Wednesday 23 May 2012

The Conformist

The Conformist - Bernardo Bertolucci (1970)

I'm currently falling further and further behind on my reading targets for the year so thought I would at least make an attempt to hit my target of reviewing a decent amount (six or seven) films for the Foreign Film Festival at Richard's Caravana de Recuerdos and simultaneously, for Caroline's World Cinema Series at her blog Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. Two birds with one stone, I like it.

Once again ignoring the piles of unwatched DVD's scattered around the house I made use of my Netflix account and so watched Bertolucci's The Conformist on my laptop, probably not optimum conditions to watch one of cinemas acknowledged visual classics. I was also tired so had to rewind on a couple of occasions when my attention headed for my own dream landscape, and away from Bertolucci's.

Thursday 17 May 2012

National Flash Fiction Day

National Flash Fiction Day
The internet tells me it was National Flash Fiction Day yesterday, in the UK. Well, it's flash fiction day here on Vapour Trails today.

Moses ache
Moses McGrath

When the card was declined my left eye started to twitch. I knew instinctively that the others would not have the money. That meant we were going to have to make a deal with the Egyptians.
When the manager came out to see me he looked stressed, and damp.
"How is this, you cannot pay for what you have eaten?"
"Maybe, do you have a leak?"
"Yes, leak and much water! And where to get a plumber at night?"
 "Right here"
Thirty minutes later, the floor of the kitchen was being mopped dry and I emerged to lead my people home.
"Free food, manna from heaven in these belt tightening days."

 (It was written in a flash, Gordon, so go easy on me.)

Saturday 12 May 2012

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week

There is a Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week coming up next month, hosted by Annabel at Gaskella. I am looking forward to reading at least a couple more of Bainbridge's novels. Wittily transgressive, I have enjoyed all of her work that I have read thus far:  Winter Garden; The Bottle Factory Outing and Master Georgie.

I would particularly recommend the second two, both of which have featured on this blog, although The Bottle Factory Outing gets but a few lines. Master Georgie featured on my "Best of" from last year.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

This is a great book: fascinating for the details of the horrific crimes and even more fascinating for Capote's fascination with the crimes. And then there is the writing: precise, potent and poetic.

From the start Capote creates an air of inevitability. Assuming some knowledge of the crime at the heart of the book he uses this knowledge and amplifies it to give the reader a sense of impending horror. A sketch of the town of Holcomb is followed by this paragraph - "Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans - in fact, few Kansans - had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." Like the whistle of a train rushing past a platform this shatters the peaceful stillness of the small-town still life we have been first presented with. That's if the title of the book and of the first section: "The Last to See Them Alive" hadn't made that peace a foggy illusion even before the start. (At this stage I'll warn those who want to know no more not to continue. I don't think many can have avoided the knowledge that they will pick up in the rest of this post but if you know little and want to read the book first, do so, then come back here and disagree with me.)

Saturday 5 May 2012

Very Extremely Dangeous

Very Extremely Dangerous - une film de Paul Duane

The trailer for Paul (Barbaric Genius) Duane's new documentary on the very extremely dangerous Jerry McGill. It is currently doing the round of film festivals. Watch the trailer right to the end, where we here Paul's laconic cool shatter as he sees his final end and cries out like a Yankee -  "Jesus Christ, Jerry!"

Looking forward to seeing the whole film.

Friday 4 May 2012

We, the Drowned

We, the Drowned - Carsten Jensen
or...One Hundred Years of Sailortude - In which Scandanavian fiction takes sail on a fair wind from South America.

This is a strange and ambitious book - mixing history: economical, political, social and technological; with fabulous adventures on the high seas and moments of high comedy. My sense is that it would have more meaning for someone with a greater knowledge of Danish history (during two summers working in Copenhagen all I learnt was to understand people ordering pizzas in Dansk). It is a history of the town of Marstal and a number of it's inhabitants, a town dominated by the neighbouring sea, a town often left to women, children and old men as the men took to the high seas, often to be gone for years.