Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Alienist 2018

This is a very good but not great tv series based on the very popular novel by Caleb Carr that had millions of us gasping in shock and horror. The story concerns a horrible serial killer (are there any other kind) who spooks and kills among the very rich and very poor of 1896 New York City. His targets are young male prostitutes mainly ones who dress as young girls. That is enough of a plot device or twist to grab us and hold us in our living rooms for 10 episodes. The cast is attractive and fine with Daniel Bruhl as the title Alienist, Luke Evans as a newspaper illustrator and Dakota Fanning as the first woman to work for the police and an assistant to the police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt. Together they form a boy’s adventure team, adult Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew who try to outguess and stop the grisly murders that are piling up like the horse manure in the streets. The calling card of the killer is horrible and graphic, this series doesn’t fool around when it comes to grim and graphic so this is definitely not for the faint of heart. For everyone else this one should keep you guessing and a big draw is the superb production design which pretty much soars and thrills with its details from gaslight street lamps, to cobblestone streets and wide panoramas of the growing city. Everything awful then is still awful today, the corruption, the prejudice, the poverty, the crime, the anger I think this is part of the story that Carr wants to tell, wants to remind us of. Everything is different in Gotham but it’s all the same.  The ending seems a little rushed and wish that they had slowed down a bit. The look of the series is dark (in lighting)  and fast in action and plot movement. Supposedly a second series based on another Alienist book is on the way. And oh yes I should include the definition of Alienist as it appears at the opening of each episode “In the 19th century, persons suffering from mental illness were thought to be alienated from their own true natures. Experts who studied them were therefore known as alienists.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Every Pigeon September 2019

Ash is purest white 2019

An intimate epic made by the highly regarded Chinese director Jia Zhangke and as highly regarded as he is, this was the first film by him that I’ve seen. Set in China at the beginning of the 21st century it’s the story of an attractive young low on the scale gangster and his equally attractive moll like girlfriend. Their small empire consists mainly of mahjong parlors and cheap discos where the patrons dance to The Village People. There are conflicts among the various gangs, nothing unusual about that and one night during an exciting kinetic and exuberant car ride the couple played by Zhao Tao (who is married to Zangke)  and Liao Fan are set upon by a bicycle riding gang of teen thugs.  Liao is pulled from the car and badly beaten and Zhao grabs  a gun that was left in the car by Liao  and sets off some shots stopping the carnage but not killing anyone. Refusing to give up Liao as the owner of the gun she is sent up the river for five years while Liao only gets one year. In a few brief scenes we see her prison routine and on her release she sets out on a long journey to find Liao and instead finds a China quickly changing just as she has changed. This might remind some of those many women melodramas of the 30’s & 40’s that starred Barbara Stanwyck or Joan Crawford as a strong female on her own and doing damn well at it. Things are rough for Zhao, she is robbed, has no money is confused and lost by all the changes that took place while she was locked up, but she is smart at her own cons and these scenes of her doing the grift are terrific and fun. At the same time she continues on her journey to find Liao and things don’t go so smoothly and in the last half of this long leisurely beautifully photographed movie Zhao and Liao finally meet up but life and their relationship is not the same, nor will it ever be. Both actors are wonderful with Zhao giving an especially compelling and superb performance and is in it seems every scene of the movie. No doubt a film not for everyone, it is as I said long and leisurely paced, but each scene has surprises and Liao Fan is very easy on the eyes, and Zhao Tao is remarkable.  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Phyllis Newman 1933-2019

Saturday, September 14, 2019

small sketchbooks pieces september 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Oddball Magazine sept. 2019

Robert Frank 1924-2019

The great Robert Frank has passed. I have always loved his photographs and can look at them all day. I am sad. I met him once very briefly years ago and was struck by how shy he was.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Carol Lynley 1942-2019

Oddball September 2019

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