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Painting the Town…Update (30/4/17)


A day later than planned after my last day in the studio over the bank holiday. I have finally added paint to every part of the model miniature. Only spending a few hours in the studio now, as I’m only painting a coat a day. I need to keep track of how many coats I’ve done and where, at the moment its pretty straight forward.

I won’t be posting any studio updates for a while as I’ll only be painting, In the meantime I’ll be working on a few edits of the showdown that’ll be projected. If this works out I’ve been thinking about building a bigger model – of Minnie’s in The Hateful Eight (2015) it’s potentially more violet and the space is far bigger too. Still I need to see how this test works out and go from there.

Painting the Town…Update (29/4/17)


A quick update today. I realised a few days after I was last in the studio, I needed to add more detail to the windows. So I returned today to the footage to find out what was going where. Then trimming some balsa to size I added the small pieces.

Leaving me with the rest of the day prime the floor of the model and add the first full coat to the rest. It’s a bit patching at the moment in terms over coverage, some is primed whilst there’s a coat in other places. I should be fully onto painting next time, I’ll just have to remember the order I’ve gone in.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)


There’s a list of films that I know about and have accepted that it’s going to be very unlikely that I’ll be able to watch. I thought Bring me the Head of Afredo Garcia (1974) was one of those films. Thankfully that is no longer the case. First aware of it during a Sam Peckinpah documentary on a DVD, probably for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) or The Wild Bunch (1969) I would always look out for Garcia’s Head, just in the hope that it would appear to me. And out of nowhere – Bam! Probably Peckpinpah’s finest work post Wild Bunch.

One of the few films he made when he felt he wasn’t “whoring himself out” which I can understand, work for someone else’s ideas and vision instead of your own which he found more satisfying, but it was all too late to save him from alcoholism that killed him. If he was allowed to see his vision through maybe, just maybe he would have produced more interested un-compromised work. I wonder what Major Dundee (1965) would have been like if it wasn’t take away from him? All this questions and very few answers, at least we have a directors cut of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid that shows how dedicated he was to the Western, how his vision of a dystopia’s depicted by looking back.

Moving forward a year to Alfredo’s Garcia’s Head his last true Western in the neo style, is Peckinpah being allowed a longer leash from Hollywood to get his own passion project made, after Billy the Kid was mangled in the editing room. Maybe that was his “compromise” allowed him to get on with this will less interference from the studio? Looking at Bring Me the Head it feels more personal, he’s been allowed the length that he wants. His cast is familiar to him, casting Warren Oates who was one of the Wild Bunch who all met with a bloody end. Here he’s the focus of the film, a pianist in a bar Bennie who recognises a photo that has being doing the rounds – an Alfredo Garcia no idea why to him, a few men are after him.

Now lets rewind a few minutes to a Mexican version of The Godfather, no introductions, just straight into a family of power, the daughter of the family’s patriarch and godfather want to know whose impregnated his daughter, she wont speak until her own life’s threatened, does she finally speak, a bounty’s made for this still unknown man who hasn’t long to live. What kind of film have we let ourselves in for here. Who in the 20th century gives such an order, still its carried out, leading to a montage of search across the country, names crossed off, locations checked, still no sign until Sappensly (Robert Webber) and Quill (Gig Young) meet Bennie whose the first lead anyone’s had so far. Leading to him being hired/encouraged to go on the search for him and bring back his head.

A 20th century bounty hunter, complete with car and machete, about to make his fortune – $10,000 is waiting for him. The journey wouldn’t be the same without his lover Elita (Isela Vega) bar-room floosey and singer who he has grown to love. To me it’s a Mexican Western with a white man out on the make for some big bucks. Is he made in the same vein as the man with no name from the Dollars trilogy or the troubled loner in Randolph Scott’s image.  It all starts out so innocently before they’re met by bikers and another chance to see Kris Kristofferson, reminding us of far darker scenes in Straw Dogs (1971, another I have not yet seen). The road to Garcia is a bumpy dangerous one paved with not temptations but those of a foreign land that is not known to the white man.

Violence is following him every step of the way, all of this bloodshed and for what? The head of a guy he only knew slightly. There are few moments of tenderness in the film, as it all turns sour when they arrive in the village of Garcia. It seems that nature beat them to the man who we would never meet alive. Forcing our hero – if you can call him that to sink lower than he would have thought. A blatant comment of screen violence of how far other filmmakers would go for on-screen violence. Only met further by Peckinpah who shows how brutal violence can be, reusing what is by now a well established technique – using slow-motion to emphasise what the releasing of bullets, piercing a human body, how fast death can then reach someone. Admittedly I knew what he was doing so the effects are lessened on me. Still it was beautifully edited, each time a gun fight was filmed it was taken from every angle, using what feels like every camera angle. With more open space he has been able to extenuate the effect of violence.

Ultimately the film’s summed up by Bennie who through all the lengths he goes to get the head of Garcia he has come so far to gain so little at great expense. He has caused so much death, for what – desecrating a grave over a family disagreement. Letting the family know how he feels the only way he knows how or grown accustomed to. It’s a sad end to a beautifully sad film that depicts the lengths a person will go to, even when the West has been won, borders have been made, and you hope that people have progressed morally from these reprehensible acts that keeps crime alive.  Compared to his other films its unique, back in Mexico, a country Peckinpah is comfortable in. You can see a clear argument for his ideas on-screen, that of violence in the modern world, you can find it anywhere if you look hard enough. For Bennie that was too close.

I Need Your Help


I need your help,

I’m working with my local community library in Rothley. For the past few months I have been writing and running a Film Talk. We want to engage with the local community and share my passion for film. It’s early days and we are struggling to connect with the right and steady audience to make this really work.

So far we have discussed It’s A Wonderful Life (1947), A Kind of Loving (1962) and Midnight Cowboy (1969). We have another one lined up, ready and waiting too!

Moving forward I have been working with the Rothley Community Library to put together a short survey (7 questions) for you to answer. Your answers will help Film Talk grow in new and exciting directions.

 

Painting the Town… Update (22/4/17)


It’s open studios today which has allowed me to talk to the public who have had a look at our studios in Leicester. I’ve still been able to achieve what I wanted to. Adding more detail to the windows. I’m concerned about the bay windows, as these are my first I don’t know how well fixed they are to the card, some pieces may stay in place more than others.

Also I have begun priming the model in places. I have left the windows and floor until next time as I don’t to affect the work I have been doing there. Otherwise I think I’m doing well for progress. I think I’ll be testing again in June. I can edit the scene a few times to have a few versions to work with, making the most of both the model set and the clip.

Get Out (2017)


Now those who are regular readers of my reviews know I’m not big on horror, however the more I heard about Get Out (2017) I knew it was probably something I should check out. Being more than the regular run of the mill horror film, with the formulaic jumps and build-ups to the next time you jump out of your seat. Here there’s something more subversive going on which is bringing an audience who may have stayed away. There’s also the non-controversey by raised by Samuel L. Jackson who said that Daniel Kaluuya being an English actor should not have been chosen for the lead as he would not understand the struggle of other brothers in America. Forgetting that unfortunately that racism is universal. There’s also the argument that as we have seen with other Black leading actors, British actors are classically trained so maybe more qualified for the roles they are getting. Ultimately they are acting, if they convey the emotions and ideas of the character that develops the narrative then it doesn’t matter as long as they have been cast right for the role. So Mr Jackson, on this one – pipe down and look at the bigger picture, the lack of fair and more honest representation of African-Americans, whoever plays them, American or British, or even South African, as long as they can relate to the role and give at least a competent performance, then and only then are you improving the image of black life in the world.

Staying with the racism theme which underlies what the film is about, added the increased tensions in America with the Trump administration Get Out is a very pertinent film. With Obama now part of modern history we are seeing a darker side we had hoped was no longer present come to the fore. The underbelly of racism has been given a voice to speak up during last years election, Trump feeding on the hate and resentment that has been created in the last few decades due to globalisation, increasing equality (which still has a way to go) tensions are high to uneasy.

These tensions are felt by Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) whose about to meet his girlfriends parents. To be fair who wouldn’t be. Wanting to make a good impression on them, hoping they will accept you as a part of your partners life. Add to that he’s black, which will make him the elephant in the room of White family in suburbia, so what he is feeling is normal with the addition of his heritage. Here’s hoping it goes well, even with reassurances from girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), her parents loved Obama, they would have voted for him a third time, maybe  laying it on a little too thick, its enough to calm him for the ride over Rose’s home.

The ride over isn’t as straight forward as you’d think it would be, the audience is not allowed to be too relaxed when it comes to this film. A deer running out in the road invites a racist cop who asks Chris for ID even though he wasn’t driving, reflecting the black prejudice towards Black people. It’s like we’ve entered a world of heightened prejudice, oh wait this is America through a very sharp lens. Then the fun begins when the couple arrive at the family home, it all looks a little too good to be true, a Black grounds keeper who is anything but normal, you could say his personality has been sucked out of him. I was reminded early on of The Stepford Wives (1975), as wives return home, after a brief period away, the same yet so very different. We only get glimpses of the groundskeeper and house-maid (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel) who as we see show no signs of even being – human, they appear to be more white in attitude and personality.

Onto meeting the family, which goes smoothly enough, if only a little too smoothly, we can see it like a sales pitch which is being repeated and delivering the product a little to well, there must be some cracks to this family façade. It’s on the first night when Chris is restless he falls foul to hypnotherapy by the mother Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) who we already know has a great cure for quitting smoking. Leading him into a session of hypnotherapy that is only the beginning of how creep things are going to get.

It’s only with the annual family gathering do things start to get really questionable, all white guests who bend over backwards to be polite to Chris whose really uncomfortable by all the guests. Making overly nice comments about Black people, it’s either desperate or plain creepy. When his phone camera goes off when he talks to the only other black guest Andrew Logan King (Lakeith Stanfield) who snaps out of his ultra-friendly personality to reveal a more human and terrified side to him. The cracks are starting to show in this façade of a gathering. There’s something sinister involving brain-washing going on at least. Or as comic relief suggest, Rod Williams (LilRel Howery)

“…Their probably abducting black people, brain washing them and making them slaves. Or sex slaves. not just regular slaves, but sex slaves and sh_t. See? I don’t know if it’s the hypnosis that’s making em slaves or wot not, but all I know is they already got two brothas we know and there could be a whole bunch of brothas they got already…

The final act reveals what’s really going on, a white cult who lure in Black people to harvest them for superior body parts, leaving them practically lobotomized, without personality, unless your camera flash goes off the suppressions diffused to reveal the true horrors. You could say they are White supremacists who acknowledge that Black people maybe superior but will not allow this to get out, ensure social control, white at the top, blacks in their place. Is this the future for Trumps America or a prediction of what it is to come. Are we over-reacting to what is going on? Only African-Americans and the makers of the film truly know what is going on for them. I can be presented with all the racially motivated police shootings, demonstrations that the news presents me. Get Out is a suburban take on how to present this real anxiety that has not gone away. With a nice dose of humour to lighten the mood or we would come out of the film shaken by the images.  Instead I came away relieved to the resolution, justice is served yet leaves you thinking could this really be going on, can people operate like this. I know I won’t be going to the Armitage’s.

Painting the Town… Update (17/4/17)


I’m starting to add just the detail now to this model saloon. Starting with the banister of the stairs which after some repairs is looking more complete. Simply gluing two strips of cardboard; one piece sits aside of the other, before sitting it on top of balustrades. It’s also a rare time I’ve used both my glue-gun and PVA in the same time.

Lastly I’ve made a good start on the detailing at the other end, the entrance and windows. I have boxed them off now and added detail in the bay windows. It will be interesting to see how that works, when I add the horizontal pieces to complete the window frames. I should have all the detail complete the next time I am in the studio. I’m really amazed at how fast this piece has come together, so many elements to consider and here I am almost ready to get the paint out and it’s not been a week since my Crit.

Painting the Town… Update (16/4/17)


I feel like I’m going through a lot of cardboard at the moment, it’s all material that’s been stashed away for just such a piece that requires so much of it. The saloon is really taking shape now with not just the detail but the addition of a ceiling too. I began the day working on the stairs, which in reflection maybe too wide at the bottom, however it’s not a big deal. I’ve added the bolsters (please correct me on that if I’m wrong) before I add the rail later. I also blocked off the top to suggest that a door leads off from the landing.

The biggest development was addition of a ceiling, which I was, well I am still concerned about in terms of how it will affect the projection. It may block out light and distort the image. I am going slightly over what was probably built for Unforgiven however I need to see this as a saloon, a location and a space that was filmed in and expand it.  It also has stairs which would/do lead up to another floor. At the moment the ceiling isn’t fixed and will remain that way until painting is complete, as posts will be going underneath to hold up. It will also prevent and even finish of paint.

The entrance has also been looked into, with the door now intruding into the piece. Whilst I have also made a start on the bay windows which I’ll be working on more next time. Lastly I’ve got the balsa out for the framing of the doors and windows. Soon it will all be about the detail before I get the paint out again. It’s come a long way in a few days, I’m sure I’ll be painting in no time and get the projector out to see how it all turns out.

Painting the Town… Update (15/4/17)


OK technically I did everything in this update yesterday but I was enjoying the company of friends to post. After last weeks crit group I have decided to try out one of the ideas, which was to focus on the violence of one scene, edit it to then show the violence, and project into a purpose-built model of that scene. Here I have made a start on the internal model miniature of the one in Unforgiven (1992). I’ve been playing back and forth the clip to build up and image of the saloon over the day, sketching out elements to see how it looks together.

I then made a start on a loose model of the saloon which after only a day it has really taken shape. I had to gut the previous model to make room for this one as it was just a generic one for a prospective test which has been scrapped. I finished the day looking at the tables, which I believe were covered in green felt – for playing cards, these had to be reduced in diameter for scale too,

Moving on I have to add a fake wall at the top, I’m considering looking over the footage to see if I need to add a ceiling, as I have seen at least 3 posts that need to be added. Also turning to the entrance I need to redesign the door way and getting grim, I need to add a coffin that leans outside. I’ll do a few tests with this set after it’s painted white, see how they look. It’s a real change to recreate a set of a film, which I haven’t really done since Uni, being film specific is something I have wanted to avoid for most of my practice, there are times when that rule has to be broken.

Dogville Vs. Hollywood


I’ve just finished a book I bought from my local independent cinema, which has started a small shop. The book I bought was Dogville Vs Hollywood: The War Between Independent Film and Mainstream Movies by Jake Horsley was on the basis it would go into what the title suggest, look at the battle between directors who are either considered auteurs or independent of the Hollywood system. Building on Peter Biskind’s fascinating Easy Riders, Raging Bulls which was an entertaining and in-depth look at the American New wave which began with Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and ending around Raging Bull and Heavens Gate (1980). Dogville covers much of the same ground coming up to 2006 (when the book was published).

I remember when I first started reading this book I had a gut reaction to the harsh critical tone that the writer who didn’t check his facts, saying Citizen Kane was released in 1942 – was 1941, and Hitchcock’s first sound film was The Lodger (1927)it was Blackmail (1929), I found a few more errors but these two stuck in my mind. It shows how fast this book was written, with passionate anger and disregard for accuracy, when talking about the history of any medium in such detail he got things off to a bad start.

The first chapter was an extended review of Lars Van Trier‘s titular film Dogville (2008) which he uses the basic framework for the book. A film made in response to the current state of Hollywood. A film that is devoid of likeable characters, a set that’s limited to suggestion and a dog that it’s just a drawing on the ground. Most notably an all American cast. I do see the film in a new light now which explains a few things. It’s a dogme that had teeth to bite back.

There were sections where pages where the main body of text was fighting the foot notes that were almost half a page long in places. Why didn’t here just incorporate his research into the main body or minimise it, they became not so much backing up the quotes legitimacy but they were points of trivia which pulled you away from the main body. Eventually I just stopped reading them, noticing that Horsley lifted a lot of quotes from two of Biskind’s books; Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures, showing an over-reliance on superior books on the subject. (I haven’t read the second one yet).

Lastly the overall tone of the book was scathing on just about any director whose mentioned in the book. I agree on some points, the state of Hollywood has not changed in ten years, relying on franchises, special effects and remakes – nothing new there, showing that the argument still stands up. However hardly anyone gets off lightly, unless its a director you’ve never heard of yet. The established directors – Scorsese, Spielberg and Coppola etc are seen in varied shades of black. They’ve either sold out, burned out or just faded away. He blame critics for helping Hollywood in the dumbing down of audiences, their expectations and their thinking of a film. You could say Horsley is a film snob who has an axe to grind, has he been burnt in Hollywood and fighting back? It would explain the horrible tone and the scathing attack to practically everyone, he can be fair in places which is rare, whole chapters and sections are rants, building up individuals before bringing them back down to earth with a bump.

I’ve not really learned a lot, except who Horsley hates and hates not so much. I hope in the 10 years since it’s publication he has mellowed.