Category Archives: European culture

RIP Bernardo Bertolucci (1941 – 2018)

And now Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci dies, 13 years the junior of Roeg, also one of the big names of European cinema.

Last Tango in Paris (1972) was the first of his films I saw. I’m sure if I would see it again, it would bore me to death. In contrast, Performance (1970) by Roeg (see prev. post) has aged better. Both films are a testament to the sexual revolution.

The last of Bertolucci’s film that I saw was The Dreamers (2003). I remember liking it and I guess that likely hasn’t changed.

Luck has it that YouTube has an entire copy of The Spider’s Stratagem (1970). Like Performance of Roeg, it is inspired by Jorge Luis Borges.

I’ve never seen it, I’ll watch it now.

Let me end (because I can) with this beautiful juxtaposition only marginally linked to Bertolucci:

Update 27/11: The Spider’s Stratagem is actually a pretty good film: very Italian, surreal, Borgesian and Chirico-esque.

RIP Nicolas Roeg (1928 – 2018)

English director Nicolas Roeg dies at 90.

I believe Performance was the first of his films that I saw. In some Antwerp art house probably.

Roeg’s most intriguing film is Castaway, the true story of an adventurer who publishes an ad looking for a ‘wife’ to spend a year on a uninhabited island.

In the beginning of his career he was a cinematographer. He filmed Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe.

Several aspects of Performance were novel and it foreshadowed MTV type music videos (particularly the “Memo from Turner” sequence in which Jagger sings) and many popular films of the 1990s and 2000s.

Roeg belonged to the generation of Ken Russell and Stanley Kubrick and was the last one alive of the three.


RIP Cesare Canevari (1927 – 2012)

Italian director  Cesare Canevari died six years ago but it went unnoticed by me.

I learned of his death yesterday when I landed on Canevari’s Last Orgy of the Third Reich (1977) via Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977). God knows what brought me there.

So this morning I watched Matalo! (1970), the Spaghetti Western directed by Canevari.

It’s a whole lot better than Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot![1] (1967), which I watched this January.

Matalo! sets itself apart by its psychedelic sequences, the silence, the lack of dialogue, the sound effects and the soundtrack by Mario Migliardi.

The full soundtrack is here:


RIP Michel Lemoine (1922–2013)

I finished another ‘roman dur’ by Simenon, L’Enterrement de Monsieur Bouvet, one might say a rather unremarkable novel were it not for the fact that it makes one realize that it used to be possible to lead a double life, to disappear many times in one’s life and start all over again elsewhere without leaving a trace. And were it not of course that this is a Simenon ‘roman dur’ and this is the only ‘genre’ I currently enjoy, and have for a year or three.

 L'Univers de Simenon, sous la direction de Maurice Piron avec la collaboration de Michel Lemoine

L’Univers de Simenon, sous la direction de Maurice Piron avec la collaboration de Michel Lemoine

Wile researching this novel, I came across L’univers de Simenon : guide des romans et nouvelles (1931-1972) de Georges Simenon[1](1983) by Maurice Piron and Michel Lemoine. It’s hard to believe that Michel Lemoine is the same person as the cult actor and director of French cinema of which I will post a photo.

Michel Lemoine in I Pianeti contro di noi (1962) - Romano Ferrara

Michel Lemoine in I Pianeti contro di noi (1962) – Romano Ferrara

I intend to read every ‘roman dur’ by Simenon

'The Move' by Georges Simenon

‘The Move’ by Georges Simenon

The Move (1967) is a ‘roman dur’ by Belgian writer Georges Simenon.

I intend to read every roman dur by Simenon.

The Move is both a flawed novel and at the same time one of his more interesting ones due to its near total plotlessness and focus on psychological detail.

Its sub-theme is a criticism of the anonymity of modern high rise, the lack of social control, a side effect of living in the banlieue, in the same vein as Jacques Tati’s films Mon oncle (1958) and Playtime (1967).

Its protagonist is an unwilling eavesdropper.

Another of its themes is an exploration of dark sexuality, a recurring motif with Simenon, such as in Un nouveau dans la ville (1950).

Related: Dick Bruna covers of the ‘romans durs’.

RIP Mel Ramos (1935 – 2018)

Touché Boucher (1972-73) is an oil on canvas by Mel Ramos, is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.

Touché Boucher (1972-73) is an oil on canvas by Mel Ramos, is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.

Mel Ramos was an American painter, specializing in paintings of female nudes.

He was one of the pop art erotica artists noted for his ‘flat light’ photorealism.

He also interpreted the female nudes of European masters in paintings such as Touché Boucher (1972-73) [above], which is a pastiche of the Odalisque blonde by François Boucher.

RIP Paul Virilio (1932 – 2018)

Paul Virilio was a French theorist, urbanist, and aesthetic philosopher.

He is best known for his book Bunker Archeology (1975), a book I discovered one lonely night in Brussels spent with a young woman at her place. She had acquired it that same afternoon.

One of the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall was photographed by myself in 2007 [1].

I’ve yet to hold a copy of this book in my hands.