Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
If a film student asked me to recommend a movie for them to watch to learn the rudiments of movie making I would not hesitate to tell them to watch this classic Alfred Hitchcock film. Everything about this mo vie, which by the way I saw again the other night for maybe the 5th time is perfection, from the great Ben Hecht script, to the cinematography and of course Hitchcock’s direction and the superb performances by Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman both of whom were at the peak of their beauty and talent. The plot is typical Hitchcock that touches on themes that have occupied him for pretty much his entire impressive career, and I’ll try to give away as little of the story as I can so that first time viewers of the film can feast on it without knowing too much about the plot. The story involves espionage and the efforts of a secret agency of the United States (think O.S.S. ) to find out what a rogue group of Nazi’s are up to in Rio de Janeiro. Its just after the war and this band of nasty Nazi’s is headed by Claude Rains (brilliant and Oscar nominated) who lives in a very large mansion with his mother from hell played with relish by Leopoldine Konstatin who gives a marvelous scary performance and is the first of Hitchcock’s long list of mommy horrors. Grant plays an agent who must get Ingrid Bergman to work with them to find out what the Nazi’s are up to and he pushes her to come into the mix because of her family ties, you see her father was a Nazi spy who she hated and also at one time she had Rains eating out of the palm of her hand and falling madly in love with her. Bergman of course is no Nazi but she is one hell of a play girl and a nasty drunk (in the original story that the film is based on she was actually a prostitute) who loves a good time and makes no bones about it. Here is Madonna Bergman who just a year earlier was playing a nun in The Bells of St. Mary and is now playing against type a bad girl (she also played another bad girl in 1946 in Saratoga Trunk). In real life this Madonna was a few years away from playing to some a real life bad girl, cast away for more than a decade by Hollywood for her life choices but that’s another story. Grant is also playing against type oh he’s still suave and debonair but he’s also a cold son of a bitch who tosses Bergman left and right to make sure she plays by his rules. The film has several famous sequences including the long erotic kissing scene between Bergman and Grant that begins on a balcony overlooking a process shot Rio and moves inside to answer a ringing phone, the incredible crane tracking shot that begins high above an elegant party and then swoops down to an important key prop and the very taunt and suspenseful wine cellar scene with the Hitchcockian MacGuffin sitting on a shelf. In the end of course Grant finally becomes Cary and Bergman Ingrid and this very entertaining and smooth romantic thriller comes to a satisfying end. Also with the always terrific Louis Calhern as the laid back boss of Grant’s and the complex cinematography is by Ted Tetzlaff . One of the ten best films of 1946.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2012
A 1000 pound piece of rancid Chicken Tikka. A cliché ridden feel good light comedy about a group of middle age and elderly Brits who because of various life changes and bad luck move to India to start a new life and wind up at a flea bitten cockroach infested falling down Hotel. Now of course they thought they were going to stay at a fancy 4 star place and instead they get this dump run by a inept but somewhat charming Indian youth whose dad died and left the place to him. He’s played by Dev Patel and for me his charm and cuteness wore off after about 10 minutes. The Elderly Brits are played by Judi Dench Bill Nighy Penelope Wilton as his unhappy and bitchy wife, a nasty and racist wheel chair bound Maggie Smith (she came along for the ride so she could get a cheap hip replacement and most likely another Oscar nomination and Tom Wilkerson as a gay man trying to find the love of his life who he met as a youth growing up in India. The film is colorful but predictable, tired and mundane with chuckles spread about here and there about heat and dust, food poisoning, sex, traffic nightmares, slums and miserable accommodations along with farfetched coincidences. But don’t worry everything works out fine for all (except for the gay man of course) and all the heterosexuals live happily ever after. I don’t know why I was expecting something fun and decent since this dreck is from the director who gave us Shakespeare in Love. Easily one of the ten worst films of 2012
Tatzu Nishi Discovering Columbus
I saw this marvelous installation today and I loved it. Its a spectacular spectacular and I loved everything about it from the ordering of my ticket on line, to waiting in the Queue, to the walking up the 6 flights of stairs (ok I didn't like that so much) and the shock and giddiness upon entering the living room and seeing this statue up close and watching the expressions on people's faces. Talk about your gorilla in the room. Nishi took a 130 year old icon of New York City and turned it on its head, creating a dada moment for the 21st Century. And the views from the exhibition were brilliant and beautiful even on this overcast day. One of the best exhibitions of the year. God I love this fucking city. Its on view until November 18th.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Off The Rocks
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
saw it today on the very big screen at the BAM and its a good edgy smooth political thriller with a not so good feel good ending. I enjoyed it, if thats the right word, very stressful and suspenseful, the film points out briefly the crimes of the shah, but thats not the business of this movie so if you're looking for a political tract on the poor Iranians don't go knocking on this door. Will do well at the awards at least with regards to nominations but I don't know yet if its heading for a best picture Oscar,depends on what else is out there, but it is typical Oscar fare, and they do like comebacks a la Affleck who was according to most Hollywood pundits washed up, he can easily wind up with three Oscar nominations for directing, producing and actor. John Goodman and Alan Arkin as Hollywood players are top notch and break the sometimes unbearable tension with their comedic shtick on the ways of la la land, wish there was more of them. The whole cast is fine with mostly unknowns in the supporting roles. It moves fast and furious and documents the period with great but unobtrusive details and also mimics the style and feel of 1970's filmmaking. It should be seen on a big screen.
Friday, October 19, 2012
The first thing we see after the credits is a rain soaked (there is a lot of rain in this film) street with a close up of a pair of woman’s gams rushing towards an imposing building. The legs belong to Bette Davis, and the building is a Warner Bros. Back lot concert hall. Bette is rushing to catch a concert by a long lost love of hers who she thought long dead during the war in Europe and is shocked to find that Paul Henreid is alive and kicking and playing his heart out on his cello “I thought you were dead” Bette gushes and cries in that unique tone of hers to Henreid in his dressing room after the concert. Thus starts this early post war woman’s melodrama about love lost, found and then finally lost for good. I wish the rest of the film that was directed by Irving Rapper was as good as the opening scene, but it’s not, still there are pleasures to be found. The chief one of course is Claude Rains who is his usually brilliant self as the narcissistic overbearing and controlling composer named Alexander Hollenius who Bette (she’s also a musician, I know I know) had a long affair with and has been kept by him like a pet in a lavish loft in a big midtown building. Bette tries to keep this secret from Henreid who she marries in like 10 minutes after being reunited with him and of course this is what pushes the plot and gives us title of the film. The director and his three stars are reunited here from the much better film “Now Voyager” that they did in 1942, but hey listen Deception is not all that bad with its mixture of classical musical, deceit, lavish expressionistic sets , cinematography and murder. Davis who was winding down her long career at Warner Bros. still had a few great performances in her most notably of course “All About Eve” in 1950 but basically this film can be seen as her swan song as a glamorous leading lady. The beautiful inky black and white noirish cinematography (even the shadows have shadows) is by the great Ernest Haller, and the impressive expressionistic art direction is by the equally great Anton Grot. Not a great film but still fun for a gloomy rainy night.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Blue Five Notebook
Blue Five Notebook has just posted this late teen drawing that I did of my first roommate I had when I moved to the Manhattan from Brooklyn. Sadly Dennis was murdered some years ago in New Orleans, so I look at this as a memorial of sorts to him.
you can view the page and the entire issue at this link
you can view the page and the entire issue at this link
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Front Porch Review
Front Porch Review has just posted their latest issue with 3 of my works on paper included. You can view them at this link.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Deeply moving documentary about a man Mark Hogencamp who one night when leaving a bar in his upstate New York town is beaten up by 5 cowards, and is thrown into a coma for 9 days and a hospital stay of 40 days. His memory is pretty much gone, but he survives and begins his own form of therapy by making up and building in his yard an imaginary town in Belgium (the title of the film) which is a combination of his first name and the names of two women who he has crushes on. The time for his tableau non vivant is World War II and he peoples the town with action figure and Barbie dolls and names some after friends and relatives which he then places in provocative and sometimes violent scenes and then photographs them. Mark is a sweet and gentle soul, who was alcoholic before his beating and has lost all fondness for the booze but still has a strong lifelong inclination for cross dressing which might have been the reason for his beating; it seems that upstate bigots don’t care for guys who like to get dressed in woman’s clothes. All indications given is that Mark is straight, loves women, but likes wearing high heels and an occasional dress as he goes about playing with his dolls and photographing them. I was very taken with this self-taught very outsider artist and his make believe worlds, and like any good fairy tale it ends on a happy note with Mark being discovered and having a show in a New York City gallery where at the opening he happily dons a pair of heels and is gleefully and figuratively embraced by the gallery patrons.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Friday, October 05, 2012
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone, 1955–1972 at the Musuem Of Modern Art.
I saw this show today during the member's preview. I've never heard of this artist who was Polish and died young, and after seeing this dreadful show I can only wish that I could still say that I've never heard of her. This is another big failure of a show (the Moma has been on on a roll lately) that focuses on another dead European artist who they consider should have world wide recognition. Let me try to tell you what I saw. Well to begin with I first thought this must be a joke, the work is so corny and grotesque, that surely this was not the Museum Of Modern Art in 2012. Szapocznikow who began as a classically trained sculptor (there are a couple of these dull figures included) then switched to experimenting with polyurethane, creating figures and body parts out of this material into surreal, pop and expressionistic pieces and incorporating some of them into lamps and ashtrays which of course bring up all sorts of connections for me to the holocaust and the Nazi's sick medical experiments. Nothing wrong with that except the resulting pieces are hokey. They're like bad horror movie or fun house props. The Moma of course tries to push her as an innovator in body and feminist art which doesn't wash too well with me. There are also many of her dull and uninteresting drawings hanging around here and there. One of the worst exhibitions of the year.