Tuesday, October 19, 2021

2 new postcards. Mixed. October 2021


Monday, October 18, 2021

Jessica Jones. Netflix. Three Seasons

On its glossy surface this three season super hero comic book adaptation might just seem only like that, all gloss and all surface. However lurking and slinking about this show is a Norish look and a book of stories and themes about friendship, feminism and especially strong women who fear and conquer. The men except for the villains play second fiddle and they are a very attractive group bringing lots of eye candy to the mix including Eka Darvill who is Jessica’s troubled drug addicted neighbor who becomes her assistant and grows during the 3 seasons, Benjamin Walker a blackmailer with a good heart and nice chest who has the special ability to sniff out the severity of evil in others giving him extreme headaches, and J.R. Ramirez who plays a divorced father and artist and the super of Jones’s building. The series concerns the adventures and indeed misadventures of a sometimes lax superhero who is also an alcoholic private investigator working out of a ratty office in a somewhat present day ratty looking New York City which by the way looks glorious and gorgeous, all hard edged in bright colors. The on location production work is superb even though the extras look like extras. 

Jessica played wonderfully by the raven haired Krysten Ritter is assisted by her best friend and troubled adopted sister Patsy Walker played by the blonde and pretty Rachael Taylor. Patsy is a big time television news host who was also a child star and for most of her life has been pushed and bullied by her aggressive stage mother played by the rarely seen but welcomed Rebecca De Mornay, who is a little worn but still looking good.  The super hero kinkiness is not overplayed or over done, but is complex and family oriented with Jessica’s tragic family background playing a big part in her super powers. As I said her powers are not overplayed and are used by Jessica sparely against her villainous rivals. How she gets these powers is a long and convoluted sub plot that is told in flashbacks and confusion.

And This is especially true with her deadly foe played to the hilt of comic book horror and villainy by David Tennet as Kilgrave Jessica’s one time mentor and long time tormenter. Tennet is a pro at this sort of role and takes up most of the space in the first season. Also good and scary is Jeremy Bobb as a tormented serial killer who terrorizes in the third season. Generally I’m not into super heroes or comic book marvels but for some reason this one caught my eye and I have to say I was taken with it for all three seasons. This attraction most likely had to do with the cast which also featured the great  Carrie-Ann Moss as a somewhat treacherous high priced lawyer and high heeled lesbian and the equally great Janet McTeer as Jones’s very troubled equally super charged mom. Also good is John Ventimiglia as a police detective who also happens to be gay, and the trans actress Aneesh Sheth who comes on later in the series as Jessica’s sassy take no crap from anyone receptionist. The series was written and directed by a long list of people, both male and female and is as one would expect from the comic book world violent and grim throughout.       

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fall Piece. Untitled. 2021. Mixed on cardboard


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Walk On The Wild Side 1962


The two best things in this pot boiler from the early 60’s is the opening and closing stalking black cat credits by Saul Bass and the Oscar nominated title song sung by Brook Benton that is used over a great traveling crane shot of the girls of the Doll House getting ready for their evening duties. Everything else in this soggy story of some sad outcasts in deep trouble fails to deliver and connect. The opening screen note tells us that its the early 30’s and we are in a day for night scene of Laurence Harvey a miscast drifter drifting when he comes upon a young beautiful sexy Jane Fonda at the beginning of her remarkable career. He’s named Dov Linkhorn and Jane is Kitty Twist great names stuck on them like name tags.  These two roving bums are in a 30’s American landscape that is all early 60’s from hairstyles and clothes. Jane is a low life hustler, thief and prostitute who latches on to Harvey who is moaning and groaning about his lost love who he thinks is somewhere in New Orleans. She is and is played in high 60’s flair by Capucine who is a prostitute living in madame Barbara Stanwyck’s bordello called the Doll House.

Capucine is being kept by lesbian madame Stanwyck who in her mid 50’s is all silver, pale and tough as only Stanwyck could be. Dressed to the hilt in 60’s fashion with her trademark silver hair, this was how I remember her as a kid and not as the dark haired actress she was in the 30’s and 40’s and when I finally saw some of her wonderful work from that period, her look came as a shock to me. Stanwyck is a mean bitch and is basically keeping her lady love in a threatening and dangerous relationship.

 Capucine is a “sculptress’ and wants out, especially when Harvey finally finds her, and the results are a bordello house explosion. Jane/ Twist also winds up working for Stanwyck  in the Doll House and her badness turns to good during the last part of the film when she tries to save several of the characters from terrible ends. The film looks ok with some location work in New Orleans but there are also sloppy process shots and L.A. footage posing for New Orleans. The last time I looked there were no palm trees in the big easy.

Directed with a lazy hand by Edward Dmytryk who turned yellow during the House Un American Activities Commitee (HUAC) at first refusing to cooperate but after a couple of months in the slammer on contempt charges he changed his tune and named names. His once promising career where he made some swell noir bullets like “Crossfire”, “Murder My Sweet “, and “The Sniper” slowed down a bit, but later rebounded if you can call it that in the 50’s and early sixties where he had a big success with “The Caine Mutiny” and went on to make popular camp trash including “Where Love Has Gone”, “The Carpetbaggers”, and this little camp fest.  The cast also includes a ridiculous turn by Anne Baxter playing a Mexican cantina owner with a black wig and a silly accent and an assortment of character actors and actresses most notably the sexy Richard Rust playing of one Stanwyck’s sadist henchmen and a rather good Joanna Moore as a simple minded whore. Also of note is the co-screenwriter John Fante who had a promising writing career in the 30’s with hard boiled depression era novels and stories.   

Friday, October 08, 2021

The Push Pin Legacy. Poster House


Without a doubt the biggest influence on me as a young art student and then later as a young man looking for a gig in the New York ad world was Push Pin Studio. Soon after graduating from the two year college where I majored in advertising I made up a portfolio to take around to the ad and design agencies. I was 19 and it was 1966. Instead of going the usual route of the typical portfolio, work place in large plastic folders placed in a big portfolio I set about making a portfolio in a small sketchbook that soon became a small fat sketchbook. I filled it with collages, ads, my own photographs, drawings and whatever else struck my young fancy. I started to leave it off at major and minor agencies and without a doubt I would be called up for interviews. I saw some of the top designers and ad men of the time, all mad men.  They had never seen a portfolio like mine before and I thought I was on my way. No way.

I did take a chance and left it with Push Pin Studios and sure enough a few days later I got a phone call from the secretary to come up and meet with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast two of the founding designers of the studio. I was besides myself and I nervously made it up to the studio located somewhere in mid town Manhattan. I think I saw Glaser first and then on another day I met with Chwast. Both were nice and encouraging but of course they didn’t offer me a job. Chwast noticed that I had used one of his pieces in one of my collages and commented on it in a friendly way.

It was still a thrill for me, and seeing the very good but very small exhibition now on at New York’s very good but very small museum devoted to the posters and designs of this important and great studio,  the memories came flooding back. Maybe a year or so earlier I was in the gift shop of the museum and overhead someone talking to someone who turned out to be Seymour Chwast. I took my nerve in hand  and went up to him and told him how 50 or so years ago I had been interviewed by him and what a thrill it was for me. Of course he didn’t recall the meeting but was pleasant and told me that I was probably a very good artist. The traffic of our lives is always full of surprises. The exhibit is nicely designed and installed with examples many of the the members of the design studio with special emphasis of course on Glaser and Chwast. Very colorful and full of memories of the period and with each example recalling where I was and pretty much what I was up to at the time. As I said the museum is small and I would have loved to see a much large exhibition of this great design studio. I’ve included a few photos of the show along with examples of my teenage art that was influenced by Push Pin.  

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Cynthia Harris 1934-2021


Sunday, October 03, 2021

Some recent photos


Saturday, October 02, 2021

Tommy Kirk 1941-2021


Friday, October 01, 2021

Flamingo Road 1949

The scariest thing about this movie is seeing Joan Crawford at age 45 playing a carnival dancer and carny gal who should be 20 years younger. Many times in the movie Joan is called a girl which will bring a smile to your face as her bags and dark shadows under her big eyes come into sharp focus in spite of all the make-up and lighting applied.

The dancer Joan plays is named Lane Bellamy and she’s laid low with 3 bucks to her name in a sleepy southern town left to her own devices after the carnival is run out of town for owning money. Soon Joan meets up with the sheriff’s deputy played by a low key and soft Zachary Scott. Zach is bossed and pushed around by the corrupt sheriff played with sweaty overweight gusto by Sydney Greenstreet, who almost makes this film worth your time. Titus Semple is his name and never has a character been more aptly named.

 From their first meeting Titus and Joan are at each other’s throats with Titus using all his resources to make Joan’s life miserable and their scenes together are tangy and tough and give the film a much needed boost. It seems that Titus in his corrupt ways wants Zachary to become the new state senator and can’t allow him to have any thing to do with   Joan who is from the other side of the tracks, way over on the other side. He want Zach to marry up with a nice society girl from Flamingo road who will give his campaign the right touch of respectability. 

Zachary has used his pull to get Joan a job slinging blue plate specials in a little run down food joint, but she is soon let go because of the stronger pull that Titus has and manages to get Joan thrown into jail on fake prostitution charges. After Joan gets out she meets up with the wonderful tough Gladys George named Lute Mae Sanders who runs a road house juke joint and hires Joan to do her waitressing stuff there. Into this mess comes David Brian who is also corrupt but nicer and a maker and doer in the state who is always  in conflict with Titus over power. Meanwhile David is  getting the hots for Joan and in a wink of an eye they are married, and Joan is now a rich society dame living on Flamingo Road and her troubles are just beginning. 

The movie is a low down Warner Bros. Feature made with all their lack of charm or subtly and helmed by the professional Michael Curtiz who knows how to turn out a flick on a dime. Here he’s reunited with his Mildred Pierce piece and except for some lousy looking process shots, the film looks pretty good. Joan was approaching her gorgon years but still had a few good movies in her notably “Sudden Fear” and Johnny Guitar before hitting the low road to nowhere.      
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