Lessons from Forrest Bondurant

You can learn a lot of lessons from Forrest Bondurant, Tom Hardy’s character in Lawless

  • Never surrender.
  • Always hit first (it helps to have brass knuckles in your pocket at all times).
  • It’s not about the violence; it’s about how far you are willing to go.
  • Being gentle is alright (but stay out of trouble).
  • Believe in yourself (including crazy stuff like you’re unkillable).
  • Fear is good. Everyone feels it, just learn to control it.
  • It is wrong to draw a gun on a woman.
  • It ain’t about the money, it’s about the principle of the thing.

And so much more.

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy learning to draw Tom Hardy–and that is its own reward.

Uncertain at Any Speed

Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg is speeding down the road and a cop pulls him over. The cop says “Sir, do you have any idea how fast your were going?”

Heisenberg says “No, but I know exactly where I am.”

Happy Birthday, Herr Heisenberg!

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NaNo #7 Dream

Against all the odds, I’ve just won my seventh NaNoWriMo. It feels so fucking good! What a slog this one was. There was zero prep: no plot, one guy with character notes, the voice of a female narrator, but nothing else. What it meant was two weeks of  non-stop exploration: hearing voices in a darkened room, finding out who they belonged to and what they wanted, and trying to turn the lights on bit by bit to discover the world they inhabited. All fueled by a 40 song playlist I built on YouTube including Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, Danzig, Neil Young, Don Omar, Railroad Earth. Macklemore and Lady Gaga, among others. (Yeah, it was that kind of story.)

After this time together, I truly-deeply love Romie, Donnie and all their friends: Mom, Bert, Lucy, Preston Gowan, Lothar Tucker, Leon, Spider, DeShay Carter, Toni, Ronette, Audrey and Dad, Rosa Rivera and all the boys at the Juliet.

I’m going to take a few days to resume normal living with a side helping of gloating. Thanks to those who cheered me on.

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NaNo (again): or the risks of competition

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-150In the end, I couldn’t help myself. I haven’t done National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short) since 2011, and with the memory of how difficult that one was (for no obvious reason) and how emotionally exhausting my work life was after that point, it was easy enough to just stay well enough out of it. And I don’t write as much as I used to. But every November I miss the excitement of it in a nostalgic way. This year one of my writer friends decided to do it, and it really made me think….

I did have notes for a character I wanted to use someday, but I never envisioned him as a protagonist, which meant I needed at least one other person. And there is no plot. So, stealthily, I began writing on November 1st, not much, but I began. I didn’t sign up though; my creative energy was very low, few ideas formed, and nothing was flowing, no spark. How could I a commitment I’d only fail at? I know myself well enough to see that a failure this year might keep me away forever. So I waited.

The days rolled by and I got a few words here and there, but I had no big ideas, no plot, characters just mindlessly going through motions….until yesterday. Yesterday, I started to make connections, understand something about my characters’ secrets and strong images began to form. So I signed up. Thousands and thousands of words behind, but I signed up. The working title is Beautiful Dreamer and seems to be about a naive girl with a ridiculous vision of her future and the troubled man she thinks can make it happen for her. Now I’ve got to make the story happen. I have the time, if not the energy, but I’m going for it. Wish me luck.

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Truthiness

the-don-colonial
One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government.–Donald Trump

Sensational News!–1930s B movies with something special

 graft-1931ladies_crave_excitement_filmposter

Look at these posters…are you feeling the thrills yet?

I’ve found two B-films recently that really excite me; Graft! (1931) and Ladies Crave Excitement (1935). There’s something special about both of them, in spite of the obvious drawbacks in their productions values. Graft! even comes with a built-in exclamation point–you just know it’s going to be good. And it is, in a funny way. A young reporter craves a real story to sink his teeth into and accidentally stumbles into a corruption plot that implicates the mayor. Sure, the chase scene seems to loop the same Santa Monica block about 5 times while supposedly headed in a beeline for “downtown,” and the lead actors laugh their way through their lines like they’re having too much fun to be serious, but it’s got Boris Karloff in a bit part, damn it! Best of all is the intro scene, which outdoes His Girl Friday (1940) for exciting tracking shots through a busy newsroom. I wish I knew who blocked that; maybe the director Christy Cabanne or the DP Jerome Ash. Anyway, it’s exciting and worth seeing if you can find a copy.

The focus of Ladies Crave Excitement is the 1930s newsreel business and a wealthy (and ambitious) young woman whose father won’t let her work in his company, so she teams up with his competitor to present a blockbuster new idea. In both of these movies, there’s something genuinely winning about the aw, shucks expectation that talent and daring will get you ahead. (It helps if the boss’s secretary is only your side as Esther Ralston is in Ladies.) The highlight of this film is the early film and newsreel production footage and a humorous chase scene at the end.

It ain’t art, folks, but it’s fun and it makes you feel good about the chances in life. If only…

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Rustin Cohle: Flat Circle

Rustin Cohle--Flat Circle

Cohle is my favorite character from True Detective (Season 1), so I couldn’t resist drawing him again. Just at this moment, crazy Reggie Ledoux is telling him that all life is a flat circle, which can’t mean much to him–unless he’s a fan of Nietzsche already and he may be. Considering his attention is on Marty’s whereabouts, possible assailants and covering their nutso suspect, it’s amazing that 17 years later, he remembers this. But that’s Cohle for you–he misses nothing.

24 Hours: Glamour and Style with No Substance

2016-07-25 24 Hours

Sketches from the beautiful but dull pre-Code film, 24 Hours, about a bored wealthy couple who beat a murder rap and rekindle their flame-proof romance.

Kay Francis and Clive Brook as the Towners, whose lives are shaken up when the husband’s lover is murdered and he’s the prime suspect. (The wife has a lover, too. It’s pre-Code–fair’s fair.) They live beautifully, drink profusely, dress to the nines, but are so miserable, they can’t muster the energy to even quarrel. The energy comes in with Rosie, the nightclub singer played by Miriam Hopkins, Towner’s squeeze who is strangled by her jealous gangster husband. It was his second killing that night (he had energy, too!). The story is weak, Towner is a downer, but at least it’s beautifully shot. I focused my sketches on Francis and Brook because they looked like beautiful Jazz Age illustrations: all drama, style and glamour. The real study would be Miriam Hopkins–maybe next time. I think I’d need to do gif for her.

Brook was better in von Sternberg’s Underworld (1927), mainly for the earlier part when he was a down-and-out drunk and the end when he shows his boss what integrity is. (Integrity is when you want to steal the boss’s best girl, but you will rescue him from a police shoot-out anyway.) Brook does longing well enough, but he is leaden when it comes to playing a lover. Maybe they thought that was noble back then. I’ll pass.

Francis was beautiful but lugubrious. I haven’t seen her in anything else. I haven’t seen Miriam Hopkins before either, but I’ll be looking for a chance to see more of her work. She seemed very modern in this film.

The DP for 24 Hours was Ernie Haller whose work included Captain Blood, Jezebel, Dark Victory, Gone with the Wind, Mildred Pierce, Rebel Without a Cause, Whatever Happened to baby Jane? and one Star Trek episode (Where No Man Has Gone Before). No wonder it’s beautiful!

True Detective

2016-08-19 True Detective comp

My latest obsession…True Detective (Season 1). The best of writing and acting, atmospheric cinematography, world view… gritty, dirty, hard-core, beautiful. Matthew McConaughey vs. Woody Harrelson. Bitter cynic meets optimistic asshole. Carcosa. The Yellow King. DB on the bayou.The things that break and heal are strongest. Nah. That’s me trying to make sense of something that’s bigger than that. Human instinct. The winning play.

I want to keep drawing this, digging deeper, figure out why it is fucking good…