Thursday, July 31, 2014

Barry Lyndon

Watched this on my small tv, and it's probably a film that belongs on the big screen. Something is lost. Well, at least I didn't watch it on an i-phone. But it's hard to get hooked on the story and care about these people. Was that the intention? It's hard to know with Kubrick. Ryan O'Neal is uncharismatic in the lead role, but I guess he's supposed to be. It would have worked less well with someone like Jack Nicholson. And then the character redeems himself at the end, in the duel scene. Great poster.
Top 5 Stanley Kubrick films:
1. The Killing
2. Paths of Glory
3. The Shining
4. 2001
5. Lolita

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rattle and Hum

Hadn't seen this in a while. Okay, the band can be a bit too full of themselves, you wish they would shut up and Bono sometimes feels more like a method actor who has overdosed on Jim Morrison rather than a real singer, but I still prefer selfimportant U2 to ironic U2, and whatever problems I have with the film, everything is forgiven at the end when they do Sunday Bloody Sunday and Pride.
Top 5 U2 albums:
1. Joshua Tree
2. Achtung Baby
3. War
4. The Unforgettable Fire
5. Rattle and Hum

Monday, July 21, 2014

Originals for sale

I recently sent a number of sketches and some comic book pages to The Beguiling for sale at their website. They will soon be available there. If you can't wait that long, Peter Birkemoe will bring them along to the San Diego Comic Con. He will be present at the Drawn and Quarterly booth. Among the sketches is this one of Hellboy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wings of Desire

Angels walk around in Berlin. One of them falls in love with a woman. Starring Adolf Hitler and Columbo, directed by Wim Wenders.

Some films you should first see in your early 20s for them to make the biggest impression. Eraserhead, Stranger Than Paradise and... Wings of Desire. If you've grown up with Star Wars and American films, it's something quite different. It's in black and white, not colour. It's arty, not mainstream. It's serious, not a single decent joke. It's even got Nick Cave! Re-watching it now, more than 25 years later, it's still a good film, it looks stunning, but it's also a bit pretentious, trying a bit too hard to be poetic. But once in a while that's okay. The angels overhearing people's thoughts was probably an inspiration for my story Tom Waits on the Moon. I haven't caught up on Wenders' films. This and Paris, Texas are the only films I've seen. I haven't seen The American Friend. I have the impression his films can be too arty, but I might be wrong.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Vanishing

Woman disappears. Man looks for her. Directed by George Sluizer.

Finally saw it! Yes, it's pretty good, but still maybe a slight disappointment. That doesn't really have anything to do with the film itself. I wish I had seen it when it came out. It's just that I've read about the film and the remake and the different endings, so I knew how it would turn out. And, not to give too much away, the ending has a Tarantino connection. This might even be the film that gave Tarantino the idea to put a similar sequence in one of his films. It's a bit like the shower sequence in Psycho. I had seen parodies and homages of the scene before I saw the scene itself. An image, when re-used, can lose power.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mark Hollis


Okay, I've seen five films by Robert Altman - MASH, McCabe and Mrs Miller, The Long Goodbye, Short Cuts and now Nashville - and my conclusion is: Nah, not for me. He's not a bad filmmaker, and I can see he created something new, but his style just doesn't appeal to me. I think I started disliking the film almost right away with the introduction of Geraldine Chaplin as a babbling, clueless reporter, and it doesn't really get much better. It feels like Altman is looking down on these people, and since there are so many of them walking around, we don't really get to know any of them. How much ended up on the cutting room floor? What happened to Shelley Duvall's character? I guess the film is "real", and "like life", but so what? And besides Keith Carradine's I'm Easy, most of the music is not that good.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Louie, Elevator

Loved the six part Elevator story on season four of Louie. It was almost like a film, and if so, it's the best new film I've seen in a while. It's beautifully shot and acted. Oh, and it was fun seeing Eszter Balint again, the girl from Stranger than Paradise. Louie C.K. can write dialogue that sounds natural, it's never being too clever. There were at least two real movie moments: The scene with Amia and Louie's daughter playing violin together, and then the ending with the waiter translating Amia's letter. I also liked that strange flashback part and the surreal elements. A small bird died today, due to sadness. He was six years old.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ridley Scott

Top 5 Ridley Scott films:

1. The Duellists
2. Alien
3. Legend
4. Bladerunner
5. Gladiator

Watched the Director's Cut of Legend, and okay, the scenes between Mia Sara and Tom Cruise are far too cute and annoying, but the rest of the film is pretty good. Visually, it's amazing, with some real magic going on, pre CGI, and Tim Curry shines as Darkness.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Blue Nile


Jane Fonda is Barbarella, a groovy chick flying in her spaceship looking for Durand Durand. Directed by Roger Vadim.

God, movies from this period, the late 60s, could be slow - not slow interesting but slow boring. I managed to get through the film by splitting it in two viewings. It is very episodic, with no real motor driving the story. I've never read the comic, so I don't know how faithful the film is. Fonda is actually pretty good in her role, never looking too embarrassed, despite the skimpy outfits and the lines of dialogue she has to deliver. The producer is Dino De Laurentiis - it's a bit hard saying which film is most camp, this or Flash Gordon. At least this film has the Fonda stripping scene during the title sequence. Unfortunately, it goes pretty much downhill into snoozeville after that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some books I've read 17

Report from the Interior by Paul Auster
A bit uneven book from Auster this time. The first part is good, the letters of the young writer are okay as well, but the retelling of two films that affected him as a kid maybe not so much.

Burt Lancaster: An American Life by Kate Buford
Interesting biography, even though you never really get a clear image of who Lancaster, the man was. Buford goes through all his films and also the creation of his early production company, giving Lancaster a certain freedom, but also a responsibility if the films didn't make any money, having then to do studio movies like Airport.

Scenes from a Revolution: The Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris
A great book about the five best picture nominees from 1967, In the Heat of the Night, Bonnie and Clyde, Doctor Doolittle, The Graduate and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, marking a generational shift in Hollywood. Harris tells how these movies were made, but also gets into what else happened in American films at the time.

It Don't Worry Me: Nashville, Jaws, Star Wars and Beyond by Ryan Gilbey
Hollywood in the 70s. Gilbey writes about Coppola, Lucas, Spielberg, Malick, De Palma, Altman, Kubrick, Allen, Demme and Scorsese. Where's Friedkin, Ashby and Bogdanovich? Gilbey makes a case for his choices, and it's fair enough. Less gossipy than Easy Riders Raging Bulls.

Dune by Frank Herbert
Watched the Lynch film again, so I decided to re-read the novel. It must be 20 years since I first read it. The book is well written. I was a bit afraid it would be no style, just plot. Lots of things I had forgotten and that isn't mentioned in the film, like Harkonnen being Paul's grandfather. Not sure if I'll move on to the sequels, though, are they any good?

Invasion of the Mind Sappers
Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock'n Roll Life
Crossing the Empty Quarter by Carol Swain
I've been aware of Swain's work, and remember reading an issue of Way Out Strips once, but recently got a copy of Giraffes, and then ordered the rest of her books as well. Maybe one of the most underestimated cartoonists around, she has a unique style of storytelling, sometimes spending panels just on people walking or exchanging glances, often seen in bird's perspective, sometimes jumping back in time for a panel or two without a warning. These are comics where you have to pay attention. But it's worth it! Her stories can be moody, poetic, sometimes dreamlike, but always fascinating, and often leaving it up to the reader to find the meaning inside. Crossing is possibly her best book so far, but I look forward to the new one, Gast, out soon.