Monday, December 30, 2013

The Canyons. 2013

Shoved like a wedge of cement into the sub genre of “movies about Hollywood” is Paul Schrader’s low cost and low profile take on what’s happening with the young set in La La Land. With a screenplay by Bret Easton Ellis who is no stranger to this place and the people who inhabit it, the film opens at a dinner in a fancy L.A. Restaurant where Christian (note the name) a young rich producer, his saucy girlfriend Tara, his ready to please female assistant Gina and her young boy toy Ryan are discussing nothing much. Christian is played by James Deen straight porn star extraordinaire and his live in girlfriend is none other than Lindsay Lohan. They are about to embark to Mexico where they are going to shoot some cheapo movie which I think I heard them mumble would be of the horrible horror kind with a budget no doubt bigger than the budget on this film.  The male bimbo toy boy is to play the lead and was pushed and pulled into this great opportunity by Lindsay who it turns out was once a lover of the handsome dude a fact not known to Deen or his assistant and will come back to bite Tara and Ryan on their asses. Lindsay looks bloated, puffy and bruised like a piece of over ripe rotting fruit left out in a bowl on a table by the pool in the hot California sun for too long, a piece of rotting meat surrounded by flies and vermin.  Deen who is scraggly and ordinary looking (to me anyway) is the commander of the ship and indeed of the movie. He is if  I’m to be honest a disgusting piece of work just one of many, many to be found in this shit hole of a place called Los Angeles. The palm trees look good, and I will say that I was fascinated by this low take on the C list underbelly of Hollywood and Vine. Schrader made this film which is handsome and shinny on a very low budget, an amount that I could probably live on if not for the rest of my life then for quite a few of the years remaining to me. These are all awful people, not a care in the world for anyone but themselves, concerned only where the next threesome is coming from, where to go on the next shopping spree and who to double cross. I will say that Lohan was quite good not great but quite good, maybe reaching into her own sordid little paparazzi drug addled life for the rancid background material that she brings to the movie in great big beautifully wrapped packages of nothingness and if she can get her scarred life together maybe she can actually become an actress worth watching. I don’t however go along with what Schrader wrote in the July/August issue of Film Comment comparing Lohan’s meager talents to Marilyn Monroe even though his short piece did give me a few chuckles. Monroe was beloved even though she had her problems with drugs, the wrong men and bad and mad work habits. This dish was savored and immensely talented and tucked in every night by an adoring public, something that will never happen for Lohan.  I don’t mean to take anything away from her good work in this film which she pretty much carries on her back, but to compare her to one of the great and lasting icons of the 20th Century is pushing it a bit. The other actors are bad some very bad and as pretty as Nolan Gerard Funk is (he better be with that name) his performance as Ryan is painful to watch. Deen gives a porn star performance and judging from some of his comments on the extras (“Bret Easton Ellis is the greatest writer in the world”) I would have to say that he is also a drug addled idiot. There is a flash of violence near the end of this short movie, that comes out of nowhere and of course in keeping with the character of the characters it goes unpunished. The film is worth a cynical look.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Black Engine Room Issue 8

The Black Engine Room out of Great Britain published one of my collages for their back cover. here it is. Its a real magazine but I don't know how you would order it you can check out the issue here, its a pdf. and if you want to buy the magazine you can probably find the information on the link.

The Black Light Engine Room 08..pdf


Friday, December 27, 2013

3 movies

I don't know what all this talk about 2013 being such a great year for movies. I just saw three well received touted films Frances Ha, The Bling Ring and Inside Llewyn Davis and none really made me want to jump up and down. They all have some good things in them to be sure, but the characters in all three are so unlikeable to be almost committable (and some are indeed locked up). The Bling Ring has a few stunning sequences all of which involve the robbing of celebrities homes, one ransacking is shot from a distance in the Hollywood Hills and you can see the looting taking place from afar, its like a shadow play very pretty Sophia, and emma watson continues to amaze. Frances Ha played by Greta Gerwig quickly wears out her welcome, Man what a drag she is. The film is attractive in black and white but why should I care about these spoiled 20 somethings and the same is true about Llewyn Davis, I'm sorry but the supposed charm of this film escapes me. True its like a short story and the period is done nicely especially the muted pastel colors (I actually thought this was in black and white also) but again Llewyn is a drag, and John Goodman continues to amaze.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Blue Gardenia 1953

Fritz Lang has said that he made this murder mystery in 20 days and it looks it but it does entertain and I’ll forgive him for this one because he also made “The Big Heat” the same year.  The dense and somewhat unbelievable plot takes place in Los Angles and focuses on three women who work at the same telephone company and also share an apartment that is modest and realistic. The roommates are played by the sassy and sarcastic Ann Sothern who does the whole film with a cigarette dangling from her mouth, Jeff Donnell who seems to be mentally challenged and who is a murder mystery fan and reads cheap pulp fiction throughout the film by her favorite writer Mickey Mallet which is an obvious  spoof on Mickey Spillane who was at his peak of popularity in the early 50’s and the most troubled of the group Anne Baxter. Baxter is lonely and early in the film is about to spend her birthday alone with a photograph of her boyfriend who is fighting in Korea. As Sothern gets ready for a date with her ex-husband and Donnell is about to rush off to the neighborhood bookstore to pick up the latest book by Mallet, Anne is content to cook a nice dinner for herself and her photograph. Dressed in a lovely black taffeta dress (this figures prominently in the plot), and toasting her boyfriend’s photo, Anne opens the most recent letter from him and reads that she’s been dumped by him for a nurse he’s fallen in love with while recuperating from wounds suffered in the war. Anne sheds a few tears into her pot roast dinner. Suddenly the phone rings and its Raymond Burr on the other end, who thinks Anne is the other Ann who he tried to pick up earlier in the day at the phone company. Burr is a womanizer and a bad artist and thinking Anne is the other Ann invites her to have some drinks and Chinese food at a restaurant called The Blue Gardenia, which is a Polynesian joint. Anne is also blue so she agrees to meet Burr, it is after all her birthday and she’s just been royally dumped. At the restaurant Nat “King” Cole is performing the title song, and Raymond is confused because he thought he was getting Ann Sothern instead he has Anne Baxter which is not such a bad deal and he knows it. After ordering and pouring on the sweaty charm Ray buys Anne a Blue Gardenia from the blind old lady who sells them in the joint and starts pouring an obscene sounding drink called Polynesian Pearl Divers down Anne’s pretty throat.  Anne has soon gulped down 4 or 5 of these sweet and potent drinks and is drunk and wobbly but agrees to go to Burr’s apartment where he of course tries to make her, which Anne wants no part of.  Oh trouble trouble trouble. Something happens and Anne blacks out and upon waking she sees that Burr has been killed with a poker from the fireplace.  She thinks she did it and naturally she panics and runs out of the apartment without her shoes, leaving not only her glass slippers behind but also one of her hankies and the Blue Gardenia. There you have it that’s the plot. Also involved is Richard Conte (looking pained and bored) as a newspaper reporter who wants to find the killer who he calls the Blue Gardenia Girl in his tabloid newspaper and George Reeves as a detective also on hunt for the killer. The ending is rash and rushed with a “surprise” that you could see a mile away, but as I said for 90 minutes it entertains and the cast is 50’s fun.

Friday, December 20, 2013

American Hustle 2013

The movie itself might be called a hustle, a fun one but nevertheless a hustle. Very reminiscence and influenced by Scorsese from its jittery cinematography and use of contemporary songs that line the film like the cheap lining of a second hand mink. Russell knows a good thing when he sees it, in terms of actors and he reunites four familiar players from his previous films, Christian Bale and Amy Adams from The Fighter and Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings Playbook all of them are in top form and much of the pleasure from watching the film comes from their performances. Its all here, the tacky clothes, the ridiculous late 70's hairstyles and the flashy decor. The plot is somewhat complex and convoluted involving duplicity and stings, deals gone wrong and friendships done wrong. Robert De Niro makes a neat little cameo and maybe thats what he should do from now on, make neat little cameos, no harm from that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Vine Leaves Literary Journal

Just discovered some of my photographs have been published at Vine Leaves Literary Journal without letting me know, worse they published a collage of mine in the previous issue again without telling me, but even worse they credit me with the name Ira Isobel Haber. Now I ask you how stupid is that, its not even close. So just call me Ira Isobel if you dare.

Postcard December 2013. Paint, ink and collage on blank postcard

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joan Fontaine. 1917-2013

Magazine appearances 2013


Blue Five Notebook, Tenement Block Review, Storm Cellar,  New York Dreaming, Madhat Lit, Slippage Literary Magazine, Petrichor Review,   Symmetry Pebbles, Olentangy Review, Fiction Fix,  American Athenaeum,  Elohi Gadugi Journal, Thrice Fiction Magazine,  The Meadowland Review, The Open Road Review, Synaesthesia Magazine,  Sassafras Magazine, Banango Street, Compose Journal,  Crack The Spine, Mungbeing Magazine, InkBlot, Vagabond City, Verse Junkies, Broadsided, Oddball Magazine, Ricochet Magazine,  Superstion Review, The McNeese Review, Right Hand Pointing, Episodic Literary Magazine,  Cigale Literary Magazine,  Cleaver Magazine,   The Original Van Gogh's Ear Anthology, Red Fez, The Writing Disorder,  Four Ties Lit Review, Decades Review, The Squalor Review, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Gallery Review, The Germ, Santa Clara Review, The Indian River Review,  The Black Engine Room, Pinyon Publishers. Watershed Review,  The NewerYork.

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