Posts Tagged Ray Wittering

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

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Dizzy, my head is spinning

I used to be obsessed with ‘Vertigo’, but I’m alright now. I still love the film, and admire it deeply, but I no longer need to watch it five times a week at two in the morning, sometimes with the volume down, to soak up every nuance, every image, every location, and every directorial flourish.  I don’t know quite why it struck such a chord, to be honest, but ‘Vertigo’ is a film that inspires devotion, dedication – it’s a film that haunts you, stalks you, until – one day – you find you’re stalking it.

‘Vertigo’ is Hitchcock’s most enigmatic and profound film: it’s confusing and confused, it’s unrealistic and surrealistic, and it has strong, dangerous emotions at its core. Hitchcock took great pleasure in promoting it as a film about ‘a man who wants to sleep with a dead girl’, but ‘Vertigo’ isn’t really about necrophilia, it’s about fear, obsession, love – obsessive love, and the various types of temporary madness and permanent psychosis it can bring.

An uncommon term commonly applied to the film is that it is hypnogogic, i.e. it has the feel of something taking place in the transitional period between dreaming and waking. It’s an accurate assessment of a film which, after you’ve seen it, will nag at the corners of your mind and memory, never quite revealing itself entirely.  Whether you’ve seen it before or not you should watch it today. Just watch it. Films don’t get any better than this.

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Guest editor

For the next couple of posts, I’m handing over to my good friend Ray Wittering, who’ll be telling and showing us a little about Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’.

Ray himself usually has at least a small handful of blogs on the go at any one time – the most active currently are Island of Terror (which is mildly terrifying), Mounds & Circles (mildly seedy), and Robot Leg (entirely 70s).

Frankly, I don’t know how he keeps it up.

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A short pause for a brief public service announcement

Just a quick interlude in the ever-riveting series on cricket grounds, but this really is worth pursuing. My friend and blog rival Ray Wittering has made March his ‘Giallo Month’. If, like me, you had no idea what this was on first hearing of it, his own definition should help:

“Giallo films are Italian crime thrillers made between the mid sixties and the late seventies, although the peak period was was probably 1970-1974. A good giallo will feature:

  • a convoluted plot that moves fast enough that you don’t have time to realise none of it makes any sense;
  • a series of brutal, sometimes ingenious murders perpetrated by a seemingly unstoppable killer (sometimes masked, always gloved);
  • stylish production, camera work, fashions and other mod cons;
  • the most beautiful women in Europe, often in sexual situations; 
  • incredible music, composed by a genius (Morricone, Piccioni, Umiliani, Cipriani, etc.). “

This really, really is marvellous stuff. You might want to check out the earliest posts in the month for some background, and do be aware that “giallo isn’t for kids. The clips and stills to be featured will contain nudity and sadistic violence so, if you are bothered by that sort of thing then you will almost certainly be offended by some of the upcoming content”.

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Bram Stoker’s Whitby: redux

“Mina and I chanced upon a sporting endeavour, most curious in execution, concerning the use of shaped metallic rods to propel a small sphere across various terrains into a receiving cupola. These terrains were many and varied, and featured all manner of curios: a windmill, a house with water-wheel ‘pon its side, and a strange cone-shaped object, purported to be a scale model of a vehicle intended for extra-terrestrial travel. The notion of this latter struck me as being little other than poppycock and fancy, and I dare say such ideas will come to naught. The premises belonged to a gentleman I know not, but who appeared to be held in no little esteem in the locality”

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Eggborough Power Station

Following on from the train theme below, and the semi-regular appearance of power stations, it seems only sensible to include the following photos. Particular highlights are the high-speed sheep, the flooded fields, and the lonely house on its own.
 
The Doncaster-York line might not have quite the romance of Zola’s steam-powered trains hammering through the lush Norman countryside (I’m undecided as to how it compares for rutting and killing), but it does pass within close proximity of Eggborough Power Station. As such it gives the unoccupied traveller the opportunity to grab a few snapshots, as well as to inadvertently make themselves the target of undercover police officers. My thanks to Ray for his thoughtfulness.
 
At some point, if only to bring a bit more clarity to these power station photos, I may have to start getting technical about them. Or more realistically, seeing as I don’t really know what I’m on about (look, I only work at one, ok?), technical-ish.

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Here’s Tony!

Several years ago, when starting a new job, I met Tony. And once in a while, a man comes along and touches you. Not improperly; in an emotional sense. The time I spent working with Tony was… intense. Intense and baffling. Sadly, I only worked with Tony for about 6 weeks, before he moved on to his next audience.

It occurred to me to write down the bizarre, ill-considered, and unintentionally funny things he would regularly say. I will share some of them on here sporadically.

Thanks for the idea Ray.

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It’s a praise about Ray

A good friend of mine goes by the name of Ray Wittering. We met through work and he initiated our first conversation by asking what the bowl containing lumps of brown, sugar-y looking things next to the pots of tea and coffee was. I replied that, as Mick Jagger would say, it was brown sugar, he asked how come it tasted so good, and BOOM! we never looked back.

It always struck me as odd, not to say impressive, that despite my French degree, time spent working in France, and look-at-me-I-can-speak-French-you-know pretensions, his knowledge of French music and film verged on the encyclopedic whereas mine was more monosyllabic.

For just over two years we spent a fair amount of time commuting to work together in tight enclosed spaces, either by train or car, or on foot (after getting out of the tight enclosed spaces first). A lot of this time (and, it must be said, a lot of our actual ‘working’ time) was spent laughing at things we saw, and the things we (mostly he) said. We (mostly he) devised a number of comical characters (including, hilariously, a fat man who loved gravy) and wrote a number of scripts (mostly he. Look, he has a degree in English Literature & Film, ok) for TV shows, called things like Mummy, Make It Stop.

Relatively quickly I became more of an ‘additional material’ kind of contributor, but I was happy with that, as it was still always a pleasure to read his scripts, including Mondo Raymondo, a documentary-style programme based on the fictionalised life and times of Ray Winstone (featuring Ray in the lead role).

Despite making contact with, for example, Ray Winstone’s office, none of our (mostly his) TV ideas seemed to hit the right note for the TV execs. However, two words helps explain this: James fucking Corden (I know, I said two words, but you can have the fucking for free).

We also dreamt up a number of fictional Morrissey albums (Havana Good Times; The World In A Pie Crust), and went to a few football matches together. Our teams had the good grace to exchange a couple of 4-2 wins at Saltergate in consecutive seasons, and he also suffered a freezing February afternoon on the away terrace at Belle Vue, watching a truly awful game only enlivened by a late, solitary goal by the Spireites.

Ray has a wonderful blog, and it was during one of our conversations by email that he prompted, urged, or even dared me to do my own. You have a lot to answer for, Ray.

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