Friday, August 31, 2018

Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors. 2014

               A small stunning gem of a movie that hopefully will move you as much as it moved me. Ricky a 13-year-old Latino boy with asperger’s syndrome lives with his hard working mom and slightly older sister whose head is up in the clouds and whose only concern is what costume to wear on Halloween. One day Ricky who is having trouble in school and needs a lot of care decides to take leave of all this and follows a guy with a dragon emblem on the back of his jacket and heads out on a journey on the New York City subway system.  The boy is amazing, smart, charming and talented, we get small glimpses of his beautiful complex drawings which include dragons (which helps to explain his following the young man with the dragon jacket) & sea life especially fish.    His father is not with the family who by the way are illegal immigrants but upstate working at a job, and his mom works hard long hours cleaning rich people’s houses. His sister is charged with watching him, and picking Ricky up at school, but as I indicated she is a typically self-involved teenager, and is lax and lazy when it comes to her brother. They live far out in Rockaway, a desolate ugly place next to a beautiful beach and this is one of the places Ricky loves, along with the neighborhood sneaker store, and these are the first two places his frantic mom goes looking for her missing boy.  Ricky takes to the subway and rides and rides and this is where most of the film takes place and will be familiar and sometimes worrisome to any New Yorker no only in real life but also in the film. On his journey he meets one or two kind people or as is usually the case with the subway, people who are self involved in their own lives and worries to notice let alone care about a young boy riding the beast. The film has a very authentic feel to it, especially in the candid scenes in the subway and around the Rockaway area, and is cast with many non actors including Jesus Sanchez Velez who plays Ricky and has Asperger’s Syndrome himself. This gives his performance extra zest and a doze of reality. The film was underway in its shooting when Hurricane Sandy hit and it plays a part in the film, but does not take it over and the ending should bring a smile to your face. Directed by Sam Fleischner with quiet assurance and technique this is a film to search out for viewing.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Paul Taylor 1930-2018

So many greats have passed lately, but the orange pile of shit still walks this earth. Unfair.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Notebook drawing Late August 2018

Neil Simon 1927-2018

Lean On Pete 2018

What’s with all these horse movies lately? I’m not complaining mind you and this one is a beaut and was a pleasure to watch, a gift I might say. Starring a new young actor Charlie Plummer (no relation to Christopher) as a 15 year old kid also named Charley who is trying to keep his head above water, living poor on the far outskirts of Portland with his runaround womanizer hard drinking dad who clearly loves Charley dearly. This is a good kid, you immediately take to him and the sadness that surrounds him also surrounds us.
One day as he is out jogging he comes across a local down and out racetrack and meets up with Steve Buscemi a horse owner who is also down and out. Buscemi is cranky, and crinkly and in a role that might have been played by Walter Brennan years back and shows us why he is one of the best actors around. Buscemi needs help and soon takes on Charley as his all around helper with the horses and anything else that needs fixing. Charley takes to one of the horses Lean On Pete who has seen better days and is not doing so great. The two of them strike up a deep friendship that moves the story forward. Charley loves Lean On Pete and that’s what the movie is about their love affair and Charley’s tough complex journey to find a place in this world for the two of them. Without giving much away I will say that its a sometimes a tough nut for Charley and Lean On. There are some tragic loses throughout and one or two made me gasp out loud but I wiped away the few tears and continued on. The journey through this vast beautiful landscape takes the young man horse on what might be called Picaresque and some of his adventures could be right out of Dickens if he lived and wrote in the 21st century. Also in the film is Chloe Sevigny as a tough as nails female jockey, and the direction is by Andrew Haigh who directed two other well received films “Weekend” and “45 Years” One of the ten best films of the year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Barbara Harris 1935-2018

I'm terribly sad to learn of the passing of one of my favorite actresses. This hurts. I first discovered her in the movie A Thousand Clowns and fell in love with her. I saw her on Broadway in the Apple Tree, and in the early 70's I was at an intimate art world party and was at the buffet table when I turned and there she was. She was approachable but I froze like a fool and passed up a chance to swoon all over her. And the pile of shit still walks this earth.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

BlacKkKlansman 2018

I’ve never been a big fan of Spike Lee’s films and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about his latest joint which I saw the other day. Its getting good reviews and it seems to be a mild box office success gearing itself up to maybe finally win Lee that Oscar that has alluded him for all these years.
Based on the memoirs of Ron Stallworth who was the first African American to join the Colorado Springs police force in the mid 70’s and is played well by John David Washington, and yes he’s Denzel’s son. No sooner than he’s gotten his new position that he hatches an outrageous plan to infiltrate the local KKK chapter with the help of his fellow officer played by Adam Driver.
Much is made of the fact that Driver is a Jew, (made up for the movie) so we have a perfect duo of maligned minorities geared up to take on the evil forces of the Klan. Driver will play Stallworth in action with the klan while the black Stallworth will be behind the curtain and on the phone pulling the strings and punking the members of the klan including the leader of the pack David Duke who falls for the ploy hook line and stinker.
The film is full of stereotypes on both sides of the fence, there are the good cops and bad cops and the small chapter of the klan bake are made up of simpleton’s and morons. This is not surprising and all of this plays into our notion of this noxious vile group. Especially nasty is the character of the overweight dumb wife of one of the leaders of the group, an easy target for us to hate and revile.
Lee plays with our emotions and much of the film is very upsetting to watch. He has Stallworth forming a love interest (made up) with Patrice Dumas the president of the local black power student group, and this allows for lots of afro hair styles and more simplistic and obvious scenes of group meetings, police harassment and a good dance number at a black nightclub.
There is also a lovely montage of good looking students (black is beautiful is underlined in this scene) listening to Stokeley Carmichael now known as Kwame Ture giving a fiery speech to them. Lee who knows his movie history opens the film with a clip of the brilliant overhead shot of Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’ Hara wandering among the dead and wounded confederates in the railroad depot as the camera sways to a tattered confederate flag, and then clips from “Birth Of A Nation” which repeats itself later on in the movie at a showing of the film in which members of the klan eat popcorn and holler and hoot it up as the blacks (white actors in blackface) are tormented by the early klan on horseback.
The “Gone With The Wind” shot is later recalled later in the film as Stallworth secretly visits a klan shooting range where he comes upon a target which we see is a metal cutout full of bullet holes of a black man in silhouette running away, a mockery of a Kara Walker work perhaps and as the camera pulls away we see many of these targets as the music swells and we are left with a feeling of repulsion and sadness. Lee himself over the years has been accused of being both anti-Semitic and homophobic in some of his films including “School Daze” and “Mo Better Blues” but I would have to withhold any judgments until I see these films again.
In the meantime we have his KKK movie and there is no doubt about where he stands, ending the film with actual footage from the Charlottesville disaster, (even more frightening on the large screen) and the traitorous corrupt criminal fake president spewing out his stupidity on the event, which is frightening on any size screen.
The movie and Lee are being praised by most of the white critical club, but various black voices are angry and upset over the film including the controversial gay black film critic Armond White who gave a scathing review of the film in the conservative National Review and the African American filmmaker Boots Riley who wrote a 4pg attack on the truth and non-truth of the film and of Ron Stallworth himself which is getting a lot of attention on the internet. Both of these pieces should be read. Lee can be easy and obvious as in the terrible forced scene where the one bad cop (or so it seems) is taken down in an unbelievable way, that brought cheers from the audience. Lee doesn’t know when to stop. Still the film should be seen.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Notebook drawing August 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin 1942-2018

A great artist has left us, a very sad day, and the monster who has contributed nothing who is evil and less then human still walks this earth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Little Fugitive 1953

A sweet but sometimes annoying 8 year boy living in Brooklyn with his widowed mother and older brother is left with the older brother one weekend who has to watch over him when his mom needs to take a hasty trip to visit her own ailing mother. The older brother is bothered by this kid, and one can’t really blame him. It’s a hot summer day and he wants to go to Coney Island with his friends but now can’t. So him and his friends come up with a mean spirited prank to make Joey think that he has killed him with a popgun rifle, the kind that they sold on the backs of comic books in the 50’s.
Joey panics thinking he killed his brother and hops on the elevated subway to Coney Island where he spends a day and a night gently running wild exploring this vast and run down wonderland. He has $6.00 that he took, money left by his mom for food, and he rides the merry go round, stuffs himself with soda pop, watermelon and hot dogs, plays games in the penny arcades and rides the pony ride (he loves horses and cowboys) over and over with money he gets from collecting soda pop bottles on the beach and pocketing the deposits.
The gentle urban cowboy who runs the ponies gets suspicious and finagles Joey’s name and address from him and calls his brother who is worried sick over his prank gone wrong. Made on a shoestring budget with non-actors and “real people” by Ray Ashley, Morris Engel (who also did the cinematography and editing) and the great photographer Ruth Orkin who also plays a harried young mother on the beach trying to get her baby to drink some water.
The film was a smash hit with critics and audiences and was a new way of making movies and a new way of looking at them. Here was a fictional film shot in real locations using real people. I saw the film in 1953 when I was 6 years old, at my neighborhood Loew’s and is probably the first film I vividly remember. As I stood in the lobby with my older sister (she could have been a good stand in for the mean older brother) the star of the movie Richie Andrusco 2 years older than me and with a head of bright red hair waved to all his new fans from the upstairs promenade overlooking the lobby.
The film is charming and touching how could it not be and is full of rich real life details, a small shabby living room, a cramped boys room full of his treasures, a subway car of the period, a Brooklyn neighborhood and a Coney Island of my youth that is long gone. Francois Truffaut said the French New Wave would never have happened without this film, and I can certainly go along with that, I would also say that my undying love for movies began with this film and that it influenced me to become an artist. Coney Island was a short subway ride away from where I grew up, and I remember most of what is shown in the film, including the crowded dirty beaches and streets full of people. This was the summer of my childhood. Morris Engel would go on to make two more low budget independent films “Lovers And Lollipops”, and “Weddings and Babies” with contributions from Ruth Orkin, but neither of these films had the freshness and warmth of Fugitive. One of the ten best films of 1953.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Morgana King 1930-2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

notebook drawing mixed august 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

V.S. Naipaul 1932-2018

and trump still walks this earth. Unfair

David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake At Night The Whitney Museum

Saw this searing exploding sad but beautiful sprawling retro. yesterday and I say see this exhibition before it closes in a month. Funny but our lives crossed but we never met. We had mutual friends I suppose but I closed down in the late 80's and early 90's, closed down sexually and art worldly. I didn't want to have anything to do with anyone or anything.
I was smashed from AIDS losing so many friends including my best one that I just left, so long and goodbye. I still made art, and I stepped lightly into the AIDS political actions taking place, I went to some meetings of Queer Nation but I was too wounded and scared to make a difference.
I didn't put my art on the line like David did, and as I said we never met, I removed myself for my own safety. I didn't take part in the east village art scene so that also passed by me, even though I had friends who were east village citizens, and I didn't show my work to anyone except close friends.
Getting back to this great bundle of art that David did I was amazed by his talent and ability to make beautiful angry paintings that will stay with you after you take your leave from the Whitney and deal with the crap outside the building. Its attractive crap but still crap. David had a great sense of color and how to place an image on a canvas so that it commanded just enough space to pull you in.
They are like puzzles and comic book frames, (the large paintings) gay rebuses, porn, outlaw musings. His life was rough, amazing that he could take these torn pages from his troubled life and make so much wonderful art. The thing is I'm glad we never met, I don't know if we would have liked it each other, or we would have liked each other enough to sex it up at least once, but we never met.
This is a busy show, jam packed but spacious, the huge 5th floor galleries allow this, but some of the curatorial choices bothered me and my friend the artist Carol Heft. Like why not show his alien heads the way they were originally shown on a long shelf, instead they are presented under plexiglass cases taking the danger and shock out of them. They're still marvelous objects even though they have made them a little precious and expensive. Thats what happens sometimes when an artist dies they become expensive. Anyway this is a great exhibition, a lot of food for thought, a lot of beauty and anger and loss and a lot of joy. Easily one of the best exhibitions of the year.
Site Meter