The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks’ “Red River”

It’s not the story nor the setting nor even characters that make Howard Hawks’ 1948 Red River an epic, but the images of the cattle drive.screenshot-42

A herd of 9,000 used in shooting this iconic story element. screenshot-43Nothing compares to these images throughout the 133-minute film.screenshot-46

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Except maybe Montgomery Cliff sucking poison out of Joanne Dru’s shoulder.screenshot-44

That’s pretty good too.

Ice Friday: Samuel Beckett’s “Neither”

to and fro in shadow from inner to outer shadow

from impenetrable self to impenetrable unself by way of neither

as between two lit refuges whose doors once neared gently close, once away turned from gently part again

beckoned back and forth and turned away

heedless of the way, intent on the one gleam or the otherimg_4584

unheard footfalls only sound

till at last halt for good, absent for good from self and other

then no sound

then gently light unfading on that unheeded neither

unspeakable home

The Failure of Parker’s “Birth of a Nation”

Birth of a Nation had promise – a compelling narrative most of all – but fails. Instead of exploring the contorted depths of American history, Parker trains the camera on himself, too often in close-up, reacting to repetitive brutality. 15-birth-of-nation-w1200-h630Violent images dominate – people’s teeth getting hammered out, exposed brains – when  the story of a remarkable man, Nat Turner, could have been developed, asking who really spoke of this: As we pushed on to the house, I discovered some one run round the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued them, but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death. item14The film does not elucidate nor does it have vision, as did Steve McQueen in 12 Years a Slave, but is solely a chronicle of violence, flat and tediously rendered, craft-less as anything of the Superhero genre.

Drunk in the City

I was just telling that guy about the helicopters in the streets. He didn’t believe me. Wasn’t even listening. Watching the fucking Cowboys. 20161001_101202It wasn’t like I planned to sit at her table. She was just there, her boyfriend too. They were nice, from Cincinnati, and wanted to talk. They didn’t care that I was dead drunk. She had these wide, innocent eyes, innocent everything. That was the problem. 20161001_163103She kept leaning in and asking questions, and I kept ordering drinks. And then he was gone somewhere and so were we. I don’t remember much after that. Just walking, going the wrong way, and then being along the river and looking into it.20161001_230758

The Trump-Clinton Reality TV Mini-Series

The talking heads stare back, beleaguered, telling us of the ugliness, how unpresidential it has become. cnntalkingThey count down the days in feigned exhaustion. Only 29 days until another president will be elected, and more importantly, when the spin cycle can begin anew and the next batch of ne’er-do-wells can be stoned.clintontrumpThe talking heads say everything they can think of and they say it again and again – emails, rapists, locker room talk –  except about how their ratings are only as good as the race is bad, that the crummier they make it, the more Viagra they sell. buy-cialisAnd so that’s what we do. We consume this reality TV, hoping that next season, in just four short years, the chosen one might appear and take care of us forever.chris-harrison-bachelor-interview-ftr

The Davis Trilogy: Just Weird, Paint & Baller

He’s not as bad as everybody might think.

Just Weird: Expelled from boarding school, Davis must move in with his father and step-family. His step-brother, a world-class swimmer, is indifferent to his presence while his step-mother and step-sister treat him with outright disdain. His new school, a strict all-boys institution, is another source of misery, but for a beautiful young teacher, Ms. Geisner. Davis gets a job delivering newspapers as he struggles with the drudgery of school and home-life until he stumbles upon a party at Ms. Geisner’s house and, as he watches her dance drunkenly to Rock Lobster, confesses his love to her. Humiliated and hungover, Davis must make a speech the following day to the assembly and, at the last minute, recites the lyrics of Rock Lobster, almost causing another expulsion, until his father steps in. 20150328_190125Paint: Davis is distressed: he hates his work as a painter, he can’t talk to the girl he loves, and his father has just died. His college friends are no help, always getting stoned and hyping up for the next frat party. Memories of his father dominate Davis’ thoughts as he gets through the day, until he is confronted by his step-brother and told that he is not welcome at their father’s funeral the next day. High on mushrooms, Davis becomes a mess, blacking out and then wandering off, until he runs into his crush, Ellen. He confesses his love for her and finally unburdens his thoughts of his father late into the night, falling asleep on her couch. He gets to the funeral late, dozes off, images of his father floating through his head, and then watches his step-family walk out past, before going back to work and finding Ellen there.20160702_133517Baller: Out in the wilderness of British Columbia to plant trees, Davis discovers that the learning curve is painful; the mosquitoes and black flies are a constant plague, the weather is by turns baking hot and miserably wet, and the specter of snakes, bears and cougars lurk at every turn.  Davis toils on, the repetitive routine of planting trees putting him into a meditative state where he can consider his place in the world. Things take a number of turns for the worse – Davis loses his van, cat and girlfriend – and yet Davis continues to rise to the challenge by relentlessly planting. And finally, when a forest fire appears on the horizon, Davis and his friends defy the foreman and escape by driving directly into the smoke, finding their way through and on to a music festival on the west coast.img_0612

Ice Friday: Saramago’s “Death Interrupted”

A letter from death in Jose Saramago’s 2008 novel Death with Interruptions:

One day you will find out about Death with a capital D, and at that moment, in the unlikely event that she gives you the time of day, you will understand the real difference between the relative and the absolute, between full and empty, between still alive and no longer alive.
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And when I say real difference, I am referring to something that mere words will never be able to to express, relative, absolute, full, empty, still alive and no longer alive, because, sir, in case you don’t know it, words move, they change from one day to the next, they are unstable as shadows, are themselves shadows.