Monday, May 30, 2016
Love and Friendship 2016
Very funny beautifully acted and produced comedy of manners and romantic conspiracies and confusions set in Austenland (Jane Austen that is). Directed by Whit Stillman with his usual jaundiced eye but affection for the upper crust that usually lands on the privileged young lads and ladies of Manhattan in the late 20th Century. Here we are dropped in the 18th Century where we watch the marvelous Kate Beckinsale nicely costumed and coiffed play the mating game for all its worth. At first I was confused, all those characters and plots thrown at us left and right, but I soon relaxed and had a lot of fun with this almost 18th century screwball comedy. Beckinsale is Lady Susan recently windowed and on the dole and make so to speak and looking for a new husband in all the right places not only for herself and also for her smart, lovely and charming daughter who has ideas of her own.
The characters come together meet, mix leave and come together again in a variety of estates, family and otherwise and the witty and biting dialogue never ceases. Played with charm and with many laugh out loud moments by a wonderful cast of British actors many who were unfamiliar to me. Thrown into the mix is the lovely Chloe Sevigny an American who is Lady Susan’s comrade in deviousness who is married to a rich lord who threatens to send her back to Connecticut if she doesn’t end her friendship with Lady Susan. The film is pretty to look at, but not overdone which I think had more to do with budget restrictions than with inspiration. Gossip, secrets revealed, personal letters passed back and forth, servants listening at closed doors and a wacky dance also add to this delightful cool surprise treat for the hot summer months, and who knew that Jane was so damn funny.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Sunset Song 2016
I have just seen what might be the best film of the year, the gorgeous and heartbreaking new work by that poet of the cinema Terrace Davies. It is certainly the film of my summer. Set in the countryside and farm land of Scotland at the beginning of the 20th century and based on a beloved novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon a writer I’m not familiar with. The film is long and slow but visually it surprises and impresses with every frame and tableau like scene in telling the story of a young woman who is bright and lovely but terribly put upon by her awful father and the hard life of farm labor. Horrible fathers is practically a given in many of Davies films and here he is given a good kick by Peter Mullan who is without any redeeming qualities that I can see. His harshness to his wife and children is at times hard to take, especially when he beats his lovely hard working oldest son for the smallest infraction. The daughter and focal point of the story is Chris played beautifully by Agyness Deyn who is known as a big time high class fashion model, and lovely as she is here, you would never think of her walking down a runway, she’s so comfortable and at home walking through the pastures and milking the cows. Davies who I think of more as a filmmaker than a director because he makes his films like an artist making a work of art and this film while severe at times is full of breathtaking images of the natural world which fill the wide screen (you must see it in a theatre) and then pulls us into the cramped spaces of their pleasant but peasant home all tight tidy and nice. I should also mention the use of music, it plays important in all of his films, and Sunset Song is no exception, and is usually used as an addition to the movement we are watching whether it be an early morning walk the folks make to church or a food laden wedding that is full of hope and love. There is a lot of sadness here also, and because we know history we expect this sadness but there are also unexpected surprises it this sadness. Davies has a marvelous sense of place and time and an eye for minute detail and an amazing way with long tracking shots. In this film there is one that moves slowly across an abandoned battlefield that should leave you in awe and maybe tears. The film is also dense in dialogue and accents but happily there are subtitles, which are useful and not intrusive. I can’t think of another poet of film (the only other one that comes to mind is John Ford) who uses people in landscapes as well as he does whether the landscapes are urban or rural. This film is a masterpiece and I’m excited with the news that his latest film “ A Quiet Passion” that stars Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson will soon be with us. How great is that.
Compressed Journal Postcard no. 5
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Sunday, May 22, 2016
I finished off my drawing class at the UFT and I have mixed feelings about it. Most of the students were fine, several weren't and a few I couldn't stand to put it mildly and they really pushed me to being rude. I don't know if I'll be back although I'm scheduled to do a class in January if I get any students. The problem with this place and what they offer in terms of art classes is basically very conservative and dull. Lots of little landscapes or still lifes that quite frankly aren't very good, but they pull in the retired school teachers who pay their 10.00 and make nice mediocre pictures. Then I walk in and I was the bull in the china shop and many of the little old retirees took a hike and a dislike. Many did stay and I think judging by the work I got and the reactions to the projects I gave got something out of it. They had a meet and greet the other day where I put up a small exhibit of the work along with the other classes, there was also performances of their short play, comedy and singing classes which was pure torture to sit through, but sit through I did. It was embarrassing by and large with one woman doing a comedy skit about her Yiddish grandmother using racist and homophobic remarks. Anyway here are some pictures I took of the work which I thought looked great.
Cop Car 2015
This is one of those under the carpet little B’s that creep by us, and occasionally (and if we’re lucky) get to put it on our Netflix queues or find it sitting on the dvd shelf at our local library. This one has two young boys who when the film opens are walking in the distance of some beautiful landscape teaching each other dirty words. It seems that for some reason they’re hit the road Jack and are cheerfully roaming when they come across what appears to be an abandoned cop car. Bad old boy rotten cop played with greasy abandonment by Kevin Bacon who is of course up to no good has left it there. Well the boys being boys decide to play with the car and manage to get it going (the car keys are of course sitting on the seat) and take it for a wild spin that results in violent and carefree action. Its a quick 90 minute joy ride made with assured direction by a new guy in town Jon Watts who knows his noir and knows how to make a good little action flick on a dime. The young boys are fine played without attitude and self-consciousness by James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford. Also good are Camryn Manheim who makes a wrong turn and Shea Whigham’s whose entire life is a wrong turn.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Compressed Journal Postcard 4
Compressed Journal Postcard No. 3
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Mary Bauermeister-Pavel Zoubok Gallery
ound stones and glass balls (optical lenses) that intrude off the wall into our laps and her signature glass oval lenses that mix it up with delicate ink drawings and words. They confound the eye with their magical arrangements and mysteries. This is a demonstration of high ended talent, a class in imagination and skill and is easily one of the best exhibitions I've seen this year.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Saturday, May 07, 2016
Friday, May 06, 2016
Out Of Sight 1998
A thrilling fast moving heist movie with perfect ingredients including a terrific script based on a elmore leonard novel, direction with verve and style by Steven Soderbergh and a dream cast that is perfection. Also added to the heist is a jail break, a smart ass bank robbery that begins the film in a flashback and a sexy romantic relationship that hops skips and jumps through the film. The cast is headed by George Clooney at the height of his likeability and male beauty who plays a life time bank robber who meets his match with a female beauty federal marshal and the sparks and sexual chemistry soars. They meet kinda cute and spend some time locked in the trunk of a car where they flirt and discuss movies, very smart and sexy. The marshal is played good and sexy by a surprisingly good and not surprisingly sexy Jennifer Lopez who has never been or done anything better than this part. Set in color drenched Florida, (the colors are dazzling and deep) and a cold blue tinted Detroit where the movie goes back and forth in time. The spaces are good and busy filled with movement and some wonderful performances by many actors at the beginning of their careers including the great Don Cheadle in a breakthrough performance as an ex con and boxer looking for some loose change, Catherine Keener, Luis Guzman, Albert Brooks, Ving Rhames, Viola Davis, Steve Zahn, Nancy Allen and in two uncredited cameros Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. The film harks back to those little fast and loose Warner Crime movies of the 30’s and 40’s and I have no problem seeing Cagney and Maybe Bette Davis or Joan Blondell or Ann Sheridan doing the Clooney and Lopez roles. The eccentric and unpredictable National Society of Film Critics picked it as the best film of 1998. This movie is fun. One of the 10 best films of 1998.