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 every 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.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Introducing himself in voice over narration, Roger Brown (Anskel Hennie) is a very smug CEO-level recruiter (headhunter). He has a very beautiful Nordic trophy wife Diana (Synnove Macody Lund), a mistress on the side, and a modernistic jaw dropping house. In order to finance this extravagant life style, Roger is a part-time art thief. Everything changes when Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) shows up at Diana's art gallery opening and Roger decides Clas would be perfect for a job opening he's been trying to fill. Things go horribly awry in fairly short order. Roger goes from smug shithead to scared shitless in about sixty seconds.

Headhunters is a clever Norwegian comedic thriller based on Jo Nesbo's best-selling novel.  My eyes were all over place trying to pick out the artifacts that make up life in Norway and I just couldn't get enough of local fauna. However, don't pick at the plot details. It's not a movie that takes itself seriously - relax. This film careens along and I must say, everything I thought I had figured out turned out to be wrong.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ode to James Garner (and the 70's)

RIP James G. My version of James was  Jim Rockford; Jim drove a bitchin' gold Pontiac Firebird and he tried to make a buck as a PI. Admittedly, The Rockford Files was pretty good TV for the 70's.

The phone messages at the beginning of every episode were a hoot. Nice touch.

I watched the first episode - The Kirkoff Case today. It was chic-a-block full of all the goodness of the the 70's had to offer. Seriously, in one single episode you get to see a grumpy doberman pincher, a old time photography dark room, a swinging tennis club, a dude in a cowboy hat, a cop or two with serious pattern baldness, and a kick ass car chase scene on a golf course.

I'm probably going to watch a few more episodes. Thank you, James!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Ida is a stunning film by Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski. A week before she is to take her vows to become a nun, Ana is told that she must meet with her only surviving relative, aunt Wanda, a woman she has never met. Reluctantly, Ana agrees, only to be told by Wanda that Ana is actually an orphan named Ida and her parents were killed in WW II.

Ida/Ana and Wanda set out to find the actual location where her parents are buried. Both of them reveal a bit about themselves as the journey progresses. It's 1962 and this film looks as if it was actually filmed in a Polish village in 1962.

The cinematography is breath taking. Filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio this movie looks more like photographs from a bygone era than a film. 

I am so delighted that in an age of endless super hero movies there are people out there crafting worthy cinema.

Friday, July 11, 2014


The film follows Doc Paskowitz as he dragged his 9 children and wife around the world in a non-stop surf's up pursuit of being a better man/surfer. In 1956 he gave up a very lucrative medical practice in Hawaii, money is the root of all evil by the way, to enjoy surfing day in, day out with his wife and soon to be 9 children.

They get about in a series of beat camper vans, the kids aren't allowed to attend normal school, and mom must breast feed each child a minimum of two years. The documentary also shows how adult kids struggle today to deal with the after math of such a stringently healthy-eating (daily morning gruel) and nomadic lifestyle.

This is a fascinating film to watch. There is a lot of stock footage from the family's 70's early travels. It's  not quite as simple as one man's ego trumps everyone else's needs - which of course is part of the problem. It's a very frank film. The kids talk about holding their ears when they heard their parents having sex every night. This is a reality checker for me. Doc says he wants to be a better man/father, but at the end of the day, he'd rather surf and shag - family be damned.

The Snowtown Murders

The Snowtown Murders is one of those rare three-headed baby movies: I know I shouldn't stare, but I can't take my eye off it. Masterfully directed by Justin Kurzel. Almost everyone in this film is a first timer including director Justin Kurzel, except for Daniel Henshall as the charismatic John Bunting.  This movie makes No Country for Old Men look like an episode of The Monkees.

The phrase "the banality of evil" is quite appropriate here. Single mom Lizzie lives in a bleak, forgotten suburb with four teenage boys. She's just dumped a not-so-great man friend and the mind numbingly boring days stretch on. Enter John Bunting. The food gets better; bacon and even snow peas are common place. Oddly enough, John seems to always have a hearty appetite.  Birthday parties at the skating rink, ice cream and a macabre bag of tricks.  Ariel Castro showed us that a seemingly normal guy can live a disturbing and sinister other life right under everyone's nose.

Do not be mistaken; this is a disturbing film to watch.  There aren't a lot of difficult scenes, but the  unspeakable events in those scenes, and trust me, I couldn't watch the entire scene in some cases. This isn't gratuitous violence either. I think the world needs to see John Bunting's violence for what is was. He didn't act alone. I think this is the most disturbing thing for me - he managed to not only get 2 other blokes in the 'hood to help out, but also managed to get 16 year old Jamie Vlassaski to join in on the torture and killing of fiends and relatives.

The sound track is disturbing in its own right; a staccato track of scratches and scrapes that mimic the victim's time in the tub. Justin Kurzel gets the details right - junk cars with ripped seats, outdoor ash trays sitting in the rain, and cheap, thin torn wall paper.

Watch…because you must.