Thursday, August 30, 2007

"They is, they is, they is"



Tobias Wolff was at the vanguard of the so-called "dirty realist" movement in American fiction in the 1980s, alongside the likes of Richard Ford, and the grandaddy of them all, Raymond Carver. All three of these writers specialised in Short stories, altough Ford and Wolff have since found greater fame and success in the novel and memoir respectively. Wolff's "This Boys Life" and "In Pharaoh's Army" are both beautiful memoirs of distinct phases in his early life, notable for the grace and clarity of his prose. These same qualities are evident in his short fiction, which he continues to publish in The New Yorker and periodically in collected editions. "Bullet in the Brain", a two page story, was published in his last collection, "The Night in Question" in 1997. It has an impact disproportionate to its length, and an absolutely beautiful and poetic conclusion.

David von Ancken became best known as a jobbing television director, working on shows like "Oz", "Numb3rs" (is anybody else really irritated by that 3 replacing an "e" in that title?) and "The Shield", before he made his feature debut this year with "Seraphim Falls", a fantastic little Chase-Western which demonstrated that he has the talent to make a name for himself on the big Screen. He first came to prominence, however, when he wrote and directed a short adaptation of "Bullet in the Brain" in 2001. He does it about as much justice as could possibly be done, displaying a visual lyricism in the final minutes that captures to some extent the poetry of the story. He is helped by the great Tom Noonan in the lead role and the lovely voice of George Plimpton reading the narration over those closing images, which comes straight from Wolff's story. Its a great short film, and combined with "Seraphim Falls", it suggests a flexible, multi-faceted talent, which makes me very excited about what von Ancken could go on to achieve in his career.

"Bullet in the Brain":

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2 Comments:

Blogger daveysomethingfunny said...

I'm almost certain Manhunter wasn't the first thing I saw Tom Noonan in, but for the life of me I can't remember what was. Not Heat. Not Last Action Hero.

I could cheat and go look on IMDB, but whatever.

He's the man in everything I've seen him in. Maybe not the man...because he's some giant soft voiced alien monster. Jesus he's scary.

Tom Noonan and Brian Cox in a fight against Ralph Feinnes and Anthony Hopkins. I wanna see it.

12:21 am  
Blogger David N said...

Yeah, you have to love Noonan.

I saw him as a henchman in something before I saw Manhunter - it might have been F/X? - and he obviously made an impression, with his size and those strange features. And, crap film though it is, hes great in Robocop 2, and obviously as Dollarhyde. Fiennes has to act really hard to get to the place Noonan is in because of his looks alone. He's a good actor, too. Really distinctive delivery.

It would come down to Noonan vs Hopkins. Hopkins has that insane streak. He'd suck out your eyeball.

12:40 am  

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