Blackpaint 331 – Lucifer Sits In with the Band

Ginger and Fred

Fellini again, quite late (1986), and starring his wife Giulietta Masina and Marcello Mastroianni – recommendation enough, really, but I want to go on about it. 

 Two elderly dancers, who once did a popular double act, imitating Astaire and Rodgers (today the’d be called a tribute act); they haven’t seen each other for years, but are invited to take part in a Christmas variety show, run by a commercial TV channel.  it turns out to be a freak show; they have been invited because they are old and will be odd and amusing for the audience, especially if they can’t cut it any more.  If they can, they’ll provide sentimental value.

  This film is, of course, part of Fellini’s war with TV, which he waged unapologetically- despite getting some funding for his films from TV companies, and even making some commercials himself; good for him – hypocrisy makes the world go round.

Despite the onslaught on sensation and cheap, mindless sentimentality, Fellini does allow them their sequence of Astaire-Rodgers numbers on air at the end of the film – and they bring it off, apart from one collapse from an overexcited Mastroianni.  Another director, maybe a younger Fellini, would have let the power cut end the show, robbing the pair of their big moment.  Mastroianni, with his ruined good looks, his leer and his jeering whistle; Masina, her ladylike, beaming optimism suddenly undercut by that sour, downturned- cornered mouth, just fantastic, the pair of them.  It’s worth watching the advertising hoardings in the background – fleeting glimpses, but interesting images.

Lord of the Flies

The film by Peter Brook, using real English kids on a bit of Puerto Rico that looks like a real tropical island.  Brook avoided coaching the boys on dialogue, so in places there are excruciating pauses and under/overacting; but some of the scenes are riveting.  When Jack, the fascistic choirboy leader marches the uniformed choir in, they enter singing “Kyrie Elaison” from Britten’s Noyes Fludde – and its chilling, not charming, as in the latter.  The killing of the airman, the rock crushing Piggy, the chase through the burning jungle and the arrival of the naval officer in his shorts and whites are equally gripping.  Skinny Jack, with his warpaint and cutting, upper class accent, is like a demented Edith Sitwell, crossed with Heydrich.  Then there is the still of Ralph’s anguished face at the end.

 I saw the last 40 minutes as a sort of sandwich between The Picture of Dorian Grey and the end of Copycat, the Sigourney Weaver serial killer film – it made both films look ridiculous.

Grunewald and the Ysenheim altarpiece

At the Picasso and the Brits show at Tate Britain, the Three Dancers especially, and the Bacons. reminded me of the Grunewald (if that really was his name) crucifixion, in the museum at Colmar.  10 years since I saw it.

In the first panel, the famous tortured Christ on the cross, with the huge, “gripping” fingers; the arm of St John the Evangelist around the Virgin, enormously elongated (arm, not Virgin).

Next, the Annunciation, and the orchestra of angels with their weird instruments and a grey, feathery Lucifer joining in(!)

Then, the Resurrection panel, with Jesus leaping forwards in a halo of light, as if arriving at the party.

Next, the Temptation/tormenting of St,Anthony; the snot-dripping monster, the man with all the ailments (St. Anthony’s Fire, or ergot disease), bubonic plague, leprosy – and the little, winged. buck-toothed demon, reminiscent of 60s fantasy paperback covers, Jabberwocky illustrations, Bosch or Max Ernst.  In the other panel, St. Anthony meets St. Paul in the desert – but there’s loads of what looks like Spanish Moss hanging around – like Louisiana, more than the desert of the Middle East.

Affordable Art Fair

In Battersea Park.  Great to walk round in my usual scruffy clothes,  being beamed at, like all visitors, by beautifully dressed dealers who think I just might be a Russian oligarch dressed down, looking for something cheap, a few thousand pounds, say.  Hardly any abstract stuff on show – lots of bird paintings,  though; birds seem to be in vogue at this “affordable” level.

Depressed, I went home to listen to Charley Patton.

“I like to fuss and fight,

I like to fuss and fight;

I like to get sloppy drunk with a bottle (in bond?),

And walk the streets all night.”

Charley Patton, Elder Green Blues

No new paintings today, so here’s an old one and a crap life drawing:





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2 Responses to “Blackpaint 331 – Lucifer Sits In with the Band”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Very disappointed in the Affordable Art Fair this year; it’s becoming more and more a Tasteful Lifestyle Accessory show.

    BTW, Ken Russel’s early “Pop Goes the Easel” can be seen on youtube (for now): memories of a lost art world…

    Like the Abstract above!

    • blackpaint Says:

      Hi Kevin-
      I agree about AAF but probably sour grapes on my part – my stuff Distasteful Lifestyle Accessories maybe! I’ll check out the Russell. Good to hear from you.

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