January 28, 2011

About Us/Little Big Man

I wondered whether I should let people know I've added a new feature to About Us on The Moving Picture Writes or let them gradually discover for themselves the film clip I've added below the bio (which will change roughly once a week. Decided I'd compromise and limit my disclosure to facebook and my blog.

While I'm at it, since I didn't post this week's new page yet:


January 18, 2011

Robert Boyle

I only became aware of Robert Boyle--one of those names that tends to disappear in the scroll of final credits however many films of note he might be associated with--when I was looking for YouTube clips to link to for a Linnet's Wings essay, Death House Comedy.

I particularly wanted a clip for Winter Kills, which I continue to think one of the finest and most underrated movies in the history of cinema (for reasons I'll go into in another piece at a later date).

Sorting the possibilities I discovered this gem, the perfect quick introduction--a conversation, with illustrative clips, between production designer (or art director--the titles are interchangeable) Robert Boyle and screenwriter/director William Richert:

Read on here:

Robert Boyle

January 8, 2011

The Moving Picture Writes

With this column I inaugurate a movie/tv appreciation website. Under the above title I'll be offering, from time to time, memoirs of my encounters over the years with film and, increasingly, tv.

Under other headings I'll be doing film reviews, background studies, film commentary reviews (the first of these for The Ruling Class, since I planned when I was writing the review to comment on the Criterion Edition Extras, but discovered that, besides making the piece of unwieldy length (particularly for an online essay), it combined two pieces that might best be considered in tandem (independently of each other).

I took the same approach with Performance, discussing the principals' reactions to the film and its place in their careers under the heading 'Background', tackling the film in the mimetic, synergistic style I hope soon to be famous for in a second short essay, 'All the Way'.)

(Read on here:


"Cheer up you old bugger! Worse things happen at sea!"

January 1, 2011

Firewatcher's Wages

MWH Projects Act I

Flames Leap Mountains From Troy to Argos

Scene i Heraclitus Firewatcher Brilliant Noses
[the first light onstage is a tiny glow like a candle flame, but fixed, above a wigwam shape with sticks protruding, on the backstage wall left further points of light over stylized bonfire images will appear at intervals throughout, until they form a complete row stage lights begin to come up slowly]


Awake! stay awake, a year awake! you tell me that's not excessive
A dog's life? not by a long shot, dogs sleep all the time
Wake at the slightest unexpected sound or flicker of light
Wake up and yap like a Barbarian on cue

[stage lights fully up on an otherwise bare stage heraclitus firewatcher, with a few possessions gathered about him, stands by a wigwam-shaped bonfire just waiting to be lit another light flickers up on the wall behind]

Brilliant nose a dog has! might even sniff the blaze
Starting up on a miles-distant hill but that's never been tested
My damn luck, I'm not a dog, I have hands not paws
Opposable thumbs, you need that to hold a torch
Set a fire going to match the fire in the distance
Not to mention how few dogs speak excellent Greek
See what I mean? as you hear me speaking it now
The better to bring the news to our faithful Queen ho ho
What she has in mind for Agamemnon I've heard the rumours
I wouldn't wish on a dog but shh! (fingers to lips)
I might on a King

Scene ii Heraclitus Philosopher beneath skin, above bone

[a man enters wings left, in tattered once-white toga not unfamiliar with holes, and begins to speak out aggressively at the apron
of the stage]


intelligence damped and sickened by green paper colour of mould midas it seems is your epitome of earthly success because his touch was instant death to the daughter he loved above all human creatures? i'll grant you, she made an impressive statue had he been a sculptor, known a few friends who resembled the gods, his curse might have served some function statues of gold, colour of mead-darkened piss, more godlike than the gods because he starved, every bit of food he tried to eat turning to useless gold? donkeys are brighter than that, they know garbage at least is edible, gold is just too tough a chew

haven't heard medusa celebrated the same way women had it rough in my time as well

do you imagine croesus diverted the river to right and left so the stream in the middle would no longer be impossible for his soldiers to ford? his money, his implements, many slaves of his purchase and some few skilled workmen in his hire, carried out the work of hands but the work of mind, without which the rest, bold solid streams of mead-darkened piss, would have had no effect, was thales' money is not mind, it has no power apart from the skill deployed in its use (and we thought we were overloaded with gods of our own election, no earthly function in 'em) no value at all if hoarded and stockaded, then it chokes and kills

name a shoe for running after a goddess of swift intelligence, confusing the fiery rapidity of thought more than humanly supple with the gangly fleetness of sweat-reeking ankle, instep and heel (what a lovely libation to offer the goddess that caps their toes!)

claim to know the river you step in is not the river you stand in (any phrase can be turned to gabble it seems) but don't know you who step there are a river coursing vertically beneath skin, above bone, ceaselessly changing, well? (some that only half learned this found a sudden panic as they stepped into the river dissolved their skin carried them rushing away on the current, one with the current, one with the undertow and gone to the grief and astonishment of loved ones and strangers watching from shore

[darts off wings left, pops his head back]

if their bones were ever found i never heard of it)

[exits completely]

Scene iii Heraclitus Firewatcher A Fixed Reliable Commodity


Don't mind him, we get philosophers all the time coming by to harangue the populace, it's a fulltime occupation among us Greeks Not always that well-paying as you can see, though there are those do all right by teaching Diction, vocabulary, sneaky ways to fool people in an argument mostly This one has the same name as me, Heraclitus and I quite like him Not very social, I'll grant you that, says his piece and then off, not nearly as personable as Diogenes but between the aggression in his voice and the challenge trying to riddle out what his speeches mean, he's useful for keeping a body awake Some of the others could put you to sleep so fast and do I need that? Like I need to forfeit my life on the gibbet or the chopping block (Shivers) Our local chief axeman? gives me the creeping willies I'm sorry but if you've just severed permanently the relationship between a man's head and body, you don't say to the mob of drools and leers panting looking on "It's been a slice" Hemlock you say? That's for a higher class of gent

A knife in a dark corner, extrajudicial? that'll happen
Bold to speak out as these fellows do when you think
How permanent a silence the wrong word can buy you
I do find the more I hear this one speak
The more sense I discover in his words
Some I can't make hide nor hair I'm told these philosophers in their trance states
Sometimes look deep into the future, you'd lose your present day audience there
As if the past and present aren't more than enough mess to deal with!
I tried once you know, stepping in a river?
Sure seemed like the same river when I was standing in it
Even when I stepped out, rivers are a fixed reliable commodity
Compared to human life as it flows out its course
My son among the fallen at Troy? we had messages at irregular intervals
Until three years ago or a little more, since when dead silence
Not a word from him, no other messengers will tell us anything
Sparing our feelings I expect, prize method of accomplishing that!
Confirm our worst fears almost and yet leave hanging
Above our heads on a thin string like Damocles' sword
The fraying hope that if he's far less a hero than Achilles
His prospects of survival at least are better
Not so it seems though perhaps. . . I can't sleep thinking about it
That was a joke, though a bitter one I admit