Here's to a grease fire



[encoded obscenities: the lingering dissolve from the baseball game onto the slang hangs over a college-aged man talking to two college-aged women, such that while the correct research gives him "oolie droolie" and "solid sender", we have just read - and do not stop reading - "two ply poke" and "bob the apple."]

Then the dissolves come unstuck and the words hang, not as things that have been heard but as injunctions (clip the mooch!)...

... and descriptions that goad on the described.

Further proof that the difference between mainstream film and its experimental counterparts is not a difference in kind and rarely has been.  It is merely a difference in

a) quantity of filler, against which the dissolves, nonsense speech, and drooling is off-set, and

b) location of that filler: in the film itself, padding it out to 2 hours and 17 minutes, like caulking padded around one little razor or opening, or as the entire negative space surrounding the film (read: the social relations of everyday life; the social relations of cinema), as if what we watch was a very small and quite temporary black hole burning in a sea of fat.

So, here's to the re-cutting of all that has heretofore existed.  To a little padding where it's missing, to let a razor breathe from time to time.  To less of it overall, to those little holes chaining together. 

For here is, too, a grease fire.

Vista 1-2-3

 If you stood here at dawn you might be the first person in the country to see the sun's first rays

Vista 1

 Vista 2

Vista 3

Later Cadillac founded Detroit, inspiring the name of the prestigious automobile

Escape From Venice (Snake's Postcard to Utopia About Difference)


I’m writing you from hiding, because I’m hiding I have crouched down and pulled a wet version of a cardboard box over myself, right beside a short metal pole, and I am breathing very quietly.  To be perfectly honest my pen may give me away and then where will we be. Like dragging a dead car across tin foil.  SCRITCH SCRITCH

But I’m not hiding because it’s loud, I’m hiding because I just killed a man, he had sweet soft jowls, his hands were full of rope, just like a cartoon of an old-fashioned sailor, yeah, but he recognized me, that big dopey face opening and then darkening and I saw the mouth start to come open to say SN…  And he did not finish his word because I killed him and then I got inside the box.

But I’m not hiding because it did not say a name, I’m hiding still, still here and still as all, because nearby someone is playing the harp.  There must have been a very nice harp left somewhere because this is no janky bit of twine and stripped buoy parts, it’s the real deal.  And before I saw that man I heard the harp, I said to the guy playing it, I love that song! because he was playing Debussy’s “En Bateau”, which is very fitting because this is a city about water.  He said, yeah, I bet you do.  It’s killer.  And now I was gonna say to him, hey play that more, did you see what I just did to that guy, play that Debussy, but he never stopped playing, and I am hiding because I truly cannot tell you if he ever was playing Debussy or if he is playing Jimmy Buffett’s “Stranded on a Sandbar”.  I get convinced it’s the Buffett, and that’s fine, because the Debussy was good when it lasted, and it was different, it’s still good that way, it’s like milk totally surrounded by glass that’s sitting next to milk that is just sitting out and smells like it.  And then I’m saying, no, it’s definitely still the Debussy, I was such a fool, a real ninny for thinking of Buffett, I’m in Venice after all, Venice where one most certainly does not think of Jimmy Buffett or any music that is made for people in shorts who play songs about people who wear shorts and smoke weed and just talk about smoking it and crumple their dicks in their hands and do the same with puffy dying birds and lead business seminars.  Buffett does not have four hands!  You do not think of Buffett in Venice, in fact it is impossible to think of him here, the canals block it out, like moats do.  Because Buffett never makes the music water and vice versa, he’s never played a note that shook itself off and drunken slid back in amongst the rest of them, without shivering.  Buffett just writes songs about all that.  He wants to tell you, I have heard there are those who do not crumble puffy birds, dying or not.  This song is a war on them.

But I’m not hiding from anything, I’m hiding because there is no more difference anymore.  There is no more difference between “En Bateau” and “Stranded on a Sandbar” then there is between a city and a fog these days, between a bear chock-full of maggots that aim to conspire to rise and fall like a bear’s chest and a bear.  There used to be a difference.  A difference between dicks and birds.  It was plucked out by the century.  Between my left eye and where my right one used to be.  Between a day with a few clouds and a night with many things on fire spaced at very even intervals.  Between a city and a fog that is shaped like a city.

 If I don’t make it home, at least you will know exactly what happened and just what to tell them, and you should know also that I always thought there was a difference between you and a century and I do not even care if that is true or not because it does not matter to have difference but it does to have had you.

Love, Snake

But negation is not always made of razor wire.

A long piece from me at The New Inquiry on cinema, counterfactuals, riot police whose throats remain intact, the limits of criticism and of the films critiqued, sword-forging, restoring old houses, forcing Wes Anderson to remake La Terra Trema in black-and-white with an all-Limp Bizkit soundtrack, pseudomorphism, and, above all, more compelling uses of teeth.

Good evening, everyone, and here is the latest news from Athens: Good night. (Also, watch out for floating torch lamps. We've had reports they're heading west.)

A briefest of evening news.  A very long commercial break.

(Note on the alarming autophagy of all things spectacular: the pre-broadcast video features a happy gathering of young people raising what look like flaming rocks to the dark sky.  In a time of forthcoming civil war, it appears that if you can't beat them (i.e. anarchists),  then "join" them.  By "join", that is, we mean "make sure they are smiling, well-buffed yuppies with sexy hair and that they do not touch the things - those Ikea molotovs - that are burning as they rise upwards magically to touch nothing, like banks or cars.  No, just to softly illuminate the night.  You know, just like hope.  Or something.")

Weep me deadly (Il nuovo caso Matarazzo, 3)


A nun is crying very hard, near hiccuping, because outside where it is brighter, they are carrying her son in a coffin and she just threw flowers down on him, they fell surprisingly fast, flowers she borrowed from the feet of a stone Mary and she then apologized to Mary.  It's the end of a film.  The word that tells us so comes from the depth of the frame, glowering just before her, terminal, and growing in size.  But the closer it gets to the surface, the further it gets from having any excuse to participate in that depth, any more than the names that spelled out who spent money and picked out costumes could touch the stone quarry they obscured.  And yet the more the word swells, the more it does interfere and cast, the more it glows, making those tears flare and shine, hot as radiation.

But this is not an ending, after all.  It is merely a halfway point, three years before it is picked up again, in 1955.  Then the story opens up once more, to burn a whole lot faster and stranger this time, doubling her into a desired knockoff played by herself and impregnated by the same man, three years before Hitchcock will do so.  Building its pitch to the shriek of ending high above another courtyard where this time this nun will try to stop a women's prison riot by appealing to every mother everywhere ever.

That same year, another ending, another opening, further west, by the water.

Hot as tears.
For the record:

May 2008.

The parole board in the state of Georgia spared a convicted killer from execution hours before he was due to die by lethal injection on Thursday and commuted his sentence to life in prison.

At Thursday's hearing, his lawyers presented a dossier of evidence attesting to his remorse and good behavior in jail, according to local media reports. The lawyers also said he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine addiction at the time of the crime.
This in a case in which there was no doubt about the evidence and the man in question pleaded guilt.

The man in question, for the record, was white.

This place where we live, it gets worse and worse, and it stays exactly the same.  At the same time.  And on and on and on and on.


In a little less than 4 hours, the state of Georgia is going to inject a man with enough poison to kill him, despite already having kept him in jail for 22 years, despite being entirely unable to prove his guilt, despite recanted testimonies and allegations of police pressure on witnesses, despite appeals, despite protests.

But until protests stop being protests and start literally, materially, physically halting the normal functions of the state (for yes, this is a very normal one), we cannot be surprised in the least that things like this happen and that they will continue to happen, ad infinitum.  Saddened, yes, furious, yes.  But surprised, no.

And honestly, that blood's on our hands, if we ever think that we did all we could have done about it.

Today is a disgusting day.

Good intentions aside, this is a sterling portrait of irrelevance:

Wendy Gozen Brown, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International, said that Troy Davis would want the protests to remain peaceful. 

"In this type of situation, there's always the potential for it to go awry, with certain groups, angry rhetoric. But Troy Davis would want people to keep fighting peacefully, for him and for, as he would put it, all of the other Troy Davis's out there." 

This is very simple.  If it does not go awry, then nothing changes.  (Awry means "crooked or turned".  Wry means "turn."  Something that is awry has taken a turn.  Something that has not gone "awry" has continued to exist the way it was.  It has remained the same.)   And all the "other Troy Davis's out there" will precisely continue to be "Troy Davis's" in that they also will get jailed and will get executed, despite whatever flurry may or may not occur on Twitter.

To speak the word peaceful in relation to the execution of a man is unconscionable.]

Shed! (The sun considers a relatively large hole hanging in space)

Oct. 28. – Misery, dismal forebodings, and despair. Beware of all light discourse -- a joke uttered at this time would produce a popular outbreak.

Oct. 29. – Beware!

Oct. 30. – Keep dark!

Oct. 31. – Go slow!

Nov. 1. – Terrific earthquake. This is the great earthquake month. More stars fall and more worlds are slathered around carelessly and destroyed in November than in any other month of the twelve.

Nov. 2. – Spasmodic but exhilarating earthquakes, accompanied by occasional showers of rain and churches and things.

Nov. 3. – Make your will.

Nov. 4. – Sell out.

Nov. 5. – Select your "last words." Those of John Quincy Adams will do, with the addition of a syllable, thus: "This is the last of earthquakes."

Nov. 6. – Prepare to shed this mortal coil.

Nov. 7. – Shed!

Nov. 8. – The sun will rise as usual, perhaps; but if he does, he will doubtless be staggered some to find nothing but a large round hole eight thousand miles in diameter in the place where he saw this world serenely spinning the day before.

M. Twain, 1865

As if you're some criminal or something

This should be watched.

Escape From Venice (Snake's first postcard to Utopia)


Just arrived in Venice.

As I suspected, tourists everywhere!  But what can you do about it.  Besides, it’s not as if I’m a local.  Not like I belong here.  (Not like anyone does.)

I’ll tell you one thing: this place ain’t what it used to be.  Trash everywhere.  Gonna be tough to get an authentic Italian meal.  Although they let you row the gondolas yourself nowadays.  That’s pretty awesome.  You know I always wanted to do that.

First thing I did on arriving?  Went to La Fenice, the opera house.  (That’s where I’m writing you from.)  Remember the one from that film, where the Italian woman is fucking that Austrian soldier whose pants are always wedged way up his ass and she gives him that cash that Italians were going to use to fight the Austrian soldiers? 

No one asked me for a ticket.  Found an empty seat near the back, though it was pretty packed.  Hushed.  I don’t know what they were performing, think it was Cavalli, but it’s been a while.  The stage was lit by three torches, or not torches, just big bowls with burning oil in them. One man was on stage, a bull of a man, his voice massive, it leapt and ran, climbed like a deer, like shadows, like the fact that I wept, sentimental old coot I am.  It soared high, highest and just then, just a moment ago, when it dropped from its peak, he drew the knife that had been drawing from the aria’s start the rest of the way across his neck, the last note ending in a hiss, in an opening gurgle.  His throat whistled.  The sound of the blood is lost in the applause, but still, I know it is there.

Wish you were here.


Kinema Nippon Out Now

Get it while it's hot.  Free for download if you're hard up, but it's a hell of a little book.  As always, small publications by sharp people are bound to be of more interest than the lumbering footfall of the publishing industry.  More importantly, if you can, make it to the screening series, which will be remarkable...

Like us

They who go down to the sea
In shops, Zig-zagging across the
Sloping grass on their way, nerves
All a window’s arranged waves

Q & I brought the antler down off the shelf
It once had been a book that has been there too long
It hid, like us

Ploughed a dust-bowl, called it quits
like us, Traded that time for another time
Skated it.  The way the idiots

Took her off the wall, just like a chicken
And dragged her to the sink, through the dust
I thought, where they
Saw what chickens get done and
How they went on for exactly twenty words too many

Put the antler away, sold.
I heard they did not ever
Quite make it to the sea

Noise to be made

[read below and get busy with this.  via Signalfire]

Over the years long standing organizing efforts by class conscious prisoners in the Virgina state system’s two maximum security facilities (Red Onion and Wallens Ridge) have been met with systematic repression including beatings, assaults with electrical and chemical weapons, isolation in special segregation units, interdiction of communications and at least one shooting incident.
Most recently Kevin “Rashid” Johnson a founding organizer of the NABPP-PC (New African Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter) and author of the book “Defying the Tomb” has been subjected to an extremely restrictive communications regime including the suspension of all outgoing mail and deprivation of most telephone access.
This is being carried out within the context of a broader agenda on the part of the Virginia DOC to criminalize and smear prisoner organizing as “gang activity”.
According to a recent message from an outside supporter on Rashid’s current situation:
“Basically, they have stepped up their interference with his
communication  network and also their efforts to
stigmatize him as a  “gang-member.”
Under the direction of one M. Duke, a gang task-force member who wears a  T-shirt with the inscription GANG  UNIT (in very big letters), Rashid’s cell  was raided and all of
his stamps were  taken. While his cell was being  ransacked, Rashid questioned Duke, pointing out  that the latter’s insignia was  like a signal to incite violence on the part
of  the authorities. He  explained to Duke that the NABPP opposes gang behavior and  asked why he was being targeted. Duke’s only response was that he “just happened
to be there that  day.”
All Rashid’s phone connections have been blocked…
He thinks that all his outgoing mail has been blocked.
He asks that protest be made to state officials. He holds
Tony  Adams (an  “investigator”) responsible for the
cutting off of his lines of   communication.
Rashid wants “noise” to be made — to protest the
interference and also to  protest the labeling of the NABPP
as a gang.”

From Georgia to California and access the country the prison struggle is a key link in the broader class confrontation today and we need to support those organizing on the front lines under conditions of maximum repression and control.

Please call Red Onion State Prison at  (276) 796-7510 or mail a letter to ROSP, PO Box 1900, Pound, VA 24279 to politely express your concern about the ongoing political repression and forward and repost this information as widely as possible.

Flood ornament

 if you attack the world with sufficient violence, it ends up spitting its filthy lucre back at you; but never, never will it give you back joy


Kissing your landlord means your dog will kill your father (Il nuovo caso Matarazzo, 2)

the dark precursor is not a friend
- G. Deleuze 

14 minutes into 1952's Nobody's Children (I figli di nessuno), whose story reaches its women's prison riot conclusion in 1955's The White Angel (L'angelo bianco), a man who owns a quarry and a woman whose father guards that quarry are kissing in a stone storeroom.

Around them are hanging coils of rope, tools leaning.  He has just told her that he is going away for a while.  She's wide-eyed, a little pissed, nervous.  The film cuts back and forth past their shoulders as he and his careful mustache reassure her.  She voices doubts.  They both half-turn their heads screen left, stretching the elastic band of their eye contact - and hence swelling their doubt - until her face is framed again over the shoulder, and a hand grabs her chin and tilts it up.  Her head is on his chest.  Profile face-off once more.  He keeps clasping her, her hair in an airy false grip, her upper arms.  Periodically, his fingers reclutch, they knead and press.  He's playing her like an accordion.  Their bellows are both heaving a bit.  And so they are kissing again.  This time it gets hotter and heavier.  Keep positioning their hands, squeeze out all the negative space between them, heads all jammed up.  His hand snakes around her back's middle, and her hand begins to slide downward.

Just then, just as her hand moves down, her father exits the house and moves down the stairs.  He calls her name a few times, muttering at first.  Doesn't sound so hot.  Elsewhere, earlier, he complained about his lungs.  He was reassured - by the man kissing his daughter - that he wouldn't lose his job.  Their dog lies along the triangle formed by the steps, but he stands up, barks in the direction where the storehouse lies.  It is raining, or at the least, the film is streaked by lightly pulsing lines of white.  No impact or collisions of water, however.

At this point, it's merely an issue of cross-cutting.  Luisa came down these same steps and stepped directly into the storeroom.  Her dad walks down those same stairs.  He is looking for her.  Presumably he will continue down them and enter the frame where she and Guido are grabbing at each other.  Or she will hear his voice and take the few steps back to him.  Presumably he will have bad news - this is, after all, a melodrama - that will wedge a wrench into their gears.  And the next shot preserves the logic of cross-cutting between two discontinuous spaces with a limited causal connection: Guido and Luisa  now exit the storeroom, having heard her dad's voice, which must, given the time elapsed by her previous passage from stairs to his arms, be no more than ten feet or so away, just around a bend.  The voice passes from that space, aiming right, they exit, listening left.

Even here, though, something is off.  There is a sense of transference between those two passages - their kissing and the dad walking down the stairs - that exceeds simply picking out the voice through the  rain.  Most basically, it's a diagetic transference, shoved together: she is missing because she is off doing this, therefore her father will search her out.  Not what is going on in the storeroom but merely her presence there provides the occasion for her father to exit the house into the rain.

But more than that, it seems something has blown leftward as well, from their kiss to him, less her absence from the domestic zone and more a scent of lust picked up on its own wind.  As though the father just sensed - nostrils widening, hair pricking up - that arm pulling closer, that hand going south, and both he and the film as such step in abruptly, with perfect prohibitionary timing ("remember, you're still a daughter, and I'm sick and old!").  It's a necessary dodge that both prevents things from getting too tawdy and insists that they have done exactly that.  Until the film returns a too-brief 10 seconds later and spoils the fun, that cut away both spares-denies us the sight and indicates just what is going on (read: they knock boots).  The cut is equally necessary in providing a necessary interruption to what otherwise would have no internal moment of breakage: how could that kiss end, other than in what won't be shown, or in that continuous thrum of high-pitch affect, those mawkish/horny tears that are intolerable every time they appear in these films.  It cannot break itself free.  One cannot decouple.

Although they do decouple, far more than can be imagined.  For this will be the end of them as a couple that touches one another.  It will be the last time they really kiss, not even 15 minutes into a 196 minute slog of piety, shame, missed connections, nunnery, a whole lot of not getting over one other, and a whole lot more of not doing much of anything to change that fact.

(As far as melodramas go, this two-film span ranks up there with Max Ophüls' Letter From an Unknown Woman in terms of sheer dumb deferral and solitary pining away, such that what stops you from getting your very obvious object of desire is little more than, in the Ophüls, your preference for flirting by constantly standing outside his house and, in these films, the fact that lust, admiration, and love aren't allowed to quite merit de-habiting a nun, even if she is that nun.  Needless to say, these films lay the sexed groundwork, in viewers' memory banks and in the common imagery of upturned face, bosom-stretched-to-burst black serge,  and bleached wimple, for a very different sort of film to come, more closely associated with Jess Franco, Joe D'Amato, and Norifumi Suzuki.  They are a prolegomena to any future nunsploitation.)

This will be their last hopeful kiss.  After all, it does kill her father.

For as soon as she exits screen left, after kisses and promises of reunification, the film cuts to her father dead on the ground.  The dog ("il cane Full") paws at the corpse and then begins to bark.  It's a startling, and deeply comic cut.  Her father was not in the best of health, but the film refuses any transitional sequence that might show him tumbling or clutching his chest.  He was on a dark stairway, alive, with a dog.  He is on the flagstones, dead, with a dog.  It's a cut that flawlessly contrasts with the incapacity of lovers to leave one another, to break contact and all their weepy hugs, all that lingering.  This, instead, is mercenary effective.  His act of death won't be marked, or remarked upon, other than as a given fact.  We don't watch him die.

 However, despite the time traversed previously, her quick missing steps to where Guido stood, Luisa now runs along a long stretch of track toward the camera, from the depths, through a space that was not there whatsoever before, along chunks of marble, fleeing from the man who owns all that stone to the man who guarded it all.  As if thrown askance by the death she hasn't yet seen, that disjunction produced by that sudden corpse produces a matched wrinkle in the film's space.  A hiccup of a nightmare.

And no wonder this distance, which traverses between two incommensurable moments: she enacts in time the area, the filler, skipped by that montage that slammed together kiss and corpse.  It's there she runs, alongside the detritus of the quarry, on tracks which prescribe a fixed path of motion over which we've shuttled unaware.

And it is only to be walked alone, doubling in her movement the story followed throughout all of the Matarazzo work, in which the film - and the characters themselves - inserts distances, blockages, passages, and obstacles in the way of what could otherwise be solved easily.  (Most commonly, it could be solved by a conversation, by speech, the very hallmark of melodramatic staging.  It is not.  It is blocked by the written word, which is missing when it is needed or capable of being read against its "intent."  Writing on this problem of writing to come soon.)

Luisa moves toward her father, spies something - him - off-screen and rushes toward it, out of that long track, and into a closer framing near the stairs, checked dress and blowing hair a clash and blur in front of dirty rock:

This ramps up all the more the exceptional space of that strange movement along the tracks: a movement from background to foreground, as opposed to the horizontal axial movement that shapes the rest of the sequence.  It brackets the house as discontinuous, just as that storeroom was, a stage different from spaces that can be inserted as durations but which can and will be excised when need be.  Such that their occurrences - a kiss, a corpse - can be crushed together in spite of their non-contact.  They become collisions of billiard balls which in fact, are not even on the same table, in the same room.

From all this, two other lines to follow.

First, as brief as the point it makes: the obsession with saving time, with dumping info as fast as possible.  All to get back to what we're there to see (Yvonne Sanson wring her hands in a bed with her dark hair falling around her, weaponized children coming to torment their parents with pathos, sloppy cluttered spaces opening onto white walls and prison bars, wipes and dissolves).  In many cases, it resorts to whatever devices necessary, such as the visual declaration that, yes, our leading man is indeed in London:

In this instance, though, the whipcrack pace of transition from kiss to corpse, the removal of all ligament and gradation, produces effects other than a streamlined film.

The second inquiry is of the consequences of that sort of pacing: namely, the accordance of filmed events, the ramping up of coincidence toward a world in which all aspects (separate events, discontinuous spaces, restricted information) will come to function as if part of a unified causal chain or a predetermined string of occasions.  This isn't necessarily uncanny or comic as such, and most genre films, as well as the major swath of mainstream film, turn on this.  One too rarely sees a film in which, for example, the two gunfighters just don't quite wind up in the same saloon, or that you just don't happen to be sitting next to the wise guru/celebrity musician (whose opinion you respect for reasons that are never justified) on the airplane, who gives you some sage advice about how much work it is to have a good relationship and how despite all the drugs and women, he still thinks about that one he let get away and how you aren't going to let her get away, are you man?  because nothing - and I mean nothing - is worth that loss.

Accordance is the sense of a chaining together, a torqued form of Kuleshovian montage, in which we don't get a + b or ab or a as determinant of b's affective or symbolic potential or vice versa.  Instead, something that oscillates between

1. a and b are varieties, modulations, of the same substance (the clutchy kiss is of the same order of sadistic sentimentality as is the death of her father),

2. a and b may be distinct but any sort of intermediary distance between them utterly collapses (as in, the rapidity with which Matarazzo moves things along compresses into a chained, consequential sequence what otherwise would be cross-cutting), or

3. a causes b in a much more direct way than can be rationally explained (that kiss killed, or, wait a minute, what of that dog...)

The first option is the general texture of melodrama when it fires on all cylinders.  And when it does, it can allow for some breathing room: it will insert visual textures or light relief (minor subplots, children who say idiotic things but at least are not ceaselessly clinging and crying Mama, why did you have to leave me now?).  It's only in the wilder and more hurried directors that this dissolves into the stranger, and often funny, space of the second.  In many ways, it produces an obscure match cut.  Even if you don't find Dad's death as funny as I do (it is difficult not to), the affect generated indexes a form of humor, because it produces a semblance of causality where there should be none, merely by dint of extreme proximity.  In that way, it has a key function of preserving the integrity of the melodramatic moments (they don't fall apart under their own weight, after all) while giving us a necessary breather from them.  This will be the function of the wipe as editing technique in Matarazzo's films, a strangely prevalent one, in which a scene is not "cut" or dissolved but is rather kept entire as it is slotted out, shoved aside, allowed to remain whole and merely displaced.

The third mode of accordance mentioned deserves more space, especially in terms of the full fledged deployment of overly literal metaphors - "storm of emotion" - into diagetic materials and settings.  In this context, what stands out is the sense of consequences that follow but can neither be explained nor explained away: you betray your class and kiss the Count who owns the quarry, your old father dies.  Despite other instances in which characters are reassured in the mode of "don't blame yourself, even if he came out in the cold to find you," here that doesn't obtain.  We remain with such an extreme complicity and proximity of actions and a collapse of diagetic transitional spaces that what obtains is:

the impossibility of not blaming

the incoherence of spaces and durations (raised to further extremes elsewhere in the Matarazzo films, such that it is only a child getting a whole lot bigger that allows us to index a duration

the simultaneous elevation and dissolution of separation (those spaces cannot be traced between, because we do not see the passage between them, and the actions can only occur as a chain of isolated incidents.  However, that separation exists as an impossible stop-gap, compromised by the lack of material between occasions, and leads instead to a  contagion and transference of information, enmity, and affect.  See also this wipe as an instance of that piling up of separate zones.)

Therein lie some of the more Catholic aspects of these films, although we should take them as much closer to a world of dark forces that have immediate consequences, rather than a balance sheet before St Peter.  And worse, there are no coherent rules that govern them.  We don't know why exactly your kiss killed your father.  But we cannot doubt that exists in a chain of causation. There is little analytical editing/ decoupage in these films compared with the Hollywood melodramas against which they stand out, but there is a placing in temporal sequence actions and sites that don't belong to the same filmed space: in short, there is a somewhat occluded return to forms of montage more closely associated with silent cinema, at least in the big narratives of a history of film style.  This is, then, a cinema in which montage isn't concerned primarily with how these things combine or evoke or illuminate through generative dissimilarity.  This is not cinema of metaphor.  It is a cinema of pressing effects and collisions, of hidden causes.

Of those hidden causes, one remains present in the film, perhaps as a flight to a different kind of cinema, yet exerting tension on the load-bearing generic structures at hand.  That is, normally, in the grammar of a film, if a character enters a dark space alive with something that has sharp teeth and, in the next shot, is dead beneath the paws of that fanged something, we have reason for suspicion.  And so, even while il cane Full is the devoted companion, the film's compounded syntax and insistence on hustling ahead at top speed can't shake off a different thought about who's to blame.

And strangely, this counter-reading is borne out in the film.  Without descending into fantasies of canine revenge or conspiracy, the dog has appeared before in cross-cutting connection both with these bouts of making out and with bad turns of event.

Guido and Luisa are having a furtive little encounter of kissing and telling each other how they feel about each other.  Film cuts from Guido leading Luisa to sit down on the grass...

 to Full settling down himself on the grass, as a match on action from Luisa, such that he is necessarily coded as her double and extension.

Cut back to them, who start to kiss, and right when it hits that certain pitch of grasping and clinging...

... cut to Full, who covers his eyes with his paw.

Full here is carrying a lot of weight, because he functions as a second Luisa, ashamed at what she is doing; as a proxy for us the audience, ashamed doubly at the inanity we're sitting through and at how much we enjoy it; as the comic relief from that which will be experience as torrid, tedious, or both; as a furry approximation of how editing is experienced, looking and then blocking out sight, opening again onto a different set of objects.  Yet he is also something peculiar.  For it is shortly after this that Anselmo, the manager of the quarry and the minion of the Guido's countess mother who ruins it all for the lovers, appears to spot them.

And so the other possibility hangs there, that the dog is not only transition, not only breathing room, but, as a consequence of the extreme compression of data, an agent that exerts unclear effects, a precursor who can't be tied properly to a range of consequences.  That it is his shame, his renunciation of watching, that impels another to come and see who can use that sight to ruinous effect.   That, in fact, it was he who killed the father, who stewarded his death and stood over his kill.  He who enacts what we truly want to see, this covering of our eyes, this barking laughter.  This need to break the stymied air that stifles us all the more given that we choose to breathe it, that no matter how we protest, we are, after all, here of our own volition.

She stuttered (Il nuovo caso Matarazzo, 1)

 Working on a long project on Italian melodrama with my friend Erik.  In particular, I have been spending a lot of hours with Rafaello Matarazzo, who is

a) very Catholic, in the full spectrum of allegedly incompatible tendencies that fall beneath that,

b) deserving of posthumous shot to the mouth,

c) a lynchpin figure in making sense of a post-war period in which national cinemas tried, consciously or lumbering, to forge a language that was not identical to that shilled out by Hollywood's relative dominance of cinematic export (particularly dramatic in Italy in that period, which had only a few years of self-imposed development before the war, and largely due to a fascist conception of autochthonous film industry),

d) should be watched by any and all, considering that these are some of the most arduous, maddening, and somatically effective melodramas made (if not producing tears, as they don't for me, then producing a voice, a voice that finds itself talking to a screen with all the urgency of the standard don't open the closet! warning)

and e) around whom the long-circling debates - above all, on stupidity, the popular, and on whether or not the work of negation finds a better point of departure with self-authorized critical cinema or with cinema that fully, and perhaps unabashedly, embodies the contradictions of capitalist culture - are still crucial.  They found a reappraisal by Jacques Lourcelles and other French theorists (around Positif and Presence du Cinéma) and were picked up again in '76 Italy in what came to be called il caso Matarazzo - the Matarazzo case, as if set before revisionist judge and jury - and bore on the sloppy intersections of genre film and realism, particularly of the neo- bent.

 There's more to be said, all the more now, even if not "about now' - as in, while fully rejecting that ever-awful move, what does Matarazzo tell us/communist theory/film studies/formalists now?".  (Here's a hint, particularly when folded into that list of "us" is "The Left": nothing whatsover.)  Better, as ever to ask: what do we want to tell ourselves, that we wouldn't if we didn't have that particularly dissolve, that dog hiding his face, that storm, those wipes that pass through the frame like night trainsWhat have we not known needed saying, whatever its scale or consequence?

As such, this is the first in a short series of posts on those films.  And to start things right and lay a first grammar:

This is what should be meant by a dissolve.  (Dissolute lust unrequited and spurned by the schemings of bad mothers <---> torch-bearing mob of quarry workers led by the count who owns the quarry, in search of the woman who won't be found, even though her image is still there and walked through by their horror movie antics.)

And this is what will be meant by a wipe, of a shot away, but not cleanly, by the same figure set elsewhere, barging in.  A stutter.