I was off work from Christmas Day to January 5th. I had been plagued with a skin disorder for a little over two months. A dermatologist put me on Prednisone three days before Christmas Eve, and it was a relief! to get back to normal. I spent Christmas day and most of the weekend in Fort Worth, then flew back home to quickly play a service, then packed & flew to San Francisco for a week of just walking around. I implored Israel to come with me but he was determined to use the time (re)photographing New Mexico. My guess is that I walked about 12 - 15 miles a day. I only used the rental car on two days. I used the transit system intermittently. I tried to see a movie every day. Lots of art. Good food. Nice drafts all over town in San Francisco. I even managed to have a little fun.

Museums: Hopper in Dallas, the new Piano Pavilion @ the Kimbell, the vapid Mexican show @ the Modern in Fort Worth, the charming Lobel show @ the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Anders Zorn and Matisse @ the Legion of Honor, and most spectacularly - the Hockney and Bulgari shows @ the de Young. If you have a chance to see them, you should not pass it up!

Dallas: American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis. Fort Worth: The Wolf of Wall Street. San Francisco: Reaching for the Moon, Her, Breakfast at Tiffany's (@ the Castro), The Past, Raising Arizona (@ the Castro), Blue is the warmest color.

A flickr set.
Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter, Lincoln, Django Unchained. Glad I saw all 3 - though each was good & bad in equal measure.

I guess there are good 'bad' movies like Django & bad 'good' movies like Lincoln.

I enjoyed a couple of the movies I saw on TCM this weekend more than any of the Hollywood releases I saw this summer in the cinema. I had never heard of either of them before. Elvis on Tour, from 1972, was amazing. And yes, I'm surprised I thoroughly enjoyed a movie about Elvis Presley. Loving, from 1970, which I caught in the wee hours of the morning is a dark little comedy of manners. It seems like a forerunner of The Ice Storm - one of my favorite movies.

I even watched Captains Courageous on Saturday night, and for the umpteenth time, North by Northwest. Though not one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, I particularly enjoy one of the actors: Adam Williams. I don't think he even has a line, but appears throughout as one of the stooges. He looks exactly like the men I was attracted to when I was a boy.

I watched all of these in the kitchen, except Loving. So not completely a couch potato.

The Artist

Jan. 21st, 2012 03:02 pm
I got to the theater too late to see The Enchanted Island. So I opted for The Artist, which was pleasant enough.

But when the climatic love scene came, I was startled to hear:

The iconic love theme from Vertigo. I'm hardly a film music buff, but I would have recognized this anywhere. They played a good five minutes or more of Bernard Hermann's score. All I could see was Kim Novack & Jimmy Stewart locked in painful yearning.

And then two minutes after that some big band piece from Duke Ellington, which seemed only slightly less out of place.

I don't understand why? The film score was perfectly suited to the film, and not without its own charm. The appropriation of the Vertigo music actually spoiled the movie for me.
startled awake by hideous dreams.

other than updating LJ, the last thing i did in the day was watch the girl with the dragon tattoo. what an age we live in.

i didn't give it much thought, but in retrospect, it was quite lurid. i wish i could reverse the experience of having seen it.

dream... )
Thank you for Women in Love, The Devils, Mahler, Tommy, & Altered States. They were audacious, brilliant, & unforgettable. What nice memories I have of seeing all those movies.
I enjoyed the John Marin show at the Amon Carter much more than Richard Diebenkorn: the Ocean Park Series at the Modern.

The Kimbell managed to borrow a whopping nine Caravaggios, which in addition to their own were the center of their Caravaggio show. These were augmented very intelligently and sensitively with paintings from his contemporaries & imitators.

Israel was trailed from painting to painting by a muscular Latino who could have conceivably leaped from the paintings themselves. Israel finally struck up a conversation with him. The guy was quite sophisticated and had come for the Caravaggios. He was there with his husband and their ten year old son.

Friday night I re-watched My Architect, the beautiful film about Louis Kahn, the architect of the Kimbell.

J. Edgar is the strangest of movies. Hoover is portrayed not only with sympathy, but tenderness. Ten minutes before the end we become aware we watched Hoover's own version of his life. Yes, there are the odd scenes of him dictating his life to a series of young studs. But otherwise no visual, aural, or narrative clues to keep track of two evolving stories. It's rather a jumbled mess. Then at the end, post-mortem, the most tender scene of all. In the theater - audible sobs. Really? for this asshole? Not recommended.

The Way, made by the devout Sheens, is far less manipulative. If nothing else it's a pretty good tourist flick. And a big lovable bear as one of the main characters.
 ...was completely stressed out at work yesterday - decided to stay home today. I took a drive in the country with Israel, visited the vitamin store, and dipped my toe in the TCM John Garfield fest today. He's one of my favorite actors.
Page One and The Tree of Life.

Page One is a decent documentary about the NY Times - mainly a portrait of a few of the reporters.

The Tree of Life is baffling. I can't say that I didn't enjoy it - I guess I'm still processing. It has narrative but no plot - maybe one way to put it. It is experimental in a conservative, inward looking way. There is nothing in it flashy or sensational. It's quite poetic at moments and visually stunning. If you wove together 2001, a Space Odyssey and The Sound & the Fury you might end of with something like it. I'm certain it would not be everyone's cup of tea.

Oh I forgot. There is scene in T. of L. shot at Barton Springs - just maybe my favorite place in Texas.
Earlier in the day, these lines from Schneepart struck my fancy:

– auch du– you too
hättest ein Recht auf Paris,would have a right to Paris
würdest du deinercould you know yourself
bitterer inne –,more bitterly –,

About ten 'til 5:00 this afternoon I looked up the local offerings on Fandango. I noticed the new Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris, was starting in twenty minutes, so I got myself together and headed out.

I knew nothing about it at all - and that was a good thing. Though maybe not at the level of Hannah & her sisters, it's a fairly good Woody movie, and entirely delightful. And like many of the good Woody movies it's a whimsical fantasy. It has some of the usual ingredients: a self-doubting writer as hero/narrator, a relationship on the verge of collapse, an amazing cast (Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson for starters), and an even more amazing set of characters.

You should go.
Hanna is really good. And its score by The Chemical Brothers is amazing. (Of course Israel had a couple of their CDs and I had never heard of them.)


May. 20th, 2011 03:11 pm

So uncomfortable - I guess he wasn't thinking.

I Am

May. 16th, 2011 06:28 pm
Tom Shadyac's I Am is about as deep as his other cinematic masterpieces: Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty. We are told that the phenomena of quantum entanglement is the source of human compassion; that aboriginal societies had little element of competition; and on and on. The film ends with All you need is Love playing in the background as Shadyac explicates.

Shadyac is a child of privilege and connection which probably played no small part in his Hollywood success. And that success probably played no small part in the ability to shove a camera in front of Desmond Tutu, David Suzuki, etc.

These heavily edited sound bytes are about as convincing as an environmentalist commercial from an oil company. Shadyac sold his Beverly Hills mansion and is now roughing it. In Malibu! Had the film not been told as the personal awakening of a little rich boy it might have helped. It reminded me of what Christopher Hitchens said about privilege: To be a spoiled person is not to be well-off or favored by fortune or protected from brute realities. It is to be well-off and favored by fortune and protected from brute realities and not to know it.


Apr. 4th, 2011 12:16 am
I saw Biutiful tonight - for me, by far the best movie that I saw in the past year. It makes things like The King's Speech and Black Swan seem like trifles. González Iñárritu must be one of the few directors today who has the gifts of someone like Kubrick.

I met my old friend Jay this morning at the gay-bucks in the Montrose neighborhood. He was at a table with a big, beefy, muscly, friendly man - a police officer for the city of Houston. The conversation turned to vacations. He said the mayor (Annise Parker) was going to be out of town in the next couple of weeks and might approve a few days vacation. I said "So the mayor personally manages your schedule?" Slight faux pas - it turned out his only assignment was the mayor's small security force.

Through the years I've tried to catch most of the movies about poets. The ones I can recall: Total Eclipse (Rimbaud), Little Ashes (Garcia Lorca), Bright Star (Keats). I managed to miss the ones about Stevie Smith and Sylvia Plath. All of these were of course bio-pics - a genre easily prone to problems. Tonight I caught Howl - the most interesting of these films I've seen. Mainly because it was about the poem itself and not per se about Ginsberg's life. The words in the script are solely from an interview Ginsberg made about the poem, the obscenity trial that followed its publication, and the poem itself - which is recited throughout by James Franco. You should check it out.

I didn't know until today - the Menil currently has a Kurt Schwitters exhibition. To my knowledge it's been several decades since the last Schwitters exhibition. So Excited! - he's one of my favorites.

Tron: Legacy is worth seeing. It's a visually beautiful movie. I liked that it was an homage to the earlier movie - and also to the popular aesthetics & music of the early 80s. Like a good homage, the references were only a pool for fueling its own imaginative world. Jeff Bridges played two roles - one of which was a virtual character played by a virtual Jeff Bridges. This older/younger Jeff Bridges duality was a cause for reflexion.

He was just beginning to be recognized as an important actor when I was a senior in high school. His remarkable films from that year - The Last Picture Show, Fat City, and Bad Company - planted themselves into my consciousness. (I think I wanted to be Jeff Bridges.) All three films explored sobering & harsh realities. In each he played different versions of an iconic working class hero. The Last Picture Show was particularly significant for me in that it explored the social world of a small Texas town, and was based on an autobiographical novel by Larry McMurtry. If you have never seen The Last Picture Show, you should!
chaplin webern

It is curious how the internet has given our subconscious a new tool.

The last thing I watched before I fell asleep was an interview with Liza Minelli. One thing she said: the female dancer that she admired most was Cyd Charisse.

When I woke up at 4:21, I went straight to the laptop. After a game of Scrabble, I surfed around, unconsciously starting with 'Cyd Charisse' - who was from Amarillo - and found myself on a page about Carolyn Jones, the actress who created the sublime Morticia Addams. Ms. Jones also grew up in Amarillo - surprisingly two blocks from my house, on Hayden Street.

I snapped a pic on my way to practice.

I played a piece by Antalffy-Zsiross this morning - something I've played before in Advent. As far as I can tell, he is an obscure figure - almost unknown. I came across a volume of his music in a dusty sale bin one day. I bought it based on the portrait inside - he looked like such an intelligent & interesting man. His music is refreshing - it reminds me of Gershwin & Respighi. Colorful & optimistic - never heavy or distasteful.



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