Friday, 23 September 2011

'On the Waterfront' and 'Fitzcarraldo'

It's been one busy week, what with trying to complete an article for a magazine, the demands of turning up to a salaried job (ho hum), and my painterly partner bailing on her fair share of domestic duties as she does a bit of globe-trotting.  However, it's had its highlights.

One recent aspect of the Day Job I've appreciated is that it's given me a heap of opportunities to get to know Elia Kazan's 1954 film On the Waterfront.  This is a new discovery for me, but I must admit I've enjoyed exploring it.  Marlon Brandon and Eva Marie Saint are wonderful, and the improvised scene, where Edie drops her glove and Terry tries it on, is magic.  The politics behind the movie, with Kazan justifying his request that he be called again in front of H.U.A.C., so that he might name names during the McCarthy witch-hunt, is fascinating too.  While the ending seems unsatisfactory, with the longshoremen trudging blindly into the maw of capitalism, and the dynamic Edie reduced to a simpering doll, there's enough strength in the film for it to work. 

Also, came across two websites that are worth shouting about and checking out. Talie Helene is a musician, writer and editor from Melbourne, Australia, and you can find out what's she been up to here.  Alan Baxter - another Australian, but this time from New South Wales - is the author of dark fantasy novels RealmShift and MageSign, and of late he's been blogging about How to Write Fight Scenes.

The other highlight of the week was watching Fitzcarraldo, directed by Werner Herzog.  I've always liked the sound of this word - 'Fitzcarraldo' - whenever I've heard talk of Herzog's work, but am amazed I never got round to watching the film until now.  More fool me.  What a film!  It's made one hell of an impression, and I can already sense that some aspects of it are going to influence the way I write, the way I think about writing. And as for Klaus Kinski - brilliant.  Look, I don't want to be objective and critical here.  While some of the potent images are still percolating through my head - Fitzgerald's passionate feverishness when he gatecrashes the opera, the way he clings to the church bell-tower and screams at the town, his interactions with the rubber barons and the indians, the winching of the 320-ton steamboat up one side of the mountain and down the other - I'm more than happy just to gush about it instead.

The trailer doesn't go anywhere near doing justice to this movie, but don't take my word for it: watch the movie.

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