I have no idea what the central idea behind this blog actually is. It’s not about clothes, music, reading matter or movies specifically, but they certainly recur. It’s just another self-indulgent outlet on the internet, hoping to snare the occasional reader with a like mind in, rather than gunning for the masses on some fancy shit. I only launched with that to fill this paragraph and because I’ve stalled twice on camera explaining what I actually do. I leave this WordPress out of it because it complicates things even more. But I do seem to dwell on films a lot more than any other subject here because most of my interests are borne from a cinematic preoccupation.
That still doesn’t mean I exercise much quality control. Out of boredom, impatience and the crappiness of my local multiplex, I’ll watch films in some really bad pirate quality. Not on the level of the ‘E.T.’ bootleg from my childhood or the unwatchable ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘Die Hard II’ bootlegs brought round by excitable buddies in 1990, but I’ve sat through iPhone 2 camera quality takes on blockbusters, all tinged by the cautious periodic wobble of a fearful ‘director of photography’ who’s wary of a fine and rejection. I even watched ‘Captain America: the First Avenger’ via a Megavideo link in that quality. I am a fool. But some movies deserve the pristine Blu-ray treatment or they’re pointless. ‘Barry Lyndon’ is a perfect example.
Stanley Kubrick’s second best film (behind ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but way ahead of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’), is one of the most beautifully shot motion pictures ever (John Alcott’s work is masterful), and while some have criticised Ryan O’Neal’s performance, I love his deceitful pomposity. Kubrick using NASA technology lenses to give the film a natural, old world look is a glorious paradox that sums up the master’s unorthodox mode-of-thought. Yet inexplicably, like as with Martin Scorcese’s After Hours’ on DVD in the UK, the only way to get ‘Barry Lyndon’ on Blu-ray is to fork out for a box set — in this case the ‘Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection’. Still, there’s worse things to spend your hard-earned on than seven Kubrick films and a bonus disc. If Blu-ray hadn’t happened, Stanley probably would have made something similar to display his work to his standards.
Recent talk of William Devane here – reinstated to the director’s cut of ‘Payback’ which was a remake of 1967’s ‘Point Blank’, which I was watching at work today for inspiration via the club scene with Stu Gardner’s psychedelic funk wailing — has got me thinking about the many hard-boiled novels of Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), which depicted Parker getting up to no good. Violent, pulpy and amoral, they’ve been the source of inspiration for vengeful anti-heroes on screen ever since. Godard’s ‘Made in U.S.A’ was an unofficial remake of Stark’s ‘The Jugger’ but the opening credits and trailer are the best things about the film compared to the brutal fun of Boorman’s masterpiece, or 1973’s ‘The Outfit’. I’ve been enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s Parker comic book adaptations too. Having grown up on Howard Chaykin’s X-rated ‘Black Kiss’, I’ve long had a taste for the more uncompromising approach to noir when it comes to words and pictures.
As the fine ‘The Ivy Look’ book mentions, Lee Marvin kicks arse in ‘Point Black’ in a fine pair or Florsheim Imperials, and I recommend reading the ‘Playboy’ interview here and the ‘Esquire’ interview here to appreciate the depth of Marvin’s character. Too manly for macho posturing, his opinions on sexuality are particularly enlightening. I’ve also been browsing this Parker fansite a lot — the archive of paperback covers is incredible.
I had an epiphany recently. I don’t actually like Kenneth Anger’s films. I love them conceptually and his attitude’s fun, but I can’t help falling asleep and having bizarre visions during the ‘Majick Lantern Cycle’. Maybe that’s the point. I prefer Kenneth on paper I love his made-up ‘Hollywood Babylon’ books and I’d been looking for a copy of Alice L. Hutchison’s book from 2004 – a definitive text on Anger — for a while, and while trying to get a status update on the oft-delayed ‘Italo Disco — A Secret History of Modern Pop’ from Black Dog Publishing, I noticed that they’re reprinting the Anger book in September too. That should dead some of those hefty Amazon Marketplace prices.
Most mornings I’m woken by a spaniel. The dangly eared buffoon doesn’t care for the sanctimony of sleep and seems to become odder and more immature as the months pass. I’ve long wanted to understand what goes on in its head- I always imagined it was a cover of Hot Butter’s ‘Popcorn’ played using the dog bark effect on a crappy keyboard played perennially until bedtime, but it turns out that it might be more complex than that. I just started reading John Bradshaw’s scholarly ‘In Defence of the Dog’ that talks about the complexities of the canine, their modes of communication and their evolution. It turns out that we’ve been underestimating them a lot. Bradshaw never mentions their love of snapbacks, but I’m still besotted with the Chimp team‘s lookbook for caps. Everyone else should just give up. This shoot (shouts to the Bedfords, Joseph Dawson, Jonathan Paine and Snowy and Bailey) is just perfect to me. Dogs in hats stays classic.
I hate everyman rap. It’s even cornier than the fantastical duck tales that the platinum spitters peddle, but Stalley seems to strike a balance between keeping it real and just being aspirationally cool, calm and collected. He has the Maybach co-sign, but the packaging for ‘Lincoln Way Heights’ (the David Chang art makes it worth grabbing as a physical copy) and videos dropping from it have been tremendous. ‘Pound’ is classic — icily lyrical but deep in the production stakes courtesy of Rashad. The video’s crystal clear clarity of elevator journeys, the artist and lo-fi snippets of real-life panic and ‘Gummo’ gives budgetary limitations the finger. It manifests the Stalley sound. The homie Nick Schonberger is at least 25% cooler in my eyes for knowing this Ohio legend-in-the-making.