Sunday, March 29, 2009

Edward Weston

I was reminded of an earlier post where I mentioned a possible coming holiday to Monterey and surrounds when I read a recent article on the New York Times' website:

In Point Lobos, Where Edward Weston Saw the World Anew

Edward Weston and Ansel Adams left us photographs of the Californian landscape that are so stunningly beautiful and awe inspiring that they are the stuff of legend.

All the more now do I feel the urge to spend a good couple of weeks enjoying long walks along the coast near Monterey and on the trails in the heights of Yosemite. Mountains and Sea. Gunong dan Laut.

At the Bishan Library this afternoon, I came across a DVD for loan - a PBS documentary on Ansel Adams. This was mere hours after I'd read the Weston piece in NYT, so I happily borrowed it without hesitation. In the small print on the back cover was notice that part of the funds that made the film possible had been donated by Hewlett Packard. I can't recall if it was Bill or Dave who was an avid wildlife photographer - I suspect it was Dave Packard (his daughters were behind his donations that made the Monterey Bay Aquarium possible - the idea just seems to fit).

"The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh."
Edward Weston

Monday, March 16, 2009

Comic Book Resoures Feature - Re-Reading the Watchmen

Came across a really enjoyable series on the Comic Book Resources Site.

A couple of comic fans (Atom! and Carr who are comic shop owners in real life) discuss each of the 12 issues of the Watchmen. It's really enjoyable to read. Recommended.

Here's the page with links for all 12 parts of the discussion.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen? The Watchmen movie opens

The watchmen movie opened in Singapore a few days ago.
It's got an M18 rating, which should be quite a draw to the typical movie goer who's just out for entertainment and something to jabber about with friends in casual talk.

For some of us, though, the movie is going to be serious business. It's a story about how imbalances of power create dangerously unstable situations, the consequences of people taking the idea that "the end justifies the means" to it's logical conclusion, and the power of the journal, the written word to upset the best laid plans of mice and men. No details here, because I don't want to spoil this for those who have not yet read the graphic novel or seen the film.

The press is having a field day with journalists trying to write smarter reviews than their competitors. "It's too faithful to the original", some say. "Moore will be spitting venom at the film", say others. "The socio-political context for the story is too different today, from when the book was first released in 1986". "Fallible heroes who think and do bad things are not a surprise any more." "The loss of the pirate comic sequence (Tales of the Black Freighter) undermines the story." "Where's the giant squid built by the scientists, artists, musicians....."

I've not seen the film yet. I will go to the cinema with the same attitude that accompanied me to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The attitude that says that it's not just about the story, but how it's told. The reader's experience from a novel, comic or film cannot be the same. Different senses and mental faculties are engaged. Consider that simply reading an Isaac Singer story originally written in Yiddish that's been translated into English is going to result in a different experience - irrespective of the language and cultural perspectives the reader. How much more so a translation from 2D drawings sequenced into tight 9 frame pages and rigid monthly publishing schedule to a full movie treatment with computer graphics, audio effects and live humans in costumes that would look comical in ordinary daylight is going to be delivering a very different experience of the story.

My advice. Enjoy the film on it's own merits. It's a different work altogether from the original graphic novel.

For the record - I thought Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings was a brilliant piece of work. Some of the visual sequences still bring about a rapid series of changes in my vascular and digestive systems - in ways that the poetry and grace of Tolkien's pen could never have.

Just as in the case of the Lord of the Rings film, I'm sure I'll have an uncontrollable urge to go back and re-read the Watchmen with new eyes. As a companion to my re-read, I'll be referring to Doug Atkinson's excellent annotations.