Posts Tagged ‘Kubrick’

Blackpaint 600 – “FOOD….AWLRIGHT?” Orange, Dogs and Prado

June 20, 2017

A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick (1971)

I was discussing High Rise (film of) recently with Paul Tickell and Phil Cairney, my director friends, and I compared it to Clockwork Orange.  No, they both said, check out the  theatricality of staging and acting in Orange, compared with High Rise (I paraphrase, of course; neither of them would say “check out”).  They were right, naturally.  The choreographed gut- kicking during the house invasion – “I’m SIINGING in the rain (thud)” – along with the cutting of Adrienne Corri’s cat suit, while Patrick Magee is forced to watch, and the attack on Dim to the Thieving Magpie music are theatre and opera, and I was going to say unique – then, of course, the attack by the nazis on the bouncer in  Cabaret, that’s to music, but not choreographed – and I suppose West Side Story…..  and  just about every Ken Russell music biopic has a sequence of classical music with violence, or sex, or sex and violence… so not unique then, or even rare.  But maybe uniquely malevolent and chilling.

For my money, the best line in the film is Magee’s; he is entertaining the hapless Alex and has come to realise that the youth he is sheltering was his main assailant:  “FOOD (bellowed suddenly)……. Awright? (strangled attempt to get voice under control).

Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah (1971) – now available on DVD

Invaluable for its accurate and touching portrait of Cornish country folk in the 70s – a giggling, knife-wielding ratcatcher, a teenage nymphomaniac, rustic rapists, a mentally challenged killer, a drunken malicious patriarch (Peter Vaughan, prefiguring Robert Shaw in Jaws).  Into the village to settle  come Dustin Hoffman, nerdy American maths genius and his wife, escaped local girl Amy (Susan George, in a tight white roll-necked sweater), who disports herself innocently before the depraved locals (with one of whom she has “history”).

The inevitable, in cinematic terms, happens; Hoffman’s character is enticed away and Amy’s old boyfriend turns up at the cottage; a double rape follows.  The furore about the film and its troubles with the censor arose from the fact that Amy appears to be enjoying and responding to the violent assault (the first one, by her old boyfriend, anyway).  Peckinpah has form in this elsewhere; see, for example, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”.

What I find interesting, watching it again after 45 years (!), is that Hoffman is apparently unaware of the attack on his wife (he must be both blind and stupid).  His defence of the cottage in the subsequent siege, his ruthless use of deadly violence, is motivated not by revenge, but by the territorial imperative.  “This is my house!” he asserts, as he chucks boiling water, bashes brains in and wields the huge mantrap.  Amy wants him to abandon the house and the mentally challenged killer (David Warner), who  he is ostensibly trying to protect.  She is VERY slow to blast the last assailant with a shotgun, when he attacks Hoffman from behind.  So, not a revenge movie; arguably, the Amy character could have been left out altogether and the story would have worked – although the atmospherics would have been less charged…  Unaccountably, Warner was uncredited in the cast, so I’ve made sure he gets a credit here.

More Prado

Impossible to go fully into the riches of the Prado (which I started last blog): so, two painters of whom I was aware, but only just, before seeing them here.  First, Joachim Patinir (Charon, St.Jerome, Temptation of Anthony Abbott) – blue, lowering skies, small, strange figures in a landscape, something of Georgione about him, maybe.

 

Patinir – Charon crossing the Styx

 

Patinir – St Jerome

Then, de Ribera – grey-white distorted bodies, sprawling across huge canvases. his Tityus lunging towards you across the gallery.  The obvious Caravaggio influence, coupled with a sort of dry abrasiveness of surface…

 

de Ribera – Tityus

 

de Ribera – Martyrdom of St Philip

Finally, Titian’s Andrians, having a fine old bacchanale, below; I like the little kid – is he/she about to urinate?   Hope not, for the “relaxed” lady’s sake.

Titian – Bacchanale of the Andrians

 

Lake District

Blackpaint

20.6.17

 

 

Blackpaint 418 – Whiteley, Schendel, Shining and Drowning

October 24, 2013

Brett Whiteley

I’d hardly heard of the above Australian artist until I saw “Art of Australia” this week.  What a brilliant painter he was  (died of an overdose in 1993); earlier stuff looked like Diebenkorn a bit – later, shades of Roger Hilton, Bacon and, I think, Scarfe and/or Steadman.  He mixed abstract, figurative, letters, techniques in a manner reminiscent of Albert Oelhen (but before Oelhen?).  Fantastic.

brett whiteley

Mark Bradford and Larry Bell at the White Cube Bermondsey

Bradford does huge canvases – I estimate the largest are 20ft * 18ft (dimensions not given and attendant didn’t know).  He plasters them with paper, paints it and then rips and shreds it down with a power sander.   The results resemble road systems and landscapes – one is like a coastline, another a tsunami investing a coastal city, another, Turner’s “storm at Harbour Mouth” (the sander swirls on black are like the rings on the cross section of a felled tree).  Some are bright – blue, pink, orange, white – reminding one of Peter Doig’s early paintings; others, dark and oppressive, like Anselm Kiefer’s work.

There are two beautiful Larry Bell pictures; they are like crumpled tinfoil and celluloid film, printed onto white canvas.  there are many more, but for my money, they are spoilt by being on black canvas and in black frames.

Blue Jasmine

Saw this Woody Allen film this week – it’s Streetcar, set in San Francisco rather than New Orleans.  Cate Blanchett does a great job of playing a neurotic, pampered, addicted, desperate woman, once rich, now broke, dumping herself on her despised working-class sister.  Script is great, but you never for a second forget you are watching acting; it’s naturalistic, rather than natural.  I can’t help comparing it to the fabulous Joanna Hogg films, Archipelago and Unrelated, that I’ve written about – in which, most of the time, no-one, pro or amateur, appears to be acting at all.

Reading Sebastian Faulks’ A Possible Life, which begins with a WW2 training exercise; officers lead their men mistakenly into flooded area and a soldier is drowned.  Strangely similar stories from two sources; Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” (I have it by Dick Gaughan on his “Sail On” album) and a Scott Fitzgerald story I read recently – can’t find it at the moment, he wrote so many stories.  The SF version is the earliest – I wonder if it’s the original.

The Shining

Watched it yet again the other night; like Goodfellas and Casino, you only have to see a few seconds and you are hooked – these films are Ancient Mariners.  I can’t understand why Stephen King hates the Kubrick film – it’s obviously a work of art, unlike most attempts at filming King books.  Kubrick changed it a bit – killed off the Scatman and left the Overlook standing, whereas King blew its boilers and burned it down.  I think Kubrick’s ending was better.  Pity about the Scatman, though.

Klee at Tate Modern

Went round this exhibition again, and, yes, I was rather snotty about it last time.  Room 13 is great, with the ones that are composed of dots and look like little tapestries – also the blue one, “path into the Blue” I think it’s called.  There’s also the miniature opera stage set that reminded me of Picasso’s “Night Fishing at Antibes” – but much smaller.

Mira Schendel

Great antidote to Klee – Brazilian minimalist, recalling Lygia Pape and Oiticica a little; wobbly square…  Triangles, bi-and trisected canvases; then, rough paint drawings and collages of bottles on bars, drips and splatters; some brilliant black ink on off-white paper, strong lines and jagged scribbles.  Then letters appearing and playing with typefaces; hanging tablets of rice paper; Eva Hesse-like tubes of gold-ochre, suspended from ceiling; silky, white nylon threads hanging in masses and curling up like hairs at the floor; a series of rough, eye-catching tablets on walls with bible quotations – she was a struggling Catholic, apparently.

schendel1

schendel2

Also visited “Art Under Attack” at Tate Britain; save that for next time.

??????????

Work in Progress

Blackpaint

24.10.13

Blackpaint 362 – Squirrel Suicide and Beuys Hanging at the Whitechapel

October 10, 2012

Whitechapel Gallery

Giuseppe Penone – Giant “felled” tree, in bronze,  cut into sections and hollowed so that you can look right through it – almost; there’s a curve at one end.  The branches are naked and lopped, like the upright real trees by the same artist  in the Arte Povera bit of the Tate Modern.  But as well as being made of bronze, this one is lined with crinkly gold stuff.  So – it’s like a Bond Street version of an Anselm Kiefer, or a Damien dry run before he thought of the skull.

Maurizio Catellan

There’s a small exhibition by this artist, famous for the pope felled by a meteorite in the Sensations exhibition and for the horse halfway to the ceiling with its head stuck into the wall.  This is show is small in both senses; the famous squirrel suicide (sprawled across a table, tiny gun on floor, empty glass, possibly poison) is on the floor against the wall.  it’s tiny but then of course it is – it’s squirrel-sized.  For some reason, I was surprised;  I expected a giant squirrel.

A small man in a grey felt suit hangs by the collar from a peg on an upright trolley; slick black hair, prominent, curved nose.  I saw the felt suit and thought, “Beuys” – but unfortunately, didn’t say it to my friend.  A moment later, I read the wall blurb and it identified the suit as a reference to Beuys.  Cursed the missed opportunity to make an informed comment in a loud voice within earshot of the attendant.

A huge industrial rubble bag filled with bricks and – rubble.  Apparently, from an art gallery in Sicily bombed by the Mafia.

A large circular rug on the floor, made from the design of the label on a box of Bel Paese cheese. And that’s about it, apart from a couple of unremarkable neons.  The squirrel scenario and the hanging Beuys I liked – the cheese rug reminded me of Boetti and the maps.

Eyes Wide Shut

Watched this mildly erotic Kubrick film over several evenings, 40 minutes a hit (it’s pretty long) and was surprised it was good – I remember it being widely slated on release.  What was really striking, however, was the dialogue between Cruise and Kidman in the grass smoking scene – they both, but particularly Cruise, seem to be channeling Jack Nicholson in “the Shining”.  That thing where Nicholson, as Torrance, repeats the last thing that Shelley Duval has said in that mocking, disbelieving way – Cruise does it several times.  “The Shining” was, of course, a Kubrick film so presumably it’s the direction.  The lighting, too, at the first party, reminded me of the bar scene with Delbert Grady; very intense on the faces, enhancing the shadows and highlights.

Freedom of Expression

Having signed petitions about Pussy Riot and others banged up abroad, I was alarmed to see jail and community service sentences being handed out in the UK for posting stuff on the net that was “grossly offensive”; not life-threatening, or part of a campaign of harrassment, but grossly offensive.  How do we criticise other countries and protest about free speech issues when we start locking people up for saying or writing offensive things?  The youth who posted the “joke” about the missing girl deserves our censure and disapproval but if you start jailing people for that, you are faced with the problem of definition – who decides what’s offensive, and to whom?  The answer is the judges,of course – and we all agree with them…

 

Servan

Figure Collage

Blackpaint

10/10/12

Blackpaint 358 – Bach, Charcoal, Chalk and Tracer

September 13, 2012

As Promised:

Top 10 uses of music in films (excluding musicals – to come later):

1.  The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pasolini) – Blind Willie Johnson, Missa Luba and the last movement of the Matthew Passion; no contest for no.1, I think –

UNLESS it is 2.  Satantango (Bela Tarr) – that sobbing, throbbing accordion across the darkening plain;

3. 2001 (Kubrick) – Also Sprach Zarathustra, as awareness glimmers in the hominid’s eye, and he begins crushing the skull with the bone (could also have the jazz crooner over the still of Nicholson at the end of The Shining, or Beethoven’s 9th in The Clockwork Orange);

4.  Any Fellini film with Nino Rota music, but especially La Strada and the parade music at the end of 81/2 (eight and a half – don’t know how to do halves on laptop) – also the Godfather, of course;

5.  Russian Ark (Sokurov) – the Glinka mazurka;

6.  Death in Venice (Visconti) – the Mahler, 5th I think, when he decides to return to the hotel and is smirking to himself in the gondola;

7.  Performance (Roeg) – Sympathy with the Devil sequence;

8.  The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy) – naked Britt slapping the wall, driving poor Edward crazy and singing that gauche “folk” song; also the Summerisle population doing Sumer is a-coming in while Edward is roaring out his defiant Prot hymn as the flames climb higher….

9.  Fitzcarraldo (Herzog) – Caruso belting out of the gramophone on the boat, into the Amazon jungle; Kinsky with his cigar clenched in his teeth, serenaded by the chorus of I Puritani, as the boat sails back into Iquitos;

10.  Gallipoli (Peter Weir) – another boat, this time the troopship – the abrupt shift from patriotic song to Albinoni, as the ship glides in to the embattled beach, shells and tracer sailing overhead in the night sky…

Albert Irvin

I’ve bought a book of his stunning prints and was pleased to read that he thinks his flying experience contributes to his work.  He was a navigator and rear gunner in RAF  Bomber Command during the war and says that the awareness of motion and speed feeds in – I’d thought that some of the marks he makes resemble bomb bursts and tracer bullets, as well as the general coloration of the pieces – but no doubt that’s pushing it too far.

Kings Place, Sculptors’ Drawings

A huge, fantastic and free exhibition, with some brilliant drawings.  I especially liked Michael Kenney’s for the way he drives chalk marks into the charcoal, Alison Wilding’s lovely, messy ink storm, the beautiful head by Glyn Williams and Anthony Caro’s great nude – look at that right knee!

P:atrick Kieller at the Tate B (Robinson exhibit)

There’s a Kieller photograph of a gate below Graham Sutherland’s “Entrance to a Lane”; the deep, louring, black/blue of the sky is stunning and it looks just like a little painting.  Also at the Tate, I noticed for the first time how Lanyon’s “Porthleven” has been positioned with the Reg Butler insect woman and the Graham Sutherland biomorphic shapes to its left; all three pieces echoing each other visually.

Figure drawing

Bray Dunes

Blackpaint

12/09/12

Blackpaint 296

September 28, 2011

Gerhard Richter

Tate Modern exhibition of above starting in October and an article by Tony McCarthy in Guardian Review on Saturday.  He identifies the “blur”in his pictures as a characteristic – but of course, Richter’s work is so diverse – some figurative, some abstract – that it’s impossible to say he just does this or does that; he does nearly all of it!

One thing that is annoying in the article – McCarthy suggests that “September”, series no.911 was regarded by Richter as an abstract image, until a friend pointed out that it was the planes hitting the World Trade Center.  Once it is said, the towers and the planes are apparent (the image is included in the article) – but it’s a stretch to believe that the artist could have done it unconsciously and just not noticed.  It suggests that abstract works – or Richter’s abstracts, anyway –  should be treated as “Where’s Wally” exercises; look for the hidden picture.

The huge Richters in the Tate Modern, for example; light filtered through the foliage onto the surface of water, down in the bayou, maybe?  Or the one called “791-4 Abstract Painting” in the Phaidon 20th Century Art Book (actually, that one looks pretty much like the Tate ones, acid colours and scrapes).

John Martin

The other Tate has the Martin exhiition on now – I intend to go tomorrow.  His huge Apocalyptic canvases were displayed as events, people paying an entrance fee and then filing past in awe – which of course, describes a modern exhibition; well, maybe not the awe..  But there was something different about these Victorian shows, in that people paid to see a phenomenon, a spectacle, rather than a work of art.  Parallels were perhaps the paintings of Frederic Church, the American landscape artist, whose blinding sunsets were in the American Sublime exhibition a few years ago – or Cruickshank’s Temperance work, which he toured in a crusade against the demon drink.

Modern parallels?  I was thinking maybe Hockney’s recent giant treescapes, Anish Kapoor’s wax cannon and Marsyas, and the Eliasson Weather installation in the Tate Turbine Hall.

Women in Love

Re-acquainted myself with Ken Russell’s version the other day and I was amazed at the restraint of the film, compared to “The Devils” or the Tchaikovsky one.  I’d forgotten how powerful Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed were together, and the brilliant set pieces – the Eleanor Bron dance, Alan Bates running down to the river bleeding, Glenda Jackson frightening the Scottish Longhorns, and of course, Bates and Reed wrestling starkers in front of the blazing hearth; watch out for sparks, you two.

Gerald Crich freezing to death in the snow was echoed in “The Shining” by Jack Nicholson (or rather, King and Kubrick).  Watched this again on TV a week ago and really noticed how outlandish Nicholson’s changes of expression are in the scene where Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) cleans his jacket and gives him – advice – in the toilet.  I think it is the intensity of Grady’s manner contrastng with Torrance’s naughty boy demeanour…

Blackpaint

28.09.11