Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Limits of Control

From Stranger Than Paradise to Broken Flowers, Jim Jarmusch’s films are cultural scrapbooks, jam-packed with references to his favorite music, movies, writers, and artists. His latest, The Limits of Control, is set in Spain and stars Isaach De Bankolé as a hit man in calm, cool pursuit of a target—though Jarmusch says he’s “not as interested in the plot” as he is in the paintings that the killer admires in a museum, or the music on the soundtrack. The movie, which also stars Bill Murray, Gael García Bernal, and Tilda Swinton, was a collaboration between the cinematographer Chris Doyle (famous for his work with Wong Kar Wai) and production designer Eugenio Caballero (Academy Award winner for Pan’s Labyrinth). Caballero’s book of inspirations (click on the slideshow above to see pages with commentary from Jarmusch)—scraps of color, images, drawings, postcards—was the visual log the three repeatedly referred back to. Jarmusch talks about the process. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Roland Topor

Roland Topor (January 71938 — April 161997), was a French illustratorpainterwriter and filmmaker, known for thesurreal nature of his work. He was of Polish Jewish origin and spent the early years of his life in Savoy where his family hid him from the Nazi peril.

Roland Topor wrote the novel The Tenant (Le Locataire chimérique, 1964), which was adapted to film by Roman Polanskiin 1976. The Tenant is the story of a Parisian of Polish descent, a chilling exploration of alienation and identity, asking disturbing questions about how we define ourselves. The later novel Joko's Anniversary (1969), another fable about loss of identity, is a vicious satire on social conformity.

A new presentation of The Tenant by Roland Topor was released in October, 2006. The book has Topor's original novel, a new introduction by Thomas Ligotti, a selection of short stories by Topor, a healthy representation of Topor's artwork, and an essay on the famous Roman Polanski film version. There is a working possibility of having Mr Polanski write a new foreword to this edition.

Thomas Ligotti's introduction clocks in at 3500 words and concerns the affirmative themes of world-renowned authors, focusing on Luigi Pirandello, with the negationist themes of Roland Topor's The Tenant.

Topor published several books of drawings, including Dessins panique (1965) Quatre roses pour Lucienne (1967) and Toporland(1975). Selections from Quatre roses pour Lucienne were reprinted in the English language collection Stories and Drawings (1967). His carefully detailed, realistic style, with elaborate crosshatching, emphasises the fantastic and macabre subject matter of the images.

1962 - Creates the Panic Movement (mouvement panique), together with Alejandro Jodorowsky and Fernando Arrabal.

1961 to 1965 - Contributes to French satirical magazine Hara Kiri.

1965 - Creates, with partner René Laloux, the animated short film Les Escargots. The movie won Special Jury Prize at the Cracow Film Festival.

1966 - Illustrates Daniel Spoerri's An Anecdoted Topography of Chance (Re-Anecdoted Version) published by the Something Else Press.

1971 - Creates the drawings for the bizarre introduction of Arrabal's film Viva la muerte.

1973 - Topor designs and René Laloux direct La Planète sauvage, a 72-minute long animated film, based on a novel by Stefan Wul. Until today, the movie is considered the only feature-long drawn cut-out animated film (The Adventures of Prince Achmed used silhouette cut-out animation and South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut used digital cut-outs. Several features directed by Karel Zeman were created with cut-outs from various sources.).

1974 - Topor has a cameo in Dusan Makavejev's Sweet Movie

1976 - Roman Polanski directs a movie version of Topor's book "The Tenant".

1979 - Plays the role of Renfield in Werner Herzog's Nosferatu movie.

1983 - Creates with Henri Xhonneux the popular French TV series Téléchat, a parody of news broadcasts featuring puppets of a cat and an ostrich.

1989 - With Henri Xhonneux co-writes the screenplay for the film Marquis, loosely based on the life and writings of Marquis de Sade. The cast consisted of actors in period costumes with animal masks, with a separate puppet for de Sade's anthropomorphised "bodily appendage".

Rene' Laloux

He was born in Paris in 1929 and went to art school to study painting. After some time working in advertising, he got a job in a psychiatric institution where he began experimenting in animation with the interns. It is at the psychiatric institution that he made 1960's Monkey's Teeth (Les Dents du Singe), in collaboration with Paul Grimault's studio, and using a script written by the Cour Cheverny's interns.

Another important collaborator of his was Roland Topor with whom Laloux made Dead Time (Les Temps Morts, 1964), The Snails (Les Escargots, 1965) and his most famous work, the feature length Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage, 1973).

Laloux also worked with Jean Giraud (Mœbius) to create the lesser known film Les Maîtres du temps (Time Masters) in 1981. Laloux's 1988 film, Gandahar, was released in the US as Light Years. The US version was redubbed by Harvey Weinstein, from a screenplay adapted by Isaac Asimov. The US version was not as successful as the French version, grossing less than $400,000 on its release.[1]

Laloux died of a heart attack on March 13, 2004 in AngoulêmeCharentePoitou-Charentes, France.[citation needed]