The past week in pictures

A colleague who had been on vacation had his working desk refurbished.

Ordered the wondrous William Schaff’s famous From Black Sheep Boys to Bill Collectors, seemingly an epic photographical frame – including a custom-made twelve-inch vinyl by Jason Molina! Yowza.

I finished reading Laurence Rees’ absolutely astonishingly collated and written new book, named The Holocaust: A New History, which is a bit of a misnomer to me. The book is 5/5, that’s what I give it in grades.

As I now cannot take reading about atrocities, I’m instead reading a biography of Jeremy Brett, named Bending The Willow. So far, two thirds into the book, it’s remarkably well-written, on a hero who is to me the one true Sherlock Holmes. His mental illness is detailed in a human and loving way. Brett seems to have been a gentleman and gentle man, to paraphrase Brett somewhat (when speaking of a different matter, in character).

Blanck Mass‘ new album, World Eater, is highly recommended. Ambient, electronic noise and electrical rattlings abound: it’s experimentally made and very good. Just hear the two first tracks (ambient and noisy plane-ride through distorted synths, respectively) and you’ll get the gist. You can listen some here:

My colleague Michael helped this shot by parlaying the oddity and extreme fear that some single-person rooms in our new company digs give off.

Saw Nightmare On Elm Street for the first time in ages. Wow. Pretty funny. I only jumped once, when basically nothing happened.

Yesterday Mia and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. Cheers to us! Or rather, cheers to Mia for still, somehow, putting up with me! We ate, we walked, we shopped two more copies of Morrissey’s only venture into the fictional literary world…

Anyway… Some more Twin Peaks fan stuff reminds me that it’s only two months until the new season is premiered. My fucking God. It’s really happening.

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Movies I've watched recently:

  • T2 Trainspotting (2017) - IMDb 6/10

    2017-02-22 22:58
    * * * * * *

    This is more a film, I think, which is about aging and repeating your past than anything else. Sure, the characters are older, but I cringe a lot as Boyle has chosen to have them repeat some of their "fave lines" from the first film, 21 years later, for no apparent reason. The slow parts move best, for example, where Renton visits his father, despite that one being sappy. The "new girl", basically a Renton, doesn't bring much to the table. However, Robbie Carlyle steals the show; where Ewen Bremner's "Spud" previously did, by being a comedic maestro with his movements and druggy cadence, he is now converted into a caricature of himself - and yes, I am aware that druggies who have been on dope for more than two decades tend to turn into caricatures in more ways than one - while Begbie offers more. A lot more. Carlyle's acting is so strong that even Begbie's most obvious characteristics - e.g. as displayed where his son stands up against him by wanting to go to college to learn hotel management instead of joining his dad in a life of crime - turn interesting. He's a tour de force. Still, while this film is interesting and entertaining, it is too much of a parody of itself to become a truly interesting introspective. And the plot turn at the end was really a bit too tell-tale and boring to me.

  • Medicinen (2014) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-12-12 19:00

    A car crash where your newborn child dies would be a less hurtful experience than watching this film. I'm kidding, but there is some truth lodged in that statement. This film is very "inspired" by "The Devil Wears Prada". By this I mean Nutley and his writer cohorts have concocted a story about an abhorrent person - played by Bergström, despite many doubts on my site as to what "playing" could be, according to herself - who starts ingesting a medicine that seems to change her life. Naturally, this medicine is a sugar pill. The medicine is also the only thing which is sweet about this film. The script is so poorly written that any, and I repeat, _any_ breathing thing - or dead - could easily excrete something which would improve and best this depressing piece of scatological experience, which all should avoid at all costs. Actually, I could go on forever about how bad everything from the direction to casting, acting, the soundtrack and segues are, but I will not. I refuse to. This is on par with Nutley-Bergström's "Angel", which also marked a new milestone in the string of eulogies to Swedish cinema that seems to be their goal. I'm angry to know the couple seem to use films as an excuse to a) go abroad and senselessly film scenes that have none or very little function for a film and b) have Bergström cry and copulate. Don't see this, even for "fun", which was why I saw it. I will never, ever see this film again, and I hope Bergström-Nutley never, ever make another film, write one nor act in one for the sake of humanity.

  • Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) - IMDb 4/10

    2016-11-26 17:10
    * * * *

    This film stretches beyond a regular action film and even really dips into the true meaning of the word apocalypse, but that's the most positive thing about it. Miike has been taking some major leads from Shakespeare, considering he lived a few hundred years ago, this film is truly not very original. Having said that, it's missing in atmosphere. It doesn't pace well and lost me a bit after 30 minutes and did not win the loss back. Having been Shakespearian before that, this film segues into being laughable and filled with fight (as most films by Miike are). Not recommendable to anyone who doesn't want to dabble in martial arts action-cum-half-assed weird dreaming, having fallen asleep with "Macbeth" on your face.

  • Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-11-20 21:22

    David Foster Wallace once used the term "hellaciously unfunny" about something, which is a term clearly applicable for this clownboat. Not only is this a film that overflows with prejudice and crap, be it sexistic, nationalistic or racistic, but it's completely barren where jokes should be. I liked the first film. I didn't like the second film, but this one I really loathe. It shouldn't have been made.

  • I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) - IMDb 4/10

    2016-08-29 09:24
    * * * *

    This film is succinctly different from most others that are about serial killers in the sense that it's using silence and music well. Apart from that, this is a b-movie in several ways: apart from the two main actors, there's not much to use. The plot is quite simple, but at times I - a serial killer fan, so to speak - drifted away because the film didn't entice me more; the flow of the film feels contrived, making me feeling something that's very different to what often comes naturally when seeing works of directors such as Terrence Malick, Woody Allen and Richard Linklater. Also, the name-dropping of serial killers and such is more effect-seeking than anything else, more about trying to spook the viewer than create solid characters. Still, as a low-budget film, it works in creating a kind of solemn street-life atmosphere, the kind that came natural to director John Cassavetes, that very few high-budget films have. All in all this is not a particularly well-made film, but it's memorable.


My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

David Foster Wallace on postmodernism: a video essay

The above video and the text contents of this post say most of it, so I won’t reiterate. However, I will say that the video is better than a lot of shit that I’ve recently seen on the Internet.

When I read both “Conversations with David Foster Wallace” and “Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story“, I found how Wallace had always been into finding out – not necessarily the truth – but what matters, and as such, how caring, wisdom, love and true, meaningful human interaction are at the heart of things. I don’t think Wallace came to conclude that based on hard, cold facts, but life and thinking like a motherfucker, much like de Beauvoir and Sartre did. I just refer to those two as that’s partly what I got from this book.

I really like the examples of “Parks & Recreation” and “The Daily Show“, which can actually use cynical arguments, in a very human, and ultimately non-cynical way.

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Get Your War On

Get Your War On” is my favourite comic strip that dealt with “9/11” and the aftermath. I loved (and still love) how it displayed fear, insanity and gutlessness of what happened from an American perspective.

David Rees, the creator, used simple office clip-art-like frames to display and make us laugh at the horrors that came about after the twin towers went down.

This morning, while getting ready to go to work, I happened to find an early paperback collection of some of these strips, which I really laughed out loudly at, while reminiscing, thinking how they were still valid, in time.

Here are a few clips from the beginning of the series. If you want more, “Get Your War On” is available at David Rees’ own site and has been published in book form, with the author’s royalties (as well as part of the publisher’s income for the first book and Get Your War on II) being donated to the charity Adopt-A-Minefield for removal of landmines in Afghanistan.

As the author had promised, the strip ended the day that George W. Bush left office, January 20, 2009.

David Rees is a hero and deserves to always be lauded for this strip.

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Sherlock Holmes: Jeremy Brett and “A Scandal In Bohemia”

Jeremy Brett

From David Stuart Davies’ excellent book “Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes” on the very start of the first broadcasted episode:

Viewers in Great Britain saw the first episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on a mild spring evening in 1984. The story featured was the first to be published in The Strand: ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’. However, it was not the first to be filmed. Michael Cox considered this story a very important one: not only does it present the viewing public with their first glimpse of the new Sherlock Holmes, but it also deals with his strange, ambivalent relationship with the American adventuress Irene Adler, whom Holmes regarded as ‘The Woman’. Holmes’s relationship with Irene Adler, such as it is, has suggestive undertones of repressed sexuality. She is the only woman in the whole canon to whom Holmes expresses a personal warmth that goes beyond mere pleasantry. Michael Cox wanted to make sure that both Brett and Burke were feeling reasonably comfortable with their rôles, especially Brett, before he embarked on the filming of ‘Scandal’. In fact it was the third show to be shot. The delay was worth it: the result was special.

Alexander Baron’s dramatisation of ‘Scandal’ was masterly, in the sense that it was very close to the original text: perhaps too close for Jeremy’s taste, for he liked a little danger in the presentations. His penchant for bending the willow just that little bit further was always in evidence. Perhaps it was this scrupulous fidelity that caused him to observe in 1995 that the early shows were ‘somewhat tame’. I believe he was wrong in this estimation. What he read for tameness was a writer following the narrative rhythm of Arthur Conan Doyle without serious deviation because the structure was just right for the story and for the television adaptation.

And, by Jove, Jeremy Brett was just right for Sherlock Holmes. In this first episode we see all the elements that make Holmes a fascinating character: his sometime reliance on drugs, his enigmatic charm, his mastery at disguise and deduction, and his fond but brittle relationship with Watson.

The opening sequence shows Watson returning to Baker Street and his friend Sherlock Holmes following a trip into the country. Watson is ‘filled with apprehension’ as to his companion’s mood. Cunningly, we are immediately alerted to the uncertain nature of the relationship that exists between the two men. It has all the uncharted domestic connotations of a marriage. Watson suspects further drug abuse, especially when he observes an open drawer which reveals an empty hypodermic syringe. He is wrong. Holmes has tricked his friend into reaching this erroneous conclusion. In exasperation, Watson addresses his friend forcefully on the dangers of using drugs: ‘. . . it is a pathological and morbid process, which involves increased tissue-change, and may at last leave a permanent weakness.’ As previously noted, this sequence is drawn from the second Holmes novel, The Sign of the Four. It works well here, for it helps to establish both the relationship between the two men and the significance of their individual identities.

While Watson is cajoling his companion, all we see of Holmes is the back of his head. It is rather like the technique which the director James Whale used in the seminal horror film Frankenstein (1931). In this movie Whale first introduces the monster by presenting us with a back view of him. The moment is suspenseful—the audience is desperate to see his face. Then the grotesque creature slowly turns around to face the camera. With Holmes we are not dealing with a monster but an equally magnetic and fascinating character, and the director of ‘Scandal’, Paul Annett, does the same in his opening scene. We, the viewers, are dying to glimpse the new Sherlock Holmes, but Annett delays the moment and then, slowly, he is revealed. My God, it is a live Paget drawing! For the next few minutes, the camera remains close on Brett’s beautifully chiselled features as he talks to Watson and justifies his position as the only ‘private consulting detective in the world’. This magnificent speech follows:

‘My mind rebels against stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.’

Actors playing Holmes usually declaim these sentiments, bawling them histrionically at Watson. It was Peter Cushing in the BBC’s 1968 production of The Sign of Four who first treated this speech as a quiet, impassioned plea. Brett takes the same tack (great actors think alike), but it has to be said that Brett’s version is sharper, sadder, more tortured, and therefore more moving. That first scene in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ establishes many things, not the least of which is that here we have a great Sherlock Holmes.

I cannot say more; Jeremy Brett is, to me, the quintessential Sherlock Holmes, radiant and excellent.

He was plagued by bipolar disorder; during his last years, he discussed the illness candidly, encouraging people to recognise its symptoms and seek help. He seems to always have been ebullient.

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