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Be warned — it can make other films seem unbearably crass. At the age of 29, Jean Vigo died from rheumatic septicaemia, just a few days after the opening of his only feature film, L'Atalante. Those bare facts are a landmark not just in French cinema, but in the larger history of artistic film-making, and of the absolute commitment of film-makers. Moreover, the poetic lyricism of L'Atalante, far from dating, has been more appreciated over the years.

L'Atalante is 75 years old, yet its beauty and its harshness are still hauntingly alive. They stop at a small town. Jean meets a girl, Juliette Dita Parlo , and they are married, while hardly knowing each other. So the barge moves on. It is not an easy transition for the married couple. In Paris they go ashore and the wife flirts with another man. There is a fight and she runs away, then the husband goes in search of her. Marriage is the film's subject and it is most moving in its cinematic grasp of a deeper bond than that permitted by the lovers' temporary misalliance.

The simplicity of the story resembles silent cinema, but these people talk. The film is enhanced by one of the cinema's first great musical scores by Maurice Jaubert , and Vigo's inspired compositions and images in which the spirit of romanticism seems threatened by the very light that reveals it. But it's Boris Kaufman's cinematography that is most impressive — it serves as an example of the way realism can be infected by the characteristics of poetry and dream. Not the least legacy left by Vigo — to Truffaut and Godard, for instance — was the essential artistic value of black-and-white photography and its curious but easily forgotten establishment of a new way of seeing.

Not many films have managed to have their cake and eat it quite like Mulholland Drive technically it's "Dr. It is a movie about the worst of Hollywood and the best; the dark, brutal undercurrents and the sparkly celebrity froth, the dream and the reality. But it's the way it twists the two into some unfathomable Moebius strip that makes Mulholland Drive such a work of art. The film's greatest feat is to give us all the thrills of a classic Hollywood movie within an avant-garde framework — and to get away with it.

First-time viewers unfamiliar with Lynch's ways will be taken in by the initial set-up: an amnesiac car-crash victim Laura Harring staggers into the house of an aspiring actress recently arrived in town Naomi Watts , but three-quarters of the way through, having been drawn into a glossy noir fantasy, the rug is pulled out from under us completely. The same actors now appear to be completely different characters. The glamour has all evaporated. The relationships have all changed. Nothing's nice and sunny any more. Who's dreaming who? What goes where? What does it all mean?

Piecing Mulholland Drive together is half the film's appeal — and there's still no guarantee it all makes sense. Lynch even issued a set of clues shortly after the release to guide people through the mystery — "notice appearances of the red lampshade" — which only made the story more cryptic.

But even after we think we've deciphered it, the film somehow loses none of its power. That sense of being taken in, only to realise we understood nothing, gives us some emotional connection to Watts's character. And even as he's tying our brains in knots, Lynch is showing us behind the curtain in Mulholland Drive — showing us this is all really just his dream. But the illusions remain intact even after they've been dismantled. Lynch can still create charged scenes out of nothing but a few skilled actors and our own subconscious. He knows how to push our buttons, and he shows us that he knows how to push our buttons.

And we love it. Steve Rose. Viewers and critics always have their personal favourites, but some films achieve a masterpiece status that becomes unanimously agreed upon — something that's undoubtedly true of Andrei Rublev, even though it's a film that people often feel they don't, or won't, get. It is minutes long in its fullest version , in Russian, and in black and white. Few characters are clearly identified, little actually happens, and what does happen isn't necessarily in chronological order.

Its subject is a 15th-century icon painter and national hero, yet we never see him paint, nor does he do anything heroic. In many of the film's episodes, he is not present at all, and in the latter stages, he takes a vow of silence. But in a sense, there is nothing to "get" about Andrei Rublev. It is not a film that needs to be processed or even understood, only experienced and wondered at. From the first scene, following the flight of a rudimentary hot air balloon, we're whisked away by silken camera moves and stark compositions to a time and place where we're no less confused, amazed or terrified than Rublev himself.

For the next three hours, we're down in the muck and chaos of medieval Russia, carried along on the tide of history through gruesome Tartar raids, bizarre pagan rituals, famine, torture and physical hardship. We experience life on every scale, from raindrops falling on a river to armies ransacking a town, often within the same, unbroken shot. With Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky was consciously crafting a language that owed nothing to literature, and it's a pity so few others followed him.

In today's cinema, we're still served up linear, cause-and-effect biographies of artists as if, by doing so, we'll understand the person and be able to make sense of their art. Andrei Rublev operates according to a different understanding of time and history.

It asks questions about the relationship between the artist, their society and their spiritual beliefs and doesn't seek to answer them. Despite its apparent formlessness, Andrei Rublev is precisely structured and entirely aesthetically coherent. Acts of creation are mirrored by acts of destruction, there are themes of flight, of vision, of presence and absence; the more you look, the more you see. And then there are the horses, Tarkovsky's perennial favourite: horses rolling over, horses charging into battle, swimming in the river, falling down stairs, dragging men out of churches.

At times the screen resembles a vast Brueghel painting come to life, or a medieval tapestry unrolling. We're always conscious of life spilling out beyond the frame, and never conscious of the fact that this was made in 60s USSR. In Tarkovsky's own turbulent time, the film lit all manner of controversy.

Its Christian spiritualism offended the Soviet authorities; its depiction of Russia's savage history upset nationalists like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and its challenging form led to various cuts. She endorsed the uncompromising activist group Act-Up, and spoke in sex-positive terms with a comfort and care that was decades ahead of its time. She had a secret life as a downtown rock star.

In a recent Guardian piece , Thurston Moore recalled how Madonna was thoroughly plugged in to the downtown scene when the two were neighbors in New York. Time to dig those up. She set the tone, and the bar, for modern pop megatours. There were seven dancers and two backup singers, not to mention her band. She made talent scouting a central part of her art. She has had a gift for finding the right people to complement her own skills and open up her world: the fashion designers and stylists, the video directors, the D.

I would rather be Peggy Guggenheim than Harry Cohn. She brought vogue from the ballroom to the living room. Yet, less than one year later, Madonna drew so creatively from that rich demimonde that she wound up providing the ideal conduit between it and Every Mall U. She then hired them as virtual co-stars on her Blond Ambition tour. She found more than one way to aggravate the Vatican. But Catholicism has kept a close watch on Madonna, too. She dressed up like a clown and performed a show. If you thought Madonna was out of ways to shock people by , her Tears of a Clown show would have been an eye-opener.

For two performances only so far , in Australia and Miami, Madonna dressed up like a very high-fashion clown — makeup, tricycle, the whole shebang — and performed a night of bizarre comedy, covers and stripped-down arrangements of her songs. Yes, I was there, and there were tears. She made the hiring of stylists standard operating procedure.


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Stars had worked with fashion designers. Part of their bond came from their Catholic upbringings: Both were propelled by a love for its iconography and an aversion to its conservative teachings. Madonna moved on, but her decision to work with stylists — among them Paul Cavaco and Lori Goldstein — stuck.

She was a part of the most memorable V. Should we let Courtney Love come up, Mr. Loder wondered? But it was too late. She was the first great identity artist. The line is fine between lifting a rock on a scene and a five-finger cultural discount. But identity was a game that nobody played better — or with more affection, perversity and provocation — than the white lady in the flamenco dress.

She spoke frankly about having had abortions. But Madonna was among the first major stars to unapologetically admit to having had abortions. She sullied the reputation of entire species of flower with a single off-handed comment. She sullied the reputation of Kevin Costner with a single off-handed comment. She gagged behind his back. She promoted erotically charged images of same-sex couples. Today, same-sex couples are as much a motif in music videos as choreography. She became briefly British. Madonna took what she needed from a move to London — a hunky husband and a quasi-British accent.

But when she got sick of the local tabloids calling her Madge , she returned to America. The accent came with her for a while. She turned an MTV ban into cash. She spun an Abba sample into her own disco brilliance. She made her backing singers and dancers household names. She salvaged a potentially disastrous turn at the Tonys. Madonna demonstrated how to futz your way through an awards-show presentation with aplomb after stumbling through the regional-theater prize at the Tony Awards.

Side note: Who decided Madonna should present that? She provided a key role model for sex-positivity for several generations of women. From Mae West to Susie Bright, pop culture brims with entertaining advocates for female sexual assertion. But few have made it their mission to push it as consistently, loudly and resonantly as Madonna. She has been on message from Day 1, not only talking about the power of sex, but also displaying as many examples of it as blatantly as she possibly could.

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She made crucifixes cool. She had a rare run of five great albums in a row and then some. She knows the culture thinks she should be taken out back and shot, which is maybe why the gun has become almost as prominent an image in her work as the crucifix. By sporting a red ribbon on her wrist, she fleetingly put the faith in vogue. She scored more Top 10 hits than any other artist. And Madonna remains one of the highest-grossing live acts, too. She turned her fans into Mini-Mes.

But a trip to a Madonna concert yielded a cornucopia of women and men dressed like the Queen of Pop — largely because she provided her devotees with so many options. Fans in veils? Fans in armloads of plastic bracelets? Yes, they still show up! But as she so often did, Madonna set the standard. She proved herself to be the queen of media damage control. Madonna gave the world a lesson in how to defuse a potential scandal in after crummy nude images, shot early in her career, were sold by their photographer for exploitative layouts in Playboy and Penthouse.

Why has she always been such a mechanical actress? It was a movie. Paris and Helen , Hero and Leander , and Acontius and Cydippe are the addressees of the paired letters. These are considered a later addition to the corpus because they are never mentioned by Ovid and may or may not be spurious. The Heroides markedly reveal the influence of rhetorical declamation and may derive from Ovid's interest in rhetorical suasoriae , persuasive speeches, and ethopoeia , the practice of speaking in another character.

They also play with generic conventions; most of the letters seem to refer to works in which these characters were significant, such as the Aeneid in the case of Dido and Catullus 64 for Ariadne, and transfer characters from the genres of epic and tragedy to the elegiac genre of the Heroides. The Amores is a collection in three books of love poetry in elegiac meter, following the conventions of the elegiac genre developed by Tibullus and Propertius.

Elegy originates with Propertius and Tibullus; however, Ovid is an innovator in the genre. Ovid changes the leader of his elegies from the poet, to Amor love. This switch in focus from the triumphs of the poet, to the triumphs of love over people is the first of its kind for this genre of poetry. This Ovidian innovation can be summarized as the use of love as a metaphor for poetry. Within the various poems, several describe events in the relationship, thus presenting the reader with some vignettes and a loose narrative.

Book 1 contains 15 poems. The first tells of Ovid's intention to write epic poetry, which is thwarted when Cupid steals a metrical foot from him, changing his work into love elegy. Poem 4 is didactic and describes principles that Ovid would develop in the Ars Amatoria. The fifth poem, describing a noon tryst, introduces Corinna by name. Poems 8 and 9 deal with Corinna selling her love for gifts, while 11 and 12 describe the poet's failed attempt to arrange a meeting.

Poem 14 discusses Corinna's disastrous experiment in dyeing her hair and 15 stresses the immortality of Ovid and love poets. The second book has 19 pieces; the opening poem tells of Ovid's abandonment of a Gigantomachy in favor of elegy. Poems 2 and 3 are entreaties to a guardian to let the poet see Corinna, poem 6 is a lament for Corinna's dead parrot; poems 7 and 8 deal with Ovid's affair with Corinna's servant and her discovery of it, and 11 and 12 try to prevent Corinna from going on vacation. Poem 13 is a prayer to Isis for Corinna's illness, 14 a poem against abortion, and 19 a warning to unwary husbands.

Book 3 has 15 poems. The opening piece depicts personified Tragedy and Elegy fighting over Ovid. Poem 2 describes a visit to the races, 3 and 8 focus on Corinna's interest in other men, 10 is a complaint to Ceres because of her festival that requires abstinence, 13 is a poem on a festival of Juno , and 9 a lament for Tibullus. In poem 11 Ovid decides not to love Corinna any longer and regrets the poems he has written about her. The final poem is Ovid's farewell to the erotic muse. Critics have seen the poems as highly self-conscious and extremely playful specimens of the elegiac genre.

About a hundred elegiac lines survive from this poem on beauty treatments for women's faces, which seems to parody serious didactic poetry. The poem says that women should concern themselves first with manners and then prescribes several compounds for facial treatments before breaking off. The style is not unlike the shorter Hellenistic didactic works of Nicander and Aratus. The Ars Amatoria is a Lehrgedicht , a didactic elegiac poem in three books that sets out to teach the arts of seduction and love.

The first book addresses men and teaches them how to seduce women, the second, also to men, teaches how to keep a lover. The third addresses women and teaches seduction techniques. The first book opens with an invocation to Venus, in which Ovid establishes himself as a praeceptor amoris 1. Choosing the right time is significant, as is getting into her associates' confidence.

Ovid emphasizes care of the body for the lover. Book 2 invokes Apollo and begins with a telling of the story of Icarus. Ovid advises men to avoid giving too many gifts, keep up their appearance, hide affairs, compliment their lovers, and ingratiate themselves with slaves to stay on their lover's good side.

The care of Venus for procreation is described as is Apollo's aid in keeping a lover; Ovid then digresses on the story of Vulcan's trap for Venus and Mars. The book ends with Ovid asking his "students" to spread his fame. Book 3 opens with a vindication of women's abilities and Ovid's resolution to arm women against his teaching in the first two books. Ovid gives women detailed instructions on appearance telling them to avoid too many adornments.

He advises women to read elegiac poetry, learn to play games, sleep with people of different ages, flirt, and dissemble. Throughout the book, Ovid playfully interjects, criticizing himself for undoing all his didactic work to men and mythologically digresses on the story of Procris and Cephalus. The book ends with his wish that women will follow his advice and spread his fame saying Naso magister erat, "Ovid was our teacher". This elegiac poem proposes a cure for the love Ovid teaches in the Ars Amatoria , and is primarily addressed to men. The poem criticizes suicide as a means for escaping love and, invoking Apollo, goes on to tell lovers not to procrastinate and be lazy in dealing with love.

Lovers are taught to avoid their partners, not perform magic, see their lover unprepared, take other lovers, and never be jealous.

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Old letters should be burned and the lover's family avoided. The poem throughout presents Ovid as a doctor and utilizes medical imagery. Some have interpreted this poem as the close of Ovid's didactic cycle of love poetry and the end of his erotic elegiac project. The Metamorphoses , Ovid's most ambitious and well-known work, consists of a book catalogue written in dactylic hexameter about transformations in Greek and Roman mythology set within a loose mytho-historical framework. The word "metamorphoses" is of Greek origin and means "transformations.

Within an extent of nearly 12, verses, almost different myths are mentioned. Each myth is set outdoors where the mortals are often vulnerable to external influences. The poem stands in the tradition of mythological and aetiological catalogue poetry such as Hesiod 's Catalogue of Women , Callimachus ' Aetia , Nicander 's Heteroeumena , and Parthenius ' Metamorphoses.

The first book describes the formation of the world, the ages of man , the flood , the story of Daphne 's rape by Apollo and Io 's by Jupiter. The second book opens with Phaethon and continues describing the love of Jupiter with Callisto and Europa. The third book focuses on the mythology of Thebes with the stories of Cadmus , Actaeon , and Pentheus.

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Not Every Day: A Sad, Little Comedy of Less-than-Erotic Errors, Not for Lack of Trying

The fourth book focuses on three pairs of lovers: Pyramus and Thisbe , Salmacis and Hermaphroditus , and Perseus and Andromeda. The fifth book focuses on the song of the Muses , which describes the rape of Proserpina. The sixth book is a collection of stories about the rivalry between gods and mortals, beginning with Arachne and ending with Philomela. The seventh book focuses on Medea , as well as Cephalus and Procris. The eighth book focuses on Daedalus ' flight, the Calydonian boar hunt, and the contrast between pious Baucis and Philemon and the wicked Erysichthon. The ninth book focuses on Heracles and the incestuous Byblis.

The tenth book focuses on stories of doomed love, such as Orpheus , who sings about Hyacinthus , as well as Pygmalion , Myrrha , and Adonis. The eleventh book compares the marriage of Peleus and Thetis with the love of Ceyx and Alcyone. The twelfth book moves from myth to history describing the exploits of Achilles , the battle of the centaurs , and Iphigeneia. The thirteenth book discusses the contest over Achilles' arms , and Polyphemus. The fourteenth moves to Italy, describing the journey of Aeneas , Pomona and Vertumnus , and Romulus.

The final book opens with a philosophical lecture by Pythagoras and the deification of Caesar. The end of the poem praises Augustus and expresses Ovid's belief that his poem has earned him immortality. In analyzing the Metamorphoses , scholars have focused on Ovid's organization of his vast body of material. The ways that stories are linked by geography, themes, or contrasts creates interesting effects and constantly forces the reader to evaluate the connections. Ovid also varies his tone and material from different literary genres; G.

Conte has called the poem "a sort of gallery of these various literary genres. Ovid's use of Alexandrian epic, or elegiac couplets, shows his fusion of erotic and psychological style with traditional forms of epic. Six books in elegiacs survive of this second ambitious poem that Ovid was working on when he was exiled. The six books cover the first semester of the year, with each book dedicated to a different month of the Roman calendar January to June. The project seems unprecedented in Roman literature.

It seems that Ovid planned to cover the whole year, but was unable to finish because of his exile, although he did revise sections of the work at Tomis, and he claims at Trist. Like the Metamorphoses , the Fasti was to be a long poem and emulated aetiological poetry by writers like Callimachus and, more recently, Propertius and his fourth book.

The poem goes through the Roman calendar, explaining the origins and customs of important Roman festivals, digressing on mythical stories, and giving astronomical and agricultural information appropriate to the season. The poem was probably dedicated to Augustus initially, but perhaps the death of the emperor prompted Ovid to change the dedication to honor Germanicus.

Ovid uses direct inquiry of gods and scholarly research to talk about the calendar and regularly calls himself a vates , a priest. He also seems to emphasize unsavory, popular traditions of the festivals, imbuing the poem with a popular, plebeian flavor, which some have interpreted as subversive to the Augustan moral legislation. The Ibis is an elegiac poem in lines, in which Ovid uses a dazzling array of mythic stories to curse and attack an enemy who is harming him in exile.

At the beginning of the poem, Ovid claims that his poetry up to that point had been harmless, but now he is going to use his abilities to hurt his enemy. He cites Callimachus' Ibis as his inspiration and calls all the gods to make his curse effective. Ovid uses mythical exempla to condemn his enemy in the afterlife, cites evil prodigies that attended his birth, and then in the next lines wishes that the torments of mythological characters befall his enemy. The poem ends with a prayer that the gods make his curse effective. Book 1 contains 11 poems; the first piece is an address by Ovid to his book about how it should act when it arrives in Rome.

Poem 3 describes his final night in Rome, poems 2 and 10 Ovid's voyage to Tomis, 8 the betrayal of a friend, and 5 and 6 the loyalty of his friends and wife.


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In the final poem Ovid apologizes for the quality and tone of his book, a sentiment echoed throughout the collection. Book 2 consists of one long poem in which Ovid defends himself and his poetry, uses precedents to justify his work, and begs the emperor for forgiveness. Book 3 in 14 poems focuses on Ovid's life in Tomis. The opening poem describes his book's arrival in Rome to find Ovid's works banned. Poems 10, 12, and 13 focus on the seasons spent in Tomis, 9 on the origins of the place, and 2, 3, and 11 his emotional distress and longing for home.

The final poem is again an apology for his work. The fourth book has ten poems addressed mostly to friends. Poem 1 expresses his love of poetry and the solace it brings; while 2 describes a triumph of Tiberius. Poems 3—5 are to friends, 7 a request for correspondence, and 10 an autobiography. The final book of the Tristia with 14 poems focuses on his wife and friends. Poems 4, 5, 11, and 14 are addressed to his wife, 2 and 3 are prayers to Augustus and Bacchus , 4 and 6 are to friends, 8 to an enemy.

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Poem 13 asks for letters, while 1 and 12 are apologies to his readers for the quality of his poetry. The Epistulae ex Ponto is a collection in four books of further poetry from exile. The Epistulae are each addressed to a different friend and focus more desperately than the Tristia on securing his recall from exile.

not every day a sad little comedy of less than erotic errors not for lack of trying Manual

The poems mainly deal with requests for friends to speak on his behalf to members of the imperial family, discussions of writing with friends, and descriptions of life in exile. The first book has ten pieces in which Ovid describes the state of his health 10 , his hopes, memories, and yearning for Rome 3, 6, 8 , and his needs in exile 3. Book 2 contains impassioned requests to Germanicus 1 and 5 and various friends to speak on his behalf at Rome while he describes his despair and life in exile.

Book 3 has nine poems in which Ovid addresses his wife 1 and various friends. It includes a telling of the story of Iphigenia in Tauris 2 , a poem against criticism 9 , and a dream of Cupid 3.