Category Archives: movies

>Stockholm International Film Festival

>The Stockholm International Film Festival has always been a pleasure. Last year I couldn’t go due to various reasons, but this time I’ll do my best not to miss out on some of the experience.

My best year was in 2003, when I had the pleasure of interviewing director Royston Tan (featured in the paper edition of Ny Moral #1). We hung out quite a bit, and watching his film, 15 – The Movie, was amazing after having spoken with him about it. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it as much if I hadn’t known the background, the struggle and all the madness surrounding the creation of the film.
The movie’s plot synopsis reads like this:
Fast, frenetic, and furious, 15 is the story of five Singaporian teenagers who, abandoned by the system and estranged from their parents and life in general, build their own world in which gangs, drugs, fighting, piercing, self-harm and suicide are common and brotherhood is important above all else.

Royston is a huge fan of Roy Andersson, and somehow somebody managed to get us invited to Roy Andersson’s studio, Studio 24, and that was really interesting, since I’m a huge fan of Roy as well. We got to see some of his sets and his private cinema, and I also became friends with the producer of Sånger från andra våningen [Songs from the Second Floor], Lisa Alwert. I was supposed to interview her later on, but somehow that went down the drain. She’s got some wild stories about the production which I haven’t read anything about elsewhere. Maybe that’ll show up in Ny Moral #2…
We hung out a bit with Roy as well, but he really didn’t say much. Good guy, though.

I also exchanged a few words with David Lynch at Lydmar Hotel (check it out if you ever come to Stockholm, they have the coolest elevator!). I don’t remember what we said. He is one of my idols, so I guess I got starstruck.
All I could think of was what his big hair would look like after a shower… Weird.

I also got to see Ong Bak, Goodbye Lenin, Aillen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer, The Grudge 1 & 2, Prozac Nation, The Station Agent, Internal Affairs and Memories of Murder – all very watchable films (well, maybe not the Grudge films…). The worthless “graffiti” movie Bomb The System and the pretty dull and disappointing The Cooler are now erased from my memory.

In 2002 I had my most memorable cinematic experience ever. Gaspar Noé’s sickening film Irréversible really fucked with my mind. The opening sequence with the spinning camera, the evil sounds (Gaspar uses infrasounds that cause awe and fear to make people extra anxious), the disturbing images, the intensity… A lot of people left the theater after ten minutes. Even more left during the infamous rape scene. The ones who stayed until the end were rewarded with a very good film. But remember, it’s a whole different thing watching that stuff in a good theater with superhigh volume, sick surround sounds and these huge images attacking your eyes, compared to watching it at home. I’m really glad I got to see it then and there.
It won the Best Film award that year, which is pretty brave, because it really is an unpleasant movie. Even though I think the quality of the films has been lower over the recent years, they knew the game back then. They realized that it was a very good movie, even though it was highly controversial. I like that, and I hope they will bring that vibe back someday.

This year is the 20th edition of the Sthlm International Film Festival, and so far I only get to see four or five films. Hopefully they will blow my mind as well.

The Road
I read the book in 2006 when it came out and it was easily the best book I had read in a long, long time. It’s still one of my all time favourites. I wrote about it here.
I hope the movie has the same darkness, the same emptiness, the same uncontrollable combination of uncertainty and hope, and of course the same love.

The Limits of Control
Jim Jarmusch has never disappointed me, and I love how this movie is described in the press: Lights! Camera! Inaction!
As a fan of minimalism, film art and Jim Jarmusch this one should hit the spot for me.

Dogtooth
I have a feeling this one will be both scary and funny. The Fritzl theme brings the darkness. The absurdity brings the joy.

Waiting Room
A short film.
And I’m a sucker for gas masks.
And the plot synopsis rules:
The predicament of man forced to live in an immense void surrounded by nothing but waste, emptiness and degradation. A young man wearing a gas mask wanders through the deserted streets of a crumbling city. Only a few people — all male — still roam the streets and frequent the coffee shops. The anonymous young man is an existentialist hero in a world where man has been robbed of all purpose.

The Road

The Limits of Control

Dogtooth

Waiting Room

>Modern film posters

>Yes, modern film posters are ugly as hell. I guess that’s representative for shallow and soulless lives lead by bastards who want everything served on a silver platter. This is beyond doubt the age of stupid in every possible way. People are lazy fucks. People are stupid fucks. I could continue on…
However, there are of course some people who defy the laws of tradition (Primus pun intended — check the jam here, its’ awesome!) and create what in my mind is good looking shit.
Here are some posters and designs created by allcity. They would be even better looking without the ugly review quotes, but this is about as clean as it gets, and that’s the way I like it. The unused ones are in my opinion way better than the ones that were chosen in the end.
It’s all a matter of taste…

Unused.

Unused.

Unused.

Unused.

Unused.

Unused.

>Czech film posters

>

Thanks to my man Hynek Pallas I discovered the Czech Film Posters website.
I’m hooked.

Related posts about poster art
Malleus

Stolen text from the Czech Film Posters website:
“Following a communist take-over in 1948, Czechoslovakia was ruled by a totalitarian regime for over forty years. The level of oppression varied throughout the period – the stifling Stalinist practices of the 1950s gradually gave way to a more liberal rule in the 1960s. But the 1968 Prague Spring movement to break free from the leash held by the Kremlin was brutally supressed by the Red Army in August. The following period of darkness – referred to by the regime as “the process of normalisation” – gradually lightened with the onset of Gorbachev’s Perestrojka in the mid 1980s. Like most other Central European communist regimes the Czech one fell in 1989 during the wave of changes set off by the powerfully symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall.

[…]
The decision on which foreign films could be approved for cinema distribution and which local artists could be allowed to make Czech and Slovak films was totally up to the authorities.
The attitudes of the censors rode the same waves as the regime in general.
[…]
Following the Russian invasion in 1968 and the subsequent occupation, the 1970s saw a new tightening of the censorship screw, but it largely concentrated on the local scene and foreign films continued to slip through the iron curtain. Czechoslovak film-goers could see a number of European club movies (Bergman, Fellini, Visconti), more than a few US blockbusters (The Sting, Jaws, Marathon Man, Saturday Night Fever, Kramer v. Kramer, Alien and others) and a good crop of conspiracy theory thrillers (The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, All the President’s Men). The communist authorities liked the latter for their exposure of the rot in the Western world.
[…]
But it took until the early 1990s for the Czechoslovak screens to finally see the light shining through such seminal rolls of celluloid such as Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Wings of Desire not to mention any of the James Bond movies or any other film with Russian baddies.
[…]
Due to the high cost, film posters were rarely imported with the film – a smaller number of French film posters being the exception – and so from the early days it was the local artists who were given the task of creating images to get bums on cinema seats. The Czech film poster of the 1920s and 1930s almost exclusively used realistically painted characters and scenes from the film and screamed the names of its stars often in letters larger than those of the film’s title. Notable exceptions to the rule were Atelier Rotter’s Art Deco works and Frantisek Zelenka’s Modernist designs for the Werich & Voskovec films.
Towards the end of the 1930s, photos of the main character started appearing in the film poster design – usually on a painted background, complemented by lettering created by the poster’s designer. The film poster art lost most of its bite and glamour during the Nazi occupation when the film industry was under the complete control of the German authorities and films in the cinemas were either German or heavily censored Czech productions.
[…]
The decade between 1948 and 1958 was dominated by communist propaganda in all aspects of life and film was one of its main tools.
[…]
The 1960s became the golden age of the Czech film poster. It was a period in which the relative artistic freedom enjoyed by the artists gelled with a range of other factors such as a unique concentration of talent, a wave of new and inspirational films coming from both home and abroad and closer links with the international art world. This cocktail of ability, inspiration and attractive topics to work on gave birth to a collection of hundreds of highly original and inovative film posters that stand apart from the main stream of the genre. While the American and Western European film poster primarily served the film, in Czech and Polish film poster art it was – with a bit of exaggeration – the film that served the poster in the sense that the poster developed into an art form in its own right. It was still used to promote the film but the art of the poster went far beyond the mere capture of the public’s attention. Another factor that enhanced the perception of the Czech film poster as a work of art rather than a purely promotional vehicle was the fact that the text on the poster was usually limited to the film title, name of director and the leading actors – no logos of film distributors and sponsors, quotes lifted from reviews, studio information etc.
[…]
The decade of hope ended with the Russian invasion in August 1968. The newly appointed pro-Kremlin government turned one of its searchlights on the arts and entertainment. Paranoid aparatchiks searched for anti-communist propaganda where there was none – film poster designs submitted by artists were often rejected or had to be reworked for bizarre reasons. In her article “Czech Film Poster from 1945 until today” published in the book Czech Film Poster of the 20th century, Marta Sylvestrova writes about a commissioning editor getting fired because of a claim by a communist official that the space between the legs of elephants pictured on a poster for the film “Surrounded by Elephants” looked like a swastika. According to Sylvestrova Zdenek Ziegler was interviewed by the secret police about where he got the 100 USD banknote he used in his design for the 100 Rifles poster and Josef Vyletal had to obscure the US flag on the back of Henry Fonda’s jacket with smoke from one of the passing motorbikes on his poster for Easy Rider.”

>The Earth shall inherit the meek

>

There are tons of propaganda movies telling us how bad we are and how good the Earth is. I like them all! They are proof of mankind’s stupidity, and pretty much proof that it’s way too late (this is probaly where I disagree with all those movies…).
Anyway, HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand is one of the better ones when it comes to pure and straight information. It’s available for free on YouTube and the website home-2009.com. It’s a scary movie — for real.

Since 1950, the world’s population has almost tripled, and since 1950, we have more fundamentally altered our island — the Earth — than in all of our 200,000 year history. Nigeria is the biggest oil exporter in Africa, and yet 70% of the population lives under the poverty line. The wealth is there, but the country’s inhabitants don’t have access to it. The same is true all over the globe. Half the world’s poor live in resource-rich countries. In 50 years the gap between rich and poor has grown wider than ever. Today half the world’s wealth is in the hands of the richest two (2!) percent of the population. This is the cause of population movements whose scale we have yet to fully realize.
The city of Lagos had a population of 700,000 in 1960.
That will rise to 16 million by 2025.
Deep down we all know this shit.
And you still have hope?
…I am the misanthrope.

>35 movies

>

The best movie of all time.

At present time I’ve rated 1417 movies at filmtipset.se [username: indygrinder]. So far only 35 films have been worthy of the highest possible grade. In the 21st Century I’ve only watched five truly superb flicks.
Is it me or is it the movies?
Truthfully, I believe people are too keen on giving high grades…

Here are my top 35 movies of all time in chronological order. Few surprises, I guess, and I probably forgot a bunch. And of course there are still endless of movies that I haven’t seen yet… Still, when I’m in need of a damned good film I’ll just watch one of these and I’m good.

Triumph des Willens [Triumph of the Will] (1935)

Leni Reifenstahl’s absolute masterpiece. No matter how much you despise the message you cannot deny the superb filmic quality and craftmanship. It is a reminder of a time almost too surreal to be true.
The whole movie is watchable at YouTube here, but I strongly recommend a high quality DVD release.

Olympia 1. Teil — Fest der Völker [Festival of the Nations] (1938)

Another Riefenstahler. The beauty!

I told myself not to include documentaries on this list, but these films must be mentioned.

Olympia 2. Teil — Fest der Schönheit [Festival of Beauty] (1938)

Not much to add.
Reifenstahl was crowned The Mother of Modern Film.
Righteously so.

Citizen Kane (1941)

I often tend to dismiss classics as overrated, but Citizen Kane really did it for me when I first watched it at film school on the big screen. Having read so much about Orson Welles and the movie it was pure bliss watching all the details, getting hooked by the storytelling and being blessed by the magic of Mr. Welles.
Read a lenghty review here.

Shichinin no samurai [Seven Samurai] (1954)

I liked this one a lot for many years, but when I got a hold of the Criterion edition with the magnificent audio commentary by Michael Jeck I became an Akira Kurosawa worshipper. If you haven’t seen the movie with Michael Jeck as your guide, you simply have not seen the movie.
Strangeness: There are only six samurai on the cover…

Il buono, il brutto, il cativo [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly] (1966)

The definition of absolute coolness and true cinemagick.
Check the finale here.
Listen to Enrico Morricone’s genius theme here.
I love spaghetti.

Vargtimmen [Hour of the Wolf] (1968)

I’m no superultrafreakfan of Ingmar Bergman, but Vargtimmen is one helluvan evil flick. I watched this one too on the big screen when studying film at the university and I truly love the cinematography.

(I must point out that even though Det Sjunde Inseglet [The Seventh Seal] is not on this list, it is definitely an awesome movie. But it’s not worthy of the Indy 500 top rating…)

The Godfather (1972)

No words necessary. Everything is perfect.
If I had a gun to my head and was forced to choose just one movie that I had to watch forever in Hell I could easily go for The Godfather.

“Forgive me, Godfather…”

The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Just as good as the first one. In fact, I think this sequel is better. Thus: Everything is perfect. But for the full experience I think you need to see all the Godfather movies in a row. And then once more with the audio commentary tracks. It’s pure magic.

Godfather: Part III (1990) is so underrated. It’s such a good film, but it doesn’t qualify on this list (the list of my four star rated films is endless…).

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

“Good morning, Miss Ratched.”

Taxi Driver (1976)

I’m obsessed with this masterpiece.
Read my thoughts about the film here.

Alien (1979)

It’s all about the atmosphere.
And by far the most grim looking monster in any movie to date.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

If all the movies on this list are rated 5/5, then Apocalypse Now in my mind is a definite 6. It’s better than everything else.
As for the Redux version, I’m not sure. I’ve only watched it once, and I immediately dismissed it for ruining the ultimate doom movie.
I think I’ll watch it again and give it a second opinion.

Life of Brian (1979)

One of the funniest movies ever. So many memorable scenes and quotes it’s almost surreal. I hate the ending, though. That fucking song… I hate it.

Stalker (1979)

The best sci-fi movie ever, and it doesn’t even contain any sci-fi!
Master Tarkovsky kills the competition.

Read a fine review here.

Modet att döda (1980)

This is a TV production, but what the hell…
Lars Norén. Enough said.

Sällskapsresan (1980)

Lasse Åberg is a dork, but this film is a true Swedish classic. No doubt.
After the success of this one he made another four films of which only the sequel, Snowroller, is worthy. The rest suck big time.

Scarface (1980)

Tony Montana!

Natten är dagens mor (1984)

Another Lars Norén TV drama that will kill your soul and rape your mind.
Elite!

Dekalog, piec (1989)

Another television drama, this is part five of ten in Kieslowski’s powerful series dealing with the ten commandments (this one being “Thou shalt not kill”).
I wrote about it in July 2007 here.

Sökarna (1993)

Wow! This is such an underrated movie.
It’s the work of mad men, and thus it’s so bad it’s beyond bad and turns out truly superb. Genius!
I love this movie so much and I watch it at least two times every year.
The sequel pretty much sucks… For real.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

I guess we all got a bit fed up with this movie for a while since everybody was talking about it everywhere. However, it’s a genuine classic and deserves no less than the highest possible rating. I recommend seeing it with the audio commentary track if you haven’t done so already.

Xich lo [Cyclo] (1995)

A Vietnamese masterpiece which is both beautiful and shocking.
Genius and brutality by the director of The Scent of Green Papaya, Anh Hung Tran.

Se7en (1995)

Even though Se7en is at its very best the first time you watch it, it’s a movie made with such elegance and instinctive feel I can watch it over and over again. Splendid cinematography by the Iranian master Darius Khondji as always.
Read an article about him here.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

I worship Hunter S. Thompson.
I worship Terry Gilliam.
I worship Benicio Del Toro.
I worship Johnny Depp.
I worship the Sixth Reich.

Festen (1998)

The first Dogma movie was a really good one. Not so much because the use of the Dogma regulations, but because of the nervous tension that builds and builds throughout the film.
An amazing drama.

Happiness (1998)

Finally a film featuring my favourite actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman! In my opinion he’s always on point. And so is this film. 5/5 all the way.
If I had to recommend only one independent film, this would be it.

Fight Club (1999)

To me, this movie pretty much says “I must change before I am forever stuck being the person that I am not”, as somebody so eloquently put it.
It’s a wake up call making some very bold statements against this sick consumerism-driven society that we live in.
I’ve written some texts about situationism here.

Magnolia (1999)

A must see. So many great performances.

Torsk på Tallin (1999)

Yet another TV production.
Of all the stuff that Killinggänget created, this one is my favourite.
It’s balancing perfectly on this thin line between comedy and tragedy.

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)

I’m no fan of uplifting movies, but Amélie is simply too good to resist.
This is a Film with a capital F.

Cidade de Deus [City of God] (2002)

Another Film with a capital F. Totally brilliant!
As for the TV series and the City of Men stuff, I wasn’t that impressed.

Farväl Falkenberg (2006)

99 times out of 100, Swedish films suck so bad it’s unbelievable.
This is one of very few exceptions. This is poetry in motion. It brought me to tears, which hardly ever happens with movies.
The soundtrack is one of the best ever. All hail Erik Enocksson for that one.

Into the Wild (2007)

How strange! Another movie that brought me to tears. Another movie with a perfect soundtrack.
I wrote a little something about that here.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

First time I saw it I rated it 4/5. I’ve seen it a couple of times now and there’s no doubt in my mind that it deserves the full score.

“There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking.”

Ok. That’s it. These are the 35 movies out of 1417 that I’ve given the highest score so far. Too many Hollywood flicks? Missed out on something? Let me know. I need some inspiration as well.
The list of 4/5‑films is deep and long, but on the list of 5/5‑films there is only room for the true elite.

>Taxi Driver — I got some bad ideas in my head

>
I stumbled upon this man who at the age of 37 still hadn’t seen Taxi Driver. That, and the fact that I hadn’t seen any really good movies lately, was what got me going.
So I did this ”experiment”.
I watched Taxi Driver at night, in a quite zonked out state of mind, a couple of times (four or five times actually) and wrote down some stuff inspired by the vibe, the audio commentaries and the state I was in. Here’s what came out of that experience.

Taxi Driver (1976)
Written by Paul Schrader
26 years old when he wrote the screenplay in 1972
Directed by Martin Scorsese
33 years old when making the movie
Robert De Niro
32 years old at the time
Jodie Foster
12 years old

Taxi drivers are the real ears and eyes of the city and this movie is about a disconnected taxi driver, a former Vietnam veteran, who travels through a sick and venal world, a corrupt and dirty New York City, on his way to selfdestruction and insanity. In the movie we’re able to glimpse into the soul of a man in pain, how he sees life and how he arrives at his decisions. As a taxi driver he’s completely surrounded by people, yet he’s completely alone. He looks through the window of civilization, but cannot really get inside.
His apartment is full of junk and junk food. His windows are barred like in a prison. When he goes outside he goes to porno theaters. He is a creation of the streets, a product of the world that he detests. Because he works in contradictory ways and he’s clearly not in touch with reality. At one point he’s very moralistic, he feels he needs to save the world, to cleanse this filthy world from all the scum. ”I got to get in shape”, but he’s still popping pills and eating junk food. When he’s at home eating in front of the TV he pours milk and brandy (!) over his cereal. And then he takes Betsy to a porn theater (watching the Swedish made sex educational film Ur kärlekens språk [Language of love] from 1969)…
”I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention”. But that’s exactly what he’s doing, and this behaviour reinforces his own doomed condition. The girl he wants he cannot have (Betsy). The girl he can have he doesn’t want (Iris). ”Here is someone who stood up”, says the loner, the outsider, the loser… In front of the mirror he thinks he’s John Wayne, when in reality he’s more like Norman Bates. We all have these feelings that Travis has, but most of us never cross the line.


Loneliness and racism

In the original script there were a lot of passages about loneliness, but in the final script much of this has been left out. That’s because we see that loneliness. We see it everytime we see that cab. If an actor can show you loneliness it’s much better than if he talks about it.
Paul Schrader: ”I started writing the script as self-therapy. At first I thought it was about loneliness. But what I learned while writing the script is that this was about a man who suffered from the pathology of loneliness. He wasn’t lonely by nature. He was lonely as a defense mechanism.”
Schrader, before writing the script, had some experiences in his real life that kind of spawned the story of Taxi Driver. His marriage was destroyed, he’d broken up with his girlfriend, he had no money and he had no place to live, so he was just drifting around not knowing what to do. He realized he hadn’t talked to anyone for weeks, and the metaphor of the taxi driver occured to him as a metaphor for loneliness. Sort of a male, drifting loneliness. I think this is perfectly shown in Taxi Driver, and with all the slow motion sequences the movie becomes like a documentary of the mind of a loner.
Travis’ inability to have a relationship with people is extemely frustrating to watch. When he tries to talk to people it always comes off awkward and he’s told to get away. He’s always trying to understand what people are saying and he always responds in a paranoid way. The little bits of paranoia we all feel from time to time becomes the entire world for Travis. He’s always pursued by some kind of threatening behaviour. The people may not trying to get at you, but for him they are. The dream is real. The fantasy becomes reality.


In one of the early scenes there’s some cab driver telling the story of some dude who got his ears cut off. That was at 122nd Street,which is ”fucking Mau Mau land”, and this is the beginning of the whole racism theme.
Schrader: ”There’s this racism theme here simply because people who feel they’re near the bottom of the ladder are always looking for people who are lower on the ladder. And they will find them. The easiest way to find them is racially and economically. There’s a kind of submerged and not so submerged race hatred in here. Not because he necessarily hates black people per se but because he needs somebody to hate.”
And Travis is always trying to filter the world through the most conveniently threatening and dangerous looking people, i.e. The African-Americans.
In pre-production people thought it was too socially irresponsible to portray the pimp as black. They were concerned that there might be riots because of this, so that’s how the pimp went from black to white and Harvey Keitel got the role as ”the great white pimp”. That way they left the racism in there, because Travis is a racist character, but they deleted the most prejudiced loaded part.

The scene where Travis wants some advice from ”The Wizard”, where Travis is on the verge of going psychotic, is really funny and a brilliant example of the lack of communication. The Wizard has no wisdom at all, he’s just hopelessly babblin’ away with his stale clichés. Travis understands that and just concludes after The Wizard is through with his speech: ”I don’t know, that’s about the dumbest thing I ever heard”. It makes me laugh everytime. The scene ends with both of them saying they have no idea what the other is talking about or what they are talking about. Pure comedy.


The end
In the end, after the bloodbath, we hear Iris’ parents talk about how Travis was a hero. Newspaper clips reveal that ”a cab driver cleaned up amongst the scum” — he’s the hero there as well. But to many he’s just an insane monster. The psychotic hero.
You can work to cure cancer for 40 years and never get recognition for that, but take a shot at the president and you become a hero and end up in the magazines.That’s how media, fame and celebrity works. The movie ends this way as a comment on our cultural values.
Travis sure is a hero, but he has not changed. He will go on and on and do the same thing again, because that’s the way he is. The movie is a loop, which is shown very nicely as the movie ends with the same Chemtone effect used in the beginning. The way that Travis reacts in the end, when he sees something in the rear mirror, reacting in that old psychotic way, also indicates that the same thing is gonna happen again.

In 1981 John Hinckley (born 1955) attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan as the culmination of an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. He saw Lee Harvey Oswald, John F. Kennedy’s assassin, as a role model, and was obsessed by Jodie Foster having watched Taxi Driver over and over again. When Schrader heard that Reagan had been shot he said ”It’s one of those Taxi Driver kids”, and when he got back to his hotel the FBI was waiting for him to question him about whether he knew anything about Hinckley.
Jodie Foster: ”How do you discuss violence in our culture? Or do you not discuss it at all? Do you only make movies about Mickey Mouse? I think you don’t. I think you make films about our culture, about what’s difficult and disturbing about our culture with a moral center.”
Schrader: ”What will happen if you censor genuine studies of this kind of pathology? You will still have the pathology, you just won’t have the study. You will lose the work of art that comments on the character, but the character will still be going along his merry way. Because he really wasn’t created by art.”
Schrader concludes: ”It is a particular kind of breed of white boy these Taxi Driver people.”


John Hinckley and Lee Harvey Oswald

Mental preparations for De Niro
When Robert De Niro prepared for the role as Travis he was doing another film in Italy called 1900. As he finished shooting 1900 on a Friday in Rome he’d get on a plane to New York, get himself a cab driver’s licence, go to a garage and pick up a real cab and really drive the cab around New York. The he would turn it in and fly back to Italy and work again. He did that a couple of times.
He would also went to an armybase in northern Italy to tape-record the accents of some kids he met there who were from an area in the Midwest (NY) that he thought would be good for Travis.
Another cool thing with De Niro is when he wanted to get to know Jodie Foster, who was only 12 years old at the time, he called her up and took her to various diners around town. He did this on several occasions, but he never did say anything. He literally said nothing. So she got bored, started playing with her food and so on. And then she started talking and soon got comfortable in his presence. And they started rehearsing their scenes over and over and over and over again. She got bored again, but in fact now knew him so well that she got bored because of that. And when they knew their scenes inside out he suddenly started to improvise, just saying stuff that was totally off the hook, a total surprise. That way the improvisation became real.


As for the mohawk haircut, it’s not real. He never did shave his head. The make-up people invented a special hair paste that made his real hair stay as close to his skull as possible, and then they’d add a shaven head and the mohawk in two separate pieces.
Also, the mohawk was never in the script. Apparently Scorcese had run into some guy who’d been in Vietnam who told him that when people over there ”went over the hill”, i.e. was going to die in battle sacrificing for their people/country, they’d shave their head like that as a sort of ”don’t fuck with me, I’m going over the hill”-statement. Schrader says he don’t know if this is true. Maybe it just became part of the legend, a part of all the stories about what happened in Vietnam.

The loop
In case you haven’t seen Taxi Driver I’d suggest you drop everything and do it now. And if you’ve already seen it, watch again. There are details everywhere that I bet you haven’t discovered yet. For example, Harvey Keitel’s fingernail… But that’s the kind of detail you’ll miss out on anyway if you’re watching a crappy copy on a crappy TV set in pure daylight with the kids running around. Watching a movie is about total concentration, and just like I can listen to good records over and over again, I can watch good movies over and over and over… until time becomes a loop.
It’s gonna happen again.

Link of interest
Nycabbie.com

>Repetition III

>


LEVITICUS 15

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean.
3 And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness.
4 Every bed, whereon he lieth that hath the issue, is unclean: and every thing, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean.
5 And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
6 And he that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
7 And he that toucheth the flesh of him that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
8 And if he that hath the issue spit upon him that is clean; then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
9 And what saddle soever he rideth upon that hath the issue shall be unclean.
10 And whosoever toucheth any thing that was under him shall be unclean until the even: and he that beareth any of those things shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
11 And whomsoever he toucheth that hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
12 And the vessel of earth, that he toucheth which hath the issue, shall be broken: and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.
13 And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean.
14 And on the eighth day he shall take to him two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, and come before the LORD unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and give them unto the priest:
15 And the priest shall offer them, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD for his issue.
16 And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.
17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even.
18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.
19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.
24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.
25 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean.
26 Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation.
27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
28 But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean.
29 And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
30 And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her uncleanness.
31 Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.
32 This is the law of him that hath an issue, and of him whose seed goeth from him, and is defiled therewith;
33 And of her that is sick of her flowers, and of him that hath an issue, of the man, and of the woman, and of him that lieth with her that is unclean.


>F.X. Toole — Pound For Pound

>I was recommended this book by work colleague Ronnie Haag the other day and I was totally blown away. My fellow worker is into boxing, Bukowski, writing and real life – amongst many other things, of course (check out his books, one about Charles Bukowski and one about Muhammad Ali) – and since real life is a bitch, and this book is all about that, it’s a book that touched my soul. It made me cry, just like when I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I wrote some words about that masterpiece in 2006, read the article here).
At first, it may seem like it’s a book about boxing. Nothing wrong with that, since F.X. Toole (pen name for Jerry Boyd), a boxing trainer himself, is a magician when it comes to describing the art. However, to me this ain’t that much about boxing. When you get past the first fifty pages or so, you’ll see that this is about life and its setbacks and tragedies, the grieving of lost friends and family, sorrow and tears, shattered dreams. It’s about friendship and trust. Loneliness and sadness. But as darkness descends there’s still light at the end of the tunnel. Or is there?
It’s a truly heartwrenching story that really made me think deeply about life. You know, the usual crap one thinks about everyday, but sometimes some things make you think harder. Pound For Pound is such a thing. Mind you, it’s not a Rocky story. Life has very few happy endings…

Toole’s way of handling characters is magnificent. The characters are real. The story is real. You can feel the pain and the intensity. You can taste the blood and defeat. Like it says on the back cover: ”Pound For Pound is the story of men down but not out: old men whose lives have been tough and young men searching for glory”.
But don’t get caught up by this ”men” thing, though. It’s about people, not about gender.
In fact, I first noticed F.X. Toole when Clint Eastwood adapted Toole’s collection of short stories Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner into the worthy film Million Dollar Baby in 2004. The movie tells the story of Maggie Fitzgerald, a 31 year old white trash waitress who decides to make a difference through boxing. I think the movie kind of captures the sadness and melancholy, how life is about finding your passion and giving it your all, even though you still won’t make it (whatever that means). It’s about being able to look back and say ”I did alright” instead of ”I did nothing”. When reading Pound For Pound this feeling is so much stronger.
As real as it gets, to quote an old UFC slogan.

F.X. Toole
Born 1930
Published Rope Burns, his first book, in 2000 at the age of 70
He died in 2002
Pound For Pound was released in 2006

>Some thoughts about Watchmen the movie

>Who watches the watchmen? Well, I did yesterday, alongside two men in their early 30’s who hadn’t read the book and didn’t know shit and thus kept asking themselves what the hell was going on. I don’t think they enjoyed the movie, and I don’t think they will read the book.

99 times out of 100 the book is better than the movie. The book gives you the insight and depth, whereas the movie brings the visuals, the surface. The Watchmen comic book is the creation of Alan Moore (author) and Dave Gibbons (artist). The Watchmen movie is directed by Zack Snyder. Claudio Marino comments on my earlier Watchmen post: ”A friend of mine said that Snyder has made an adaptation of Gibbon’s part, not Moore’s”. I totally agree with that. Still, I enjoyed watching Watchmen. A lot.
Having read the book at least three times in a short period of time just before seeing the movie was a good thing to do. I knew every part. And my jaw dropped to the floor when faced with what Snyder has created. It was awesome seeing the comic book come to life in a frame-by-frame way. So many details! I guess I missed 90% of all the stuff going on in the background, but when it’s released on Blu-ray I’ll catch up.


However, everything CGI is pretty much crap, especially when they’re on Mars. And the sex scenes and some of the fight scenes are very dull and could’ve been made a whole lot better (Speaking of sex, I noticed that Dr. Manhattans cock is way larger in the movie. You digest that for a second… *insert smiley here* )
As for the fight scenes I had expected more ”normal” stuff, not The Matrix fighting. I mean, only Dr. Manhattan is supposed to have real superpowers, right? The whole thing with the superhero story is that it’s ordinary people doing what superheroes do, but in a realistic way. Saying that, I think the movie focuses on the superhero thing too much. In my opinion the book is not at all about superheroes…

The casting is good, but again – only on the visual side. The actors look like they do in the comic book, but that’s pretty much it. I cannot feel the characters as much as I do in the book, with one exception: Rorschach! Hail Jackie Earle Haley! He’s definitely spot on. The rest of the actors are pretty much meaningless, soulless (so I guess Billy Crudup playing Dr. Manhattan does a good job after all…).

The music is quite different than expected (I chose not to read reviews before watching this one, so I didn’t know anything about the music); Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan… Sure, there are references to Dylan’s lyrics and such in the book, but I’m not sure if the actual music fits. I like the songs, but nah… It felt strange. I laughed at the Apocalypse Now reference in Vietnam, though.


So, the visual take on Snyder’s Watchmen deserve applause. But Alan Moore, who has always hated his stories turned into movies (check the end of this article), will definitely hate what Snyder has done. There’s no depth to be found. Whereas the comic book takes on so many different aspects of story telling (the news vendor, the kid reading the comic book about pirates, the gay cab driver and her activist girlfriend, The New Frontiersman, the imaginary books and articles, the in-depth dialogue about politics and philosophy…), the movie mostly focuses on the visuals and the superheroes. In the comic book characters working in the background take on leading roles (for example, the pirate story becomes part of the narrative), and the level of details and depth is simply amazing. That’s what makes the book so fascinating. The importance of all these techniques and characters is pretty much left out in the movie.
Also, changing the ending was not a good move.

All in all, I still rate Watchmen 4 out of 5. It’s the best adaptation of a comic book so far and it is very well put together. 2 hours and 45 minutes went in a rush. I’m really looking forward to the Blu-ray release which hopefully will bring extended scenes, audio commentaries, documentaries, behind the scenes…
I’ll be checking out Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic and Watchmen: Tales of The Black Freighter as well. Read about those releases here.

Below, a Watchmen viral.