Friday, November 30, 2012


Another encyclopedia illustration, mid 90s, mix of water colours and acrylics

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Captain America

I found a used copy of Captain America, so I figured, yeah, sure, why not. I realize that some CGI is necessary for a film like this, but I find they rely on it far too much, giving the film an ugly, unreal look. In comparison, Tarantino's WW2 film looked much better. The first hour is pretty good, though, up to and including the rescue mission of the captured soldiers - the actors all do a great job. Then it seems like the film makers aren't quite sure what to do next, besides building up to Captain America being stuck under the ice. Less mindless action sequences, and more character stuff between the Cap and the girl would have been nice. They could have had more fun with the Red Skull character. Still - better than Thor.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Spanish Prisoner

Campbell Scott has invented some sort of process that is worth a lot of money, and a lot of people want to get it. Also starring Steve Martin and Ben Gazzara, written and directed by David Mamet.

Who can you trust? No one. I think it's a better film than Heist. For a long part you're not quite sure where the story is going. Then unfortunately it stumbles at the end. One twist too many. I think a darker, less happy ending would have been more satisfying - at least for us pessimists. I put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.

Top five Mamet films:

1. House of Games
2. The Spanish Prisoner
3. Glengarry Glenn Ross
4. Heist
5. Homicide

Friday, November 23, 2012

Return of Cigarette

War of the Worlds

Tom Cruise plays a regular working class guy, something that is a bit hard to believe in when it comes to Tom Cruise. But the film has a 70s rawness and grittiness to it that works quite well. The film shows both Spielberg's strenghts and weaknesses. The attack of the alien tripods is actually quite scary, and there are some really haunting images - the dead bodies in the river, the runaway train on fire. But it's a Spielberg film so of course you can't get away from his usual sentimental touch: Will there be a phony Sophie's Choice moment where Cruise has to choose between his two kids? Will there be a tearful reunion at the end? Will the whole experience bring Cruise's family closer together? Yes, yes, yes, it will. Too bad. But the first hour is terrific.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some books I've read 8

Raymond Chandler: A Life by Tom Williams
Well written, even though I'm not sure it brings that much new compared to the previous Chandler biographies. But it's always interesting to see how much a writer puts of himself into his literary character. Hergé said "Tintin, that's me." and Raymond Chandler is Philip Marlowe, or who he wanted to be.

That Summer in Paris by Morley Callaghan
An interesting book, and probably as close to the truth we're going to get about the famous boxing fight between him and Ernest Hemingway. At least truer than Hemingway's version, in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, claiming he was so drunk he could hardly see.

The Name of The World by Denis Johnson
Great novel, and very different from the Denis Johnson of  Jesus' Son and Angels.

Winter Journal by Paul Auster.
Good but uneven memoir. Not the masterpiece that The Invention of Solitude was - though I should reread that book. Auster making a list of all the apartments and houses he's lived in is fine, but did we need two pages of his wife's board meeting reports?

Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich
Pretty good noir novel. Some of his books can be a bit hard to get through - they're more about the plot than about the characters, but this is a well written book, full of plotholes though it may be.

I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons
I already got two biographies of Leonard Cohen, but I think this is the best one. Lots of stuff I didn't know, like him doing concerts at mental hospitals - a bit like Johnny Cash did in prisons. And the crazy story about his manager stealing all his money, that also includes a parrot saying " I see dead people." Yes. And it made me want to listen to the cds he did after I'm Your Man, that so far I've just skipped.

Came The Dawn by Wallace Wood
I planned to start buying the EC books from Fantagraphics, but based on this book I might... not. All the stories are seven pages, so okay, some narration is necessary, but they're just totally overwritten, stating things already shown in the drawings. The plots and twist endings are mostly pretty silly or dated. I can enjoy Wood's art as illustrations - they're gorgeous - but for me personally it works less as comics. And Wood was one of those cartoonists that had to fill every inch of every panel. Let the page breathe a bit! What's wrong with some open space?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Old strip, no title

-Hey?! What are you doing?!
-Dirtying the bed, huh?! Get out!
-Poor l'il doggie...

Friday, November 16, 2012

McCabe, Mrs. Miller and Reds

 McCabe and Mrs Miller.

I haven't seen that many Altman films. Just this one, The Long Goodbye and Short Cuts. Personally I find them a bit hard to like - they're just too slow and not very fun. But that's a matter of personal taste. At least they're films for adults, something that hardly exists anymore. I liked the use of Leonard Cohen songs and the ending is very effective, despite the obviously fake snow storm. And I'm still curious about his film Nashville - I'll watch it if I find a copy.


A big budget three hour epic about an American communist? How the hell did this movie get a greenlight? By Warren Beatty being a big star at the time, I suppose. Anyway, it's pretty good. It takes its time, making us care about the characters. I must confess I don't know much about John Reed and the Wobblies and all that, only what I've picked up from reading Dos Passos. The film has lots of political arguing and so on, but there's also the good old reuniting of two people in a train station scene, always a classic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Duel in Dumbstone

-Mister Bullock...
-This town ain't big enough for both of us.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Bad and The Beautiful

Kirk Douglas is a ruthless film producer. Also starring Lana Turner and Dick Powell, directed by Vincente Minnelli. 

Ah, classic Hollywood! About Hollywood! In black and white! There are three stories, told in flashbacks, almost like a film noir. The film looks great. There are the 50s cars, and even, in one scene, you can see the iconic Hopper gas station pumps, and the Hollywood stuff is intriguing, like seeing that they did previews and asked for viewer comments even then, but the actual story, or stories, is less interesting and a bit hard to care about.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Gene Hackman and Delroy Lindo steal a bunch of gold for Danny DeVito. Or do they? Also starring Sam Rockwell, written and directed by David Mamet. 

If you say you're gonna do the job, do the job. Since it's a Mamet film you know there's gonna be a twist. You wait for the twist. Is there gonna be a twist? There is a twist. What's the twist? I'm not gonna say. You're just too hip to be happy. Does the film have the Mamet lingo? Yes, it does. It has the Mamet lingo. It's poetry. Okay? It's fucking poetry. Is it a better film than House of Games? No, I think I still prefer House of Games. How long is a Chinaman's name. Okay? Okay.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tombstone, director's cut

Rewatched the film and... still don't like it. The dialogues are just too silly and modern sounding. Okay, the film is more authentic than John Ford's version, but there are a lot of characters and backstory, and I think you really need to simplify or re-invent this story to make it work. Neither Kurt Russell here or Kevin Costner in his film manage to make Wyatt Earp into an interesting figure. Again, it's Doc Holliday that steals the show; Val Kilmer has the best lines of dialogue and his deathbed scene is the best scene of the film. Not sure if the director's cut brings anything new to the film, and anyway, I thought Kurt Russell was the one calling the shots after the original director had been fired early in the filming, not George P. Cosmatos.

Friday, November 2, 2012


"And what will happen in the morning when the world it gets so crowded that you can't look out the window in the morning?"
Nick Drake, Hazey Jane II


The 70s version of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral, starring Stacy Keach as the doomed Doc Holliday, Harris Yulin as Wyatt Earp and Faye Dunaway as Kate Elder, directed by Frank Perry.

It's a great little Western, and probably the darkest version of this particular story. It has the slowness of the 70s films, it's not all about the plot - there's the little details that make Doc and Kate seem like real people. Everybody is dirty and unshaved, the actors mumble their lines (so it's a bit unfortunate that there is no subtitles option.) Dunaway must be the ultimate 70s actress - next to Karen Black, I guess - and she does a good job here. Keach and Yulin are both terrific, neither heroes or villains. And the actual shootout is not dragged out,15 seconds and it's over.

Should I give Tombstone a second chance? I didn't like it the first time I saw it. Maybe the director's cut... I also see there's a movie called Hour of The Gun, a sort of sequel to Gunfight at The O.K. Corral, by John Sturges, but with other actors and made ten years later.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Le Havre

An illegal immigrant meets an old shoeshiner in Le Havre. Directed by Aki Kaurismäki.

Possibly not Kaurismäki's best film, but very hard to resist. A mix of Poetic Realism and Deadpan Fairy Tale, with the usual Finnish melancholy underneath, and probably Kaurismäki's most political and most optimistic film. It's a long way from The Match Factory Girl. Old Aki is growing softer, like most of us. There's a belief in the community and the good of man. Without making you want to puke. The cinematography has a touch of Edward Hopper, with diagonal lines of light from the windows.