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Viewing Log / 2013 / Week Seven

11/02/2013 - 17/02/2013 

Apologies.  I didn't watch any films during this week.  I injured my back playing tennis.  Nothing serious, but I've had to rest and as such was unable to get downstairs to access the television.  Instead, I spent the time reading and occasionally writing.  My 'book of choice' was movie related.  Adventures of a Suburban Boy by John Boorman.  Even if you don't appreciate Boorman's work as a filmmaker, his autobiography is wonderfully written, wry, candid and ever self-deprecating.  The book offers a great insight into the trials and tribulations of Hollywood filmmaking, the compromises and the disappointments, but is also a great rumination on life; from the exploration of his turbulent childhood during The Blitz, to his years as a documentarian, to his love of nature and the endless Arthurian quests that become a kind of metaphor for the director's personal approach to cinema.  Throughout Adventures of a Suburban Boy, Boorman writes beautifully on the subject of film, the meaning of it, the alchemic nature of cinema and its images, and their ability to transcend time.  His writing demonstrates more passion and reverence for the medium than any contemporary critic. 

The book would have seriously enhanced my respect for Boorman had I not already considered him one of the finest English filmmakers.  My only wish is for films like Catch Us If You Can (1965), Leo the Last (1970), Excalibur (1981), The Emerald Forest (1985) and The Tiger's Tail (2006) to eventually achieve the same kind of recognition as Point Blank (1967), Hell in the Pacific (1968), Deliverance (1972), Hope and Glory (1987) and The General (1998).  It would also be nice if audiences could finally embrace the eccentric genius of Zardoz (1974) and The Heretic (1977).  Boorman is forever seen as a director of lean, "muscular" action movies, and the films that don't conform to this image are often deemed to be failures, but if anything he's a great poetic realist and a practitioner of pure artifice and phantasmagoria.  His films are like fables, full of magic and metaphor, alive with the spirit of nature.


Last year, one of my big plans was to complete a full blog-retrospective on Boorman's feature filmmaking career, but it didn't happen.  Partly because I couldn't find a proper widescreen copy of Hell in the Pacific and partly because I'm still missing several of his later films.  At some point, I might try to fashion a loose commentary on Boorman's work using quotes from the man himself.  His own elucidations on these films - always humble, always tinged with a sense of personal failure or perilous ambition - will surely be more interesting than any of the markedly more tedious observations that I myself may have mustered in celebration or defence.


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