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Archive for the ‘author Allan Fish’ Category

cricketsongamazon390

by Sam Juliano

The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence.              -Ralph Waldo Emerson

From the rapturous cover of a fox on the prowl for rabbits, frogs croaking around a stream and crickets bringing  some special measure of authenticity to the book’s title, by way of a fancy current red in cursive to the oval back cover of a boy fast asleep in his bedroom, Cricket Song may well be the year’s most intoxicating picture book.  Anne Hunter’s ink and watercolor art is not only astonishingly beautiful but sensory, evoking as it does a place governed by reverberating sounds and a scents as keen as anywhere in the natural world.  Geographical, aquatic, and metaphysical kinship are established early on, and Hunter subsequently chronicles this initial flirtation and eventual immersion with nature, the most integral aspect of lives separated by a vast ocean.

The fox is again seen in the title page spread, applying his senses acutely while stalking his prey.  The opening burst of lyricism marvelously opines that the “evening breeze” rises to meet the night that began upon the setting of the sun.  A hilly terrain along the water is spied by crickets perched on blades of grass with the shadows of trees negotiated in cross pattern.  A small house is set back slightly as dusk is yielding to nocturnal atmospherics.  But the breeze has another function, one that supersedes weather related responsibilities – the breeze is a vessel for the song of the crickets which wafts through an open window of a room adorned with dark blue walls, stars and planets.  The boy snuggles with a sea otter, while a cat sleeps at the foot of the bed.  The painting hanging on the wall bears thematic kinship with the rectangular paintings that run across the bottom of each subsequent page in the book.  While there is no audible competition for the cricket song indoors, it is quite another story in the wild, where the kreck kreck kreck of the frogs in the stream brings a second instrument to this outdoor evening concert in this sleep inducing canvas. (more…)

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clockwork

by Allan Fish

(UK 1971 137m) DVD1/2

A bit of the old ultraviolence

p  Stanley Kubrick, Bernard Williams  d/w  Stanley Kubrick  novel  Anthony Burgess  ph  John Alcott  ed  Bill Butler  m  Walter Carlos (including Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar, Giacchino Rossini, L.Van Beethoven, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov)  art  John Barry, Russell Hagg, Peter Shields  cos  Milena Canonero

Malcolm McDowell (Alex de Large), Patrick Magee (Mr Alexander), Michael Bates (Chief Guard), Warren Clarke (Dim), James Marcus (Georgie), Michael Tarn (Pete), Anthony Sharp (Minister of the Interior), John Clive (stage actor), Adrienne Corri (Mrs Alexander), Miriam Karlin (Miss Weathers), Carl Duering (Dr Brodsky), Clive Francis (Joe), Dave Prowse (Julian), Philip Stone (Dad), Sheila Raynor (Mum), Aubrey Morris (P.R.Deltoid), Godfrey Quigley (prison chaplain), Paul Farrell (tramp), Steven Berkoff (cop), John Savident (conspirator), Margaret Tyzack (lady conspirator),

Viddy well at this horror show cine, o my brothers.  Kubrick’s most controversial film, this was the definitive cult film in the U.K after its withdrawal from our eyes for 26 years.  (Indeed, I still remember the sweaty-palmed glee with which I devoured the film for the first time when a friend imported a video copy from the US.)  A horror comic masterpiece of sorts, without a shadow of a doubt, it follows the story of a young murderer cum rapist in a futuristic nihilistic Britain who is released from prison after undergoing the Ludovico experimental treatment, this time as a victim of society. (more…)

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interstellar

by Allan Fish

(USA 2014 169m) DVD1/2

Worrying about our place in the dirt

p  Lynda Obst, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan  d  Christopher Nolan  w  Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan  ph  Hoyte van Hoytema  ed  Lee Smith  m  Hans Zimmer  art  Nathan Crowley  cos  Mary Zophres  spc  John Kelso, Michael Clarke

Matthew McConaughey (Cooper), Anne Hathaway (Brand), Michael Caine (Prof.Brand), Jessica Chastain (Murph), David Gyasi (Romilly), Matt Damon (Mann), Mackenzie Foy (Murph, aged 10), Casey Affleck (Tom), David Oyelowo (principal), Ellen Burstyn (old Murph), John Lithgow (Donald), Wes Bentley (Doyle), Bill Irwin (voice of TARS),

In retrospect, Interstellar was always coming, and it’s with some irony that I say that.  Christopher Nolan has always been bending and readjusting cinematic dimensions.  In Memento he made a backwards movie, playing with narrative convention.  In The Prestige he played with perception, how our eyes and minds play tricks with us and allow ourselves to be fooled.  In Inception he played with the dimension walls within dreams, fitting them inside each other like Russian dolls.  After all that, what else is there but to try and bend the actual space-time continuum itself?  And what better year to do it than in the same year that a more traditional cinematic statue was being put up to Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, which could even be the title of Nolan’s sci-fi opus. 

Nolan is rightly famed for his cold detachment and intellectual rigour; qualities without which his great films could not have existed.  “We’ve always defined ourselves by our ability to overcome the impossible”, Cooper says.  If only the film could prove it, but here he is seemingly fighting a paradox from the start; to save mankind requires bending the laws of space-time in a way that goes against the laws of physics (this isn’t Doctor Who, time can’t be rewritten).  Can the search for the impossible forgive his caving in to the sort of sentimentality associated with Close Encounters, Avatar, Gravity or that other McConaughey sci-fi piece, Contact?  Perhaps, when the ambition is greater than those films combined…

Even so, Caine is miscast as a scientific genius, there as if Nolan’s totem to guide him back to sanity.  Hathaway is another Hollywood woman doing the stupid thing to put the mission in jeopardy.  Chastain does her best but is merely a cipher and Burstyn’s cameo doesn’t even qualify as a token gesture.  McConaughey has one great scene – watching in agony years of built up video messages from his family – and Foy is great as lil’ Murph.  Yet what else is left? (more…)

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inivisbleman1933-suchasillyfellow

by Allan Fish

Footprints in the snow

p Carl Laemmle Jnr d James Whale w R.C.Sheriff, Philip Wylie novel H.G.Wells ph Arthur Edeson ed Ted J.Kent m W.Franke Harling art Charles D.Hall spc John P.Fulton
Claude Rains (Jack Griffin), Gloria Stuart (Flora Cranley), Henry Travers (Dr Cranley), William Harrigan (Dr.Kemp), Forrester Harvey (Herbert Hall), E.E.Clive (Jaffers), Una O’Connor (Mrs Jenny Hall), Dudley Digges (Detective chief), Holmes Herbert (Police chief), Harry Stubbs (Inspector Bird), John Carradine (newspaper seller), Walter Brennan (man with bicycle), Dwight Frye (reporter),

The third of James Whale’s quarter of horror classics – after Frankenstein and The Old Dark House and before The Bride of Frankenstein – was probably chosen in response to the successful Paramount version of another H.G.Wells classic about a madman performing experiments, Island of Lost Souls. Like that earlier film, it starred a British actor, though in this case one who was not only in his debut, but whose face would hardly be seen.

Jack Griffin works in the laboratories of Dr Cranley, and is engaged to his daughter, Flora, who is also the object of devotion of Kemp, one of Jack’s colleagues. Jack leaves one day and doesn’t tell his employer or fiancée where he’s going, and arrives at a village inn heavily bandaged and wearing shielding dark glasses. He asks for a room and wants no disturbances. We learn that he has somehow managed to turn himself invisible, and is frantically searching for the antidote. However, his irritation with any interruptions grows into a deep psychosis and he soon begins to succumb to megalomania, in which he tries to implicate his colleague Kemp. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

This post was originally published in late 2010.  Although Allan was convinced I wouldn’t pay him a return visit, we all did three years later in the summer of 2013.  Our snow shovels have long since been removed from our renovated first floor bathroom as well, though there is a bittersweet aspect to that update as per Allan’s fond testament here.  -S.J.

There are three DVDs of Mizoguchi Sansho Dayu in the picture above – well, durgh!  Question: which of the three do I treasure most?  In the middle we have the Criterion DVD, a lovely package as one might expect.   Nope, not that one.  On the right we have the Masters of Cinema Region 2 DVD set with the additional bonus of his underrated Gion Bayashi.  Again no, I’m afraid.  Yet let’s illustrate further.  Imagine there was a fourth Sansho there, a yet to be released Blu Ray looking sharper than a katana from Hattori Hanzo, and still my answer would be the one on the left.

There’s nothing special about it.  It was a purchase I needn’t have made.  I had Sansho on tape from Film Four, a nice enough print of it, but being a pedant, I just wanted a boxed DVD copy.  It wasn’t a genuine release, merely a tape to DVDR copy of the old US Home Vision VHS.  The quality – certainly compared to the other two in the photo – was rather poor to say the least.  So why on earth would I prefer it?  There have been cases where I have kept old VHS copies of films – imported copies of the once banned in the UK A Clockwork Orange and The Exorcist and an old pre-certification copy of Straw Dogs.  They were just for nostalgia’s sake.  Sansho was something else, a memento of something altogether more important.  (more…)

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man-in-the-white-suit-1

by Allan Fish

(UK 1951 81m) DVD1/2

Knight in shining armour

p  Sidney Cole, Michael Balcon  d  Alexander Mackendrick  w  Roger MacDougall, John Dighton, Alexander Mackendrick  ph  Douglas Slocombe ed  Bernard Gribble  m  Benjamin Frankel  art  Jim Morahan  spc  Sydney Pearson  sound  Stephen Dalby

Alec Guinness (Sidney Stratton), Joan Greenwood (Daphne Birnley), Cecil Parker (Mr Birnley), Michael Gough (Michael Corland), Vida Hope (Bertha), Howard Marion Crawford (Cranford), Ernest Thesiger (Sir John Kierlaw), Miles Malleson (tailor), Henry Mollison (Hoskins), George Benson (lodger), Edie Martin (landlady), Mandy Miller (girl),

Ealing comedies have long been a staple diet amongst fans of the so-called golden-age of British cinema, part of our national heritage to be cherished for ever more.  In truth, though they made a host of classics, including Passport to Pimlico, The Titfield Thunderbolt and Hue and Cry, only four stand up to real scrutiny over half a century on; Whisky Galore, The Lavender Hill Mob, Kind Hearts and Coronets and this wonderful satire from Ealing’s greatest director, Alexander Mackendrick.  Many who associate Ealing with a cosy England that is no more often find Mackendrick’s later acerbic Sweet Smell of Success to be the antithesis of his earlier work.  In reality, there’s more than a little darkness in this earlier masterpiece, too.  David Thomson was right to point out the debts to Kafka, and it also dates a lot better than the later Boulting satires (such as I’m All Right Jack).

Sidney Stratton is a working class lad who has been thrown out of his Cambridge fellowship after some radical experiments go awry.  Finding himself eventually in Wellsborough at Birnleys, the biggest mill in the land, he manages to swindle his way into the laboratory.  When he claims to have invented an everlasting fabric, he not only antagonises the industry and unions but attracts the attention of the owner’s daughter. (more…)

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dark city 1

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by Allan Fish

Which way to Shell Beach?

p Andrew Mason d Alex Proyas w Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs, David S.Goyer ph
Dariusz Wolski ed Dov Hoenig m Trevor Jones art Patrick Tatopoulos, George
Liddle
Rufus Sewell (John Murdoch), Kiefer Sutherland (Dr Daniel Schreber), William
Hurt (Inspector Frank Bumstead), Jennifer Connelly (Emma Murdoch), Ian
Richardson (Mr Book), Richard O’Brien (Mr Hand), Melissa George (May), Colin
Friels (Det.Eddie Walenski), Bruce Spence (Mr Wall), John Bluthal (Uncle Karl),

Quite possibly the most left field entry in this selection, and certainly the most
left field of modern times, Alex Proyas’ cult sci -fi opus is one of those films you
just love or loathe. Indeed, the same could be true of many a cult sci -fi film of the
1990s, and there were many of them. Each of us has our favourite – Gattaca for
some, Cube for others, The Fifth Element for the adolescents among us and The
Matrix for a good many more. Yet, whereas the Wachowski brothers’ hit now
looks to have increasingly less to it than meets the eye, Dark City, now restored
and reedited for the 10th anniversary release, is a film I can put on any time, and
appreciate on numerous levels, while still being critical of some of its detail and
narrative construction. The most important aspect of understanding the film and
its ambitions ironically comes during the closing credits where the dedication
reads “in memory of Dennis Potter, with gratitude and admiration.” Those who
have been baffled by the great TV writer’s work, especially the valedictory Cold
Lazarus, will know where I’m coming from. (more…)

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