My friend Don, a real railroad buff (unlike me he has a toy train), sent me this moody railroad photo. It's moodier than the one I posted yesterday, certainly, and more olde-tymey.
Yesterday I wrote that the train tracks of my childhood, heading west, stopped at Chatsworth. That's what I get for looking at a satellite photo and not a map. In fact, they go all the way out past Oxnard to the Pacific Ocean, and head up the California coast. That's more like it.
The other night I watched I Am Legend (2007), with Will Smith, the third of the movies made from Richard Matheson's novel of this name. It's not a film I would pay to rent, or even bother to tape when broadcast; it was a library check out. In general, I liked it, but I think my favorite adaptation is still "The Last Man on Earth" (1964), with Vincent Price. It's bleaker, smaller scaled and in black and white, which I think suits the story better.
Frankly, however, I am so tired of typical recent Hollywood product that I have a bias that I have to overcome to even like recent films... when they're not being preachy they're being obnoxiously politically correct. Or heavily laden with pop cultural references, which I find intensely annoying. (For instance, in this film Will Smith recites from memory a long section of dialogue from a Shrek film. How cute.)
I'm almost done with A No. 1's "From Coast to Coast With Jack London"; it is a much better work than "The Trail of the Tramp." I see the hobo movie I watched the other week, "The Emperor of the North Pole," is adapted from it - sort of.
Last night I watched a documentary on the life and music of Hank Williams, which I found interesting. I have never been a country music fan, but a few years ago I found myself listening to Porter Wagoner. (I go where my ADD takes me.) And he's good - I like his music, for the most part - but I can see now that Hank Williams was the real thing. Purer country, or country music in its most characteristic form. I might even be able to develop a taste for it.
Not the newer country music, which I find too heavily influenced by pop and rock and roll - what I dismissively call Soccer Mom music. I mean the original stuff: Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb - that music. Maybe I'll look for some library CDs...
I never thought I'd find myself liking what is known as Western Swing (the stuff Roy Rogers and Gene Autry sang in the 1940's), but I do.
Tonight TCM is doing a retrospective on the films of Morris Engel, called the first real independent filmmaker. I've set the VHS recorder. I've seen his films on display as DVDs in Video Vault but have never checked any of them out. I always like 1950's black and white films showing New York City (the closest thing we have to a time machine) so I should like these.
Part of the thrill noirheads like me get with old films is seeing those great, moody and expressionistic shots of city exteriors, especially at night, or in the half-light of dawn or dusk. After awhile you begin to become visually addicted to low key lighting. (This kind of thing.) There's a kind of visual poetry about it that I really appreciate...
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