Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bela Tarr – Satan Tango & other films

A cat dies
A child commits suicide
It rains continuously
It ends with an ageing, possibly dying man as he boards up his window to sit in complete darkness on a desolate muddy wet failing farm collective.

Its a hard film to sell……

so, its 7 hours long, its in black and white, its Hungarian and very, very little happens, oh and did i mention that Bela Tarr [ the director] is particularly well known for extremely slow moving and enormously long takes.

But, there is something magical and hypnotic about the process of watching his films. The are both boring and mesmerizing at exactly the same moment. Images from his work stay with you, haunt you, creep into your own dreams.

They may change the way you look at cinema.

From Wikipedia
After 1984’s Őszi almanach (Almanac of Fall), Tarr (who had written his first four features alone) began collaborating with Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai for 1988’s Kárhozat (Damnation). A planned adaptation of Krasznahorkai’s epic novel Sátántangó took over seven years to realize; the 415-minute film finally appeared to international acclaim in 1994.[1] After the epic he released a 35-minute film Journey on the Plain in 1995 and fell into silence until the 2000 film Werckmeister Harmóniák (Werckmeister Harmonies), occasionally shot in very intense circumstances.[such as?] The film itself was very warmly welcomed by critics and the Festival circuit in general. Many if not most of the shots in these later films are up to eleven minutes long. It may take months to do a single shot. The camera swoops, glides, and soars. It circles the characters, it moves from scene to scene. It may, as in Sátántangó, travel with a herd of cows around a village, or follow the nocturnal peregrinations of an obese agoraphobic drunk who is forced to leave his house because he’s run out of booze. Susan Sontag championed Tarr as one of the saviors of the modern cinema, saying she would gladly watch Sátántangó once a year.
After Werckmeister he began filming A Londoni férfi (The Man From London) an adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel. It was scheduled to be released at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in May, but production had to be shut down because of the suicide of producer Humbert Balsan on February 10, 2005 and there were disputes with the other producers over a possible change in the film’s financing.[3] It premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival[4] and was released worldwide in 2008. Tarr then began working on a film called A torinói ló (The Turin Horse) which he has said will be his last.
For many years, none of his work was available on DVD (except in Japan), but Werckmeister Harmonies and Damnation have been made available on a two-disc DVD in Europe, courtesy of Artificial Eye (who have also issued The Man From London) and both films are now available in North America on separate DVDs from Facets Video. Tarr’s early works; Family Nest, The Outsider, and The Prefab People; are also available on DVD in the USA, courtesy of Facets. Facets was supposed to release Sátántangó on DVD on November 28, 2006, but was delayed until July 22, 2008. Artificial Eye released the film on November 14, 2006. A comparison of the two DVD editions has been posted at DVD Beaver.[5]

Comanche Joe and the erotic gaze

A friend writes fabulous and funny stories about a talking dog who inhabits a mildly surreal wild west town.
With his permission, I have borrowed the character to try and write my own version of a Comanche Joe story.
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

On a dog day afternoon, Comanche Joe, the only talking dog in the west, or for that matter the east, is lying under the wheels of the undertakers cart, trying to find a little shade. He pants, his tongue a neat pink triangle against his sandy yellow coat and not for the first time, deeply regrets the inability of dogs to sweat when over heating.

Main street is deserted, the heat and dust has driven everyone indoors where desperate measures are being taken, hats that have not left their wearers head since the last funeral are being removed, neckerchiefs are being pressed into service to mop brows and other secret cowboy sweaty places. The desperate school teacher, having first checked that no-one can see into the school house is stood, clad only in an oyster pink silk slip with her head resting on the third shelf of her refrigerator.

So, it is Comanche Joe and he alone , that is the only denizen of Whispering Falls to see the approaching dot, that becomes a dust cloud that finally resolves itself into a covered wagon which lumbers up Main Street.

Comanche Joe, his curiosity piqued, wriggles forward, loth to loose the tiny relief this shade is giving, but his canine sense, something he usually manages to to keep firmly under lock and key, is on very high alert. He pushes back a bark and out of habit, glances around to check that no-body has noticed this social gaffe.

The covered wagon comes to a halt beside the silent saloon, the girls have declared today a “Me Day” and have de-camped to the woods for a session of positive re-affirmation and Reiki Healing on the grounds that it’s too hot today even for cowboy pleasuring.

Comanche Joe cannot help but notice that there is something different, something unusual about this wagon – Doc Ezekiels’ Amazing Travelling Motion Picture Show – with funding from the Arts Council wild west division – is written in huge, brightly colored letters all over the drab canvas cover.
“Hmm” thinks Comanche Joe “Comic Sans”, he has always been a afficianado of contemporary fonts.

A man steps down from the wagon, tall, thin, an aspirational mustache barely covers his upper lip, he unfolds his limbs in a complex stretch and Comanche recognizes the yogic movement – The Dog and wonders briefly if the cattle drovers will re-start the yoga sessions once the steers have been brought in and the hard drinking is over. Their cycle of binge and de-tox is as familiar as the seasons of snow, drought and mud.

The man stares up the almost silent street, the only sound the clattering of the wooden shingle outside the undertakers storefront.

A fly buzzes past Comanche and he swats it with his paw.

There is silence and then the man breaks it

“well, better check the reels”

and suddenly Comanche is all ears

Cinema thinks Joe and not for the first time, Comanche is relieved that last year, despite heavy pressure from the hands at the Lazy Z ranch, he did not abandon his subscription to Cahiers Du Cinema, he re-lives Slim Chances’ denouncement of art house cinema as a bastion of bourgeois values and their impassioned arguments on the place of melodrama in the canon of Queer Film.

The man – Doctor Ezekiel he presumes, is fumbling inside the wagon and then re-appears with a large metal film case and a reel to reel projector.
Comanche moves forward, wondering what cinematic delights the Arts Council – wild west division, is about to offer up. Half hidden in the gloom of the cart he is torn between a reflection on the work of the seminal French writers and their description of the transgressive gaze and a mild longing for a tub of hot buttered pop corn.

The reel starts and Comanche is transfixed, suddenly the late night bunk house discussions on the power of voyeurism in film make complete sense.

Joe, hidden in the dark is staring at the pinnacle of female perfection.
His tail wags slowly in the dust.
He cannot take his eyes off her .

And afterwards, when Doctor Ezekiel has wandered off to drum up trade for the evenings’ screening, Comanche is silent, speechless.
For the first time in his talking life, he cannot find the words.

He licks at a rough spot on his flank and finally says the only word that makes any sense.


And this is why girls love their ponies……. WARNING ADULT CONTENT

Sitting astride him, strong thighs wrapped round his waist, she cannot help but notice how delicate, even fragile his body is.
His chest is narrow, the skin pale, soft, almost hairless, she can see each rib, a delicate birdcage of bones, His body moving upwards in rhythmic movement. She focuses, starts to pay attention, her movements mirroring his, her buttocks, muscular, firm, lifting an inch or two away from his groin with each upward thrust.
He groans.
Pleasure ?
Pain ?
She wonders if she has been too firm, too strong.
His hip bones are sharp, razor like. She can almost imagine them grazing the delicate skin of her inner thighs and she moves with him, trying to keep the rhythm, feels herself get left behind and hoping to camouflage her loss of momentum, she leans towards his face. His breath is on her, soft, smelling of red wine and cigarettes.
With one hand, she gently traces the angles of his face, runs a finger over his lips, his mouth opens and his teeth nip at that finger, catching the end of her nail.
She moves her hand into his hair, short, a no nonsense no 2 all over. Her caress causes him to writhe, his head thrown back on the pillow and she is drifting, drifting away………….
The other one, the other one, her stolen moment that morning, he is creeping into this moment, his presence filing her, diminishing the man beneath her.

HIS muscles, taut, firm against her hands, her thighs, her bum. His every movement radiates strength, certainty, a muscularity of purpose. She moved happily against HIM, the rythmn one of knowingness, beyond conscious though.

At full gallop she is aware only of the speed, the strength, his power beneath her and when they are alone together, away from prying eyes, she gives her self totally to the moment.

Her jodphurs are tight.
Skin tight.

She pushes her self deeper into the saddle, feeling her cunt moisten, react to the pressure,the movement, the animal smell.

Her fingers curl into his mane, tugging tighter and tighter as she comes closer to orgasm and she kicks him on, pushing for a last blast of eye watering speed.

At the top of the hill, they both pause, re-gain their breath, his sides are heaving. She leans her head into his, rubbing her face on the soft velvetyness of his neck, his ears.

She sighs, stretches her legs, feels and savors the after shocks of tiny, tiny pin pricks of pleasure.

Shaking her head, dragging herself back to this presence, looks down at the man beneath her, her hips rotate, his prick held tight within her.

She rides him hard, pushes him to come, to cry out and then to sink, fall back on the pillow, passion spent.

And afterwards, when they lie together, in easy familiarity, his hand tracing lazy circles on her breasts, he wonders, not for the first time, what exactly it is she thinks about when they have sex.

slouching towards bethlehem

He knows he ought to feel pity for her, she is so clearly exhausted, her face pinched, white, her head droops towards the donkeys’ neck and each time it falls, she starts and with that terrible inner determination, pulls herself upwards, sits up straight and stares at the hot sandy landscape.
Yes, he ought to feel pity for her, but anytime he comes close, she does that thing again. That smile, that hand on her swollen belly, that radiating joy that shuts him out and the anger rises in him, bitter bile in his mouth and he can hardly bear to look at her, just stomps ahead, dragging the donkey towards Bethlehem.

He was pleased when his parents chose her, shy, quiet, a bit religious, but that’s a good thing in a woman and besides, he blamed her mother for that, knew that once her got her away, filled her full of his babies, she would make a good wife, dutiful, obedient, bowing to his will.

And he would make a good husband, a good provider, who’s ever heard of a carpenter going hungry?
He’s well respected, a craftsman, skilled, hard-working, a solid, steady man, goes to the temple, pays his tithes, doesn’t get involved with all this talk of the Messiah, of revolution, of up-risings.

Then she drops the bombshell, an angel, a bloody angel and her mother, her sisters, they’re not beating her, locking her away, no, there’s hugs and prayers [ there’s always bloody prayers in that family] and celebration and he’s just standing there on the side-lines, mouth open, wondering what in gods’ name he’s got himself involved in and of course it gets round and its the talk of the tavern. He endures the slaps on the back, the drinks offered, tries to smile,his face a grimace of anger and confusion and he wants to shout out
“I never bloody touched her, she says it’s a angel”
While the anger grows inside him and all the time she sits, the stupid smile on her face, surrounded by the simpering women.

And the Romans decide they need to count everyone, he doesn’t know why and it’s not enough to be counted, you have to be counted in the town where you were born which is why he’s travelling towards Bethlehem, with this woman, his wife,a woman he has never touched, never seen naked, had no pleasure from . The woman who’s saving her self for the angels.

He spits his disgust into the sand, wonders if they’ll make Bethlehem by nightfall, wonders what the local wine is like, wonders if the baby will come out here, in the middle of bloody no-where, wonders if the angels will come and give a hand.

The town is rammed, no room for them, no room for an ordinary working man, tired, poor, travel stained and all the time, she’s got that look on her face, the one when she looks like she’s listening to voices a long way away. It doesn’t help.

Finally, thank God, an inn keeper says they can sleep in the barn, like it’s a favor, he still charges enough for it. The pity in his eyes cause the anger to rise again, but she is nodding, smiling and Joseph knows they can go no further.

The barn is warm, the animals quietly chewing, stars shining in the black sky, he can hear singing coming from the tavern and realizes that there is no-where he would rather be, among the conversation of men. A world he understands. He calls out to a child to bring wine, lots of wine. This is not a night for sobriety.

She manages it, the thing of women on her own, silently, never cries out and then afterwards, the baby at her breast, her face bent towards it, she never even notices he is is not there.

Joseph stands outside the stable, the wine is bitter, thin but he drinks it and waits for the night, this night to be over.


Happy Holiday Wishes from rubiesandduels – purveyors of fine fiction & experimental writing

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

And for your viewing pleasure over the holiday season – the complete and glorously black and white “Its a Wonderful Life”

Happy Holidays to all our readers xxxxx


Support your local bookshop

This was e-mailed to me, I have spent many happy hours in independent bookshops over the years, if you value the contribution such shops make, please share this and campaign for better support for local boook sellers.

We run the Warwick and Kenilworth bookshops, independent retailers which have been a proud part of our local high streets for many years.

As we run into the busy Christmas period, we face unrelenting pressure from huge online retailers, like Amazon, undercutting prices — and it’s pushing businesses like ours to the brink.

But what’s even worse is that Amazon, despite making sales of £2.9 billion in the UK last year, does not pay any UK corporation tax on the profits from those sales.

In our book, that is not a level playing field and leaves independent retailers like us struggling to compete just because we do the right thing.

That’s why we’ve started a petition on calling on Amazon to pay their corporation tax in the UK. Click here to join us.

All Amazon UK book and toy sales are routed through its Luxembourg subsidiary. So when the British public buy goods from Amazon, they are in fact paying a Luxembourg company.

This means Amazon can avoid paying British corporation tax on the profits it makes. Tax experts say if Amazon’s total UK sales profits were not funnelled to Luxembourg, it could be paying as much as £100m a year in British corporation tax.

As Independent booksellers, we are happy with competition in the market but believe it should be on level terms and by dodging corporation tax in this way, Amazon start with an unfair advantage.

As they grow bigger it’s inevitable that shops like ours will be under even more pressure. That’s bad for customers, bad for the high street and bad for the UK.

Amazon may be obeying the letter of the law – but they’re certainly not being fair. Recently Starbucks announced that they had caved to public pressure and would look at their tax affairs in the UK. It’s time that Amazon did the same.

We pay our taxes and so should they — please take a stand with us and tell Amazon to pay their fair share.

Thank you for your support,

Frances and Keith
Warwick & Kenilworth bookshops

PS – The Independent has already picked up on our campaign. Please share this campaign with your friends by forwarding this email or sharing this link:

strangers on a train……..

This is a story from your youth.

On days when the prosiac weighs you down, you unwrap this memory, precious as a jewel and re-live it.
It can still excite you, although you are not sure now if it is the act remembered or the fact of your youthful audacity that brings you to a shuddering climax.

You are 19, travelling to Switzerland, to meet up with some people you know only vaguely.
You have never travelled alone before and are trying hard to look bored, the seasoned traveller.

You notice the man [ although of course, in hindsight, he is just a boy] noticing you and you duck your head, pretend an interest in your book, your prison thin roll up.
When the ferry docks, you dont see him again and cold, tired, disorientated, you are too occupied with finding the right train to even remember his stare.

You are used to being looked at, slim , high cheek bnoned, almost shaven head. Your boots seem as if they must be too heavy for your frame to carry.
Then, you thought people looked at you because of the clothes. Now, looking back 30 years, you understand that men gazed at you because you seemed fragile, vulnerable, easily broken.

The sleeper train on a freezing January night is more than half empty and you settle yourself alone in the compartment. There is no need to impress now, so you peer out at the inky darkness, eager to see signs of foreigness, hints of other as the train moves through the Dutch landscape.

The door opens and the boy from the ferry falls in, a flurry of rucksack, guitar, duty free bag.
This memory belongs to a time before you learnt to be cautious, so you smile and he sits opposite you and then he smiles too.

Over the years, your memory has slipped a little, so you no longer have a clear sense of what he looked like, you can remember spikey brown hair,a battered leather jacket and big boots – he looks like all the young men you knew then.

You sit silently, staring at eachother and then he opens the duty free bag and offer you the bottle of brandy and you drink some, trying not to cough, to look uncool.

Equally silently, you offer a cigarette and you sit facing him as he carefully, deliberatly looks at every part of your body. His gaze is unhurried, intense. it is as if no -one has ever actually seen you before and as his eyes travel up your body, you feel a blush and then a deper, more pressing warmth rising in you.

The slence continues, now feels impossible to break.
You look directly at him and never taking your eyes off him, you lift your arms, pull off the black slighly moth eaten and much darned jumper and quickly, before you can think too carefully, you have removed your sex pistols t-shirt too.
Your breasts, small, neat, the skin white after a long winter. Your nipples harden, a combination of desire and the sudden cold night air.

And then you are standing, your legs straggling his as he sits, still looking at you.
Your striptease is neat rather than erotic, your eyes never move from his face.
A tiny part of your brain is caught up in one thought
“No-body come, no-body come, no-body come” – the words take on the rythmn of the train..

And then you are naked in front of him, young enough to invite his gaze, brazen in your own pleasure of your obvious power over him.

He stands, smiles and bends, pulls some levers on the seats and madly, magically, they recline, converting the whole compartment into a giant bed.

You laugh, it is the only sound either of you have made.

Carefully, you unzip his jacket, allowing your hands to creep under the t-shirt below, his skin is warm, a few hairs on his chest, his nipples are hard and you burrow your head into the warmth, bite down, hard, on his left nipple.

He gasps, but says nothing. Your tongue is sliding down his chest, teeth nipping at the skin as your head moves lower.

You shiver, partly with cold, partly with fear of discovery and partly with something else, soemnthing new you are discovering about yourself.

The belt on his jeans is stif, hard to undo- when his hand comes up, you wonder if you have gone too far, crossed a line, but he is just helping you.
he lifts his hips, so that you can wriggle his jeans and pants off and then you stop, just for a moment and look at his face again and then you are nipping and sucking and biting at his cock. You feel his stomach muscles tense, a groan of pleasure. You lift your mouth, leaving just the tip of your tongue on the very edge of his prick.
his head is thrown back, mouth moving silently and then lower your head again, pushing him towards a salty climax.

Afterwards, you accept a mouthful of brandy, swill it around your mouth, salt, hot, sweet on your tongue, in your throat.

Neither of you have said a word, you lie together, cigarette smoke, sweat and sex smells fill the compartment.

You doze, fall asleep and wake suddenly at the station where you need to change, panic stricken you grab clothes, bags, the train is threatening to pull out before you are ready.
You make it on to the platform, the boy throwing your last bag out as the train moves off…..

“Thank You” he shouts above the noise of the train – it is the only thing either of you have said.

You gather your belongings around you and light a cigarette as the train disappears from view.