Thursday, April 29, 2010

Road, Itacorubi

Road, Itacorubi, oil on card, 12.2 x 9.5 cm

A beautiful day for painting: I've been looking at paintings by Whistler and Turner, admiring the magical way paint is used as an expressive element in itself. Painting the sea is especially enjoyable as a vehicle for this.

I"ve feeling very positive about these little pictures as if, finally, I have turned some sort of "corner".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crips and Bloods: Made in America (2008): review- 6/10

In LA, revolting thugs kill each other, usually using guns.

This, in itself, is certainly a good thing: it's hard to be upset about the gang wars- they are highly localised,and the people involved aren't really very nice. Indeed, it's a pity they don't kill each other more as then the rest of society wouldnt have to pay the cost of incarcerating them.

Lively documentary providing some interesting insights into the history of black LA, and interviews with gang members who speak a sort of English. I fear the film skirts some issues about moral breakdown within black communities, advancing the rise of gangs as necessary response to their situation.

Al di là delle nuvole [Beyond the Clouds] (1995): review- 2/10

The more desperately cinema tries to be an art form, the more firmly it lodges itself up its own anus.

Malkovich wanders around looking as if someone stole his toupee, introducing and occasionally narrating this insipid arty porn-kitsch which shows women taking their panties off in various cloudy European cities.

Sometimes this is quite diverting, but lord it does drag on!

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968): review- 10/10

The film shows the lives a run of people in a southern town in the late sixties. It gives particular attention to a deaf mute and the daughter of his landlady who wishes to become a musician.

Excellently acted and beautifully filmed, the film touches on a number of themes- anger, forgiveness, racism, love, poverty and despair.

The Way We Were (1973): review- 8/10

Pretty and just about credible film about the relationship between two different personality types- a political activist and and easy going screenwriter, who run into trouble during the McCarthyite witch hunts.

Extremely enjoyable: Barbara's nose is particularly impressive.

The Panic in Needle Park (1971): review- 2/10

A drug pusher-junkie (who chews gum continually) manages to seduce a young artist into his druggie lifestyle.

It is quite impossible to see what this female character finds in the Al Pacino character and so the film seems to be more an essay in moralism than a study of real relationships.

Gloomy and considerably too long, with zero chracter development and virtually no plot.

Frankie and Johnny (1991): review- 7/10

Johnny is an ex-con with a zeal for self-improvement. While working as a chef in an NY short order restaurant he falls for a waitress with a sour demeanor, Frankie; he pesters her into dating him.

Generally enjoyable.

Castaway (1987): review- 7.5/10

Oliver Reed is denies sex by his female companion on a desert island and becomes incredibly cross.

A very amusing sketch of Englishness and sexuality.

Mister Lonely (2007): review- 6.5/10

In Paris, a melancholy Michael Jackson impersonator meets a Marylin Monroe, who takes him to join her Scottish commune where she lives with a host of other impersonators.

Likable film about truth to one's destiny, and the perils of copying others.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Highway- a photographic series

Highway located near CIC, Florianopolis

The highways are probably the finest pieces of architecture in modern Florianopolis.

Painting is not the best way to represent them- at least, not the sort of paintintg I do, which is much to equivocating, too muddy.

My camera, a Lumix DMC TZ5 is an excellent small camera, but has certain limitations- extreme contrasts of light and dark, and extreme colouristic contrasts cause it to lose detail or to distort colour. The zoom lens is excellent, but it cannot be changed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dead fish

Little fish discarded by local fishermen who catch them in nets in the creek. They are rather pretty. I find this a most depressing sight.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Light on the curtains: three photos

A Complete History of my Sexual Failures (2008): review- 8/10

Doleful comedy in which a film-maker attempts to visit his innumerable exes in London and Scotland to discover why his relationships are so unsuccessful.

Very entertaining, the film serves well as a satire on independent film-making.

Gummo (1997): review- 10/10

Entrancing film portraying mainly adolescent inhabitants of Xenia, Ohio, a town that had some few years before been hit by a tornado.

The film catalogues the curious degenerate tendencies of these characters- this alone would make the film fascinating.

However, in addition, the film is styled with great flair, even beauty, so that however grim the behaviour on display, the film almost serves as a celebration of the town.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


A sort of tribute to Victorian photography.

American Teen (2008): review- 8/10

This documentary traces the final year of high school students in Warsaw, Indiana.

It does this by focussing on some stereotypical students- a "popular girl", a jock, a nerd, and an arty girl.

The film manages to avoid both humourlesnes and cattiness, and conveys sympathetically the tribulations of the students.

Jesus Camp (2006): review- 3/10


Children from Indiana are sent to a North Dakota where they are bullied by two obese women, both cropped blondes, into Christian devotion.

Footage from the camp is spliced with shots from a radio host who is attempting on his talk show to challenge the beliefs of religious right Christians, who have three main concerns: abortion, creationism, and American-ness.

Unfortunately, what the filmmakers did not consider, apparantly, is that spending an hour and a half in the company of unintelligent people is not very interesting.

Moreover, the film is plainly not an even handed survey of the Jesus Camp, but has been made with the preconception that Jesus Camp would be a bad bad place: it therefore has the ring of propoganda.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Beautiful Losers (2008): review- 4/10

The story of a group of artists who displayed work in a particular New York gallery and who achieved commercial success.

The documentary consists largely of interviews and captures the mood of a Generation X art crowd, whose work reflects their interest in grafitti, popular advertising, signs and cartoons.

The artists percieve themselves as "outsiders", but then become very successful, and therefore definate "insiders", an irony that the film-makers do not dwell upon sufficiently.

But then the film does not really ask any difficult questions either of the viewers or of the subjects or of their work: it is essentially designed to celebrate, and is therefore less interesting than it might be.

It is also overlong, by about 20 mins.

Manufacturing Consent (1992): review- 6/10

A documentary that traces (very sympathetically) Noam Chomsky's political work, largely through old footage of TV and radio interviews and lectures.

Chomsky believes the mass media are being controlled, albeit indirectly, by the powers that be which he considers fundamentally malign; he visits an alternative, cooperative publishing firm and some independent radio stations to show alternatives.

The film seems dated, given the explosive effect on conventional media outlets of internet, and could happily be cut by at least 40 minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are (2009): review- 4.5/10

Begins excitingly but the lack of a plot means it drags; the filmakers apparantly wishing to turn Sendak's concise, witty masterpiece into an extended group therapy session.

Beautiful photography and music do not compensate, alas, for lack of dramatic momentum.

Burma VJ (2009): review- 6/10

A video-diary account of the popular protests against the millitary dictatorship which were led by Buddhist monks.

This courageous film gives a good sense of the oppression of tyranny but lacks somewhat in necessary detail on the personalities leading the dictatorship.

In the Loop (2008): review- 8/10

A satire on British and and US government politicians during the lead up to the second Iraq war.

Brilliantly acted and scripted, with wonderful observations on the English character.

Is Anybody There? (2008): review- 6.5/10


The film is set in a 80s nursing home in Yorkshire in the 80's and describes the relationship between the home owner's boy and one of the residents, a retired magician, played by Caine.

It is well made and performed, with some very funny moments and excellent acting, but is somewhat unoriginal.

Black Hawk Down (2001): review- 8/10

Magnificently filmed piece, principally about the spirit of comradeship among US soldiers.

Design for a mural on the gable end of a house

I see the face as similar in its innocence to the childrens' faces one sees in Indian popular art.

Perhaps such a mural as a replacement for the murals which are painted on the gables of tenaments in Belfast (usually featuring martyred warriors, arms and slogans of varying degrees of bellicosity).

Monday, April 5, 2010


Lamppost, 13.6 x 10.6 cm, oil on card

There is a small park near here which has an amazing range of plants. It is quite quiet during the week: I think I shall try to go there later to paint some of the birch trees.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Itacorubi- midday rain, Oil on canvas, 13.5 x 14.5 cm

Today's picture is sketchy because it started to rain so heavily I had to run home. But I think the unfinishedness is fresh, unexpected.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Itacorubi Cemetery

Itacorubi Cemetery, Florianopolis, oil on card, 9.7 x 13.7 cm

An Edwardian sort of painting, with echoes of Sargent or Lavery. There's a certain slickness in that sort of painting that I've never been entirely comfortable with: salon art, bravura art, art made to impress one rather than move one. It died with the First World War.

It was very hard to get the right colour balance when photographing this: I found that photographing the picture against a dark red background helps, otherwise the camera, a Lumix (Panasonic) exaggerates the yellow and loses the blues.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gone Baby Gone (2007): review- 5.5/10

This is a Clint Eastwood influenced picture that tries much too hard to be profound, but is instead rather ordinary.

In a working class Boston neighbourhood a child is abducted: a boyfriend / girlfriend Private Investigation team help the police locate it.

The film attempts, through a convoluted plot, some obvious dialogue and equally obvious acting, to tackle themes related to civic duty.

Ergo, the film is, ultimately, rather solemn.

The Headless Woman (2008): review- 4.5/10

Elegantly shot, claustrophobic tale of an Argentinian woman who, when driving, hits something- quite what is unclear- and bumps her head. She spends the film wandering about trying to discuss this with someone.

This is the sort of gloomy, confusing picture that critics love, but which the public merely finds perplexing.