Monday, September 30, 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
All That Heaven Allows 1955
Sitting somewhere between a woman’s melodrama and Planet Debbie is this masterpiece of angst and longing from one of the great stylists of mid- 20th century cinema Douglas Sirk. The story is plain and simple. Jane Wyman plays a tidy and nice widow living in a pretty little town somewhere but she’s lonely and longs for romance and maybe a little sex. She has two grown up children (more about these two ingrates later) a very nice home and a really nice gardener played by the very beautiful Rock Hudson, who was a much better actor than given credit for. Rock comes over every week to prune Jane’s trees and to give her some 1955 flirting and Jane’s best friend is also there, it seems that she’s always there and is played by the wonderful Agnes Moorehead with red hair a blazing. Well one day Jane is setting up her lunch table outside in the Fall sun shine, some chicken and salad for her to share with blazing Agnes but Agnes jumps out of her car with a box of borrowed dishes and tells Jane she can’t stay for lunch, so Jane asks Rock who is busy with her trees if he would like to share her lunch. Well of course he would and that’s not all he would like to share. Needless to say the two are soon out in the country visiting Rock’s close married couple friends played by Charles Drake and the very wonderful Virginia Grey, who for me is like a great Chicken Parmigiana hero and who I could write a whole essay about and maybe someday I will. The two of them are modest early examples of hippies, clean cut beats but with a nice homey handmade house, neat clothes and lots of strange friends who pop in for a party. Their main man is Thoreau who is really the secret auteur of the movie and soon Jane is quoting from Walden Pond, which just happens to be lying around Charles and Virginia’s house. Jane is smitten with Rock and Rock with her, and soon they have 1955 sex, quick cut to them in front of a roaring fireplace in all their clothes but we know they just did it. Soon word about this unholy match starts circulating all around the pretty little town, thanks to the bitch rumor monger Mona who sees Jane getting into Rock’s woodie station wagon one day and soon Agnes is on the phone with Jane giving her a hard time about the age difference, their wide apart backgrounds etc but I think Aggie is a little bit jealous that Jane has bagged this great big beautiful piece of man. Rock and Jane want to get married and he’s all busy fixing up this big barn on his property for them to move into. Its a real nice fake Universal International set with a big fireplace (the same one mentioned previously) beautiful old original wood beams and floors. It’s really lovely and Jane is just crazy about it even though it still needs a lot of work. So Rock and Jane are going to get married, and she announces this to her two spoiled kids played by the very pretty Gloria Talbot and the equally pretty William Reynolds who go ballistic with this news. They both start moaning and groaning and suddenly Jane has doubts about the whole thing, what with them crying, Aggie moaning and the whole freaking town groaning. Now this is not a tidy little woman’s weepy, because Douglas Sirk directed it, and it’s simply gorgeous to look at. He uses colors like a painter to indicate moods so there will be a slash of red or blue light crossing over the faces of the characters or dark rooms with light casting unnatural shadows and reflections of sad Jane on the oddest of surfaces. He also knew how to dress a set and women, so at first Jane is in dark clothes until she meets Rock then she’s bright and colorful until she’s back in black when the romance comes to a crossroad and her dour daughter who was all in dark colors is now in bright red because she’s going to marry her beau played by the unaccredited David Janssen and Gloria and her brother have talked Jane out of being happy. A lot they care that Jane has broken off her marriage to Rock and is once again lonely and sad and sits at home with her new television that the kids gave her for Christmas. Thanks a lot. This is an important film, a shimmering feast of color and texture, mood and décor that influenced two other movies that are pretty much homage’s to this film and to Sirk. Fassbinder’s 1973 classic film “Ali, Fear Eats The Soul”, and the more recent and also very good Todd Haynes film “Far From Heaven.” I love this film a lot and is one of the ten best films of 1955.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
In The Galleries
Some good shows on now in Chelsea. Alfonso Ossorio at Michael Rosenfeld. Glad to see this show of his beautiful but generally unknown work mostly from the early 50's. I've been seeing his work here and there of late, and I really like what I see. He was well placed and had money and close friendships with many of the abstract expressionists especially Pollock and you can see his influence on Ossorio's
Monday, September 23, 2013
The Paperboy 2012
Yes this is the movie that Nicole Kidman takes a leak on Zac Efron but she does it to save his life after he's been swimming and is attacked by Jellyfish. Oh boy this is one hot house of a movie, a nasty thriller with a big streak of side show horror thrown in or up as a side dish to go with the chicken wings and mashed potatoes. It's polluted plot (based on a novel by Peter Dexter) is confusing, messy, disturbing and violent and concerns a group of really screwed up people who live in some small racist shit hole of a town in Florida circa 1969. Told in flashback with narration by the former black housekeeper (wonderfully played by Macy Gray) of brothers Efron and Matthew McConaughey's tattered family that is led by their hollow and nasty father, who is the newspaper editor of the town's small paper. The mom is gone; she wisely skipped out years before. Efron who is lost and horny wanders through this bleached out sweltering landscape mostly in his jockey shorts, while brother McConaughey is in Miami working for The Miami Times and living a desperate sad and violent gay life. He returns to the town with his scars and his Black co-worker on the paper who is arrogant and sassy to investigate and write an article about the murder of a bigoted sheriff, and to try to get the accused killer off death row by proving that he didn't do it. Along for the ride is a terrific Nicole Kidman as a really sleazy baby doll who gets her kicks by writing love letters to prisoners and falling madly in love with them. Her latest prisoner of the month, her Mr. psycho killer of the moment is none other than the ready to be fried accused killer of the sheriff named (I kid you not) Hillary Van Wetter played by John Cusak in a horrifying performance and who gives Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter a run for their money. I was so stressed out watching this movie that at the end of it I had to literally force my curled up toes to straighten out, that's how tense I was. The film is full of jaw dropping moments including a sex scene in the prison visiting room between Kidman and Cusak who do it without touching and a vastly disturbing and violent sexual encounter between McConaughey and two black guys that he picks up in some juke joint dive. This is wild stuff, trashy, greasy, nasty and good to the last drop and definitely not for “The Help” crowd. Co-scripted by Peter Dexter and Lee Daniels who also directed. Daniels had a big success a few years back with “Precious” and looks to be a front runner for an Oscar this year for “The Butler.”
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Surrealism. Surrealism. Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938. The Museum Of Modern Art.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800. The Metropolitan Museum.
Spectacular. Spectacular. I saw this take your breath away show the other day, and its a real beauty of a show, the way only the Met can do when they hit their mark. Its also a bit overwhelming its a big show not only in the amount of work shown but the scale of most of the textiles shown. Beautifully installed, although a bit dark in its lighting for my tastes the works hover over us. I think my favorite ones were the Indian pieces, but every gallery has great works. I also loved the upholstered chairs that were commissioned by Louis XVI and whose imagery was a tribute to his monarchy, Lou never got to put his rump on the chairs as he was gone before the chairs could make their way to Versailles. Hanging over all this beauty are the vast political and cultural history of the times, most of which is not very pretty or inspiring but is part of the show. There are also paintings, prints, a few books, and some beautiful clothes scattered among the amazing textiles. I suggest that you get up there asap as its going to be a very popular ticket. It was somewhat crowded when I was there, but it will no doubt get even more densely populated as the holidays approach. Its on until Jan. 5 2014.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
A Taste Of Honey 1962
I went to the Moma yesterday but not to look at art, (I'll go back on sunday to see a members preview of the Magritte show) but to see a screening of the 1962 film A Taste Of Honey, which I haven't seen since 62. Its a lovely grim slice of British kitchen sink drama, maybe bathroom sink would better describe it with lovely and memorable performances by the great Rita Tushingham (in her debut) Murray Melvin as the young gay man who is befriended by Rita, and Dora Bryan as her messed up Mom. Directed by the wildly uneven Tony Richardson who also directed the play that was written by Shelagh Delaney. Its probably the first time a movie had a positive and likeable portrayal of a gay man, but with a sadness that still hung over his head.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
Sassafras Magazine has just published three of my early floor pieces from 1969-1970.
Banango Street literary magazine has just published one of my notebook drawings in their latest issue.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Les Girls 1957
One of the great sissy movies of the late 50’s is this sort of backstage musical with a Rashomon slant about three young women who are performing in a cut rate (you’d never know this from the lavish look of the show.) musical revue in Paris. Taking place in the years right after the war, the revue is run by Gene Kelly who wears an unfortunate toupee and was coming to his end as a big M.G.M. musical star at the same time the Hollywood original movie musical was breathing its last breath. The “girls” are played by Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall and Taina Elg and all three are fun to watch, but it’s especially wonderful to see Kay Kendall who died very young cut up the screen in song, dance and comedy, she pretty much walks off with the movie. The plot light and slim as Kay waist concerns a libel suit brought by one of the “girls” years later and their conflicting stories which are told in flashback as they testify in London against one another. Directed by George Cukor with style and flair and featuring an original score, his last for a movie by Cole Porter. Kelly was getting a bit long in the tooth here, but he still had what it takes to pull off a few wonderful dance routines that shows that he still had it along with a nice dollop of sexual appeal. Cukor ah George had a fantastic eye for color, space and decor and he used the difficult CinemaScope space brilliantly with the great help of his frequent collaborator, the color specialist George Hoyningen-Huene. Each scene in the film is a visual delight, with deep saturated colors, lots of movement, (the backstage moments are simply glorious) and telling objects and details. Also great are the wonderful costumes and clothes by Orry- Kelly who won an Oscar for his designs. I saw this film at the age of 10 at Radio City Music Hall, and can still remember how it felt seeing it for the first time in this great theatre with my mother and sister. There’s a lot of red in the film that matched the red red lipstick that my mother and sister had on their 1950’s mouths, and I still remember my sister leaving a perfect lip stain on her program after blotting them. One of the ten best films of 1957.