Archive for Bob Dylan

Haynes’ Pandemonium Carnival

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2008 by dcairns

he's not here 

My head is an incredible jumble! I feel like I have been melted down by the Button Moulder.

I start lecturing again tomorrow (and we’ll see how I keep this blog going once THAT happens) so I started preparing my first lecture, on Jack Clayton. I love THE INNOCENTS especially and THE PUMPKIN EATER and am pretty wild about most of the others, and I’ve never done a talk about him so it seemed like fun. I was looking at THE GREAT GATSBY (featuring the infant Absolute Beginner Patsy Kensit) again, trying to choose extracts, and I got sucked into it and suddenly realised I’d better stop and go and see I’M NOT THERE, as had been my plan for the day.

Off to the Cameo!* This is a legendary Edinburgh art-house/fleapit. My parents saw THE RUNNING JUMPING STANDING STILL FILM along with THE SEVEN SAMURAI here (an unlikely pairing). It used to be run by a wild entrepreneur and showman called Jim Poole, who would turn the heating up for desert films, and other feats of William Castle-style Sensurround legerdemain. Yet I can’t see any obvious reason why, for this film, the auditorium was freezing cold and smelled of wee. These sensations disappeared as the film began though, returning with renewed intensity as the end credits rolled (to the sound of “Like a Rolling Stone”) and I realised I’d been in a state of sensory suspension for the whole film, absorbing only what the film’s makers delivered to me through my ears and eyes. 

I don’t feel equal to delivering any kind of useful thoughts on this film just yet, which is a Phantasmagoric Cavort through various aspects of Bob Dylan’s life and art, because a) it’s pretty complex and b) I don’t know much about Dylan and c) I have managed to amplify the rather weird state the film induced in me by way of artistic overload:

On the bus home, I had the gated drums of Siouxie and the Banshee’s Peekaboo and the lovely Charlotte Gainsbourg singing to me on my Nano, while I read a little memoir by Ralph Richardson (favourite role: Peer Gynt) and the illuminations of the Balmoral Hotel and Edinburgh Castle glowed, and I thanked my lucky stars again for living in the city where W.C. Fields first tasted whiskey.

Then home, lighting a fire and finishing off THE GREAT GATSBY, which has marvellous people and moments, even if it doesn’t entirely grip. Fitzgerald is referenced in Haynes’ film, but I thought on the whole that SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, a marvellous film made by Clayton and partially unmade by the suits at Disneycorps, is closer to Haynes’ film, which has a definite flavour of the Fellini-esque about it. EIGHT AND A HALF is the big stylistic cue for the Cate Blanchett scenes, but then this circus flavour invades the Richard Gere sequence, supplanting most traces of Peckinpah (though the presence of Kris Kristofferson as narrator provides another reminder of PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID). I guess the blend of Americana and the carnivalesque is what brought Clayton’s film to mind.

all I see are dark eyes

dusty old fairgrounds

You can probably expect more on the neglected Clayton, and hopefully some more ordered thoughts on Haynes’ film, which I kind of loved, soon. Or soon-ish.

ONE thought: Cate Blanchett has rightly had much favourable attention for her work here, but I think she has an advantage over her co-stars because drag is pretty well always interesting. Not that she isn’t remarkable. But I want to say that Marcus Carl Franklin as “Woodie Guthrie” is also a true Star — when he’s on it’s like someone pierced the celluloid and let a VERY BRIGHT LIGHT shine through.

MC Franklin

*One very nice thing about this picture house is that there’s generally one of my students or ex-students working there. This time it was Clair. Hello, if you’re reading this!

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Blue Sky Casting #3

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2007 by dcairns

I’m always kind of dissatisfied with adaptations of Lewis Carroll. The Svankmajer ALICE is pretty good, but as an adaptation I never felt it caught the tone of the book, that calm, dreamy feeling, where Alice perceives things as strange alright, but not VERY strange. I like Jonathan Miller’s BBC version, especially the dignified cast and the decision not to use big prosthetic makeups, but the Ravi Shankar score seems like a fashionable gesture rather than a shrewd artistic choice. I can remember as a kid being put into quite an odd state by the Disney version, but looking at it now it’s more HELLZAPOPPIN’ than Charles Dodgson. DREAMCHILD, scripted by Dennis Potter, is nice, but not all it should be.

Wouldn’t it have been great if some far-thinking British producer had brought Luis Bunuel to the UK, just after L’AGE D’OR, to film both the Alice books, back-to-back?

Lobster Quadrille.

Looking-glass House.

He could have had the cream of British stage and screen working for him — probably some of the same names Miller had in the sixties : Gielgud, Finlay Currie — as well as people like Ernest Thesiger (The Mad Hatter), Alastair Sim (The Duchess), Charles Laughton as the ultimate Humpty Dumpty…

But we can only dream of this, and if we are going to dream, we should dream of absurd and baffling things, so I give you:

 SAM PECKINPAH’S

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

The Wild Bunch

The White Rabbit — L.Q. Jones

The Dodo — Randolph Scott

The Caterpillar — Emilio Fernandez

The Duchess — R.G. Armstrong

The Cheshire Cat — Ernest Borgnine

The Mad Hatter — David Warner

The March Hare — Warren Oates

The Dormouse — Slim Pickens

The Queen of Hearts — Ida Lupino

The King of Hearts — Robert Preston

The Griffin — Kris Kristofferson

The Mock Turtle — Bob Dylan

Alice — some Mexican whore.

Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan.

Griffin and Mock Turtle.

Dylan = Turtle. You can see what I mean, right?

“Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia — OFF WITH HIS HEAD!”