Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ye Old-Timey Cinema



I've been watching a truck load of black and white flicks via YouTube. He Walked by Night is full of yummy camera work by John Alton.  After a beloved officer is shot on the way home from work, the Los Angeles county police department put out a dragnet (yep) to catch the killer. The thing I really like about these old timey cop films is they usually contain a lot of old school procedural police work. Some of the best cop shop scenes are of Jack Webb as a young gee-whiz cop forensic expert. The L.A. sewer system chase scenes near the end are beautifully shot.



No, I'm not a Jerry Lewis fan, but The Delicate Delinquent is worth a watch. Jerry Lewis is Sydney L. Pythias, a janitor who is mistaken for a gang member. A very young Darren McGavin, so young in fact you can see his freckles, plays Mike Damon, the cop who wants to give juvies a second chance like he had. Martha Hyer simmers as Ms. Henshaw who is oh-so-pretty, but oh-so-strict.

The bongo drum Blackboard Jungle opening is cool. Jerry keeps the wacko screwball stuff to a minimum with only brief outbursts of knuckle headedness. Mike Damon wears a pair of Jack LaLanne pants to dinner that seem to have no visible fly.  An honorable mentions goes to Robert Ivers as Monk. He was a like a slightly too thin, poor-man's James Dean.


Angela Landsbury is oh-so-hot in A Life at Stake.  You can see the water steaming around her in the pool scene! I must admit I had no idea Angela looked like this in her heyday. Her "hunk" co-star Keith Andes must've gone to the Cigar Store Indian School of Method Acting. No wonder she's drinking in so many scenes. I bet she was thinking - "Get this dead fish in a suit out of here!"  While no one is going to mistake this film for a theatrical masterpiece, it's certainly a time capsule flash back of 1954 L.A.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP Mr. Jones


Oddly enough, I woke this morning to the beginning strains of "Life on Mars?", my 4:00 AM iPhone alarm song,I  and I lay in bed for a few minutes thinking about about how long I'd been a Bowie fan. As a bit of an outcast (under statement) in a small midwest town, I loved David Bowie. He was this beautiful, slinky, intergalactic pirate, whose songs were about such otherworldly, wonderful subjects. 


It was such a gift to watch the 1980 Floor Show on The Midnight Special. I could not believe I would actually be able to see an entire show dedicated to Bowie and his band. Oh my godz! My young mind was blown. The show was perfect, smart, and oh so cool. The "I Got You Babe" duet with Marianne Faithful, who dressed like a nun and was so obviously high, was brilliant. 



I caused quite a sensation in grade school when I wore a red dog collar to school. Diamond Dogs had just come out and was ready to show my support. People freaked out. My step mother and dad were so angry at me - it made absolutely no sense to them. They would retell the story, as if I'd woken up and decided to wear the dog's collar to school. In their defense, they were always looking for ways to solidify the fact that I had to be bonkers. They sadly missed the point. 

As an adult, I see that I was paying homage to probably the single most important cultural icon and artist of our time. It makes me smile that I was lucky enough to have at least caught a glimpse of the Thin White Duke in all his glory. 

The dog collar, btw, was purchased new; it was not borrowed from the dog. 


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Amelie



I am no doubt the next to the last person to see Amelie. There's got to be one more person

Like a lot of folks, I am a huge fan of Jean-Pierre Juenet, but I sort of figured I wouldn't care for this film. Yep. I've watched the beginning a couple of times but never even made it half way through. 
Thanks to Netflix I can watch when the mood strikes,  so I decided to give it a go earlier in the week. People love this film - WATCH IT TO SEE WHY!

Yes, the story is cute, but oh my, that color palette - red, green and the occasional pop of blue. I was pausing just to soak in the colors - godz, look at all this green - and to drool over the crazy details in each set. 

Of the complementary pairs, red and green is really hard to get right. Primary green and red show up in traditional Mexican folks art and of course, Christmas. That's part of the battle - using these two colors together can get you pigeon holed. As odd as it sounds, this color palette is never "obvious" in the film. I am not sure how this is possible.

Amelie's apartment is full of gorgeous reds. Basically, everything is red, save the lamps which were apparently added post production. 


I would never have thought blue would work like this, but it does, or does it?


However, I can count the scenes with pops of blue on one hand.


Who doesn't want to hang out in the Two Windmills cafe?  All the tinkling thick glasses, diffused lightning, and people watching possibilities - *sigh*. Apparently Jean-Pierre bugged the owner for almost a year before being allowed to film in the actual cafe near where he lives. The place was ready to close its doors and now it's quite the tourist destination


For me, the message was - there are interesting people all around you - just open your eyes - get to know them. Mr. Dufayel and Lucien are prime examples of folks who were pushed to side but have much to offer.

It could've been the case that Nino was some sort of perv and it was all for naught. Who hasn't thought someone would be interesting only to find out they were a dud? I've been on the dud-end of that.

Andy Warhol said:

“Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”

Is it my favorite Jean-Pierre movie? No. For now, my fav is The City of Lost Children, however, I have been chomping at the bit to watch The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet and it looks quite promising.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Lunch Room Lady


Janet Goss was a real life lunch room lady - she was my lunch room in grade school. She was always the one who spoke to us  When someone says "lunch room lady" I always picture Janet. I don't mean that in a cruel way, I mean that in a good way. I always remember her big laugh and she seemed to be joking with her co-workers too. I think Janet would've been fun to work with and I saw her several times hand out extra bread and butter sandwiches to some of the really hungry kids. As an adult, I realize that's two good trait to have; a sense of humor and a willingness to right a wrong. 



Monday, September 29, 2014

Susan Hodgin


What a tragic loss.  Susan Hodgin passed away on August 22 2014 at the young age of 36 after a long battle with colon cancer. She was hands down the best instructor I ever had at Indiana Art Center. Her paintings were so large and layered; they literally loomed. This very tiny gal created enormous works of abstract art.


She was also one one the most humble persons I'd ever met. She had half the front gallery at IAC filled with her paintings during one class session and she never even mentioned it. 


Via the ever helpful internets, I was able to find a couple of interesting articles about her. One old friend posted this story about a younger Susan and Mother Artist Project did a feature on Susan. The pics in the last article capture the Susan I remember; those enormous colorful paintings and and those oh so sensible boots. 

Update: Last Friday at Harrison Art Center featured Susan's paintings in the Underground Gallery. Her style had clearly changed considerably. The canvases were smaller and the colors are a bit more muted, but they still possess that incredible sense of depth and power. 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and Jay Adams


I never really ever got to see a full episode of Mork and Mindy. I had graduated from high school in the middle of its run and spent my time working during the day at a crap job and hanging out with friends at night; we didn't sit around and watch the telly. I caught a glimpse or two of the series at other folk's houses. I remember thinking Robin looked cute in his rainbow suspenders. Oddly enough, Robin evolved into more of an actor rather than a comedian.

I decided it was high time to re-watch The Fisher King again. I was afraid the experience would end uplike most of the formerly "edgy for their time" moves I've re-watched; I'd be disappointed and I'd see right through all the trickery that once dazzled me. Oh, was I wrong. It was like watching The Fisher King for the first time and…. oh……the transformation of Manhattan into a Medieval-esc village just makes my heart sing. The Chinese restaurant date scene is just so beautiful. The entire cast is spot on. Every scene had me looking around at objects and dust and oh man - the attention to detail in the matters is oh so Terry G. Don't even think about getting me started talking about the Red Knight. *swoon* I've added The Fisher King to my very short list of movies I could watch over and over again.


I cannot imagine what Bogart thought when he met Bacall for the first time. She is just so pretty, even by today's standards. She is simply stunning. I can't imagine what Bacall must've thought when she met Bogart for the first time. Interestingly enough, he was married at the time, but has I always say - you can't fight pheromones. He must've been one heck of a character to be around. She do doubt could've had her pick of the Hollywood Hunk litter, but chose Bogey instead.

Her acting style, what few films I've seen her in, seems to be playing these beautiful yet cold characters. Her characters are somewhat aloof, which I guess makes for a much more interesting character profile when you look like that and yet seem so detached. Dang!


I remember seeing skateboard magazines in the local drug stores when I was a kid. These California tan kids with summer sun highlights in their hair graced the pages of these rags. They looked like some sort of alien life form from some endless summer beach town planet. They even made tube socks look cool.  C. R. Stecyk III's stunning photography perfectly captured the poetry in motion. This link is a wee bit macho, but it has great pics of Jay

Lords of Dogtown also makes the short list of movies I can watch again and again. I cannot get enough of that 70's stuff.

Jay Adams didn't grab the corporate sponsor coat tails like the rest of the Z-boys even though he was arguably one of the best skaters. RIP Jay.