Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Skyfall and the Whale

See, it's possible to make an action film without the constant shakycam. And I like that the filmmakers take their time telling the story, not just rushing from setpiece to setpiece. Unfortunately, they're not able to top the pre credit sequence, and then the film drags quite a bit at the end, even getting slightly pretentious (well, it is a Sam Mendes film, after all). It's not as good as Casino Royale, but better than Quantum of Solace. Even while enjoying the classic style of this film, it would have been fun to see a punkrock James Bond film, in black and white, why not, and clocking in at under 90 minutes. That's sort of what QoS should have been.

The Squid and the Whale:
Loved this film. Since it's about divorce I was afraid there would be a lot of yelling and crying, all captured by a constantly moving handheld camera, like Danish dogme movie Festen or Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives.  But no, there is handheld camera, but mostly pretty subtle; it's just observing what's happening, with no fancy tricks. It has the feel of a French film - there is some nouvelle vague namedropping - and avoids any sentimentality. Did the mother remember watching the Robin Hood film with her son? We don't know. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spanish interview

There's an interview with me, in Spanish, at this site:

Lynx 2

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Blood Simple

Dan Hedaya hires M. Emmet Walsh to kill Frances McDormand and John Getz. Things go wrong. Written and directed by the Coen brothers.

Their first film, and it still holds up well. The low budget shows sometimes, with lots of static camera shots. There are some places where they're showing off, just to show off, but that's fine, that's what first time directors are supposed to do. The dolly track over the drunk guy in the bar is still fun. The mostly wordless sequence at the end is still some of their best work. And the piano theme is among the catchiest scores they've done (well, outside of O Brother.)

Re-watching the film now, I realized there's a scene of the client contemptuously throwing money on the prvate investigator, that I had pretty much ripped off in Lost Cat.

Top five Coen Brothers films:
1. Miller's Crossing
2. Raising Arizona
3. No Country for Old Men
4. Fargo
5. The Big Lebowski.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Some books I've read 11

John Steinbeck by Jay Parini
A good biography about the writer. So far I've only read his masterpieces, Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, and I should check out some of his other books.

Fool for Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald by Scott Donaldson
Not as much a biography as a search for the writer through his books. I guess I prefer Hemingway of the two, but in the end I think Fitzgerald was probably a more interesting person, The Crack-Up essays a braver thing to write than Hemingway's And then I went to Africa and shot half the animals there.

The Lonely Hunter by Virginia Spencer Carr
Her big, fat biography of Carson McCullers, about the writer's fairly short and troubled life.

Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson
Her memoir about her time with Jack Kerouac, and what it was like being a woman in the Beat generation.

Jack's Book by Barry Gifford and Lawrence Lee
An oral biography of Kerouac. Not bad, but a bit thin compared to some of the later biographies.

Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard
Good, but maybe not great book from Leonard.

In One Person by John Irving
I like that there is some anger behind the book, as in some of Irving's best books, like Garp and Cider House Rules, but the characters don't really jump off the page the same way Melony or Owen Meany did.

Hellboy: House of the Living Dead by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben
I enjoy Corben's drawings. I wish the book had been longer and Mignola had gone a bit deeper in the story. And I wish they had used a good oldfashioned letterer. The computer font and sound effects clash with Corben's rawer art.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Comic books!

When was the last time I bought a comic book? It must be years. Graphic novels look better on the shelf, but still... I spent some of the weekend looking through some of my old comics that have been gathering dust, reading a bit here and a bit there, and enjoyed a lot of it. The New Mutants by Sienkiewicz, Swamp Thing by Alan Moore, Shade The Changing Man by Milligan, the Daredevils Mazzucchelli did before Born Again. Flex Mentallo by Morrison held up pretty good, and with the original colours, thank you very much - a superhero version of The Singing Detective.

And re-reading the Sin City: Hell And Back issues, I had forgotten how fun Frank Miller could be. He seems to have lost interest in a Gordon character, like in Batman Year One, grounding it in anything resembling reality. Now it's all tough guys and babes. Which can be okay as well, particulary with the cartoonier style he applies here - the big hands and feet he gives everyone. I especially enjoyed the colour issue, no 7, when the hero hallucinates and sees all kinds of pop culture characters from Miller's past. And this is probably the last good thing he did. Dark Knight 2 was kind of a mess, I haven't bothered checking out Holy Terror and let's not speak about The Spirit.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lost Cat excerpt

The first 15 pages of Lost Cat can be seen on the Fantagraphics blog, here:

On The Beach

A nuclear war has wiped out life on most of the globe, except for Australians who keep singing Walzing Matilda. Starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, directed by Stanley Kramer.

Not the most cheerful film ever made. Actually, it reminded me a bit of Bob Dylan's Talkin' World War III Blues. It's strange to see Fred Astaire in such a serious film, but he's good. Peck is a bit stiff. Gardner is great. She must be around 40 years old here, but looks amazing, showing a vulnerable side that maybe wasn't there when she was younger. And she came from the old Hollywood system that produced stars, distant godesses, not necessarily actresses.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Great Gatsby

The rich are a rotten crowd. Starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, directed by Jack Clayton.

The film has one big problem. Mia Farrow, so good in Rosemary's Baby, is completely miscast in this film. It's just hard to imagine Redford longing for this woman, building a fortune just to win her back. He's Robert Redford, for one thing! And the rich people are all empty, superficial assholes, it turns out. The film was made in the 70s, but feels more like some oldfashioned Zanuck production from the 50s. A director like Nicolas Roeg or Robert Altman could maybe have done a more interesting job.

Oslo 2

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Down by Iron Man

Down by Law: It's a sad and beautiful world. Just like Stranger Than Paradise it gives a European look on America. The film was made in the 80s but has a timeless look. It could be from the 50s or from yesterday. I like that it takes its time to show boredom. Half an hour of the film takes place in a small cell. Also that Jarmusch just skips the actual escape, a sequence that could have been milked for tension, as if he just didn't find that interesting.

Iron Man 3: Yes, I went to see it. Why? Why, oh Lord? I don't know. It got good reviews and I liked the first one. It has some good stuff: The Air Force One passengers rescue, Iron Man fighting henchmen with only part of his Iron Man suit and the Mandarin reveal. But as a whole it's kind of tiresome. The climax of the film is so long and dragged out that half way through it you get bored. And when the story is over, end the film. Don't go on for another five minutes.

I saw Down By Law when it originally came out. It has images that has stuck in my head. Why is it that I saw Iron Man a couple of days ago and already I have problems remembering it. There are no really memorable images. Is it because of the number of images in the film, the fast editing? The scene of Benigni telling how he ended up in jail lasts minutes. Does the length of the shot and the static camera make it engrave itself in your brain?