Posts Tagged ‘The Night Manager’

Blackpaint 535- It’s all there, at once; the Night Manager, Churchill and Llewyn.

March 6, 2016

George Blacklock – Colour and Abstraction (Crowood 2015)

Although I don’t agree with many (actually any) of the rules Blacklock sets out in his book, he makes the interesting observation that a painting differs from other art forms – literature, music, cinema, dance, theatre – in that you see the whole of a painting immediately.  With the others, the work unfolds, revealing itself to you gradually; the painting’s there straightaway, in its entirety.  Even with a sculpture, you often have to walk round it to get the full picture and, of course, you can’t see it all at the same time.

bosch

Obviously, with paintings by, say, Bosch or Bruegel, you can spend ages taking in the dozens of little monsters lurking in the landscape, or the proverbs that the peasants are acting out in the village; you don’t take in a whole painting instantly – but you do get an overall impression.  I’m not sure I know where I’m going with this, so I leave the reader to consider the implications which I’m sure are interesting.

bruegel proverbs

By the way, the rules Blacklock outlines in his intro are as follows:

  • Make all marks with “absolute conviction”; hesitancy and doubt won’t do.
  • Make sure that your surface is smooth and able to take the paint; no bobbles.
  • Make sure you have enough of the right paint.
  • Make sure you use the right-sized brush – is it big enough?
  • Paint with conviction – no half measures!

I break all these rules, all the time, which is no doubt why I’m a shit painter.

The Night Manager, BBC

I think this is being way overpraised; Tom Hiddleston is unconvincing so far in the violent bits and the same goes for Olivia Colman, whose indignation about Roper and the “river boys” (MI6)  looks manufactured to me.  I don’t think it’s the fault of the actors – it’s just a really creaky book.

Churchill’s Secret, BBC

Gambon was brilliant but I can’t understand the point of having a fictional character (Romola Garai’s nurse) in there in a central role.  Annoying, this mix of fact and fiction, where a big chunk of make-believe is chucked in.  Gambon and Glenda Jackson looking alike these days, I noticed, when the latter was being fawned over by a woman guest presenter on a recent Artsnight (BBC2).  It’s ageing, I suppose, working on the basic structures to eliminate the individuality; depressing.

Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013

This Coen Brothers film on TV the other night I realised how good it was, apart from John Goodman’s hammy bit;  I love that flat stare that Oscar gives – disbelief, resignation, contempt, long-suffering, breaking point coming very close, very quickly – and a touch of ironic humour.  That’s pretty good, just for a stare.  The music was great too, spot on, especially “The Old (Auld?) Triangle”, Dominic Behan’s song, I think, delivered by a white-sweatered close harmony group – a sort of US college boy version of the Clancy Brothers.

Llewyn gives up trying – “That’s all I got” – and walks out of the club and “folk” music – as a young Bob Dylan sings in the background.

oscar-isaac

I’ve been stuck in a freezing gallery, watching passers-by pass by – but have managed to knock out this scruffy landscape-ish thing in between stints.  Bobbly surface, ran out of paint, used the wrong brush and was hesitant and tentative.

col blow, rainy night 4

Cold Blow, Rainy Night

Blackpaint

6th March 2016

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Blackpaint 534 – Tom, Dick, Brussels and Sprout

February 26, 2016

Jessie Buckley as Marya Bolkonskaya (War and Peace)

Marya-Bolkonskaya.

The eyes, the hair, the frown – she’s straight out of a Giotto painting.

giotto2

giotto

Now this terrific adaptation has run its course and been replaced by the altogether inferior “Night Manager”, an updated Le Carre novel.  Updated, but still very dated; all these seedy English ex-military types calling each other “dear heart”, clipped sentences, languid beauties lounging about, setting manly English hearts beating; Tom Hiddleston needs to get back to working with Joanna Hogg (Archipelago, Unrelated, The Exhibition) where he’ll be properly stretched – I think he’s too good for this.  Why would he want to appear in a prime time prestige TV serialisation, when he could be in obscure art films, showing at the Ritzy or the ICA?

The Brussels Town Museum (in the old square near Town Hall)

little men

Seen their cousins in a wood carving of the Death of the Virgin in the Victoria and Albert, London.

lion

Bashful lion hiding his shield on stairway.

 

bruegel hoist

Where have I seen one of these before?  Bruegel’s “Big Babel”, below.

 

bruegel babel

See it?  Third storey up, on the right.

 

skinny knight

Skinny armour.

A Life of Philip K Dick – The Man who Remembered the Future (Anthony Peake)

Dick

 

I always thought that Dick wrote brilliant short stories and crap novels (with one or two exceptions); I would have said that his shorts were nearly up there with Ray Bradbury.  It seems from this fascinating book, however, that it wasn’t all imagination.  Many of his main themes – “precognition” (telling the future), simulacra, parallel universes and time flows, false memories, half – death, religious messiahs, government/corporate conspiracies – were extensions of his own beliefs; he thought it was all happening to him, often simultaneously.  Only the (outlandish) names are altered.  An example: “Horselover Fat” in Valis.  Horselover=Philhippus (Greek, sort of); Fat= Dick in German.  Maybe the thinness and rambling nature of his longer texts lend themselves in some way to film versions (Blade Runner, Total Recall, the Minority Report, and now the Man in the High Castle) – great bones, not too much flesh, allowing plenty of interpretive freedom.

My favourite Dick stories:  Pay for the Printer, The Days of Perky Pat.  Novel: Now Wait for Last Year.

 

Hockney museum

David Hockney, Man in a Museum (or You’re in the Wrong Movie). 1962

“Bare Life”, London Artists Working from Life, 1950 – 1980 (Hirmer, 2014)

This catalogue of a German exhibition in 2014, contains brilliant repros of works by Auerbach, Kossoff, Bacon, Hockney, Freud, Kitaj, Uglow, Coldstream, Michael Andrews, Hamilton, Allen Jones and Nigel Henderson.  There are several essays, one of which, by EJ Gillen, mentions the dispute in 1959 over the compulsory  drawing from nature classes at the Royal College of Art: “Ten unruly students were put on probation and eventually expelled.  Among these was Allen Jones, who argued in a 1968 satire entitled Life Class that drawing from nature had become obsolete since photography was able to reproduce human forms perfectly.”  I wonder what the state of play is now in the art colleges, as regards “drawing from nature”; can anyone tell me?

Looking-Towards-Mornington-Crescent-Station---Night

Frank Auerbach, Looking Towards Mornington Crescent Station, Night, 1972 – 3

 

If you’re in London during the next two weeks, visit – 

sprout

angel3

Angel 3 (again)

Blackpaint

26/02/16