Well this is fun. Bill Reed, the creator of The Far Side of Utopia and one of my fellow cartoonists on the Webcomics Underdog Community put out a call for other creators on the forum to offer up characters to be draw as an exercise to help him with digital sketching. After following the thread for a few days I offered up Nancy. Here’s how it came out.
You can tell she’s thrilled.
A few weeks back I was playing around with trying to make a list of as many “Alphabet Films” as I could think of. When I say that I mean is films who’s title Is just one letter or has a single letter as part of the title. It made for an interesting Facebook thread but in the end I only managed to fill out half of the alphabet. I figured I’d go with two of the first films I thought of when I started this list and the result was two films from two of my favorite directors, which other than the quirk of their title have absolutely nothing in common.
The first up was another Orson Welles film, F for Fake, which is to the best of my knowledge his only documentary, and definitely the only color piece by him I’ve ever seen. This film is mostly nonfiction as Welles is the first to admit this is a story about fraud. It’s story is mostly about art fraud especially notorious forger Elmyr de Hory though this is only a jumping off point. The film goes off on numerous tangents regarding the “authorized autobiograph”y of Howard Hughes and other hoaxes culminating in a faked Picassos based on 27 paintings that may or may not have been stolen from the artist.
While this may have not not been Welles greatest work I enjoyed it immensely. Welles uses and almost lyrical editing style and Welles himself is fantastic as combination master of ceremonies and narrator simultaneously participating in the story and standing outside of it observing.
The next film Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder was a film I was not expecting to enjoy as much as I did. It was one that despite being a big fan of Hitchcock’s work I had never gotten around seeing having written it off as one of his minor works and an adaptation of a stage play, no less.
Hictchcock is at the top of his game here and while Dial M For Murder certainly starts out feeling like a filmed play as it goes along it just gets better and better taking full advantage of closeups and different camera angles to provide us with little clues that don’t become apparent until the very end.
The cast is fantastic with Ray Milland playing Tony our villain protagonist as a cold calculating sociopath as he plans the perfect murder of his wife and when that fails comes up with a backup plan to get her convicted for her killing her attempted murderer in self defense. Grace Kelly is wonderful as said wife but best of all is John Williams who in the beginning we mistake for one of Hitchcock’s boilerplate incompetent detectives ends up saving the day even when characters we expected to be rooting for as the heroes nearly screw the whole thing up in front of him.
I must say this is the first time I’ve listened to this one. It spends a little too much time being a variation of Two in a minor key before it gets interesting.
I’m embarrassed to admit that what I knew about Kafka’s The Trial where the accused, Josef K is woken up in the middle of the night by some men in black arrested for a crime he didn’t commit (not made any easier since nobody says what the crime actually was) and dragged to a monolithic darkly lit trial room (presumably in The Castle) where he is inevitably found guilty. Turns out I was mostly wrong.
Josef K, played with brilliant innocence by Anthony Perkins, is indeed woken up by the Men in Black and arrested but from there it is completely different as K travels around the city looking for people to support and defend him and in the process getting an in depth study of human hypocrisy.
I’m not sure what I thought of this film. Technically Welles is on the top of his game, despite doing this on a shoestring budget, and watching his craft is always a pleasure to watch. But otherwise I couldn’t follow it… It was probably to esoteric for my tastes and I don’t think I’ll ever be part of Kafka’s target audience.
I was looking forward to my next selection Kafka mainly because it was a who’s who of some of my favorite talent led by Steven Soderbergh. It turned out to be one of the films that is a fictionalized version of the artist’s life with an ongoing plot with elements that inspire them to create their works. These movies included The Raven, about Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare in Love about Shakespeare.
Here Kafka, played as a complete stuffed shirt by Jeremy Irons, is working as a clerk in an insurance firm in a dark monochrome version of Eastern Europe in the turn of the century. When the murder of a coworker pulls him into a web of government conspiracy and an anarchist movement.
I’m afraid this is hardly Soderbergh’s best work but I certainly enjoyed it for the most part. I’m sure it would be more entertaining for a fan of Kafka’s work since all but the most blatant Easter eggs in this film was lost on me. The most fun I had was watching people like Joel Grey, Ian Holm and Alec Guinness do their job well, even if it was by the numbers work. My favorite part was the final act of the film where Kafka leaves reality completely to infiltrate the castle with the monochrome of the rest of the film turning to muted color.