Friday, April 23, 2010

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

The Killer That Stalked New York

is none other than a Typhoid Mary type dame played by Evelyn Keyes in another one of her sweaty performances. This time she’s head over heels in love with a lousy heel played by Charles Korvin who is just using her to smuggle diamonds into the US of A. Unknown to Evelyn she has contacted the plague while in Cuba getting the ice. The whole deal stinks to high heaven, because Charles is doing it to Evelyn’s sister played by Lola Albright, and all the while everyone is searching for Evelyn who is threatening to close down shop on New York City. By the time Evelyn realizes that she is dying she also realizes that she has been used, but it’s too late. She’s real sick and looks like a chicken that has been left on the rotisserie for too many hours. Its B all the way, which is fine with me, and the film is highlighted by on location cinematography in New York which includes some nice shots of the late Penn Station, the el, and other spots around this city that do not exist anymore. Also the supporting cast is really terrific, it looks like every character actor in Hollywood worked that week including an uncredited Jim Backus (as a luckless lothario), the great Connie Gilchrist, Whit Bissell, Art Smith, Ludwig Donath, Dorothy Malone and a young an uncredited Richard Egan playing an eager treasury Agent. Directed by Earl McEvoy who directed “The Barefoot Mailman” and “Cargo To Capetown” both of which remain unseen by this viewer. This is part of 2 Dvd set Bad Girls of Film Noir.
Stop Me Before I Scream or What’s It All About Marina?

I swear it felt like there were a trillion people today at The Museum Of Modern Art and it is truly becoming a test for me to go to this place to look at art. Of course the throngs were still falling into the Tim Burton show that is still there. Is this side show going to be a permanent exhibit? Then there were the hoards going to see the nude people at the Marina Abramovic fun house. See the live nudes, see the recreations of her hair raising performance pieces. See the nude lady hanging from the ceiling. I did not care for this show, I think it was dead and boring, big and empty and surprisingly not all that confrontational. Why do some artists think that by covering walls with 100’s of nicely framed bits and pieces of biographical images and documentation that they’ve saved forever that anyone would find this engrossing or even give a shit. Then there is the artist herself sitting there in person wearing flowing bright red robes (at least it was red the day I was there, maybe she has 6 different color robes for each day of the week the museum is open, “let me see today its Wednesday so I think I’ll wear the blue robe)” like some empress at a tea party waiting to be served as fools sit opposite her and stare at each other for minutes, hours days? Some art critic actually called this work a masterpiece. Set up in the large Atrium space with very big lights surrounding her, it reminded me of the miracle sequence in La Dolce Vita., just as fake and phony. Ave Marina gee it’s good to see ya. Well I guess the tourists will have something to tell the folks back home. To be fair as I said just going to this museum is a test of my patience and endurance because of the crowds. I simply cannot look at art this way, and I really should just stop going to this zoo. Oh yes I did squeeze my way past the two nudes standing at the doorway and boy was that fun

Also at the Moma Henri Cartier-Bresson

There is no doubt in my mind that Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of the great photographers of the 20th Century. There is also no doubt in my mind that the very large and crowded retrospective of his now pulling in the crowds at The Museum Of Modern Art could have used some curatorial editing. Viewing the show for me was of course difficult because of the crowds, and I’m seriously thinking of not renewing my artists pass when it expires in July. I shudder to think what it is going to be like at this pricey dump when the Matisse show opens this summer. That said I also can very easily enjoy looking at photographs in books, in fact I prefer it to looking at them hanging on a wall. They’re intimate and I have yet to be impressed with actually seeing a wonderful photographic image on a wall instead of in a book. In fact smack dab in the middle of the Cartier- Bresson exhibit were several large tables with copies of the catalog on them for people to browse through and there was not a vacant seat to be had.

Todd Haynes is an interesting and very smart filmmaker, and his 1998 film about the bisexual decedent world of glam rock in the 1970‘s.“Velvet Goldmine" was more enjoyable to me the other night than when I first saw it on it’s original release. Someone told me that Velvet Goldmine was slang for anal sex, but I don’t know if that’s true or is what David Bowie had in minded when he wrote the song. Bowie figures big time in the film, the main mysterious lead Brian Slade is obviously based on him. The plot, which is heavily influenced by Citizen Kane concerns a young reporter’s search for answers to the mystery surrounding Slade who disappeared after a fake assassination was staged during one of his concerts. The reporter played by a fine Christian Bale who when young was a glam rock fan himself. He searches for clues to his disappearance and finds Slade’s ex wife now a down and out something in a sleazy bar that is a nice homage to the scene in Kane where the reporter interviews the down and out Susan Alexander Kane in a sleazy bar. There is also a nice little scene using dolls that is reference no doubt to Haynes still banned short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story that uses dolls to tell the story of the doomed singer. Filled with lots of color, a good music score, wonderful costumes and of course glitter and glam, the cast of then young very attractive actors are uniformly gifted and good, including Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Slade, Toni Collette wonderful as usual as his wife and Ewan McGregor as a rock star based on Iggy Pop, and if you ever had a desire to see McGowen full frontal then this is the film for you.

I just saw a marvelous film by the great French director Agnes Varda, called The Beaches Of Agnes which is an autobiographical documentary on her long and interesting life and her many splendid films. I don't think one needs to know her movies to be captivated by this wonderful woman and her world. Married to Jacques Demy until his death from AIDS in 1990, the documentary includes interviews with old friends, family members and neighbors along with recreations of memories and events in her long life + clips from her films. Besides making movies Varda is also a photographer and an installation artist. Easily one of the best films of 2009

I recently finished the first season of “United States Of Tara” which is about an average suburban wife and mother ( another series that places it’s dysfunctional characters in a suburban setting) with multiple personalities. Starring the amazing Toni Collette as Tara.the show is the brain child of the Oscar winner Diablo Cody and also stars the always terrific Rosemarie DeWitt as Tara's sister and the always sexy John Corbett as her understanding husband and did I mention that Collette is amazing? I don’t know if the show has legs and if the public will be engrossed by this eccentric series to keep it going for any length of time.

“A Prophet" from France and now showing around the country was one of the foreign films nominated for an Oscar this year, and is another brutal entry in the prison genre. Directed by Jacques Audiard its pretty standard in it's storytelling, young green behind the ears impressionable youth enters prison for a minor crime and is quickly intimidated by an older hard timer and is forced for his own safety to commit a murder. The film of course is more complicated than just this, and for over 2 hours we are witnesses to the usual brutality and hard life that is the way things are behind bars. The young and handsome youth is an Arab and the the old lion in winter who picks him out for the horrible deed is the head of a a Corsican outfit who runs the prison and ultimately takes over young Malik's life. The film of course is violent and gritty and the two leads Tahar Rahim as the young prisioner and Niels Arestrup as the old bull are terrific. One of the best films of 2009.


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