Derik Badman's Journal

2021-03-07 08:56

Did some more weeding of books yesterday and a bit of reorganization. A lot of the RPG books went into a box: rules I don't need because I have options I like better; settings that I just won't ever want to run; resources that don't seem like they'll ever be useful or are redundant to something else I have. The shelf is a lot emptier now which I like.

I also set up a small area next to my desk of inspirational art books, those I could page through just for enjoyment but also that I think about in relation to maybe making some comics. Still deciding what should go there but currently it has: Uta Barth, Twombly, De Chirico, Ian Wallace, Ancient Greek Vase Painting, Tantra Song, and the Emily Dickinson Gorgeous Nothings book.

Yesterday's movie was Josef Von Sternberg's Shanghai Express which I thought I had seen before, but on watching it... I don't think I have. It's one of those movies that takes place largely on or around a train, in this case in 30's China during the civil war. It's basically a love story about faith starring Marlene Dietrich and some guy whose name I have already forgotten (he was not particularly memorably, especially when working with Deitrich and Anna May Wong the other lead). I enjoyed it: the plot is a bit suspenseful, it has a wealth of side characters, the leading ladies are beautiful and interesting, and it is visually dynamic, very noirish looking: dark shadows, tight interiors, a bunch of cases of shooting day for night that gives every a kind of gray haze, some excellent use of really strong lighting. One scene late in the movie that really hit me is during close-up of Dietrich (there are quite a few, all impeccably shot) she is smoking and blows smoke out of her mouth and just for a moment her face is obscured by the smoke and then it is revealed again. If I recall correctly, it coincides with a sense of seeing her anew by one of the other characters who has changed his opinion about her character. I didn't realize that one first watching, but it makes sense now in rethinking about it.

Started in on Frans G. Bengtsson's The Long Ships a Icelandic Saga like novel about vikings in the 10th-11th century. We'll see how it goes.