The Face in the Clouds

author photograph of clouds

At first glance, the smudge in the clouds looked like God had taken the edge of His hand and smeared a hole in the oblique cover so He could see the desert below. I was amused and, not a little delighted, to see the effect in the evening sky. I stopped and held up my iPhone to take a couple of pictures of this phenomenon and there it was.

The face.

Not in the clouds, nor was it visible to the naked eye at least not to mine, it was on my iPhone display. I stood by the side of the hot road, dust swirling around my sore and swollen feet, transfixed by the face  on my phone. I was so absorbed that if the big guy himself suddenly appeared beside me, it would have gone unnoticed.

Looking at the face in the clouds, or more accurately the “space” in the clouds where some monstrous hand had scraped away the grayness for a better view, I realized that this was not the big fella, or gal. This was an evil and angry face. On the picture, which will be shared below, it looks more cartoonish, or even photoshopped, but looking at it through the lens of the iPhone, the peering image most certainly did not look like the work of an artist.

Unfortunately the iPhone 5 I possess, even with the lens zoomed to its maximum extent, did not capture the face as clearly as the display. The image looks different in the photograph. This variation, however, does nothing to keep this mysterious man, yes it’s very obviously male, from looking ominous and not a little scary. All this on top of being gloriously freaky and cool.

So, after this long winded build up, here is the picture:

Photograph of face in clouds

After walking another 600 yards or so, glancing at the furious visage in the sky above me, I decided to take another snap:

Photograph of face in clouds

Once again, the display on the phone was clearer than the final photo. Probably down to my dubious skills as operator rather than any limitations of the equipment itself. This time, the face was an almost 3/4 profile looking partially at me (in my mind at least) and  where I was heading. Still rather disconcerting and spooky.

Taking a few more snaps, I turned and headed home. The face in the clouds had topped off an odd, and strenuous day. It also “weirded” me out a little.  But not enough to take away the delight at this wonder of nature. Where a face, so clear and concise that I could see the anger in its huge glare,  gazed  down at my lonely walk home across the desert.

20 February 2015

And in the News Today, Everything’s Gone a Little Weird

English: Logo of Headlines Today
English: Logo of Headlines Today (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I get up this morning and as usual I start skimming the web. I am looking for news that I find interesting, funny, exciting, irritating or just strange. This morning I found a wealth of  headlines that  made my eyebrows shoot up towards my almost non-existent hairline.

Entire firework display explodes – this was a video that fit the bill of funny and irritating. Of course I would find it funny, I didn’t fight crowds of people to see it live. Nor did I have to pay for parking and then have to fight to get back to my car when the fifteen second display finished. But for the folks who attended, I think maybe irritated would be the order of the day, or in this case night. I wonder if San Diego will try to make it up to the citizens, legal and illegal, who attended the show.

Imogen Thomas shows cleavage – I don’t know who Imogen is, but, I am pleased for her I guess. This one falls straight into the irritating category. If I hadn’t seen the other “headlines” I would have thought it was a slow news day.

Man dies as road swallows car – this one is brilliant. The mental picture you get while reading this one is funny. I got an image of a road sprouting a mouth, opening wide and working it’s muscles literally swallowing the car. The reality, while nowhere near as graphic or fantasy filled, is just as strange. Two people driving in China and the road literally opens up into a five metre hole “that about thirty some odd feet for you non-metric folks out there). Funny with a touch of sad, since one of the unfortunate motorist died.

Pencil Pierces Brain of Two-Year-Old Girl – Pretty self explanatory this one. A toddler on her way to bed falls and almost gives herself a DIY Lobotomy. Luckily for her it did not result in a more fatal injury. Strange and a little interesting. It kind of feels like a ‘human interest’ story in shorthand.

Base jumper survives 120m fall – Another ‘it does what it says on the label’ type story. Guy’s jump goes wrong and he free falls 393 feet and survives. Luckily he landed in snow, so he only fractured about every bone in his body. But…he lived. Another strange and interesting one.

Okay, so admittedly, these ‘headlines’ were all about the video news. These items were all produced by ITN (aka ITV 3) and they were picked presumably because of their diverse nature. Well they certainly caught my eye.

They funny thing is, all these stories made me think of the video equivalent of The National Enquirer. The “newspaper” that used the tagline, “Because inquiring minds want to know,” has been a supermarket favourite for years. *About fifty in fact.*

A lot of people, mainly celebrities, despise the Enquirer. I’ve always found it quirky and downright weird. With is old ‘yellow journalistic’ style of writing I’ve always been drawn to it if for no other reason than to give it a quick scan while waiting in the check-out queue.

The Enquirer used to boast great eye-catching headlines like: Toddler eaten by rats while horrified mother watches, Elvis is alive and living in the back of my car, and Freakish sea monster eats entire ship. I mean just the headlines alone, made for great imaginative skim reading.

While those video ‘headlines’ I saw this morning  don;t quite match the tasteless ingenuity of The National Enquirer they are, at least, the spiritual blood-brother of the paper. It is nice to see that with all the horrible, scary and depressing  news that we are usually bombarded  with someone has made time for the weird and the wonderful.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008): A Kimchi Western

The Good, the Bad, the Weird
The Good, the Bad, the Weird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Written and directed by Jee-woon Kim (I Saw The Devil, A Tale of Two Sisters) and starring Kang-ho Song (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, The Quiet Family), Byung-hun Lee (I Saw the DevilG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Woo-sung Jung (Demon Empire, Daisy) The Good, The Bad, The Weird is Jee-woon Kim’s loving homage to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone.

Winning four awards and receiving nine nominations, TGTBTW is the second highest grossing film from South Korea only being beaten by Speedy Scandlal.

Set in 1930’s Manchuria, the film begins with The Bad(Byung-hu Lee) being paid to get hold of a Japanese treasure map being transported by train. Unfortunately for The Bad, someone else has just beat him to it. The Weird (Kang-ho Song) is already on the train and disguised as a snack vendor makes his way into the guarded rail car that has the map.

The train is stopped by The Bad and his cronies who have blocked the track. The Weird uses this opportunity to escape from the train, with the map, on his side car motorcycle. The Good, a bounty hunter (Woo-sung Jung) attempts to shoot both The Bad and The Weird.

The Good finally decides to chase after The Weird. They all wind up in a village where the Ghost Market operates from. The Ghost Market is a black market meeting place and since everyone seems to know about the treasure map, a gang of Manchurian bandits also want it.

Cue a brilliantly choreographed shoot out between all of the warring factions.

This film does mimic the Sergio Leone classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly to a degree, but only in rough terms of characters and the overall plot. Byung-hun Lee is the Lee Van Cleef of the picture, Kang-ho Song is the Eli Wallach, and Woo-sung Jung is the Clint Eastwood.

Jee-woon Kim adds just the right amount of pathos and humour to the film. It is paced perfectly and does not waste a single frame of film. The only complaint that I might possibly have about the film is the casting of Byung-hu lee as The Bad. He was so charismatic and charmingly bad that I actually liked him.

..at the opening night gala for the 2005 Hawai...

Kang-ho Song as The Weird, almost steals the film. He is both comic relief and deadly enemy. He is also the slowest of the three mentally, but what he lacks in brain power he makes up in sheer enthusiasm. He is a bumbling bad man and only chances upon the Japanese treasure map by accident.

Woo-sung Jung is very, very good…as The Good. He lacks the stoic ability of Clint Eastwood’s Character but he makes up for it in his taciturn attitude about bringing the bad guys in for the bounty.

The group of bandits also provided a lot of comic relief, but they also were very deadly if somewhat dense foes.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird is Jee-woon Kim at his finest. He has so far done a couple of horror films, a gangster film, a psychological thriller and an epic western. I cannot wait to see his next venture. What ever it is, I sincerely hope that is has room for Byung-hun Lee,  Kang-ho Song, Woo-sung Jung and maybe Min-sik Choi.

I really feel that South Korean Cinema is leading the rest of the world in producing brilliant films. I also think that they are one of the few countries that still see the director as Auteur. That French invention that likens the director to a sort of demi-god status.

Asian Cinema seems to have more than its fair share of writer/directors and for the most part what ever accolades that they’ve received for their works is well deserved. I think that Jee-woon Kim has earned the title Auteur and may he continue to make films to prove it.