Saturday, April 04, 2020

New Work on paper. clay and mixed april 2020

Friday, April 03, 2020

Patricia Bosworth 1933-2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sonder Midwest Literary Magazine

Sonder Magazine is using one of my photos taken in columbus ohio in 84 for their covers. Also here is the promo poster

The Band Wagon 1953

I popped into this great great musical last night via the two dvd set and for a while I was back in time, maybe sitting in Radio City Music Hall watching Fred and Cyd dance in a fake back lot Central Park to Dancing In The Dark. Listen it doesn't get much better that this, in fact the whole movie is better than this or that or anything that Hollywood produces. You can see references to many movies that have come since, Hello La La Land. The story is brilliant and autobiographical. An older song and dance man played by Astaire who is "washed up" arrives in New York City to try to get his failing career back on track. Getting off the train he runs into Ava Gardner who was at the peak of her career. Cute. He is met by his two old friends in show biz the married couple played brilliantly by Oscar Lavant and the great Nanette Fabray. Another bio spark as they are obviously based on the real life but not married musical writting team, Betty Comden and Adolph Green who wrote the wonderful script. Brightly colored and directed by Vincente Minnelli there are too many marvelous moments to mention them all but how about that Times Sq. Penny arcade bit with Fred dancing with LeRoy Daniels to "Shine on Your Shoes." They decide to put on a show with the help of the pompous but delightful Jack Buchanan who talks them into doing a musical of the Faust legend. They get going and get the lovely Cyd Charisse to be Fred's co-star. Naturally they don't get along until that Dancing In the Dark moment. Disaster follows with the show called by the way "The Band Wagon" a complete and utter failure until the kids in the show along with the major players take over and put on a new production which includes the great number in dance on cheap pulp detective stories that soars even though it is a call back to a similar number from the year before in Singin In The Rain. So what its all part of the Freed Unit anyway. The great song "That's Entertainment" is sung and soars not once but twice and there is also much to make the eyes open wide in amazement including those snazzy costumes. This might help with your gloom and sadness and it Might be the best film of 1953, I'll have to get back to you.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Unorthodox 2020

Viewed all 4 episodes of this appealing and moving series and can easily say oy watch it if you can. The story is based on the memoirs of Deborah Feldman who left her strong and strict Orthodox Satmar Hasidic community and fled to Berlin. Here the film is true to the basics of her story but is filled with much fiction.The lead is played by the remarkable Shira Haas as the unhappy new wive Etsy (Esther for short) who is miserable in the severe life of a woman in the community. With the help of a non Jewish piano instructor she takes off for Berlin to begin a new life, followed by her husband (a sweet but clueless man) and his troubled bully, his cousin Moishe who are determined to bring her back to Williamsburg. I should add that Etsy is also with baby and is also in conflict with her mother who also fled the community years earlier and who is also in Berlin living with her female lover. The rituals of the Hasidic community are richly detailed especially the wedding ceremony between Etsy and her husband Yanky, and should prove fascinating to Jews and non-Jews alike. Filmed in Berlin (It looks like Minneapolis) and Williamsburg where I should add my family came from, including my scary Bubbie who owned a large brownstone there. The folks behind the making of the film are mostly women including the director Maria Schrader and it seems to me that much of what is happening on streaming is happily being made by women a promising move. All the performances are wonderful and again a note on how great this young actress Shira Haas is and she should be winning all the awards next year for this work. The other show I saw her in was the marvelous Israeli series Shtisel where she plays another young Hasidic woman of a different temperament. Although there are some plot twists and turns that didn't quite work for me, the final scene between Etsy and her husband Yanky was heart breaking and moving. See this one.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Betty Blue 1986

An epic emotional masterpiece that runs on high fever pitch for over 3 hours and never lets up on its grip around our throats.  Opening abruptly with a pretty explicit sex scene but not violent that didn’t shock me as much as surprise, it’s on the same level as the abrupt violent opening of “The Naked Kiss”, and there is also plenty of naked kissing in Betty. A Mona Lisa print hangs over the bed and we are soon thrown into the frantic crazy whirl wind life of Zorg a would be writer who is a handy man for a bungalow colony on a beach in France, who gets his room and board thrown in for good measure.
                  Into his life and our lives come this Betty, this blue and she is like a mist, a vapor that pours over not only on Zorg but also the audience. I was entranced and in sorrow for both of them, played superbly by the very attractive and sexy actors Jean-Hugues Anglade and the stunning Beatrice Dalle whose first film this was. She is beautiful but troubled and is also scary. She’s like a sharp razor blade flashing all around us giving Zorg a run for his love. He loves her with a passion and the same goes for Betty’s passion for Zorg.
               Their life together is filled with anger, joy, lots of sex  and lots of problems that come at us full speed ahead. Betty is troubled and her troubled mind is what controls their lives and emotions. Part of me just wanted him to leave her get going pal but of course he could never do that, so their misadventures some miserable and tragic and some miserable and comical continue for the 3 hour plus running time of the film.
                  Eccentric and unusual characters come and go in their lives, and some stay on a bit longer like the kind and generous old friend of Betty’s Lisa and her new boyfriend Eddy nicely drawn by Consuelo DeHaviland and Gerrard Darmon. Eddy who owns a pizza joint gives Betty and Zorg work for a short time before disaster closes that job down. They later move to a suburb where Eddy’s mother who just died owns a store selling pianos of all things and he offers them the opportunity to carry on the business and live in the apartment above the store and more misadventures happen.
                  Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix whose first masterpiece was “Diva” and based on the popular novel by Phillippe Dijian, the other two important contributors to the film is Gabriel Yared who composed the beautiful soulful Jazz infused score and Jean-Francois Robin the cinematographer. The images and colors on the new Criterion transfer are stunning, rich and dense in primary colors and lavish in pastel hues not to mention the color blue. There is a lot of red and yellow also in Robin’s palette and the film is gigantic in rich color combinations. Beineix is a wonderful stylist and is sometimes attacked for this and his background in advertising and commercials but he also knows his film history especially Hollywood films and the director I kept thinking of was the great Hollywood colorist and stylist Vincente Minnelli who was married to his own Betty Blue. I would think that he would love this film even though the nudity, sex, violence  and maybe the length of the film would have given him problems. The ending reduced me to tears. One of the ten best films of the year.        

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

oddball magazine. March 25, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

some recent pieces based on a poem by Alex Gildzen

Terrence McNally 1939-2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Suzy DeLair 1917-2020

The Plague Collage No. 1 March 2020

Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis. 1927.

Maybe it was because of watching Babylon Berlin that I had an urge to watch this wonderful documentary again.Happily it sat on my shelf waiting for me. I had first seen it a few years ago at the smaller theatre in Carnegie Hall (this at one time was one of my favorite rep film houses in the city but that's another post) with a live orchestra accompanying it. Thrilling. The film made by Walter Ruttmann is a short one hour look at this once great city from early morning till late at night, and it shows us all sorts of things including trains, trams, people going to work, machines in factories, poor people, rich people all going about their day. Highly influenced by the Russian constructionists, its a montage of movement and is filled with stunning images, even though they are mostly ordinary things. As I said its all about movement and motion at the beginning of the 20th century and the short film is broken down into 5 segments or acts which adds to the theatricality of the piece. Curtains actually rise and close especially in the morning when shops raise their closed drapes and curtains to start another day of commerce. There is a lot to take in signs, shop windows, people eating, fashion and much more all matched with a musical score. The film closes rather too abruptly for me with a night time display of fireworks over the city and I would have loved more of the nightlife of this once beautiful city. I've been to Germany and have written about it quite a bit, but I never got to Berlin, which was still a divided city when I was there, so I don't have any feelings or opinions about what it is like now. It was of course leveled in World War two with most of its glory and beauty gone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Stuart Whitman 1928-2020

Babylon Berlin 2017-2020 3 seasons. Netflix

28 hours of pure bliss and angst. With a story line that is quite appalling, and this should come as no surprise. Set in a teeming visually exciting Berlin of 1929 we know what is coming. The two main characters are a conflicted drug addled detective played by Volker Bruch scarred from fighting in the first world war and a sometime sex worker scarred from a life of bitter poverty who is also a stenographer but wants to become a detective played by Liv Lisa Fries. Both are superb, sexy good looking and appealing and Hollywood should grab them up. Also terrific is Peter Kurth the spitting image of Sig Ruman as Bruch’s superior on the police force who is sometimes a friend and sometimes not. The series is complex and full of rich characters populated by many many supporting actors and actresses (some of whom were somewhat familiar to me) and extras who look like they just stepped out of paintings by Kirchner, Grosz, Beckmann and Dix, the series is a visual blast and delight. The plot is dense and complex and sometimes made me feel lost and found but its always arresting and staggering in its labyrinths. There are some obvious touches like a few of the bad guys having scars and birthmarks as if we needed these visual signals to let us know just how vile they are. There are also plenty of homage’s and touches to the great masters of German silent and early cinema including Fritz Lang, Murhau, Weiner and Pabst along with some wicked and delicious Louise Brooks touches, which I will not give away here. The three seasons of course are loaded with politics, which bring in lots of deceit and backstabbing among the communists and the National Socialists. The rise of the Nazi’s is subtle and not loud and obvious as I thought it might be, but its still there in small and large touches. There are also sub-plots upon sub-plots that involve stolen gold, gay romances, blackmail, and scandals involving the porn industry, sex galore and wild nights in nightclubs and cabarets. The 3rd season although still overflowing with the politics of the time also introduces a murder mystery set at a film studio and is full of movie references and details that gave me great pleasure not to mention lots of chuckles. The series also has the look and feel of those old serials where the hero and heroine get themselves into outrageous situations and we wonder how will they survive that one, but in next weeks episode they do with much tongue in the cheek and a train chase at the end of the 2nd season that should take your breath away, it did mine. The details and production values are rich and dense, with many brilliant and small touches like a quick shot of some orthodox Jews walking safely through the city, glistening nighttime cobblestone streets wet with recent rainstorms and dinners of goulash that you can almost smell. I’ve been told that this is the most expensive non-English language series ever made, and it looks it. There are stunning shots of the city as it was thanks to brilliant art direction and great digital special effects. The costumes are beautiful and accurate as far as I can tell and the textiles and interiors are also perfection down to the tea servings, dinner wear and lighting fixtures. Sometimes the Art Deco and Art Nouveau interiors and set designs can be distracting because of their beauty and details, and on top of reading the subtitles I sometimes got distracted, as if I was in a museum or a gallery but this is a small criticism. The series was co-created, directed and written by Henk Handloegten, Tom Tykwer, Achim Von Borries and Volker Kutscher with Tykwer being the only familiar name to me. Also of note is the score which features songs by Bryan Ferry who also appears as a cabaret singer. The 3rd season ends with many things up in the air and happily a 4th season is planned, can’t let those magnificent sets go to waste. One of the best things I've ever seen. As a side note for those interested in this once great city I would recommend seeing if possible Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis from 1927 directed by Walter Ruttmann. This is a documentary that takes place during one day from morning to night in the city and I was fortunate to see it in the theatre a few years ago with a live orchestra accompanying it.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Last small piece in my sketchbook. No more paper

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Oddball Magazine Today

Monday, March 09, 2020

Max Von Sydow 1929-2020

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Mart Crowley 1935-2020

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Botanical 2020

Sunday, March 01, 2020

They Were Expendable 1945

Released at the end of 1945, and the end of the war this heart felt war movie pretty much was ignored and avoided. The country no doubt was tired of the war and who could blame them, and this was not a war movie about vim, vigor and winning, It was about defeat, and valor.  Directed by the great John Ford right after he returned from the war where he was wounded filming war footage for the government. He was one of the big time directors who went off to the war to work on films documenting the men and the war machine and winning a couple of Oscars for them. The others included Frank Capra, William Wyler, John Huston and George Stevens and as a quick side note there is a terrific 3 hour documentary on this “Five Came Back” which is based on a book of the same title and is highly recommended by me.  This film is intimate certainly for a war movie and focuses on the sailors in the Philippines who are working hard on U boats to prove their value for combat when word of Pearl Harbor reaches them.  Robert Montgomery who also served in the navy was actually involved with PT boats and he brings a worn out brave look to his performance which by the way is magnificent, and might be his best work. Also good and believable is John Wayne who plays Montgomery’s 2nd in command and who in real life  sat out the war, and had to put up with Ford’s derision throughout the filming. As usual with Ford the movie is full of his usual crowd of actors and all are terrific. Also good and lovely is the one woman in the film Donna Reed as a nurse who has a brief romantic encounter with Wayne, but the relationship is cut short by the demands of the war. Filled with lovely sad moments the best one being the small dinner party thrown by some of the men for Donna Reed, who arrives in uniform and asks for a minute before she meets her dinner mates to brush out her hair and to put a strand of pearls around her neck, a great scene. Later in the scene Reed and the guests are sweetly serenaded by a bunch of sailors before they bid her a good night.  There are many little moments between the men, both the young who are practically still boys and the older sailors who have been around for years serving in the service, and the few personal death scenes are more than moving. Some of the touches like the rousing patriotic music score is a bit much as are the scenes of McArthur leaving the Philippines. Small knocks by me to be sure, as it is important to remember when this film was made, and who it was made for. The beautiful cinematography is by the great Joseph August. One of the ten best films of 1945.  

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