STARBURST MEMORIES: Little White Lies – Apocalypse Now

This may seem an odd edition to the Starburst Memories slot, given that it was only published recently, the dust has only just managed to settle on Dirk’s archive edition, but in light of this week’s featured article, it seemed a good opportunity to sing the praises of this magazine of consistent high quality.

Each bi-monthly, edition of LITTLE WHITE LIES (subtitled ‘Truth and Movies’ for reasons I am yet to fathom) dedicates the first half of the magazine to exploring different aspects of a chosen film. Very often, it is a newly released films, but occasionally it is film that is being re-released or a retrospective, and for me, this is when the magazine is at its best. The benefit of hindsight means that the chosen topic has the appropriate weight to fill the space that has been dedicated to it, for example, ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) was a terrific little film with a built-in cult status, but the magazine was stretching itself when it was bulking up the feature with an article about John Wyndham. That said, the glow-in-the-dark cover was worth the price on its own.

The covers are superbly designed masterpieces, but I am deliberately avoiding focusing on its appearance, as it is blindingly brilliant, to the point where there is a temptation to constantly flick through its heavy-weight pages and admire the design, and the hypnotic smell of the paper. I’m easily distracted by such seductions.

It’s the quality of the writing is striking in issue 35, May/June 2011, Matt Bochenski opens with a brilliant appraisal of APOCALYPSE NOW:

The truth is less about the events of the war itself (although they are recreated with stunning authenticity) than the madness at the heart of human nature.

He presents a compelling argument that the film takes the narrative thread of a road movie, by using the Meekong River as its central core, holding together increasingly disjointed episodes. The archive pieces that supports the feature illustrate the notion that the story was conceived in fragments. There are annotated storyboard that reveal the detailed conceptualization of the helicopter scenes, as well as photographs from the shoot, but the best piece is a memo released to the crew reminding them that they were not exempt from the Philippine drug laws.

As the crew descended into various states of insanity, Coppola handed the work on the opening of the film sound editor Walter Murch, who he believed to be the most sane person left. According to a brief interview for the magazine, he was tasked with developing the immersive sound structures, pioneering the new dolby technology for which he won an oscar.

Obsessive attention to detail was combined with the intensity of a chaotic approach that allowed serendipity to a happen during the shooting. In addition to a piece about Conrad and the relationship between the military and movies, the magazine includes extracts from Eleanor’s diary. It was published in Britain by Faber, but is now difficult to get hold a copy. NOTES: ON THE MAKING OF APOCALYPSE NOW formed the basis of HEARTS OF DARKNESS and there is an entry included in this edition of LWL that is one of the most disturbing in the documentary:


He let Marty get a little drunk, as the character is really supposed to be. He and Marty knew that they were taking a chance… Francis pushed him with a few words and he became the theatrical performer… Marty began this incredible scene. He hit the mirror with his fist. Maybe he didn’t mean to. Perhaps he over shot the judo stance. His hand started bleeding. Francis said his impulse was to cut the scene and call a nurse, but Marty was doing the scene. He had gotten to the place where some part of him and Willard had merged. Francis had a moment of not wanting to be a vampire, sucking Marty’s blood for the camera, and not wanting to turn the camera of when Marty was Willard. He left it running.

Madness, but there is method in it.

All in all, this is a great issue as it looks and feels wonderful and the writing as exemplified by Matt Bochenski’s opening review, is top notch. He goes on to apply LWL’s distinctive approach to ratings, by applying the top score to the categories of ‘Anticipation’, ‘Enjoyment’ and ‘In retrospect’:

 A gilt-edged, no-messing, accept-no-substitutes masterpiece

Which proves that we all start sounding like EMPIRE magazine in the end.

3 responses to “STARBURST MEMORIES: Little White Lies – Apocalypse Now

  1. I don’t buy any magazines at all anymore, what with the internet and the pile of unread books by my bed that is taller than me, but this does sound interesting. Can’t remember ever seeing it on sale though!

  2. I wish I had your willpower. Even in this age of austerity, the kids are going hungry while I fuel my subscriptions, because magazines fill places that the internet could never reach. I can live without physical objects in the digital world: my CDs and DVDs are stowed away and held on a hard disk, I have even started reading books electronically, but magazines are sacred. I love the design. I love the adverts. I still get a thrill when they drop through the door.

    Little White Lies has a limited distribution, but in big stores in that fancy London is certain to have a copy hidden behind TOTAL FILM are sometimes mis-filed under the ‘art section’ – it looks THAT good.

  3. Pingback: DOM: The Godfather Part II (Coppola, US, 1974) | The Dirk Malcolm Alternative·

What's your Dirk?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s