Friday, May 17, 2013

Ramón Novarro

How can I express the monumental crush I have on this lost silent star?  I have feverishly scoured the net for weeks looking for scraps about him, a YouTube video here, another photo there, a gif.  I have The Flying Fleet, special ordered from TCM.  I bought one biography (there are two) and it sits on my shelf, portently, like sorbet, waiting to be devoured.  He was gorgeous - but I do realize that gorgeousness is a very personal thing - it is relative, like exchange rates and chocolate with raisins, or without. You may not agree.  Such is the nature of an obsession.

I won't go into specifics.  He was beautiful, and at the height of his powers.  His style waned, he was dropped by MGM (which he helped rescue) and slid into alcoholism and old age.  His murder in 1968 brought him briefly back into the papers. His sensationally lurid end has besmirched his antique fame.  He is now largely forgotten, as most silent stars are in this multimedia world. Pity.

There is a great line from The Prime of Miss Jean Brody with Maggie Smith.  She asks her class who the greatest Italian painter is and one of the girls answers, "Leonardo Da Vinci, Miss Brodie." "That is incorrect," she says.  "The answer is Giotto.  He is my favourite."

His murderer, Paul Ferguson

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oh..! My God...

Xavier Dolan, auteur

He is a young and talented French-Canadian film maker.  He has recently been in hot water for a music video which depicts the crucifixion and assassination of a student.  Lots of violence and gun-play and a deep message about bullying.

Oliver Sacks

I had no idea that Oliver Sacks was such a hunk back in the day!  I read The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat back in the 80s when I was a kid.  He left England behind in the early 60s, embraced the counter-culture after travelling to Canada and the western USA, and became known as 'Dr. Squat' during his residency at UCLA.  He could power-lift 272 kilos! - and it shows in the above photo..

He was friends with Thom Gunn, a Movement poet (himself British, and openly gay) and took to heart Gunn's The Allegory of a Wolf Boy as his own (his middle name was suitably Wolf).  It fits.  Sacks was doctor by day and a young experimenter by night.

Allegory of a Wolf Boy

The causes are in Time; only their issue
Is bodied in the flesh, the finite powers.
And how to guess he hides in that firm tissue
Seeds of division? At tennis and at tea
Upon the gentle lawn, he is not ours,
But plays us in a sad duplicity.

Tonight the boy, still boy open and blond,
Breaks from the house, wedges his clothes between
Two moulded garden urns, and goes beyond
His understanding, through the dark and dust:
Fields of sharp stubble, abandoned by machine
To the whirring enmity of insect lust.

As yet ungolden in the dense, hot night
The spikes enter his feet: he seeks the moon,
Which, with the touch of its infertile light,
Shall loose desires hoarded against his will
By the long urging of the afternoon.
Slowly the hard rim shifts above the hill.

White in the beam he stops, faces it square,
And the same instant leaping from the ground
Feels the familiar itch of close dark hair;
Then, clean exception to the natural laws,
Only to instinct and the moon being bound,
Drops on four feet.  Yet he has bleeding paws.