Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to Gretchen Kyser

I want to wish a very happy birthday to my loving mother, Gretchen Kyser. She is celebrating her fifty-sixth birthday today, only nine days after my late father would have been celebrating his fifty-sixth birthday. To the right, she and I stand near a telephone booth in London, England in the late 1990s. After working a long day at work, she and I had a very pleasant dinner, and then my girlfriend Anne and I treated her to a birthday movie. We decided to see In the Loop (2009, Armando Iannucci), a very funny British political satire starring the brilliantly foul-mouthed Peter Capaldi and a quick-witted James Gandolfini. The film, which owes a lot to Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), is very deserving of all of the critical accolades the film has received.

Before watching In the Loop at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, I came across a brilliantly designed poster for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Inglorious Basterds, which had just screened at the Alamo Drafthouse a few evenings prior with Tarantino and Eli Roth in attendance.

I asked the manager of Mondo Tees, a terrific t-shirt store that operates inside the Alamo Drafthouse, how much one of these superbly-crafted posters cost. As it turns out, the poster is the work of Tyler Stout, who regularly produces original artwork for Tarantino's films. This 24" by 36" 6 color screenprint poster was hand numbered with an edition size of 450.

According to their website, "Tyler Stout is to posters what Quentin Tarantino is to directing. Translation: These guys are the best at what they do and when they team up, you get works of art like this!"

Every one of the super limited posters have now been sold online for extremely high prices, as I understand. However, the Drafthouse gift-wrapped special copies of the poster for each of the celebrities attending the Inglorious Basterds screening. Fortunately, star Eli Roth never came to pick up his poster after the screening - and so the manager offered me the poster for $35.00. I would've been a fool not to accept his offer, as the other two remaining posters for celebrity attendees were soon to be put on Ebay to be sold for a few hundred dollars each.

Therefore, not only did I buy one of 450 circulating original prints of this incredibly awesome poster for about a fifth of the selling price, but I now also have a pre-packaged poster in my room with Eli Roth's name on it. How about that?

The celebration of my mother's birthday marks the conclusion of the family birthdays in August. The proud Leos in my immediate and extended family are listed below.

August 3rd: Anne Goode
August 5th: Jack Kyser
August 10th: John Michael Kyser and Kate Goode
August 14th: Lucille Kyser and Carol Knox
August 17th: Robert De Niro and Sean Penn
August 19th: Gretchen Kyser

My journey through the NYU Essential Screening List continues, as I recently viewed Night and Fog (1955, Alain Resnais), a harrowing Holocaust documentary film which I briefly wrote about yesterday. Resnais' film explores the remains of a concentration camp some ten years after the Holocaust ended, while also providing truly disturbing images and actual footage of what occurred inside the concentration camps. Even after having seen Steven Spielberg's devastating Schindler's List (1993) many times, I was still horrified and disturbed by the images in the film. I can't imagine how audiences reacted to this film upon it's initial release in the 1950s - Resnais certainly does not shy away from the darkness.

I most recently watched The Battleship Potemkin (1925, Sergei M. Eisenstein), an extremely influential silent film from the USSR, and Dog Star Man (1962-1964, Stan Brakhage), an experimental and poetic film that would serve as an excellent albeit disturbing screensaver on a computer. But as a film? Yes, I am certain the movie has significant artistic merit, but I won't pretend to understand Brakhage's style of filmmaking. I don't mean to speak poorly of a film with such ambition, but Dog Star Man is an endurance test. I look forward to learning about the film's meaning and importance at NYU.

As the August birthdays come to an end, and I have only ten days remaining in Austin, I shall leave with one simple message from my dearly departed father: Go Red Sox!

1 comment:

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