Friday, April 29, 2011

49 more things

  1. The convertible scene at the end of Ariel

  2. Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces

  3. Nancy Allen in Blow Out

  4. The barn raising sequence in The Witness

  5. Bring out the gimp, Pulp Fiction

  6. The Johnny Cash song in the Dawn of The Dead remake

  7. Stacy Keach in Fat City

  8. Who's laughing now?, Evil Dead 2

  9. He was sweeping, you sons of bitches, he was sweeping! The Last Picture Show

  10. The bar fight in The Quiet Man

  11. The crawling head in The Thing

  12. Gary Oldman in Leon

  13. The helicopter / Wagner sequence in Apocalypse Now

  14. The imaginary tennisball scene at the end of Blow Up

  15. Jack Lemmon in The Apartment

  16. The two lobster scenes in Annie Hall

  17. Teach me to dance, will you?, at the end of Zorba the Greek

  18. The You'd better talk to my mother scene in The Big Sleep

  19. The Ruprecht scenes in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

  20. Marlon Brando eating a banana in One Eyed Jacks

  21. Splitting the car in two in Malcolm

  22. Fred Astaire drunk, wrecking a bar in The Sky's The Limit

  23. Leatherface running after the girl in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

  24. Edwige Fenech in Strip Nude For Your Killer

  25. Steve McQueen in Papillon

  26. The final scene in One False Move

  27. Steve Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs

  28. The spiderweb in Night of The Hunter

  29. Robert Redford drunk in Walking Barefoot in The Park

  30. The opening scene of The Naked Gun

  31. Nic Cage in Moonstruck

  32. Paul Newman eating all those eggs in Cool Hand Luke

  33. The trainride in Dead Man

  34. I am your father, The Empire Strikes Back

  35. Roberto Benigni in Down by Law

  36. Dustin Hoffmann crashing the wedding in The Graduate

  37. Get away from her, you bitch!, Aliens

  38. John Cazale in every film he did

  39. The dance sequence in Simple Men

  40. The «cow» in Top Secret

  41. The showing of scars scene in Jaws

  42. The scene with the wolf in Fantastic Mr. Fox

  43. What's the use? The Killing

  44. Is it safe? Marathon Man

  45. Michelle Pfeiffer in Married to the Mob

  46. The T-1000 in Terminator 2.

  47. The bluesmobile falling apart at the end of Blues Brothers

  48. The bank robbery /getaway in Heat

  49. John Lurie telling a joke in Stranger Than Paradise

Okay, that's 99 things I love about movies.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

50 things

I enjoyed this list:

I managed to come up with half that number, 50 things I love about the movies:

  1. Christina Ricci tapdancing in Buffalo 66

  2. Harry Dean Stanton's monologue in Paris, Texas

  3. Eric Blore in the Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers films

  4. Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson singing in Rio Bravo

  5. The opening of the box at the end of Kiss Me Deadly

  6. The Marseillaise scene in Casablanca

  7. The ending of The Third Man

  8. Woody Allen's blind date in Play It Again Sam

  9. The dance scene in Bande à Part

  10. Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

  11. Gene Kelly doing the Singing in The Rain number

  12. Cary Grant in His Girl Friday

  13. The whole car chase in Mad Max 2

  14. John Wayne lifting Natalie Wood into his arms in The Searchers

  15. Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine

  16. The spaceship sequence in Life of Brian

  17. Bill Murray, divingboard scene in Rushmore

  18. The attack on the Death Star in Star Wars

  19. The creature with eyes in its hands in Pan's Labyrinth

  20. The Oh, Captain, my Captain scene at the end of Dead Poet's Society

  21. The train station sequence in The Untouchables

  22. The decapitated woman laughing in The Brain That Wouldn't Die

  23. The bank robbery in one long take in Gun Crazy

  24. The mirror sequence in The Lady From Shanghai

  25. Tony Curtis disguised as a millionnaire in Some Like It Hot

  26. Steve Martin making coffee in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

  27. Adrienne Shelly in Trust

  28. Buster Keaton buying a new hat with his dad in Steamboat Bill Jr.

  29. The wedding in The Deer Hunter

  30. The pre-title sequence in Raising Arizona

  31. The German woman singing for the French soldiers at the end of Paths of Glory

  32. The car / subway chase in The French Connection

  33. The dead guy in yellow jacket standing upright towards the end of Blue Velvet

  34. The breaking into the CIA computer room sequence in Mission Impossible

  35. Diane Keaton in Love and Death

  36. The knights descending from their "horses" in The Holy Grail

  37. James Stewart being drunk in Philadelphia Story

  38. The swimming pool scene in Let The Right One In

  39. The sound of Lee Marvin walking in Point Blank

  40. Brad Pitt chasing the killer in Seven

  41. Kurt Russel in Escape From New York

  42. Indiana Jones shooting that one guy in Raiders of The Lost Ark

  43. The duel at the end of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

  44. Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday

  45. Shout! dance sequence in Animal House

  46. Jeff Bridges hitting the ball on a string, on the roof in The Fabulous Baker Boys

  47. Linda Manz' voiceover in Days of Heaven

  48. The scene with The Mystery Man and the telephone in Lost Highway

  49. The heist in Rififi

  50. Jon Polito in Miller's Crossing

I'm going to have to think some more to come up with another 50 things. And yeah, I should go back to working on my next book...

De Lillos

Illustration of Norwegian band De Lillos for a review in a Norwegian music paper, late 80s.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dressed To Kill

Michael Caine is a therapist, Angie Dickinson is one of his clients, Dennis Franz is a sleazy cop and Nancy Allen is the call girl who is witness to a murder. Directed by Brian De Palma.

Ah, they don't make movies like this anymore... Over thirty years old, it's still quite a powerful film. De Palma is riffing on Hitchcock, especially Vertigo and Psycho (including the psychiatrist who explains everything in the end). It has some great set pieces: the museum scene, the elevator scene and the subway scene (later improved upon in Carlito's way). De Palma could possibly be criticized for also copying himself; the opening and ending of the film is very similar to Carrie. The first shower scene (yes, there are two!) must have given him the idea to his later film Body Double.

Caine and Dickinson are good in their roles, but the film really belongs to Nancy Allen, very appealing as the witness. Franz is a lot of fun as the cop. De Palma originally wanted Liv Ullmann in the Dickinson role, but she turned it down. Too bad, since Ullmann in a De Palma film really would have been something, and it's probably too late now...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Michael Caine and Steve Martin are a couple of con men on the French Riviera. Also starring Glenne Headly, directed by Frank Oz.

Michael Caine lost a lot of credibility in the eighties for doing all kinds of crap movies, but between the films taken for the paycheck he did some good work, like this film. It has a classy direction by Oz and a good script. Both Caine and Martin are very good. The film is possibly a bit off balance, the way the early scenes with Martin as the idiot brother, «not mother?», are really funny, and then the rest of the film doesn't quite reach those same heights. Also, a little nitpick: They couldn't find a French actor for the Inspector role, instead getting an English actor who's faking a French accent?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dead Mickey

The Ipcress File

A slightly more realistic James Bond, Michael Caine is Harry Palmer, ladies' man, gourmet cook, classical music lover and arrogant and insolent secret agent. Plus he wears glasses! It's one of those films that starts with a scientist being kidnapped (always a good start!), and it's up to Caine to get him back. Directed by Sidney J. Furie.

It's a great film that has not dated. Visually, the film is very inventive. The camera is often put in the lower, crooked angles that Orson Welles liked to use in Citizen Kane, looking up at the characters, the wide screen images are carefully composed. Particularly, there's a fight scene on a set of stairs, seen through a red phonebooth that is amazing. The producer of the film, Harry Saltzman, really should have kneeled down and kissed the feet of the director. But did he? No, he hated the look of the film and barred the director from the editing room. There were two sequels made the two next years, that I'd like to see, but I doubt they will be quite as good as this film.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


A game of cat and mouse between rich crime writer Laurence Olivier and hairdresser Michael Caine who's having an affair with Olivier's wife. Based on Anthony Shaffer's play, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

I was disappointed by this film. It has some of the same problems as Wait Until Dark, that all the dressing up and theatrical shenanigans might work well on stage but less so on the screen. There's a certain cleverness, but the film lasting more than two hours, it just got a bit silly and tiresome in the end. It's just hard to believe in the characters and care about what happens to them. Also, the identity of the police inspector was not that difficult to guess.

Walking the dog

I screwed up this strip. The angel should have had a white dog, not a black one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some books I've read 4

Prince Valiant, vol. 3: 1941-42

A bit surprised by how much I enjoy this series, particularly how unironic it is. Beautiful drawings, of course.

Killshot by Elmore Leonard

Satisfyingly unpredictible, but maybe not Leonard's best book.

The Mayor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk

A very funny and wellwritten memoir about Greenwich Village and the folk revival in the 60s. I didn't really know that much about his music, but his name always pops up in Bob Dylan books; he was also one of the faces in No Direction Home, the Scorsese film.

Jack Kerouac, Selected Letters: 1940-1956

Very interesting to read. This is only the first half of his letters, but already you can see the rise and fall of his friendship with Neal Cassady, from writing long confessional letters to towards the end of the book going «why don't you write me anymore?» There's helpful biographical text by editor Ann Charters between the letters, putting them in a context.

Jack Kerouac - King of the Beats by Barry Miles

An interesting biography. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of Kerouac, though, the way he and his mother treated his wives as maids and the way he ignored his daughter. Also, of course, the almost incestuous relationship he had with his mother. So, okay, the guy wasn't perfect. Reading biographies about artists you admire, you find out very few of them are.

Buz Sawyer, vol. 1 by Roy Crane

Less fun than the Captain Easy Sundays book, the whole spirit of adventure sort of missing. Only looking at the drawings, I find them more appealing than the ones by Milton Caniff, but Caniff wrote better stories and characters. However, I thought Terry and the Pirates also got less interesting during the war years. It's a bit annoying how the quality of the images gets worse in the second half of the book. Shame on you, Fantagraphics!

Currently reading:

Jack Kerouac, selected letters 1957-1969.

His days on the road mostly over, and an alcoholic by now, he for the most part stayed at home with his mother. Writing letters about going to Japan or Europe, but then not doing anything.

On my bedside table, waiting to be read:

Off the Road by Carolyn Cassady, The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Touch by Elmore Leonard, Chronicles by Bob Dylan

Monday, April 18, 2011

Michael Caine

Got some new Michael Caine films and will re-watch some other ones. First: Gambit. Caine gets help from Shirley MacLaine to steal a priceless statue from Herbert Lom. Directed by Ronald Neame.

It's one of those romantic heist films from the sixties. I found it to be better than Topkapi or The Thomas Crown Affair. Made in 66, it still has a stylish and timeless feel. If it had been made just two or three years later, it would probably have looked more dated today. Seen with modern eyes it might be a bit slow, but the actual heist part towards the end is genuinly exciting and unpredictable. I had a hard time guessing how it would end. Caine is cool as a cucumber and MacLaine does her kooky thing. That they have fallen for each other by the end is maybe the one thing in the film that doesn't feel earned.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Well, I brought the good old sketchbook with me when I went to Barcelona for the comic book convention this weekend. I'm out of practice so the sketches are not very good, but anyway...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Femme Fatale

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos participates in a diamond heist, then coublecrosses her partners. Also starring Antonio Banderas, directed by Brian De Palma.

Okay, this is not one of De Palma's very best films, but it's the one where I felt I finally understood De Palma, it's the one that made me a fan. Previously I had mostly liked his more commercial films, like The Untouchables and Mission Impossible. This film has some ridiculous dialogue, big coincidences and logically the heist makes no sense at all. The whole heist is based on Romijn-Stamos being able to seduce the girl with the diamonds. But VISUALLY it makes sense! The heist sequence with the Bolero influenced music is hypnotic, it's pure film and pure De Palma. I love the part with the cat! I'd say the best sequences in the film are those with no dialogue. As soon as one of the characters open his mouth you sort of want to push fast forward.

Another great sequence is the one with the wedding photographer waiting for the sun to re-appear and the gangsters wearing suits trying to catch the diamond girl wearing boots and some sort of army look hotpants, only showing their legs running, in slow motion. Apparently the film was made with European money. After the heist, there is a long sequence where you at first have no idea what's going on, with Romijn-Stamos turning out to be the double of a French girl. 15 minutes pass before you start figuring it out. I'm not sure an American studio would have allowed such a long sequence like that where you could end up losing the audience. There's also, not to give too much away, a big part of the film that might be seen as a cheat, but that I found to be completely fitting for the noir universe of the film.

Anyway, this film made me go find his older films, and even the lesser ones, like Raising Cain and Snake Eyes will have one or two of those brilliant sequences or set pieces that make them worth seeing, showing De Palma to be the master of visual storytelling.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Before Sunset

The sequel to Before Sunrise, made nine years earlier where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy spend a day in Wienna and promise to meet again in six months. Directed by Richard Linklater.

So, they meet again in Paris, nine years older and with some lines on their faces. The story is told in real time and since Hawke has a plane to catch, the clock is ticking for how long they have together. Slowly they get closer to telling the truth about the dreams and disappointments in their lives. It's like a romantic comedy version of My Dinner With André, with a satisfyingly open ending. Ethan Hawke will always be Oh, Captain, my Captain! for me, so it's strange to see him getting older, and Julie Delpy is still cute. I wouldn't mind too much if they make a third one.

The Mummy From Another Planet

A Sam Space story not translated into English. The Ka-Bling! panel at the bottom I stole from an Enki Bilal story.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fantastic Mr. Fox

After some uneven films Wes Anderson triumphed with this stop motion animation film based on Roald Dahl's book. It has a very appealing handmade feel, and avoiding blues and greens, mostly sticking to earth colours, it looks amazing. Anderson keeps the visual style from his previous films, the centered images, and there's also the 70s soundtrack and the son with daddy issues. Not sure how much a kid will get from all this, but it's a great film, and I loved that strange and touching scene towards the end with the wolf.

Circus Magri

This is an illustration from a children's book project I worked on called Circus Magri, but never finished.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Songs From The Second Floor

A surreal masterpiece by Swedish director Roy Andersson, this is a film that should be seen in the cinema. It loses some of its power on my little tv. All the images are carefully composed in muted colours and filmed with a static camera. Each scene is one long take, looking like a painting that has come to life. The dialogue is anti arty, though, if that's a word, very much normal, every day talk.

What's the film about? Well, it came out in 2000 and is pretty much a millennium film. The world is going to hell, there's chaos everywhere, and we follow a group of people who try to do the best they can with the situation. Among them is the businessman whose furniture store burned down and his two sons, one a taxi driver, the other a poet in a mental institution. At the same time, the politicians decide to sacrifize the life of a little girl. Did I mention that it's also funny, in a Scandinavian, long dark winters kind of way?

Scenes from the film can be found on youtube, among them the amazing six minutes long one take ending, here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An illustration...

... done for a Norwegian magazine. It's a portrait of Erik Falk, my editor at Jippi Comics who published my comic book Mjau Mjau.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Aughts

Apparently some good films have been made the last ten years. Like Timecrimes, a Spanish film where a man in the countryside sees a naked woman in the woods through his binoculars. He goes to investigate and is attacked by a man whose face is covered by bandages. Then he travels back in time. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo.

Timetravel films are fun, no? They're hard to screw up. This one starts out creepy, then gets strange, then stranger and then funny. How far can you go with the paradoxes that always appear in these films? Well, in this film pretty far, with the main character in usual fashion going back in time to correct what he did wrong the first time he went back in time. It's very inventive, even though I seem to remember a short story by Isaac Azimov that had some of the same premises, and I can only assume an American remake is in the works where they have some hunk instead of a bald, fat middleaged guy in the main role and lose all the charm of the original.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana

Two Finns, one loves coffee, the other vodka, go on a car trip and on the way pick up two women, one Russian, the other Estonian.

Great title! It's a Kaurismäki road movie, a funny but strange film, that might be his most poetic one. It's also short, lasting less than an hour, and in black and white. There's a sequence of the two men in the car, with one of them, Matti Pellonpää, having a long monologue. It's very unusual in a Kaurismäki film, but it turns out it's only there to set up the men's complete silence and shyness around the two women, not even being able to look in their eyes.

I see on IMDB that Kaurismäki got a new film coming later this year called Le Havre starring Jean-Pierre Léaud and Kati Outinen, so that's something to look forward to. There is also this great quote by the man himself: "Cinema is dead. It died 1962, I think it was in October."