Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Rebels of The Neon God 1992

As sharp and dangerous as a double edge razor blade. Made in 1992 this is the film that put Tsai Ming-liang on the map of the international film scene and with good reason. Recently restored to its deeply saturated neon colors, this is a swift and sharply focused film that concerns the lives of 4 troubled young people living in Taipei in various degrees of despair and disgust. Two of the young men are petty thieves who hang out in video arcades and do little crimes including robbing telephone and video game cash boxes, one is a young girl who works at a skating ring and the 4th is a depressed student living at home with his parents who are constantly on his case and he also does some terrible things. Taipei ragged and run down is also one of the stars of the film and so is water and food. One of the young men lives in a constantly flooded apartment (the water rises from a drain in the floor) with his brother who by the way we never see and many scenes include food. You can almost smell the damp and mildew, the garbage and the greasy food smells as the pollution from the many motorbikes hits you in the face. This is probably Ming-Liang’s most accessible films linear and concise with nods to American cultural icons especially James Dean and his Rebel without a Cause and with the same homoerotic longings that the earlier rebel had. Still this might not be an easy film for American audiences to swallow, and that’s too bad because I loved it.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Linda Nochlin 1931-2017

sorry to learn of the passing of the important art historian and feminist Linda Nochlin. I remember several fun dinners with her at my loft in the early 70's. 

Walter Lassally1926-2017

One of the great cinematographers

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Ghost Story 2017

All ghost stories (I'm talking movies here) are sad. Well maybe not some of the comedies but as a kid I was very sad when "Hold That Ghost" was over, and since it was on million dollar movie I could re-watch it a million times.
I should say that I love ghost movies, they are one of my favorite sub genres and I think I've seen most of the really good and even not so good ones. That said the other night I watched one of the really good ones, “A Ghost Story” directed by David Lowery who is a young director to keep an eye on. He has a way with images and of telling a story.
The film is short,direct and unusual. A young couple played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara who starred in Lowery's “Aint' Them Bodies Saints" a great title by the way in 2013 are cast once again as lovers who happen to be married and live in a non de-script small ranch house somewhere out in Texas way.
We don’t know much about them, they don’t even have names, he fiddles with music and she has some kind of a job that is never shown. There are some conflicts, she wants to move, he doesn’t and then he is killed in a car accident. All we see of this is the aftermath and then Mara in the morgue where she looks for awhile and leaves, and the ghost of her dead man rises up in a white sheet with cut out out holes for eyes , a poor child’s idea of a Halloween costume and at first I had to laugh.
But soon the poignancy of this spook takes over and I was moved and sadden. The ghost (yes it’s Affleck under the sheet) stands around invisible of course to everyone but us and life goes on. Mara moves out and a sweet single parent Latino family moves in and this is really the most upsetting sequence because the ghost scares the crap out of the little kids and the mother who cleans up the broken dishes the ghost has thrown at them and moves out. Who could blame them.
The ghost moves back and forth in time to the past when the landscape the house sits on was prairie and a family is massacred by Indians to the future where a huge futuristic city rises where their house once stood and has some short conversations of another ghost who "lives" across the way through opposite windows. There is a lovely score to go along with the beautiful images and the aspect ratio is odd projected at 1:33:1 with rounded corners. One critic said it was like a snapshot which it does but I thought of silent movies, and at first it bothered me until I settled in with it. This is an odd and lovely film. One of the best films of 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino 1928-2017

The truly great Fats has passed and the fat orange pile of shit still walks this earth. Unfair.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Zelimkhan Bakaev 1991-2017

Robert Berlind-Lennon Weinberg gallery

Sometimes I require and crave some good traditional landscape painting, you know landscapes, trees, flowers, water and rocks. There is quite a bit shown on facebook and a lot of it is very good, but there is not much of this kind of painting being shown in the galleries, and when it is shown much of it is second story schlock. So I was delighted to come across the very lovely show of mostly small landscapes by the late painter and critic Robert Berlind. These are mainly up close scenes and details of trees, reflections in water, and leaves some of which are also reflected in areas of wetness. There is so much loud work being shown in galleries that small quiet moments in oil should be treasured and embraced, hugged to our chests in grateful acknowledgment. This lovely show will be up until Nov. 4th.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Large work on paper October 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

not really in the mood

  • Not really in the mood for review writing today but would like to mention 3 shows that are worth your time.

    Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner. This is closing tomorrow so hurry up because this is a gorgeous group of Asawa's wire sculptures that are rarely shown. Hanging from the ceiling these are delicate wire meshed pieces that are also tough as nails. Another hidden artist who is finally getting her due after her death.

    Joyce Kozloff at D.C Moore Imaginative and autobiographical large mixed works mixing painting, drawing and collage with the main images being imaginary maps. Here Kozloff attaches many small examples of her childhood drawings that really are terrific little things in themselves. We all love maps, they bring us to lands unknown, and these are lands of our childhood. Colorful and intricate you can get lost in these beauties for hours, and will recall your childhood as well. For me they brought back memories of school displays and my beloved bulletin board that hung in my bedroom. Also on view are a nice series of drawings of maps very busy and dizzy with images of battles and war that incorporate tiny drawn images by her son when he was young of superheroes and other figures of a boy's childhood. This is a family act rich with delight and surprises.

    Art Povera. Hauser & Wirth. This is a 3 floor extravaganza of art by the Italian late 20th century art movement that is full of exciting pieces by an all male chorus. Where are the women? Certainly they could included Marisa Merz who just had a big show at the Met Breuer. Still it's a big visual slam dunk with terrific pieces by Mario Merz, Jannis Kounellis and many others who took unconventional materials and made some exciting work.
  • Danielle Darrieux 1917-2017

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    oooh oooh got me a ticket in early march to see Glenda. How excited am I. will be in God's country but the price of 39.00 was good for my budget.

    Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Large work on paper October 2017

    Friday, October 13, 2017

    In the Mood For Love 2000

              In the mood for swooning. Set in a never seen Hong Kong of 1962 the film directed by Wong Kar-Wai is an unrequited love story, one told and seen many many times, but never like this. A man and a woman separately take small apartments really just a room in a crowded boarding house for them and their spouses.
               The place is run by Rebecca Pan a good natured landlady, Pan who in her youth was a big star of the Chinese cinema and can be heard singing on the soundtrack. The man is played by Tony Leung and the woman is played by Maggie Cheung both veterans of Kar-Wai films. 
                    He is a journalist  for a small newspaper and she works as a secretary who covers up for her philandering boss. We never see their partners, maybe a brief glimpse of a back but they’re both always traveling for their jobs. Tony and Maggie are supremely beautiful; they simply stagger us with their glorious looks and sexuality.
                      They sometimes meet on the stairs on their way to work or on the way to the local noodle shop to buy dinner and slowly they strike up a bond and relationship and a secret is revealed. They work at keeping their relationship discrete as the house they live in is cramped and crowded with noisy mahjong players who spend nights that move into the early mornings playing the game, and a communal kitchen that is also cramped and crowded run by a pushy but friendly cook.
                     They meet in hotels, and in cheap restaurants but we don’t know if a sexual relationship occurs, we are kept in the dark, although on the extras there are out takes that show sexuality between the two. I prefer not to know and I’m glad that these scenes were not included in the final cut. No one makes movies like Wong Kar-Wai. They are always visual and busy, rich with colors and music that filter through the action.
                   Here the cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan  & Ping Bin Lee drop deep rich saturated colors on us, this is a nighttime movie with smoke filtering up from many cigarettes and streets that glisten with shadows and moonlight. There are near silent dinners and slow motion walks through alleys and by ways but we never seen any other people, the streets are there, the people are there but we never see them.
                      The spaces are cramped and tight, the air seems full of perfume and garbage. Someone said that Maggie has 46 changes of cheongsams, which are classic Chinese body fitting dresses that have high collars and are usually patterned. The cheongsams that Maggie wears are beautiful with wonderful floral designs (the only sign of nature we see) or geometrical designs these also take our breaths away because they are beautiful and Maggie is beautiful and the light and colors are beautiful and the music score by Umebayashi Shigeru and Michael Galasso is lovely, moody and sad. There are also songs by Nat King Cole presented throughout the film that follow the two as they deal with this hopeless relationship of theirs (and ours) he is the perfect voice for this love poem. The outcome is lonesome and predictable but I could live with it, because that’s really what life is for many. The ending, the outcome always reduces me to sobs. The best film of 2000.

    Sunday, October 08, 2017

    Columbus 2017

    At first I thought this little gem of a movie might be about Christopher Columbus or Columbus Ohio where I lived for 3 months in 1983 when I was a visiting artist at OSU, but it turns out to be set in Columbus Indiana and is about this place as much as it is about it’s characters. This was the birthplace of the horrible Mike Pence but we won’t dwell on that fact. It is also a hub of great Modernist architecture so much so that there are tours built around the buildings and the town and a cottage industry is born.

    This is not a documentary although we get to see plenty of these great buildings designed by the likes of Deborah Berke, Saarinen, Pei, Meier, Venturi and Stern to mention just a few but a fictional film about a resident of the city and an unexpected visitor.
    The film has two parallel stories that converge when a young Korean translator comes to the town to visit and kind of take care of his ailing father who is a visiting Korean architectural scholar and is in town to give a lecture. At the opening of the film we see him in the great Miller house where he collapses from what looks like a stroke and is saved by his colleague played by the great Parker Posey who comes running to his aid. His son Jin played beautifully by the attractive Korean actor John Cho has mixed feelings about his father and no interest in architecture so conflicts are in the forefront from the past and the present and he is prodded by Posey to show more concern about his dad. There is also a deep affection between the two that goes back to his youth.
    One day Jin meets the lovely Casey played with rare open faced beauty by a new actress Haley Lu Richardson who should have a marvelous career (she’s playing Louise Brooks as a young girl in the anticipated film “The Chaperone) and who recently popped up in two recent films I saw the charming coming of age film “The Edge Of Seventeen” and the horrible horror film “Split”.
    Casey works in a splendid library designed by I.M. Pei and has a sometimes combative but affectionate relationship with her co-worker played by Rory Culkin and she is a complete nut for architecture thus the opposite of Jin. She also has parent trouble having a recovering drug addict for her mother acted beautifully by the wonderful Michelle Forbes who works two jobs both of them in modernistic buildings and is pretty much being taken care of by Casey who longs to go to college but is fearful of leaving her mother.
    In fact she has an invitation to attend Harvard under the recommendation and guidance of Deborah Berke who met Casey on a visit and became impressed with her. Not hard to understand. Jin and Casey strike up a friendship and we wonder what is in store for the two, love, sex, or just tours of the many great buildings of Columbus. They wander and talk about what they see and this is the thrust of the movie and it is set off and highlighted by the director Kogonada’s strong visual sense.
    This is his first film and he frames scenes in unorthodox ways, sometimes set up like architectural spaces both wide and partial, interior and exteriors that mirror what the two characters are feeling and are sometimes seen reflected in mirrors, inside rooms or from far distances and in cropped compositions. This might be the truly first film that stars architecture in a leading performance with nods to Antonioni and Fritz Lang. Kogonada is no stranger to classic films having worked on documentaries and special features for Criterion and he knows his film history. The film opened in the summer for a one-week engagement at the IFC in the village, but demand has been so great that it is still playing in one of the very small theatres, which is perfect for this film. I loved this movie and will see it again when it comes out on dvd. One of the best films of the year.

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