Wednesday, September 11, 2013

William Friedkin

After recently reading director William Friedkin's memoirs, The Friedkin Connection, The Leopard re-watched several of this intriguing directors' iconic films. The French Connection, The Exorcist, To Live and Die In LA, Cruising,  and his most recent, Killer Joe.
The overall sensibility that emerges is that Friedkin in the majority of his movies veers towards the dark side of human behavior. He seems comfortable portraying basics of human nature: desire, lust, and violence.

A somewhat forgotten film and a box office failure, one of The Leopard's favorites is the dark, rough-hewn Sorcerer, based on the book and film Wages of Fear.

The story of a motley crew of  criminals who merge in a South American country on and mission to transport nitroglycerin through a treacherous jungle, the film has an adventure - like quality as well as stirring realism. Propelled by a thumping score by the electronic group Tangerine Dream, pound for pound, it might be Friedkin's most fully realized endeavor.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The best beach reading this Summer by far for The Leopard has been the new memoir by  Ahmir “?uestlove”  Thompson, drummer of the band The Roots, Mo’Meta Blues. Quest makes a game attempt to rethink the genre of the rock bio, resulting in a lively, fun read.

A music enthusiast of the highest order, the afroed' one has an engaging love of music of all kinds, sometimes bordering on obsession.  At the same time, there’s jubilance to his love of all things pop that makes this book so endearing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


When push comes to shove, and the Leopard is asked what my favorite movie is, the same one always seems to comes to mind: Woody Allen’s 2003 film Manhattan. There’s a satisfying mixture of comedy and drama that has simply never been equaled in my mind.

Woody’s ingenuity when seen objectively, is pretty astonishing. Though the great comedian/writer/director is capable of the odd clunker, the majority of his films are quite good and at his best, pictures Annie Hall, Hannah And His Sisters, Midnight In Paris are arguably among most enjoyable films ever made. 

Having just read a wonderful book of interviews, Woody Allen On Woody Allen, I’ve gained even more respect for Allen not just for his inventiveness but his tenacity (as of this writing he’s written and directed over 50 films – over one a year).

Every film he creates, even the weaker ones, uniformly are produced: beautifully acted, intelligently written and well shot. For me, the opening of a Woody Allen films no matter how frequent, is a small event. With The Woodman, you it will always be something worth the price of the ticket.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Leopard recently saw Tatsumi, an animated biography/documentary about one of my inspirations, the great manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Directed by Eric Khoo, The basis of the film is the book A Drifting Life, about his fascinating career. It's a wonderful tribute to Tatsumi's art.
Tatsumi started out in children's manga, but was an early founder of gekiga style, which was alternative Japanese comics, often touching on adult themes of loneliness, depair and hopelessness, reflecting on then post war Japan.
The film not only animates A Drifting Life but also some of Tatsumi's best known stories, some of which are quite shocking in their violence and and especially sexual content.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Someone asked me recently what I was reading, and I started to throw out titles: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz; NW BY Zadie Smith; Untouchable by Randall Sullivan; Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe, etc.  Later, I thought about our conversation and I realized: I had lied. I had not actually read the last two volumes, I had listened to them.

Yep, The Leopard is a busy cat, so lugging heavy books around  is sometimes woefully inconvenient. Seeing how many hours a week I spend in transit, it makes pretty good sense, because you can drive or ride a subway or just walk down the street listening to the latest New York Times bestseller.
Now, so I don't sound like a commercial for, here's the catch: it's not the same as actually reading a book by any stretch.

Unfortunately or fortunately, these books are read by trained actors who tend to put their own spin on the words. As of now, when I think of Humbert Humbert from Nabokov's Lolita, I hear Jeremy Iron's
criminally obsessed voice. In The Great Gatsby, Tim Robbins' slightly sarcastic interpretation of events; even Arnold Schwarzenegger's narcissistic book Total Recall is mostly read by the actor Stephen Lang in a gravely macho growl.

Vocal stylization can rob one of the complete experience a book can provide. Certain intonations and emphasis can change a books' intended mood. We hear the book as the actor hears it.

Still, the theatricality of having a book read to you can also be immensely reassuring. It can bring you back to the days when mom & dad read you your favorite board book before beddy-bye.