Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brooklyn 2010. Some photographs by me.

Daisy Kenyon 1947

Romantic semi-noir girlie girl movie about a love triangle set in a long ago Manhattan and starring a way too old Joan Crawford in the lead role. Joan was a whopping 42 when she took on this part that should have been played by an actress in her late 20’s or early 30’s (Gene Tierney would have been perfect) and the great Leon Shamroy films her in lots of semi dark rooms with lots of shadows and just the right lighting to hide her age. And as luxurious as the cinematography is, it doesn’t work. The story concerns Joan who is a busy commercial artist who is also busy having a long time affair with a married rich lawyer played by the attractive and underrated Dana Andrews. His marriage is a wreck but he’s hanging in there because of his two young daughters played by the very good Peggy Ann Gardner and the appealing Connie Marshall. Married to Ruth Warwick a harpy from hell, who is mistreating the girls especially the younger one with beatings and neglect. Into the picture comes returning somewhat shell shock vet. Henry Fonda (also too old for this part) who takes up with Crawford and falls madly in love with her. They marry but there are complications brewing from Andrews who stills wants Joan, and finally opts for a divorce from harpy Warwick. Their scenes together are really the most compelling because there is so much contempt and disgust between the two of them that they make you sit up and take notice. The film is slick and glossy and Otto Preminger, an unlikely director for this sort of film does a decent job at directing, but I just could not buy Crawford in this role or believe that these two guys would be madly in love with her. She’s her usual shoulder pad lipstick slashed self and her looks are starting to take on that hard as nails facade that got worse and worse as the decade wore on. Daisy should have been played by a sweet young thing, vulnerable yet strong, and Crawford is about as vulnerable as a mack truck. Filmed on the 20th Century Fox backlot with a nice feel for New York City in the late 40’s and with an especially nice process shot of the old Greenwich movie theatre in the village and beautiful cinematography, this is a hit and miss film that is brought down by miscasting and a rather ordinary plot.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Late October Collage. 2010

Sylvia Sleigh painting me in the backyard of Betty Parson's house. Southhold New York. circa 1973. Lawrence Alloway looks on. Sylvia and Me with the painting in progress.

Sylvia Sleigh 19196-2010

The Painter Syliva Sleigh has died at the age of 94. I've know her for over 40 years, and posed for her twice in my young years, once in a double portrait with John Perreault which is shown here. She was a marvelous artist and person.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let's Not Go To The Movies

I’ve pretty much stopped going to the movies for several reasons, the cost of a ticket is one, but more important are the rude audiences. You know the jerks whose cell phones ring in the middle of the film, even though they have been told either by announcement or by a visual sign before the movie starts, they still do...n’t turn them off. Anyway the worse offenders to me are the jerks who talk through the film. They are usually sitting right behind me, and the minute the movie starts these pieces of shit start the talking or whispering back and forth never aware that they are annoying the people around them and that they are not in their living rooms watching t.v. . Today at the Bam during the social network I had such a couple behind me, who the minute the film started the whispering began (which can be just as annoying as regular talking) back and forth. I admit I’m a stickler for silence when I watch a film, that’s just the way I am, and I have had numerous encounters with cell phone pigs and talkers during the many years that I have been going to the movies. I usually expect bad behavior at the cineplexes and avoid them like the plague, instead I usually go to the BAM or some cramped art house. Movies have been ruined for me by these creeps, and I can recall specific incidents of bad moving going to this day, the pair of elderly Russian ladies who just would not shut up during a screening of “The River” at the Walter Reade or the elderly African American woman and her granddaughter who ruined Munich at the BAM for me with their stupid running commentary. But today I nearly came to blows with the guy behind me, who actually threatened me when I told him to be quiet. The first thing I usually do if annoyed by someone is to turn around and give them a dirty look, this guy didn’t get it, so we nearly came to blows, with him asking me to step outside. LOL. I told him after the film I would gladly do just that, and I finally stood up and got into his face and screamed very loudly at him" are you threatening me?". I scared the shit out of him and for the rest of the film there was not a peep from him and his wife. No whispering back and forth, but it was too late, he had ruined the film for me. I hope he rots in movie theatre hell.

Undercurrent. 1946

First of all one must surrender to the fact that Katharine Hepburn plays a vulnerable, sometwhat insecure damsel in distress in this femme jep (female in jeopardy) movie, then maybe just maybe you can sit back and enjoy this somewhat clunky melodrama that was directed by Vincente Minnelli. A fragile Kate Hepburn is not what legions of her fans think of her as, but that’s what she plays in this glossy M.G.M. suspense thriller. Hepburn plays the daughter of scientist Edmund Gwenn (in a bad toupee) and when the film opens Kate’s in her tomboy getup fussing and cleaning about her father’s lab and getting nudged and bothered by their housekeeper Marjorie Main as to when she‘s going to meet a nice young man and settle down. Shy and playing drab Kate soon locks eyes with inventor industrialist Robert Taylor who is visiting her dad to talk over a new chemical or something that Gwenn has come up with that we are lead to believe can save the world from future wars and make lots of money for the two of them. Kate quickly finds herself head over heels in love with Taylor and things then move very fast. Bob also finds himself in June Moon territory and soon they are married, and this is where the movie really begins. Hepburn who is still not sure of herself and feels she is out of her league living in Washington D.C with Taylor who is self assured and domineering. This lack of confidence is especially felt by her at a fashionable cocktail party that Taylor throws so all his swell well connected friends can meet his new wife. This cocktail scene is pure Minnelli, lots of little details, busy movement and tidbits of dialogue spoken by the many extras that he fills the space with. If you look quickly you can make out the recently deceased Barbara Billingsley in a tiny uncredited part as one of the guests, and the ever present extra extraordinaire Bess Flowers who even gets a few lines of dialogue. Hepburn who looks nice but underdressed is soon given a Haute couture makeover by Taylor, and she looks really great in all those beautiful Irene dresses and gowns. However soon she is soon getting weird vibs from handsome hubby Taylor who seems to be hiding lots of things from her, including a mysterious brother who might or might not be dead. His behavior and treatment towards Kate starts to get dicey and she is soon getting all nervous and out of sorts. Her main concern is the secrets that Taylor is keeping from her about his estranged brother and bad thoughts keep popping into her head. Did Taylor kill him and is she next and on top of that Kate is developing a somewhat unhealthy attraction to the brother even though they have never met. Kate discovers that he loved Brahms and poetry and lived a nearly monastic but very comfortable life in the woods. Also in the cast is a very miscast Robert Mitchum who looks either half asleep or stoned. The film itself is not dull and is easy to take even though its about as far fetched as this kind of movie gets. With beautiful cinematography by the great Karl Freund.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Hoodlum. 1951.

Loking like it was shot in a shoebox with a budget of $2.00, this gritty little B reunites the scary Lawrence Tierney with Max Nosseck who directed him in 1945’s terrific Dillinger. Clocking in at 61 minutes the story is tough, rancid and minimal. Tierney is a no good small time gangster who when the film opens is attempting to get out of jail on parole with the help of his weepy and trusting mother who throws herself at the parole board and begs for mercy for her son who she thinks is a good boy. Yeah right.  As soon as Tierney gets out he’s giving everyone problems including his good natured and straight brother (played by Tierney’s real life brother Edward) who reluctantly gives him a job in his gas station. Tierney is soon plotting a complicated bank robbery, rapes and impregnates his brother’s weepy and trusting girlfriend and is just plain nasty to everyone including the gas station customers who Tierney greets with a threatening  “What do you want.” The crummy looking sets and the backlot street setup  (which by the way I loved) suits this outsider film very well which is tight and claustrophobic. Nosseck who was born in Germany did three films with Tierney, and he deserves to be rediscovered as a true nervy, primitive and original filmmaker. The movie is also loaded with lots of low budget interesting character actors and actresses including two hot dames who take no prisoners and no crap from Tierney and the well known terrific bit player O.Z. Whitehead (with a name like this he better be good) who plays a creepy funeral home director. Unfortunately the dvd transfer looks like they held auditions for “So You Think You Can Dance” on it, which takes away from the total enjoyment of the film. This is the kind of film that Criterion should be restoring, and I’ll tell you I’ll take “The Hoodlum” over any of the processed sterile big budget blockbuster pieces of shit that Hollywood is shoving down our throats any day of the week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Notebook paintings, drawings and collages.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Queer SOS

As I was walking along 26th street  today I came across this handsome young gay homeless man who was demonstrating near Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office for LGBTQ people to be added to the 1964 Civil rights Act (CRA). Him and other young gay folks have been doing this for weeks. I chated with him for a bit and he gave me a flyer for the organization and you can view the Queer SOS website at Seeing this homeless young man made me sad, but also filled me with hope.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fifth Cord. 1971.

A mundane, meandering mess. This Giallo film from 1971 should have been much better than it is. The plot is so confused and sloppy that I’m still not certain who the killer was. Starring the very appealing Franco Nero, who is still making movies to this day and good for him, but the big problem with the movie is with the script (not that I’m looking for or expecting literature from this genre) which is very bad. A shame because the film looks terrific with cinematography by the great Vittorio Storaro who brings way to much of his talent to this undeserving film. The supporting players are all mixed together with out much flesh to their characters and most of the women look the same which only adds to the general confusion of who got murdered. That said the murders are relatively calm and not gory, no Argento here but they’re so bland and uninteresting, except for one scene towards the end that involves a little boy in an empty house that is scary and suspenseful which is what this film is lacking throughout its running time. With Pamela Tiffin and if you don’t blink you might make out Edmund Purdom. The score by Ennio Morricone is not memorable and as usual with Italian films the dubbing is pretty bad.

Black Orpheus. 1959

This might be the most beautiful color film ever made. An ingenious interpretation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set in Rio de Janeiro during carnival. Put together by Marcel Camus with a groundbreaking score by Luiz Bonfá & Antonio Carlos Jobim which made Bossa Nova known throughout the world. I love this film in spite of the left pounding on it at the time of its release as condescending to Brazil and the poor people who live in the slums of Rio. No matter, the film does not glamorize the poor living conditions any more than a movie like Dead End made the slums of the east side look inviting. Its a superb mix of dance, music and riotous color and movement with elegant performances by the beautiful two leads Breno Mello and Marpessa Dawn who ironically died within weeks of each other in 2008. Also notable is Lourdes de Oliveira as Mira the jealous girlfriend of Orfeo who it seems is in constant motion throughout the film. And if the ending of the film doesn't make you cry don't come knocking at my door. This film is so beautiful it almost hurts. One of the ten best films of 1959.

Black Narcissus 1947

No this might be the most beautiful color film ever made. This is the one about all those nuns stuck in some remote palace in the Himalayas. The group lead by Deborah Kerr all have problems, but Kathleen Byron in a great performance as the demented sister Ruth takes the cake. Dreamlike and surreal this for me is the film of the year, in a great year for movies that saw among other things the apex of film noir. The film was entirely made in a studio with mattes and miniatures and this is a must see especially for artists but also of course for anyone who loves movies. The cast also includes an achingly beautiful Jean Simmons, along with Flora Robson, a very good-looking David Farrar and Sabu. Oscar winning cinemagtography by the great Jack Cardiff, and the new Criterion restoration is amazing.

Greenberg 2010

I don’t know why Noah Baumbach would think that anyone would want to spend some time with such a nebbish character like the one Ben Stiller plays in Greenberg, Baumbach’s latest little failure of a movie. Ok here’s where I confess that I don’t like Ben Stiller never have and I never will, and I usually avoid his films. However since this was a Baumbach movie and I did kind of liked The Squid and The Whale I thought I would hold by nose give it a go. I did not enjoy my time spent with this unpleasant bore who at 40 has not done a single worthwhile thing with his life and when the film opens has returned to L.Awhere he grew up from New York City where he had some sort of nervous breakdown. Don’t any African Americans or Latinos live in L.A.? You would never know that from this film. He takes on the responsibility of house and dog sitting for his rich brother who is off to Viet Nam for a family vacation, (why anyone would trust this wreck of a man to watch over his house and dog is beyond me). I also have to admit that I find Ben Stiller to be one of the most unattractive actors to ever appear in films, and I mean ever. If he was working in the 30’s, 40’s or even the 60’s he would be doing nice character and secondary parts, but at this time in American movie making this unappealing homely guy is a bona fide big time rich movie star. In a way I should be pleased that someone as ordinary as Stiller could be a star, but I’m not. I find it hard just to look at him. I feel the same way about Adam Sandler, Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn. I just don’t enjoy these guys and try very hard not to see anything that they do. The film is very laid back and very dull and predictable, I mean when the female lead winds up with an unwanted pregnancy you know you are in Déjà vu land. Of course I know that there are many films with unlikable characters, but there has to be some meat and potatoes on the plate and not just tofu as this director is serving up. The one good thing in the film is the authentic and quirky performance of Greta Gerwig who plays the assistant of Greenberg’s brother. This is an actress to watch, she’s not drop dead movie star gorgeous but has a marvelous loopy real person presence ( watch her as she enters a restaurant) I was also uncomfortable with her somewhat masochistic relationship with Stiller and his unpleasant misogynistic treatment of her.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I bought myself a camera 2

My Canon camera of 4 months is broken, and I had to send it off to the repair center.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

sculptures for the Hyper Real show

Will have three pieces of mine in this show in Vienna at the Museum Of Modern Art. The three pieces have been in Germany since I showed them in 1971. The three are all from 1970, the small one Box With House and Six Trees was shown first in the Whitney Annual when I was 23 and bought by Peter Ludwig for his collection, the other piece Big Box No. 1 was bought from my show at M.E. Thelen Gallery in 1971. The pictures of Big Box No. 1 are front and back view, the color shot is the museum's the black and white one is mine. My work has always been more appreciated in Germany than in this country.

Hyper Real
Realisms in Painting and Photography
October 22, 2010 – February 13, 2011
Opening MUMOK: October 21, 2010
Opening Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen: March 2011

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Unlikely Stories has just posted my art.

Unlikely Stories has just posted some of my paintings and photographs on their site. Very handsome production.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Paintings on Paper from the 70's, 80's & 90's

Grace. New York City 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

Liz. New York City 2010

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