Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ten Best Films Of The Decade

I was very surprised to realize that the decade is coming to a close, and all sorts of people including film critics are making up their 10 best films of the decade. It was a wonderful decade full of great films and it was difficult for me to come up with just 10. These are in no particular order, just the Ten that for now stand out for me. These are films that I could see again, maybe that's my test.


I also loved these films

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November Collage

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Gift

One of the nicest gifts that my late friend Tom ever gave me was in the summer of 1980. He asked me to spend a week with him at Lemonscent Acres in New Hampshire which was home to a group of gay men. The Acres began life in the early 70’s as a commune of 5 gay men from different walks of life and from different parts of the country who had met at some college in New England where they were studing and had formed a very tight friendship After college they all decided to buy land and start a gay commune which at that time they thought would be a revolutionary idea, which I guess it was.So they bought acres of lovely land with a lake on it and soon the guys started work on a beautiful big house for all of them to live in. After many many months of hard labor during the very cold New England winters and hot New England summers the beautiful home was finished and they all moved in. However they soon realized that even though they were fond of each other they couldn’t stand living in the same house. Two of the men Jim and Joe who were lovers stayed on in the big main house and began to dabble in real estate and Bill who was a carpenter and Albert who was a writer, and Clem who was a graphic designer started work on their own places. It kinda reminded me of the three little pigs building their sweet little homes to keep out the big bad wolf. In this case however there was no big bad wolf, only the big bad world, and the men were far from being pigs, although I guess one or two could be accused of being sex pigs. I first met Jim, Joe, Bill and Albert at a party that Clem had in his big loft in Chelsea and I liked them all. I had already Known Clem because Tom had invited him to several of his lovely dinner parties that I was also a guest at. Clem had a successful graphic design firm and lived a few blocks from where I lived and he would go up to the Acres on the weekends and on holidays such as July 4th and labor day. This was the late 70’s and the gay world was sweet on itself in a big way. Tom would go to New Hampshire every summer for a week or so and would regall me with tales of Lemonscent and the beautiful fun men who lived there and the many beautiful fun men who would visit. Finally Tom invited me to go with him to The acres, and although not a country person at all I jumped at the chance to get out of the hot summer city. I was also honored to be asked as I was his only friend that he ever invited to go with him to Lemonscent. So one hot day in August we took the long bus ride to New Hampshire arriving late at night in pitch black darkness and were met by the brother of one of the guys who was also visiting the acres. We were going to stay at Albert’s still unfinished Pentagon house, and yes it was indeed a pentagon with a stone base and foundation but built entirley out of wood. There was no lights or running water yet in the house and as I said it was still unfinished with quite a bit of work left to be done.. Albert was away for the week, so we made the best of what we could find in the sleeping loft which were a couple of dirty old moldy mattresses that smelt like death.. We awoke to the much nicer smell of fresh coffee and were greeted by Bobby a very handsome young man who was staying with Bill and his new lover George in their house which was finished and was modeled on a 18th century house. A tour of the land and the houses was foremost on Tom’s mind and after a light breakfast he took me all over Lemonscent to visit the guys and look at their houses which were mostly finished. I really liked it up there. It was so green with big old trees and strange (to me anyway) things growing all over the place. We went swimming in the lake and since I could not swim I was very careful, but still I almost drown slipping on the muddy shallow bottom. I went under and started to frail about waving my arms and I somehow got out of this seemingly death by drowning accident and made my way to the shore where I waited for the others to get back from their long swim. “Didn’t you see me frayling about and waving my arms Tom?” “I thought you were just waving at us.” No more lakes for me from now on I would sit on the shore and watch the men go skinny dipping and fantazize about who I would like to make love with.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Early November Collage

Eva, Kandinsky and Lee

Last Tuesday as is my habit I went to the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village to return some dvds I had borrowed and to search the shelves for films that I might like to watch. As soon as I started looking through the stacks of movies I noticed a box that was staring out at me, like a flashing sign saying take me take me. The film was a documentary called “Forgiving Dr. Mengele”. I picked it up, read what it was about and put it down. I walked away but something drew me back to it, and I picked it up again. The notes on the back of the case told me the terrible story of Eva Kor and her twin sister Miriam who when very young were victims of the horrible experiments conducted by Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz. Eva now in her 70’s decided that she had to forgive Mengele the angel of death in order for her to heal and go on with her life. “Wow” I thought, talk about your radical forgiveness, I mean if she could forgive this evil piece of shit, I could certainly forgive Joan Petroneli my fourth grade teacher, and some members of my family, although forgiving them would prove somewhat harder and take much more work than my forgiving Miss Petroneli. What I was trying to do with forgiveness was a cinch I thought compared to what poor Eva had to deal with. So I checked the dvd out, and would watch it when I got my courage up. “Not another Holocaust movie” my friend Peter said when I told him about my latest find. “You know Ira Joel you are going to have nightmares like you always do after seeing these movies.” Nonsense” I replied. But of course that night after watching the documentary I had terrible dreams.

The Kandinsky retrospective now at the Guggenheim Museum until January. might be the most beautiful exhibition I have ever seen. A few Fridays ago on a dreary rainy day I took my friend Joe who is a painter to see the exhibition. When I got there I saw that there was a very long line of people waiting to get in. What the hell, I thought is there a show of clothes by a fashion designer or a motorcycle exhibition that I didn’t know about? Why the mob scene for Kandinsky of all artists. I found Joe waiting in front of the museum for me, and since I’m in their collection and have a lifetime pass we walked right in without having to wait on the long line as if Kandinsky was a close personal friend. “Why the big crowds, I’ve never seen the museum so crowded and on a Friday no less” I asked the young girl who was processing my pass. “It‘s because its raining” she said as she handed me the tickets. But I think that besides the rain, it was also the building that was bringing in all the tourists. After all if you are a tourist visiting New York City you have to see the funny Wright building. I’ve always loved Kandinsky’s work, all those lines and circles, and his superb use of paint and color, but I just didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed by his work. It was interesting to see the show with another artist, and Joe talked about things that I didn’t notice or just wasn’t concerned about, and I talked about things that Joe had not thought about, but we both were knocked out by the paintings. “There’s not a bad painting in the show” I said, as we slowly made out way up the ramp.

A couple of Saturday's ago I went to see the rarely seen film Wild River at the Film Forum. . A close friend of mine with ties to the Forum got me a free ticket, so that was good, because they charge $12.00. It’s unusual for me to find a film that I’ve never seen, so I jumped at the chance to see a beautiful new transfer of the film made in 1960 by Elia Kazan. Beautifully photographed and starring the once great beauty Montgomery Clift who was at the end of his career and the beautiful Lee Remick who was at the start of hers, and featuring a marvelous 37 year old Jo Van Fleet playing an 80 year old woman. It was only 3 years earlier that Remick made her film debut in another Kazan film A Face In The Crowd, in which she plays a high school cheer leader or something like that who is corrupted by the Andy Griffith character, a nasty piece of work if ever there was one. The first film I remember seeing Remick in was in 1958 when me and my mother were in Washington D.C. to visit my brother who on his way home from the army was in a bad car crash, and was recovering at the military hospital in Quantico Va. which was right outside of D.C. So of course barely unpacked we went to see the last showing of The Long Hot Summer at one of Washington‘s big old movie palaces that was practically empty at this late hour. My mother fell asleep and I woke her up, “wake up I screamed” in my 11 year old irritating voice, upon which my mother who no doubt was scared to death by my scream, slapped me across my face, the only time she ever hit me. Meanwhile back on the screen between my tears Lee Remick was glorious in color, and I soon fell madly in love with her, a love that lasted until her sad early death at 52 from fucking cancer. How I hate that word. She was a natural beauty and a natural actress marvelous in everything she did from Anatomy of A Murder to Days of Wine and Roses and Experiment in Terror. The last thing I guess I saw her do was the concert version of Follies, not in person, but on dvd. Film has a way of making one feel sad for all the lost performers and great stars, but it can also keep us forever in love with them, and Lee I will love you forever.


Last week I got this email from a site called This Is

"After doing research about artistic and cultural blogs, I recently came across your site Ira joel Haber-Cinemagebooks and really like your style. Very clear and concise. I would like to know if you would be interested in submitting some of your opinions/work to our website We would really like to work either with your current or existing content."

So I said sure why not, and they have posted my first piece "I Walked With A Cockette And Lived To Tell About It" which was originally posted here. You can read it again or for the first time at this link So far over 200 people have read it. Wow.
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