Thursday, July 20, 2006

Quote of the month

Those to whom evil is done,
Do evil in return.

W.H.Auden ~ September 1, 1939

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Health, Safety and the Hitman

Like the Metropolitan Police, I'm "concerned and disappointed" with The Crown Prosecution Service's conclusion that Jean Charles de Menezes execution (he was pinned down and shot 7 times in the head and once in the shoulder, from point blank range) contravened health and safety regulations. However, I'm "concerned and disappointed" for slightly different reasons than the police. The cops are "concerned and disappointed" for their own "beleaguered" colleagues; I'm concerned and disappointed for the unfortunate Mr. de Menezes, his family and our ostensibly civilised society.

When a Brazilian electrician, with as much connection to al-Qā'idah/international terror as Celine Dion, gets snuffed "Mafia-style" on the floor of a tube train (by armed police officers injecting seven shots of hot lead directly into his cerebellum), "concern and disappointment" follow as inexorably as death and taxes. On second thoughts, I'm doing Cosa Nostra a disservice here: they're, invariably, more humane and more economical with the ammunition.

"Concern and disappointment", suitably eviscerated almost-emotions, strike me as wholly consistent with, and proportionate to, the Crown Prosecution's micro-response to this tragedy.

I agree with The Independent's Mark Steel. The CPS's decision to recategorise and trivialise this tragic incident as a "health and safety" issue is absurd. The Health and Safety Executive would doubtless insist that, when executing an innocent man with extreme prejudice, the police should avoid discharging loud weapons if not wearing ear muffs. "Because regularly shooting people without adequate ear protection could lead in later life to tinnitus, or even in severe cases partial deafness. "

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Chrysta Bell/David Lynch, Ersatz Empire, Kristen Kerr & The Doppelganger Dahlia

According to David Lynch's friend and collaborator, John Neff, over at Twin Peaks Gazette, the long-anticipated (well, here at casa del ionesco at any rate) Chrysta Bell/David Lynch/John Neff musical, and associated video, projects are now unlikely to see the light of day:
Well, Dave and I did three songs that Chrysta came in and sang on (Does that make them 'hers'?). We shot videos of them at a club where we did a scene from "Inland Empire". Some of it was supposed to be in the movie, I guess, I never got a definitive answer. We were supposed to finish a CD project with her last year, but it never happened. The videos were supposed to go to some media outlet, I never heard which if any had been contacted. The songs were supposed to be released to iTunes this year, as well as some Rebekah Del Rio stuff that we did. When the contract arrived it was horrendous and was rejected. I have only heard from his attorney that the releases have been cancelled and I believe they will not be in the film either. I have also heard that she is recording new stuff with David that I am not a part of. This is all I know.

The club where Lynch shot the Chrysta Bell videos, and one of the scenes for his upcoming movie, Inland Empire, was L.A. burlesque joint Forty Deuce.

One of the songs which Lynch, Neff and Bell collaborated on, has finally shown up in the following scene, taken from a DVD called Room To Dream, which showcases Digital Video (Lynch's chosen delivery medium for Inland Empire) as an affordable and user-friendly option for aspiring auteurs. Sadly, the divine Bell is absent, though, like the bizarre male character in this scene (and The Mystery Man in Lost Highway), she's simultaneously absent and present: her ethereal vocals are replaced by the rather more earth-bound vocal stylings of the almost equally beautiful Chrysta Bell doppelganger, Kristin Kerr, Stanley Kamel & the other, relatively unremarkable, actress who appears in the scene.

Kamel and Kerr both feature in Inland Empire's cast, and it is thought that this scene is an excerpt ~ or a reworking, or a rough draft, of a scene ~ from that movie. Of course, it may be an entirely unconnected scene, shot exclusively for the "R2D" DVD during a break in the Inland Empire shoot, but John Neff's enigmatic posts on the Twin Peaks Gazette forum seem to substantiate the former theory.

Ersatz Empire ?

Kristen Kerr, in a Lynch-esque identity twist, is also due to star in an alternate version of James Ellroy's Black Dahlia story, due to be released almost simulataneously with the Brian De Palma version. In the doppelganger "Dahlia", Kerr plays two different characters (Lisa Small and Elizabeth Short) and is one of two actresses to portay Short (the other, Lizzy Strain, also "plays" herself). Sounds almost convoluted enough to be the plotline to Lynch's Mulholland Dr.

Monday, July 10, 2006

David Lynch's Inland Empire for Venice Film Festival

David Lynch's Inland Empire, starring Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton and Jeremy Irons, is scheduled to appear, though not compete, at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival, which runs from August 30th until September 9th. Lynch will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award at the festival.

Brian De Palma's adaption of James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia is also scheduled to appear.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cult of Impersonality


Fame is fleeting, but to Samuel Beckett's taste, not fleeting enough. If most writers feel themselves condemned to obscurity, for Beckett the opposite was the case. He was, in his own words, ``damned to fame."

Indeed, the durability of his fame is on striking display these days. In celebration of Beckett's centennial, his plays are being produced in hundreds of theaters around the world; conferences and colloquia are taking place everywhere from Dublin to Oxford, Paris to Tokyo, Ankara to Odense; and a splendid new edition of his works, edited by Paul Auster (and with introductions by Colm Toibin, Salman Rushdie, Edward Albee, and J.M. Coetzee), has just been published by Grove Press.

Beckett, who died in 1989, lived to see the full flowering of his fame, and the retiring Irishman was forced into a spotlight he had no desire to stand in. But what were the chances that this spotlight would shine on him in the first place? He was an obscure writer writing in a foreign language about obscure figures living in a very foreign world. When one considers the strangeness of the works that sealed his fame, the plays ``Waiting for Godot" and ``Endgame," both written in the 1950s, not only is it remarkable that they were successes, it is remarkable that they were produced-and that the first audiences were patient enough to await their seemingly endless endings. But wait they did. And to his limitless consternation, Samuel Beckett became an international literary celebrity.

With piercing blue eyes, a gaunt face scored by lines of laughter and loss, and hair standing on end-as if outraged by the thoughts transpiring beneath it-Beckett looked the part, and got the part. And thanks to the special logic of fame, the more he tried to lead a private life, the more he tried to move away from literary groups, associations, councils, and societies, the more they courted him with prizes, decorations, and honorary degrees. Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1969, he chose to accept it only because refusing-as had Sartre a few years earlier-would have aroused more attention. So he sent an envoy to Sweden to accept the check and discreetly distributed the money to those in need.

And yet, as much as Beckett hated the limelight, his desire to withdraw from it makes a fitting metaphor for his peculiar literary achievement.

More here