Tuesday 22 January 2008

Plan 9 From Outer Space is as bad as advertised, if not worse. 'Future events such as these will effect you in the future'. Most of it is just shoddy, and amatuerish but Criswell's hairstyle is outright criminal.

Oddly, I'm almost certain I've seen this movie before, on Doordarshan, as a boy.

The Skull is a handsomely produced film, with a great performance from Cushing and a good, if small, contribution by Lee. It pads itself out by repeating an entire sequence set in 18th century France, and is a little thin, plotwise, in the third act. But Cushing's understated work, that truly haunting and slightly surreal Russian roulette sequence and the lushly creepy set design all compensate. The use of colour, and the death-by-falling-on-stained-glass bit make me wonder if Argento was watching and taking notes.

Pictures of Fidelman by Bernard Malamud is a sometimes-picaresque series of short stories about a failed artist adrift in Italy. More specifically, Fidelman is a failing artist, one who constantly refuses to learn from past failure and tries again, and always fails again except for a brief period when he becomed indigent and wanders from town to town making and exhibiting square holes dug in the ground. Eventually, Fidelman learns from a gay Venetian glass blower that there's no point in clinging to failure, and goes back to America where he apparently bungles along less tragicomedically. I've always liked Malamud's way of inserting the numinous into otherrwise more or less realistic narratives, mostly in his short stories, but here he pulls out all the stops and weaves a shaggy dog story full of intricate ironies, bizarre obsessions and riotous reverses. Excellent stuff.

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