October 17 – 24, 2011

Time to go weekly. No more long lists of books I’ve read in the past 8 months. Instead an almost up-to-date review of what’s happening: art made, photos taken, books read, movies/TV shows watched and music listened to.

Here on Pender Island it’s been a mix of sun and rain. The evenings are getting cooler and the days shorter but the Fall colours are wonderful and the air’s fresh.

I’ve been working on my website updates. The newest section is Performance featuring photos of musicians and actors.

A new addition to the  revisioned album covers:

revisioned Zorba the Greek soundtrack album cover

Zorba the Greek

A reflection on the current state of the economy in Greece.

A few photos from the past week:

Dan's Farmstand, Central Saanich, BC

Goat at Dan's Farmstand

Roe Lake, Pender Island, BC

Roe Lake Colours

mushroom at Cole Bay Park

Elegant Mushroom

I photograph photographers. I find their intent poses interesting. Sometimes I photograph photographers doing weird, or even rude, things. In the following two photos we were lounging on the rocks in Beacon Hill Park when a photographer, bearing a new looking camera, and his model appeared on the next knoll. Initially I was attracted by the poses. But then the dialogue caught my attention. He spoke of himself as the Photographer and she was his Model. I don’t think they’d met before that day. Then he got her into the corset. It just seemed to be getting weirder by the minute. I couldn’t resist. The last shot I took he’s looking directly at me and she’s laying on the ground at his feet. Flashback to the film Blow Up.

photographer at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC

The Photographer

photographer's model in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC

The Model

Which naturally leads to the  issue of photography and privacy:

cctv, Crystal Court, Victoria, BC

Crystal Court CCTV

cctv Chinatown, Victoria, BC

Chinatown CCTV

I’ve started a new sketchbook: my first Moleskin. I wasn’t sure how I’d like the paper’s colour and surface but so far it’s working well with the Staedtler pigment liner pens. I’ve been using pencils on paper for so long I thought it was time for a change.

two page spread from sketchbook

Two Page BC Ferries Spread

OK – I’m a voyeur, with a camera or a pen. I can sit and watch people forever. But I’m not a sneak about it; no telephoto lens, no hiding in the bushes. So far I haven’t been punched. Don’t get any ideas though OK!

Books

I'll See You in My Dreams cover

I'll See You in My Dreams

I’ve read many of local author William (Bill) Deverell’s books. And not just because he’s local. I’ve enjoyed the series featuring the trials and tribulations of Arthur Beauchamp. The wry humour,  foibles of  an  aging protagonist, quotes from the classics and local colour plus clever plots make for great reads. I’ll See You in My Dreams flashes back to one of Arthur Beauchamp’s early cases, from 1962, set in Vancouver. We see a city in transition, from an industrial to cultural mecca (some new poet from Montreal, by name of Cohen, is giving a reading in a coffeehouse). Arthur’s client is a First Nation’s man, a former inmate of a residential school. He’s a young rebel, full of intelligence and passion, angry at the racist system. He’s Arthur’s first client accused of murder and the battle for justice isn’t an easy one. The second half of the book flashes forward to 2011 when Arthur is drawn back to the case, by circumstances and his conscience. The surprise ending is so logical I was left wondering why I hadn’t seen it coming. Rating: 8/10

Movies

Duck You Sucker poster

Duck, You Sucker

Finally I saw Duck, You Sucker (aka A Fist Full of Dynamite or Once Upon a Revolution), the second of Sergio Leaone’s epic trilogy which started with Once Upon a Time in the West and finished with Once Upon a Time in America. I really don’t know why it took me so long. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of my all-time favourite films and Once Upon a Time in America is one of the best gangster films ever. Duck You Sucker, Leone’s last Western, carries on the his tradition of style over substance. A couple of times I was wondering what the heck was going on as the action seemed to skip over relevant details but the beautiful shots (camera, not gun) and cinematography kept me entranced. Some of the scenes reminded me of Goya’s paintings of the wartime massacres in Spain (which I later discovered to be an influence on Leone). Although there are revolutionary politics aplenty (including a quote from Chairman Mao as the movie opens) Leone stated it’s a film about friendship, not politics. I liked James Coburn as the lead although I think Eli Wallach would’ve made a better Mexican bandit than Rod Steiger. For some interesting trivia about the film check out: imdb.com Rating: 8/10

La Femme Nikita movie poster

La Femme Nikita

Having recently seen Hanna, and not thinking much of it, I decided I’d watch two films which I thought Hanna borrowed from, but didn’t measure up to. That both films are by Luc Bresson seemed apt as he’s another filmmaker who relishes style over substance. We watched Leon: The Professional a couple of weeks ago and it’s stood the test of time well. Jean Reno is brilliant and Natalie Portman demonstrates a dramatic flair that’ll carry her past the horrendous Star Wars prequel trilogy. But back to La Femme Nikita. How many times have I seen this film? I don’t really know. It’s got so much style and one of the great female film heroes. I really like Nikita’s transition from nihilist street punk to glamourous assassin and her attempt at a ‘normal’ life. Plus it’s got one of the greatest endings… Rating: 8.5/10

Aliens movie poster

Aliens

It’s that time of year: Halloween, Day of the Dead… and scary movies are in order. We watched Alien a couple of weeks ago; which means that we had to watch Aliens also. Alien is still scary, even when you know exactly what is happening. It’s so darned atmospheric. Aliens is another scary thing altogether. I generally don’t like sci-fi that features overtly militaristic characters that look and act like Marines (Stargate never appealed to me for that reason). Marines are just fine in earthbound war films but I have issues with them in space. However, in Aliens, despite some misgivings, they work for me. They’re tough, they’re obnoxious, they’re prone to nervous breakdowns (even before they see the momma alien). Of course the best part of both films is Ripley. Ripley set the bar high for strong female leads. Too bad the following sequels sucked. Rating: 9/10

TV (via the internet)

The Walking Dead TV series poster

The Walking Dead

We watched the entire first season over three nights. Despite some promise I have to say ‘Meh’. Zombies rock (and drool). But why can’t the protagonist shed his stupid cop uniform? Does he think anybody, especially the zombies, will respect it? And what’s with going on these insanely stupid missions to the city? The last place I’d go in times of cataclysmic disaster is a city. Look at the poster: everybody else was leaving the city and our lone hero is mindlessly riding into it. There were some nice moments and some of the other characters were promising (I liked the young Korean guy – the one who called the sheriff a ‘dumbass’). Just another American TV show that might’ve been pretty good, messed up by stupid plotlines and silly characters.  Rating: 4/10

(We watched Shaun of the Dead last night. Now there’s a brilliant zombie show! More on that next week after a few more scary movies.)

Music

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

M83: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming Soundtrack to my week. Yes, I really like M83’s latest. It’s vast, it’s anthemic, it’s got a groove and it’s good fun. The French do this kind of symphonic synth music so well (e.g. AIR). For more info: allmusic.com/artist/m83-p561410 Rating: 9/10

Real Estate: Days album cover

Days

Real Estate: Days  Really lovely harmonies, jangly guitars. A joy to listen to. For more info: allmusic.com/artist/real-estate-p884392 Rating: 8/10

This isn’t an official video but the music is all their’s:

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