A Gift From The Not-So-Distant Past : Noah Van Sciver’s “Slow Graffiti” #3

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Believe it or not, good things still happen in this world — as evidenced by the fact that cartoonist extraordinaire Noah Van Sciver recently came across 50 unsold copies of the long-out-of-print third issue of his self-published mini, Slow Graffiti.

Released back in 2017, the no-doubt small print run of this comic was originally allocated entirely for its Kickstarter backers and the cartoonist’s own Patreon subscribers, but this unexpected discovery means that you can — provided you’re quick — finally procure a copy for yourself, at long last. And John Porcellino recently came across some in his stock, as well, so there may be a bit of cosmic-level serendipity at play here. Why, it’s almost as if the universe itself wants you to read this comic.

And why shouldn’t it — hell, for that matter, why shouldn’t you? There are some intriguing sketchbook entries to be explored here…

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Song of the Day: That Thing You Do (R.I.P., Adam Schlesinger)

Earlier today, COVID-19 claimed the life of singer-songwriter Adam Schlesinger.  Schlesinger was only 52 years old.

Adam Schlesinger may be best known for his work with Fountains of Wayne but he also wrote and produced songs for several films.  He was Oscar nominated for writing the title song to That Thing You Do, one of the best rock and roll films of the 90s.  The song was not only catchy but it was also the epitome of everything that was great about pop music.  With this song, Schlesinger and the film paid tribute to every single band that has ever had a one-hit wonder.

In tribute to Adam Schlesinger, here’s That Thing You Do:

Doin’ that thing you do,
Breaking my heart into a million pieces,
Like you always do
And you,
Don’t mean to be cruel,
You never even knew about the heartache,
I’ve been going through
Well I try and try to forget you girl,
But it’s just so hard to do,
Every time you do that thing you do
Know all the games you play,
And I’m gonna find a way to let you know that,
You’ll be mine someday
‘Cause we,
Could be happy can’t you see,
If you’d only let me be the one to hold you,
And keep you here with me
‘Cause I try and try to forget you girl,
But it’s just so hard to do,
Every time you do that thing you do
I don’t ask a lot girl,
But I know one thing’s for sure,
It’s the love I haven’t got girl,
And I just can’t take it anymore
‘Cause we,
Could be happy can’t you see,
If you’d only let me be the one to hold you,
And keep you here with me
Cause it hurts me so just to see you go,
Around with someone new,
And if I know you you’re doin’ that thing,
Every day just doin’ that thing,
I can’t take you doing that thing you do
RIP, Adam Schlesinger.

After Reading This Comic, I’m Still “Lost In A Tree Of Thought”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Ethereal, mysterious, and unfolding at something more like a patient crawl than an actual storytelling “pace,” the latest self-published mini from veteran (though far from prolific) cartoonist Kade McClements, Lost In A Tree Of Thought, is something of a gorgeously impenetrable puzzle cleverly disguised as a garden-variety domestic drama. Appearances can be deceiving, of course, but in this case they both are and aren’t — and it may very well be beyond my meager intellectual abilities to flesh that statement out beyond “you’ve gotta read the comic to see what I mean,” but I’m damn sure gonna give it a try.

Ostensibly focused on an aging couple named Rita and Frank who happen across a small icon in the course of their yardwork that (remainder of sentence redacted, because that would be telling), despite its short length and loose, freehand style of illustration (reminiscent, at least in my view…

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Peeper (1975, directed by Peter Hyams)

Peeper gets off to a good start, with a Humphrey Bogart look alike standing on a dark street corner and reading the opening credits in a reasonable approximation of Bogart’s unmistakable voice.  It all goes down hill from there.

Peeper stars Michael Caine as Leslie C. Tucker, a cockney private detective who is working in Los Angeles in the late 40s.  Tucker is hired by a shady businessman named Anglich (Michael Constantine).  Anglich explains that he knows that he has a daughter but he doesn’t know who or where she is.  He wants Tucker to track her down.  It doesn’t take much time for Tucker to conclude that Anglich’s daughter might be a member of the wealthy and quirky Pendergrast family.  In fact, Tucker thinks that Anglich’s daughter might be Ellen Pendergrast (Natalie Wood, who seems to be bored with the role).  It should be a simple enough case to solve but there are numerous complications along with two thugs (played by Timothy Carey and Don Calfa) who, for some reason, are out to get Anglich and Tucker.

It’s hard to know what to make of Peeper.  It’s meant to be an homage to the detective films of the 40s but it also tries to parody the genre.  Unfortunately, Peter Hyams has never been a director known for his light touch and, in this film, his idea of comedy is to have everyone shout their lines.  (Michael Constantine is the worst offender.)  Michael Caine is also miscast in the lead.  The film tries to get some comedic mileage out of Caine delivering Bogart-style dialogue in his cockney accent but it’s a joke that’s never as funny as the film seems to think.

Peeper was a critical and box office failure but fortunately, there were better things in store for both Michael Caine and Peter Hyams.  Hyams went on to direct Capricorn One while Michael Caine established himself as one of the most durable character actors around.

The International Lens: The Girl With A Bracelet (dir by Stéphane Demoustier)

If there’s anything that I’ve discovered over the years, it’s that cinema is truly a universal language.

I’ve lost track of the number of film fans with whom I’ve bonded with over social media.  Some of them live near me and some of them live very far away but the one thing that we all have in common is that we all love movies.  For instance, I have a friend in India who loves Sofia Coppola almost as much as I do.  Meanwhile, I’ve got friends in the UK who are as crazy about horror movies as I am and my friend Carlo in Italy shares my total disdain for Avatar.  In short, films bring us together.

This month, I want to celebrate that fact here on the Shatered Lens.  Along with my usual reviews, I’ll be taking a look at some films that were produced outside of the United States and far away from the Hollywood studios.  Some of these films will be great and some of them probably won’t.  Some of these films may be well-known and, again, some of them won’t be.  What they all have in common is that they’re out there for discriminating viewers who aren’t scared of having to read a subtitle or two.

I want to start things off by looking at a French film, La fille au bracelet (The Girl With A Bracelet).

This low-key but thought-provoking courtroom drama opens with a family enjoying a day at the beach.  We watch them from a distance and they seem almost like the perfect family unit.  And yet, that perfection puts us ill at ease.  We’ve seen enough movies to know that any family that appears to be perfect is going to be the exact opposite and, even more importantly, director Stéphane Demoustier knows this.  Therefore, we’re not surprised when the police suddenly show up.  We are perhaps a little bit more surprised when the police lead away not the mother or the father but instead, the teenage daughter, Lise (Melissa Guers).

The film jumps forward two years.  Lise has been under house arrest ever since that day at the beach and is required to wear an ankle bracelet, so that the authorities can keep track of her.  Lise has been charged with murdering her best friend, Floria.  While her father (Rosdchy Zem) insists that Lise is innocent and gets involved in her defense, Lise’s mother, Celine (Chiara Mastroianni), has thrown herself into her work and says that she probably won’t even be able to attend her daughter’s trial.

As for Lise, she refuses to show remorse for a crime that she says she didn’t commit and she refuses to apologize for a lifestyle for which she feels no shame.  As the proceedings begin, it becomes apparent that Lise is as much on trial for her perceived coldness and lack of conformity as for anything else.  Much of the evidence against Lise seems weak.  Lise and Flora had a fight shortly before the murder and Lise’s DNA was found on Flora’s body.  Lise claims that she and Flora made up on the same night that Flora was found dead.  While her parents listen, Lise’s sexual history is clinically dissected in the courtroom, suggesting that she is as much on trial for not conforming to society’s expectations as she is for any murder that she may have committed.  Is Lise on trial because of the evidence or because she’s a member of generation that has been vilified by its elders?  Is she on trial because she’s guilty or is she on trial because she’s a young woman who is not reacting the way that society expects women to react?

And yet, even though you want to be on Lise’s side, the film keeps you off-balance.  Is it true that Lise is simply mourning her friend in her own way or is it possible that Lise is actually a remorseless murderer?  At times, it seems like either one of the two could be true.  The film ends on a deliberately ambiguous note, one that may leave some frustrated but which will also leave you thinking.

The Girl With A Bracelet requires some patience.  The film plays out at a deliberate and methodical pace.  However, your patience will be rewarded with a fascinating mystery that will keep you thinking.  The cast is excellent, especially Anais Demoustier as the prosecutor.  (Given the film’s theme of generational conflict, it’s interesting that the prosecutor is closer, in age, to Lise’s generation while Lise’s defense attorney is from her parent’s generation.)  Melissa Guers makes her film debut in the role of Lise and gives an excellent and intriguing performance as an enigmatic character who always seems like she should be more sympathetic than she actually is.

I was fortunate enough to see The Girl With A Bracelet in Paris.  (Two weeks later, and four days after Jeff & I returned home to the U.S., the entire world shut down.   It’s strange to think about it now.)  It’s a film that’s stuck with me and hopefully it’ll make it’s way over to the States sometime soon.




Artist Profile: Harry Sheldon (1918 — 2002)

I love the artwork of Harry Sheldon!

Harry Sheldon was a British artist, a painter who first gained recognition for several paintings that were based on his own experiences during World War II.  (His paintings can still be seen in many British war museums.)  After the war, Sheldon was a renowned portrait artist, a talent that he obviously put to good use while doing covers for Pan Books in the 1960s.  Even if he hadn’t been one of the few cover artists to always sign his work, Harry Sheldon’s work would have been instantly recognizable in the amount of work that he put into capturing every detail of the faces of the women who were featured in his covers.  Sometimes, Sheldon’s women are dangerous.  Sometimes, they are amused.  Sometimes, as in the cover at the top of this post, they’re bored.  But they’re also always painted with obvious care and each seems to have a personality of her very own.

Here’s just some of the work that Harry Sheldon did for Pan Books:

Scenes That I Love: Lon Chaney Gets Unmasked in Phantom of the Opera

I know I’ve probably shared this scene in the past but I’m going to share it again because today is Lon Chaney’s birthday!  137 years ago, today, one of the greatest actors of all time was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  He was the man of a thousand faces and he brought a lot of life to silent cinema.

This scene is from the 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera!  That’s Lon as the phantom and Mary Philbin as Christine.  In honor of the anniversary of Lon Chaney’s birth, we invited you to enjoy a scene that I love…..

This scene, incidentally, was originally planned to be shot in color.  Unfortunately, the lights that were (back then) necessary to film in color were too hot and they caused Chaney’s makeup to melt.   So, those plans were scrapped and then scene was shot in black-and-white but, personally, I find the black-and-white to be more effective.  I’ve seen a colorized version of this film and it just wasn’t as effective.


4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Toshiro Mifune Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

100 years ago today, the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune was born in Qingdao, Shandong, China, which was under Japanese occupation at the time.  After working as a photographer and as an assistant cameraman, Mifune made his acting debut in 1947, playing a bank robber in Snow Trail.

Mifune would go on to become an international superstar, appearing in hundreds of films before his death in 1997.  Sixteen of those films would be directed by Akira Kurosawa and Mifune’s performances in Kurosawa’s yakuza and samurai films would go on to inspire actors the world over.  When Sergio Leone adapted Yojimbo into A Fistful of Dollars, Clint Eastwood based his performance on Mifune’s performance in the original.  George Lucas would later create the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi with Mifune in mind.

In honor of the man and his career, here are

4 Shots From 4 Films

Drunken Angel (1948, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Throne of Blood (1957, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Yojimbo (1961, directed by Akira Kurosawa)

Red Sun (1971, directed by Terence Young)

A Special April Fools Day Message From Lisa Marie Bowman, Co-Founder Of Through The Shattered Lens

Hi, everyone!

So, obviously, today is April Fools Day!  Right now, there’s a lot of angst and worry out there, over the Coronavirus pandemic, the economic collapse, and the 2020 presidential election.  There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear.  April Fools Day is a day that traditionally does not mix well with real anxiety and real fear.  Online, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about whether or not April Fools Day should be canceled this year.

My initial instinct was to say, “Yes, it should be canceled.”  In fact, I was planning on having Doc write a lengthy (but hopefully cute!) post about why you shouldn’t play any pranks on anyone today.  But the more I think about it, the less comfortable I am with the self-righteousness of the “Cancel April Fools Days” folks.  I don’t like the idea of telling anyone what they can or cannot do.  It’s not my place to do that nor is it my place to pass judgment on what you decide to do or not do this day.  My personal opinion is that you shouldn’t prank anyone today but just because you shouldn’t do something doesn’t mean that you can’t.  It’s really a decision that you have to make for yourself.

So, you know what?  Do whatever the Hell you want.

As for us, we’re heading into April.  With both the 18 Days of Paranoia and Spring Breakdown now at a close, I’m about to start a new month-long series of reviews.  I’ll be spending the next 30 days reviewing films that were produced outside of the United States.  Cinema, after all, is an international art form and great movies don’t just come out of California.  They come from all over the world.  And, of course, we’ll have all of your usual features as well.  They say that we’re heading into a tough month, as far as battling the Coronavirus is concerned.  Hopefully, we here at the TSL can provide our readers with at least a temporary escape from what currently feels like a nonstop deluge of ominous news.

Thanks for reading, stay supple, stay safe, and stay healthy!