As you can see from my reviews, I like to mix the very high with the very low brow's of art, though my general orientation is towards the low-brow stuff...But every now and again I like to have my synapses massaged by some really slow, really artsy-fartsy Euro cinema, where nothing happens, landscapes are everything, psychology is thrown out the window and EXISTENCE is all that matters. Victor Erice is one of those Euro directors I describe as 'elemental'...His films ooze natural rhythms and colour, most of them being orange browns and dark greens, and the sounds are ambient winds and rains. I saw his 'Spirit of the Beehive' a few years ago in a cinema after smoking a few joints, and yes the slow languid arthouse pace was almost putting me into a coma, but there was something else going on, from the rustling trees to the endless landscapes to the slow shots of a young girl walking across a barren landscape – the whole spaciousness of the film riveted me. Erice's cinema's is organic and wide. So after having it sit on my shelf for some special occasion I pulled out his 90s film 'El Sol Del Membrillo' (the Quince Tree of the Sun), which is basically 2 and a bit hours of Spanish painter Antonio Lopez painting a quince tree (interesting to note that Lopez does lots of moderns urban landscapes). Yep, a movie about a guy painting a tree. Now this is no ordinary tree, a Quince tree is like a pear tree. The Quince has a firm, rounded texture and is is bright yellow. It is, by for all intents a purposes and very 'artistic' tree, in that is has lots of surfaces and textures. Erice doesn't miss a beat in capturing thought surfaces and textures, but then capturing the more important aspects that surround or enliven the tree visually – light, shadows, visual composition. This is a move as a painting and a film about making a painting. Erice takes the 'visuality' of cinema to the core of all visual art – painting – a makes it interesting in it's own right.
In between Lopez battles with elements, talks with other artists about like and art, while the world around his changes in complex synchronicity with his emerging work. This is deep stuff without hitting you on the head with morality and psychology, it's a film that just happens – a tree grows, a painter paints it as it grows, and then the fruit falls, dies, decays until next season. Life.
The DVD I got is a killer, it's a Spanish release with English sub-titles. It's not perfect hi-def quality , but image quality is nice, there are screen artifacts to keep it all real – the print is approved by Erice himself. There's also some great extras including s Spanish TV interview with both Eric and Lopes and a fantastic video sketchbook of Lopez painting done by Eric himself. All up a quality film and a quality, 'exotic' DVD package.
I finally watched the bootleg I've got of Budd Boetticher's fantastic western 'the Tall T'..Boetticher is quickly becoming 'the bloke' when it comes to American westerns in my headspace. His compact, violent and meaningful B-westerns are all worthwhile. The ones I've seen – 'Seven men from now' and 'Commanche Station' – are all A-grade stuff contrary to their status, but 'the Tall T' is what I'd call a killer. Randolph Scott once again plays the good moral guy Pat Brennan, who comes to a small outpost and promises the son of a friend some candy. On the way though he loses his horse, and hitches back with a newly web couple. Upon return to the ranch they find it taken over by ruthless thugs, his friend and son both murdered, and a hostage situation ensues when the pussy-husband uses his wealthy wife as a bargaining chip for their freedom. This is dark, violent stuff, especially for a 50s movie, but it proves that
even in violence and immorality you can still play tough but fair: Brennan shoots the motherfuckers in the front not back, which in todays fuckhead world is the norm.
It's also proudly politically incorrect, having one of the thug be a psycho Asian called 'Chink. Scott is once again solid as a rock, Richard Boone adds complexity to Frank Usher, the thug's leader, and Henry Silva, known for his roles in Italian poliziescos, like the classic 'Manhunt', plays the outta control 'Chink. It's a crime that such a great, brutal Western like the 'Tall T' isn't on DVD, and buggered if I know why it's called 'The Tall T'!