In The Hands of Orlac (dir. by Robert Wiene), a concert pianist (Conrad Veidt), is thrown into a torture-filled tailspin after an unexpected surgery leaves him with the hands of a murderer. He goes through an identity crisis, which involves a lot of hand staring, hand wrenching and outstretched hands.
At his wit’s end, Orlac bites the bullet and asks his surgeon (Hans Homma) to remove the cursed hands.
But he doesn’t go for it. And things look pretty bad for Orlac for a while.
But don’t worry, Orlac. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. As long as the light isn’t another train.
In the mix:
1. 19th Nervous Breakdown, The Rolling Stones
2. Pu Yai Lee Santana / Rung Fah Puping
3. Egyptian Fantasy, Sidney Bechet
4. The New West, Spindrift
5. Got Nuffin, Spoon
6. Into the Trees / Still Corners
7. Phaser, Superdrag
8. Faraway, Supergrass
9. Atlanta, The French Kicks
10. Single Shot, Green Hornet
11. Na Mo Bokono / Hell’s Kitchen
12. Deuteronomy, Intelligence
13. Hands Away, Interpol
14. Necropolis / Daniel Capo
15. Fuck Youth, Civil Civic
16. 911 Leo Express, Irving Klaw Trio
17. Dadje Von O Von Non / Gnonnas Pedro & His Dadjes Band
18. Bowling Trophies / Foxygen
19. Seco e Molhado, Mama Rosin
20. Hatashiai, The Moontrekkers
21. Green Onions, The 188.8.131.52’s
22. Cold Hands, The Black Lips
23. Trailerpark, Blur
24. Bad Ritual / Timber Timbre
25. The Children, Yeasayer
26. The Watcher, Dr. Dre
27. I Refuse to Lose, James Brown
28. Harlem Nocturne / Johnny Otis & His Orchestra
29. Gun Street Girl, Tom Waits
30. Kat Nazer (Powersoul), PowerSolo
31. Don’t Play with Guns, The Black Angels
The first silent movies I loved were Charlie Chaplin’s. Until now, I hadn’t made a mix for any of his movies, because I’d rather see them with the soundtrack on the video. Chaplin wrote music to go with his films sometimes (and the song “Smile”), and his compositions make the movies feel very full and complete.
Chaplin wrote the music for The Kid, The Gold Rush and Modern Times. He also composed for City Lights, which this mix here syncs up with. Chaplin had me cracking up in the first scene, where the Tramp (Chaplin) wakes up in the middle of a statue unveiling.
He meets a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill), who mistakes him for Joe Moneybags. He adores her. He tries to win money to help the Flower Girl make the rent, but it doesn’t work out. But the Tramp has friends to get crunk with (Harry Myers), at places like this.
He’s able to help the flower girl out, but it’s a while before they meet again. She’s had a successful eye surgery that restores her vision, and she works in a legit flower shop. She’s been expecting her benefactor, when she meets the Tramp.
And if that doesn’t hit you somewhere, you are at least 24 percent robot.
City Lights mix contains:
1. I Can’t Get Next to You / Al Green
2. Can I Kick It? / A Tribe Called Quest
3. Brave Margot / Sidney Bechet
4. Strange Things Happening Every Day / Sister Rosetta Tharpe
5. Jim Strainer Blues / Memphis Jug Band
6. Bad Whiskey Blues / Merline Johnson
7. I’m a Homeboy / K-Rob and DJ Cheese
8. Death Cult Soup ‘n Salad / The Almighty Defenders
9. I’ll Never Be the Same / Artie Shaw
10. Diga Diga Doo / Benny Goodman
11. Guitar Shuffle / Big Bill Broonzy
12. Knock-Kneed Sal / Buster Bailey
13. The Jumpin’ Jive / Cab Calloway
14. Amelia / Campfires
15. I Can’t Think of Anything but You / Clarence Williams
16. He’s a Rebel / The Crystals
17. Come On, Petunia / The Blow
18. Title Screen / Daniel Capo
19. Cushion Foot Blues / Daniel Filipacchi and Clarence Williams
20. All the Young Dudes / David Bowie
21. Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) / Digable Planets
22. Trouble in Mind / Dinah Washington
23. Ain’t Misbehavin’ / Django Reinhardt
24. Eleggua / Dr. John
25. Oh Sombra! / Electrelane
26. Blind Alley / The Emotions
27. Disappear / Eternal Summers
Imagine you’re Buster Keaton. You may really need to imagine-ate, but I believe in you. Imagine you’re Buster Keaton, and you’ve been raised in the north, but suddenly you discover you were born in the south, and you’ve inherited what you hope to be some kind of Twin Oaks type of manor, surrounded by fields o’ cotton.
In Our Hospitality, Willy McKay (Keaton) is just this guy, but when he visits his long-lost home in the south, he doesn’t realize he’s the member of a family that’s part of one o’ them deadly feuds, and the Canfield’s have it out for him.
Things get hairy, like they have a wont to in blood feuds. There’s a chase scene, and this part with a waterfall – well, hell. Here’s some of that.
I don’t want to ruin the ending, but McKay may or may not get the girl – a Canfield, no less – on account of his winning charm and knack at dressing a horse in a bonnet and parasol.
Our Hospitality, 1923
Directed by: Buster Keaton
Starring: Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge
Our Hospitality mix contains:
1. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South / Ethel Waters
2. Allegro Moderato (Violin Concerto No. 1), Bach
3. Ain’t Gwine Whistle Dixie (Anymo’), Taj Mahal
4. Loop de Loop / Marie Adams
5. Dead Sound, The Raveonettes
6. Freight Train Boogie / The Delmore Brothers
7. Powerhouse, Raymond Scott
8. Barcelona / The Rentals
9. Disconnected, RJD2
10. I Don’t Ever Wanna Come Down, The 13th Floor Elevators
11. ‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It) / Adelaide Hall
12. Basin Street Blues / Al Bowlly
13. Mis Amigos y Yo Te Amamos, Alexico
14. Over the Horizon / The Almighty Defenders
15. Alexander’s Ragtime Band, The Andrews Sisters
16. In the Mood / Artie Shaw
17. Mean Mr. Mustard, The Beatles
18. Polythene Pam, The Beatles
19. Je me donne à qui me plaît, Brigitte Bardot
20. Pennies from Heaven / The Mills Brothers
21. Got My Mojo Working, Muddy Waters
22. Don’t Be Angry, Nappy Brown
23. Timebomb (live), The Old 97’s
24. Johnny B. Goode / Dale Hawkins
25. Hold Tight / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich
26. If You Need Me, Solomon Burke
27. Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, Lee Morse
So, I’m not going to say outright that if you’ve seen Pandora’s Box that you’ve already seen Diary of a Lost Girl, but Lulu and Thymian are kind of like Laura Palmer and her cousin, Maddy. “I know that I’ve seen this girl before,” you’ll say to yourself, banging your forehead repeatedly against your Log Lady (TM) replica log. “I know it. I just know it!”
Like Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl stars Louise Brooks and is directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and also like Pandora’s Box, the film explores women’s issues. First, these two movies draw attention to circumstances paired with social norms that could leave women totally screwed during the 20s. The main characters are both villanized and victimized because of their sexuality. But while in Pandora’s Box, Lulu’s sexuality becomes her downfall, in Diary of a Lost Girl, Thymian appears to have a growing sense of self and independence by the end of the movie.
Diary of a Lost Girl tells the classic tale of what happens when a young lady gets knocked up after being raped by a creepy turd of a pharmacist. Thymian’s family is all like, “Girl, you gotta marry you’s baby daddy,” and when Thymian is all like, “Uh. Dude, no,” they do the only logical thing: banish her to a vaguely homoerotic reform school for wayward girls. She makes friends, meets more creepy turds, and eventually escapes. From there, she lives the Jerri Blank mantra, “Go with what you know,” and takes up prostitution.
Diary of a Lost Girl seems quite a bit more sympathetic of its lead character than Pandora’s Box, since Thymian doesn’t become, you know, a murder victim. In a shack. On Christmas. But Thymian is also much more naive than Lulu, so perhaps that is her key to redemption.
The saddest thing about both of these already sad stories is their parallel to the actress’ life. Brooks was sexually abused as a child, and blamed for it by her mother, according to the actress. Playing roles like Lulu and Thymian doesn’t speak much to her own empowerment, but Brooks’ roles do bring issues of sexual assault, domination and punishment for female sexuality into the open – even if they were not intended to be viewed through a discerning feminist lens.
For me, the bottom line is that Brooks is incredible to watch in any movie. She will melt your heart, even while it’s breaking. I think that line may be from the back of a paperback novel. I also think that I don’t care.
Here’s what happens when Thymian first enters the reform school. Don’t worry; there is enough watery stew for everyone.
Diary of a Lost Girl, 1929
Starring: Louise Brooks, Fritz Rasp, André Roanne
Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Diary of a Lost Girl mix contains:
1. I’m on Fire, Electrelane
2. Run Chicken Run, Link Wray
3. A Certain Girl, Ernie K-Doe
4. Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries / Al Bowlly & the New Cumberland Dance Orchestra
5. Preacher’s Theme, Spindrift
6. Creepy Phone Calls, Tobacco
7. Plastic Cans, Underwater Tea Party
8. I Had it Coming / White Rabbits
9. Deep Purple, Guy Lombardo
10. She Came Before Me, The Almighty Defenders
11. Dirt, Iggy Pop
12. Black Eyes / Pola Negri
13. Reckoner, Radiohead
14. Sailor Song, Regina Speltpr
15. Random Firl, Late of the Pier
16. Livin’ in Misery / Johnny Otis
17. Kitty from Kansas City, Johnny Walker & His Rollickers
18. Pucker Up, Buttercup, Jr. Walker & the Allstars
19. Oh! Look at Me Now, Helen Forrest & Benny Goodman
20. Sullen Girl / Fiona Apple
21. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Sidney Bechet
22. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight), ABBA
23. Creole Love Call, Adelaide Hall
24. Boogie Woogie Swing / Alberta Hunter
25. I’m Living in a Great Big Way / Benny Goodman
26. Soul of a Man, Blind Willie Johnson
27. Sluchaj Rytmu, Breakout
28. You’re Gonna Miss Me, 13th Floor Elevators
29. Block of Ice, Intelligence
30. L’ours / Tricot Machine
31. Kozmic Blues, Janis Joplin
32. Lindsay Brohan, Javelin
33. The Living End, Jesus & Mary Chain
34. Peach, Plum, Pear, Joanna Newsom
35. Bye, Bye, Blackbird, Joe Cocker
Reefer Madness is all well and good, but nothing will turn your dope-infused teenager into a teetotaler faster than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a silent film from 1920 with John Barrymore (Drew Barrymore’s grandfather) in the lead role.
Dr. Jekyll is an idealistic, annoyingly earnest, do-gooder doctor. Ambition is his middle name, until a conversation with his lady’s father inspires him to explore the darkest depths of his soul by way of Science, by which I mean drugs. Jekyll does some brewing and concocting in that delectable, mad scientist style, and here’s what happens:
Cue the downward spiral. The opium dens. The intervention and trip to rehab that inevitably fails. Turning from someone at the top of your game to someone too doped-up to star in a Lifetime made-for-teevee movie without appearing in a tabloid or three.
Well, more or less. I can tell you this much, friends. Out of the silent horror movies I’ve seen so far (Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Phantom of the Opera), this one gave me the most severe case of the willies. I think it was a combination of the self-destruction subject matter, Barrymore’s excellent performance as a tortured dope-fiend, and the evolving shape of Hyde’s head (By the end of the movie, it’s shaped like a giant cone covered in spidery hair). In fact, speaking of spiders, check out this body-snatcher still!
Yes, that is a spider with the face of Hyde, about to jump into a drug-addled Jekyll. Be still, my crawling skin!
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, 1920
Directed by: John S. Robertson
Starring: John Barrymore and some other people who don’t matter cause they aren’t as righteous as Barrymore
The Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde mix contains:
1. It’s De-Lovely / Shep Fields & His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra
2. Independence Day, Elliott Smith
3. Trouble in Mind / Jeff Beck
4. Blue Hawaiian / Pavement
5. I Bleed, The Pixies
6. Bodysnatchers / Radiohead
7. The Olde Headboard, Rasputina
8. After Dark Blues / Billy Wright
9. Psycho Killer / The Talking Heads
10. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears
11. Dragon Queen / Yeah Yeah Yeahs
12. Twist Lackawanna / Jr. Walker & the All Stars
13. Running Up That Hill (a Deal with God), Kate Bush
14. Down Bound Train, Ken Colyer Skiffle Group
15. Head First / Andre Williams
16. Nhurng Dom Mat Hoa Chau (Fireballs), Bang Chan
17. Broken Train, Beck
18. Moon Beeps / Intelligence
19. No Rest for the Worried, Clarence Williams
20. Change, Gonjasufi
21. Super Bad (parts 1 & 2) / James Brown
22. Tongues of Fire, Movie Star Junkies
23. My Tornado / The Raveonettes
24. Once Upon Your Smile, Richard & the Young Lions
I am overdue to do a mix for a comedy or an American film, so I have killed two birds with one slapstick stone. Seven Chances stars Buster Keaton as a financier on the verge of bankruptcy and scandal – unless he marries before seven tonight.
I’ll be honest with you, since we’re such good friends. I don’t really care for Buster Keaton flicks. I’m more of a Chaplin kinda gal, hence the name of this blog. Keaton is more attractive, with the added benefit of not looking homeless, but I think Chaplin films are less superficial and stand the test of time a little better. For instance, in Seven Chances, Keaton’s character proposes to anything in a skirt, unless she is Jewish or black, of course. Aside from that, I also think Keaton’s movies are more slow-paced.
Seven Chances picks up in the latter half of the movie, with a twenty-minute chase that’s actually pretty funny. Check out a clip from it below.
Seven Chances, 1925
Directed by: Buster Keaton
Starring: Buster Keaton, T. Roy Barnes, Snitz Edwards, Ruth Dwyer
The Seven Chances mix contains:
1. Spanish Harlem / Ben E. King
2. The Sheik of Araby / The Benny Goodman Sextet
3. Honky Tonk / Bill Doggett
4. Rollerdisco, Black Moth Super Rainbow
5. I Can’t Write the Words / The Boswell Sisters
6. Jelly Roll Blues, Bunny Berigan
7. Old to Begin / Pavement
8. Get on Up and Do It, Baby, Marie Adams
9. If You Don’t Believe I Love You / Clarence Williams
10. Wildwood Flower / Cowboy Copas
11. Tornado, Dale Hawkins
12. Lust for Life / Girls
13. Getting Nasty / Ike Turner
14. Rehearsin’ for a Nervous Breakdown, John Kirby & His Onyx Club Boys
15. Freetime / Kenna
16. Touch My Soul, Lack of Afro
17. There’s a Fire / OK Go
18. I Wanna Tell My Baby, Precisions
19. Way Over There, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
Two words come to mind when I think of director F.W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh: staggeringly depressing. I don’t want to go all doom and gloom here, taking shots of despair with nothing more than a wedge of lime, but the movie is a downer and so is the mix to go with it. Bear with me if you’re prone to wild mood swings or crying jags provoked by black and white movies.
The synopsis here is simple enough. Because his superiors think he’s getting a little long in the tooth, a hotel doorman, played by Emil Jannings, is demoted to washroom attendant. He’s humiliated by the loss of the position, but even moreso when his uniform, a sign of status and prestige for a man in a working class neighborhood, is taken away.
Although he manages to steal the uniform back, you watch the doorman struggle through his almost catatonic misery during the rest of the film, and when it comes to looking heartbreakingly devastated and beside himself, Jannings is aces.
In fact, one of the most interesting things about the movie is that it doesn’t use intertitles – those slides that show dialogue or describe action in a silent film. And you don’t miss them at all. Jannings’ performance carries the movie and without a single word.
Well, almost. With fifteen minutes left in the movie to go, and the doorman deeply buried in his pit of desolation and sadness, I found myself biting my nails and wondering how the hell Murnau was going to resolve this. Was the doorman going to pull an Anna Karenina? Would it maybe cut to a street scene with an orphan begging for spare change, putting the doorman’s troubles in perspective? Or would this German film go Hollywood, giving the story a happy ending, tied onto the rest of the movie with an adorable and out of place pastel ribbon?
Well, I won’t ruin it by telling you how much cake and caviar the doorman eats in the final ten minutes of The Last Laugh, but it’s a lot. Anyway, before this odd ending, there’s an even odder message, the only words that fill the screen during the entire movie:
“In the place of his disgrace, the old man wastes away miserably for the rest of his life. And the story would end here. However, the author has decided to look after this person long after he has been abandoned by all the others, by giving him an epilogue, wherein things turn out – unfortunately – as they seldom do in real life.”
Pretty considerate of him, doncha think? A couple of times, I’ve spoken to filmmakers who liken their craft to “playing god” with the characters and worlds they’ve created. I usually leave these conversations wondering if being pretentious as hell is just a side-effect of a god-complex or if maybe I don’t understand the creative process at all even though I think of myself as an artistic type. But wait, I digress.
Filmmakers make choices constantly with their characters, and opting for a happy ending over real-life troubles seems pretty normal, at least in American film. But pointing out that this was a choice, that the character is really out there, somewhere else, feeling morose and drinking himself to death in a pool of his own tears, well. I don’t really know what to make of that.
But, hey, I liked the movie. And maybe I’m no LeVar Burton, but “don’t take it from me.” Watch it your own damn self. Just have a hanky handy, I’m telling you.
Here’s a scene from the movie and mix. The doorman lost his job the day before, but no one knows yet. Also, he’s still a little drunk from the night before, but don’t hold it against him.
The Last Laugh, 1924
Directed by: F.W. Murnau
Starring: Emil Jannings
The Last Laugh mix contains:
1. Cone of Light, The Almighty Defenders
2. Express Yourself, Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
3. The Right People / The Clash
4. Linda Munequita, Los Hijos del Sol
5. Smile / Madeleine Peyroux
6. Planet Telex, Radiohead
7. Dayton, Ohio, 1903 / Randy Newman
8. A Day in the Life of a Tree, The Beach Boys
9. Stay Free / Black Mountain
10. Minnie the Moocher’s Wedding Day, The Boswell Sisters
11. Castaway Waltz / Clarence Williams
12. In the Meadow / Clint Niosi
13. We Were Born the Mutants Again with Leafling / Of Montreal
14. My City Was Gone, The Pretenders
15. Big Daddy C., The Rentals
16. Lay Down in the Tall Grass / Timber Timbre
17. High 5 (Rock the Catskills), Beck
18. Night of the Vampire / The Moontrekkers
19. Until We Bleed, Kleerup featuring Lykke Li
20. Everything Means Nothing to Me, Elliott Smith
21. O’ Venezia Venaga Venusia / Nino Rota
22. Va Va Va Voom, Brett Smiley
23. Patitas / Davila 666
24. It’s My Thing (Part 1), Marva Whitney
25. Rocks Off, The Rolling Stones
The Cabinet of Caligari covers the three M’s: Murder, Madness and hypnotisM. You might think that if you’ve seen one film about a mad scientist-type who uses his henchman to do his bidding, then you’ve seen them all, but this one will bewilder and delight your corneas with its bizarre, askew-to-the-max aesthetics.
Caligari (Werner Krauss) first shows up at the fair, where he is showing off Cesare, his “Somnambulist” buddy who sleeps 24 hours a day in a coffin, at least, when he isn’t predicting the future or committing violent crimes. Francis, the hero of the story, is checking out the attraction with his friend, Alan. Apparently, constant sleep has the side effect of Knowing All, so Caligari invites his audience to ask good ole Cesare anything, anything! Alan asks Cesare when he will die, and Cesare answers, before dawn tomorrow. He didn’t even really have to think about it.
Alan meets his fate, just as predicted, becoming the poster child of a series of unexplained murders in town.
So, that’s the setup. Francis, do-gooder that he is, sets out to solve the crimes, while attempting to protect his fiance, Jane, from the murderer. And Jane plays the stereotypical role of Damsel in Distress, but with a touch of that “faraway eyes” syndrome that the Rolling Stones sang about once. Caligari straddles that familiar line between madman and psychotherapist-messiah, while spidery Cesare does what he can to deal with what appears to be a gnarly case of narcolepsy.
What sets this movie apart from all of the silent movies I have seen so far, and really most films in general, is how it looks, which is completely insane. It’s a real showpiece of German Expressionism, which may make you think to yourself, “Hey, I didn’t know they had acid in the 1920s!” There is not a line that isn’t askew, a door jamb that doesn’t give way to asymmetry. And that stylized approach suits Calgari, a film that questions perspective, reality and sanity.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920
Directed by: Robert Wiene
Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Fehér, Lil Dagover
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Mix Contains:
1. St. James Infirmary / Sidney Bechet
2. Hurry on Now (Boub Remix) / Alice Russell
3. 30 Second Air Blast / The Almighty Defenders
4. Memories of the Ghetto, Augustus Pablo
5. Derelict / Beck
6. Ball and Chain, Big Brother & the Holding Company
7. Drippy Eye / Black Moth Super Rainbow
8. Policy of Truth, Depeche Mode
9. How We Quit the Forest / Rasputina
10. Traffic Boom / Piero Piccioni
11. Lullaby / The Cure
12. Four O’Clock in the Morning, The Hassles
13. Drag Stripper / Monster Zoku Onsomb!
14. One Man, One Vote, Frank Zappa
15. Gouge Away / The Pixies
16. Sure ‘Nuff ‘n Yes I Do, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
17. Something’s Got a Hold on Me / Etta James
18. After Hours / Joe Kickass
19. Security, Otis Redding
20. Fee Fee Fi Fo Fum / LaVern Baker
21. St. James Infirmary, Louis Armstrong
At this point in my life, I understand that three things are inevitable. Death, taxes, and vampires. Sympathetic vampires. Asshole vampires. All-singing, all-dancing vampire reviews. Vampires that will not go away, no matter how much garlic I rub on myself or how much silver I work into my wardrobe. They will keep popping up, because they just don’t give a damn. And I can respect that. It’s their shtick, after all.
But there comes a point when I’ve had enough of these modern creatures of the night, all slapped-up with sex appeal, civil rights, and oddly enough, the ability to be sparklier than a pack of Glam it On in the clearance aisle. Sometimes, I just have to get back to basics. Back to a time when vampires were vampires. Instead of slumming it down the road, they lived in isolated gothic mansions. And they weren’t sexy. They had gross fingernails, looked pretty much inhuman, and yeah, weren’t the snappiest dressers.
I’m talking about vampires like in F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, a 1922 silent film that rips off Bram Stoker’s Dracula admirably, pretty much changing only the names of the characters, since at the time, they couldn’t get the copyright for the story from Stoker’s widow.
I won’t get into the latent symbolism in every vampire book, movie, or TV show since time began. You know, the popular idea that sexuality should be stifled to the point that you’ve become a Victorian-era housewife who never shows any leg but occasionally uses a morphine cure to beat the vapors. Nosferatu inspired reams of vampire-themed films, many of which that were lucky enough to actually use the name “Dracula.”
Directed by: F. W. Murnau
Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroeder
Nosferatu Mix Contains:
1. Tighten Up / The Black Keys
2. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Ray Noble with Howard Phillips
3. Melted Rubber Soul / Campfires
4. Readymade, Beck
5. Pile of Logs and Stones / Clarence Williams
6. A New Career in a New Town, David Bowie
7. Forty Miles of Bad Road / Duane Eddy
8. My Apple Has Four Legs, Feathers
9. Bad Siren / Intelligence
10. I Hate You, The Monks
11. Words, Missing Persons
12. 5 – 4 = Unity, Pavement
13. Dead / The Pixies
14. Geek USA, The Smashing Pumpkins
15. Darn that Dream / Mildred Bailey
16. I am the Disease, Sneakers
17. Speak to the Wind / Spindrift
18. Slippery People, The Talking Heads
19. Goin’ Out West / Tom Waits
20. Frustration Rock, Tyvek
21. Swamp Song / Blur
22. Watching the Planets, The Flaming Lips
23. Korock / Holy Fuck
24. Heaven, Heaven, Clarence Williams
If you like your propaganda with a shot of vodka, then you will be on board with The Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It shows what happens when you tell a crew on a Russian battleship to eat maggot stew and like it.
Not to ruin too much, but no, they don’t like it. A mutiny and a massacre unfurl during this 69-minute film, which turned out to be the most violent silent film I have checked out so far. Eisenstein pulls out all the stops, to the point that when you see an unmanned baby carriage at the top of the Odessa Steps and you can already sense that it will roll horribly to the bottom step, you still will be biting your nails all the way down.
Blood and gore aside, this film is also incredibly unusual for the time in the way that it was shot. Think of any American silent film, a Charlie Chaplin something-or-other, and the action is typically filmed over long shots that don’t snap back and forth between characters or other aspects of the scene. Potemkin is different. It’s filmed in a style that modern audiences are more used to, with quick perspective changes to intensify the emotion felt by the viewer.
I’ve tried watching movies like Birth of a Nation that I’d heard were groundbreaking, artistic pieces, and wound up bored out of my skull. I’ve heard the same thing about Potemkin, but the opposite happened. I enjoyed it, could see its merit as a film for sure, and on top of it all, was at a loss as to what it means to like something that’s meant to manipulate.
The Battleship Potemkin, 1925
Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov
Directed by: Sergei Eisenstein
Why to watch it: Google it, and some pretentious asshole will tell you why to give Potemkin a shot. I’ll just tell you that you won’t be disappointed, and if you expected nothing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, note that if you hate this old black and white shit, it’s a short run at around 70 minutes, so it’s not all Anna Karenina up in here.
Potemkin Mix Contains:
1. Tiger Rag (pt. 1) / Duke Ellington
2. Sor Kendine / Ersen
3. Cherub Rock, Smashing Pumpkins
4. The Legend of God’s Gun / Spindrift
5. Kelin Ati Len / Orchestre du Bawobab
6. En Casa del Trompo No Bailes / Orquestra Riverside
7. Tennessee Waltz / Patti Page
8. Lava / the B-52’s
9. The Great Pretender / The Platters
10. The Ghost with the Most / Almighty Defenders
11. Forcefield / Beck
12. Battle / Blur
13. Warszawa / David Bowie
14. Ghostwriter / RJD2
15. When the Saints go Marching In / The Delta Boys
16. Rooms and Bags / Intelligence
17. Halo, Depeche Mode