I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx


by Shannon Butts
Feb. 22, 2017

With technological innovations in sound and cinematography, the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood, the 1930s to the 1950s, produced musical films aimed at creating a dreamscape of Middle American values – a razzle-dazzle spectacle of modernity. In the 1930s few Americans could afford the luxury of the opera, ballet, or theatre and many did not take kindly to the ‘fast and loose’ values that came with vaudeville stages and burlesque performances; however, the new form of the ‘integrated’ musical film blended story, song, and dance to produce a middle class, middle brow, middle moral option for the populist masses. Combining the high art of operatic and symphonic style with the bawdy revues and stage productions of the ‘common folk,’ musicals had a style more aptly suited for the emerging ‘middle’ America and its vernacular...


Shannon Butts is a beautiful Southern belle transplanted to the cold, bustling metropolis of Boston, MA. She enjoys talking to strangers, whose kindness she has always depended upon, and dancing to anything that has a lot of bass (whose kindness she has also always depended upon). While not busy pursuing an MA in English Literature, she builds scale models of legendary cities on the surface of pennies.

by Kristen Bialik
Feb. 22, 2017

Before he was a Broadway and Hollywood musical choreographer, Busby Berkeley served as a field artillery lieutenant in World War I. Radical career change? Not really. While stationed in Europe, Berkeley created and directed large-scale drill parades – but with a bunch of dudes. Once he got back to the US, however, he was eventually asked to help direct the 1925 musical Holka-Polka and suddenly, dozens of leggy blondes in sparkling showgirl costumes were made available to him. And you can bet he took advantage of the change from troop to troupe.

Still, Berkeley’s military beginnings are clearly visible in the dances he created. For one, there’s some pretty sexually charged excitement about working with leagues of scantily clad, dancing women, by a man who had limited contact with the ladies for awhile. And I mean, excitement. Or maybe that’s just Busby. Always up for a bit of not-so-subtle phallic symbolism, Berkeley’s routines often included props such as balls, propellers, and yes, five-foot long bananas...

Kristen Bialik is a writer, teacher and graduate student of Journalism and Mass Communication. In her spare time, she's a baker of pies and maker of stories.

by CremasterFanatic.com
Feb. 18, 2017
Cremaster 2 (79 min, 1999) was the first project Barney shot on HDTV (all of the Cremaster “films” are shot on video and then transferred to 35mm film for theatrical projection). The film cost about 1.7 million dollars to produce. An enormous amount of footage was shot -- estimates range from 17 to 30 minutes of tape for every minute used in the final edit (Hollywood films usually shoot at a ratio of 12:1).

The story of Cremaster 2 is loosely based on the life of Gary Gilmore (played in the film by Barney). Gilmore, born a Mormon, was sentanced to death for killing two men in Utah (a gas station attendant and a motel clerk) while on parole from a 12-year armed robbery sentance. Gilmore’s execution was the first in the US in a decade and attracted a lot of attention in the media. He did not appeal his death sentance, choosing instead to face execution by firing squad. Gilmore’s execution was a public relations nightmare for the Mormon Church: although both men he killed were Mormons, by choosing to make a “blood atonement” for his crimes Gilmore was absolved of his sin and entitled to all of the benefits of his Mormon baptism. Barney says he was drawn to Gilmore’s story because it, “was like a version of the whole ‘Cremaster’ dilemma, of a character in conflict with his destiny.” Gilmore’s story was the subject of Norman Mailer’s book The Executioner’s Song (Mailer, himself, appears in the film acting the role of escape artist Harry Houdini), parts of which form the foundation of Cremaster 2.

Within the Cremaster Cycle, Cremaster 2 represents the next first stirrings of gender difference. The idea of conflict between the sexes is explored using the metaphor of the queen bee and her drones (the beehive is also a symbol of Mormonism, signifying the importance of the collective over the individual, and appears on the Utah state flag). Another important motif in Cremaster 2 is the two-step. The dance is used as a metaphor for doubling back, Gilmore moving back through his own conception to Houdini’s metamorphosis...
CremasterFanatic.com is compiled and maintained by artist Eric Doeringer.

by Chrisaphenia Danai Papagrigoriou
Feb. 16, 2017

In order to fully comprehend Christoph Doering’s “3302” as a piece as well as a (oh yeah) narrative movie, we want to get inside this particular cab he drives through Berlin, so let's take a time machine to the early 80’s. 

It’s 1979 in Berlin. The wall is proudly up and the youth proudly scatter in whatever direction they want. If “no future” is actually a point in time, this is it. Not decisively against everyone and everything but rather narcissistically hedonistic...

Chrisaphenia Danai Papagrigoriou

by Jessie Brown
Feb. 16, 2017
Hans Richter was a Berlin-born artist and filmmaker known as one of the early pioneers of Dada, the subversive cultural and artistic movement that prevailed in the years during and immediately after the First World War. After that, he would go on to lay the groundwork for much of Surrealism and the Avant-Garde...
Jessie Brown is an east London refugee currently residing in Berlin.  At any given moment she is likely to be planning for, experiencing or writing about music festivals, clubbing, or travelling. She enjoys flea markets and gets overly-enthusiastic about obscure techno records.