Friday, July 24, 2009

Cinema #44, Memory #8, Time #18

To speak—perhaps to write?—of Casablanca is like looking at an old photograph: there you are but somehow that is not you: in between there is memory, the time that went by and the renewed photofinish, its battle with time won—and lost. Time does not pass: you pass through time and as in a narrow hedge of brambles you leave your clothes and skin on the thorns too. In short, time is like the bank in roulette: it always wins. (It wins even when it loses.) And it has won against Casablanca. It that obsolete, distant, almost ridiculous and false movie the one which you so lovingly remembered? Is the petulant part of Claude Rains the perfect portrayal of a gentleman in cynic’s clothing that we treasured in our memory? And Humphrey Bogart, isn’t he a caricature of what he pretends to be, with his absurd existentialist gallantry? And isn’t Paul Henreid ridiculous as the hero of the Resistance that they oblige him to be? Instead of conspiring underground and keeping himself hidden he devotes himself to conducting the Marseillaise in front of all the Germans, like a laughable apprentice of Leopold Stokowski? And what about Conrad Veidt, with his real German accent made into a phony one by the falseness of his role as a stupid Prussian gentlemen? To the cronista’s questions, the reader can in turn ask: “So, then, why the four points (the sign of excellence), what are they for?” They are for memory.

G. Cain (a.k.a. Guillermo Cabrera Infante), “Time v. Cinema” (June 2, 1956)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Architecture #40, Cinema #43

The face of Vincent Prince superimposed over Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, Los Angeles, California.

From the opening sequence of House on Haunted Hill d: William Castle (1959)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Death #6, Order of the Universe #28

All the Flowers of the Spring
Meet to perfume our burying:
These have but their growing prime,
And man does flourish but his time.
Survey our progresse from our birth,
We are set, we grow, we turne to earth.
Courts adieu, and all delights,
All bewitching appetites;
Sweetest Breath, and clearest eye,
Like perfumes goe out and dye;
And consequently this is done,
As shadowes wait upon the Sunne.
Vaine the ambition of Kings,
Who seeke by trophies and dead things,
To leave a living name behind,
And weave but nets to catch the wind.

John Webster, from The Devil's Law-Case (c. 1623)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dead Presidents #47

Philippines Governor-General William Howard Taft rides a water buffalo. (c. 1903)

Thursday, July 02, 2009