Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Patty Andrews 1918-2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Late January 2013 postcard. Collage, ink, colored pencil, paint and wax on blank postcard

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sleepless Night 2011

I don’t know why I have such a fondness for French action movies, I’m far from being a Francophile, I’ve only been to Paris once as a young man, and I’ve got to say the city left me cold. So the other night I watched this French action movie called Sleepless Night that I never heard of and for a fast 98 minutes it had me huffing and puffing on the edge of my red Ikea couch. The action comes very fast, hard and loose starting with the opening scene that has an in broad daylight drug heist that starts off easy but suddenly goes all wrong when one of the robbers gets stabbed in the side, and has a bloody wound that he carries throughout the movie. I should mention here that the two thieves are dirty cops a common enough plot device in numerous action movies. I think some of the reasons I like French action thrillers so much is because I like hearing all those nasty curse words in French, they sound so pretty and the actors are usually so good and unknown to me that I don’t get caught up in the whole movie star shtick that mars many Hollywood action movies for me. It’s so much easier to get in the groove with these action thrillers when its not Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington up there on the screen. The lead dirty cop is played by Tomer Sisley who it turns out is a popular stand up comedian in France and is of Israeli and Russian descent. He is lean sexy and kind of good looking (think of a handsome John Turturro if that’s possible), and I’ve never seen him before which as I said adds to my enjoyment of this kick in the groin action movie. Tomar is divorced from his wife (this seems to be a prerequisite in action movies) and he shares custody of his teenage son who is feisty and quarrelsome especially with his dad. This kid will figure big time in the movie when he is kidnapped by the big mob boss who the cops ripped off in the drug heist. The boss owns a sleek but sleazy big labyrinth of a nightclub where he stashes the kid and where most of the movie takes place. The mayhem that follows the kidnapping is big and bad as Tomar tries to get his kid back and also get the drugs back to the mob boss before they smoke the kid. This is not as easy as it sounds. The movie might be too violent and harsh for some, but I don’t think these ”some” would be interested in action movies anyway. Kinetic and colorful with sharp direction by Frederic Jardin the movie is full of double and triple crosses and some very yuky hoods and nasties including the sexy Joey Starr who is a rapper and a real life con and who also has a pivotal role in “Polisse” another very good French action movie. One of the best films of 2011. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

"In One Person" and "To Rome With Love"

Just finished reading  John Irving’s novel  “In One Person” which I found engrossing for most of its over 400pgs. The novel is the life story of a bi-sexual writer told in first person covering more than 40 years in time and is full  of the kind of quirky characters one expects from Irving and I was amazed  by just how gay the novel is. There are several transgender characters who the main character has loving (and sexual) relationships with besides a cross dressing grandfather, and a gay father who deserts him and his mother for another man. I know that Irving has included transgender characters before but the spotlight focus on them in this novel took me by pleasant surprise. He also writes tenderly of the AIDS crisis which almost brought me to tears as I read the novel on the subway. It kind of limps to a close, and some of the coincidences might seem a bit too much but its humanity and humor embraced me for the entire read.

Wish I had kinder words for Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” his latest travelogue through angst, despair and comedy. This one which came and went rapidly in theatres uses 4 separate little stories about love and sex in the eternal city, one of which is so derivative  of Fellini’s great “The White Sheik” that Allen should have given screenplay credit to Fellini, Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano. The best one concerns Allen who is a retired classical music promoter who comes to Rome with his exasperated psychiatrist wife played by the wonderful Judy Davis (no one in their right mind would ever believe that these two would be married to each other) to visit their daughter who has fallen in love with an young very left leaning lawyer. The daughter (played by an uncomfortable looking Alison Pill) whose future father in law an undertaker with a superb is singing voice that only comes to full richness when he sings in the shower. Allen plots a way for the shower tenor to make it big in opera, and there lies the fun of this sequence. The other episodes are less enjoyable mainly because of the tiredness of the plots and the annoying casting and miscasting of his actors. Jesse Eisenberg (standing in for a young Woody and Ellen Page are  so unappealing and unattractive that I could never buy them as sexually attractive characters who are hot for each other, there is no chemistry between them, they are like two wet limp pieces of laundry hanging out in the Roman noonday sun. Alex Baldwin (standing in for a middle age Woody) is also in this sequence and is his usual scary and angry self and Greta Gerwig is just barely there. The worst sequence has the impossible and annoying Roberto Benigni who plays a common office worker, an everyday slob who suddenly finds himself in unwanted and surreal celebrity that becomes very tiring after about 2 minutes. Also in the cast is Penelope Cruz as a prostitute in a tight short red dress who Allen uses to spice up the “The White Sheik” rip-off.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Notebook drawing 2013. Ink, paint, wax and collage on notebook paper

well how do I like this? I don't.

I just discovered that The Centrifugal Eye used a piece of mine for their print edition cover, and didn't tell me nor did they offer to send me a copy of the magazine. Its for sale at the link below for $23.50. How fucking cheap can you get, using an artists work and not only not informing me, but they didn't even offer to send me a copy. I wrote an email to the editor about this. Pretty nervy if you ask me.  The piece is part of my AIDS series that I did in 1989 to 1994.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Antonio Frasconi 1919-2013

As a teenager I really liked his stuff. You did good Antonio.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Night and the City images

 Images captured by me from my t.v. of Night and The City. The beautiful cinematography is by Mutz Greenbaum.

Beat Memories. The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

Saw this show Beat Memories. The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg at the Grey Art Gallery yesterday. I enjoyed it, even though I prefer looking at photographs up close in books than on the walls of museums and galleries. That said I would never not see a photography show because of that preference. The exhibition is made up of many now very familiar snapshots of the famous beats, and I really don't understand Ken Johnson's kvetching about the show in yesterday's New York Times. He complains that they are just snapshots and that they are too tame and don't really capture the "bohemian lifestyles" that they were leading. I don't agree. They are lovely images, and as I said they started out as snapshots and if they have now been elevated to archive and museum status that's not the fault of the snaps. Maybe Ginsberg's notations in his own hand on the photos can be seen as a little too coy and precious by some, but so what. And while you're there be sure to pick up one of the handsome brochures that opens up to reveal the wonderful photo (snapshot) of Neal Cassady with one of his girlfriends in front of a San Francisco movie theatre in 1955 that now adorns the side of my refrigerator.

Night and the city 1950

Scurrying across the streets and alleys of post war London Noir nights like a rat is Harry Fabian played by Richard Widmark who is always on the run from hoods and creditors he owes money to. Based on a Gerald Kersh novel Night and the City was directed by the black listed and also on the run, the hunted and haunted Jules Dassin. Widmark plays a two bit schemer always on the make and always on the look out for his 2nd act, which of course never comes. Everything he touches instead of turning to gold turns to shit including his one sided romance with his naive girlfriend played by an unlikely Gene Tierney. Both are ex-patriots who along with a third wheel played by Hugh Marlow are living low in London town but we never really find out how and why they left the USA to try to make it in the UK. I don’t know if this is really important but it did make me wonder. Set among the seamy underworld of dives, dumps and sewers with bars in them and peopled by a wide assortment of colorful low lives, the best one being Philip Nosseross played by the great Frances L. Sullivan who brings  a feeling of Dickens to the film because of the several films he did that were based on his works. Dassin also brings to the film a big helping of Fritz Lang and Brecht, think of M and The Three Penny Opera.  Dassin knows how to stir a pot even when on the lam. Sullivan built like a mountain runs a dive where Tierney sings for hers and Widmarks supper and where Widmark also works lining up easy to con American tourists to the joint so they can be milked for their money by B girls who sell watered down drinks and overpriced cheap boxes of chocolates. The dame behind the scene who runs it all is Sullivan’s nasty wife played like a plate of cold leftover bangers and mash by the very good Googie Withers, a name that fits this actress to a T, one look from Googie and everything withers. Harry is caught up in a wrestling scheme and con that involves his crossing the boss of this “sport” played by Herbert Lom.  He’s also conning Lom’s kind and gullible dad who is a famous retired wrestler himself. The wheels of this ruse are complicated and deadly for all involved. This was a busy year for Widmark who made a whopping four films and who does a good job here playing low and greasy and he keeps his trademark nervous giggle to a minimum. The Criterion transfer is beautiful (no surprise there) and the extras include 2 interviews with Dassin and a comparison between the American release and the British release which has footage not in the US version and also a comparison between the 2 different scores for the films. The American version has a thumping one by Franz Waxman and a milder one for the British version by Benjamin Frankel, I prefer the thumping Waxman score. The beautiful noirish expressionistic cinematography is by Mutz Greenbaum who began his career in Germany in 1915 and should be more well known than he is. Almost one of the ten best films of 1950.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Collage, paint, ink and wax on paper. January 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blue Five Notebook

 Blue Five Notebook has just posted this drawing a possible self portrait that I did as a teen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Slim Pickings

It was slim pickings in the galleries of Chelsea today, many were closed because they were putting up new shows, but I did see two exhibits that I liked. Surprisingly both are political in theme and images

Nancy Spero From Victimage to Liberation. Works From the 1980's & 1990's. Galerie Lelong. These are large print like works with collage like elements that express moral outrage in general and the treatment of women around world specifically. They're mostly large and scroll like with beautiful representations of stylized figures of women, some are abstract and show movement and some also have text. These are strong works, angry yet very seductive they draw you in, and their messages are powerful yet the works themselves are quite simply very beautiful.

the other show I liked was Hugo Gellert: Free Radical. Mary Ryan Gallery. At first the exhibit confused me, I thought that the artist was contemporary and his paintings were attractive but too influenced by other artists of the moderne style. And then there were all these great political posters which also confused me, was the artist using these as a decorative element to support his paintings, was this another wise ass installation by some recent art school graduate? Finally with the help of a press release that the receptionist printed out for me I realized that all of the work was done by Hugo Gellert who was born in 1892 and died in 1985. Gellert was was a graphic artist and radical who did strong political works especially posters, The five beautiful paintings small in size haven't been seen in 80 years and are complimented by a knock out portfolio of 19 silkscreens that illustrated a speech by Henry Wallace and was published by the International Workers Orders and they are stunning. His posters are also terrific.
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