Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Life Aquatic

The life aquatic is possibly my favourite Bill Murray movie, with a brilliant performance from him, and another scene stealer from Jeff Goldblum. Bill Murray's trademark deadpan attitude works so well in this film, and contrasts nicely with the quirkiness of the visuals, which I find myself unable to describe, it needs to be seen to understand properly, but quirky is the best word. The film is beautiful, and the team zissou typeface as can be seen on the movie poster above, is very well chosen, it has a very specific feel that really fits in with the mood. The editing is also very well done, with some hilarious shots, my favourite being during the raid on the hotel where Seu Jorge, the black crew member wears his diving headpiece like a ridiculous hat, that had me laughing uncontrollably.
The film skews between humour and tragedy, similarly to Withnail & I, and has an extremely touching ending. The last shot is actually a parody of reality, where Sofia Coppola's father carried her on his shoulders down a red carpet. As Steve Zissou boards his boat once again, having won respect once more, he is haunted by his losses; his dead adopted son stands atop the boat smoking a pipe, looking out to see, appearing for a curtain call.

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation is a film by Sofia Coppola, and stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The film is set in Tokyo and focuses on two people who begin to question why they’re in the situation they’re in. the film deals with the concepts of loneliness alienation and dealing with a completely different culture.
Lost in translation is just a wonderful film. It just makes you feel good. There’s something reassuring about knowing you aren’t the only person who doesn’t know why or how their lives have ended up the way they have. Its also reassuring to know that you aren’t the only person who finds themselves doing nothing day in and day out because they feel lost in the world they’ve found themselves in. lost in translation makes you feel cosy. Nothing really happens in it, and it’s not hero-centric or tacky like a lot of films. Its just a film about two people getting on with their lives as best as they can in a place they don’t understand, and the way the film is shot illustrates this. There is never one specific palette or shot style, but the different techniques flow well into each other, and create different moods. The beauty of the film is in it's representation of Tokyo, and the shiny veneer it consists of. Lost in Translation is about looking for meaning, and the only place you can find that is within yourself or in other people. The fullness yet emptiness of the place encourages reflection, and the scene where Scarlett's character visits Kyoto (which the brilliant band Air did a great song for) is affecting in it's beauty, where she witnesses many things of value to others, but she feels nothing because she is so detached.

Barnaby Ward

Barnaby Ward is one of my favourite artists, partially because of the fact that the techniques he works with are those that I am personally comfortable with, so I can hope to be this good in the future. The digital side of things is minimal, which suits me down to the ground. I love how he keeps the emphasis on his linework by using flat colours (often completely unrelated to the subject he has drawn) and how his lines are so sweepy and clean, yet still have a sketchy air about them. His ability to draw attractive women is enviable, and his ability to make a seemingly random premise look beautiful and desirable even more so. His imagination knows know bounds, as can be seen in his book 'sixteen miles to merrick's', and i recommend buying that heartily.
He also does design work, like this poster for Mtv in sweden:

I love everything about this poster, and the choice of typography is really inspiring, especially on that shade of pink. Check his work out at

Tetsuya Nomura

Tetsuya Nomura is a concept artist, most notably for Squaresoft, now Square-enix on titles like Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. His style has evolved over time from simple manga style line art into a distinctive angular style with a huge range of line weights.
He is never without ideas for character designs, and every character he invents is iconic and original in their own right.
Tetsuya Nomura and Yoshitaka Amano have between them changed the face of concept art for videogames. The themes and designs of Nomura's art have been adopted by many other japanese concept artists, and serve as an inspiration in that their distinctive boldness and recurring features of costumes have been emulated by many other japanese games.

Withnail & I

Withnail & I is widely regarded as one of the best British films ever made. Made by Handmade films, a name that everyone should respect as a maker of incredible cult movies, Withnail & I is made great by the performances of Paul McGann and Richard E Grant as two unemployed actors, and especially by the script. Originally intended as a novel, it becomes clear when you read the script that Withnail & I was so sharply written as to be perfectly suited toward almost any audience, while being incredibly clever, debauched and genuinely saddening come the final scenes.

The End-
In the rain, Withnail accompanies Marwood to the train station, swinging a bottle of '53 Margeux and conflicted and upset. He puts a face on it and says goodbye to Marwood, who is leaving to lead in a play. Turning around hopeless, Withnail walks to the fence of London zoo, wolves padding around beneath the trees on the other side, and begins to recite the speech from Hamlet act 2 scene 2. It is soon apparent that Withnail is an incredibly talented actor. The wolves don't care. Finishing, defeated, Withnail turns away and walks across the park, a victim of his own destructive nature.


Hokusai was the most famous of the ukiyo-e printmakers, with the above print from his 'views of mount fuji' series being beloved around the world. He was extremely prolific, and as well as creating a great many prints, made tons of sketchbooks and instructionary works. He was so skilled as to be able to create smooth gradients using his woodblocks, as you can see from these two examples. He used these gradients often, to build intensity in the picture. His work was often painstakingly drawn and carved, with tiny attention to detail given his medium.
I am always impressed and inspired by his devotion to each picture.
What I learnt from hokusai's work is the importance of building intensity where it is needed, to stir an atmosphere. I also learnt the different ways that colour can play a role in the picture's structure and mood.

John Byrne

John Byrne, along with Marc Sylvestri, is my favourite comic book artist. He has a talent for making really clean line work which never looks imposing, headachey or too complicated despite it's often insane attention to detail. He also was probably the most influential person in making Wolverine as popular as he is today, due to their shared Canadian origins. Byrne's art is never less than perfect, his characters are never ever off model. He really cares about the characters he draws, and his enthusiasm for comics has only been rocked by the corporate world they now exist in. Comics themselves Byrne has many opinions about, which have often landed him in hot water with co-workers, but it is evident in his words and in his work that Byrne really cares about what he does.
I really admire his work because of his consistency and eye for a good pose. His detailed yet clear style is something I really aspire to.