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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Weekend links 37

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Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom is fifty-years old this year, an occasion celebrated with a limited UK cinema run and a reissue on Blu-ray and regular DVD. This was the film which famously ended Powell’s career as a director in Britain for reasons which have never been quite clear. Was the film’s critical vilification the culmination of an impatience with the director’s alleged excesses over the years? Was it an unarticulated discomfort at the way Powell and screenwriter Leo Marks implicated themselves and the audience in the sordid murders they (we) were watching in the dark? Or was the film withdrawn simply because producer Nat Cohen wanted a knighthood and was worried over his reputation as a peddler of “filth”? The bitterest blow for Powell would have been seeing his long-time rival Alfred Hitchcock have another success a few months later with Psycho, a film which allows its audience similar female-slaughtering thrills without questioning the role of the viewer in sustaining the drama. Hitchcock spent much of his career “punishing” women in a manner that verges on outright misogyny yet was indulged all along by audience and critics; Powell made a single film about a murderer and was himself punished for it. His other films often featured strong female characters, and I’ve long regarded him as the superior artist.

The Guardian this week celebrated Powell’s film with a number of articles: Peeping Tom may have been nasty but it didn’t deserve critics’ cold shoulder, Peeping Tom, pornography and the press, The Peeping Tom timebomb.

A Wizard of Earthsea: an unfilmed screenplay from 1983 by Michael Powell and Ursula K Le Guin based on Le Guin’s first two Earthsea novels.

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A boy in a dress with mother and sister, 1860. Yesterday was the 12th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Quaintance by Reed Massengill and Dian Hanson, in which the pioneer of 20th century beefcake art gets the heavyweight Taschen treatment. Expensive but they’re making these volumes for obsessives. Related: Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, an exhibition of gay and lesbian art at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The gallery has a preview of the exhibition here. On a more humble level, BUTT magazine has a recreation of Quentin Crisp’s inevitably messy New York City apartment.

• From gay art to gay song and dance: Queer To The Core!: Queer Rock From The Vaults! Super-rare novelty singles with titles like Queer Police by Billy Devroe and The Devilaires. Meanwhile Cleveland Street: The Musical is a forthcoming stage celebration of Victorian London’s notorious male brothel. By Glenn Chandler, creator of the popular TV detective series Taggart (!) whose earlier musicals have titles like Boys of the Empire and Scouts in Bondage.

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Strikingly androgynous male model Andrej Pejic photographed by Armin Morbach. There’s a lot more Andrej Pejic at Homotography.

Thrilling Wonder Stories II, “eight hours of architectural futurism featuring an unbelievable line-up of novelists, game designers, animators, scientists, comic book artists, architects, and more”. At the Architectural Association, London, November 26.

• “The iPad is one of the oldest things in the world…a pad or a slate.” Artist Tom Phillips reworks A Humument for a new medium. Related: Creating new books from old, in which Jonathan Safran Foer follows Phillips’ lead by cutting words from Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles to create a new work, Tree of Codes.

• “Technology is turning us into switchboard operators in the communication networks of our own lives.” I know the feeling. Rick Poynor on the seductive tyranny of design technology.

• Comic artist Moebius gets the Tumblr treatment. And speaking of Tumblr, my thanks to everyone who’s been reblogging the Cephalopod Bride.

Skull Comics, 1970–72, at Golden Age Comic Book Stories. Underground artists excavate Lovecraftian horrors, among other things.

The lost town of Dunwich.

The Bells of Dunwich (1975) by Stone Angel | Dunwich Beach, Autumn, 1960 (1982) by Brian Eno.

 


 

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6 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Gabriel McCann

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    Some names lose their glamour if you change them or translate them

    Giuseppe Verdi = Joe Green

    or
    Al Hitch and Fred Cock

    What’s your favourite Powell film?

    MIne is probably A Matter of Life and Death.

    He did get to make a couple of films here in Australia after Peeping Tom.
    the best with an extremely young Helen Mirren

    Check out the poster:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Consent_(film)

  2. #2 posted by John

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    I’m not sure which is my favourite, it probably oscillates between AMOLAD and The Red Shoes, the latter being one of Martin Scorsese’s all-time favourites. There’s still a couple of Powell’s later things I’ve not seen, including Age of Consent which for some reason never used to turn up on TV. Anything the Archers made from Colonel Blimp to The Tales of Hoffman I can watch over and over.

  3. #3 posted by matthew brandi

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    “Psycho, a film which allows its audience similar female-slaughtering thrills without questioning the role of the viewer in sustaining the drama.”

    I’m glad you mentioned Psycho, as a lot of the recent discussion hasn’t. Bafflingly, one would think!

    I don’t think the difference is that Psycho doesn’t let you know you’re complicit (I think it does, but that might not be what you’re denying), it is that Hitchcock is never going to blame you for wanting to kill women, nor for wanting Bates to get away with it (the car sinking scene).

    By excluding the more problematic (and more “normal”) film from discussion, we all get to feel better about ourselves. Ho hum!

    AMOLAD vs The Red Shoes: TRS seems tauter, a relentless machine. In some moods, that seems a virtue.

  4. #4 posted by Gabriel McCann

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    Hitchcock got away with Psycho because it was in b&w not colour and also because of Bernard Herrman’s score. Even so it was X-rated for it’s time and Hitch did cop a lot of flak for it.

    Jenny Agutter is even younger in another film made downunder by a Brit director

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgWrVIPAzJo

  5. #5 posted by Gabriel McCann

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    And of course Hitchcock had an inbuilt audience from all the people who watched his TV show:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09Zsd858KQs

    Plus Psycho was shot quite cheaply using the crew from the TV show too.

  6. #6 posted by Evan

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    How did I miss Moebius? I found an artist, Seth Fisher, whom I adore, but he’s dead. I wondered if I’d find other artists in his style, and it seems he’s profoundly influenced by Moebius:

    Flowering Nose

 


 

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