Taking a Break

I’m off on a little adventure.  I’ve scheduled Part Three of the BBC Pre-Raphaelite documentary to appear next Sunday, but other than that, no new posts until ~7 December 2015.

Bowie’s Back

…and he’s re-invented himself yet again.

He has a new album called ★ (aka Blackstar), and, if this 10-minute video for the title song is any indication, it’s like nothing he’s ever done before, although it’s possible that Major Tom makes an appearance.

I don’t know.   The video is ripe for parody, but Bowie’s spent his life taking us to exotic new places that we’d never imagined could exist until he showed them to us.  This will take some getting used to, but if the past is any indication, it will be worth it.

★ will be released on 8 January 2016.

Some Notes

  • The ★ video was by Swedish director Johan Renck, who’s a prolific creator of music videos and advertisements.  He also directs TV shows, including an episode of Bates Motel and an episode of The Walking Dead.
  • Renck also directed three episodes of—wait for it—Breaking Bad.
  • Renck used part of the song as the theme for his new European crime thriller, The Last Panthers, a six-episode series that started on Sky Atlantic in the UK this month.
  • “David Bowie is”, the amazing V&A exhibition that I saw at the Art Gallery of Ontario a couple of years ago, is nearing the end of its tour.  It closed in Melbourne at the beginning of November.   Last chance to see it will probably be at Groninger Museum in the Netherlands from 11 December 2015 to 13 March 2016.

Kelburn Castle — Neuchwanstein on Acid

The Boyle family has had extensive holdings in North Ayrshire, Scotland, since the 12th Century. They built the house that would eventually evolve into Kelburn Castle in the 13th, which makes it one of the oldest castles in Scotland.  David Boyle was created Earl of Glasgow in 1703, and Kelburn Castle has been the seat of the Earl of Glasgow ever since.

In 2007, the Earl was told that the castle’s concrete facing was decaying, and would have to be replaced.  As a temporary measure, and with the approval of Historic Scotland, Lord Glasgow invited graffiti artists to paint Kelburn Castle, in an attempt to minimize further damage to the stonework.  These pictures, all found on the Net, show the result.

The “temporary measure” was a huge success, and seems to have become permanent.  Lord Glasgow has asked Historic Scotland to approve the graffiti as a feature.

The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay Part 2 — The End Is Near

One day to go.

On 20 November 2015, The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay Part 2, aka THG:MP2, will launch simultaneously in the US and in 86 other countries.  It’s expected to be phenomenally successful.

Because of that International Dateline thingie, some of the earliest showings will take place in China, where the Hunger Games movies have a huge fan base.

Here’s the Chinese poster for the final episode of the franchise:

Memento Remake — I’m Going to Try to Forget I Ever Heard about This

The Original Memento Trailer

A Luxembourg-based company called AMBI Pictures has acquired the remake rights scores of fairly recent movies, including Donnie Darko, Sliding Doors, The Singing Detective, and The Passion of the Christ.  They’ve announced that they plan to remake what’s probably the greatest film in the package:    Christopher Nolan’s Memento.


Memento, high on my list of favourite films, is as close to perfect as a movie can get.  In each of the 20+ times I’ve watched this dazzling masterpiece, I’ve found something new.

In the last few years, a couple of my other favourites have been remade.  In 2004, Jonathan Demme re-imagined The Manchurian Candidate.  I wish he’d given it another title—It was a good suspense movie, but it wasn’t The Manchurian Candidate.  Then in 2010, Matt Reeves remade the devastating Let the Right One In as Let Me In, another fine film that suffers in comparison to its inspiration.

Maybe AMBI Pictures can do something new and different with Memento, but the odds are against it.   Usually—but not always—the remake, no matter how good, is overshadowed by the original.

The one great exception I can think of was another movie from the top of my list:  The Maltese Falcon that we know and love was the third filmed version of Dashiell Hammett’s novel.

Oh, wait.  The AMBI Group has another project in the works.  They’re going to tackle Federico Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita .   They’re calling it an “homage”.

This won’t end well.

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain, from La Dolce Vita