Dana Bubulj: Sculpture, Film, Shadows, Art

Their work, words and wonder

Month: May, 2012

Update: Knight Errant – Text draft (silent)

Put together a (mute) version of the story.
Are intertitle stories engaging? Is it simply TL;DR?
Did you lose interest half way through, did you sit at the end, wishing I had continued?
Are llamas red?
Inquiring minds must know! (Not about the llamas, I’m ok on that).

Knight at the Circus – Mute Text version (Work in Progress) from Pinstripeowl on Vimeo.

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Free Comic Book Day rambles

I was up in Harrow today, when a group of Storm Troopers and Jedi handed me a flyer for Calamity Comics down the road, reminding me that it was Free Comic Book Day. As I was already heading to the shop, I skipped over and picked up a volume of Fables (Bill Willingham) to go with a random selection of a few free issues. It was gloriously busy, full of a nice mix of demographics and the staff were as friendly as usual. I must make it up there more often.

Before going, I’d been to Waterstones to see what they had, and saw a few titles I might look up later (particularly Ramayana: Divine Loophole, by Sanjay Patel). It was by those shelves that I met a small child pestering their dad for an Avengers comic. Any Avengers comic. “Are there any with them all together?” his dad asked me. I answered to the best of my meagre knowledge, pointed out where they were on the shelves and suggested that they ask the people over at Calamity Comics for two very good reasons: they’d be able to recommend the best book to go to after the film, and also be able to suggest what book would be best for a child who looked about 5.

But I digress. Given the occasion, it would be appropriate to talk about comics.

The other day, someone was telling me how sad they were that Milligan’s run of Hellblazer, who is the current writer, had become rather dodgy in its treatment of its female characters. I’d stopped reading earlier in his run, having got up to the issues in the Scab trade paperback and not been impressed. It had a few things against it, but as a final blow: had it continued Leonardo Manco’s art run, I’d possibly have put up with the less good/interesting writing.

Mike Carey, Denise Mina and Andy Diggle all got Leonardo Manco line art. While I believe that the stories were well written and characterised, the art definitely, definitely helped me warm to them where I had been put off by other good writing but less aesthetically pleasing art. With full lips and expressive eyes, Manco’s faces are a thing of beauty.

Image from Mike Carey's run of Hellblazer, illustrated by Leonardo Manco

John Constantine, Hellblazer (Mike Carey run), ill. Leonardo Manco

Dangerous Liaisons and the Marquise de Merteuil

Dangerous Liaisons @ the Oxford Playhouse (Student production).

Yesterday, I saw Dangerous Liaisons at the Oxford Playhouse (on until 5th May). It was definitely an enjoyable production, well acted. I’ve not read the novel (by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos), so I can’t comment on the adaptation save for comparing it with the films the text has inspired also: Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Cruel Intentions (1999). Discussions follow, so I feel I should say now I’ve not watched these too recently, so feel free to correct me if I am misremembering.

What I rather liked about this production was its end: a quiet exposition conversation scene between the Marquise de Merteuil, Mesdames de Rosmonde and de Volanges. Discussing recent events of death and despair over tea, the Marquise is subdued, brokenhearted. That was far more affecting than the films, whose endings concentrated on comeuppance.

Not that I’m excusing her actions, but she was a compelling character, manipulating and powerful in her own right. Dangerous Liaisons (1988) has her fall from grace: shunned at the Opera by society. It’s striking: her hunting grounds where she was once queen have now wised up and will no longer engage her. For the time, I would imagine this would be quite the blow. Cruel Intentions (1999) does this in a younger, more modern way: an invasion of privacy (diary pages?) and extreme slut-shaming. Throughout the film we are made to compare the two women in the Vicomte de Valmont’s life: a vivid virgin/whore dichotomy. This is perhaps more apparent because of the setting: having them all roughly the same age rather than the original, where youth and inexperience are led, sought, manipulated and taught by their elders.

The relationship between Valmont and the Marquise has baggage older than some of these characters. Clearly they do love each other, in differing ways: enjoying each other’s company, sharing exploits and spurring each other on. They can talk as equals, or as equal as they can be given the male privilege one has and the other, strikingly, does not. Valmont’s ‘redemption’, as it were, of death, comes after realising (with help) that his feelings for his quarry were heartfelt. Of course, the Marquise has no such redemption, left alone without her closest confidante. (I’ll only get sidetracked if I start my ‘this is another example of where polyamory would sort things’ speech, so I won’t). Actually, that’s another thing about this production: the transition between player-Valmont and lover-Valmont was perhaps too rushed: it was difficult to tell at which point he had stopped play-acting and became more sincere (the occasional smirks to the audience in the initial stages were glorious: it’s clear Ziad Samaha was having great fun with the character). This did result in less pathos to his end. (Oh god, and don’t get me started on the sword fight that made myself and his nibs (both fencers) wince.)

Wrapping up as I realise I should have left a few minutes ago to catch a train:
Very good production: the ‘Bright Young Things’ era clothing/setting worked as a way of grounding the social mores without alienating those not fond of overtly costume dramas. The acting was surprisingly good, (the Marquise and Vicomte especially). The piano score for scene changes was nice too. Do see it if you’re free and about Oxford this week.