Posts Tagged ‘Festen’

Blackpaint 397 – Moth’s Wings, Ekcovision and Vanishing Points

June 6, 2013

Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway

Sometimes, you get those coincidences – in an Observer article by Robert McCrum on Sunday, reviewing Sarah Churchwell’s new book on SF, Zelda and Gatsby, McCrum quotes Hemingway on SF: his talent “was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings”.

Monday, reading “Jacob’s Ladder”, umpteenth SF short story in his collected works, came across this: “And with the clumsy tools of jealousy and desire he was trying to create the spell that is ethereal and delicate as the dust on a moth’s wing”.  McCrum doesn’t give the source of the Hemingway quotation, so I must assume it was hommage rather than plagiarism.  All references I can find online attribute the image to Hemingway.

Pessoa, the Book of Disquiet

Just finished this collection of writings by the Portuguese poet/”bookkeeper”; I found much of it hilarious, but I’m not exactly sure I was supposed to.  At times, it reminded me of Sartre’s Roquentin  in “Nausea”, or of Celine’s Bardamu in “Journey to the end of the Night”.  He makes a virtue of inertia, travelling in his mind rather than in space, while he works at his accounts in the Lisbon warehouse – then seeks to undermine even the dreaming, which is itself, he thinks, a waste of effort.  Is it shot through with irony?  Must be, surely.  the reason I use inverted commas when I say “bookkeeper” is that Pessoa wrote, and lived, through a number of heteronyms – avatars, I suppose they might be called now.

Ed Ruscha

I’m still ploughing through “Pacific Standard Time”, the great book on the art of LA and its environs from WW2 to the eighties.  In it, Ruscha’s painting of Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art on fire, is described as having “incompatible vanishing points”; I find this mystifying – they look OK to me.  Judge for yourself, below.

ruscha

The Lavender Hill Mob

First time I’ve actually watched this through, and I was knocked out by it – the Eiffel Tower sequences, when Holloway and Guinness are hurtling down the spiral staircase, and the police car chase around the strangely spacious streets of London (maybe it was the bombsites) both classic sequences; that huge “Ekcovision” advert on the wall!  The Welsh policeman singing along to “Old MacDonald” as he stood on the running board – Saturday morning pictures feel about it.

Of course, there was the problem of criminals being seen to get away with it.. and Sid James and Alfie Bass, half the “mob”, being written out halfway through – still, brilliant film.

Festen

Again.  Still riveting, even when you know what’s coming.  This time around I loved Michael, the thuggish, desperate, racist brother, played by Thomas Bo Larsen –  perhaps “loved” is the wrong word, especially when he attacks his girlfriend.  Also Gbatokai (can’t find his real name) who does he resemble, I was thinking?  A young Obama.  And Helge, the father (Henning Moritzen) behaving “appropriately” to the end.

When are paintings finished? 

Who knows?  I stick them on the wall and wait to see – it used to be that they “proved themselves”, in a way, by acquiring a sort of presence over time.  Now, I think I’ve lost the facility of seeing that – the crap, unfinished ones seem to have a right to exist, same as the better ones.  This latest looks like a pellet brought up by an owl, floating in blue fluid..

??????????

Pellet

Blackpaint

6.6.13 

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Blackpaint 373 – Orpheus, Oedipus and Human Nature

December 27, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

A strange confluence of coincidence this week.  First, I watched Cocteau’s “Orphee”, in which Death (in the form of de Cacares) leads her slaves and victims through mirrors into the Underworld or back; then, in the Russian “Master and Margarita”, currently showing on Sky Arts TV, a character takes the same route into a room.

Later in the same episode, a writer, taken forcibly to a psychiatric hospital, attempts to escape by jumping through a closed window – splat!! – reinforced glass.  And, to complete the parallels, the repeat of the Christmas “Father Ted” (lingerie department, Golden Cleric, Father Tod Unctious) Father Jack does the window exit, to meet the Plexiglass Ted has installed.  Strange forces definitely at work.

“Orphee” special effects still impressive to me, compared to the sophisticated stuff around now; I suppose because they have a dreamlike atmosphere that comes mostly from their simplicity – maybe the ramshackle, improvised feel corresponds to my typical dream landscape; shabby, disintegrating, dimly lit, soiled….  I was interested to hear that the proto Bohemian crowd of poets and artists in the opening cafe and brawl scenes were genuine Left Bankers, recruited by Juliette Greco for Cocteau.  They look anything but genuine.

Oedipus Rex

Pasolini masterpiece that I saw decades ago at university; blinding North African colours – although it may have been filmed in Italy – the outlandish helmets and crowns, and above all, the wild music at the wedding scene.  Fantastic contrast to “Orphee” – I recommend watching the two DVDs at one session.

The Hunt

A film actually on release, that you can see at a cinema, rather than on DVD at home.  By Thomas Vinterberg, of Dogme fame (with Von Trier).  Vinterberg made “Festen”, the brilliant black comedy(?)about a celebration of the birthday of an incestuous patriarch.  His son exposes him as a rapist in a speech; the assembled family members rally behind the father.  Unfortunately, Vinterberg spoils it at the end; when notes from his dead daughter prove the patriarch guilty, the people turn away from him in disgust.  It would have been better, more sour, more “true”, if they’d stuck to him to preserve respectability.

“The Hunt” also deals with child abuse. A teacher is falsely accused; the community, all his friends, turn against him with no proof offered.  He is ostracised, attacked, victimised in a number of ways.  At the end, however, the community accepts his innocence, welcomes him back into the fold – and he is also prepared, outwardly at least, to go back to “how things were”.

This, I think, doesn’t ring true; when people find out they are wrong and have treated someone unjustly, they don’t apologise, or even “forgive and forget” – they resent the victim for being innocent and putting them in the wrong.  They’ll find a reason why it was his fault.  And after all, “No smoke without fire”, so he was probably guilty anyway.  Is this a pessimistic view of human nature?  Possibly…

Adrian Heath

Reading the Jane Rye book on this British artist and I have to say his work is magnificent; the colours are  great, not something I necessarily expected from reading about his cerebral and considered approach to painting; also the painterly surfaces, the contrast of rough and smooth.  I recommend you check him out if you don’t know his work.

My Review of the Year in next blog.

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Blackpaint

Saint’s Head

27.12.12

Blackpaint 25

December 31, 2009

Gauguin

Yesterday, I was reading Hadley Freeman’s column in Guardian, in which she happened to bring up Gauguin in relation to the fim “Avatar”.  Unfortunately, I chucked the paper away (in the recycle bin, of course) and since then it’s found its way to the bin outside – and I’m not going sorting through that.

I was under the impression that she had written something like this, referring to the portrayal of the native population of the planet under attack: “Add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you will have something like a Gauguin and just as patronising, simplistic and offensive”.  I thought this was good, a controversial viewpoint to blog about – especially since today’s Guardian has a reference to a forthcoming Gauguin show at Tate Modern with the following words: “His art, however, is a time bomb, still ticking in the 21st century”.  This sounds pretty positive to me; not the sort of thing you’d write about someone patronising, simplistic, etc.

However, I checked her article online before writing, and it seems to have changed.  It now reads, “Add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you have a Gauguin painting.  It (the portrayal) is patronising, simplistic and offensive, like Palin and fake science.”  I suppose this still implies that Gauguin’s paintings are P, S and O, but the attack is  diverted through the easier targets of Palin and fake science.

Well, I could be totally wrong; on the other hand, at the bottom of the online article, it says “as amended on 30/12/09”.  If anyone cares enough to clear this up for me, I’d be grateful – tonight would be good, as I have not been invited to see the New Year in with anyone.  I wonder why.

For the record, I was wondering if you can patronise people who don’t exist (the people in the film, not the Tahitians Gauguin painted).  I suppose one is patronising the people who these fictional people resemble – or you think they resemble.  That could be dangerous in itself; who is to say that they see it, or themselves,  as you do?  This can be a recurring  problem for liberals and left wingers and all those who regularly feel and express indignation on behalf of others.

Since I can write what I like and no-one is reading anyway, I’m now going to do a U turn; I think it is P and S, but I think that Cameron was doing that PM thing of referencing other films (see last blog) and so, not particularly O.  But my son Tom violently disagrees and is doing a chemistry degree, so I suppose he must be right.

Postmodernism

I got “Art Theory for Beginners” for Christmas, one of those books which have cartoons and look really simple – until you read the accompanying text.  I’ve been reading about all those French philosophers, Derrida, Lyotard, Barthes, Baudrillard etc., in an attempt to give my own poor work some sort of spurious status by linking it to some “proper” movement or idea.  No success yet, but will continue to try.

Scandos

Another painting each from Jorn and Kirkeby, re my spurious thesis in last blog.

Jorn

Kirkeby

Watched Festen.  I think the ending was sentimental.  The family should have backed the father up to the bitter end.

Listened to “Cold, Cold Feeling”, by T Bone Walker (in “When did you last see your father?” by Blake Morrison – he must have had the same EP as me in the early 60s).

“I got a cold, cold feeling, it’s just like ice around my heart, (*2)

I know I’m gonna quit somebody, every time that feelin’ starts.”

Blackpaint

31.12.09

Happy New Year.