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Celery Stalks at Midnight (1951)

| Short | 1951 (USA)


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1951 (USA)  »

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Celery Stalks at Midnight
Performed by Will Bradley & His Orchestra
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User Reviews

Failed improv animation
19 April 2011 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Whitney thought it would be cool to improvise an animated film, to match an improvised jazz performance. Result: zip.

I am a fanatical jazz fan and I love jazz without hokum. When I would go to see a tenor player, it was a thrill when Dexter Gordon or Joe Henderson would tilt his horn subtly in a soulful gesture of being transported, but those clowns who turned music into a carnival act with their gyrations (a la Jerry Lee Lewis abusing a piano), left me cold.

So when Whitney decided to goose up the music (in this case a corny performance by Will Bradley by drawing on the film emulsion or having pulsating abstract blue and green colors represent the music inspiring him, my reaction in the words of Miles is "so what"? The content of this pointless animated short is equivalent to the effect of those level meters you would see on stereos or ghetto blasters, giving a hypnotic visual effect to the music.

The abused term avant-garde includes a wide swath of lousy movies (this one too), and of course was once a rallying cry (or warning, depending on which side of the divide you were at) in jazz circles too. Albert Ayler lives!

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