Friday, July 25, 2008

Film Blog Focus: mardecortesbaja

For at least a year and a half, possibly two, I've been an avid reader of Lloyd Fonvielle's ongoing and often astounding survey of the twists and turns of visual culture, mardecortesbaja. Combining a choice selection of imagery and a generous helping of extremely good film writing (with more than occasional trips out and into other media), mardecortesbaja gives those who may grow weary at the insularity of some sites (no names, please) a rare opportunity to step back and begin to marvel at the fundamental interconnectedness of all that we create for ourselves to look at: the high and the low, the garish and the sublime, the seen and the unforseeable.

Among recent, noteworthy entries:

A brief meditation on Winslow Homer's Summer Night (with a Tennyson chaser).

Making the case for no less than Arthur Freed as a Producer/auteur of equivalent creative stature to Val Lewton . . . or Walt Disney, even.

The latest in a superb series of essays on the single most romanticized movie reviewer in human history.

A short, sharp look back at Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail (more about which in a future post on this blog).

A Keats Poem for Today

A pre-broadcast run-through of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre On the Air adaptation of The 39 Steps (part of another ongoing series).

The creative embrace of George Gershwin.

And . . .

A couple of entries on Vincente Minnelli. First, the "peculiar culture of perversity" reflected in 1952's The Bad and the Beautiful; then, a wholly honorable defense of Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), featuring one passage that this correspondent dearly wishes he had written:

The problem is that Meet Me In St. Louis is the story of a functional family -- a concept which modern critics simply don't have the intellectual tools to engage. They're like art critics who are physically repulsed by the color brown trying to write sensibly about Rembrandt.

No way I can top that one.
One note, in closing: Those who peruse mardecortesbaja will eventually happen upon an exceptionally nice, entry-length endorsement for this blogospheric enterprise; and will, as a matter of course, think these sentiments little more than reciprocal, Mutual Admiration Society guff.

Piffle!

If Lloyd had damned this blog to hell before all the world the moment he laid eyes on it, I could not find it in me to dislike mardecortesbaja (though I could find it in me to keep my mouth shut about it). Unlike other blogs that merely try (and fail) to suggest the vastness of that terrain which art and life have created, mardecortesbaja is drawing us a map of it, line by line; and then explains, beautifully, what we'll find on the everlasting journey.

5 comments:

Vanwall said...

Altho I like Lloyd's mardecortesbaja, don't feel your other blog is failing in any way - it has its own way of unveiling the new, the old and almost forgotten, the strange, the curiously juxtaposed, in a vastness unmatched by other places, Lloyd's blog included.

Tom Sutpen said...

Thank you for the kind words, Rob. God knows you're our longest-lasting regular poster over at Gunslinger, and a very highly valued one at that. So I take your words seriously in this regard. The 'other blogs' link bit was about 50% a joke. That said, I do feel that I have a less-than-firm grasp of what that blog is supposed to be about now than I did, say, two years ago. Perhaps it's evolving into something else (though I'm damned if I can tell what that would be), perhaps it's moving in circles. All I know is that more of it is out of my hands than I prefer; and . . . not to brag, I promise you . . . the astonishing number of visitors we get (close to 2,000 a day now) makes me somewhat anxious in light of that.

I'm a compulsive worrier, so take the foregoing for whatever it's worth.

Just do me one favor: If the blog ever starts to go downhill in you eyes, please let me know.

Vanwall said...

Oh, if you ever start slipping, trust me, I'll kick. The rather eclectic mix you have now is unlike any other's, and I have never read a discouraging comment regarding your site per se, ever. It is a regular stop for many people I know online, and every time I visit, something new or amazing, or both, pops up - it is uncanny how well you and your compatriots ferret out the damnedest things about our poor benighted world. Keep up the excellent work!

swac said...

Oh well, I always wanted to be part of a grand noble failure.

Tom Sutpen said...

Glad I could accomodate ye, compadre!