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Contrasts in my recent reading and viewing

30 Oct

I’m a sucker for film noir. Play “spot the movie” with this.

So I have enjoyed Elmore Leonard’s La Brava: wickedly good. The novel is a riff on the idea of film and celluloid, what is and what isn’t simulacrum… Makes it sound quite pomo, doesn’t it?

“He’s been taking pictures three years, look at the work,” Maurice said. “Here, this guy. Look at the pose, the expression. Who’s he remind you of?”

“He looks like a hustler,” the woman said.

“He is a hustler, the guy’s a pimp. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Here, this one. Exotic dancer backstage. Remind you of anyone?”

“The girl?”

“Come on, Evelyn, the shot. The feeling he gets. The girl trying to look lovely, showing you her treasures, and they’re not bad. But look at the dressing room, all the glitzy crap, the tinfoil cheapness.”

“You want me to say Diane Arbus?”

“I want you to say Diane Arbus, that would be nice. I want you to say Duane Michaels, Danny Lyon. I want you to say Winogrand, Lee Friedlander. You want to go back a few years? I’d like very much for you to say Walker Evans, too.”

“Your old pal.”

“Long, long time ago. Even before your time.”

A best read of 2007, even if the book is almost 25 years old!

Then after seeing a movie of similar vintage I had to remind myself that Peter O’Toole can really act:

d52265.jpgIn the made-for-tv version of Kipling’s Kim (1984) he was bloody awful, I thought — a monumental piece of miscasting as a Tibetan lama. On the other hand Bryan Brown was brilliant as Mahbub Ali; I didn’t even realise it was Bryan Brown! The boy playing Kim, Ravi Sheth, was also very good.

The next DVD (both are from Surry Hills Library) I saw lately is The Chronicles of Narnia (2005).

Yes, I know: the movie was lionised (um) by the Religious Right, and yes it is a Christian allegory, but I have always thought the Narnia books are a very odd allegory, what with their somewhat pagan content… Well, fin de siecle obsession with fauns and such things, really. Shades of some odd work of E M Forster, not to mention The Wind in the Willows with a dark presence from Paradise Lost. I wonder if anyone was ever converted by reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? I somehow doubt it.

But it is a good story, and this really is a very good movie. Tilda Swinton is just the perfect Ice Queen… Love her work.

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Posted by on October 30, 2007 in Cultural and other, Films, DVDs, TV, Reading

 

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