Tag Archives: The Thin Red Line

I [heart] America


There’s been a lot of hullabaloo this past couple of years because of the Cheeto-in-Chief of the good ol’ U S of A.

What with cosying up to dictators and alienating allies he certainly cuts a divisive figure. Unfortunately, this has had a backlash against America in general and its people.

So, to redress the balance, I wanted to write a positive post about some of the things I love about America. After all, one Mango-Mussolini shouldn’t taint the whole country.

In no particular order…

MUSIC

From Elvis Presley to Tom Waits to the Talking Heads. Who could argue that America has produced some of the greatest artists and genres the world has ever seen. Who are your favourites?

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Next up, MOVIES.

When we think of American movies we tend to think of Hollywood blockbusters. But there are so many unbelievable directors and actors. Here are some of my favourites, who are yours?

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As I have a penchant for the Arts, I’m going to pick out a few photographers who have inspired me over the years.

PHOTOGRAPHY

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Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold

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Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen

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Vivian Maier

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Ansel Adams

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Cindy Sherman

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Saul Leiter

Understandably, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about advertising. But I do, because I worked in it for 30 years. When Doyle, Dane, Bernbach set up shop in the 1960s they revolutionised advertising. They focussed on simple product truths. Their ethos/philosophy permeated continents and generations. Still does. I had the privilege of working for DDB Dublin.

ADVERTISING

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Leading on from advertising we have GRAPHIC DESIGN, and this iconic classic by Milton Glaser for the New York tourist board. which has been ‘parodied’ a trillion times. (Yes, including me.)

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Milton Glaser

Next up, ARTISTS. Again, a multitude to pick from. Here are a couple of my faves.

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Jean Michel Basquiat

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Edward Hopper

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Mary Cassatt

Moving on to something non art related – LANDSCAPE. America has such a diverse landscape, from snow-capped mountains to sun-scorched deserts.

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I’ve always loved CLASSIC CARS, Mercedes, Jaguar, Citroen, Volvo. But I also love American cars for their sheer ostentatiousness.

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I couldn’t write a post about America without including a few WRITERS. Too many to choose from. Here are a few of my heroes who have inspired me over the years. Recommendations anyone?

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What else do I love about America? I really like their ARCHITECTURE. Whether it be a monumental skyscaper or the traditional colonial white-picket-fence style complete with veranda.

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You won’t get very far in the States without some top-notch tucker. What is more quintessentially American than the humble DINER?

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Who says Americans don’t get irony? They make some fantastic COMEDY and have some wonderful comedians. Obviously, you’re not as funny as us Brits. But you’re getting the hang of it. (Benny Hill.)

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There you have it. Have I forgotten anything, anyone? What would you have included?

Obviously, there is one other thing I would like to give credit to. And that is the American people. (Well, only those that didn’t vote Trump.) You’re an innovative and inspiring bunch. Not only that, you saved our asses in two world wars! So, cheers for that.

My, (our), world would be a lot poorer without you.

 

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War can be good.


Well, we’ve done Romance. And we’ve done Sci-Fi. So how’s about my top ten war films of all time? Obviously, no laughing matter. But neither are Sci-Fi films if you live in my head. (They’re all true, you know.) Here are mine – I’d love to hear yours: Stalingrad_film Stalingrad: As told from the Germans’ point of view. Something we don’t see an awful lot of in this country. Soldiers on the edge of the abyss. Truly horrific and heart-wrenching to see how the common soldier suffers and endures. (And my grandad fought there too. On t’other side, mind. He was a P.O.W. in a Nazi concentration camp.) The-Deer-Hunter-1978-movie-wallpaper The Deer Hunter. War has a lasting impression. A deep, psychological impression. But the bond of kinship is stronger. Pittsburgh steelworkers go to Vietnam and are so traumatised by their experience one of them stays to be a Russian Roulette ‘celebrity’. His ‘buddy’, who has designs on his wife, returns to rescue him from his psychosis. MV5BMTcyMzQ5NDM4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODUwNDg3OA@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_ Who could forget, Colonel Kurtz? A fucked-up soldier in a fucked-up war. Vietnam/Cambodia. A US colonel goes renegade/insane due to the horrors he has witnessed/enacted. And Martin Sheen is on his case as the US assassin to cover up his atrocities. “The horror.” abridgetoofar1977 Okay, a bit of a Hollywood epic. Still a great movie for its grasp of the complete and utter failure of a mission. Not just a failure of the mission, but the ineptitude of allied commanders and politicians. And a true story. 220px-Hamburger_hill Hamburger Hill. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. But what I like about this film is the absolute futility of war. It’s like watching dominoes being knocked over. But they aren’t dominoes. They are human beings who bleed and die. It was this or Kubrik’s Full Metal Jacket. (Or Paintlater’s Three Kings.) MV5BNjczODkxNTAxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTcwNjUxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR9,0,214,317_ Probably one of the best war stories ever told. A squad of Rangers are sent out to rescue a para, whose two brothers have also been recently killed, from behind D-Day enemy lines. (It’s a PR exercise by the US govt.) How many should die to save one man? Could’ve done without the ‘book-ends’ in my book. platoon-movie-poster You didn’t think I’d forget Platoon, did you? As usual, the only people to get screwed are those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. A masterpiece in social microcosm. 9th-company It’s the Russian version of Hamburger Hill/Stalingrad. A forlorn company tries to hold out against a horde of Afghan liberators. And when I say ‘horde’, we’re talking ‘Zulu’ territory. cross of iron Another one from Germany’s point of view. But this time made in Hollywood. James Coburn shows his commanding officer just what it takes to win the coveted Cross of Iron. His C.O. wants the medal but also likes to lead from the back. Not in Coburn’s book. MV5BMTk0MjIyNTA1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM3MzU5._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_ And … the Oscar goes to … my all-time favourite: The Thin Red Line. An absolute masterpiece of poetry and war by Terence Malick. How nature, life, love and war de-harmonise in the Pacific. Not exhaustive by any stretch. And I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads. ‘All quiet on the western front’ might get a few votes. Feel free to suggest your faves.

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