Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Body Heat

William Hurt and Kathleen Turner decide to kill her husband, Richard Crenna. Also starring Mickey Rourke and Ted Danson, written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

A nice little film noir exercise. One thing about the neo noirs from the 80s and 90s is that the person commiting a crime actually can get away with it. He or she doesn't need to be caught and punished like in the classic films. And they can also be seen having sex, like in this film, it's no longer only implied that they do, by swapping cigarettes or slamming doors or whatever. The neo noir director is aware that he is doing a noir, something Wilder was not while doing Double Indemnity. For him it was only a crime film - there were no film noir rules set in stone to follow. Like in that film, the dialogue has an artificial quality. Rourke is the one normal person, the outsider not being a part of the noir universe. He's the voice of reason in the film, asking Hurt not to go through with it. But of course, it wouldn't have been much of a noir film if Hurt had listened.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dune miniseries

I found a used copy of the Dune miniseries, and gave it a look. It manages to make the Lynch version seem like even a bigger masterpiece. What's worse than film CGI? Bad tv CGI! The desert scenes look awful. I know, it's not fair to compare a big budget movie with a tv version made for far less money, but still... I wish they had gone for a no CGI look and given it more of a theatrical feel, that everything clearly is filmed on a stage, like Méliès' silent films. I think that in the end would have been less distracting. The production design is very imaginative, but always less interesting than in the Lynch film. The actors are also less interesting, with a possible exception for William Hurt. I didn't recognize any of the other actors. The accents are all over the place, from Scottish to East European. The cheap look of the series could maybe have been okay if the script was better - they have five hours to tell the story after all - but no, the characters don't feel more developed and the second half, the second disc, really drags. There is no vision, the way the Lynch film, for better or worse, had - it's just bland tv. The one thing that works better is the blue eyes of the fremen, okay, it looks more convincing than in the film.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Defiant Ones

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are two convicts chained together who manage to escape. Also starring Charles Gravelvoice McGraw, directed by Stanley Kramer.

It's a good film. It's a message film, though, so there's not really any big surprise how it turns out. The characters are not completely credible - you can sort of feel them being moved around to make a point. Still, it's more eloquently done than Racism is bad!-film Crash made 50 years later. Curtis is quite good, almost unrecognizable from his usual prettyboy roles, but it's hard not to imagine what the film would have been like with the first choice for the part, Marlon Brando.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Experiment in Terror

Lee Remick is a bankteller threatened by a man to steal 100 000 dollars from her bank or he will kill her and her sister. Glenn Ford is the FBI agent working on the case. Directed by Blake Edwards.

It's a nice, little thriller, shot in black and white, with a terrific opening scene of Remick in her garage being grabbed by a man whose face we don't see. There's also a creepy scene of the same man dressed up as an old lady. In these films the victim is often not believed by the police. Here the FBI agent believes her just based on a phone call and even sends out a surveillance team! Not sure if that would have happened in a Hitchcock film... and Hitchcock would maybe have given it that extra suspenseful touch at the end. But still, it's quite an effective film from Edwards, showing he could do more than just comedy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One more

Another panel based on an earlier sketch. The main character, the detective, is again a man out of time, a bit like Athos in The Last Musketeer. The story takes place in the present, but he dresses in a fedora and trenchcoat, as if it was in the fourties. And he walks around in a French city, not in LA or San Fransisco.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Using more sketches

Another panel based on a sketch. Now that France is moving over to cable, all the tv antennas will probably be taken down. Which is almost a shame. The rooftops won't be the same without them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Using sketches

One good thing about having done a lot of sketches this summer is that I can use them in my comic, since the story takes place in Montpellier. I used to walk around and take photos, but that is something I try to avoid now. If I need a character walking in a street I just go out and draw the background directly on the original.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dune Avatar

I re-watched Dune the other day. Okay, it's not a perfect film... It's complicated and overserious. Half the time you're sitting there, thinking, what the hell is going on?! The dialogue is stilted; hearing the characters' thoughts doesn't help. The acting is not very good. Or it's as if they're acting in an old silent film. The music is by Toto for chrissake. But I can't help but like the film. It has a unique look, the whole Victorian influenced production design. The worms look great. The opening scene with the mutated navigator is terrific. And then, unfortunately, it falls apart.

I also found a used copy of Avatar and gave it a new look. The first time I saw it was in the cinema, but the 3D glasses gave me a headache, and after the first hour I just sat there waiting for the film to end. The film has the look of a progrock albumcover from 75, that same airbrushed look. Everything is too perfect. What kind of jungle looks like this? And doing everything in the computer, it feels like the director is tempted to put in too many details. It makes me think of the Emperor (?) in Amadeus: There's simply too many notes! Okay, the dinosaurs look good, and the flying dinosaur sequences are impressive, but the aliens, the navi, still look fake. And it's hard not to compare the final fight with the one in Aliens, where Ripley fights the alien queen, which one looks most real and intense?

I watched Dr. Zhivago some time ago. The film is from 1965. If it was made today, almost fifty years later, it would almost certainly not look as good. Then everything was filmed in camera, today there would have been lots of CGI, and sorry, but most of it still looks fake. The simplest thing, like a blue sky and clouds outside a window, looks fake. If Jaws was made today, would it be as good? What's scary about the original one is that we almost never see the shark! Today it would have been there from the beginning. The first and the last Indiana Jones film, which one looks best? Will the new Alien film look half as convincing as the original one?

So, anyway... Dune 1 Avatar 0.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And another panel

The story will be in black and white + red colour pencil.

Brian De Palma

Top five Brian De Palma films:
1. Blow Out
2. Dressed to Kill
3. Carlito's Way
4. The Untouchables
5. Mission Impossible

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another panel...

...from the new story. I got about 50 pages in various states of being sketched, penciled and inked. For the moment it looks like it will be around 150-160 pages. So I guess this will be my first graphic novel. That means I'm a... I'm a... graphic novelist! Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Top five Hitchcock films:
1. North by Northwest
2. Rear Window
3. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 version)
4. Psycho
5. Notorious

Yes, Vertigo is not on the list! I dunno, I just never cared too much about that film...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New artists

One part of growing older is completely losing touch with what is going on in current pop music. I have a vague knowledge of a singer called Lady Gaga, but that's about it. Travis and The Cranberries are new bands for me, and I don't know if they even exist anymore. If I discover new music, it's often by accident. Hearing a tape while sitting in the car of a friend or things like that. So, here's the top five of new artists, meaning artists that have appeared after the year 2000:
1. Iron and Wine
2. Marissa Nadler
3. Jose Gonzales
4. Fleet Foxes
5. Bon Iver

Some comics I've read

Love And Rockets, no. 4 by the Hernandez brothers:
Another great issue, with the continuation and ending of The Love Bunglers, from Jaime Hernandez. It's a real knockout and quite touching for those that have followed the strip and these characters since the eighties. You almost have to remind yourself that, yes, these are characters, not real people! Apparently, nobody told Jaime that the quality of one's work is supposed to go down after working on a strip that long. I look forward to, in twenty years time, reading about a sixty years old Maggie.

Prince Valiant Volume 4, 1943-44 by Hal Foster:
Again, stunning drawings. And quite bloody! Valiant is being tortured, people are killed left and right. There's a strange sequence in the book involving another knight, Tristram, who I don't think has been introduced earlier, that looks like a double of Valiant, but with a mustache! He is killed by a jealous king, but instead of Valiant and Gawain, who are there, seeking vengeance they just ride off. Not quite sure what was going on in Foster's mind there.

Tarzan, The Joe Kubert Years, Volume 3:
I remember the Kubert Tarzan stories from when I was a kid. There were some translations into Norwegian. Kubert was the perfect Tarzan artist, in my mind, his brushstrokes matching the savageness of both Tarzan and the jungle landscape where the stories take place. Still waiting for Volume 1.

Hellboy, The Bride of Hell And Others, The Troll Witch and Others, The Crooked Man And Others:
Usually I find the Hellboy stories not drawn by Mignola less appealing. No matter how good the cartoonists are, it's just not the same. An interesting exception is Richard Corben - his style is almost completely the opposite of Mignola, but somehow it works perfectly for the Hellboy universe. One thing, though: I miss the handlettering by Pat Brosseau from the early books. That handlettering had a lot of character, the square A's and so on, and the computer font from the newer books doesn't fit as well.

Our Little Kat King by Patrick McDonnell:
This is the latest of the yearly Mutts Treasury books. Is Mutts the last good newspaperstrip? It has a Peanuts quality, even if maybe it doesn't reach quite the genius of that strip. It's very inventive in its variations of the recurring setups; the hibernation strips, the singing birds, the squirrel throwing nuts and so on . Sometimes a little too cute-ish, but there are worse crimes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Julie London

Here's some great music for late night inking: Julie London. Cry Me A River, I Left My Heart In San Francisco, all the standards. Only problem is you feel you should almost wear a tie and a suit while listening. Also to have a glass of whiskey and a smoldering cigarette in an ashtray. Drinking and inking is not a good combination, though. Don't drink and ink. And a smoldering cigarette next to a lot of artwork is maybe not a good idea either.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

John Huston

Top five John Huston films:
1. The Asphalt Jungle
2. Fat City
3. The Maltese Falcon
4. The Treasure of Sierra Madre
5. The Dead