“Before 1454 (the year the printing press was introduced) witchcraft was virtually unheard of, yet in 1460 the madness was underway and twelve ‘sorceresses’ were burnt in the public square of Heidelberg, a few miles for Gutenberg’s first printing plant.”—David Crow
So, here comes new magazine on the block C A R S O N. ”Dedicated to quality in design, fine art, illustration, photography and writing”, edited by Alex Storch, with creative direction from Carson.
Before I go any further, a disclaimer. I’ve been offered a free subscription to C A R S O N in return for blogging about it. I wouldn’t normally do that, but David Carson has been a pretty major influence on me over the years (for better or worse), so I don’t mind selling my soul just a teensy bit in return.
I’m honestly, non-soulsellingly, quite excited about C A R S O N. As a nineties teenager, David Carson’s work seemed to be everywhere. His Nine Inch Nails sleeves were quite unlike anything else, and really made the most of the smaller canvas of CD packaging. His monograph The End of Print pissed plenty of people off, but was massively influential. Even McDonalds got in on the act. And his last major foray into magazine publishing, Ray Gun (or Raygun, or R A Y G U N, or whatever he fancied calling it that month), sat messily and proudly alongside The Face on the shelves of WHSmith to define nineties pop culture.
(I’m already getting a bit irritated by having to type shift-c, space, shift-a, space … etc. This is the nature of the beast.)
Will it actually be any good? It could be fantastic. It could just be a messy Elephant. Storch denies it’ll simply be Ray Gun Part II, but would that be so bad? Just look at the popular reaction to Blur, Pulp, everyone reforming – if anyone’s going to bring a bit of the nineties back to print, why not Carson?
The Road Daybreakers No Distance Left To Run Up In The Air A Single Man The Wolfman The Crazies Soloman Kane Shutter Island Green Zone The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I Love You Philip Morris Kick Ass The Headless Woman How To Train Your Dragon Iron Man 2 Carrie Psycho Four Lions Prince Of Persia The Brothers Bloom Sex And The City 2 Greenberg Inception Toy Story 3 Goldfinger Black Narcissus Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Girl Who Played With Fire Cyrus The Illusionist The Secret In Their Eyes Winter’s Bone The Town The Social Network The Kids Are All Right The American Unstoppable Monsters Tron: Legacy
In summary: quite a lot of good films, but far more mediocre ones (I paid to see Solomon Kane? What on Earth was I expecting?). Very few excellent ones. Many terrible ones.
There are quite a few films that promised great things, but didn’t quite deliver for whatever reason. Some were 90% excellent but were missing a certain something – I’m intrigued to see how some of these reward repeat viewings (A Single Man, Scott Pilgrim and Monsters in particular).
Amazingly, Sex And The City 2 wasn’t the worst film of the year. To be perfectly honest, I came out of it with the same goofy grin on my face that I had after watching Batman and Robin all those years ago. It’s not that I enjoyed it as such, I just think that halfway through I realised that you’re not supposed to like any of the characters, and that changed how I was watching it. It was like a misogynistic car-crash that you couldn’t quite look away from. It’d make for an interesting double bill with The Killer Inside Me, just to see how much woman-hating it’s possible to watch before you throw up.
No, the worst film of the year was either The Headless Woman (synopsis: woman goes shopping, dyes hair) or The Girl Who Played With Fire (synopsis: girl has cheekbones, subtitles). To be fair, I didn’t watch all of the latter because it was so unspeakably terrible. For all I know it had the most amazing third act of any film ever, but I doubt it.
3D continued to be blurry and dark and unimpressive.
It was an interesting year for science fiction – just look at the first and last films on the list to see the healthy breadth of the genre. Obviously the best example of this was Inception, joining Edward Scissorhands in the microgenre of “You’ve Made Us Millions With Batman Now Go Make What You Want” films. I fear it’ll be one of those films, like Seven or Scream, that leads to a glut of cheaper, poorly written, missing-the-point-entirely imitators. It’s still my film of the year though, just edging out The Social Network, a film whose concept I heartily guffawed at when I first heard about it.
Other notable mentions, just for being uncomplicated pure bits of happy-making cinema: Cyrus, Unstoppable and Kick Ass. Toy Story 3 I’m still wrestling with a little. Before the beautiful big crying scene (and yes I did), there’s a scene so out-of-place, so manipulative and so calculatedly traumatic, that I feel a bit cheated. It’s a shame that one of Pixars biggest missteps takes place in an otherwise fine film.
All in all, not a great year. Here’s hoping 2011 has a bit more to offer.
You can say what you like about the hulking, hubristic, Helveticous beast that was Unimark, but I do rather like the idea of wearing a white lab coat whilst designing. I’m not sure why – maybe something to do with how much I enjoyed science/institutionalized pyromania class at school. Of course, I think I might be on my own with this one …
“The white coats were Vignelli’s idea. He thought they would give the operation a sense of discipline, professionalism and unity. Unimark’s studio in Milan sensibly lost no time in discarding the garments as ‘facist’. In 1968, when the long-suffering junior designers in Chicago finally decided they were sick of dressing like a convention of pill-counting pharmacists, the era of the lab coat was over.” — Rick Poynor’s review of Unimark 1965–1979.
Tis a shame. Anybody else want to completely ignore the mistakes of the past and start a neo-fascist design uniform movement? No? Just me?
Disclaimer: this is an old post from my old blog. Thanks to Richard for the pic.