Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Empire of The Sun

An English boy is separated from his parents during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai. Starring Christian Bale and John Malkovich, directed by Steven Spielberg.

The film is Spielberg doing his best David Lean. The direction is mostly restrained, except for when it's not: the moments where "magical" is pushed up to 11. It's not a bad film, but there are many scenes that just don't ring true. At that point in his life Spielberg seemed to be unable to face the realities of war, so the film is pretty much about a boy who thinks that planes are really neat, and Malkovich stealing the shoes of a dead woman is about as dark as it gets. He did a better job with Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, without ever really losing that sentimental touch. I guess it wouldn't be a Spielberg film without it. Christian Bale is convincing in his part, though.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kingdom of Heaven, director's cut

It's a long film and feels like it. I split it up in two viewings. One problem is that we never really get under the skin of the characters. How did people speak thousand years ago? According to films like this they spoke as if they were making speeches, saying stuff they had prepared the night before. I'm not sure I buy it. Where are the people who sound like idiots, like you and me? Really, they were all eloquent? All the time? But the film looks great. That's the least you expect from Ridley Scott. The money is up on the screen, as they say. The final battle scene is impressive. Orlando Bloom is maybe too lightweight, he doesn't have the gravitas of Liam Neeson who he's supposed to be the son of. Still... the film is pretty good, in a Hollywood kind of way, and better than the original, shorter version.

Friday, October 19, 2012


So, yeah... Taken... It's quite an effective, relentless film. I can see why it was popular. There's the Jason Bourne shakycam that seems unavoidable in modern action films. There's the Jack Bauer torture scene and the CSI style flashbacks. It gets a bit silly, and fun, towards the end with Liam Neeson killing EVERYBODY. And it's Neeson who makes the film worth seeing. The guy is a real actor. If it had been Schwarzenegger or Stallone it would have felt less fresh. Clocking in at 1H25 the film doesn't overstay its welcome. The phone speach! I would maybe have liked a more French touch, something less Michael Bay and more Godard, but I guess that's expecting too much. Anyway... I enjoyed the film, but don't feel the need to rush down to the local cinema to watch Taken 2.

Nancy Lynch

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And more stuff

Bought in Paris:

Cassidy's Girl by David Goodis
A Son of The Circus by John Irving

Husbands by Cassavetes
The Candidate, with Robert Redford
None But The Brave by Frank Sinatra
Soldier Blue
Easy Living
Empire of The Sun by Spielberg
Taken by Pierre Morel

Yes, I bought Taken! Look, it only cost 4 euros. I was curious what all the fuss was about, okay?

Edward Hopper

Well, I took the train up to Paris to drop off the Lost Cat originals at my French publisher's offices, then went to see the big Edward Hopper retrospective at the Grand Palais. There were early paintings he did in Paris, illustration work he did back in the US, etchings and of course most of his major paintings, including Nighhawks, that is really mesmerizing to see in real life, and that I wanted to take with me, but it was too big to fit under my coat. It was kind of touching to see how a lot of the people present were elderly, people who had trouble walking or needing a wheelchair. Art is something I never think about and I don't go much to museums, so it took an exhibit like this to make me see clearer that yes, art is important and that to make art is something to be proud of, and that the politicians who don't believe in supporting the arts, who think that money is everything, and who probably never read a book, well, they're wrong and they can all go... jump in a lake.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lost description

There's now a description of Lost Cat on amazon:

Jason’s full-length detective graphic novel revolves around a missing cat — and a missing woman.
A detective is walking down the street. It is raining. He sees a “Lost Cat” poster. A minute later he sees the cat from the photo. He picks it up and goes back to the poster. He calls the number. A woman answers. He turns up at her place and gives her the cat. She invites him in from the rain for a cup of coffee. They talk and find out they have a lot in common: both are divorced and living alone. Some days later he invites her out for a dinner. She accepts. He shows up at the agreed time. She doesn’t. He calls her home and knocks on her door. No answer. He asks the neighbors. They haven’t seen her. She has disappeared. He makes some phone calls and investigates, but can’t find her. He gets a new client and has to start working on a new case. In his head he continues their conversation. Lost Cat, the new graphic novel by Jason (after years of “graphic novellas” of less than 50 pages, arguably his first genuine graphic NOVEL) is both a playful take on the classic detective story, and a story about how difficult it is to find a sister spirit, someone you feel a real connection to—and what do you do if you lose that person? Two color throughout

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Top 5 Columbo episodes:

1. The one with the magician
2. The one with the IQ club
3. The military academy one
4. The one with the chess game
5. The one where Columbo's wife has given him a new coat and he tries to lose it

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

And More Stuff

Got the rest of the big amazon order

The Hive by Charles Burns
Krazy & Ignatz, 1916 - 1918 by George Herriman
The High Window by Raymond Chandler
Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
Four Novellas of Fear by Cornell Woolrich
La Vie en Rose
Justified, season 2

I need to get a copy of the new Chris Ware book, but I should really try to stay away from amazon for a couple of months. It's so easy, just a couple of clicks, there's no physical counting of hard earned money. There should be a step before the final confirmation, where you're asked, "You really need this item? Really? Seriously, you need it? You can't live without it? Well, go ahead then, if you think it'll make you happy!"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dances With Wolves

I saw Dances With Wolves when it came out, and remember being disappointed by the film. But I think maybe I focused a bit too much on the bits and pieces I didn't like. Watching the special edition, almost four hours long, it's actually quite good. It's still a bit too cute - Costner falling on his ass, and so on. His character feels too modern and touchy feely for a soldier who's seen war. The film is a continuation of the revisionist Westerns of the 70s, like Little Big Man, and is like that film maybe too black and white - the Indians are all noble and wise, the whites are crazy or ignorant swines. But there are some nice images or sequences, like the buffalo hunt, and it has some humour. I was quite moved by the ending. There are also some places you can see that it's a debut film for Costner as director - images he fell in love with, but that don't bring the story forward. A bit tighter editing might have helped.
And really, the title is misleading! There's only one wolf! I expected at least two! Shouldn't it be Dances With Wolf In Distance or Dances While Wolf Is Watching, Not Sure What Is Going On? Well, possibly Indian names didn't have commas.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More books

More books from amazon in the mail:

The Carter Family by Young and Lasky
Krazy and Ignatz: 1919-1921 by George Herriman
Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich
Winter Journal by Paul Auster
The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
American Elf: Book 4 by James Kochalka
The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tomasso
Pirateria by Calef Brown

While in Nérac I bought
Nightclubbing Desperados by Serge Clerc
Rébétiko by David Prudhomme

and got the book signed by David! Now all I need is the time to read all this stuff.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

BD à Nérac

I'll be in Nérac this weekend for Les Rencontres Chaland.

47%, Looper

I spent far too much time watching CNN, back when I was in Montreal. It was pretty depressing following the reports about the two candiates, behaving like little kids in a sandbox. I'm not sure I get it - why couldn't Romney apologize for his 47% comment instead of desperately trying to back it up? Why should a politician lose credibility if he apologizes for something he said? I think I would have more respect for the guy if he had. McCain actually seems like a pretty decent man in comparison. And don't start on Ryan, who has the same crazy, brainwashed look in his eyes that Bachman has. I'm sure he would be a great president if Romney won and then keeled over! And why hasn't anyone talked about global warming?!

Saw Looper before I left, and was kind of disappointed, after the rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I have no problem believing the time travel stuff. The telekinesis stuff is a lot harder to swallow. Combined it's a bit too much. The first half hour is pretty good, but then it really drags a bit for the next hour. Some nice images, though and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a good young Bruce Willis..

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Books and Stuff

I went a bit nuts ordering stuff on amazon before leaving Montreal, so there were a bunch of packages waiting for me when I got home. I had a little Christmas morning by myself, opening them. And only hard packages this time, no socks or underwear, thank you very much.

Hemingway's Boat by Paul Hendrickson
Hemingway's First War by Michael Reynolds
That Summer in Paris by Morley Callaghan
Raymond Chandler: A Life by Tom Williams
Prince Valiant vol. 5 by Hal Foster
Captain Easy vol. 3 by Roy Crane
The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter
Mad Men season 1 and 2 package
The Aki Kaurismäki Collection vol. 3
Careless Love by Madeleine Peyroux

How many books about Hemingway do you need, really? I don't know. Apparantly lots. The Callaghan book is about his days in Paris in the 20s and his notorious boxing match with Hemingway, so that should hopefully be interesting and give some definite answers of what actually happened.