I finally got to see the Seattle Art Museum’s Native American art exhibit, Indigenous Beauty, this weekend before it closed and enjoyed it immensely. There was a lot of stuff I was familiar with like a lot of the northwest coastal and pueblo art and others I was genuinely surprised I had never heard of. What especially impressed me was plains tribes clothing… Above is a buffalo leather dress from the Wasco in Oregon, the other one is Lakota. I found myself wondering what kind of price tag on the hours of labor alone… It’s all the more impressive when you realize that checkered pattern is all beadwork.
A friend of mine had recommended I did an alien visitors theme, mostly in the nineteen fifties sci-fi horror theme which included the remake of the Blob, but since this was one of the few times Scarecrow didn’t have an item on my list I decided to alter the theme oh so slightly to nice alien visitors.
The first on my list Brother From Another Planet was one that was mentioned in nearly every book on modern Sci-Fi cinema I know so I was looking forward to the opportunity to see this one.
Brother From Another Planet uses it’s story of a mute alien, who other than a three toed clawed foot looks just like an African-American, in Harlem as a metaphor for racism, immigration and ultimately assimilation.
For the most part the film is a wonderful study of people. For the most part the alien (referred to as the brother and wonderfully played by Joe Morton) meets good people who help him (though he frequently finds them confusing. )
There is wonderful lyrical quality to the film and other than a pair of Men in Black bounty hunters and some drug dealers remarkably devoid of conflict. Personally my favorite scene is when the Bounty Hunters arrive at the office of a social worker who’s been the Brother get work. They’ve been sweating numerous friends of the brother by pretending to be members of government agencies but here the city office snows them with paperwork for interdepartmental cooperation.
The other film the Cat From Outer Space is another one I somehow managed to miss, despite being brought up on the Wonderful World of Disney. This is a sweet little piece of fluff about a disabled UFO piloted by a cute little Abyssinian named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 (Jake for short)
In a quest to repair his ship Jake seeks the help of some new found human friends to obtain $120,000 worth of gold. Using Jake’s telekinetic power they earn the money to betting on assorted games, while avoiding the military and criminal organizations. (I have to say considering all of the moral hurdles they cross cheating at sports, breaking into military bases and paralyzing base security why didn’t they just steal the gold)
All in all this was a fun comedy with a who’s who in seventies television comedy with Harry Morgan stealing the show as a blustering general.
This week’s Rhapsody is Rhapsody for Orchestra by Yasushi Akutagawa. I wasn’t familiar with Akutagawa but I’m enjoying his work… This piece almost comes off like a cross between Gershwin and one of the Stravinsky to me.
My Theme for this week was seventies kitsch, the kind of slice of life comedies that did not intend to be period pieces going in but in the end turn into documentaries for the period. (In hindsight I could also pretend that the theme was movies where their theme songs are better know than the films today)
The real stars of the show are the crew of the local carwash, a wonderfully diverse group of misfits and we watch them going through what we presume is a typical day warts and all.
Lots of things go on throughout the day, including George Carlin as a cabdriver trying to track down a prostitute who’d stiffed him on a fare, two pranksters trying to one up each other, the boss’s son wanting to be one of the people and failing terribly at it and an ex con trying to improve his life and retain his dignity. It’s very funny bittersweet kind of way.
Thank God its Friday tries to do the same thing only with the opening night of a hip new disco club run by a young Jeff Goldblum. Like the car wash the place attracts all types to a frustrated couple, two high school students trying to sneak in to enter the club’s dance contest, and my personal favorite Jackie a dental hygienist by day a pill popping manic pixie dream girl by night.
This is all framed around the aforementioned dance contest which is comically delayed throughout the night and then delayed more as their roadie who has all of the instruments is lost and keeps getting pulled over… so in the mean time we just have to sit back and listen to Donna Summers sing “Last Dance”.
I was on a role today on my monthly trip to the Seattle Art Museum. Came out with about three new sketches… for once I spent more time looking than drawing. The best one I did today was of the bronze of an Indian Warrior on Horseback by Alexander Proctor . I’d drawn this several times but they’ve never come out very well either from choosing a bad angle or from horses not being my strong point, but this time I think it came out pretty well.
(To my embarrassment I rushed doing a snapshot of the original to show what I was drawing I have a rare example of the sketch being better than the photo.)
This week I decided to go with biopics of famous directors. (or in this case one famous and one notorious)
The first, Gods and Monsters, tells us the story of the last days of the life of horror director James Whale played by Ian McKellen. In the process it also tells about being openly homosexual in 1950s Hollywood.
The film opens with Whale living in relative seclusion recovering from a stroke. Out of boredom he strikes up a relationship with his gardener played by Brendan Fraser. Most of the film follows this as Whale slowly drifts more and more into his memories.
McKellen is at the top of his game here. My favorite part is about in the middle of the film where The Bride of Frankenstein is showing on television. We jump back and fourth between a bar where the Gardener is watching it and Whale’s living room where Whale (who is not particularly happy about having his horror films being the work he’s best remembered for) is picking it apart telling his housekeeper all the little techniques he used. Finally at the end we switch over to a flashback of the filming of the Bride of Frankenstein. I especially liked the bit where Doctor Frankenstein, Pretorius and the Bride are acting completely out of character before the movie’s climax is shot.
The next on my list was Tim Burton’s story of one of the worst directors in history, Ed Wood. Johnny Depp plays cult filmmaker Ed Wood as a manic optimistic borderline con artist oblivious to his complete lack of talent.
This is a fun movie filmed in the style of a forties horror film (I’d say in the style of Ed Wood but it’s better than that) Along with Depp’s performance Martin Landau channels Bela Lugosi perfectly as a bitter drug addicted has been. Together they form a symbiotic relationship as Bela, at least in the context of the movie serves as a kind of muse to Woods who tries to create great vehicles for his hero.
In the mean time despite creating one failure after another Wood’s enthusiasm is nearly hypnotic (probably the only explanation for why he keeps getting people to support his creative monstrosities.) nd in the process brings together a growing ensemble cast to help him in his ventures. This all leads to lots of unintentional fun and is well worth one’s time.