Thursday, 19 January 2012

Always Merry and Bright

Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller

I loved Henry Miller at one point in my life, when he turned up to lift my spirits and give me courage.

"What we all hope in reaching for a book, is to meet a man of our own heart, to experience tragedies and delights which we ourselves lack the courage to invite, to dream dreams which will render life more hallucinating, perhaps also to discover a philosophy of life which will make us more adequate in meeting the trials and ordeals which beset us. To merely add to our store of knowledge or improve our culture, whatever that may mean, seems worthless to me".
Henry Miller

So I would always defend his reputation, especially when confronted by people who dismiss his work without having actually read any of it - just based on rumours and a bad reputation.

In the 70s he got accused of misogyny, for instance, by Feminists - but if Erica Jong loves him enough to write a memoir/biography (The Devil At Large), and Anaïs Nin remained a close friend, perhaps you might consider him worth another look.

Not that I care to promote him - the world remains full of books you and I may never read. I'll just keep him as my little secret treasure.

His position in challenging censorship stays valid, surely - a successful battle - and one from which we all still benefit (if you don't mind reality). In many ways he broke ground for the later Beats, for instance.
Brenda Venus and Henry Miller

Like I said, his particular form of Gonzo autobiography may simply no longer appeal to people, but I have a soft spot for his philosophical musings, and other stuff. Hey ho, but you may still have trouble finding his books in your library.

Check out some online resources:

Henry Miller: personal collection (a site by his daughter)

The Henry Miller Library (in Big Sur) You can buy his books here.

Always Merry and Bright - an unauthorized biography, by Jay Martin

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A little more on Tati - reviews and articles

Rosenbaum on Tati at The Evening Class

Jonathan Rosenbaum's website

I found searching Jonathan Rosenbaum's website a bit tricky, so here are direct links to the pieces mentioned in the article above:

* Tati’s Democracy: An Interview and Introduction

* The Death of Hulot


The Dance of Playtime on The Criterion Connection

Rosenbaum's review of Jour de Fete (when re-released in its colour version) in the Chicago Reader - The Colour of Paradise

"All The World's A Circus" Rosenbaum's review of Parade - in the Chicago Reader.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Senses of Cinema - Jacques Tati

Although hardly a film buff, I have certain narrow areas of expertise and delight.

I have seen just about everything Buster Keaton ever made, and in a proper cinema, with a live pianist (not recorded soundtracks).

I have seen all of Jacques Tati's work, including seeing Playtime in 70mm back when it was first released (even though the run quickly ended). You'll be lucky to catch it that way, now.

As the reviewer mentioned below points out, to watch a film made in such a format on a television is to lose too much, but it's pretty much all we have now.

"The reduction of a 70mm. presentation to the scale of a television set is similar to reducing the performance of a symphony orchestra to a badly done audiocassette."

All the games Tati plays with where you are looking on the screen (sometimes directed by sound, or by colour, or by movement) mean nothing on a small screen where your eyes hardly have to move around at all. His whole style, of not steering your vision to particular activities with close-ups, needs the cinema - both for the size of the screen, and for the kind of concentration that most people do not bring to television.

[A great summary of the work, and some excellent links]