Thursday, August 30, 2012

If I Had a Sight & Sound Ballot ... Take 2

One thing I've learned from obsessing over Sight & Sound's Greatest Film Poll, and reading individual critics' and directors' Top Tens, is that I prefer the Top Tens that are more explicitly personal and quirky, more an expression of what that person might bring to their desert island, and not what they think are the actual greatest films of all time.

I mean, it's just an opinion, and essentially meaningless, so it might as well be revealing.

With that in mind, I'd like to revise my ballot (unasked for, uncounted) for the poll. Here are the ten films I pick today. They're coming with me to my desert island so they might as well be on my list.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I'm Looking Forward To ...

I've often thought that if no one created any more artwork--no more movies, or books, or music--that I would be fine, that I could spend the rest of my life still finding books to read and movies to watch and old TV series to revisit. I'd be fine.

That said, here is what I am currently looking forward to:


Ben Whishaw as the Quartermaster.

I'd be looking forward to a new James Bond film even if they were bringing back Roger Moore in a leisure suit. But this looks good: a continuation of the Daniel Craig grit mixed with a few Bond tropes, including a new Q.

First edition book cover.

It's been a long while since an Agatha Christie novel made it to the big screen, but director Neil LaBute will be making a version of Crooked House with a script by Julian Fellowes. It's one of my favorite books. I just hope they do it as a period piece.

Django Unchained

Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, a very evil Uncle Ben.
One of these days Tarantino will make a bad film (no one has a perfect record) but I don't think it's going to happen here. I'll be there opening day.

William Boyd's Bond novel
Nothing to do with Boyd's book except that it's Bond and a book.
One of my favorite contemporary writers, William Boyd, has been commissioned to pen a Bond novel and he'll be setting it in the 1960s. I feel like this is being written specifically for me.

Tom Hiddleston as Henry V.
The BBC has grouped four of Shakespeare's history plays--Richard II, Henry the IV parts 1 & 2, and Henry V--into a television series starring, among many others, Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart, and David Suchet. I don't know if this will be broadcast over here but I'm counting on it, PBS, or if not PBS, then BBC America.


Yes, the season. Sweaters. Football games. Cool nights. Apple cider. Chili on the stove. Bring it on.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Poetry Monday

The Way Through the Woods

by Rudyard Kipling

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and the heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods …
But there is no road through the woods.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

John Carter of Mars

Yeah, I know it's not called John Carter of Mar, just John Carter. But it should have been. Actually, it should have been called the The Princess of Mars, the actual title of Edgar Rice Burrough's seminal sci-fi novel.

Doesn't matter. The movie is very good. It's a muddle at times with a lot of Mars lingo mumbo jumbo but that's what it's all about. This is the original Flash Gordon, the original Star Wars, the original Avatar. Plus a movie that's been in development hell since the early 1930s when producers first tried to get this film made. It took about eighty years and now that it's been made it will be remembered for a while as a colossal flop, and the film that ousted a lot of Disney execs, but that's only temporary. It's a soulful, whiz-bang Saturday morning serial type of movie that is very well done. It's beautiful to look at, incorporating a lot of wide-open space, the action sequences are witty and nicely composed by Pixar guru Andrew Stanton, and all the performances are good, especially Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, the princess.

My favorite popcorn flick of the year so far. I wish I'd gone to see it in the theaters.

Here are some bonus Frank Frazetta paintings of the world Burroughs created. Just because.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happy 100th

Gene Kelly. Born one hundred years ago today.

Immortal, unless the post-apocalyptic world has no DVD players. Maybe Betamax will survive. But if all goes well then there are Gene Kelly fans (lots of them) that haven't even been born yet.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Poetry Monday

Over at The Film Experience, Nat very graciously posted one of my poems, "David Niven: A Villanelle". I've finally found that cross-over audience, of one (hopefully more), that loves movies and poetry. Thank you Nat.

Here's another movie poem. They are few and far between.


by Hart Crane

We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.
For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.
We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!
And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.
The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Film Frames Friday

No theme this week, except that all the frames are moving. These gifs are courtesy of Gustaf Mantel, the artist (if these things aren't art, I don't know...). Many more can be found on his site, If We Don't, Remember Me.

Film titles in the labels, in case you're wondering.