Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 18 July, 2016

Two ‘inside the craft’ style videos to kick this week off. First (embedded above) is a look at how Hitchcock manipulated his audience with particular attention paid to the brilliant Rear Window. Second, all the silent parts of Silence of the Lambs edited together into an intensely creepy two minutes.

If we’re talking TV this week then it has to be Stranger Things. Everyone seems to agree this is a brilliant addition to the Netflix stable, and there’s some great analysis of what makes the programme so watchable. Two I read this week: this fact checking of the show’s 80s interiors, fashions and locations; and this interview with the guys behind the awesome soundtrack.

In the aftermath of peak Pokemon, Digg has a great long read on Japan’s obsession with cuteness and the phenomenon of the yuru-kyara, or ‘loose character’.

And finally this week, Warren Ellis is back with a novella that’s being released in four weekly parts. The always-entertaining Robin Sloan interviewed Ellis by email about Normal.

Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 11 July, 2016

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This week I spent some time writing a submission for a film ‘zine (can I still use the term? I think I can), about E.T. and subtext and religion (N.B. I am not religious in any way). It was a lot of fun, and hopefully I’ll get to write more like it in the next few months.

I also got to spend some time up in the North East with work; drinking beer and eating seafood on the coast and a bit of an old-fashioned coach singalong! It was great.

The rest of the week has been a combination of…

… Watching the Tour de France. So eventful this year, mostly in a good way, and Cycling Tips’ daily photo galleries have captured some incredible images, including these of Stage 12 during which Cris Froome had to run part way up Mt. Ventoux.

… Watching Mr Robot. The best TV show of 2015 is back and the first episode didn’t disappoint. It included one of the best TV music moments of the year (warning: Phil Collins ahead!); and a brilliant performance by Rami Malek (here he is being interviewed by Robert Downey Jnr).

… Watching this montage of isolation shots in cinema and seeing how many I could name.

… Reading this list of Ben Wheatley’s 21 British Films You Need To See and tracking down the ones I haven’t seen, including Robbery, Sitting Target and The Long Good Friday (shame!). Expect some screenshots soon.

… Listening to the brutal, but also weirdly soothing, new Vegetation EP by Container.

Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 4 July, 2016

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick this week. I’ve written reviews of the exhibition for a couple of places, so got to go along to a preview in the company of James Lavelle this past Tuesday. It’s a great exhibition that’s definitely worth a visit. Toby Dye’s ‘Corridor’ film is absolutely brilliant and worth the entry fee alone.

Staying with film for a second, this is an interesting look at ‘designing dialogue’ for movies that uses the Sorkin-penned opening scene of The Social Network as its basis.

From Kubrick, to Fincher… to Ridley Scott. Typeset in the Future has a brilliant analysis of the typography of Bladerunner.

It’s almost impossible not to be reading and thinking about politics of some sort right now. Two of the most interesting articles I’ve come across in the past few days both concentrate on the shifting idea of liberalism. Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis examines Corbyn’s dismissal of “free enterprise and individual responsibility” alongside other burgeoning movements such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front. The Mystery of Millennial Politics digs into the where the younger generations “do (and do not) show unusual liberal tendencies”. It’s not as simplistic as you might imagine.

Someone made a horror movie in real time on Snapchat. ‘Sickhouse’ all happened in real time, but you can view a director’s cut version on Vimeo.

A bit of light relief to end the week on: The A.V. Club takes a look at Fringe’s third season as part of its ‘Peak Season’ series.

Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 20 June, 2016

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By far the most entertaining thing I’ve watched all week is this video of George R.R. Martin and Stephen King on stage together as part of King’s publicity tour for his new one (End of Watch, which I just read and didn’t like too much). It begins with a great story from King about how he never wanted to read “these fucking George Martin books” and gets better from there (includes the quote “a big box of used severed heads”).

I love the 33 1/3 series in which authors write a single volume about a single album they love (the Endtroducing one is great), and there’s one coming out about LCD Soundsystem’s Sound Of Silver. Stereogum has an excerpt.

“‘So the boring collect/I mean all disrespect/In the neighborhood bars/I’d once dreamt I would drink,’ he says later, alluding to both the feeling of moving here and finding an imitation New York after you’d been chasing that dream for so many suburban years, as well as the feeling of living here for some time and seeing your version of New York slip away in front of your eyes.”

If you watched last week’s Game of Thrones episode, Battle of the Bastards, then HBO’s ten minute feature on how they staged and filmed that titular battle is a must watch, just for the fact that they actually made Kit Harrington stand in front of 40 stampeding horses.

Another nice peak behind the curtain is this 3 min video about the use of colour psychology in film (includes more than its fair share of Wes Anderson).

And, finally, a shit end to a pretty shitty week: the brilliant NY Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham has died. The documentary about his life, Bill Cunningham New York is one of my absolute favourites. The Times has a beautiful obituary.

2016 in Screencaps: The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

TLaToJRB (as I like to call it) is a weird one. A John Huston western starring Paul Newman at the height of his post-Butch Cassidy, pre-The Sting years, it tells the semi-comic, semi-tragic story of an eccentric, self-appointed frontier lawman (loosely based on a real character).

But Butch and Sundance this isn’t (despite the schmaltzy Andy Williams musical number that’s shoe-horned into the middle of it). Which isn’t to say it’s not good, it just has a very peculiar pace and tone that tries to draw you in over its two hours running time. And, if you let yourself be drawn, then by the end you might find yourself enchanted by drunken grizzly bears and yearning for a wild west full of hangings, whorehouses and albino psychopaths.

Best thing in the film (apart from Jacqueline Bisset as a shotgun-weilding, flapper outlaw) is Anthony Perkins as the preacher LaSalle. Unfortunately he’s in it for all of five minutes.

N.B. Apparently the screenplay was written with Lee Marvin in mind as the judge, but Marvin fell asleep while reading the script (drunk) and his co-star Paul Newman found it, read it, loved it and petitioned for the part.

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Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 13 June, 2016

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(Yes, this is back… we’ll see how long it lasts)

The AV Club (maybe my favourite publication on the Web?) has a fantastic appreciation of Walter Hill’s brilliant 1978 film, The Driver, which I featured in my ‘2016 in Screencaps’ series a few months ago. I like the description of it as “a low-budget American action movie [that’s] chilly and artful and existential without sacrificing badassery.”

Not strictly this week (I was away for a week in NY for my 40th birthday) but definitely worth mentioning: I saw the documentary Life Animated at Sundance London and was blown away. It’s the story of a young autistic man who was unable to speak as a child until he discovered a way to communicate through classic Disney films. Even if you don’t like Disney, you’ll love this. Its out in cinemas in the UK in December.

Having been in the States for a week and seen all the Clinton/Trump mania first hand, it was refreshing to read this long interview with the genius that is Louis C.K. in which he calls the Republican nomineee “a bigot with a hole in his heart.”

And another NYC -related thing: a great piece from Resident Advisor exploring how gentrification is shaping the city’s dance music scene.

2016 in Screencaps: Breathless (1983)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

Nope, not Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic, but the 80s remake from Jim ‘The Big Easy’ McBride, starring Richard Gere.

Again, one of Tarantino’s favourites, and you can see the influences: artificially vivid skies, rockabilly soundtrack, The Silver Surfer, some talk of women’s toes being very important… Gere is on full throttle for the whole thing but you find yourself rooting for the manic, murderous Jesse Lujack; and Monica Poiccard, despite not being the greatest acting talent in the world, is captivating (might have to go and track down La Femme Publique now).

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2016 in Screencaps: Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

Definitely the strangest of the films I’ve watched in 2016 thanks to it’s plot: an orchestra conductor discovers his wife is cheating on him and fantasises about murdering her while conducting a symphony… and it’s a screwball comedy.

If you can get past the sinister set up it’s actually pretty enjoyable, partly because it’s so damn campy (especially Rex Harrison’s plummy, pretentious Sir Alfred De Carter) but partly because Preston Sturges’s screenplay zings along. It’s nowhere close to His Girl Friday and the final slapstick segment doesn’t really work (he can’t murder his wife because he so darn clumsy!), but the whole thing glows and crackles with a pace you rarely get in modern cinema.

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2016 in Screencaps: Where Eagles Dare (1968)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

Of all the ‘classic’ films I’ve watched so far this year this is probably the one I’ve enjoyed the least.

It’s not a bad film, but for something that’s so regularly lauded it felt overlong and a little hokey. Of course it has the exceptional cable car scene, not to mention “Broadsword calling Danny Boy”, and Clint’s performance is great (much better than Burton for me).

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2016 in Screencaps: His Girl Friday (1940)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the movies I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

From one Howard Hawks classic, to another. A classic screwball comedy with dialogue snappier than a rubber band and classy performances from ‘ace reporters’ Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. It was hard not to take screenshots of pretty much every scene. It’s based on a play so the whole thing largely takes place in two rooms, but you hardly notice thanks to the gorgeous lighting and framing. It’s actually hard to watch more modern films after something so beautifully put together as this (those up-in-the-corner shots of the gallows and the jail cell!).

Lots of smoking. Lots of hats. Lots of phones. Gorgeous shadows. Overlapping dialogue.

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