Classics: Treasure Island & Vertigo

In the middle of getting ready for an imminent work trip to Israel, I found time to attack a couple of classics from different media; the book Treasure Island, and Hitchcock’s masterpiece of film, Vertigo.

First up, Treasure Island, a book I can’t actually remember if I read when I was younger as the themes are now so familiar; pirates with parrots and wooden legs, buried treasure and heroic cabin boys. Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic is best read at a younger, more innocent age, yet maintains it’s ability to thrill even to us jaded older folk. A fun, lightweight classic but don’t expect anything too mentally challenging.

Then we have Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. As someone who watches a lot of movies I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I’ve not watched any Hitchcock films. This is something I realise I now need to rectify, as Vertigo is visually sumptuous, engaging with great acting from James Stewart, and a thrilling soundtrack. There’s also a classic early intro sequence from Saul Bass. The story follows Stewart, who plays a detective on retirement due to the onset of crippling vertigo which caused the death of a fellow officer. Stewart, for want of anything else to do, accepts a friend’s request to follow his wife, Kim Novak, who has been acting strangely and apparently is possessed by the suicidal spirit of a dead woman. Stewart accepts, and in carrying out his duties falls in love with the wife and things progress from there.

Although the film is now over 50 year old it is still a joy to watch. The speed of pacing may put off some viewers, but Hitchcock was well ahead of his time and if you’re not addicted to jump cuts then all will be well. Happily for me this now means I have the rest of Hitchcock’s back catalogue to watch as well. Splendid stuff.

Book Review: Cold Snap – Thom Jones

Cold snap – Thom Jones. This collection of short fiction is another pulled from my the abandoned books from my apartment’s previous tenant and it’s a beaut. The stories are richly imagined and the characters vibrant, even though they only ‘live’ for a handful of pages. Each story is a contemporary look at a different person and their life, focusing strongly on their backgrounds and habits. Sometimes the characters seem a bit stereotyped, in particular an aborigine surfer whose language is fair peppered with Australiana to a degree that even the punctuation seems antipodean. Strewth. All in all a good read and great for twenty minute periods that need handy filler.

Book Review: The Photograph as Contemporary Art

The photograph as contemporary art – Charlotte Cotton. This book breaks down recent trends in photography in an attempt to give a background as to the rationale that drives practitioners of the photographic arts. The explanations and backgrounds are interesting and informative, complete with a selection of prints of the artists in questions. As someone who is interested in extending their photographic practice this background is essential reading, with my only gripe being that a larger sized book would provide much better access to the photos in question – perhaps a coffee table reprint is in order?