Posts Tagged ‘Akiro Kurosawa’

Blackpaint 687 – Ersters, Hooks, Samurai and a Cockroach

March 14, 2021

The Last Canvas, 100 x 100cm


To start with, some films I have seen recently – though they are hardly recent:

Cover Girl dir Charles Vidor, 1944

Great musical with Rita Hayward, Gene Kelly and the brilliant Phil Silvers, later justly famous as Sergeant Ernie Bilko, but in this, one of the dancers.  The main one really, nicknamed The Genius.  Well, he’s a pretty good dancer – who knew? as irritating people now say…  Pretty standard story ; Kelly runs a dance troupe and is carrying on a romance with Hayworth.  She wins a cover girl contest for a major magazine – will she leave Kelly for the big time and fall for the rich suitor?  That’s the bare bones, it’s more complex – but not much more.

Stand -out dance routine is where Kelly dances with his reflection in shop windows.

There’s also a number involving all three, Hayworth, Kelly and Silvers, during which they run into a policeman and saunter away sheepishly – just as Kelly does years later in “Singin’ in the Rain”, when he’s jumping in puddles and the law shows up.

One other thing ; slightly older readers might know a song – I think it’s Astaire and Rogers in “Shall We Dance?”, the roller skate routine – titled  “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”.  It’s about how you pronounce words differently and there’s a line that goes “I  order “oysters” and you order “ersters”…  I’ve always wondered about that – whoever said “ersters”??  Well, the man who runs the oyster bar in “Cover Girl” does – he says Joysey for Jersey and ersters for oysters.  So is that where its from?  No – because Astaire and Rogers were singing in 1937.  turns out to be New York accent, probably disappeared now.  Possible connection between the two is Ira Gershwin, who wrote the song lyrics and who also wrote the songs for “Cover Girl”, with Jerome Kern.  Stand – out song from “Cover Girl is “Long Ago and Far Away”.

Hellraiser, dir and writer Clive Barker, 1987


I think this is the most gruesome and wince-inducing film I’ve ever seen, and there’s some very enthusiastic sex in it, inextricably entwined with the constant horrible violence.  I enjoyed it greatly.  Claire Higgins conceives an irresistible longing for her husband’s brother, leading her to daydream of being attended by him as she lies on her wedding dress.  The problem is that he has no skin, it having been ripped off by hooks at the hands of the Cenobites, demons (or angels) of sado-masochistic extremity.  Only fresh blood can restore his body.

You’d think she’d be put off on discovering this – but no.  She picks up men to bring back to him, and assists in killing them.  Anyway, that’s enough plot – the most memorable scene (apart from the sex) is near the end; “Jesus Wept”, remarks Frank, newly recaptured by the Cenobites and in the process of losing his skin to the hooks for the second time.  Double bill with “Cover Girl”, possibly?

 Seven Samurai, dir Akiro Kurosawa, 1954

From the ridiculous (but enjoyable) to the sublime.  Long film, and I remembered it as great, but thought I might be put off by the constant guttural shouting involved, always at close range and into faces – but no.  It’s deeply moving and Toshiro Mifune is spellbinding as the loud, irascible, oafish farmer’s son, who wants to be a samurai.  He grunts and shouts and ridicules and bullies the farmers, but comes good when the fighting starts, even though he lacks the discipline of the “real” samurai.  For me, he’s up there with Marcello Mastroianni in Fellini’s films (although it’s hard to think of two actors with less in common).

The star samurai has to be Kyuzo (below).  Did you see him move?  No – well, why is that man dead?

Back to painting, to finish with:

The Way That Light Works

Two photos of one of my paintings, called “Leaving the Stage”.  One was taken under artificial light at midnight, the other in the garden on a chilly mid afternoon.  Look how different they are!

Midnight Inside

Afternoon outside

I know which one I prefer…


La Cucuracha

Yes, I know it looks more like a cockerel than a cockroach (and not much like either) – but I like the name.


14th March 2021