[1940] The Philadelphia Story

This powerhouse film dramatizes relationship-building to cathartic effect. Over the course of seemingly less than a week, we exhibit the full cycle of most of The Philadelphia Story‘s main characters’ synapses realigning as they come to realize their past mistakes, present unhappiness and future malaise simultaneously and work effortlessly to redefine themselves as modern people in the modernist sense: that self-consciousness is the righteous path and function, in their case, life, follows form. The Philadelphia Story huffs through almost two hours and the audience is better for it, almost, in the most modern way: that there exists a strived-for completeness, when in fact the audience must know that this is the question. In a way, whether intentional or not, through a modern lens The Philadelphia Story defines modernism through postmodern means.

Because through hyperrelapse behavior and infinite loops of information, the modern (in a contemporary sense) man and woman knows that the ultimate goal is to strive for completeness with the full intention of achieving a sliver of happiness completes his or her journey. Ever the pessimist, he or she is honest, which is the key component to the argument against The Philadelphia Story. At its core the film is art and the sped-up premise is meant as a plot device, eschewing reality for core competency; after two hours, the audience must leave with an impression – good or bad – that the film did not flounder. It is reasonable that the film is somewhat dishonest because I think that the writing and acting is compelling enough, and through seasoned performances from Cary Grant (C.K. Dexter Haven), Katherine Hepburn (Tracy Lord) and Jimmy Stewart (Mike Connor), it is slightly obvious that the production team was in on this joke. Continue reading

[1963] How The West Was Won

The opening track to Led Zeppelin’s 2003-released/1972-recorded live cut, How The West Was Won, is aptly titled “L.A. Drone” and it’s 15 seconds of crowd recordings that serves as a buffer from silence to the all out gut-punch that is Immigrant Song, the opening cut from Led Zeppelin III, released in 1970 as the third installment of Led Zeppelin’s four-part domination of psychedelia, hard rock, metal, folk from 1969 through 1972. The How The West Was Won soundboard-recorded and Jimmy Page produced record draws material from several concerts recorded straight to the mixing board in Los Angeles on the leg of Led Zeppelin’s 1972 tour of the United States. There is a zero percent chance that titling this album How The West Was Won is a coincidence of the most ironic standards.

The music album is almost certainly a reference to 1963’s loose compilation film of the same name.  Forty years before the music world got a taste of Led Zeppelin at their creative and artistic peak, the film sphere tracked a star-studded film documenting a series of decades from the early 1840s through the late 1880s. With a cast of 1960s most recognizable, including James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Carroll Baker, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne (and more!), How The West Was Won, the film, tells in film what Led Zeppelin did in song: a snippet of the epoch recorded for the history books. Though one is literally about westward expansion, the other’s metaphor for world takeover (and cementing themselves as one of the premier rock’n’roll bands of all time) is the logical expansion of the themes in the film. While our cast, littered with stars, makes its way from the regimented eastern seaboard out past the Mississippi to the left coast, the biggest rock band in the world crossed the brusque Atlantic to tour the United States and record was to become a composite concert album. Through the different media, we begin to understand the lore of The West and its place in Earth’s history. Continue reading