Thursday, June 28, 2012

Alighiero Boetti Museum of Modern Art

Oh joy to the world. I finally took advantage of those member previews that the MOMA offers to see shows before they open to the “public” in relative calm and quiet. So I was able to take in the Boetti retrospective nicely without the hoards of tourists getting in my way and bothering me. I liked the show, I didn’t love it mind you, but I found enough in his art making career that I can easily recommend it. Boetti began as one of those Italian art povera guys, conceptual to the nth degree and using everyday materials to make his sculptures and what not. His best pieces for me are the beautiful tapestries and embroidered maps of the world that mainly fill the huge atrium and are arranged on the walls and on low rising platforms. For these works Boetti worked with embroiderers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who worked from his designs but made their own decisions as to what colors to use (the best and funniest is when they used pink thread to indicate the bodies of water on one map because that was the color they had the most of  and they had no idea what color an ocean was since they lived in a landlocked country) and thus really decided on the finished looks of the pieces, which Boetti loved. Boetti is a perfect artist for the Moma, European, conceptual, dead, out yet in and ripe with objects that can be displayed in Moma’s usual sterile fashion. Everything in the show is so tidy neat and clean and when in doubt just put it in an expensive frame and Wala it looks great against a wall painted blue. So a series of  postal letters sent to famous art world personalities but addressed to non existing addresses and returned to the artist  are framed and treated like they were Picasso drawings, which is now a common way to treat once ephemeral conceptual works from the late 60’s and 70’s that were once treated like nothing, read it and toss it.   Some of his works on paper are weak and not very interesting and the same can be said for some of his large sculptures which greet the viewer when first entering the exhibit. I also checked out Ecstatic Alphabets/heaps of language and Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration. The alphabet show was appealing to me when they stuck with the early 20th century, but I quickly lost interest when it turned contemporary and fashionable, I could also say the same for the Exquisite Corpses show, the later works for the most part were DOA. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don Grady June 8, 1944 – June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron 1941-2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Notebook drawing. June 2012. Paint, wax and collage on notebook paper

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summertime 1955

This is the one about a lonely spinster from Ohio who takes a long planned trip to Venice and immediately falls in love not only with the city but with a dashing and charming antiques dealer. The spinster is played with charm and subtly by Katharine Hepburn who would be starting the vivid 2nd half of her remarkable film career with the playing of this kind of role. One can of course point to 1951’s The African Queen as the real starting point of her spinster roles but as we all know that film turns out to have a happy fairy tale ending, Summertime doesn’t. Her lover is played by the very appealing and good looking  Rossano Brazzi, and there is also a good small supporting cast that adds to the charm of the film. Of course the other star of the film is the city of Venice and David Lean and the great cinematographer Jack Hildyard capture the beauty of this place in vivid and stunning color shots and scenes. This film also marks the end of David Lean’s marvelous character driven small chamber pieces (a good bookend to the film would be his great 1945 film Brief Encounter which has a lot in common with Summertime, including that both of these strong heterosexual love stories were penned by gay men, (but that’s a whole other topic).   After this film Lean would embark on his large scale epics that would consume the rest of his brilliant career with mixed results. I love this film and have made a point of seeing it at least once a year, I simply never tire of it, and I’m always left sobbing uncontrollably at the final scene. Hepburn is perfect in it, and her somewhat at times irritating  mannerisms  tics and tocks have not fully made themselves at home in her acting persona. Watching her deal with her loneliness and self- consciousness as she sits by herself in a café in the Plaza San Marco is for me a gateway into mine own sometimes sadness and loneliness  that’s how good she is in this role. There can be critiques made of the clichéd portrayals of the boring, silly and overbearing American couple who dash about this remarkable city as if they were in some department store, and the overly cute little street urchin who takes Hepburn by surprise  and charms and delights her, but these criticisms are  minor and some might even say that they are needed clichés and who cares when you realize how glorious and captivating this film is. I’ve mentioned the beautiful cinematography by Hildyard (the Criterion transfer is breathtaking) and I would also like to point out the superb music score by Alessandro Cicognini. Also in the cast are Darren McGavin as an American painter and Isa Miranda as the owner of the pensione that Hepburn is staying at. Based on Arthur Laurent’s play The Time Of The Cuckoo that was later turned into the 1965 musical “Do I Hear A Waltz” with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It was a dismal failure and ran for only 220 performances.  One of the ten best films of 1955.   

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Collage June 2012

Andrew Sarris 1928-2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Carnage 2011.

Normally I wouldn't even waste my time writing about something as horrible as this drek, but its so outrageously bad that I feel I should warn anyone thinking of seeing this piece of pretentious shit to stay clear of it. Based on a play that was quite the rage on Broadway a few years back, which happily I did not see and if this is the best that Polanksi can come up with, then he should stop making movies once and for all. With a cast of four usually good actors who are all perfectly awful. Its also boring but thankfully it only goes on for about one hour and twenty minutes. The plot is about 2 couples who I wouldn't want to spend 10 minutes with who get together to try to work out a conflict with regards to their two spoiled sons one of whom knocked out a couple of teeth of the other kid. We never see them, and instead are treated to spending time with these 4 dull people who show us their true selves and just how awful and shallow they (we) are. That the playwright Yasmina Reza is actually taken seriously is a joke to me. So we get to see Kate Winslet getting sick and throwing up all over Jodi Foster's expensive art books, get it, throwing up on art and civilization, subtle this ain't, and this crap is full of these obvious metaphors. Whatever happened to good writing? The film also looks ugly (so do the 4 members of the cast) and is claustrophobic and stagy. This is the kind of movie that light weight thinkers would consider deep and that they have really seen something when it fact what they have seen is shallow and trite. One of the 10 worse films of 2011, hell it might be the worse film of 2011.

Leave Her To Heaven. 1945

Delirious Delirium. On a streamlined Technicolor drenched train going to New Mexico, a young author (played by the very handsome Cornel Wilde) catches the very lovely Gene Tierney reading his latest novel, and starts swooning and mooning all over the place. Gene looks up from her reading and is mesmerized by the sheer beauty of Cornel Wilde and before you know it, they are flirting wild and wooly 1945 style and Gene tells Cornel how much he reminds her of her dear dead daddy, of course when her daddy was young and not dead and acting as if she doesn’t realize that Cornel is the author of the book.  This is the pivotal line and scene of this hot house woman’s movie with a blood red streak running through it, and it warns us the audience that there is going to be a lot of trouble and plot coming down the line. Off to a cute start the two realize that they are visiting the same person in New Mexico played by Ray Collins and that Gene is meeting her family there to spread around the desert the ashes of her father who died a few years before, thus setting up one of the great camp scenes of the entire decade.  Gene early one morning madly rides out on a horse to the desert throwing her father’s ashes all over the place looking beautiful and possessed as she does the throwing. Collins who is a lawyer friend of everyone (and who tells the story in a flashback) lives in this fantastic house with a swimming pool carved what looks like out of the side of a mountain that abuts the house, and looks like it just goes on forever and ever. Water plays a big symbolic role in this movie. Gene Quickly gets her shinny red fingernails into Cornell and within the hour she dumps her boring fiancée played with over cooked hilarity by the hammy Vincent Price and marries Cornel. Off to the side is her standoffish mother, who knows more about her daughter than we do, and her sweet half sister played by Jeanne Crain who of course is secretly in love with Cornel. Soon bad things start to happen; all instigated by Gene who we finally realize is fucking nuts, and is jealous of anyone who throws her lovely lovey dovey even a glance including her innocent virginal half-sister and Cornel’s dependent sweet young disabled brother played with earnest adulation for big brother Cornel by Darryl Hickman.  Gene is acting crazy jealous and in another one of the great camp scenes of the 40’s, she lets little brother drown one lazy afternoon while they are out rowing on a lake in Maine. Tierney who got her only Oscar nomination for this film no doubt impressed the academy with this  scene in which she dons her sunglasses to block out her eyes from us as she coldly watches little Darryl get a cramp and disappear under the water. This ain’t no nice Laura from the year before and more nasty and nutty behavior follows with Gene wearing fabulous clothes, hats, robes, and shoes and I promised myself that I would not give away any more  of the plot of this overripe tomato that ends in a ludicrous trial. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. Directed by John M. Stahl who was known for his women’s movies including the original Imitation Of Life and Magnificent Obsession, both later remade in the 1950’s by Douglas Sirk.  Winner of the Oscar for Color Cinematography.         

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Notebook drawing June 2012. Collage, paint and ink on notebook paper

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Help 2011

I finally caught up with this movie, and it was worse than I was expecting. Now I know that’s saying a lot, but it was. This is a not so good feel good chick flick movie that takes place in a fairy land South, where all the terrible things that went on there in the 60’s is glossy, clean and cute. Full of clunky cardboard characters both black and white and filmed in a television movie of the week style, in fact I kept expecting commercials.  The movie is about a young liberal woman played by Emma Stone who gets the idea to interview as many “colored” maids that she can in order to expose the discrimination and terrible treatment that they endure day in and day out. The cast is decent.  Viola Davis is always wonderful to watch but she can do this sort of role blind folded, Jessica Chastain who seems to be in every other film this year, is acceptable in the clichéd role of the sexy outcast, lovable but stupid, kind but vulgar, and of course the Oscar winner from this stew Octavia Spencer who is the feisty maid with questionable cooking habits. Cast as the villainess of the piece and forced to carry the burden of the segregated south on her tiny shoulders is Bryce Dallas Howard who if we buy this movie was the only racist in Mississippi. All of the animosity the audience feels is thrown at her. Even her moma played by Sissy Spacek dislikes her.  Very popular and a huge money maker with the cineplex  hoards, I was curious what older African American women thought and asked several of my senior art students (all African American women) their opinions they all liked or loved it. The same opinions were also voiced by several of my non-African American women students. Go figure.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Painting on paper 1981

Friday, June 01, 2012

Painting on Paper. 1982

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