Monday, April 28, 2014

The Pogues

Top 5 Pogues songs:
1. Sally MacLennane
2. Streams of Whiskey
3. Dirty Old Town
4. Fairytale of New York
5. If I Should Fall from Grace with God

Sunday, April 27, 2014


For a long time there was no place in Montpellier to get a latté, and then suddenly three different places opened, within a month or two. Two chains, Columbus Café and French Coffee Shop, and then an independent one that I tried out today, Coffee Club, a tiny but cozy café, and it's the one I should support, I guess, but there's also a certain hipness there, that makes you want to, like Louis CK, walk around and hit everybody's paper cups to the ground. I got a coffee to go, no hitting, and then walked down to the Pavillon Populaire that has free art exhibitions. This year there's a Linda McCartney retrospective, with photographs of The Beatles, different 60s artists, like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, Paul at home and on the road, and their kids. Lots of stuff I hadn't seen, and it's a good thing I went now, since it closes on May 4.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wendell Gee

King, Splendor

The King of Marvin Gardens by Bob Rafelson
Jack Nicholson plays a very un-Jack Nicholson character in this film, very quiet and  unassuming, and good for him as an actor, but in the end he's actually more fun when he's being more Jack Nicholson-y, like in Five Easy Pieces or The Last Detail. Bruce Dern and Ellen Burstyn are good, but the film is very slow and it's hard to care about these people. Atlantic City looks very cinematic in the winter, though.

Splendor in the Grass by Elia Kazan
Warren Beatty's first film, doing his best James Dean. Him and Natalie Wood are horny teenagers, but since this is Kansas in the 20s they can't have sex before marriage, so Beatty finds some slutty girl and Wood loses her mind. I guess masturbation wasn't invented yet. Pat Hingle is the sort of clueless dad deciding the future for his son, that we often find in movies like this. The ending is surprisingly bittersweet.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Burt Lancaster

Top 5 Burt Lancaster films:

1. Local Hero
2. Birdman of Alcatraz
3. Field of Dreams
4. Atlantic City
5. Criss Cross

It's a bit difficult to choose. The guy did a lot of good films! I haven't seen The Leopard yet, and I guess both Sweet Smell of Success and From Here to Eternity deserve to be up there somewhere.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Some books I've read 16

Anything Goes by Lucy Moore
A book about the roaring 20s, going through some of the best known people from that decade: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Dempsey, Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone and so on. Even the Ku Klux Klan. There's stuff I had come across before, like the Sacco and Vanzetti case, but here you get the background.

Cannon by Wallace Wood
The first 70 or 80 pages are fun, but at some point I stopped reading the text and just looked at the pictures. Well, it turns out you can actually get tired of looking at tits. In the second half of the book Wood just lost interest or had to work faster and the quality of the drawings goes down quite a bit. I assume there also were some assistants involved. I refuse to believe that it's Wood who drew page 178.

Hellboy: The First 20 Years by Mike Mignola
Damn, twenty years! I remember buying that issue of Next Men just because it had some Hellboy pages in it... While waiting for the Hellboy in Hell collection, this book is nice to look at in the meantime. Lots of covers from the last decade, the period where Mignola stopped drawing comics, sometimes in colours, sometimes in black and white, with blue pencil lines and white-out showing. And you can see the evolution, from the early, more Marvel-ish compositions to less noisy, more moody ones, with details left to a minimum.

Bark by Lorrie Moore
The master of the short story that is both sad and funny at the same time. Middle age, divorce, death, disease, war in Iraq, you name it, it's all here, without actually being depressing. Almost every page has some sentence that is pure gold. Favourite story: Debarking

A Christmas for Shacktown and Christmas on Bear Mountain by Carl Barks
I keep buying these books even though I find the stories can be uneven and Donald Duck not very interesting as a character. But it's hard not to enjoy Barks' masterful cartooning, just the delight of his lines on paper.

Essential Fantastic Four vol. 3
I realized I haven't really read any Jack Kirby - I think maybe an issue of Thor or something like that, so I figured I should do something about it, and this book is the peak of the Kirby / Lee stuff, no? I like the Jack Kirby drawings, especially when inked by Joe Sinnott, but I wish Stan Lee could have cut the text by... oh, say 50%.

The Moving Target by Ross MacDonald
What do you do when you've read all the Chandler and Hammet books? You move on to Ross MacDonald.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Progress report

So, okay, because of a problem with tendinitis in the elbow I'm taking a break from drawing, but this is what I got so far on the new book:
Rough pencils: 31 pages
Half finished: 23 pages
Almost finished: 8 pages
Finished: 36 pages

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tennis elbow

... is no fun. Okay, you get more time to read, but that's it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Comes A Horseman

Jason Robards wants their ranch, Jane Fonda and James Caan fight back. Directed by Alan J. Pakula

Ah, those Pakula films are seldom a barrel of laughs and this is no exception. It's a pretty good film, though, a slow 70s Western set in the 40s, so besides cowboys and horses you also see cars and even a plane. The cinematography is by Gordon Willis, so of course the film looks gorgeous. Fonda is almost unrecognizable with no make-up, as a laconic ranch owner, Caan is also convincing in a cowboy hat, and following the genre rules there's a shootout at the end, but cut to a minimum, as if Pakula was embarrassed to put it in there.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Electric Horseman

Robert Redford is the has-been rodeo star advertising breakfast cereal for a big corporation, who has the chance to redeem himself by stealing their drugged up horse and setting it free, Jane Fonda is the reporter trying to get the story. Directed by Sydney Pollack.

Not the best of the Redford / Pollack films. It's not even the best of the Redford / Fonda films - Barefoot in the Park, made 12 years earlier, wins in that department. Fonda is a bit annoying in her part as the pushy reporter, or rather the role is annoying. The first half of the film is best, then it gets a bit too mushy out in the prairie scenes. And as a whole it could have been more subtle. Corporate greed has sold out American values, yes, we get it, Sydney, we get it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Martin Donovan meets Adrienne Shelly. Also starring Edie Falco, directed by Hal Hartley.

To me, this is still Hartley's best film, but that might be because this is the first film of his I saw. I had never seen any of the actors before either, so there was no baggage, you could believe they were not actors, they were the characters. Both Donovan and Shelly are very appealing, and there is a certain sadness in rewatching the film now, in Shelly dying so young and so senselessly. But the film itself holds up well. It's perfectly constructed and the script is both clever and funny. It's a young man's film with a young man's concerns, though. Will I have to find a job and get married? Will it change me? Will it turn me into my parents? A family is like a gun, you point it in the wrong direction you're gonna kill someone.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dark, Winter

Dark Shadows 
Tim, Tim, Tim... What happened to you, man? You had it all, man, and you threw it all away, maan. Why am I doing a bad Dennis Hopper impersonation all of a sudden? I don't know. Sorry. Anyway, this is not a good film. It's not funny, scary or weird, and it should be at least one of those things. Who is the audience for this film? It's hard to say. And it's not a film that should cost 150 millions. Take away 100 millions and it would probably be a better film. Where's the poetry of the cheap effects? Where are the imperfections? Where's that strange, haunting, little scene that you remember ten years later?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The first hour is pretty good, then it gets a bit boring, with dragged out shakycam action scenes and big CGI stuff blowing up. They could have taken out 20 minutes, maybe even lost The Falcon to narrow down the focus to Captain America and The Winter Soldier. The most memorable scenes in the film are the one with Peggy Carter and the electroshock one. The best action scene is actually given to Nick Fury - it has tension, that lacks in most of the other fight scenes. But (spoiler!) you can't complain about Robert Redford saying Hail Hydra.