Jakarta! Here’s a mural painted on the stanchion for an elevated railroad in Menteng, not far from the used record bazaar of Jalan Surabaya. Dig the monkey with the Walkman!
So the copyediting is done and now Monsoon Books is working on the cover design for Singapore Black. This is the cover we wanted to go with but the Southeast Asia distributor got feedback that it was “too sinister,” so we’re back to the drawing board. I was plumping for a sort of retro, pulp fiction detective style, but apparently that’s too hip and fun so we are instead going for an “airport thriller” cover. No mock-ups yet, but stay tuned…
From Kate Manning, over at the NYTimes
The Limey, Steven Soderbergh. 1999. The most sophisticated of Soderbergh’s films, a compact, nifty postmodern confection that hews close to its roots in both California noir and British gangster movies. The casting is metatextual genius: Sixties icons Peter Fonda and Barry Newman play the baddies; has-been Brit bad boy Stamp is the ex-con hero out to avenge his daughter’s death. We recognize them for who they are yet still believe them in character, which creates strange resonance. But it’s the editing that steals the show. The narrative is mostly flashback from Stamp’s perspective on the flight home from LA. The weird cross-cutting, the out of sequence dialogue, the odd mixing of background sound from one scene to another—and the infamous use of clips from Ken Loach’s 1967 film starring Stamp to create backstory—all create a narrative grammar that elevates the film into the art house. That the whole thing plays like an enjoyably slick Hollywood flick is testament to the director’s canny powers. Me moment: I met actor Luis Guzman when he was filming on location on the block where I lived in Harlem; nice guy!
Marquis de Sade’ Justine, Chris Boger. 1977. It’s a B-movie starring a manic Jack Palance (believe it or not) as a perverted monk, Klaus Kinksi as de Sade (without a single line), and a frequently nude 20 year old named Koo Stark in the titular role. Filmed on location in Gaudi-esque buildings or on sound stages that resemble a Disneyland adventure ride, the sets are best described as surreal. Yet the film is truer to de Sade’s original theory and implication than anything with a bigger budget and grander ambitions has accomplished (cif, Pasolini’s arty-farty version of 120 Days of Sodom). The cruelty inherent in human nature, which seems its most depraved when mixed with lust and bodily fluid, is explored in the de Sadian key of life, which in the end is less a source of titillation than it is a bottom-up view of both obnoxious left-wing peace and love rhetoric and repugnant right-wing “only the fittest survive” ideology. That the sadist critique involves buggery is the price of admission.