Category Archives: Film

And now for something completely different. . .


And that would be the Theremin, the instrument you play by keeping your goshdarn hands off it!

Invented in 1928 by Lev Sergeyevich Termen [Westernized to Léon Theremin], a largely self-taught Russian electrical engineer and inventor, the theremin is played by moving your hands closer and farther away from two antennae, one regulating frequency and the other amplitude or volume.

Here, from a Soviet film, is a performance the inventor himself via vlogger slonikyouth:

Leon Theremin playing his own instrument

We first because aware of the instrument though its presence in the sound tracks of the science fiction films and space operas we loved as a kid. In those pre-digital synthesizer days, only the theremin could produce those otherworldly sounds so appropriate to otherworldly films.

Here’s a thermin-scored clip from a 1951 film we loved, The Day the Earth Stood Still:

And here’s the composer of that score in a 1956 appearance on the Johnny Carson Show [not the Tonight Show, but an earlier talk show Carson hosted], via theremin artist Peter Pringle:

Johnny Carson Plays THEREMIN

Program notes:

This is an appearance that thereminist Dr. Samuel Hoffman made on the JOHNNY CARSON SHOW in 1956. The 1929 RCA theremin you see in this clip is currently in my collection.

And here’s Pringle himself, playing a theremin featuring a truly magnificent [speaker that we’d just love so have for ourselves]:

Mozart Theremin Concerto

Program notes:

This is the main theme from the “andante” movement of Mozart’s piano concerto #21 in C major (K. 467). The theme was used in the soundtrack of the 1967 Swedish film, ELVIRA MADIGAN, and since then it has been called “The Elvira Madigan Concerto”.

This is a theremin transcription of the theme played on the Moog Ethervox.

Here’s another latter-day theremin artist, Randy George, in a dimly lit performance of a work by Claude Debussy:

Clair de Lune – Randy George, theremin

Program notes:

Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. Randy George, theremin.

For a higher quality viewing and listening of this video, I made a download available. I remastered the audio and video in March 2013 and compressed a higher resolution mp4. download it here (106MB): http://bit.ly/cdlRGM

My Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/randygeorgemusic

If you are new to the theremin, please discover it in more depth. It is the most fascinating musical instrument in the world (when played as it was originally intended).

The theremin entered my life seven years ago. It has been a tremendously challenging journey, but it is immensely rewarding. The theremin is absolutely deceptively difficult to play with musical precision and finesse.

Clara Rockmore introduced the theremin to the world as a serious musical instrument. Over the course of recent music history, this expressive voice was forgotten.

I feel it’s definitely time to reconnect with the roots of the instrument. With these classical theremin videos, I hope to light the way back home.

Finally, to take things to an absurd extreme, from Japanese vloogger mandarinelectron, a mass performance by nearly 300 folks who play theremin bulk to look like those nesting Russian matryoshka dolls:

“Symphony No.9, Boogie” by Matryomin ensemble “Da”

Program notes:

Recorded at auditorium of Jiyugakuen Myonichikan in Tokyo on 22 Jan. 2011.

InSecurityWatch: Spies, media war, terror, cops


And that Asian Game of Zones is heating up again.

We begin with the not-so-idiot box from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law:

I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too

I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media, and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.

And on to the mounting tensions in familiar place, via BBC News:

Pakistan bomb kills 50 at Wagah border with India

More than 50 people have been killed and at least 100 injured in a suicide bombing close to Pakistan’s only border crossing with India. The blast hit near the checkpoint at the Wagah border crossing, near Lahore.

The Pakistani Taliban told the BBC that it had carried out the attack, although another militant group, Jundullah, also said it was responsible.

At least 15 people were badly injured, and officials said three members of the Pakistani border force had died.

The Wagah crossing is a high-profile target, with large crowds gathering every day to watch an elaborate flag-lowering ceremony as the border closes.

Negotiating with Reuters:

Qaeda’s Nusra lays out conditions to release captured Lebanese soldiers

The Syrian Nusra Front has offered to free Lebanese soldiers it has captured in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Syria and Lebanon, the SITE Intelligence Group reported on Sunday.

The al Qaeda-linked front said in a statement monitored by SITE that it had presented a Qatari negotiator with three proposals for the release of the soldiers, taken when its fighters and militants from the Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria, briefly seized the border town of Arsal in August.

According to the statement, which SITE said was posted on Twitter on Saturday, Nusra asked for the release of 10 “brothers” held in Lebanon, or seven prisoners in Lebanon and 30 female prisoners held in Syria, or six prisoners and 50 female prisoners for each captive soldiers.

And the McClatchy Foreign Staff covers a defeat:

US-backed forces in Syria suffer big setback

Al Qaida-backed militants Saturday stormed the base of the most prominent civilian commander in the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel force, forcing him and his fighters to flee into hiding in the Jebal al Zawiya mountains of northern Syria.

Jamal Maarouf, a contractor in private life, became internationally known for leading the successful offensive in January that forced the Islamic State from most of two northern provinces. His ouster from his own village was an enormous setback for him, the rebel forces and his international backers.

Even more ominous was that that the Islamic State, now far stronger and claiming to run a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, reportedly had joined Jabhat al Nusra in the attack on the village of Deir Sinbul.

More from the Guardian:

US plan for proxy army to fight Isis in Syria suffers attack

  • Syrian opposition leader blames Washington for rout as air strikes on Isis seen as aiding Assad crackdown

The US plan to rally proxy ground forces to complement its air strikes against Isis militants in Syria is in tatters after jihadis ousted Washington’s main ally from its stronghold in the north over the weekend.

The attack on the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) by the al-Qaida-aligned Jabhat al-Nusra came after weeks of clashes between the two groups around the city of Idlib, which has remained one of the last bastions of regime control in northern Syria throughout the civil war.

Militants overran the command centre of the SRF’s leader, Jamal Maarouf, in Deir Sonbol in a humiliating rout that came as US and Arab air forces continued to attack Isis in the Kurdish town of Kobani, 300 miles east, in an effort to prevent the town from falling.

From Techdirt, a spooky lobotomy:

Senator Wyden Attacks CIA Redaction Demands As ‘Unprecedented’

  • from the unprecedented-problems-may-need-unprecedented-solutions dept

It’s well known that CIA’s been stalling over the release of the officially declassified 480 page “executive summary” of the 6,300 page CIA torture report, put together by staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee over many years at a cost of $40 million. It’s known that the report is somewhat devastating to the CIA and the CIA isn’t happy about it (at all). Originally, the CIA suggested redactions that made the report incomprehensible, even as James Clapper said it was “just 15%” that was redacted. Recent reports have focused on the fight over redacting pseudonyms. Apparently the CIA wants all names, including pseudonyms redacted, while the Senate Intelligence Committee thinks that pseudonyms (but not real names) should be left in so that the report accurately reflects if the actions were done by a large number of diverse individuals, or by some particular individuals again and again and again. The CIA, likely employing some sort of “mosaic theory” claim, say that they’re worried that even with pseudonyms, identifying the same person in a few different situations will make it easier for some to figure out who they are.

In response, Senator Ron Wyden has attacked the CIA’s position and noted that it’s “unprecedented” and that plenty of other, similar, reports have made use of pseudonyms, without a problem.

Spooks in court, via The Hill:

NSA phone program faces key court test

The National Security Agency (NSA) is getting its day in court.

On Tuesday, a closely watched case over the spy agency’s most controversial program heads to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the second most powerful federal bench in the country.
Along with other high-profile court cases challenging the constitutionality of the NSA’s spying, civil liberties advocates are sensing that the wind is at their backs, even as Congress has failed to push legislation past the finish line.

“We want [the court] to reach the constitutional issues because it has to be decided now, for the sake of the future,” said Larry Klayman, the conservative lawyer whose case against the Obama administration is before the Circuit court. “And all we’re really asking is that the NSA adhere to the law.”

Klayman’s case challenges the constitutionality of the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, a program revealed by Edward Snowden last summer.

And a blow to privacy Down Under from The Register:

Oz gov lets slip: telco metadata might be available to civil courts

  • Quite by accident, truth leaks out

A series of slips by the nation’s top cop followed by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has made Australia’s data retention bill even more of a potential horror than it seemed when it was introduced last week.

It started with the Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin saying that stored telecommunications metadata could be used to go after people who infringe copyright online. That statement, made on October 30, was unequivocal – he used the word “absolutely”.

It’s always a bad idea for police to rashly tell the world what they really think.

And from the Washington Post, the European memory hole reaches across the Atlantic:

Pianist asks The Washington Post to remove a concert review under the E.U.’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

The pianist Dejan Lazic, like many artists and performers, is occasionally the subject of bad reviews. Also like other artists, he reads those reviews. And disagrees with them. And gripes over them, sometimes.

But because Lazic lives in Europe, where in May the European Union ruled that individuals have a “right to be forgotten” online, he decided to take the griping one step further: On Oct. 30, he sent The Washington Post a request to remove a 2010 review by Post classical music critic Anne Midgette that – he claims — has marred the first page of his Google results for years.

It’s the first request The Post has received under the E.U. ruling. It’s also a truly fascinating, troubling demonstration of how the ruling could work.

From TheLocal.at, an Austrian internal security problem:

Armed youths attack Tyrol refugee centre

Police in Tyrol are investigating an attack on the Bürglkopf refugee centre near the market town of Fieberbrunn on Wednesday evening.

Five youths were heard shouting xenophobic slogans at around half past midnight, 35 metres away from the remote property.

They then shot a gun in the air and reportedly threw fireworks at the centre’s windows.

The youths were dressed in black hooded jackets and shouted things like “foreigners out” and “we’re going to kill you, pigs”, according to an anonymous witness quoted in profil magazine.

The Associated Press covers a political exclusion zone:

AP Exclusive: Ferguson no-fly zone aimed at media

The U.S. government agreed to a police request to restrict more than 37 square miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, for 12 days in August for safety, but audio recordings show that local authorities privately acknowledged the purpose was to keep away news helicopters during violent street protests.

On Aug. 12, the morning after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the first flight restriction, FAA air traffic managers struggled to redefine the flight ban to let commercial flights operate at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and police helicopters fly through the area — but ban others.

“They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out,” said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. “But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.

At another point, a manager at the FAA’s Kansas City center said police “did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn’t want media in there.”

As in Ferguson, so in France from TheLocal.fr:

Violent protests erupt in France over alleged police brutality

Violent protests broke out on Saturday in two French cities against alleged police brutality, leaving several people injured.

Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas as demonstrators hurled bottles of acid and stones in the northwestern city of Nantes, injuring at least five protesters and three police officers. Police made 21 arrests in Nantes, while in the southwestern city of Toulouse, where clashes also erupted, 13 people were detained.

The protests were held over the death of environmental activist Remi Fraisse, 21, who was killed last Sunday during clashes between security forces and demonstrators at the site of a contested dam in southwestern France.

Initial investigations showed traces of TNT on his clothes and skin, suggesting he may have been killed by a police stun grenade.

After the jump, global urban insecurity, Mexican police as murder suspects, cartel killers’ Twitter terrorism, Spanish sins of the past threatened with Argentine trials, Egyptian press control tightens, next to China and tightened controls on foreign TV and film, drone-enhanced war games and a triumphant claim, Indian umbrage at a Chinese submarine visit next door, American angst over Chinese fly-bys, North Korea launches a ballistic missile sub, A Japanese ghost form the past pays a visit as the government refines its remilitarization drive, and the curious cost of Hong Kong domestic security. . . Continue reading

Peter Schrank: Is that a check, mate?


From the editorial cartoonist for the Independent:

BLOG Ebolatoon

The acknowledged reference for the cartoon is this scene from Ingmar Bergam’s brilliant 1957film, The Seventh Seal [and if you haven’t seen it, do]:

BLOG Bergman

Sculpture al fresco: Vanished public art


Our heart is utterly doffed to 3 Quarks Daily for evoking a chain of memories from the 1960s and ’70s from the years we first visited then lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, first briefly in Mountain View and Menlo Park, and then in a house at the very apex of the Oakland Hills.

One of our favorite sights sprouted from the tidal flats of Emeryville, on the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

There, rising from the mud in exuberant irreverence erupted a tumultuous profusion of sculptures erected by whoever the hell wnated to throw something up where it would be seen, twice a day, by commuters creeping along in rush hour congestion.

In other words, an art gallery to relieve the frustrations of countless thousands of commuters daily.

Writing in a well-illustrated feature for Boom magazine, Robert Sommer captures one notable quality of the works:

Art museums exhibit sculpture in a consistent light. It doesn’t make any difference whether one visits in the morning, afternoon, or evening, or in winter or summer; the art will look the same. A changing visual panorama awaited the visitor to a mudflat gallery. The appearance of the sculpture changed as the sun set and color disappeared. Pieces that were relatively invisible during the day, due to the predominant gray-on-gray quality of wood against bay, become vivid silhouettes against a pink-hued sky. The flowering plants at ground level added color and verve. A first visit to a mudflat gallery brought home images of impermanence and mortality. Most of the wooden creatures still standing were in stages of decrepitude. Arms and legs missing, heads fallen off, everywhere was rubble where now-unrecognizable figures had stood erect until brought down by wind and tide. The center post embedded deep in the mud with a few dangling boards was the last to fall.

Needless to say, the politicians of Emeryville, busily engaged in trying to shore up tax revenues in an industrial barrens rightly dubbed Emptyville saw all that anarchic artistic adventuring as a negative when it came to hustling big buck developers, so they had to go.

And gone they were, by the late 1980’s.

Imagine our delight, then, when we paid a visit to 3 Quarks Daily and found French filmmaker/photographer/multimedia artist Chris Marker‘s 1981 short Junkopia, filmed while he was in the Bay Area to shoot scenes for another film.

From the Criterion Collection:

Junkopia – A Short Film by Chris Marker

Program notes:

Codirected by Frank Simeone and John Chapman, JUNKOPIA was filmed at the Emeryville Mudflats outside of San Francisco while Chris Marker was also shooting the Vertigo sections of Sans Soleil.

More images of the sculptures may be found here.

And now for something completely different. . .


This time, it’s Roman Polanski’s latest film, a short created for Prada featuring Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter. And, as might be expected, it’s delightfully perverse.

We’ll say no more.

Roman Polanksi: ‘A Therapy’

And now for a word from our sponsor. . .


BLOG Kubrick

Actually, we don’t have sponsors [other than those ads WordPress inserts to to pay for the costs of giving sites free to folks like esnl. . .

What caught our eye over at Boing Boing was an art show inspired by one of our favorite filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was an almost life-changing experience for us on its release in 1964, as we wrote in a post which also includes the film itself:

We recall our own first impression of the film as a college student in Colorado. First we felt a momentary sense of outrage, quickly followed by the first of very many outbursts of cathartic laughter.

The poster image is drawn from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the enigmatic 1968 film that captured so well both the aspirations and the fears of a cultural revolution then at its peak.

A brilliant, exacting, and often exasperating director, his filmography covers a wide range of human experience on which to draw.

According to the gallery’s website [their dates in the text are wrong, with the right dates (September rather than August) on the poster]:

Spoke Art is proud to present: KUBRICK – An art show tribute to the films of Stanley Kubrick. Over 60 artists were invited to re-imagine their favorite characters, scenes and thematic concepts from one of the world’s most prolific directors. Spanning a plethora of mediums from sculpture and painting to limited edition prints, the show seeks to honor one of the 20th century’s most significant directors while also reinterpreting his impact in a contemporary context.

>snip<

All the artists were allowed to select the film of their choosing, there were no guidelines on subject matter or content. Each artist was given free reign to re-interpret and render their take on Kubrick’s entire cinematic collection. Resulting in a variegated display, KUBRICK is an experiment in modernity, a cross-section between film and art.

We certainly hope to have a look, health willing.

The best exit line ever for our first move star crush


Farewell to Lauren Bacall, that most magnificent of Hollywood stars during our earlier years, and what better war to say farewell than this clip from To Have and Have Not, pairing her with real-life love Humphrey Bogart and featuring the best exit line ever: