Thursday, May 06, 2021

Karl Wirsum 1939-2021

I'm getting sick and tired of marvelous artists passing while that bloated pile of orange shit still walks this earth



The Great Lie 1941

 


Mary Astor was having a great time in 1941 especially given the fact that she survived one of the biggest scandals in the history of scandals. Her 1936 court battle to gain custody of her young daughter from her philandering husband brought out the news that our Mary kept a diary of all her love affairs, the most famous being her trysts with the playwright George S. Kaufman. Labeled the “purple” diaries because of the ink she used by the press and public alike the ink was actually brown but looked purple to the press.  Noted and filed away.

She survived and went on to do wonderful movies including “The Maltese Falcon” in 1941 in which she played the tear stained bad girl Brigid O’ Shaughnesy. Even the name reeks of purple ink and hot house love affairs. But Mary didn’t win her Oscar that year for Falcon which she thought she should have. Instead she walked off with her plaque (in the early years Hollywood gave the supporting actors and actresses tacky plaques instead of those glorious statues. Instead she won for “The Great Lie” which I wallowed in the other week. The Warner Bros film was directed  by Edmund Goulding who gives the goods not only to Mary but also to Bette Davis who slinks and stomps through the film giving a good sympathetic turn. Her stiff upper lip nearly touches the tip of her nose. Mary meanwhile is a bitch maybe the bitch to end all bitches. Based on some woman’s novel by a now forgotten author the plot almost defies explanation but I’ll give it a go. So. Mary plays a glamorous head strong nasty but popular classical pianist who enjoys fame and fortune in a sleek Manhattan all black and white and shinny.

When the film opens she has just married the love of Bette’s life George Brent (give me a break). Bette still pines for George who is some sort of an aviator and actually lands his plane on Bette’s property in Maryland where she lives alone on her family estate. Well Bette of course hates Mary and they have a few nice and nasty scenes early on. Meanwhile it turns out that Mary’s divorce from her first hubby was not finalized so Mary and George are not legally married and George and Betty jump for joy and tie the knot themselves. Oh shit it turns out that Mary is Pregnant (they actually say the word)  and George has gone off on some war- time expedition for Uncle Sam and has crash landed in some jungle in South America and is assumed dead.

Bette is distraught but Mary is fine and is off on her concert tours. Betty suggests to Mary in one of the most outrageous plot devices I think I have ever seen in a film that she take Mary’s baby and claim it as her own so she will have something to remember of George. What follows is a great sequence in a cabin in Arizona where Bette plays Midwife to Mary and rules her life with an iron glove. No ham sandwiches for you Mary, and Bette hounds her night and day about her smoking and gives her a hard smack across her face that nearly knocks her out. These scenes are simply hysterical and high pitched and no doubt got Mary her Oscar plaque. They both chew everything is sight including the ham sandwich without pickles though.

Much more plot follows but I won’t give more away here. The cast also includes the regal and wonderful Lucille Watson as Bette’s aunt, and The great Hattie McDaniel who 2 years after winning her own Oscar plaque for Gone With The Wind is still playing a servant (I would rather play a maid then be one, she is suppose to have quipped).   Hattie is of course great and gives the role depth and feeling, and the film treats her and the other African American characters with respect and admiration something very rare in Hollywood at the time. Edmund Goulding directed some classics of Hollywood including Grand Hotel, Dark Victory and The Razor’s Edge and worked right up to the late 50’s but was shadowed and tainted by his secret life of orgies and his bi-sexuality, which was mainly made up of men. He was also taunted for being a “women’s director” which was used as a put down for gay directors including George Cukor and Mitchell Leisen.          

Monday, May 03, 2021

Jacques d' Amboise 1934-2021


 

Mary Beth Edelson, 1933-2021



 

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Olympia Dukakis 1931-2012

 The Great Olympia Dukakis has passed







Thursday, April 29, 2021

Bob Witz 1934-2021


Sorry to learn of Bob's passing. I met him in the early 70's when we lived around the corner from each other in Chelsea. We hung out with mutual friends now and again, and we traded art, this is the piece that I've had since the 70's. The paper is crumbling and I had it hanging for years but finally took it down. He was a real outsider, a legend in the art world. He was gentle, smart and a loner. He painted my loft when i got some money from an nea grant and like so many I lost touch with him. I would run into him now and again at the library on 23rd st but as I said we lost touch. Sad.

Better Things 2016-2021

 



It doesn’t get any better than this and just in time for Mother’s Day. . One of the best takes on a “modern woman” I've seen. I suppose I should say modern women, but I'm really focusing on the lead, the head of the family and the pusher and force behind this very good series. The show is about a single mom living in a nice house with her three spoiled daughters who really know how to push the buttons on my wanting to scream at them machine. Across the street lives her taxing and outrageous expatriate British mom played to perfection by Celia Imrie who also knows how to push buttons. Sam is an actress struggling in her vocation at age 50. Living in L.A. and  trying to get it on with her life and her work. The character Sam played by the wonderful Pamela Adlon (she also writes and directs most of the episodes) is up against it most of the time and there is truth and laughs splattered all over the place.  She tries her best to give her girls a good home, and to make a place for herself  in the dog eat dog world of Hollywood. There are men around but they are mainly just around, an ex husband, a difficult brother, a dead father who sometimes appears, a best gay friend and various other men who are sometimes boyfriends, lovers and just friends of hers. But this is about women and how they react to and with each other and to the world around them. Sometimes it’s the narrow world of Show Biz and sometimes it’s the larger petty but difficult world that intrudes on all of us. I especially like the scenes where Sam interacts with her women friends including the wonderful Alysia Reiner who comes and goes in the 3 seasons, and her dealings with the big shots who control Hollywood and her career. Let’s just say she takes no prisoners. Aldon who originally is from New York, brings my city’s tough as nails veneer to her role as a Los Angeles mom, it’s in her accent and her way of dealing with people and events. The light may be California but the Sam shadows are New York City. Her three daughters are grandly unlikable, with the exception of the youngest one played by Olivia Edward, but I took an interest in the middle one played by Hannah Alligood who is leaning Lesbian and is prickly and difficult most of the time. The oldest one acted with real annoyance for me is Mikey Madison spoiled to the very rim of the cup. Originally the show was co-written by Louis C.K. who was fired when accused of sexual harassment and transgressions.  

 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

William T. Wiley 1937-2021

 Terrible News. 



Albatross

 Just got the latest issue of Albatross in the mail with an etching of mine on the cover.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

April 2021. Mixed on paper


 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Monte Hellman 1929-2021


 

Postcards April 2021 mixed



 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Walter Mondale 1928-2021

 "Fritz and Grits"


Postcards April 2021 Mixed



 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sound of Metal 2020


Another good strong film that I caught the other day on the Moma virtual streaming site. A gift to members for sure. It's an old fashioned movie about trials, tribulations and overcoming them. This time its about a hard rock musician who is going deaf. No reasons are given, and very little is thrown at us about his background or his partner and girlfriend in the rock band they are in, except they are both recovering addicts. The musician is beautifully played by Riz Ahmed who I know from his strong Emmy winning performance in "The Night Of" from a few years back, and he doesn't disappoint here. He's on edge, a live wire and the film is about his journey here and there to deal with his encroaching deafness. Its a nervous movie, sad and it kept me on edge for its entire short running time. Ahmed is nominated for an Oscar as is the surprise supporting peformance by the unknown Paul Raci who plays the director of a program for deaf people young and old who he believes should come to gripes with their deafness as he has and not try to recover their hearing through medical treatments and expensive surgery. That is the main conflict between him and Ahmed. Playing his love interest is the very good Olivia Cooke and in a brief role as her father is the always welcomed Mathieu Amalric. This is not a big or earth shattering film, but a quiet one in keeping with its subject. I think you will like it.
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Friday, April 16, 2021

Helen McCrory 1968-2021

 The fine British actress and a favorite of mine Helen McCrory has passed at the heartbreaking age of 52. She was memorable in Peaky Blinders.



One of the great


One of the great benefits of having an artist membership at Moma is having access to their streaming movies program and I have been taking advantage of this. I usually prefer seeing movies (a very limited number) on a big screen, but only at a few chosen theatres. I will not see anything at one of the cinemplex's after one two many bad experiences. My second choice is on my 40" tv screen which has been my way to see movies for the past few years, and more so in this pandemic year. My last choice is the computer, but have watched quite a few youtube movies this way. Scratchy bad prints lousy sound, but I love low budget b's. So I was quite excited to see that moma was screening 3 choice Oscar nominated movies and I jumped at the chance to see Nomadland. It worked quite well on my smaller screen, even though its full of lush and gorgeous landscapes, its basically a small scale intimate character study of a tough, sensitive woman on her own in a vast country, trying to find her way, make a living and get on with her life after drastic changes to her life. The lead is beautifully acted (why would I be surprised) by the great national treasure Frances McDormand and is my choice for the Oscar. Granted I adore her, she might be my favorite contemporary actress, but a third Oscar? The film was written, edited and directed by Chloe Zhao who will win for sure a few Oscars in a week or so, and I am fine with that. Besides this wonderful film she made my favorite film from a few years back "The Rider". See this film.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Apropos


 Finished reading the new Woody Allen autobio "Apropos Of Nothing. I came away from it with the same opinions I've always felt about him, and have never been convinced that he molested his young daughter. The proof is just not there, and he was found not guilty in a court of law. I know some don't buy his innocence but I am convinced this story was concocted by the troubled Mia Farrow. I don't want to get into it here, no doubt the Soon-Yi thing will be thrown into my face, as if his relationship with a much younger woman is proof of pedophilia, never mind they have been married for 22 years. What really made me question all of this was for a while Ms. Farrow was a facebook friend until she made a terrible anti-semitic joke and I called her out on it and unfriended her. This incident colored my feelings for her.

The Serpent 2021


 Definitely not for the faint of heart. This is an 8 part series now on Netflix that is based on the true story of a human monster Charles Sobhraj who for years robbed and murdered young travelers in Asia, with the help of his girlfriend. This is a very minimal note on the plot. Set in the early 70's with twisty back and forths time lines I was very stressed out by the film. Very well done with great period touches especially in the clothes and the small details along with two standout performances by Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman. Most of the violence is not shown but its still not an easy watch so be warned. Was it good? Hell yes.

Shameless

 Reading the New York Times today I saw that there was a season 11 coming of "Shameless". I watched all 10 years of the series on Netflix and thought 10 was the end of the series. I loved this show pretty much very minute of it even though the family Gallagher left much to be desired. That said I was hooked from the get go and think its one of the best series I've seen. Not much love was spread over it, by the critics and the award givers no doubt it was too rough and raw for them, I mean basically this is a family of grifters, thieves, drug addicts, and liars. So what's not to love? The cast was and the family was headed by William H. Macy a deadbeat, drug addled lying con artist and he was superb. Not likable, no way. The family was really headed by the eldest child the daughter Fiona played by the wonderful and beautiful Emmy Rossum. The series included sensitive and sometimes not so sensitive takes on gay rights, gentrification, racial injustice, lack of access to good education, sexual mistreatment, poverty and on and on. Also a lot of male nudity. The cast was wonderful including all those guest appearances by Joan Cussack, Chloe Webb, Louise Fletcher, Regina King and many others. The language was raw and sometimes what I was watching was downright disgusting but I laughed a lot.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Oddball Magazine. April 2021

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Promising Young Woman 2020



I will be very surprised indeed if Carey Mulligan wins an Oscar for this disturbing thriller romantic revenge pop paint box colored movie. I just don't see it happening. Also its not very good, going this way and that and finally landing in sad sad land with an unconvincing ending that is what suppose to make us feel good, or better than we felt through the whole thing? I didn't hate it, I watched it, but its so nasty and grim and far fetched that I winched through most of it. The violence is never shown, which is to its credit I suppose, and Mulligan's accent was strong and convincing, she is a good actress, but this one is not going to get her the golden man, it's just so unpleasant. The supporting cast was fine and the bright colors and high style art direction and costumes (clothes) were nice. An improbable B looking to be an A.

April 2021. Mixed on paper


 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Last work of March 2021. Mixed on paper


 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Late March. Mixed on paper March 2021


 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Larry McMurtry 1936-2021


 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Jessica Walter 1941-2021



 

Paul Foster Playwright 1931-2021


 

Bertrand Tavernier 1941-2021


 

Beliveau Review Summer 2021

 Beliveau Review has just posted some of my art and photographs. They are on pages 50-54. You can view the issue at this link.

https://2e8a8d6d-e97c-4235-92c8-7aa31bae0d77.filesusr.com/ugd/830f0d_20941a7b958c4795a89bf726b1a967e6.pdf






Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Two late 40's comedy gems

 




A Foreign Affair 1948

Billy Wilder’s acid take on post war Berlin. He actually went there to film many of the exterior scenes of the destruction of the once beautiful city, and its shocking to see. He would return once again in 1961 to film One, Two, Three. This  story is about corruption and deceit among the American troops stationed there and a particular relationship between an army captain played by John Lund and a former Nazi who now sings for her suppers in a hole of a nightclub played by Marlene Dietrich. It’s a comedy. Into their tattered paradise comes a congressional committee to investigate the morals and corruption of the American victors and the havoc that is raging within their ranks. All the members of the committee are old men with the exception of one woman, congress person from Iowa who is uptight and tightly wrapped and aptly named Phobe Frost and she is played by the great Jean Arthur. As the movie moves on she becomes less uptight as she is courted by Lund in order to hide his misdeeds and dalliances with Dietrich. He plays her. Wilder with his co writers bring their acerbic wit to the proceedings with their usual flair and sophistication and generally hit their marks.  Dietrich looks swell in her black market gowns and sings three songs all written by Friedrich Hollaender who actually plays the piano for her in the dank club. There are some great lines: Dietrich to Arthur “I only live three ruins away” along with some hit them over the head political flag waving, that’s to be expected after all the war was only over for a few years. The film is a little dated and sometimes the situations wind up flat but it still has a nice poisonous punch in the punch. Nominated for best screenplay Oscar.

 

Adam’s Rib 1949

Released right on the cusp of the new year, this George Cukor biting comedy about marriage starred the team of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. They play a couple caught up in the tabloid spectacle of a jilted and cheated on wife who shoots up her husband and his girlfriend and is brought to trial by the assistant D.A. played by Tracy and is defended by his wife played by Hepburn who is a lawyer. The film featured a great supporting cast including Judy Holiday as the wife, Tom Ewell as the cheating hubby and Jean Hagen as the smart ass girlfriend. All three are top notch and really shine  bringing lots of laughs and smiles. Holiday who was just about to break through to stardom and an Oscar by repeating her role in “Born Yesterday” is treated with great care by the screenplay which was written by a real life married couple Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, and is shown to best advantage by Cukor and Hepburn. Hepburn made sure that Holiday got the best camera set up in their initial meeting in the jail house because Holiday was being put down by Harry Cohen who didn’t want her to repeat her role in the movie version of  Born Yesterday. So in the scene Hepburn is in profile while Holiday is shown to best advantage in full close up. Also in the cast is the next door neighbor who is a successful composer played by David Wayne and it is not always easy to read him. I assume he was a stand in for Cole Porter who wrote the sweet song “Farewell Amanda” for the film and I also assume that he is gay, even though the screenplay muddies the waters as he is constantly coming on to Hepburn to the annoyance of Tracy who makes biting remarks about his masculinity. Much is hidden (closeted)  between the lines here especially what we now know about some of the players and the creative team. It was however a forward looking piece on marriage and justice equality and feminism which was not a common topic for movies back in the 40’s, so applause for everyone involved. Cukor did some on location filming in a now vanished New York, and I had trouble trying to figure out the locations used. Also in the cast is the great Hope Emerson as a former acrobat who in a courtroom scene proves her strength as a woman by lifting Spencer Tracy in the air. You can make out the wires holding him up because of the finely restored transfer. Nominated for 1950 screenplay Oscar.         

 

George Segal 1934-2021


 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monsoon 2019

 Now streaming on Netflix is this low key intimate film about a young British gay man who fled Vietnam as an infant with his family to live in England and now returns years later to return his parents ashes to their ancestral home. The lead is play by the handsome charismatic young actor Henry Golding who made a splash in "Crazy Rich Asians" and is quiet and wonderful here. He meets up with an African American who now lives in Vietnam and they begin a casual up and down affair which is very realistic and rich with feeling. Nothing much happens, he reunites with family friends and travels about the country sometimes picking up casual one night stands, and starts a friendship with a young female tourist guide. The film is beautiful to look at, rich in vibrant colors and lots of atmosphere and movement showing us the country that we nearly destroyed. Directed by Hong Khaou. See this one.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Oddball Magazine. Today March 17th.

Moma in our plague year

 I went to the Moma yesterday for the first time in over a year. It was also over a year that I was in midtown and anyone who thinks we are on the road to normal should take a subway ride up there. The streets that were once crowded and bustling with people were now mainly deserted. Empty and dismal. I thought I would cry. The cold and grey weather didn’t help matters, everything looked dull and sharp at the same time. I actually stood in the center of 6th ave with no traffic coming at me. The long and dull subway ride from Brooklyn was also pretty much devoid of people, but clean. We look like aliens from somewhere strange in our masks starring into space. The Moma itself was also empty which I guess was a blessing in a way since I had most of the galleries to myself at times. It was also quiet, the din of the crowds gone, but now replaced with talkative loud guards who acted like they were in their living rooms and some who played with their phones. The emptiness also made me more aware of just how ugly this place really is with badly designed spaces that are unwelcoming huge and dismal. I saw the small Calder show, and a pleasant but unsurprising show of drawings from their collection with the usual suspects but an unknown artist hanging here and there. The big show is the early 20th century exhibition of Russian and European graphic design including great posters, flyers, propaganda, books, advertising and some paintings by many of my favorite artists of that period. The title like much of the Moma is longwinded and pompous “Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented. I failed to take in their permanent collections because I was getting tired and had a long boring subway ride back home.     









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