You know how it gets in the depth of winter, you don’t see your neighbors for weeks at a time. Well we headed out for a walk the other day and ran into Jared who told us he was just inspecting the work RGE had done in front of Diane’s house. He said Diane had called him to find out if he knew what was going on out there. If I wanted to know what was going on I couldn’t think of a better call to place either. Jared thinks the power company may be preparing to replace the gas lines that run down our street. Or maybe the artists on staff there were charged with brightening up our dreary, grey landscape.
Our red envelope of the week contained “Finding Vivian Maier” and it is just fantastic. It is fantastic because Vivian’s photos are so incredible, in league with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus and Robert Frank but a true original. Working as a nanny and completely unknown as an artist in her lifetime, her treasure trove of negatives could be the greatest garage sale find in history. She was damaged in some way but had finely tuned observation skills. She followed her nose on the street and brought back an extraordinary record of of what it’s like to be human.
Diana Vreeland is a dynamo. I knew next to nothing about her other than her name and that Warhol probably did a portrait of her. Seems like she was always in Interview magazine but I just never caught up with her until this documentary, “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.” Vreeland was a first rate creative artist. OK, she wasn’t the best mother. The movie is exhilerating.
While I’m reading “Kansas City Lightning” Peggi finished “Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words” by Malka Marom and that led to another viewing of “Joni Mitchell – Woman of Heart and Mind: A Life Story” in which the author of the book makes an appearance. I was knocked out by “Ladies of the Canyon” and still love it to this day. “Circle Game” is one of the songs I’d put on a playlist for my funeral. And I enjoyed the way Joni scolded the audience here when she opened for Dylan in 1998. Performances like that stick with you.
It might be time for another screening of Altman’s “Three Women.”
Did the day really just zip by or did I miss something? I read the paper while Peggi was at yoga and we took a long walk around Lake Eastman when she came back. We stained the old door we bought at Rehouse. It is solid wood and maybe a hundred years old. It was labeled an exterior door but we cut it down and hung it in our bathroom. We’re waiting for some foggy glass to come from the glass guy.
We caught the early show of “Wild” on Louise‘s recomendation. It was kinda of hard to watch Reese Witherspoon in shorts and no hat as she walked through the California desert but by the halfway point I had suspended the whole reality thing and took in the beauty of life lived without regrets.
Karen Black is amazing. Her character, part man part woman, makes a dramatic, late entrance. Sandy Dennis is terrific. Kathy Bates is is sensational but Cher is way fantastic. Come Back to the Five and Dime may have gotten better with age, so many factors being relevant.
That led into another viewing of the “The Long Goodbye” with a nice “Extra” from Altman himself. We might just go around with another Altman fest, something we need to do every few years.
We caught a mini Norman McLaren fest a few nights ago at the Dryden. Early, animated shorts of McClaren wrestling with a chair to Ravi Shankar music and hand drawn film frames set to a beautiful Oscar Peterson soundtrack and his 1968 masterpiece, “Pas de deux.”
Margaret Explosion has a New Year’s Eve gig at the Little, a cause for celebration. I’m bringing our projector. Bob’s bringing a hard drive of movies. We will supply the soundtrack.
Even after reading this review in the New Yorker I still wanted to see “Whiplash” and what better opportunity than the $5 Monday Night Movies at the Little. I loved it. A bit aggressive but intense and pretty close to what I imagine music school to be like and more importantly the exploration of the drive aspect in art making was well worth the five bucks. And Sean behind the bar at the Little, an opera major at the Eastman, confirmed the picture.
“Birdman,” tonight’s feature presentation at the Little started off but really grabbed me about five minutes in, about the time Edward Norton took the stage. And it was really a stage. The movie is theatrical production of a play and that is where it worked magic. I loved watching the actors dig deep to make the fake real. Too bad they had to get goofy near the end with Michael Keaton flying in his underwear. The soundtrack was brilliant. Mostly drums played by Antonio Sanchez. He was just in town last week with Pat Methaney’s band.
Tomorrow, for the third night in a row, we make the same trip down Culver to the Little Theater Café for the record release party of the psychedelic jazz combo, Margaret Explosion.
Christ Church, next to RoCo in downtown Rochester, was packed last night a showing of “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,” a 1927 silent movie that is available on YouTube for free. Marc Hamilton was projecting the Criterion DVD of the movie on the big screen and the faculty of the Eastman School of Music were improvising a soundtrack on the two organs, the Baroque one in the balcony of the rear of the church and the Romantic one off to the left of the alter. They were joined by the Christ Church Schola Cantorum, a sacred music choral ensemble who were also improvising with guidelines provided by the director. This soundtrack was one step beyond pulling out all the stops as is fitting for this masterpiece of a movie.
I’ve seen the movie a few times and am looking forward to seeing it many more. I want to get back to drawing the faces from the movie.
Here is my blog post from April 2012, my first experience with this movie:
They really were better actors in the silent days. If you don’t believe me check out 1928 movie “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, “one of the greatest movies of all time” according to the Netflix envelope. The expressions on the actors faces are so over the top I kept wanting to pause the dvd and take a photo. Cindy Sherman could have shaped her whole career with this movie. No movie has ever effected me this way. I couldn’t wait to watch it again in the morning before the sun light steams into the room and wrecks the mood.
Joan is a heroine in France and a saint but in the fifteenth century her claims of divine guidance were met by the church hierarchy with a drawn out trial and death by burning at the stake. This movie portrays the leering old men of the cloth in devastating fashion as they challenge Joan on her manly dress and push for details on her vision of Saint Michael at one point asking “Was he naked?” They wish. And they couldn’t wait to pile into the torture room to exact a toll on nineteen year old Joan.
The poor church did not like the way they were portrayed and the movie was denounced, cut, and burned just like Joan was. So little has changed this movie could have been made today! Perfect fare for a Good Friday evening. I hesitate to mention that the entire movie is available on YouTube because you really should see the higher res Criterion Collection dvd.
We used to see movies all the time with our friends Kevin and Jeanne. Horror movies, anything, but then they moved to Nashville. When they visited last we loaded up our Netflix queue with their recent favs. Our list is now unrecognizable but “Valley of the Dolls” has been kicking around in there for a while. We watched it a few nights ago and I still have Dione Warwick’s theme song floating around in my head. I mentioned this to Peggi and she said she was unable to get Tony Scotti’s “Come Live With Me” dislodged.
Tony played Sharon Tate’s love interest, Tony Polar, in the 1967 film and delivered this over-the-top, beyond-the-grave version of the song. And then, near the end of the movie as I was somewhere between awake and a dream state, he reprises the the song in a duet with Patty Duke while he is in a wheelchair. I was imagining this bad movie as an updated, overblown opera. If you’re with me, check out Judy Garland’s screen tests for the movie. She got the part but was fired during filming for coming to work drunk and Susan Hayward replaced her.
This morning’s news that North American Box Office sales were way down was no surprise. The Little Theatre is always fun but we hadn’t been to a chain theater in ages. We did “Get On Up” last night for the James Brown movie in hopes that it would at the least be fun. The armed security guards were showing up for work as we walked toward the door, a reminder of the youth unrest that has plagued the sixteen screen Regal Theater at Culver Ridge.
James Brown’s music is so good, so powerful, so dynamic that Hollywood could only fuck it up. A better tribute to his musical contribution would be the re-release of his 1964 T.A.M.I Show. We saw him at Red Creek and the Auditorium Theater and we heard he was still sensational at the Jazz Fest before he died. This Mick Jagger financed biopic is not the bomb.
Let’s hope Martin Scorsese doesn’t blunt the Ramones with his 2016 biopic.
I loved Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” I think it is a masterpiece, an understated, big slice of life, some twelve years worth. Oddly, it didn’t feel like a movie. It was as comfortable as a daydream, the unconscious desire we all have to recapture the time when we weren’t trying to recapture anything. The long movie felt short and crystalized out of the blue with the closing line, “It’s like it’s always right now.”
Near the end of Mickalene Thomas’s short film, “Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman,” her mom, a former fashion model, tells Mickalene, “You have made me the model of the art world.”
The piece, mostly the artist interviewing her mom (her muse), packs a wallop. It is a loving tribute, a moving story with fame, abuse, drugs, forgiveness and then an illness that takes her mom’s life. You have until October 19 to see this show at the George Eastman House. And just look at the funky furniture you get to sit in while you take it all in.
We’ve been gearing up for the World Cup for four years now. Once the US gets knocked out of their really tough preliminary round we’ll be rooting (in America it means cheering, in Australia it means fucking) for Spain again and yesterday’s match, the Champion’s League Final, was the perfect opportunity to wear the national colors. For the first time ever the two finalists were from the same city, Madrid.
Why a big game like this, the culmination of inter league playoffs between all of Europe’s pro teams, the best players in the world, was so hard to find on tv in the US is a mystery to me. Last year 360 million watched the game. We emailed Matthew for help and he invited us over to their place to watch the game. He streamed a subscription feed from his laptop to the big screen. I’m afraid I wasn’t very sociable for 90 minutes and stoppage time, of course, where Real, clearly the better team here, tied the match in the final minutes and then those two grueling overtime periods where Real walked way with it. We were rooting for Ateletico but it is still a victory for Spain.
It took me a bit to get over to Elmwood Avenue on Saturday morning. I rounded up my NEC projector, cords, the instructions that Peggi printed out for me and I had a copy of my father’s presentation on my laptop, all this as a backup in case the people at Briarwood on Elmwood Avenue were unable to get my dad’s iPad to come up on their projector.
My mom was in the lobby with a cup of coffee when I arrived. She told me, “Your father is panicking.” The place was packed, maybe fifty people, some sitting in the doorway of the darkened meeting room. It was minutes before the show was to begin and the only thing on the screen was a few little icons that let you choose the input. The presentation was up on the iPad but not getting to the projector. I tried the “Computer 2” input but no luck.
Because the coordinator and my dad were both fumbling with the projector I had wrongly assumed the problem was there. It turned out my dad was in the “editing” section of Keynote (Apple’s Powerpoint program) and not in the “presentation” mode. I pushed the little arrow and my dad’s first slide appeared on the screen. I tried to to demonstrate what the problem had been but when I pushed the arrow again nothing happened. Now, I was panicking.
This time the problem was not in the iPad. A gentleman in the back row had unplugged the extension cord that led to to the projector. My father, a real pro, did not let this affect his performance and the presentation was a smashing success.
As a side note: My father’s painting (above and currently on display in the “3 ‘D’s in Dodd” show) has a red (Sold!) dot next to it at. Many years ago I would have been in church with my dad on Easter Sunday. I think it is safe to say that today we both will feel closer to god in the woods.
Breaking Bad went through a few rather bleak periods and we hung in there. House of Cards is no substitute but it has us pretty wrapped up. Good thing it’s streamable because we keep having to back up to catch the dialog. It is dense and twisted with everyone playing everyone big time. We’re on episode 22 and all of the main characters are so soiled our sympathies are now with the born again prostitute, Rachel Posner, and the creepy photographer, Adam Galloway.
Although it’s set in the White House with a hapless president, the politics take a backseat to the lobbyists and business interests. The only defense against these forces is the naked quest for power. Good thing it is only a tv show.
We were at the Dyden Theater for “Blue Velvet” when we saw the previews for “The Great Beauty.” We had not seen that since it came out and this ages like a fine wine. We’ve spent a lot of time in movie houses in the last few weeks. I wore my long underwear for last night’s showing of “The Great Beauty and almost nodded off. I was plenty engaged, the movie was so dreamy and Tony Sevillo does such a great job of getting into his character that I found myself as detached and then introspective as Jep Gambardella. This is a beautiful movie to look at and listen to. ESG’s brilliant “Moody” is even in there. Director Paolo Sorrentino reminds us Fellini is not dead.
We watched Hitchcock’s “Rope” over the weekend. By the time we get to the end our Hitchcock binge it will be time to go around again. “Liv and Ingmar: Painfully Connected” was perhaps a perfect winter movie. I finally like Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie. “The Wolf of Wall Street” was an all out romp. And I was happy that “Inside Llewyn Davis” was so dark. I was afraid to see the damn thing not because of the David Van Ronk revival but because of all the nostalgic, reverent singer/songwriter myth making going on.
We’ve read and heard countless speculations on how Breaking Bad will end and even found ourselves talking about the outcome at a funeral on Friday. The episode of course is called “Felina” and our friend, John Gilmore, has reworked the Marty Robbin’s song, “El Paso.”
“Out in the west New Mexico Town Of ABQ, I think even though he is a megalomaniac and self centered egotistical person of limited morals (“Shocked by the FOUL EVIL deed I had done”) he really does love his family and originally broke bad for them. He can’t stay away (“Back in El Paso my life would be worthless”)
(“It’s been so long since I’ve seen the young maiden”) (“My love is stronger than my fear of death”) so he will come back to ABQ, gun (my little friend) in hand to shoot it out with Todd’s gang (Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys ) and the DEA (“Off to my left ride a dozen or more”) because as we know “Everyone dies in this movie”. (“I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle. I feel the bullet go deep in my chest”).
(“Cradled by two loving arms that I’ll die for , One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.”) Probably in his back yard by the swimming pool !!! With the pink doll’s eye in his hand !!!”
“El Paso” would sound as good as The Limeliters “Times Are Getting Hard” did a few weeks ago, a great juxtaposition with something much darker. The characters have been so delicious it hardly matters what happens. The introduction of Rochester’s Robert Forster in the next-to-last episode, oddly brought a calm before the final nods to Walt Whitman and Scarface.
Peggi thinks Walt will survive, alone, only to be told his cancer is gone. This would be a brilliant summary for a show that has continually messed with our notions of good and evil.
We were meeting in the Refrigerator’s attic studio near East High to start work on a new print edition when Chuck Cuminale brought up a stack of Duplex Planet magazines, a model of sub culture fanzines if ever there was one. That was our introduction to David Greenberger’s world but our paths were destined to cross.
When Pete LaBonne sent us a copy of the compilation cd, “Meditation Garden“, that Sonic Trout released of his music we spotted David Greenberger’s name attached to the art credits. The font Margaret Explosion chose for our cd “Live Dive” came from the Buffalo type foundry, P 22, and turned out to be a font based on the handwriting of Ed Rogers, a self taught artist Greenberger discovered in the Duplex Nursing home. David was on a return trip from one of his projects in Wisconsin when his car broke down on the NYS Thruway and was towed to the repair shop next door to the Little Theater Cafe on a Wednesday night where Margaret Explosion were playing. He and his wife saw both sets and when David returned to pick up the car he stayed at our house. Plans were hatched to collaborate somehow.
Our friend’s and neighbor’s, Rick and Monica, hosted Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric at a house concert and then attended a house concert at Eric and Amy’s where they met David. Monica facilitated the collaboration by suggesting the combo to her employers at the MAG. A photo of David standing in our kitchen came up on our screensavor slideshow this weekend and a moment later David Greenberger called to hatch plans for a Fall performance.
“I feel strangely on.” That would be my favorite line from Noah Baumbach’s brilliant “Greenberg.” The guy lew it with Frances Ha but this one is right on in my little book. Ben Stiller, a New Yorker fresh from a stint in a mental institution, housesits at his brother’s place in Los Angeles, the perfect setting for this darkly funny love story. Here’s Roger Ebert’s take.
D. A. Pennebaker was in town over the weekend for a screening of “Don’t Look Back” at the Little Theater. I pictured him being chauffeured in at the tail end of the movie but he was in the house for the full ride and at eighty seven he got up on stage with a big smile and he was ready to talk and field questions.
He told the crowd he “wanted to see how the film held up” and I was thinking about the number of times we’ve seen the movie and how when the big “Don’t Look Back” letters come on the screen at the end of the film it is always a surprise. The movie is perfectly edited, lingering uncomfortably long on some of those back stage scenes and then cutting fast through performances, and it always whizzes by.
The opening scene with Dylan tossing hand painted placards of his brilliant lyrics is a hundred times better than any MTV video ever was. Donovan clearly got under Dylan’s skin and the scene with the two of them trading songs is is my favorite part of the film. D. A. told us Donovan helped paint those lyrics and he also said he caught Dylan alone playing Donovan’s record in his hotel room.
I will never get tired of seeing Dylan in his prime. There will never be another like him but Pennebaker was there and he caught it for us. You feel the presence of the camera in the hotel rooms, in the car and backstage but as Pennebaker says, “he was searching.” He is not out to tell a particular story or manipulate the action. He would pitch movies and the suits would ask him what the movie was about and he would say, “I don’t know yet, I haven’t made the movie.” He was searching.
I thought I was the only one in the world with the John Philips solo album with “Holland Tunnel” on it but there it was in a movie we watched last night. For a minute it made me wish I hadn’t sold that at our garage sale last year. The Amazon review of the soundtrack to “The Squid and the Whale” with The Cars “Drive”, Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle” and The McGarrigle’s “Heart Like A Wheel” says it will “probably be most enjoyed by the cynical” but that doesn’t make any sense at all unless it’s one of those double negative situations.
We watched the movie last night and it seemed like we had seen it already but we weren’t quite sure. Maybe we saw it at someone’s house or somewhere where we couldn’t give it our undivided attention. Regardless it was great to see it again and it was a real surprise to see the end credits for soundtrack go to our neighbor’s brother, Dean Wareham. The cast was perfect and amazing. I felt like we were watching a play in our living room.
The grey skies of Rochester got to our neighbor. It’s her first Winter here and she was ok until March when she expected a change. We walked up to the lake with her and I tried to cheer her up by pointing out the snowdrops that were blossoming off to our left but it was a bright sunny day and that’s all it took. She told us she always feels like she’s high when she gets near the lake but only when she is alone so we missed out on that one. On the way back she asked if we wanted anything from the new Trader Joes. We told we hadn’t been there yet and then we made plans to go today.
We filled up our little red buggy with fun stuff and then got on the wrong side of the check out lane so we were invading the cashier’s space. She told us to get on the other side and relax and asked if we’d seen any good movies lately. We said, “Yeah, we just watched the Jean Luc Goddard’ Contempt last night with Bridget Bardot” but we got kind of a blank look so we dropped it. Goddard movies make sense on a higher plane than plot.
Jerry Prokosch (played by by Jack Palance): “I like gods. I like them very much. I know exactly how they feel – exactly.” Fritz Lang (playing himself): “Jerry, don’t forget. The gods have not created man. Man has created gods.”
Peggi is reading Neil Young’s book now and she tells me Jean Luc Goddard is his favorite director. Somehow I missed that.
Paradise Lost is the name of an epic poem by John Milton, a dark rock band from the UK and three documentaries made by HBO in 1996, 2000 and 2011 about the three teenagers in West Memphis, Arkansas who were convicted of the grisly murders of three young boys. The title doesn’t fit the documentary but neither do the charges. West Memphis is sub culture plunge, so deep the real life characters tend to overwhelm the details of the story. After watching the first episode I couldn’t get the accent and presence of the key players out of my head. Maybe it’s because I lived in a trailer (pronounced “tray-ler”) in southern Indiana for a few years. They smoke and pull their teeth out on camera. The accused teenagers dressed in black and liked Metallica whose music is used to great effect throughout the three films. The small town cops and judge saw Satanism and railroaded the jury into convicting.
Three documentaries on the same subject seems excessive. They wander and tug you crazy directions. When I saw the third installment sitting next to our tv I thought what more could they possibly add to this story but it keeps digging deeper and getting better. The clumsy movie making is somehow a virtue. The big budget “West of Memphis” movie by Amy Berg and Peter Jackson is in our queue but I expect it to be heavy handed by comparison.
We had some of the best meals of our lives in Barcelona but the “Menu del Dia” there is a long way from El Bulli, the so called best restaurant in the world before it closed a few years ago. It was only open six months out of the year, the other six months were spent in Barcelona creating an ever changing menu. The restaurant took reservations in January for the whole season and would not seat walk-ins even if they had an empty table so as not to set a precedent.
The German documentary, “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress,” played at the Dyden Theater last night and contrary to the blurb on the Eastman House website it was not “the next best thing to dining there.” It was better than dining there. Not that I have ever set foot in the place but how good can a meal be? The brilliant moviemakers stayed in the kitchen and capture the Spaniards finely tuned attention to detail.
Watch the staff carefully place salt crystals on delicate arrangements of tiny servings (thirty five plates in a typical meal) was thrilling. And I’m so happy they didn’t go out to the dining room. It would have deflated the intense focus. Imagine watching De Kooning paint, digging the painting and then cutting to the hedge fund manager who had enough money to buy the thing. My favorite line is Chef Ferran Adrià saying that he wanted to bewilder diners.