Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Annie, Skeezix

I've finished reading volumes 5 of Little Orphan Annie and Walt and Skeezix. LOA gets a bit repetitive, with Warbucks travelling abroad, Annie going on the road, ending up in some trouble and then being rescued by Warbucks, but there's still lots of charm. The strip is very melodramatic, but that works well within that Dickensian universe. When W&S go melodramatic, like the trial in volume 4 and the fake will in this volume, it breaks the tone a bit from the rest of the strip. As a reader I'm not hooked. Also, the drawings in W&S appeal less to me than the ones in LOA or cartoonier strips of that time like Polly and her Pals. For one thing, in W&S the angle is changed in every panel for no reason. LOA, for me, just works better as a comic. So I've ordered volume 6 of Little Orphan Annie whereas volume 5 of Walt & Skeezix will be the last volume I buy, I betcha.

Beetle

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two-Lane Passenger

The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni.

War correspondent Jack Nicholson takes another man's identity.
Of all the slow and rambling films from the seventies, this must be one of the slowest and ramblingest. I suppose it has something to do with existentialism. Nicholson is solid, some of the other actors are weak. It's really a bit too arty for my taste. The famous, long take at the end, though, makes the film almost, almost!, worth sitting through. "What do you see?"

Two-Lane Blacktop by Monte Hellman

James Taylor and Dennis Wilson are racing Warren Oats. Also, there's a girl.
The characters are completely uninteresting. Either they talk car technical gobbledygook or they're saying things like "You can never go too fast." or "We're just passing through." The old existential thing again, or is the film trying to say something about America? Visually, the film looks great, but it's kind of boring, actually. But then again, so are most cultfilms.

Gorilla

Another illustration, a mix of watercolours and acrylics.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Papillon

Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman are prisoners in a French penal colony. Apparently based on a true story, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.

Great film. I don't really have much to say about it. McQueen gives a bravura performance. It helps that he has some lines on his face and looks as if he's actually lived a life. He didn't graduate from the Hollywood Prettyboy Acting School (HPAS for short). Hoffman looks slightly Jean Reno-ish. A minor negative thing is that the actors don't age during the film, so you don't really get an impression of how long they stay on the island. There's something about the films from the seventies that make them perfect for watching on lazy Sundays. The Roger Moore Bond films, the Agatha Christie and the Irwin Allen Disaster movies with a million old stars in them, included.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Little Big Man

Dustin Hoffman is a 120 years old man telling a tall tale of how he was adopted by Indians and fought general Custer. Also starring Faye Dunaway, directed by Arthur Penn.

Another film I remember seeing on tv as a kid. It's a revisionist western that feels slightly dated. In the film all the Indians are noble and all the whites are assholes. As a contrast to the way Indians were depicted in westerns from the fifties, okay, it's earned, but surely, there must have been some Indian assholes as well, no? Maybe the most interesting part of the film is the homosexual Indian and the Indian who does everything backwards, and the way they're not ostracized from the tribe - I assume that is based on fact. The film is adapted from a novel, which I haven't read, but as is often the case, scenes that ring true in a book don't necessarily ring true in a film, the final scenes with Custer being an example.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Three Days of The Condor

I haven't seen any of the Oscar nominated films this year. I thought Sideways was quite good, so I'll probably end up watching The Descendants at some point, if I find a used dvd, and I'm a bit curious about Midnight in Paris. In the meantime I'm mostly re-watching 70s movies these days, one of them being Three Days of The Condor. CIA researcher Robert Redford finds his co-workers dead and goes on the run, not certain who he can trust. Also starring Faye Dunaway and Max Von Sydow, directed by Sydney Pollack.

Ah, the paranoia thrillers of the seventies. This film is maybe one of the more commercial ones, but it's still good. It has a small connection to comics since Dick Tracy is namedropped. The setup with the dead co-workers were later ripped off in a season of 24. I loved the little detail of Redford removing the smoldering cigarette from the dead body. There's some nifty spy stuff involving a telephone, the computer stuff is maybe slightly dated. There's a fight scene where you can actually see what is happening. Redford is good, but his hair is always annoyingly perfect (that goes for pretty much all his films) . He's on the run, without a hair conditioner, for chrissake! And hey, Max Von Sydow! What's a tall Swede to do in Hollywood? Play bad guys, of course.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ah, comics...

I should be working on my new book, but I got volume 5 of Little Orphan Annie and Walt & Skeezix from amazon yesterday, so I'm spending the weekend reading comics.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hey, another old cartoon!

Okay, it's not brilliant or anything, but anyway, the text is:
-No, you haven't quite got the touch yet. Try it again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I optioned Adolf Hitler

So, yes, my comic book I Killed Adolf Hitler has been optioned for a movie. However, there is still a long way to a finished film and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. If I one day should sit there in the cinema with the ticketstub in my hand, hopefully the film won't look too much like a MTV rock video. Actually, the best thing would probably be if they could travel back in time and film it in the seventies.

Outland

Sean Connery is a marshal for a mining colony in outer space. A new drug drives the miners crazy. Connery must face the man running the colony, only getting help from the local doctor, Frances Sternhagen. Directed by Peter Hyams.

I can imagine the director pitched this as High Noon meets Alien. Visually it's very much influenced by Alien and the story sticks pretty close to High Noon. There's even the close ups of a digital watch, counting down the time to the arrival of the bad guys. And Sean Connery and Gary Cooper have some of the same qualities - they wouldn't be caught dead Acting. There's a quite effective scene where Connery talks to his son via a video phone, and for all he knows it will be the last time he sees the son. And you gotta love that they didn't get some hot, young tomato to play the doctor, but rather someone the same age as Connery. So instead of getting, say, Farrah Fawcett Majors, they hired Sternhagen, clearly in her fifties. Worth checking out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Carnal, Graduate

Rewatched The Graduate and watched Carnal Knowledge for the first time, both directed by Mike Nichols. I hadn't seen The Graduate in a while. For some reason I'd gotten it into my head that the film was overrated. It's not! One word: Classic. Not sure where that idea came from. The direction by Nichols is a bit showy, maybe that was the thing that bothered me. But no, it fits the story perfectly, the music by Simon & Garfunkel is great and you can't beat that ending.

Carnal Knowledge is great as well. It has a good script by Jules Feiffer. There are long takes with the camera just observing what is happening. It actually looks very modern, like some indie film made last year. Candice Bergen is very appealing, but she disappears after the first third of the film. And Jack Nicholson is very interesting to see in these early films before he became JACK NICHOLSON. There's a scene where he quarrels with Ann-Margret that is sort of pointing towards the rest of his career.

Yes,

there will be nudity.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Some Books I've Read 6

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A novel about Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife. It's not bad, the writer has done her homework, but I prefer the non fiction version of this story: Hadley by Gioia Dilberto

The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman
Watching the movie made me want to read the book. But the film captures the book very well, so it doesn't bring you much that is new. There were bits and pieces in the film I thought maybe came from Roman Polanski, like the soup fight scene, but that's actually in the book.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
It's a great book - very bloody - but it's also written in an archaic style that made it slightly difficult to read, English being my second language.

Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
A western influenced science fiction story, well written.

Lost in The Andes by Carl Barks.
I've never been a big Barks fan. Not having read these stories as a kid, I don't have any nostalgic feelings for them. I really enjoyed the title story and The Crazy Quiz Show, but there were also some quite forgettable ones.

Enemy Ace by Robert Kanigher and, mostly, Joe Kubert
The stories get a bit repetitive and the lone wolf metaphor gets a bit silly, but man, the art! those brushstrokes! At some point I stopped reading the text and just enjoyed Kubert's drawings.

Currently reading:
The Stories of Ray Bradbury
Hergé - The man who created Tintin by Pierre Assouline

Waiting to be read:
What It Used To Be Like by Maryann Burk Carver, about her marriage to Raymond Carver
Nobody Move by Denis Johnson
Journey To The End Of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Sunny Side by Glen David Gold
Touch by Elmore Leonard
Collected Prose by Woody Allen
The Karamazov Brothers by Fyodor Dostoyevski

Yes, still haven't started The Brothers. But I'll get around to it, okay?! I seem to suffer less from insomnia than I used to, so there is less reading until the early hours of the morning. Or maybe I spend too much time on the internet.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Anther old cartoon

From around 84/85. Text: -That's one small step for man, one gia...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Open Your Eyes to The Hearts of Darkness, Jeremaiah Johnson!

Open Your Eyes by Alejandro Amenabar. I've seen parts of the Tom Cruise version on tv so I knew some of the story. The mystery in the beginning is intriguing, but as usual the solution at the end is disappointing. Also, a rich, goodlooking guy who gets all the girls he wants is hard to empathize with, even if he gets disfigured. It's more like, Hey, that's karma, buddy!

Hearts of Darkness. It's the first time I see this documentary. Having read about Apocalypse Now I knew most of the anecdotes, but it's still interesting to watch - showing the short period in Hollywood when the director was king. Unfortunately, my version of AN is the extended version, with the French plantation scenes, and I find it to be less interesting. The same with the extended versions of Stripes and There's Something About Mary. There's a reason why that stuff was taken out!

Jeremiah Johnson. Is it the best of the Sydney Pollack / Robert Redford films? It might be, and is perhaps even more relevant now. It's kind of a slow film, but that's actually part of the appeal - that it takes its time. It's only 110 minutes, but there's an intermission in the film! So obviously, people in the 1970s were just throwing away their valuable time, they had nothing better to do! Luckily, I could just fast forward that part...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wild Bill, Jesse James and JFK...

...walk into a bar...

Wild Bill by Walter Hill is the biggest disappointment. This is the same guy who made The Long Riders? Why does it look like a rock video? There are constant flashbacks in black and white, shot in Dutch angles, interrupting the story. It's not even much of a story. None of the dialogues or characters ring true. There's an annoying narration by John Hurt, that doesn't really contribute that much. Jeff Bridges does the best he can, but even he can't save this mess.

JFK. Well, you have to pay attention, I'll give it that. There are lots of names and facts to remember. But the film has some of the same MTV feel as Wild Bill, with constant, blurry black and white flashbacks showing what the characters are talking about. And subtle has never been Oliver Stone's middle name. It's a bit tiring in the end. Kevin Costner is okay, but I feel sorry for Sissy Spacek, who has to do the You're never home, the kids never see you thing. Until Bobby Kennedy is killed, and then she's all You go get them, tiger.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, by Philip Kaufman, starring Robert Duvall as Jesse James and Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger. It's a quirky revisionist western, that even has a baseball match. It's fun to see all the different versions of the Jesse James story and the Northfield bank robbery. And then to check out wikipedia and find out that Jesse James probably wasn't even present that time. But the legend is often more interesting than the facts, and if so, for me, The Long Riders is still the best version.

Doodle guy

Just some drawing, I'm not sure what it is. A self portrait? Probably...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another one

...drawn some years later. The J'azzz signature didn't last long.