June 29, 2011
McCartney and Ono met earlier on June 8th with the Beatles community to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Cirque du Soliel's LOVE show in Las Vegas. The anniversary prompted new remix ideas for Spy Vibe's Jason Whiton, who created a short sound collage about friends and lovers, reunions and reconciliation. Hear "Love Peace" on SoundCloud here. Whiton was a winner in The Sun is Down remix competition held by Ono and the Plastic Ono Band last year. His award-winning experimental film for the piece is screening at film festivals, museums, and galleries. Related recent Spy Vibe posts: Paul McCartney's new tape-loop project and 60s experimental here, BBC Radiophonic Workshop here.
June 27, 2011
Note that some of the following ad copy is from original '60s press releases, which didn't quite get the plot facts right (In the story, Marcello is not on his 10th hunt). Culturally, both Sheckley and Petri are celebrated for their commentary on violence and entertainment in society. Although The 10th Victim offers us a stylish fantasy from 1965, the film also mines Italy's gladiatorial history and predicts the future of "reality" entertainment of the contemporary world. From Blue Underground:
"The Original sexy '60's cult classic is back! It is the 21st Century, and society’s lust for violence is satisfied by “The Big Hunt,” an international game of legalized murder. But when the sport’s two top assassins (Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress) are pitted against each other, they find that love is the most dangerous game of all. As the world watches, the hunt is on. Who will become THE 10th VICTIM?
THE 10th VICTIM is the international cult classic whose wild action and sexy style has influenced a generation of movies, from THE RUNNING MAN to the AUSTIN POWERS series. Now this outrageous satire has been newly remastered from the original negative and is presented here in groovy High Definition!"
Extras: Marcello: A Sweet Life (98 min doc), US & Italian Trailers, movie still & poster gallery, Marcello Mastroianni still gallery.
June 24, 2011
LICENSE TO KILL PUPPETS
The year was 1965 and the world had been thrown into James Bond-mania. Thunderball, the Bond adventure to save the world from two stolen nuclear bombs, was about to debut in theaters. Meanwhile, a group of technicians and plotters were working to unleash their Agent Bondson to UK audiences on the small screen. Agent Bondson?
The rugged spy Bondson, who closely resembled Sean Connery and found his name in tribute to Fleming’s character, appeared in the Thunderbirds episode, The Man From M.I.5 on January 20, 1966 (disc Vol 7 of the original A&E megaset). With a Bond-style score by Barry Gary, the episode had a wonderful tone of danger and international intrigue. Long before viewers were shocked by the likes of Mr. Bill, Team America, or Robot Chicken, Gerry Anderson’s puppets were smoking cigarettes, tying up super models, and carrying out assassinations. If you have only seen the Thunderbirds films and are looking for something with a spy edge from International Rescue, this is one to check out. *spoiler alert.
The Man From M.I.5 begins with a shocking puppet murder! A mysterious scuba diver sneaks aboard a yacht and shoots a British agent in the back- five times. He dives back into the water and blows up the boat. Agent Bondson investigates and discovers that his agent contact has been shot (“five times”) and that the stolen plans for a deadly nuclear device are missing. With world survival in the balance, Bondson calls on International Rescue to help recover the plans.
Bondson is called to a secret meeting in the woods by Thunderbirds “London Agent,” Penelope. He feels a pistol jabbing him from behind, announcing her arrival from the shadows. The dangerous tone of the story is pressed as she warns him, “Move a muscle and I’ll blow off your head.” These puppet spies are serious!
Agent Penelope goes undercover to recover the plans in a sting operation. The enemy scuba spy takes her at gunpoint to a remote boathouse. Again, the puppets are threatening; “This gun is loaded and I don’t mind using it. I said move and cut the chatter!”
Penelope manages to open her communicator compact and open a channel to Thunderbirds HQ. A series of coded hand movements and tapping passes between her and HQ, but they are interrupted when the baddie ties her to a chair. His plans? He’s planted a bomb in the room to kill two birds with one stone. “At the right moment, we detonate the bomb. The patrol boat comes in shore to investigate the explosion. You die and we will escape [the radar].” Once he leaves her to her doom, Penelope tips her chair to the floor so she can warn HQ.
The suspense is drawn out to allow the various (and cool) vehicles of International Rescue to search for Penelope and the enemy agent sub. The Thunderbirds aquanaut saves the day by shooting knockout gas into their ship. The detonator switch is not pulled, and the plans are recovered.
In a final meeting, Agent Bondson is lead again into the woods by Penelope- who speaks to him through a microphone. He finds the plans to the nuclear device hidden in a tree (a classic dead drop), and the two exchange the gratitude of their agencies. Bondson is given a final and deadly warning to never try to trace Penelope or attempt to investigate the identities of International Rescue.
LICENSE TO KILL
As someone who has focused mainly on Anderson’s espionage/sci fi shows (UFO, Captain Scarlet), it was a treat to explore this Thunderbirds “mission.” The story, dialog, score, and camera work all allowed the crew to pay homage to the spy film genre. The Bond connections are clear. Special Effects man Derek Meddings even went on to do the Bond films The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only. As mentioned, Agent Bondson resembles Connery's alter ego in face and in name. Even the scuba action was reminiscent of Goldfinger and Thunderall (which would also include yacht locations and props).
Beyond gadgetry and FX, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson often gave their shows adult-style thrills and spills, which is a main reason they continue to endure. Their puppets killed! The Man From M.I.5 brought a fantastic sense of style and danger to Thunderbirds that Spy Vibers will enjoy.
BONUS: SET PICK
Agent MATT KINDT: OUR MAN IN ST. LOUIS
Superspy author/artist and designer Matt Kindt had one set come immediately to mind when I asked him about his favorite Spy Vibe sets from the 1960s- Thunderbirds! Here’s what Matt had to say:
“The Thunderbirds Tracy Island set would probably be my #1 if you made me choose something right now....that set was fantastic!”
If you have not read Matt’s Superspy, order a copy right away. The book does an excellent job weaving together stories about duplicity and betrayal with a LeCarre kind of edge and human quality. I have some original work of Matt’s that I will share soon.
June 23, 2011
June 22, 2011
June 21, 2011
June 20, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 16, 2011
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June 14, 2011
June 10, 2011
At the heart of "1960s Style in Action" remains the magic cocktail that blended space-age experimentation and artistic flair. It's what I love about the combination of Ken Adam set designs with the larger-than-life adventures of 007. It was an era of invention, like Rabanne molding industrial and sculptural materials into new fashion. For songwriter Paul McCartney, who was a fan of musique concrete, Stockhausen and avant-garde expression, the cultural soil was ripe for the planting of a new hybrid of pop music- one might say that hybrid has blossomed as the mainstay of contemporary, loop-based production.
During the mid-1960s, Paul McCartney became fascinated with tape loops and experimental film. As he described in a recent interview for Wired, Lennon's song Tomorrow Never Knows provided a perfect opportunity to bring his experimental work into a Beatles production. Lennon himself would catch the loop-buzz and added his Revolution 9 to the 'White Album' and in three experimental records with Yoko Ono. McCartney revisited the approach again electronically in McCartney II (remastered release out this Tuesday), in his three Firemen projects with Youth, and in his collaborations with Sgt. Pepper cover artist Peter Blake on Liverpool Sound Collage (a fave of mine!).
Maybe it is because I have been working more on experimental projects myself lately and my ears are fascinated to hear and to create in that sandbox of 'chance' and playfulness, but I am excited to learn that McCartney has literally dusted off his original tape machines from the Tomorrow Never Knows sessions and is planning a tape loop project. Read the complete article by Scott Thill at Wired here. You can learn more about McCartney's travels off the pop-path in the books, Many Years From Now and The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant-Garde. Listen to Tomorrow Never Knows on SoundCloud here. Check out Spy Vibe Jason Whiton's music and remix for Yoko Ono on SoundCloud here. Below is one of my fave documentary clips about how to make analogue tape loops.
Check out 60s experimental: BBC Doctor Who here. Learn about avant-garde composers the Avant-Garde Project here. Readers might also like to check out the series Obscure Tape Music of Japan, which includes Yoko Ono's first husband, composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. Nice overview of the series here, and Julian Copes introduction to Ichiyanagi here. Being a fan of Noh music, I particularly like Vol #1 in the series, which featured Joji Yuasa's Aoi no Ue ("blue above"), and Ichiyanagi's Opera From the Works of Tadanori Yokoo.
June 9, 2011
From Amazon: "Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow-Up is a masterfully constructed and paced exploration of the enigmas that challenge our interpretations of both the moving and the still image. Photography plays a key role at the very core of the film, providing the metaphorical site for the director's questioning of the relationship between reality and perceptions. This book provides a fresh and stimulating study of Antonioni's masterpiece. It reassembles and re-tells - through onset stills and the original blow-ups - the film's key narrative and pictorial strands in a focused visual investigation that is complemented by the authors' analytical essays. These texts draw on new research and effectively situate the film in the social and creative contexts that informed Antonioni's screenplay and art direction - on the one hand through an account of the milieu of fashionable photographers and models and the media through which they became so vivid a phenomenon, and on the other hand through the revelation of the artistic and literary reference points that so pervasively enrich the film. " Blow-Up is currently our of print, but Netflix does list it as available for rent on DVD.
June 8, 2011
In 1912, Wright penned a book, The Japanese Print: An Interpretation. The influence of Japanese Art, which often emphasizes the integration of natural soundings, on his work was explored in Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan by Kevin Nute in 2000, and Frank Lloyd Wright and the Art of Japan by Julia Meech in 2001. Learn more about this influential artist at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation here, at Wright in Japan here, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Japan here.
Feeling crafty? Check out the official LEGO sets to build Wright's Guggenheim Museum and Falling Water. Wright was, in my opinion, the star of The International (above). Movie poster available at Movie Goods here. Read more about Wright's influence on Hitchcock's North By Northwest (1959) on Spy Vibe here. Wright passed away on April 9, 1959, three months before the release of Hitchcock's film.
June 7, 2011
The glass house is in New Canaan, CT. More information at Design With Reach here, info and tickets on sale at the Phillip Johnson website here.
June 5, 2011
June 4, 2011
He is perhaps best known for the poetic imagery in his masterpiece, Last Year at Marienbad (1961). It is a quintessential art house film, famously slow in pace, that leaves indelible snapshots of exquisite design in one's imagination. The garden scene (below) is the film's most iconic image, and is itself a work of modern art-in-motion. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1961. Synopsis from Criterion:
"Not just a defining work of the French New Wave but one of the great, lasting mysteries of modern art, Alain Resnais’ epochal Last Year at Marienbad (L’année dernière à Marienbad) has been puzzling appreciative viewers for decades. Written by radical master of the New Novel Alain Robbe-Grillet, this surreal fever dream, or nightmare, gorgeously fuses the past with the present in telling its ambiguous tale of a man and a woman (Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig) who may or may not have met a year ago, perhaps at the very same cathedral-like, mirror-filled château they now find themselves wandering. Unforgettable in both its confounding details (gilded ceilings, diabolical parlor games, a loaded gun) and haunting scope, Resnais’ investigation into the nature of memory is disturbing, romantic, and maybe even a ghost story." Essay about the film at Criterion here.
Resnais continues to make movies, including a recent feature with Audrey Tautou (Amelie), called Not on the Lips (2003). His new product is current in post-production. More about Resnais at the Museum of the Moving Image here. Movie posters available at Movie Goods here.