ITALIAN WESTERNS IN TUCSON, ARIZONA

If you find yourself in the American Southwest during the month of August, please feel free to visit The Loft Cinema in Tucson, any Sunday. You’ll find me there, deosa volenti, introducing four of what I think are the best of these films, and hawking copies of my book, 10,000 Ways To Die – about Italian Westerns.

The films are FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, screening on Sunday 5 August; Lizzani’s REQUIESCANT, screening the following Sunday; Questi’s SE SEI VIVO SPARA / DJANGO KILL! on 19 August, and Corbucci’s IL GRANDE SILENZIO / THE BIG SILENCE on the 26th.

IL GRANDE SILENZIO is a new HD transfer and looks very nice: it’s Corbucci’s masterpiece, and one of a bleak handful of Westerns-in-the-Snow. You’ve perhaps seen DJANGO KILL! on DVD or even VHS, but the experience of watching this insane and brilliant picture in the theatre cannot be beat. REQUIESCANT is almost as demented, with a fabulous cast of villains and a Pier Paolo Pasolini in a supporting role, as a revolutionary priest.

If you’re in Tucson, come on by!

Cox and Lizzani, 1984(The illustrative image, by the way, is of my younger self shaking hands with Carlo Lizzani, director of REQUIESCANT. He was directing a play in Rome. I had just made REPO MAN, my first film. Perhaps you can see my Jesse Jackson for President badge… Lizzani was a very gracious man to waste time shaking hands with such a bozo when he had his play to attend.)

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IR FROM THE ARIZONA DESERT

While in the desert outside Tucson, AZ, I worked on the Billy the Kid script and took infrared pictures of the vicinity…

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The camera is a Pentax K-01, converted to read infra-red light as well as the light we perceive, by means of a filter. The lens, for the most part, is the 40mm pancake which came with the camera.

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In addition to turning green things white, the IR filter gets the best out of the sky. Even a mediocre cloudy day acquires mystery…

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The above is the frontispiece for the Billy the Kid screenplay. It has a certain antique weirdness, I think.

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Saguaros are irresistible subjects.

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As is Pearl, seen here returning from la chasse.

TO TOMBSTONE! AND THE FACE OF JEREMY CORBYN

On Tuesday I’ll head south for Arizona, where I have a date at The Loft to promote TOMBSTONE RASHOMON and screen REPO MAN on Sept 24. Given the campaign’s (how to put this?) lack of traction, it may seem like a Quixotic quest, but it’s an opportunity for me and Pearl to see (and camp in) a number of beautiful places which are harder to appreciate when you just fly over them (see below).

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That’s the view of the Continental Divide from the puddle-jumper which connects Medford to Denver, non-stop in a couple of hours. Whereas to drive from Southern Oregon to Southern Arizona is going to take me 12 days. Excellent! My itinerary is something like Pyramid Lake, NV/Austin, NV/Cathedral Gorge, NV/Kodachrome Basin, UT/Waterpocket Fold, UT, then either via Monument Valley or National Bridges NM, and south via Globe to Tucson. Globe was for a while the home of Kate Fisher/Elder, the companion of Doc Holliday. She owned a hotel there, till it burned down (as towns did frequently in those days before the Fire Department), and I’m hoping there’s some pamphlet or locally published book I can pick up there about her adventures, and possible eye-witness account of the Gunfight near the OK Corral.

I’ll post an account of my trip in the Updates section of our Indiegogo campaign page. That way, if you would like to read them, you may be tempted to throw a mite our two into the campaign, which runs until Sept 27.

Since I’m a loyal member of the Green Party in the UK, it doesn’t necessarily mean much that the disgraced Labour Party over there has a new leader… Unless… could Jeremy Corbyn be telling the truth this time, when he says that if Labour is elected he will renationalise the railways and defend the NHS? The “New” Labour of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown promised this, too, lied about it, and led us into a series of wars (against Serbia, against Afghanistan, against Iraq) which gave Europe its current refugee crisis. Drop bombs on people’s homes, drive them out in the name of “regime change” and “colour revolutions” and where are they supposed to live? Right next door to you (unless you’re David Cameron or Tony Bliar).

Should we believe Corbyn when he says he wants things to be different? I know of no rational reason to believe anything any mainstream politician says. But then there is the matter of Corbyn’s face. Consider the general run of politicos – the Bliars, the Camerons, the Milibands, the Bushes and most of the clown-car aspirants for the Republican nomination – and what is remarkable is the sheer blandness of their faces. They have round, smooth, shiny egg-like aspects which seem unaffected by the wickedness of their deeds. Whereas Corbyn’s face is wracked. He looks like a painting by El Greco – lines of pain and sadness etched visibly, as if he had watched the unfolding of war and economic devastation and been moved by it – moved to feelings of grief, of guilt, and of regret. Some politicians faces’ do reveal them – Trump is clearly an angry, bilious guy, Hilary Clinton a corrupt and dangerous individual. Most are simply bland. But Corbyn’s face communicates such pain that I am inclined to believe that the events of the last twenty or thirty years have had some actual effect on him.

Who knows? The English media and his own political establishment will work ceaselessly to destroy Corbyn and get him replaced with another egg-face prior to the next election. But to see a visage marked by such sadness gives me some hope, for there is hope in sadness and regret, while triumphalism and denial lead elsewhere.