Derik Badman's Journal

2020-04-14 08:33

Rain and wind yesterday, so our power went out twice, only very briefly, but that's all it takes to disrupt my work and force me to restart my computer. Minor frustrations, but they interrupt the flow of my day and thus seem outsized.

Rewatched Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai over the past two days. It over relies on his narration, one gets the feeling Welles just really wanted to use his Irish accent more. The ending in the funhouse gets a lot of attention for its flashiness, but there is a scene at a beach party earlier in the movie that really stood out for me. The focus is on some of the main characters sitting in chairs talking and drinking, but there is a lot going on behind them, people, food, musicians, boats, an excess over what the scene really required, especially with how much it focuses on close-ups of the characters. Lots of close-ups in the movie as a whole, so you really see the actor's faces and their expressions, especially the really creepy Grisby, played wonderfully by Glenn Anders (who it turns out was a Broadway actor, not in many films), with a mix of menace, desperation, and sneering taudriness that really adds to the atmosphere of the plot.

Welles gets in a few rollicking fight scenes, where he swings large roundhouses and rolls about. I have to imagine he enjoyed those. One in a judge's office, makes sure to involve just about every piece of furniture in the room, knocked over, broken, scattered items, broken glass, it's all a big mess by the end, far exceeding any necessity for the plot or tension about the fight's outcome.

Started rereading Samuel Delany's Return to Neveryon series, a sword and sorcery series in four books (compromising a number of short stories, novels, and novellas). Finished up the first story from Tales of Neveryon, "The Tale of Gorgik" which introduces a central figure in the series. I think the series doesn't get enough attention or credit because it is a bit difficult and unusual. Delany was highly influenced by "theory" (as in (post)structuralist, etc.) in the writing of it, so it's not just action and adventure (often very little of either), but it is often more about examining the society than magic or monsters (very little of either). They are enjoyable though, if you can alter your expectations for what a sword & sorcery story should be. I expect the introductory essay, written by a fictional contemporary academic (who Delany has used in a few books), would turn off a lot of people from the start, too.