Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scribble Wanderers in the Blue Horizontals

I dreamt last night I was driving in a city with roads paved over a lot of small hills, sort of like San Fransisco but much worse. I remember one hill felt like I was going straight down when I came to the other side. I can't remember much else about the dream except I came across a completely gutted Jack in the Box (the fast food restaurant).

I haven't had much time or desk space for drawing lately. Here are some of my recent doodles, though--these first two are examples of an exercise I learned in art class where you draw something without ever lifting your pen from the paper:

I'd been trying to loosen myself up, I felt my drawings had been a bit stiff lately.

These next two are more typical of the things I idly sketch at school.

By the way, I do fully intend to publish The Casebook of Boschen and Nesuko #3 eventually. I can't say I have any idea when that'll be, though. Obviously I've been distracted. I did some colouring on pages I'd inked before all this began and it felt really good, I felt more like myself than I had in while. Hopefully I can get number three done by some time in January. Until then, you can still find the first two issues here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Journey to Someplace Far from the Centre

I've decided I don't want to climb two miles underground in an unexplored cave system in the middle of nowhere. 2005's The Descent did a marvellous job of helping me reach this decision. It so successfully makes caving look so terrifying it doesn't even need to spend time really on the other things it spends time on. Which is not to say I think there's anything especially bad about the rest of the movie, just that it peaks around halfway through.

Oddly, whether or not anyone ends up dead becomes superfluous. We follow a group of beautiful young women as their leader, Juno (Natalie Mendoza), takes them without their knowledge to a new, unexplored cave system in the Appalachian Mountains. The other women think they're going to a thoroughly explored system which the youngest of them, Holly (Nora Jane Noone), dismisses as a tourist site.

Aside from pure thrill seeking, the adventure is also designed to pull Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) out of a gloom she's been in since her husband and five year old daughter died a year before. Most of the film is told from Sarah's point of view.

After Sarah's husband's brief appearance at the beginning the film, The Descent features for the remainder of its running time an entirely female cast. Which is rather refreshing. I don't think there's been anything like this since 1939's The Women (and, I assume, the remake of The Women) and it was basically a gimmick in that. There are hundreds of movies with entirely male casts but I've had a hard time finding any with an entirely female cast.

The film crew never visited an actual cave during the making of this film--everything was built in Pinewood Studios. The exteriors, meant to be the Appalachian Mountains, were all filmed in Scotland. I never perceived either of these facts as I watched the film which tells you something of how convincing these caves looked. A lot of it is the lighting which director Neil Marshall (who directed "Blackwater", arguably the best episode of Game of Thrones) allows in many shots to come exclusively from the flares, flashlights, and helmets on the women.

Though there are still plenty of shots with the typical backlighting I find so annoying.

There came a point, after they'd wormed their way single file through a space that looked thinner and longer than the average chimney, where I realised that it didn't matter if any of the women died in what was left of the film. It reached that plateau of tension.

But die some of them do, quite horribly, often at the hands of pale, blind, subterranean humanoids which, actually, may count as male cast members, though there was at least one female among them.

This was fun and not unwelcome. But it really wasn't necessary, especially since the creatures growl precisely like the Predator and I kept thinking of the Predator whenever I heard them. But more to the film's disadvantage is a silly soap opera plot about one of the women sleeping with another's husband. Whenever I was watching it play out between the characters I kept wondering why they, or we, the audience, were wasting our time with it. It really doesn't seem to serve any thematic purpose except in suggesting that the women were as capable of being as savage and amoral as the beasts. But dealing with the caves and the troglodytes seem like more than enough to establish these qualities in them, especially one woman who makes a horrible mistake. I think I was rooting for her more than the movie wanted me too--with just a little tweaking, it could've been a film noir.

Twitter Sonnet #570

Magnolia tarantulas snatch New Years.
The coal barrel blemished birthday blocked steam.
Coffee Harleys ran circles round kid beers.
Flying Marlon Brando masks dress girls green.
Baby bottle Star Destroyers burn wrists.
Calcium jewellery demotes the bling.
Origami fortune folds in your fists.
Lady Uvula taught Sir Tongue to sing.
Inverted turkey calls hang up on pork.
Decapitate the cranberry golem.
Glass webs reflect intense holiday fork.
Pinfeathers branch seven times and solemn.
The thin spork snapped in the bell casserole.
Squares'll tumble in circle capital.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Don't be a Turkey in the Corn, Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Is Fire Walk With Me the most Thanksgiving appropriate movie I can think of? I guess it kind of is. It's American, it's about family. A family who sits down to dinner together even if one of them apparently didn't wash her hands first.

Otherwise, unless Eli Roth makes his Thanksgiving trailer from Grindhouse into a real movie, I don't know if there's much else worth mentioning. Most of the titles that spring to mind are Bollywood movies for some reason.

Of course, I still have a big backlog of Halloween movies to watch. I suppose I could save them for next year but several of them look really good. I also want to start catching up on this year's new movies. If anyone wants to recommend one of those, please do, but bear in mind I might not like it.

I still remember years when I'd see at least ten new films every year without really trying. Seeing new movies has gotten less affordable and I've kind of fallen in love with pre-1960 cinema.

I guess Eat Drink Man Woman is a good Thanksgiving movie, despite being Chinese.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Attack of the Space Sex

I kind of like 1985's Lifeforce. Sure, it's all kinds of stupid, what with NASA space shuttles going to Halley's Comet, a British Prime Minister hardly anyone bothers to notice turns into a zombie, and massive leaps in logic to make the plot move along. But as a homage to Dracula and for its earnest weirdness I have to love it a little.

Dan O'Bannon, who worked on the screenplay for Alien, also worked on the screenplay for Lifeforce and the beginning of the film feels like a slightly embarrassing, low rent version of Alien. An Earth spacecraft resembling the contemporary NASA space shuttle comes across an apparently derelict alien craft near Halley's Comet and discovers alien bodies, strange, organic architecture, and a dormant menace.

One of the first bright spots in this movie is that the dormant menace in this case is a beautiful naked woman who stays naked for most of the picture.

Oh, and two naked guys we never get a good look at. Bit of a double standard there. But on the other hand, this can be seen as the movie's homage to Dracula. You see, the key twist here isn't that Dracula comes from space but that Dracula's a woman. And instead of a gang of beautiful brides she has a couple beautiful husbands.

On the third hand, this dichotomy didn't stop us from getting plenty of fan service in Dracula's brides before. Perhaps O'Bannon and director Tobe Hooper saw it as necessary to have the woman naked in order to equal the overbearing sexuality of Dracula. "She . . . was the most overwhelmingly feminine presence I ever felt," says one man when asked how a small naked woman overpowered him. It's hard to resist smirking slightly. And yet, the idea behind Dracula was that his unfiltered, Eastern male sexuality overpowered sophisticated Victorian women.

Instead of Eastern Europe, the frightening unknown territory in 1985 was space. It would still be to-day if the public imagination was still there but I don't think it is. But that's another kettle of fish.

It's either the batlike aliens or the naked woman, I'm not sure which, that first signals that this will be more of a Fantasy movie than Alien, which was more Sci-Fi. Instead of problems and solutions involving corridors, air locks, computers, androids, and alien physiology, we have miraculous survivals, undead servents, hypnosis, and human souls ensnared by kisses. This may be why the film failed to connect with audiences--people expecting the rather credible feeling Alien instead got ghosts and goblins.

Other references to Dracula include a trip to an asylum and a prominently featured Dr. Seward surrogate played here by a pre-Star Trek Patrick Stewart. He does a good job in a small role though I'm really going to have to give most of my admiration here to the beautiful Mathilda May as the Space Girl. Yes, just because she's naked most of the movie. She doesn't have much of a chance to deliver a performance otherwise. She walks around smugly and kisses people.

The people she kisses turn into life-sucking zombies, who in turn create more zombies until there's an epidemic in London. And one is reminded of David Cronenberg's superior 1977 film Rabid which also featured a vampire woman who converted people into zombies. That vampire woman was played by porn star Marilyn Chambers but she gets a lot more character than the one played by Mathilda May. Chambers' vampire was portrayed as being herself a victim of the dehumanising sexualisation going about.

But, as I said, I kind of like Lifeforce. It has a sort of open hearted campiness to it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gods, Demons, and Punch Cards

The first episode of the newest Monogatari arc looks promising. The conman who I didn't think was very interesting in Nisemonogatari has a cool running interior monologue in this first episode. I liked his opening lines, "People have an inherent desire to know the truth. That, or they want to believe that what they know is the truth."

The previous arc wasn't bad though it mainly focused on lolicon fan service. I'm thoroughly amoral when it comes to art--I don't condone any abuse of real children but I have nothing against people who get off on drawings of children so long as they don't hurt anyone. But for myself, I don't think kids are very sexy. I find them rather sexless, actually.

But there was one episode of the arc I thought was really great--Shinobu, the vampire girl who lives in the teenage vampire male protagonist Araragi's shadow--tells Araragi a story about the first time she came to Japan. She's blonde and wore a vaguely fifteenth century European gown before she was turned into a child. We're never told, but I guess she's meant to be European.

The story she tells Araragi takes place when she was still in an adult body and it's told in a visually interesting way, in the form of mostly still images that scroll by onscreen while Shinobu narrates.

The arc is about how "oddities", supernatural beings, are devoured by a free-floating black nothingness if they don't behave like the sort of oddities they're meant to be. Shinobu, who at the time was known (somewhat incredibly) by the name Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, allowed some villagers to carry on under the impression she was a god and not a vampire, which drew the attention of the nothingness.

It's not a concept I find very interesting. Supernatural beings in fiction have power in the ways they reflect human feelings and bring those feelings to life. I don't know what it says when this reflection gets in trouble for not doing what I guess it was wired to do. It seems mostly like an enormous, unnecessary constraint placed on future stories.

But still. Nice visuals. The drawings look like they come from a natural meeting point between art nouveau and ancient Japanese art.

Twitter Sonnet #569

The black puddle membrane dreams of ether.
Copper seaweed drinks an olive fogbank.
Rusted can telephones toss in weather.
Tumbling dresses mutely brush the wash tank.
Slow motion maracas scratch the green felt.
Afterburn blue light darkens the light show.
Memory's veins clutch the ragged old pelt.
Golden clouds spark as the lion breathes slow.
Tail light trails bounce off the road planter walls.
Subcutaneous street lamps hold up bones.
Glowing pears hide in car dealership malls.
Arcane bikinis slip through island stones.
Recoiling internet springs sap screens.
Grey glass under pestle projects black beams.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sky Long Legs

When I visited my parents' house last week it had been raining the night before and as I drove into Santee it looked like the land and the sky belonged to two different days.

It's been my favourite kind of skies lately for photographs--big, dark, patchy clouds with lots of sun peeking through. I just haven't had time to go out looking for photos. One of these days I'll need to go the beach nearby. I have stale bread, maybe I can find some birds to give it to.

A couple nights ago I saw this daddy-long-legs enjoying a snack on my ceiling:

That sure made the place feel like home.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sensual Music and Neglected Monuments

Saoirse Ronan as a vampire named Eleanor Webb wanders into an expensive restaurant, sits at a piano and plays beautifully, expertly, and when she's done she calmly, quietly allows the beauty of the moment to conclude with only the subtlest expression. This scene from the film for me reflects the feelings aroused by the whole of Neil Jordan's Byzantium. Although in some aspects I was reminded of other vampire films, Byzantium is unique in its understated, gentle beauty.

When I heard about the film, I assumed Jordan, an Irishman who frequently tells stories in and about his country, took the title from one or both of William Butler Yeats' "Byzantium" poems.

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.
Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.
Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the starlit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.
At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.
Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,
Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.

They certainly sound like they could be poems about vampires--more the modern, contemplative and tortured Anne Rice variety than the villainous bloodsucker that would have been the familiar vampire when Yeats wrote the poems. Though I have no idea if Jordan actually took his inspiration from the Yeats poems.

Jordan is certainly no stranger to the Anne Rice vampire having directed the film version of Interview with the Vampire starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. And the story does bear some similarities--in Byzantium we follow the vampire protagonists across the centuries, we see the strange initiation into undeath, the contrast of the same people living in one time period and another, and the effect extreme long life may have on a personality. The vampires portrayed are people who have found themselves gradually more disconnected from humanity even as they acquire a profoundly intimate knowledge of the species.

But Byzantium doesn't feature as many of the qualities of action or horror film as Interview with the Vampire. Byzantium's protagonists, a mother and daughter called Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan), have a relationship somewhere between a family forced to move frequently for business reasons and a couple of wanted criminals.

The years can be seen more in Eleanor's peculiarly placid, confident, and self contained behaviour which allows the film to contemplate Saoirse Ronan in stillness, revealing the former child actress has grown up to look a bit like a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

Clara, meanwhile, seems as capricious and simple hearted as she was in life. She was a prostitute from an early age and we see her to-day opening a brothel in an old hotel called Byzantium on the English coast.

The relationship that slowly begins to emerge between Eleanor and a boy named Noel (Daniel Mays) may remind some of Let the Right One In but while that movie was about natural affection developing in unorthodox circumstance, Byzantium is more from the vampire's perspective as she attempts to reconcile her natural needs with disbelief and fear that would prevent others from responding to her in a natural way.

Although Eleanor generally seems the more mature of the two vampire women, Clara has a better understanding of the world's hostility towards them. Eleanor, despite her centuries, seems to have the adolescent presumption that because she wants or needs something, the world can readily supply her with it. Even after so many years, she still has the urge to connect with others on an instinctual level but humanity is usually only ready to meet her intellectually.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Who Nose

It was good, the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Spoilery stuff ahead.

So now we know what the big change was Steven Moffat's been teasing, the thing that changes the course of the entire show. I predict some people will regard it as a cop-out. In another kind of movie or show, I'd agree. Because I'd say there's not much point in fiction telling us we can wipe a slate totally clean. Real life doesn't work that way and postulating a reality where it does feels a bit cruel and weak. But in the case of Doctor Who, I felt like this was a genuine way of honouring the bulk of the show, the fundamental nature of the first eight Doctors reasserting itself over something that largely defines who the latest three Doctors are. One could say that the special ended with the Doctor being more Doctor than he has in a while.

Moffat rather nicely used John Hurt to provide commentary on how the show has changed in the past decade--I loved his reaction to Smith and Tennant pointing their sonic screwdrivers at people ("Are you going to assemble a cabinet at them?").

Incidentally, I don't know what state the Wikipedia entries will be in at the time I post this but right now the entry for "Twelfth Doctor" has a picture of Matt Smith. Chaos! How're we supposed to catalogue all this now? And what is it going to do to all the cutesy references to "Eleventh" things in Smith's run, like "The Eleventh Hour" and Clara saying whisky is the eleventh worst thing? I guess it was all about Tennant all along.

But the special certainly does make it clear Hurt's Doctor is to be an official part of the history now.

I like how Moffat writes regeneration as a way the Doctor has of trying to escape his past, I liked the bit about how going to younger bodies is an effort to avoid being an adult and all the terrible responsibilities an adult has. This is another reason why I didn't see the climax as a cop-out.

More importantly, I liked the climax because it's becoming increasingly rare for heroes in popular fantasy to find ways of solving problems other than the use of violence (see Man of Steel. Or don't). Moffat has written commitment to non-violence as being the keystone of the personal philosophy of the Doctor that makes him the Doctor.

I'm by no means saying I don't like violent heroes. Just that I find the Doctor more interesting when he's not violent.

I loved Tom Baker's cameo. I feel like the emotion we see in him is a quite genuine reflection of his love for the show. The other Doctors all appear in the form of archive footage but I must say I still would have preferred fresh audio at least from the living Doctors. And maybe an actual appearance by Sylvester McCoy.

I strongly suspect we'll be seeing Ingrid Oliver again, or at least that Moffat intends to have her character reappear. And I'm quite happy with that--as a UNIT character Osgood is far more interesting than Kate Stewart who just lacks the Brigadier's twinkle.

I liked how obvious it was that Osgood was a massive Doctor fangirl without anyone having to say it out loud.

I enjoyed getting the story between Ten (or shall we say Eleven) and Elizabeth I. I liked seeing the Zygons again and they were used well. Part of me wishes it had felt more like an anniversary special, part of me likes that Moffat seems to have basically used the 75 minutes as a very brief whole season. I sure wish we didn't have to wait until next autumn to get a whole proper season, though.

Twitter Sonnet #568 Doctor Who Anniversary Edition

He who's not Foreman will one day come back.
Flutes can play unsquashed Beatles and say "Run."
The Master's reversed flow leaves Bessie's track.
Tin dogs and babies end scarf stripes for none.
Celery stalk bats simply aren't Cricket.
Clashing coloured coward condemns himself.
Clever porkpie keeps Ace in his pocket.
Vancouver takes him briefly off the shelf.
Newborn wolves know everywhere has a north.
Pinstripes blink messianic finales.
The youngest old man knows a bowtie's worth.
Scottish Italy emerged from hollies.
Myriad casings can the same sonic.
At the brink of apocalypse don't panic.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Laminated Doctor

I sincerely thought last night's An Adventure in Space and Time was a complete ruse, I thought the trailers were put together to put us off from discovering David Bradley was going to play the First Doctor in the 50th anniversary special to-morrow. Looks like either I was wrong or they've taken this ruse to very great lengths because, as we saw last night, an hour and a half television movie has in fact been made, directed by Terry McDonough and written by Mark Gatiss.

Watching it, though, I saw even more things that oddly felt like the thing wasn't exactly real, mostly to do with Gatiss' characteristically orthodox writing matched by McDonough's intensely conservative direction. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, probably because I've become a hardcore Doctor Who fan. It feels very much like a movie version of a fan trailer--one of those where someone edited together a bunch of clips from the show to make it seem like a trailer for a more mainstream picture, the excitement arising from this thing we're so geekily and slightly embarrassingly obsessed with being given a treatment like what socially acceptable movies get. In other words, if you've never seen Doctor Who, you will not like An Adventure in Space and Time.

However, if you've never seen the classic series and are merely a huge fan of the new series, I think you might like An Adventure in Space and Time quite a lot, possibly more than watching the William Hartnell episodes themselves since, as I indicated, this film is so cosily contained by the most conservative modern filmmaking language. There are a million little familiar beats--the loud little "ding" in the score when we first see the title "Dr. Who" written on an envelope, the moment where Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) looks up and smiles at the BBC building just after she's gotten the job as Doctor Who's first producer.

Lambert becomes one of the two central figures in the movie alongside William Hartnell and the film justifiably makes something of the fact that the 1963 show's producer was a woman and its director was of Indian descent and both faced discrimination and patronising treatment from the BBC old guard.

Though this creates a problem when Lambert leaves the show after we've seen her fighting for it so passionately and so much of the film has been told from her point of view. No explanation is given for her departure though she and Hartnell share a tearful farewell.

Bradley as Hartnell gets a far more effective story, concentrating on his failing health, his pride as a performer and deep affection he felt for the show. Bradley does an absolutely beautiful job.

Hartnell was (and still is, for anyone watching his episodes for the first time) notorious for forgetting his lines and since, as we're shown in An Adventure in Space and Time, BBC budget only allowed a few retakes per episode, the actor was often forced to improvise on camera to make up for his own failing memory.

In my favourite scene, Hartnell, having worked on the show now a couple years, stands at the Tardis console furiously correcting the new director and new technicians, taking them to task about continuity when they ask him to use a different lever for the Tardis door and angrily pointing out that the Time Rotor needs to be moving in the scene because the Tardis is in flight. Then the cameras roll and he can't remember his line.

As a Doctor Who fan watching, or anyone who still respects someone completely committed to their art, it's a very effectively painful scene.

It is wonderful seeing so many of the old sets recreated--I had no idea the original Tardis console was pale blue green.

The casting is generally excellent--Bradley looks remarkably like Hartnell but more importantly his performance is great. The group of original companions are good, though, particularly in William Russell's case, the physical resemblance isn't strong.

The real William Russell actually has a cameo in the film as a security guard and actually he doesn't look much like Ian anymore.

It's a shame he wasn't available for Mawdryn Undead.

The film makes one explicit reference to the new series I won't spoil for you. I found it incredibly lame even at the same time it gave me chills. It's like getting slobbered on by a dog you love. That kind of describes most of the film, actually.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cat of the World

This is a cat called Magda. She was called Magda by my sister's friend who used to live in the building I just moved into. I see no reason not to call her Magda, too.

I took the above picture outside the laundry room on the second floor. It was the second time I ran into Magda, this time she immediately climbed onto my lap and tried to crawl into my coat. I asked a group of teenagers if she belonged to one of them--"No, that cat just wanders." said one guy.

A few minutes later, I asked a middle aged woman entering her apartment nearby if the cat was hers.

"No," she said. "Is it yours?"

"Er, no," I said.

She explained to me the cat had been owned by someone who didn't pay the extra rent for the cat so it was put out. I think the extra rent is around thirty dollars.

I guess since Magda's been around since my sister's friend was living here means Magda can handle herself well enough. She does have claws, as I found out when I went to pet her when she'd rolled onto her back. Mainly she just seems to have unconditional love for humans.

It's raining to-day, something I didn't even realise until I went to take out the trash. So I'm spending to-day doing a number of things indoors. I put together a second bookcase, this one black that stands 40 inches tall. I'm starting to think I'll actually have somewhere to put all my books and movies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Slow Green and Black Currents

Here's one of the more casually brilliant shots from Neil Jordan's beautiful 2009 film Ondine. It's just a scene of Jordan regular Stephen Rea, here in the minor role of an unnamed priest, discovering the film's protagonist, Syracuse (Colin Farrell), asleep in a tree. It looks like a Rembrandt painting. You can see it's full daylight but Jordan and cinematographer Christopher Doyle have very naturally sculpted the shadows to complement the film's sweet, slightly melancholy tale.

Syracuse--called Circus or Clown throughout the small Irish fishing town--earns a meagre living as a fisherman. He got his nicknames from when he used to be a drunk. Now he's sober and divorced from his still drunk wife who has custody of their extremely adorable, amiably geeky little girl Annie (Alison Barry) who was born with a kidney disease.

I don't know if this is meant to be related to the alcoholism of her parents but the film certainly doesn't paint a positive picture of alcohol. Making it somewhat ironic it premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. A good sport is Jameson.

Syracuse's luck changes when he hauls up in his net a mysterious woman (Alicja Bachleda) clad only in a loose knit shirt--from what I hear, she was originally naked but Jordan was forced to alter the film for producers who wanted it to find an audience ranged wider in age. This doesn't stop the lady from stepping out of the water in a completely see through dress in a later scene.

I guess like Louise Jameson's wet chemise moment in The Talons of Weng-Chiang this doesn't count for some reason. Not that I'm complaining.

She calls herself Ondine. She doesn't want anyone to see her except Syracuse so it's a lucky thing he has a picturesque, remote little cottage in a little bay where he keeps his boats. The place used to belong to his mother and now Ondine moves in and starts wearing his mother's clothes.

Syracuse's daughter Annie quickly decides Ondine is a selkie and considering the woman's seemingly able to summon lobsters and salmon to Syracuse's boat just by singing Annie certainly doesn't seem crazy. This is part of the story's central conflict of Dionysian cynicism in the form of Syracuse's and his ex-wife's alcoholism versus the Apollonian hope represented by the magic Annie associates with Ondine. Ondine's association with Syracuse's mother, by wearing her clothes and moving into her home, seems to further imply that she's part of a belief in hope and magic that exists in a more childlike part of Syracuse's personality that is in conflict with his alcoholism.

Yet one wonders why Syracuse neglects to bring up the possibility that Ondine might be hiding from some more real-world troubles when she fervently doesn't want to be seen by anyone. Mainly this doesn't seem too unnatural--the film has a fairy tale quality aided very much by its fantastic chiaroscuro imagery and improbably gorgeous lead performers.

I suppose you could say it's hard to get bad photography from the rocky coastlands of Ireland but Jordan and Doyle still pull off something really remarkable. A moving portrait in soft blacks and greens, a sweetly sad sort of visual lullaby. Some bits that stand out for me--after Syracuse and Ondine have slept together, she seems to glide off into darkness as she slips out of frame, sliding off the bed before the too slowly following camera which catches up with her putting on a strangely silvery blanket, glittering in the gloom as she walks out into the rain.

One gets a sense from Syracuse's point of view of drowsy, serene intrigue.

I also love this shot where he comes across her under the old wreck of a ship like she's incubating in a whale's corpse. I was reminded of Harriet Andersson in Through a Glass Darkly.

Twitter Sonnet #567

Sandstorms dissolve to an azure woodland.
Muddy red sparks shoot a popcorn landscape.
Splintered squares draw into a ragged band.
Dragon ears can hear oxygen escape.
Burning amber ribbons close on groceries.
Defanged ivy clutched piano legs.
Police sirens plant birds in their nurseries.
Black hole Easter charged the red magnet eggs.
Brown wool washers keep metal necks warmer.
Luminous clouds clamour for neon grace.
No potato fish startled Jack Warner.
No river crossing chart was quite an ace.
Green rocks vanish in a soaking blue night.
Moss brushed graves retire from logic's sight.