Thursday, July 31, 2014

Here and Elsewhere at The New Museum

Saw this show tonight via their pay what you want policy, and I liked some of the work. It was way too crowded to focus on videos and movies, and I really hate the spaces that make up this place. And once again it was too dimly lit to read the labels. I liked quite a bit of the works on paper, but much of the work just looked like the usual Chelsea stuff that you see week in and week out. Still its worth checking out if your in the hood.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chelsea in the rain

 Now up on Josephine Quarterly's website.

Monday, July 28, 2014

James Shigeta 1933-2014

Memorable in Sam Fuller's The Crimson Kimono

Last notebook drawing of July 2014

Some recent photographs around New York and Brooklyn

Glen or Glenda 1953

I finally saw this movie and I have to say that I was very much taken with it. Sure its cheap and badly acted but it also charming and when was the last time you saw a movie sympathetic to transvestites and transsexuals especially from the early 50’s that wasn’t a horror movie. Made (and that’s the right word for this movie) by Ed Wood Jr. who also stars as both Glen and Glenda and who was in real life s a heterosexual transvestite with a yen for angora sweaters. You can easily watch and consider this 65 minute film as autobiographical, part real and part fantasy.  The movie has a hand made look, like a junky assemblage found in some flea market and if it was a painting or an object it would probably be hanging in the American Folk Art Museum. Outsider movie making. There are many jaw dropping scenes in this little dump of a movie and much of it involves cross dressing and also sex change procedures and the perils and sadness that comes with this life. The film starts with a transvestite dead on a bed, a suicide and the detective in charge played by Lyle Talbot takes it upon himself to educate himself about men who like to dress as women, and visits a doctor who gives him and us the lowdown on the Glens and Glenda’s of the world. And lowdown  is what we get as we enter flashbacks, stock footage and voice-overs. Wood films everything straight on, in claustrophobic set-ups and with some on location shots notably Glenda walking the streets of L.A. wistfully window shopping for female attire. Especially memorable and weird is the dream sequence that is comprised of scenes (most of which looks like stock footage) of 50’s babes slithering and posing on stained couches, with a touch of bondage thrown in. There is also someone in a weird devil’s costume that looks like it was a left over from a Woolworth’s Halloween sale, this is the stuff of nightmares and cheap surrealism.  And then there’s Bela. Lugosi is listed in the credits as “scientist” and its Bela who has much of the classic lines of the film. Some say he’s God pulling the strings, I think its Bela whose pulling our strings. He pops in and out of the film sitting in a chair surrounded by cheap looking props and with eyes popping. And then there’s Dolores Fuller who was a terrible actress but in her ineptitude would grandly take over and control a scene. Dolores and the final scene of her taking off her angora sweater and handing it to Glen as a token of her love and acceptance of him is quite touching even if in real life Dolores who was Ed’s girlfriend refused his offer of marriage because she couldn’t deal with his love of wearing women’s clothes "He (Ed Wood) begged me to marry him. I loved him in a way, but I couldn't handle the transvestism. I'm a very normal person. It's hard for me to deviate! I wanted a man that was all man.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Late July Notebook Drawing

Three Movies

Sleep my love. 1948

You can see the story line of this one a mile away, even with your eyes closed. Poor Claudette Colbert wakes from a nights sleep on a train but she doesn’t remember how she got there and she also sees that she’s got a gun in her pocketbook. Claudette is very upset and goes a little bonkers running through the train’s corridors and who can blame her. She’s calmed down by the wonderful Queenie Smith (who will figure in the plot later on) a fellow passenger who gets her back to her lush and lavish three-story house on Sutton Place and her loving husband played by an oily and wooden Don Ameche. The plot as they say thins about this point and I was a bit surprised to see that Douglas Sirk directed this slick but inconsequential little femme jep from 1948. Claudette looks great and please don’t get me wrong there are some nice scenes here and there, (a Chinese wedding is especially fun) and there is some good back lot atmosphere, (a street scene beneath a make believe 3rd ave. el is particularly nice). There are some good actors giving it their all including George Coulouris, Raymond Burr, Rita Johnson and that late 40’s long and tangy drink of sultry badness Hazel Brooks. Bob Cummings who is also present is his usual dull self.

The Secret Six 1931

Early M.G.M. pre-code quick gangster movie with Wallace Beery and in a surprise move Ralph Bellamy and Lewis Stone playing bad guys. Its nothing great but it does feature the very young Jean Harlow and Clark Gable in supporting roles just before they hit it big time and the film looks good with Expressionistic lighting and cinematography and some great Art Deco details. Harlow was still struggling with her acting here, she’s a little stiff and nervous but boy was she gorgeous, ditto for Clark Gable. Directed by George Hill who also made The Big House and Min and Bill before taking his own life in 1934 at the age of 39. This was Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s push to take advantage of the popular new gangster genre that was being led by Warners, and although its not a bad entry in the genre it doesn’t come near the impact of The Public Enemy or Little Caesar.

The Breaking Point 1950

I suppose this can be classified as a remake of To Have and Have Not, but I found it be more nihilistic and downbeat than the Howard Hawks 1944 version. The film is red hot and sad and in some ways even better than the Hawk‘s version. In this one we have John Garfield (who by the way is superb) playing Harry Morgan a down on his luck fisherman who uses his boat for fishing charters and has a wife and two kids to support. His friend and employee is played by the great Juano Hernandez and the use of a well defined sympathetic African American character in a Hollywood film was indeed quite rare during this time period. I’ve read that this casting was done because of Garfield’s instance that Hernandez be cast in this pivotal role and was  not the studios idea.  The short scene where his young son (played by Juano’s real life son) goes off to school with Garfield’s two little girls is both heartfelt and kind.  Garfield constantly being taken for rides cheated out of money and roped into some dangerous and shady deals mainly brokered by the sleazy dishonored and dishonest lawyer played with great depth and sweaty armpits by the always-good Wallace Ford. Into Garfield’s hard knock life comes easy does it party girl Patricia Neal who is a pleasure to watch and listen to. With her blonde hair do, she purrs and slinks after Garfield, but we know nothing is going to come of this.  Garfield has mousy and nagging Phyllis Thaxter waiting for him to come home from the sea, with dinner waiting on the table, and his two little girls all pigtails and annoyance also waiting for Pops to get off the boat. Filmed on location on Balboa Island & Newport Beach by the veteran cinematographer Ted McCord with strong direction by Michael Curtiz and a heartbreaking ending that is both unexpected but predictable . 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oddball Magazine

A new post from oddball with one of my notebook drawings.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Sunday, July 20, 2014

james Garner 1928-2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Otto Piene 1928-2014

Tom Tierney 1928-2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Renee & Chaim Gross Foundation

I did this today, and it was a real treat. Their four story home which also served as Chaim Gross's studio is open to the public. I had a lovely solo tour of the house and gallery including his studio which is untouched down to his box of crayons still on his work table by a lovely and knowledgeable ass't to the director of the foundation.  And then there's the remarkable collection of art that they collected over the years including drawings and paintings by many of the greats of the 20th Century both European and American along with a superb collection of African Art. I was oohing all over the place. You can actually go into their living room and I was even allowed to peek into their rather modest kitchen. This is a hidden treasure of the city and you can visit on thur & fridays 1-5 or by appointment.
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