Thursday, October 24, 2013

Russian children's book illustrations

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fred Zinnemann

Top five Fred Zinnemann films:

1. High Noon
2. The Day of the Jackal
3. The Search
4. From Here to Eternity
5. The Nun's Story

Sunday, October 20, 2013

To buy or not to buy

...that is the question. Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune. You will get Morrissey's side of the story, okay, but do you want to read a lot of bitching about Joyce and Rourke daring to ask for 25 procent of the royalties? That's one side of Morrissey I've never understood. The real money is in songwriting, that he only has to share with Marr. And 50 pages about the trial? I read Tony Fletcher's biography of The Smiths earlier this year, and I think maybe I'll just stick to that one and rather put on Hatful of Hollow or The World Won't Listen, listening to the music they created...

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Ugly American from Hong Kong

The Ugly American, by George Englund.:
It's the Cold War. Marlon Brando has a moustache and smokes a pipe. A slow and talky film, not very exciting or visually interesting, but Brando is pretty good and gets to do some real acting, in contrast to a film like Desirée.

A Countess from Hong Kong, by Charlie Chaplin:
A screwball-ish comedy, with Marlon Brando trying his best to do chaplinesque physical humour. It's not a good film, and feels pretty dated, but the doorbell gag, where everybody jumps up and runs to the bathroom is somewhat funny. Sophia Loren looks great, though. I think this is just the second film I've seen with her, the first being Arabesque that she did with Gregory Peck. I'm sure she must have done some better films.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Reading the collected Nick Fury comics by Jim Steranko. The stories are re-coloured, but thankfully they've kept the original flat colours, giving it a popart look, not doing the darker, graded colours often found in recolouring. Superheroes meet James Bond, a lot of fun.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Marlon Brando is Napoleon, Jean Simmons is... Desirée! Directed by Henry Koster.

Those big cinemascope films from the 50s today seem to have been a step back for film. Okay, the screen was double as wide as a tv-image, but the films were more about perfect compositions and that vase in the background than they were about the characters - the opposite of  the chaos of real life. Close-ups weren't possible, so there's a constant feeling of distance, both between the characters and between the characters and the viewer. The film has none of the impressive fight scenes that you after all could find in War and Peace. Thank god it doesn't last three hours. I'm sure Brando could have been a good Napoleon, but this is not that film.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Last Tango and Peace

Last Tango in Paris:
The film looks great, with cinematography by Vittorio Storaro, but has dated badly and frankly it's a lot of arty drivel. Brando is at his most charismatic - just him looking at a wall is somehow fascinating - and of course, some of his dialogues are really about himself. Maria Schneider's character on the other hand is pretty annoying. Brando doesn't take her seriously, so why should the viewers? The parts without Brando, just about her and Jean-Pierre Léaud as a film director are less interesting. It's a weakness of the film that Bertolucci couldn't, or didn't want to, create a female character that was Brando's equal. But by all means, go get the butter.

War and Peace:
The film feels pretty stiff and dated. There are actors saying lines, not real characters. The second half gets a bit better. The big scenes, like the retreat from Moscow and the fight scenes are impressive, the smaller scenes mostly lack intimacy. Henry Fonda is probably miscast, his character never seems convincing. Audrey Hepburn brings some real charm and life to her part.