Saturday, 28 February 2009

Jaques Tati

jaque stati by wastedpapiers on Treemo

The French are not renowned for their comedy but I always enjoyed watching Jaques Tati on his bicycle skooting round the villages and countryside getting into scrapes. Its very visual humour for the most part so no language barrier.
The short about the school for postmen. "L'Ecole des Facteurs "(1947)is one of the funniest black and white comedys Ive ever seen , on a parr with anything that Keaton, Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy ever did.
Mr Hulot's Holiday is a classic and full of great visual gags. The later films in colour too are wonderful. Mon Oncle and Traffic to name but two.

Discover more about Jaques Tati HERE.

Wikipedia says-

"The Tatischeffs (also spelled Tatishchev) are a Russian noble family of Rurikid descent; Tati's paternal grandfather was Russia's ambassador to France. After a career as a professional rugby player, Tati found success as a mime in French music halls. In the late 1930s Tati recorded some of his early supporting cameos on film with some success and thus began his career as a filmmaker. One of his short films, L'École Des Facteurs (The School for Postmen) provided material for his first feature, Jour de fête. His films have little audible dialogue, but instead are built around elaborate, tightly-choreographed visual gags and carefully integrated sound effects. In all but his very last film, Tati plays the lead character, who - with the exception of his first and last films - is the gauche and socially inept Monsieur Hulot. With his trademark raincoat, umbrella and pipe, Hulot is among the most memorable comic characters in cinema. There exist several recurrent themes in Tati's comedic work, most notably in Mon Oncle, Playtime and Trafic: they include Western society's obsession with material goods, particularly American-style consumerism, the pressure-cooker environment of modern society, the superficiality of relationships among France's various social classes, and the cold and often impractical nature of space-age technology and design.

Tati's first major feature, Jour de fête (The Big Day), tells the story of an inept rural village postman who interrupts his duties to inspect the traveling fair that has come to town. Influenced by too much wine and a documentary on the rapidity of the American postal service, he goes to hilarious lengths to speed his mail deliveries aboard his bicycle. Tati filmed it in 1947 in the village where he found refuge from Nazi recruiters during the German occupation. Released in 1949, the film was intended to be the first French feature film shot in color; Tati simultaneously shot the film in black-and-white as an insurance policy. The newly developed Thomson color system proved impractical, as it could not deliver color prints; Jour de fête was therefore released only in black-and-white. Unlike his later films, it has many scenes with dialogue and offers a droll, affectionate view of life in rural France. The color version was restored by his daughter, Sophia Tatischeff, and released in 1995. The film won a prize at the Venice Film Festival."

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The SMASH Robots

Compared to a Cyberman these robots were mere scraps of tin. Bit parts in the grand scheme of Sci-Fi but then again, they were pretty low-Fi and were only advertising prepared packet mashed potato.
Still lovely TV ads though!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Julia Lee & Her Boyfriends

I love American R&B of the 50's and this record just about sums up that era and why I love it so much. Terrific risque lyrics and wonderful piano playing and tight rythym section. Fabulous voice too. What was even nicer was I found this for a few pence in a flea market in the East End of London a few years ago. It had no sleeve but intrigued by the song tiles "King Size Papa", "Snatch And Grab It" etc. How could I resist!

"A popular entertainer who recorded frequently for Capitol during 1944-1950, Julia Lee's double-entendre songs and rocking piano made her a major attraction in Kansas City. She played piano and sang in her brother George E. Lee's Orchestra during 1920-1934, recording with him in 1927 and 1929 (including "If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight") and cutting two titles of her own in 1929 ("He's Tall, He's Dark and He's Handsome" and "Won't You Come Over to My House"). Lee worked regularly as a single in Kansas City after her brother's band broke up. In 1944, she started recording for Capitol and among her sidemen on some sessions were Jay McShann, Vic Dickenson, Benny Carter, Red Norvo, and Red Nichols, along with many local players. After 1952, Julia Lee only recorded four further songs, but she was active up until her death in 1958. "

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Eric Sykes

Incomparable is probably the easiest way to describe this quiet man who has the ability to make me laugh with just an adjustment of a facial muscle.

Born in 1923, or possibly built in a Lancashire munitions factory using spare parts from broken Spitfires, he has appeared on radio, TV and film for more than sixty years.

His film, alongside the immortal Tommy Cooper, The Plank, was, is and always will be the thing of genius. I mean, where would the Chuckle Brothers be without it?

Also worth mentioning is the lovely sitcom he did with the wonderful Hattie Jacques, Sykes. So very British and still so very funny.

In more recent years he has appeared in Harry Potter, where he gets eaten by a large snake (not Derek Guyler!), The Others with Nicole Kidman and lately in Son of Rambow where he didn't play the lead.

An extraordinarily talented man and one of Britain’s greats.


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Victorian Smoking Jacket

Here we are then, another part of my fantasy evening at home dressed in, and partaking of, Victorian bric-a-brac: The Smoking Jacket.

This I could wear, again whilst reading, while dragging the odd sweet from my Victorian Smoking Jar.

I would look as smart as a new pin and twice as dashing in this get up!


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Regal

We used to love going to our local cinema- the Regal in Northwich but sadly it suffered from falling attendences and closed a couple of years ago. It stands empty and decaying - full of tramps and rats apparently.
It had a good send off though- on the final night there was a charity showing of "Grease" and the place was packed with people dressed in 50's gear and jiving in the isles. The local paper took a big panoramic photo of the audience and I bought one to frame and hang on the wall to remember that wonderful last day. You can just see us munching our sweets on the 23rd row of the stalls. Bitter sweet with all that popcorn and sticky cola on the floor.
Also before it finally sold off all the interior in a huge online auction ( we bid for a door but didn't get it ) Archie and I were extras in a cheap zombie film "Dead City" made by a local lad. Great fun, and we saw the premier at our nearest cinema- five miles away- in Knutsford.
Heres a short film made by Granada of the 60th anniversary of the Regal back in 1998.