Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis 1925-2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Arthur Penn 1922-2010

The Secret In Their Eyes. 2010

The surprise winner of last year’s best foreign language film at the Oscars, (A prophet or The White Ribbon were the front runners) is a pretty good tough and tangy thriller from Argentina. Kneaded into this film are of course politics. And even though this is just a thriller the climate of the horrible years of Argentina's merciless dictatorship coats the film like a dusting of flour. The story itself is pretty simple and straightforward. In 1999 a retired court investor decides to revisit a horrible rape and murder case that he worked on in 1974 which was never solved in order to write a book about it. The actor Ricardo Darín who is unknown to me and this helped to make his character more authentic plays Benjamin with a melancholy glow and a real sense of regret and remorse in his demeanor. He’s also somewhat plain looking which also helps (can you imagine what big time movie star would play this part if Heaven forbid Hollywood gets its mitts on it for a remake which has been happening with unhappy frequency of late) Going back and forth from the present to the past, Benjamin revisits his old boss and former colleague, Irene (Soledad Villamil) who is now a judge to get her take on the case and to feel her out about the book. Unrequited feelings between the two after 25 years are still on the surface of their long ago friendship, and this gives the film its romantic subtext. The murder of this young woman is only glimpsed in flashbacks, but we do get to see the results of this horrible act when Benjamin visits the crime scene and becomes obsessed in finding the killer. He is assisted by his alcoholic but steady friend and colleague Sandoval played by the very good Guillermo Francella. I must admit that I’m a sucker for Spanish language films, I just love how the language sounds, like hot rice pudding with raisins, so right off the bat I was all comfy and cozy with this film. And who doesn’t like a good creepy thriller every once in a while? And there are indeed some creepy moments (the climax is especially full of dread and suspense). The director Juan José Campanella who has done a lot of work on American television knows how to use his camera and keep the action moving and this is especially evident in a nearly cliche sequence at a railroad station (how many times have we seen this scene) and an impressive aerial shot of a soccer stadium where the camera swoops in for a close-up the two leads who are following a suspect in the large crowd. The ending was a little upbeat for me, but still this was one of the better films of last year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Bought Myself A Camera



Monday, September 27, 2010

Gloria Stuart 1910-2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shock Corridor 1963

A week after seeing Sam Fuller’s evocative movie poem on American Society circa 1963 that’s set in a mental hospital, I’m still thinking about this fucking movie. Fuller wraps his little cheapie around an outrageous plot about a newspaper man nicely played by the attractive and appealing Peter Breck... who wants to win a Pulitzer Prize very badly and has the idea to go undercover at a mental hospital to find out who murdered a patient. This ploy will surely get him the big prize he thinks. Things start to get obtuse and out of hand when Peter enlists his stripper girlfriend Cathy (played by Constance Towers) in his crazy scheme and convinces her against her better judgment to pose as his sister and makes up a cockamamy story about having incestuous feelings for each other. He use to play with my pigtails she tells to the doctor. Well Peter gets admitted into the nut house, and is soon roaming the corridor and meeting the inmates. They include a wild group including a shell shock Korean war vet, an African American who is so compassionate about his self hate that he goes around wearing a Klu Klux Klan hood and attacking fellow black inmates. Also in the mix is an obese guy played by the future screenwriter Larry Tucker who’s nickname is Pagliacci and sings to distraction opera off key and a scientist who is haunted by the terrible things he has worked on in the name of science who now in a nearly comatose state and spends most of his time drawing. Sounds like many artists I know. Some of these patients know who the killer is (you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this out) and Breck goes to great lengths to get the name out of them.. Who murdered Sloane In The Kitchen? he barks at everyone during his tortured stay at the hospital. There are some great jaw dropping moments and images throughout this little crazy B, and Fuller that film brut really knows how to tell a pulp story with words and images. He is ably helped by deep shadowed cinematography by the great Stanley Cortez. who shot among others films The Magnificent Ambersons and The Night of The Hunter. Also helpful is the single set of the hospital corridor designed by Eugène Lourié whose perspective ends in a painted dead end backdrop with midgets walking back and forth to give the sense of distance and depth. His film is like an assemblage, a show and tell, a lost and found. He uses color footage from his film House Of Bamboo when one of the inmates tells of his dreams. and no doubt the footage came first. and then the scene. There are rain storms in the corridor, and Constance Towers comes to Breck’s dreams like a sexy little tinkerbell. And in the end Breck gets his Pulitzer but things eventually turn out very bad for him, but for adventurous movie lovers bad turns out to be awfully good. One of the ten best films of 1963.

Early Fall Collage 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cafe Press

Hopefully this link will work now that there is a new system in place. You can view all my products with my designs at this link.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marion Pinto. 1935-2010

Dan Flavin And Sarah Sze

Dan Flavin At The Paula Cooper Gallery

After more than 40 years this grand old man of minimalism still has the power to surprise and please. These are photos that I took today of his recent show at The Paula Cooper Gallery which is one of the best exhibitions now on view. After all the shouts, show offs, and blustering that fill up many of the galleries, this cool and lean beautiful show is a soothing respite from a lot of the hype that tries to pass itself off as "meaningful" art.

Sarah Sze At The Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

My mother always told me never to speak ill of the dead, so I won’t mention by name the eight or nine ridiculously bad shows that I saw in the galleries of Chelsea the other day, and will instead focus on the marvelous excessive installations of Sarah Sze which fill the two floor exhibition space of the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery to the brim. I suppose some could and will accuse these works (and the artist) of being too theatrical, too clever and cute for their (and her) own good and whimsical beyond the pale. These many small elements forming big areas of chaos some might say are just intellectual window displays for FAO Schwarz with their 100’s and 100’s of small handmade objects, little clay do dads, drawings in space and delicate constructions that look like they are going to tumble down on you. Valid criticisms for sure and all the reasons why I was so captivated by these sculptural enterprises on consumerism, popular science, architecture, silly moving machines, dreams and nightmares so cluttered and busy that I got lightheaded and had to take a slug from my water bottle. There are electric fans moving strings, lights shining on pieces of paper casting shadows, eclectic and eccentric reminders of Calder, Rube Goldberg, Art Povera, Dada and more And yes I of course related to these works because of their scale and imagery something that is in my own art, but also because this is an artist who takes me back to my childhood where quite possibly we played together on the floor and made things that only the two of us could appreciate and understand. She speaks my language. An art critic once said of my art that one might be tempted to call it naive if it weren't so obviously sophisticated, the same can be said of Ms. Sze's art. This is one of the best shows I’ve seen all year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Of Serial Killers and Tap Dancers

Tony Manero. 2008

Dank dark Chilean film directed by Pablo Larraín that takes place in his home country during the repressive and murderous regime of General Pinochet. The film is about a petty psychopath low life criminal who also happens to be serial killer and is obsessed with the movie Saturday Night Fever and the character of Tony Manero that was played by John Travolta. The lead in this film played to a burnt crisp is Alfredo Castro whose one big goal in his miserable life is to appear on a grim tv show in which desperate people impersonate real life low rung celebrities (Chuck Norris for one) and win cheap prizes like blenders and blankets. This monster murders anyone who gets in his way of reaching his goal of winning this dumb ass contest but he is way too old with his dead eyes and dyed black hair to impersonate Travolta plus he’s a lousy dancer. He has a job performing in a sad and tacky cabaret dance act which includes a mother and daughter who he take turns bedding even though he’s probably impotent and a young man who on the side passes out flyers condemning the regime putting his life and the members of the act in danger. As I mentioned this John Travolta wannabe is a real psycho case who sits in a run down empty movie theatre and watches Saturday Night Fever over and over and over, and scurries through the empty streets of his run down neighborhood like some hungry rat mirroring the atrocities that are happening all around him. He knows full well that like the killers who do the dirty work for Pinochet he too will get away with his immoral deeds. Not for the squeamish (a hot shower might be needed after viewing this one). This is an odd flaky disturbing film, which brings to mind “The Honeymoon Killers or some kind of chamber of horrors sideshow.

Born To Dance. 1936

This clumsy but harmless depression era musical stars an impossibly young James Stewart on the cusp of everlasting movie fame who sings to a bouncy Eleanor Powell the great Cole Porter standard ‘ Easy To Love” in a Central Park that could never exist. Eleanor Powell who was pleasant enough could really tap dance up a storm but she didn’t have the stuff to become a major star. Set in an unreal art deco Manhattan there isn’t much to this musical and what there is there we’ve all seen before and generally with better results. But it does have songs by Cole Porter written especially for this film and includes a now forgotten but lovely Virginia Bruce singing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin“. Also in the cast is a jumpy Una Merkel, the wonderful character actor Raymond Walburn playing Navy Captain Dingby (with a name like that you know he has to be good), the big band singer Frances Langford & Buddy Ebson who was a terrific dancer and moves like a double jointed string bean. Stewart, who is in the Navy but getting out soon, sets out for a night on the town with two of his buddies. He meets Eleanor Powell in a stream lined art deco club for lonely hearts that is managed by Una Merkel who just so happens to be married to one of his sailor pals. This pal was played by the unknown to me Sid Silvers who also co-wrote the screenplay and was not very good, which is why he probably remains unknown, at least to me. Merkel who has a little girl by Silvers of which he has no knowledge of since they haven’t seen each other for four years and is played by Juanita Quigley who has to be one of the most annoying child stars in the history of Hollywood. And so its love at first second and third sight for Stewart and Powell whose big dream is to star in some Broadway hit musical but she winds up understudying for Bruce who plays a temperamental Broadway musical diva (are there any other kind) and who has a big hissy fit right before the show is to open because she is jealous of Powell‘s talent and quits the show, thus allowing Powell to go into her dance and wow everyone in Manhattan. There is the big obligatory musical number at the end, and all is right with the world at least in 1936 Hollywood

California Collages from 1982.

I did these when I was teaching at the university of California,San Diego in 1982. I found rolls of wallpaper samples, and started to do these which are like souvenirs of California.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


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