion comes, however, in the section on Imitation of Life, when he discusses the film’s central conflict between the white-passing Sarah Jane and her Black mother Annie. “That’s cruel,” he writes of the feeling evoked by this struggle: “you can understand both of them, and both of them are right, and no one will ever be able to help either of them. Unless, of course, we change the world. We all cried over the movie. Because it’s so hard to change the world.” In Fassbinder’s assessment of Sirk’s melodrama, feeling is not an extraneous, embarrassing response necessarily pushed aside in order to begin to understand the director’s oeuvre intellectually. Feeling is the point. Feeling is the medium through which Sirk’s social critique is forwarded; feeling is where the potential for political action is kindled. We cry because we see the impossibilities of the world, and because our fight to change these impossibilities is at once so difficult and so necessary.

To cry when watching a melodrama is to be tender, to make yourself vulnerable. It is to empathize with characters who inhabit dream versions of selfhood and the world, dreams where “feelings must put forth the weirdest blossoms” and so jar us from our acceptance of what is natural, plausible, right, and good.  Melodrama does not need to be rescued from emotion: it needs to be rescued from viewers whose rejection of feeling blunts their response into impassivity, or into hateful, hollow laughter.

SPRING JAMS 2K15

In honor of spring, here are some HOT JAMS chosen by us to celebrate the warm, bare legs weather before it gets too hot to move!!

Emily

Not much to say about these, just that I love them, they are all completely incandescent in their own way, and they each give me that spring feeling. (“Baby Please Don’t Go To Town,” “Que te trae por aqui,” “Dayung Sampan,” “Sur Efem Atini”)
One thing I should note, though, is that the song by Niela Miller is the original of Hey Joe (made famous by Billy Roberts, later and famously covered by Jimi Hendrix. As per Niela herself:
In the late fifties, Billy Roberts was my boyfriend for awhile. I was a songwriter and had written a song called “Baby Please Don’t Go To Town”. It is copyrighted. He stole it from me, kept the melody and put different words to it. thereby turning it into Hey Joe. My music publisher at the time advised me against suing Billy because Dino Valente’s name appeared on the recording and it would have been a long and expensive process.
Please let Billy know that whenever he wants to make amends, I would welcome it.
I love the song even without that context but hearing her wavering strange ghost voice come through the speakers after it was shouted down by history feels pretty special. I found it via one of my friend Derek’s amazing mixes.
Eva
“Townie” by Mitski: A great song for blasting in the car when you’re feeling joyously sad about who you’re not.
“Heretic” by Lady Lamb: I almost put this on a mix for my boyfriend as a sweet gesture which maybe says more about me than it does about this song.
“Sad Emporia” by Freelove Fenner: Relaxing and wistful-yet-poppy tune that is made 20x better by the gorgeous video that accompanies it. So easy to get lost in!
Maddy
Troublemaker – Beach House
I spend a lot of warm weather walking, and usually with headphones in. The moment it gets warmer is the minute I turn back to Beach House. And since they’re just announced a! new! album! this feels appropriate. Warm weather is about celebrating what’s to come.
Hip Hop Spa – Fatima Al Qadiri
Reminds me of riding in a car in a city during a warm night. Hypnotic but menacing.
Life’s Illusion – Ice the Falling Rain
I only listen to sad songs, but this one is very danceable.
Amaka
Memory Cassette – Asleep At A Party
“Asleep At A Party” reminds me of the pressure to be busy during the Summertime. Summer is an invitation to daydream, to be visually stunning, relaxed, outdoors. It may encourage us to use silly words like “explore” and “adventure” when describing brunch outings or a visit to the park. Summer can badger us into being social. “Asleep At A Party” is soothing, but also has sounds of yearning, which perfectly articulates my views of the upcoming warm season.
The lyrics are mostly unintelligible, which leaves it open, in my opinion, to personal interpretation. The dreamy, repetitive phrase, “sleep with one eye open” is the most clear, and a kind reminder — amongst the entertainment that is expected to come with the beginning of Summer, stay alert! But take care of yourself too.
Beach House – Lazuli

No band makes me want to twirl around with grand delusion quite like Beach House — the hazy, dreamy sounds from the dream pop duo make this band perfect for the warmer months. From their 2012 album Bloom, “Lazuli” is dreamy, optimistic, and full of lust.

The chant at the end of the song, “Like no other you can’t be replaced” rings of longing and admiration. For me it’s a reminder — don’t be afraid to be a bit of a fool, to misstep, to say the wrong thing, to wear mismatched clothing. It’s Summer, and it will be over soon enough.

Dana

Cooly G – “1st Time”

Spring is for dancing and frolicking, yes, but it’s also for romance, and doin it. Cooly G’s entire last album, Wait Til Night is a celebration of slinky sexuality, and this song is just a huge come-on.

Yelle – “Coca sans bulles”

Okay, real talk: I have no idea what Yelle is saying in this song, or any of her songs. Being monolingual means I miss out on the joys of French pop lyrics, but I can still totally dance to it!

Mourn – “Jack”

Mourn is a female-fronted, all-teen punk band from Barcelona that I just found out about – they have another album coming later this year, which I’m excited for. I think this is a perfect closer to this summer mix, because it’s all about saying FUCK YOU. Fuck everyone else, have a wonderful spring!!

Femina Ridens Round Table: From Saturday to Sunday (1931)

Mána is a young secretary. One evening she and her roommate accompany two wealthy older gentlemen to dinner. After one of them offers money to her she realizes his intentions and flees from the restaurant in shock. She later meets a man named Karel in a nearby café. They spend the night wandering the rainy streets of Prague and the two quickly develop strong feelings for each other.
IMDB plot summary

Emily: Hi everyone, I’m excited to have the chance to talk about Gustav Machatý’s From Saturday to Sunday (Ze soboty na nedeli) with you, so thanks for participating! I have some specific questions coming out of my rewatch, but, as always, please respond with anything that you’re interested in or struggling with in the film.

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