While it may be traditional to compare parts of the real world with the jungle, Brian really needs to be more careful with his metaphors. They give Janet too many ideas.
Well I let my enthusiasm get the better of me and I started my Halloween viewing early (at first I felt a little guilty about it but then I figured we start on christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey has a chance to cool I figured why worry about it.)
For this week I chose the theme of “Less is More” that is to say that the horror films that get the big scares by suggesting the monsters rather than showing them (or at least not showing them that much) and letting the viewer’s imagination do the rest.
The first film on my list Night of The Demon (Marketed as Curse of the Demon in the states with at least fifteen minutes cut out) tells the story of a professional skeptic Dr. John Holden played by Dana Andrews investigating a satanic cult led by Dr. Julian Karswell played by Niall MacGinnis. He retaliates by placing a magic runes on Holden’s person which summon a demon to kill him on a chosen night.
Regrettably, due to studio pressures, we do see the Demon in the beginning and end of the film. Make no mistake, it is a remarkably impressive puppet for the 1950s. But it’s really unnecessary and everything else in the film makes the reality of the Demon questionable at best. Yes the Demon kills one of Holden’s colleagues but the man could have just as easily been electrocuted when his car crashed into an electrical pole, similarly when Karswell meets his end after Holden manages to trick him into taking the runic script back, he could have just as easily been hit by a train . In fact I would be interested to see a fan cut where the Demon closeups are removed.
The rest of the film is great Niall McGinnis is fantastic as Karswell and the rest of the effects in the film are much more subtle… (with the exception of a scene where Karswell’s cat turns into a leopard and we have two minutes of Holden wrestling a stuffed animal. Monty Python did it better.
The next on my list was Robert West’s The Haunting. Ain this adaptation of the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, West takes the old chestnut of ghost hunters investigating a haunted mansion and turns it into high art. “Anthropologist” Dr. John Markway (played by Richard Johnson) recruits a supposed psychic Theo (played by Claire Bloom) and the shy Nell (played by Julie Harris) who apparently experienced poltergeists as a child to help him investigate the alleged hauntings of the notorious Hill House. Completing the team is the skeptical Luke (Russ Tamblyn) who is the heir to the houses owner, (and was drafted to keep an eye on the rest of them).
From there things get REALLY spooky.
This has quickly become my favorite West film (and considering his resume includes West Side Story and The Day the Earth Stood Still, that’s saying something. )
All of the scary stuff is done by sound editing camera angles and of course brilliant performances by a great ensemble cast who could have you believing they are experiencing this if they were in a fully lit room let alone Hill house. In fact the only overt visual effect I noticed was a rubber door near the end (no I don’t know if it was actually rubber but the prop department definitely didn’t make it out of wood! )
Back to the cast this is the best part. This film is very much Nell’s story and we share her insecurities as she narrates the story in a frantic stream of thought (or is it the ghosts messing with her?) But just as interesting is the relationship between Nell and Theo. There is no secrets made about Theo’s sexuality. It fluctuates between her cruelly taunting the sheltered woman child to acting like a comforting big sister… and then when the noises start they’re in each other’s arms desperately seeking some form of comfort in this terrifying situation. (Quite frankly I kept being reminded of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona.)
I make a point of keeping my politics to myself in public, but nonetheless I watched last night’s debate. Since it was safer than participating in any drinking games, I spent quite a bit of my time sketching.
Along with the practice, I’ve found they do amazing things helping me focus on the debate themselves. To the point I can almost consider this journalism, after a fashion, or at least very good notes. (the last time I did this I didn’t need The Stranger’s cheatsheet for any of the candidates for city council.)
I had a slow start of the week on Monday. So I did what I frequently do when facing creative block, go to the zoo and draw gorillas! Drawing Gorillas has been a bit of a mixed bag since November. With the arrival of newborn Yola, the Gorilla enclosure has been the biggest draw in the zoo. If you’re going to sketch it is difficult to get any line of site at all.
Fortunately I came at a quiet point and was able to get a nice spot at the corner that gave me lots of vantages. Since I lucked out and came at feeding time. It was an amusing sight watching Leo, the silverback of the group looking up worshipfully as the bags of vegetables and flowers were about to be tossed down to them.
Later I also went and sketched the Orangutans. I had a revelation that their heads are much easier to draw if you imagine them as two balls stacked on too of each other like an uneven peanut. Despite this I don’t really have anything good to show off for them today. For people who’s primary skill seems to be impersonating orange shag throw rugs they sure move around a lot.
For this week I decided to look into films about the cutthroat industry of fashion.
The first on my list, The Devil Wears Prada tells a predictable fable about sacrificing everything that matters to you for the sake of a career. Anne Hathaway plays Andy, our token innocent. Who scores what everyone says is a dream job working for the the great and ruthless editor of world famous fashion magazine, that she has never heard of, Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep. Andy see’s this as a stepping stone for a career in journalism and all she has to do is stay on for a year. Easy, right?
I don’t think I was really the target audience for this because I was never really got into it. But the visuals are interesting, especially the recurring montage sequences that I think do a better job commenting on the scenario than the actual story.
Also Meryl Sreep is great as Miranda who is simultaneously brilliant at her job and the eratic boss from hell.
The next on my list is the musical Funny Face starring Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson (of Eloise fame). It’s essentially a Cinderella story about a bookstore clerk with a “funny face”, played by Hepburn, who’s discovered (nearly shanghaied) by a fashion photographer, played by Astaire. This leads to a trip to Paris, beautiful clothes courtesy of Edith Head, song and dance, and beatniks.
This film is an adorable example of form over substance, the design and look of it is gorgeous with a very theatrical quality to it. Kay Thompson steals the show as the editor of the fashion magazine, ironically coming off as a more comical version of Streep’s character (though Thompson did it first.) As for the rest of the rest of the film… meh.
Sure Fred Astaire is up to form, and Audrey Hepburn is adorable, most of the film and the plot seem to only be there to hold the musical numbers together, and even though Astaire’s choreography is fantastic the actual music is only average, (though that might just be me having ridiculously high standards knowing it’s a sample of George Gershwin’s tragically short Hollywood career)
One of my ongoing projects that shall never be completed is the maintenance of my Visual Reference Folder. Because tagging pictures takes forever I generally create an endless variety of folders with as accurate and specific labels I can think of. Very frequently doing this reveals a lot of the shortcomings of the english language to me. Case in point, the biggest folder in my visual references is the pose folder where I try to have a reference of just about anything a human being is capable of doing (as I said this is an endless project) and frequently I find myself frustrated by the limitations of what to call these things.
Currently my pet peeve is the verb “sitting” mainly because it’s an act I have been having happen quite a bit in the strip and have the hardest time’s finding a reference for. Now you will say what are you talking about? There’s tons of pictures of people sitting!
Yes, I reply. But those are pictures of people sitting, as in the act of resting their buttocks, as their center of gravity, either on the ground or piece of furniture specifically for this purpose. What I was looking for are references of people slowly lowering their buttocks down onto the ground or that piece of furniture to achieve the former.
Try explaining the difference in a Google image search. It’s nitpicking I know but I still say their should be two separate words for two separate verbs.