1) "I believe that our culture is turning to steam."
The great Alan Moore in the trailer for the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore, one of the highlights of the "Transcendental Cinema" programme of the Equinox Festival, London, June. There's zero chance we'll be anywhere near Camden in June but if we were then we might pop in for that, the Craig Baldwin one about Scientology we mentioned some time ago, maybe even the ("hopelessly muddled" -- Variety) Paola Igliori film about Harry Smith. And the talk by Erik Davis and much of the music. Otherwise, more would-be shamans and part-time gurus that you can shake a talking stick at.
2) There's been the usual internet interest (eg here) in one image released from Peter Jackson's Lovely Bones of young Atonement star Saoirse Ronan in what is assumed by some to be the film's Heaven. This kind of advance leakage -- a picture here, a picture there -- has been a successful Jackson strategy ever since Christopher Lee got spiked on a wheel and Lord of the Rings nuts tried to work out what possible scene it could be depicting. But in terms of afterlife imagery, we're more interested in Niki Caro's vision of Heaven and Hell in her Vintner's Luck, which is also due this year and about which we've heard much less. I'm re-reading the Elizabeth Knox novel at the moment. Here's what Caro will have to show us:
In the far south there is a volcano whose blue sulphurous lake is a back way into Heaven. It is a journey that takes more than human hardihood. As far as I know it is seldom used. I went through that lake ... Where I gained access, Heaven was like the volcano -- not terrible to an angel -- but with winds full of ice like powdered glass.
[In Hell] I found a place behind a ridge in the mountains, where the air was thin and cool -- that is, only as hot as this hilltop at noon in midsummer. Then I built the ridge up, stole tools from the masons, the angels who built that dark, thick-walled citadel that is the only other bearable place in Hell. Where all the books are kept. I carried molten glass, poured and sculpted it, till I had a wall that rose between my slope and the prairies of fire, a wall of black glass, translucent for half its height, thinner towards the top. You must imagine my garden in light that arrives through imperfections, distorted, like sunshine through smoke.
Next I made soil. I carried it from earth and I made it. I grew lichen, little creeping plants. I carried soil then water. Carried water every other day for a thousand years.
3) "Of course, history has been its own reward. Once the fuss died down, it was easier to see that Heaven’s Gate was an astonishing thing. Yes, it is too long — the opening Harvard scene might go altogether, allowing the film to start as James Averill (Kris Kristofferson) arrives in Wyoming. But over the years, the film’s reputation has steadily improved, and I heard Steven say on a few occasions that he reckoned he might live to see the word 'masterpiece' descending on it like one of Wyoming’s great sunsets. Alas, not quite, but nearly."
-- David Thomson reconsiders Heaven's Gate, and eulogises Steven Bach, in the LA Weekly.
4) In something I read, maybe one of those Geoff Dyer books, a character talks of wanting to write down the first lines of movies and then run them all through a computer. I got to two before I forgot to keep doing it. The first line in Carlos Reygadas's Silent Light comes a full seven or eight minutes in, after the time-lapse sunrise and the silent family prayer and it's not a line but a word: "Amen." The first line in Psycho is from Sam Loomis, the married man that Marion Crane is sleeping with, who has that dialogue about how she didn't even touch her lunch. Which seems like the most banal way possible to open one of cinema's greatest horror movies until you realise that it chimes with Norman Bates telling Marion that "You eat like a bird", just before he ...