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MAGNUM OPUS - THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF (NEW MIXTAPE TRACK!)


Arison Cain

She could never be as close as she appears to.
I gotta wonder if she sees me in her rear view.
And so I’ll go where I hope the road disappears to.
I know, you know, I know, you know I hear you.

Spesh to Death

It always starts with a phone call,
and a frozen proposal to hold on
from a rum soaked tongue that you wrote off,
dial tone corroded, droning ghost talk.

Drowning, road block, detour, car crash,
median bleeds in the street light, start back.
Camel Fats bloat and erode through the hard pack.
Finally arrive, dead eye from the bar staff.

Single malt albatrosses,
nauseous, sucking at the faucet. Lost in
exhaustion, caught up in collusions of truth and
the fruitless pursuit of a beautiful youth,

who, through ruses and pseudonyms moved you,
and grew to imbued the milieu you were rooted in
with coups, revolutions, and blues.
Who’s got answers? Who’s got proof?


Who’s got an address? Who’s got a line?
Who’s got conviction and who’s gonna dime?
Who’s gonna roll up their sleeves, get beastly
and try to beat the Nietzsche outta you completely?

Bleeding by the liter and obliterating scenery,
incinerating any inner civil plea for reasoning.
Vehemently fleeing, leaving every piece you broke.
Lips so close you can taste her smoke.

Arison Cain

I could never be as close as I appear to.
She’s gotta wonder if I see her in my rear view.
And so I’ll go where I hope the road disappears to.
You know, I know, you know, I know I hear you.

It always ends with a slow song
and a prolonged note like so long
hope, like no I don’t promote any
notions of love choked cut throat throes.

So apropos that these photographs snapped
could capture the passion of having you
tactfully crawl right back to me. What scandal?
We handled the whole goddamn thing masterfully.

Two doubles of velvet straight
to celebrate several devilish traits,
and revel in peddling malevolent trades,
inevitably leveling pendulum weights,

to settle the last loose venomous thread.
One sentiment left, and we put it to bed.
A gentleman’s threats are as good as his enemy’s
debts. - - Correct?

Who are you lying for? Who’d you protect?
What are you crying for? What’d you expect?
Who’s gonna roll up the street discreetly,
and leave me serene in the feverous evening?

Retreating from the treasonous repeater that you’re squeezing,
every piece of me believing the uneasiness is fleeting.
Last kiss from a lipstick smeared cigarette.
Barrel so close I can taste its breath.


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SPESH TO DEATH

ARISON CAIN

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Ill Stills Episode Two - Noir Week!


In episode two, Ill Stills brings Noir Week to its thrilling climax, with a live-wire discussion of such classics as The Maltese Falcon, Fury, Stranger on the Third Floor, The Letter, Suspicion, High Sierra, Kiss Me Deadly, and Touch of Evil.


Rebel Without a Pulse,


Kevin Hinman


CATCH UP ON NOIR WEEK

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

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NOIR WEEK

Day Four: Touch of Evil’s Relentless Wasteland

A bomb is planted in a small Mexican border town, and four minutes later, it explodes in the United States.  What happens between these two events, one long, panic-soaked tracking shot, is the stuff of cinematic legend.  The long take that opens Orson Welles’ 1958 masterpiece, Touch of Evil, has been lauded, dissected, and parodied to such an extent that it has, in many ways, overshadowed the film itself, but the explosion is only a prologue to set the tone for what’s to come.  It’s treading water - rookie stuff.  If you want to get dirty, and Touch of Evil wants you to get filthy, you have to sink with the ship.

Russell Metty’s camera is a fury loosed, an orgy of movement through bleak streets, decedent bars, and the second most terrifying motel room in which Janet Leigh would ever spent a night.  Every one of Metty’s shots is a compositional paragon, and every moment under Welles’ direction is an exercise in unbearable tension.  An early scene, in which Vargas (Charlton Heston) attempts to reach Quinlan (Welles) to complain about the harassment of his wife (Leigh), turns feverously disorienting.  Henry Mancini’s sparse, syncopated piano compositions underlie a succession of dollies, as Vargas’ unknown pursuant zig-zags across the background.  Much of Touch of Evil’s cinematographic grandeur stems from Welles and Metty’s unwillingness to spoon-feed the audience a focal point.  The viewer’s eyes are made to dart, rapid-fire, across the canvas, searching for clues, catching glimpses of threats, as the camera swirls, off-kilter, taking in as much of the dizzying muck as possible.

Quinlan engulfs every frame with his immense, grotesque body, the personification of his own, irrevocable corruption.  His eyes jitter.  Sweat seeps from every pore.   In a motel room, while Leigh’s Susie lies drugged on a mattress, Quinlan succumbs to madness, strangling a man in cold blood.  Welles’ cuts between Quinlan’s face pulsing in and out of camera, the strobe lighting collapsing any polarity of night and day, good and evil, and Susie on the bed, naked and passed out, soft, sexual moans escaping her lips.  Welles pushes the boundaries of even the most dedicated noir fan, looking to get his kicks with a little murder, a little sex.

How dark do you like ‘em?

Well, how dark can we get?



Pretty damn dark, is the answer, and Touch of Evil climaxes with another chase, one reminiscent of The Third Man’s finale, in which Welles flees for his life through a Vienna sewer system.  Here, Vargas attempts to get Quinlan’s murder confession on tape as Quinlan exponentially sinks into the waste that is existence.  An overhead shot captures his essence as he attempts to wash the blood from his hands in a filthy reservoir.  Whatever Quinlan was before Touch of Evil, he’s now just another crumbling edifice of a ghost town.  Whatever justice meant before Fritz Lang’s Fury is now nothing more than a recording of a dead man, a confession played out in some swamp in some run down hell-hole of a town, a disembodied voice that means nothing at all.

NOIR WEEK


Day Four: Touch of Evil’s Relentless Wasteland


A bomb is planted in a small Mexican border town, and four minutes later, it explodes in the United States.  What happens between these two events, one long, panic-soaked tracking shot, is the stuff of cinematic legend.  The long take that opens Orson Welles’ 1958 masterpiece, Touch of Evil, has been lauded, dissected, and parodied to such an extent that it has, in many ways, overshadowed the film itself, but the explosion is only a prologue to set the tone for what’s to come.  It’s treading water - rookie stuff.  If you want to get dirty, and Touch of Evil wants you to get filthy, you have to sink with the ship.

Russell Metty’s camera is a fury loosed, an orgy of movement through bleak streets, decedent bars, and the second most terrifying motel room in which Janet Leigh would ever spent a night.  Every one of Metty’s shots is a compositional paragon, and every moment under Welles’ direction is an exercise in unbearable tension.  An early scene, in which Vargas (Charlton Heston) attempts to reach Quinlan (Welles) to complain about the harassment of his wife (Leigh), turns feverously disorienting.  Henry Mancini’s sparse, syncopated piano compositions underlie a succession of dollies, as Vargas’ unknown pursuant zig-zags across the background.  Much of Touch of Evil’s cinematographic grandeur stems from Welles and Metty’s unwillingness to spoon-feed the audience a focal point.  The viewer’s eyes are made to dart, rapid-fire, across the canvas, searching for clues, catching glimpses of threats, as the camera swirls, off-kilter, taking in as much of the dizzying muck as possible.

Quinlan engulfs every frame with his immense, grotesque body, the personification of his own, irrevocable corruption.  His eyes jitter.  Sweat seeps from every pore.   In a motel room, while Leigh’s Susie lies drugged on a mattress, Quinlan succumbs to madness, strangling a man in cold blood.  Welles’ cuts between Quinlan’s face pulsing in and out of camera, the strobe lighting collapsing any polarity of night and day, good and evil, and Susie on the bed, naked and passed out, soft, sexual moans escaping her lips.  Welles pushes the boundaries of even the most dedicated noir fan, looking to get his kicks with a little murder, a little sex.

How dark do you like ‘em?

Well, how dark can we get?

Pretty damn dark, is the answer, and Touch of Evil climaxes with another chase, one reminiscent of The Third Man’s finale, in which Welles flees for his life through a Vienna sewer system.  Here, Vargas attempts to get Quinlan’s murder confession on tape as Quinlan exponentially sinks into the waste that is existence.  An overhead shot captures his essence as he attempts to wash the blood from his hands in a filthy reservoir.  Whatever Quinlan was before Touch of Evil, he’s now just another crumbling edifice of a ghost town.  Whatever justice meant before Fritz Lang’s Fury is now nothing more than a recording of a dead man, a confession played out in some swamp in some run down hell-hole of a town, a disembodied voice that means nothing at all.

7 notes

NOIR WEEK

Day Three: It Cannot Hear the Falconer - MacGuffins and the Great Lie

The title cards come up on John Huston’s legendary noir, The Maltese Falcon, with a history of the object in question.  It is a needlessly convoluted history, involving The Knight Templars, Charles V, and pirates, all of which is smoke and mirrors pomp, but pomp that elevates the falcon from object to idea.  It is this idea Sam Spade chases.
Spade, played with equal parts menace and gruff cut of sex appeal by Humphrey Bogart, is a detective waist-deep in a bedlam of villains, policemen, smugglers, and, naturally, a beautiful, but dangerous woman.  They all want the falcon, not the object, but the idea.  It’s a classic noir MacGuffin, a plot device that brings the characters together, but means, ultimately nothing.  Hitchcock’s protagonists clamored endlessly for such things, a strip of celluloid in North by Northwest, or a song in The 39 Steps, but Huston’s The Maltese Falcon may be the first movie to deconstruct what the MacGuffin’s essential nothingness means.  If the chase is more important than what’s being chased, as The Maltese Falcon suggests, then a self-imposed deception to ignore this fact is necessary for the pursuit to continue.  The falcon may not be worth risking everything, but in order to be able to risk everything, and fully submit to that dangerous freedom, the lie is paramount.
Then there’s Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor), the femme fatale catalyst for Spade’s involvement in the chase, who has Spade’s partner killed, and hides behind Spade’s muscle while the falcon is positioned into place.  More empathetic than Bette Davis’ enigmatic Leslie Crosbie in The Letter, Ruth vies for sympathy from Spade as well as the audience.  Doomed from the start, when the elevator gate, which might as well be the cold bars of a jail cell, finally closes on Ruth, a great loss is felt.  Here was a woman who knew the score, who knew Spade, or pretended to know Spade, or - what’s it matter, anyway?  She’s gone now.  Things fall apart.
Ruth, like the falcon, is a fake, a lie for which men and women are betrayed and killed, for which they betray and kill in turn.  When asked about the falcon in the film’s climax, Spade replies it’s “the stuff dreams are made of,” with equal parts bitterness and longing, now that he’s woken up.  With one final, pathetic glance at Ruth as she’s taken away by the police, Spade sees the elevator gate cast a shadow of the falcon’s claw over her face.  Was she worth the chase?  No, Sam decides, and descends down the long staircase to the street below, and by the time he’s reached the bottom, he may even believe himself.

Catch Up on Noir Week!

Day One

Day Two

NOIR WEEK


Day Three: It Cannot Hear the Falconer - MacGuffins and the Great Lie


The title cards come up on John Huston’s legendary noir, The Maltese Falcon, with a history of the object in question.  It is a needlessly convoluted history, involving The Knight Templars, Charles V, and pirates, all of which is smoke and mirrors pomp, but pomp that elevates the falcon from object to idea.  It is this idea Sam Spade chases.

Spade, played with equal parts menace and gruff cut of sex appeal by Humphrey Bogart, is a detective waist-deep in a bedlam of villains, policemen, smugglers, and, naturally, a beautiful, but dangerous woman.  They all want the falcon, not the object, but the idea.  It’s a classic noir MacGuffin, a plot device that brings the characters together, but means, ultimately nothing.  Hitchcock’s protagonists clamored endlessly for such things, a strip of celluloid in North by Northwest, or a song in The 39 Steps, but Huston’s The Maltese Falcon may be the first movie to deconstruct what the MacGuffin’s essential nothingness means.  If the chase is more important than what’s being chased, as The Maltese Falcon suggests, then a self-imposed deception to ignore this fact is necessary for the pursuit to continue.  The falcon may not be worth risking everything, but in order to be able to risk everything, and fully submit to that dangerous freedom, the lie is paramount.

Then there’s Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor), the femme fatale catalyst for Spade’s involvement in the chase, who has Spade’s partner killed, and hides behind Spade’s muscle while the falcon is positioned into place.  More empathetic than Bette Davis’ enigmatic Leslie Crosbie in The Letter, Ruth vies for sympathy from Spade as well as the audience.  Doomed from the start, when the elevator gate, which might as well be the cold bars of a jail cell, finally closes on Ruth, a great loss is felt.  Here was a woman who knew the score, who knew Spade, or pretended to know Spade, or - what’s it matter, anyway?  She’s gone now.  Things fall apart.

Ruth, like the falcon, is a fake, a lie for which men and women are betrayed and killed, for which they betray and kill in turn.  When asked about the falcon in the film’s climax, Spade replies it’s “the stuff dreams are made of,” with equal parts bitterness and longing, now that he’s woken up.  With one final, pathetic glance at Ruth as she’s taken away by the police, Spade sees the elevator gate cast a shadow of the falcon’s claw over her face.  Was she worth the chase?  No, Sam decides, and descends down the long staircase to the street below, and by the time he’s reached the bottom, he may even believe himself.


Catch Up on Noir Week!


Day One


Day Two

8 notes