Friday, January 24, 2020

Early notebook pages

scanning some pages well actually a lot of pages from my early notebooks from 1969 when I was 22 and up to the later ones to send to my papers at special collections at Kent State. Not an easy task to look back. Here are the ones that I've done so far. Not easy to let them go but I have to start thinking about the future. Kent already has a lot of my stuff, letters, childhood stuff and more and I hope they will be happy to receive them.








Monday, January 20, 2020

First piece of 2020. Collage and mixed on cardboard


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Happy Valley 2014 2 seasons Netflix Streaming

            






          Without giving too much away I have to say that this crime police drama is one of the best I’ve seen. Set in a small Yorkshire town that is  pretty but far from perfect, and cynically referred to by the citizens as “Happy Valley”, the writing and direction are top notch and the acting, well the acting is superb. Some of the actors I’ve seen before here and there including the lead Sarah Lancashire who plays a policewoman who at one time was also a detective before taking a leave of absence from the force to mend her broken heart and wounds. She is brilliant and this is one of the great performances I’ve recently seen.         
                Catherine Cawood is a strong woman who takes no crap from anyone but is also caring and giving as she moves through her sometimes brutal days and nights. There is a daughter dead from suicide that haunts her but I won’t go into details. She shares a cozy cluttered house with her recovering alcoholic sister played by the great Siobhan Finneran who many will recognize from her days on “Downton Abbey” where she played the mean O’Brien. This is a totally different role for her. They share the house with Catherine’s young, endearing but troubled and sometime pain in the ass grandson, the child of her deceased daughter.
                    There is a kidnapping which sets up the entire series and the lead villain is ghastly and is played by James Norton who would go on to acclaim as the warm cuddly priest on Grantchester, here he is evil, dastardly and scary. He is also beautiful and sexy which adds to the mix and complicates our feelings. The series is written and directed by Sally Wainwright who knows her stuff and brings a strong amount of truth and dignity to all of his characters especially the women.
               Also in the wonderful cast is Kevin Doyle who many will also recognize from Downton Abbey, the wonderful Katherine Kelly and the great Shirley Henderson who as usual is moving and heartbreaking. You will notice that I’m using great and wonderful a lot but I have no choice, that’s how great and wonderful this series it. The accents are a bit strong and gave me some trouble here and there, but the show is so reverting that I put up with it. This is one to see. Supposedly a 3rd season is planned.           

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Joker 2019

Meanwhile back at the ranch I just sat through the worst film of the year, which may very well be the worst film of my life. Gee I guess he hated it, you're all thinking, well hate is too light a term to describe my distaste and disgust I felt watching this garbage. Taking place in some hell hole of a city (it looks like a mixture of Philiadelphia, Newark and maybe San Francisco) that is called Gotham as we all know and is a stand in for the bad old dirty days when New York was marked striked and put upon by everyone. Badly directed and jammed with all of the Batman references that have been battered into our collective minds for the last 40 or so years, this Joker and acted with anger and craziness by Joaquin Phoenix who will probably win an Oscar for this shit. Ok ok he does some nice dance moves and twisty things with his skinny extreme weight loss Christian Bale body but so what. What a dreadful year for acting if him and the equally dreadful Rene Zegweller wins for her joker performance as "Judy". The film also features Robert DeNiro and Frances Conroy both miserable and (spoiler alert) murdered by Joker. We have all been murdered by this joke of a movie. This is a standard juvenile stab at our society without any art or substance, with a few sly references to the orange joker, you know the fat one who is crumbling in front of our eyes. There are so many brutal and shocking things in this film that seem to be in the film just to be brutal and shocking. As Agee would have said "Unclean unclean. To be avoided at all costs.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jack Garfein 1930-2020


Friday, January 10, 2020

Ivan Passer 1933-2020


Marked Woman 1937

       “Marked Woman” marked Bette Davis’s first film after her return from England after loosing a lawsuit against Warner Bros. to get out of her contract with them and to be allowed to make movies wherever she wanted to. Even though she lost, they started to give her better roles and “Marked Woman” was to her liking. In it she plays a call girl who near the end of this fast 96-minute Warner Bros. lump is marked with an X carved into her milky white cheek by hoods who take it out on her cheek and indeed on her entire face as revenge against her. This harsh beating and scaring (done off screen thank God) was “a gift” for her turning state’s evidence against their nasty mobster boss Johnny Vanning played with greasy violence and menace by the great Eduardo Ciannelli. Was Johnny a stand in for Jack Warner? I wonder?
     Ripped from the headlines as the clinched saying goes, the movie was based on actual mob boss Lucky Luciano who went down big because of the testimony of his call girls who had enough. Bette is terrific as Mary the hard as nails but with a big heart of brass prostitute who rooms with other “girls” all of who work for Ciannelli in his rough house speak easy gambling clubs, which also serves up girls on the half shell.
            The other gals are well played by Lola Lane, Isabel Jewell,the little known Rosalind Marquis and most or least of all Mayo Methot who looked like an aging pit bull and who in real life was nicknamed “sluggy”.  It was during the making of the film that co-star Humphrey Bogart met Methot  and would marry her a year later.  Known as “the battling Bogarts they raged and fought (Methot was notorious for beating Bogie up)  across Hollywoodland during their short tempestuous marriage until Betty Bacall came on the scene and ended Bogie’s misery.
          At first Bette and the other girls lie for Ciannelli and get him off which angers the special prosecutor modeled on real life crime buster Thomas Dewey played with rare goodness by Humphrey Bogart. Bogart was trying to break away from his own gangster roles which are still more memorable  than his soft good guy ones and he would go back and forth with his killer gangster performances through the 30’s and the early 40’s. Into this mix and plot comes Jane Bryan who plays Davis’s younger good girl sister who winds up in a bad place and is the cause for all of Bette’s troubles and finally her redemption. Well directed by in house director Lloyd Bacon who started his career in 1922 doing shorts and working his way up the steep ladder.  He is most known as the guy behind two Busby Berkley musical hits “42nd Street” and “Footlight Parade” with a filmography that is filled with light but likeable films first at Warner’s then at 20th Century Fox. The screenplay was co written by Robert Rossen and has one of my favorite lines of all time in it, when Bette tells Eduardo Ciannelli “I’ll get you, even if I have to crawl back from the grave to do it! And we have no doubts that she will. Also terrific Orry Kelly gowns and a great ending when the 4 “hostesses”,  heels clicking on the sidewalk walk off into a fog bound Manhattan studio night.












Thursday, January 09, 2020

Ed Byrnes 1933-2020


Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Small sketchbook collage January 2020


Buck Henry (1930-2020)


Monday, January 06, 2020

Little Women 2019


Little women 2019










I pretty much adored it. Smooth, graceful and gorgeous. It has a lovely flow that goes back and forth in 19th century time as the now familiar March sisters grow, change and fall in and out of love. There are lovely moments throughout and the framing of the scenes are beautiful, a marriage proposal from a distance in a lovely formal garden, a swirling dance, (there are actually a few of those), a delectable food laden Christmas morning table, Jo running with joy through the 19th century New York City streets after she gets her first story sold, a dream of one of the characters recovering from an illness, another sister falling through the ice. Gerwig has a great eye and a strong sense of setups both minimal and packed to the rafters. The cast is impeccable with the great Saoirse Ronan (I need a yearly dose of this actress) giving another memorable performance. Also notable is the breakout young British actress Florence Pugh (with a name like that she had better be wonderful and she is) who should have a great career after this turn and I will forgive her for the unfortunate Midsommer. Gerwig directs with charm and perfect insight taking an often told and familiar tale and giving it a breath of fresh air. The look of the film helps and the attention to detail is lovely but not overwhelming. The cast besides Ronan and Pugh are also fine and marvelous with standouts being the great stage actress Jayne Houdyshell   as the loving and adorable housekeeper, Laura Dern as Marme and Emma Watson as the sensible sister who marries for love with the handsome James Naughton of Grandchester fame, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth the youngest of the sisters.  Eye candy and talented Timothee Chalamet plays the much sought after and kind neighbor Teddy Laurence who is affectionally nicknamed Laurie and longs for Jo. Also popping up is Meryl Streep aged like an old stale crumpet stealing and chewing up the scenery a subdued Chris Cooper as the grandfather of Laurie and the saving angel of the March’s, and the French actor Louis Garrel as the smitten French professor in love with Jo.  The casting of the father played by Bob Odenkirk might have been a mistake, the audience made knowing coos and ahhs when he appeared. oh isn't he the guy from Better Call Saul, but this is hardly an important criticism. The fast ending might seem like a bit too much, overwhelming in its sentimentality but not totally uncalled for. The fake news about the movie not appealing to men, is well fake, at least in my part of the woods. The audience I saw it with a few weekends ago at the BAM in Brooklyn at a sold out afternoon showing was made up of many men, and when leaving the screening I overheard a young man say to his female companion “I could have watched it forever”. One of the best films of the year. 

Sunday, January 05, 2020

John Baldessari 1931-2020


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Syd Mead 1933-2019





Friday, December 27, 2019

Sue Lyon 1946-2019


Thursday, December 26, 2019

End of 2019 . Three small pieces from my sketchbook




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