Tuesday, March 31, 2009

who knew?

today i was out driving and listening to a radio interview. the great guitarist steve cropper was telling interesting stories about working with elvis.
seems like one of elvis' main kicks was to have all his friends assemble at graceland and then race each other to the local cinema, privately booked by elvis. once settled into their seats they'd watch whatever elvis enjoyed. some screenings only lasted fifteen minutes and then another film was given a chance.
considering this was a long time tradition, i imagine elvis saw many movies. cropper said there was one film the king liked best of all, 'one eyed jacks.' a great choice! cropper said that elvis would run it up to six times in a row.
needless to add, i will surely have that be my return post when my computer comes home.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

art/music imitates film

aside from the band 'television', and the novelist vladimir nabokov, the band 'slow children' adored filmmaker jean cocteau. in their first video, circa 1980, they did everything they could to capture cocteau's first film, 'blood of a poet.'

singer: pal shazar
partner: andrew chinich band: jules shear, stephen hague, and david beebe of jules and the polar bears

Thursday, March 26, 2009

peter lorre 1904-1964

born laszlo (i love that name)
he used to terrify me as a kid. now i adore him.

magnificent meg tilly

ballerina, actress, and now novelist

by way of illustration

the power of acting

based on a play, the film 'agnes of god' stars three amazing actresses: anne bancroft, jane fonda, and meg tilly. it is incredible to watch them untying the knots of this story of life, death, and the pursuit of truth.
all three characters have a mission while trying to protect a personal agenda. anne and jane are as good as always, but meg tilly is just amazing to watch. her role is so complex and her ability to let you peek into the fragile web that encases her soul is stunning. 
the film is difficult and enlightening. a valuable combination.

director as a young man

nic roeg was born in 1928. some say his work is a bit incoherent. this man makes perfect sense to me. 

mother's milk

this is the one that the guy ritchie's of the world were fed. it is pure undiluted british hipster underworld heaven.
mick plays mick. anita plays anita. james fox plays so far from type that you feel happy for everyone on the set that a 'real' actor was involved. i salute him for making the choice to play 'chaz', the quintessential bad lad. 
i actually saw this film with my mom. she explained that anita was what one would call 'sexy.' indeed.
ry cooder played perfect music to accompany donald cammell and nic roeg's descent into chic decadence. from the rock star to the little girl, everyone shines very bright in this 1970 milestone. 

beauty in the eye of the lens: diane keaton

an actress who truly gets on your nerves. i mean that as a deep compliment. she is one artistic human being, on and off screen.

playwright edward albee

albee in 1962, the year 'who's afraid of virginia woolf' opened on broadway. the film version came out in 1966.

art imitates film: the ballad of george and martha

i feel pretty sure that kurt cobain learned how to rock a cardigan from richard burton's 'george.'

oil painting by pal shazar

you will not be prepared

a theatre critic wrote: 'if you've never seen 'who's afraid of virginia woolf', don't talk to me for we have nothing in common.' that is pretty funny yet pretty true. it has been said that god does not give us what we cannot handle. this film comes very close to questioning those words.
i first saw this mind blower by chance on t.v. in england. i think i just shook my bewildered head the whole time. i was thinking, can this be happening? how do people become this? 
elizabeth more than deserved her oscar, even if she was like this in real life. richard burton, true gentleman, explained why he did not receive one. sandy dennis and george segal play the two young guests who have been invited back to 'george' and 'martha's' after party. when the film begins, everyone has already had so much to drink that when they immediately start pouring more you can't believe it. the fun/truth begins. 
it is one of the most brilliant movies ever made. it was the debut as film director for mike nichols. every moment will leave an imprint on your mind and afterwards, when someone new tells you they love this movie, you'll feel as if you'll be friends for life.

mick as the man

i grew up on the stones. mick is still one of my favorite singers. no one delivers un homme amoureux quite like him.
the film 'the man from elysian fields' sort of snuck in under the radar. the entire cast, including andy garcia and anjelica huston (gosh, imagine her experiences: daughter of director john huston, swinging sixties, girlfriend of nicholson) is super. actor james coburn is and has always been an amazing and lovable monster. one true surprise is our mr. jagger.
mick plays a man who runs a male escort service. he wants to give that life up and settle with his love, played by anjelica. she actually laughs in his face. it is a very sad moment that he handles very well. there's lots more to this story of a writer wishing to succeed for his family and opting for employment at the agency. it is a really good film.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

this ain't no disco

once in a while i love a film that i would not suggest others see. watching 'disco pigs' is not an easy experience.
even though the direction is artful and the story of two mixed up teens is a familiar subject, there is a very strong violent streak running through 'pig', played by cillian murphy, which is tolerated by his childhood sweetheart, 'runt', beautifully acted by elaine cassidy. as an actor, cillian can do no wrong in my eyes, but his willingness to appear in violent movies alienates me. this is one of those films where the overall artistic flavor tempers some scenes that would otherwise be too rough.
the child actors who portray 'pig' and 'runt' in flashback are absolutely precious and you lean on the memory of them during the teenage versions when the flip outs occur. the tender moments are brave and naked.
this film is not a happy experience but the acting is very beautiful.

vivien leigh 1913-1967

two time academy award winner and wife of lawrence olivier

by way of illustration: 'the spy who came in from the cold'

shelter from the storm

i don't know if i even knew who richard burton was when i bought the novel, 'the spy who came in from the cold' for my mom. it was a long time after that i saw the film.
richard burton has become my favorite actor. his voice is unbelievably beautiful, his presence is very imposing for a not so big man, and his performances are never anything but stellar. he absolutely astonishes me every time.
it is rare for someone who is a huge star to also have deep respect from their peers, especially when those peers are the giants of shakespearean theatre. but, burton had it all.
this spy story is a very quiet one. claire bloom's character works in a bookstore and lives in a humble dwelling. to watch these two actors come to love one another, despite her idealism and his history... well, i was very grateful for the intimacy considering the story is about espionage.

beauty in the eye of the lens: kim novak

by way of illustration

noir starring novak

before making history in alfred hitchcock's 'vertigo', kim novak made lots of cool movies. the very first time she was given a starring role was in 'pushover.' her leading man was fred macmurray. 
there is something 'casual' about kim. she is very beautiful but she communicates a sort of unlucky quality. it is a lovely sight to see her not 'use' her looks.
there is a purely voyeuristic theme to this story of cops keeping an eye on what's going on in her apartment. her morals are pretty base and in no time at all she takes good cop macmurray right down to her level.

the faster lane

both loretta young (top) and donna reed had interesting roles in plenty of great films before they solidified wholesome images in their respective t.v. series.

by way of illustration

heart of gold

shirley maclaine: a wonderful actress, capable of bringing tears to your eyes/writer of spiritual books/big sis of warren beatty.
the film 'some came running' is a tough little nut. frank sinatra plays a frustrated and likable vet returning to his home town with dreams of taking up where his writing left off. he meets a classy woman, a friendly gambler, and a sweetheart of a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. the trouble is her heart alone is way bigger than it's object of desire, sinatra. dean martin does his best to put her down in frank's eyes but it all leads up to one of the most touching proposals ever. it doesn't last. like i say, shirley can bring tears to your eyes.

beauty in the eye of the lens: warren beatty

this man does everything well. actor, director, writer, producer

have a little faith

after seducing most of the world, warren beatty seduced whoever was left with his film 'reds.' the most delightful man in the film business won an oscar for his direction. he must have been so happy about that. so happy that he eventually opted for 'town and country.' everyone and their cat gave it a thumbs down. however....
he put together diane keaton, goldie hown, nastassja kinski, and jenna elfman for this 2001 romp. obviously warren wanted to have some fun. sometimes it is a comfort to relax and just watch really good actors give their all for a movie that received barely an ounce of respect.
warren beatty's enthusiasm is a wonderful drug. so far, this is the last film he has acted in.

the grave of oscar wilde

pere lachaise cemetery, paris

great literature

by way of illustration

oscar's dorian

'the picture of dorian gray' is a sublime novel that has been filmed many a time. i have only seen two versions, the 1945 black and white, and the 1970 color. i suppose they are both honest interpretations but they are very different.
is anyone beautiful enough to play dorian, a man who would trade his soul to maintain his looks? i never really saw actor hurd hatfield in that light yet he was super in the earlier film. 
while in europe, i innocently went into a theatre to see the 1970 version. actor helmet berger is undeniably stunning but his director had done his best to turn the tame original film about a high class young man delving into a life of vice, into an erotic experience. i was not prepared.
neither beats the book as oscar wilde was a genius with words, but 1945's 'the picture of dorian gray' is excellently acted and a terror/joy.
photos: top/the painting of dorian gray
bottom/ one of dorian's victims

Monday, March 23, 2009

adrian 1903-1959

a well deserved second posting for costume designer adrian. alone and with garbo