Posts Tagged ‘Metropolis’

Blackpaint 581 – 2016 Review 2 – Films, Theatre, Museums, TV

December 30, 2016

Film

Behemoth (Zhao Liang) – by turns, brutally realist and astonishingly surreal; coal mining and steelmaking, riding and spitting up coal dust in hospital, poetry, empty cities with traffic lights changing in deserted streets.

behemoth-2

The Revenant – brutal fighting, bear attacks, staggering scenery shots, fantasy scenes.  I was interested to see how it resonated with “Jeremiah Johnson”, 70s vehicle for Robert Redford.

Julieta (Pedro Almodovar) – One of those infuriating stories where people do unreasonable, devastating things (walking out on loved ones) with no explanation – and demand that their actions be accepted, no questions.

julieta1

High Rise (Ben Whateley) – Whateley successfully re-creates a 70s film; that is, he has made a 70s film; the colour, the sex, the violence.  I must have missed that particular party..

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach) – standard Loach; righteous anger, nightmare (but real) situations, unthinking cruelty, pretension, mindlessness, destitution, prostitution, murder by stress; but I still think it’s optimistic.  It presents a rose-tinted view of working-class people.  They are all so nice; maybe they really are in Newcastle.  One for the metropolitan elite to weep over (see Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review).

blake

Revolution – New Art for a New World (Margy Kinmonth) –  Not really in competition as  it’s a documentary about avant-garde – and more traditional –  artists, before, during and after the Russian Revolution.  Some amazing art, heartbreaking stories.

DVDs

Ken Russell drama docs – he pretty much invented it – from 60s.  The best are “Song of Summer” (Delius), “Always on Sunday” (Douanier Rousseau) and “Dante’s Inferno” (Rossetti, played by Oliver Reed).

delius 2

Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra) – Terrific; South American rain forest, German explorers, shamen, mind bending drugs, mad missionaries.

serpent

The Sun (Sokurov) – Hirohito in the “bunker”.  Brilliant.

Metropolis (Fritz Lang) – finally watched the whole of this; there are absurdities but it’s amazingly influential.

metropolis

TV 

Thrillers, serial killers and kidnappers – and the Napoleonic Wars.

War and Peace.  I loved it, especially Jessie Buckley, surely a descendant of Giotto’s favourite model.

Marya-Bolkonskaya

The Disappearance (French series, set in Lyon)

poisson

The Missing (British, but set in Germany.  David Morrissey again, and the ridiculously relentless and riveting French detective Baptiste).

Rillington Place.  Claustrophobic, shabby, creepy – those stains on the bed – Tim Roth doing Attenborough doing Christie, like Branagh does Olivier doing Archie Rice.

In Plain Sight – a restrained but terrifying account of Peter Manuel’s crimes in 50s Scotland.  He invaded homes and murdered whole families for fun, while at least one senior detective knew full well he was the culprit – but was unable to convince others.

Theatre

First two at the Wyndham, third at the Garrick.

Hangmen, Martin McDonagh.

Featuring David Morrissey, a strange, well-acted, but rather pointless play about Britain’s second-best hangman (after Pierrepoint) lording it in his northern pub, which is visited by a sinister character who seems to have wandered in from a Joe Orton play.  Was there a miscarriage of justice?

People, Places and Things

Starring Denise Gough, storming through the role.  Shouty, sweary, loads of special effects, dancing, rock music, multiple heroines on stage, that trap door bed that I last saw in “Ghost Story”, drug taking, mobile phones…

The Entertainer, John Osborne, Wyndham

branagh

My favourite.  Kenneth Branagh doing Olivier’s masterpiece justice, dancing comfortably and delivering Osborne’s (and Kipling’s) words beautifully.   “…when you’ve finished killing Kruger with your mouth…”  Osborne seems to have been obsessed with Bass beer.

Lazarus, David Bowie, Kings Cross Theatre

LAZARUS

Michael C. Hall (Dexter) as Thomas Newman, the Man who fell to Earth, years on from the film, living as a rich recluse, pining for Marilou…  It’s a jukebox musical, packing in lots of Bowie classics; the women sing impressively in those steely, LesMis tones, the men manage to sound Bowie-like.  The story is incomprehensible tosh – there’s a killing – maybe.. or maybe it’s all in Newman’s head; but the effects are great.  Amy Lennox writhing sexily against a large screen (all the characters resort to this screen periodically, which is good as it’s hard to see what they are up to on the floor and the bed; the seats are not sufficiently banked up to give a good view); a black “cloud” spreading rapidly like a visual fart behind Valentine, as he sings; a girl in white running in slow motion on screen towards the stage…  Good bands and backing singers too.

Museums

CoBrA Museum, Amsterdam

appel flute2

Fabulous – Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, and the other cobras; not to be missed, especially Appel’s “Magic Flute” stage furniture.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

breitner nude

Rembrandt, Vermeer; they are there all the time – but the Breitner exhibition got my attention.  Also Appel and DK.

Stedtlijk Museum, Amsterdam

dk north

De Kooning, Appel

Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo

Polke, Kiefer,

Guggenheim, Bilbao

Louise Bourgeois exhibition and Paris, 1900 – 45

 

lvg4

August, Laredo

Blackpaint

30.12.16

Blackpaint 570 – AbExes at the RA and the Thin Man in the City

September 30, 2016

Abstract Expressionism at the RA

Fantastic, of course; the best show in London since the RA’s Diebenkorn, which was not that long ago (OK, Auerbach at Tate Britain was also great, but I think the Diebenkorn had the edge, with the three distinct styles/periods/modes, whatever you wish to call them).  Back to AbExes – I went on Saturday when it opened; queued for only 10 minutes and for once, it wasn’t throgged with immovable punters, walkie-talkies clapped to their ears, so you could see some of the paintings.. and sculptures, mustn’t forget David Smith and a few Barnett Newmans.

I’ll be going again and again, for sure, so this is nowhere near exhaustive:

  • The Guston and Mitchell paintings made Frankenthaler’s “Europa” look rather dowdy, on the far right of the wall.

guston-prague

Guston, Prague

  • The stunning Mitchell “Salut Tom”; four huge panels of white, blue and yellow, Monet of course and a little bit Cy Twombly, those panels of the seasons that were in the Tate Modern a while back.

salut-tom

  • When you look through the archway at the two small pink, green and yellow de Koonings, they look like Toulouse Lautrecs.
  • The Clyfford Stills, most of them, are great on their own but as Laura Cummings says in the Observer, putting them all in one room next to each other, they tend to drain the others’ glory.

still

 

  • This is NOT the case with the de Koonings, however, before which you can only – well, I can only stand in awe.  Sorry, hyperbole creeping in – I could do lots of things, ONE of them being to stand in awe.  A couple of fantastic Women, “Whose name was writ on water”, “Villa Borghese” with its green sweeps, the yellow and grey one with its yellow sweeps, that juicy red one, the collage with the tin tacks…  He’s the guv’nor, no question.

dk-water

de Kooning  – Whose name Was Writ on Water

  • Pollock’s not bad either.  I’m quite familiar with Pollock’s work, so the one enjoyed most was the 1943 “Mural” with the repeated green figures.

pollock-mural

Pollock, Mural

  • Can’t get on with Barnett Newman, sorry to say; I don’t like that liverish red/brown he uses, or the orange zips.
  • Rothko – an unusual, scrapy, scrappy blue and yellow panel on paper.
  • Lovely, punchy B&W Klines and an unusual wobbly one.

kline

Franz Kline – Zinc Door

  • Ad Reinhardt, pursuing his obsessions to their black ends – one of his, with spidery lines and figures, just like a Constant.
  • Guston’s paint, especially on the cartoon one (yes I know, but they DO look like cartoons) is greasy, dobby and looks moist.
  • And then there’s Jack Tworkov, with the diagonal slashes of colour.

Enough for now.  I’ve been reading “Anti-Matter” by Ben Jeffries, an extended essay about Houellebecq and “Depressive Realism” in which there is a discussion of Faking It – the idea that all works of art are “fake”, even when they are avowedly realist.  I think that’s right in a sense, and particularly right for the AbExes; once you are putting paint on a support, brushing, dripping, blading, flicking, you are faking it, unless it’s a real action picture and even then, you choose the paint, so there is a gap.  Rothko is not in some transcendant state when he paints, at least not most of the time; he’s thinking how to portray his feelings/revelations – the ones he’s already had, that is.  He’s faking it.

Doesn’t matter – they’re fantastic anyway, faking it or not.

Metropolis, dir. Fritz Lang (1927) 

metropolis

I’ve been watching the print found in Buenos Aires, and shown on BBC, in 30 minute chunks – I have a short attention span.  Once you get past the hero’s make-up, curly hair and jodphurs, it’s full of influence: so far, I’ve got montage scenes recalling Grosz; Rotwang the inventor’s false hand in leather glove (Dr.Strangelove);  Frankenstein, of course; the downtrodden, Zombie-like workers have offspring in the Wizard of Oz, Popeye cartoons and  – zombie films; all films with an underground or hi-tec citadel – Indiana Jones, James Bond films, Wallis and Gromit..  No doubt, there will be many more.  And it has another memorable villain to add to the gallery: Fritz Rasp as the “Thin Man”.

rasp

Fritz Rasp – watch the film, you’ll laugh – but he’ll come to you in your dreams….

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Islares under Cloud

Blackpaint

30.09.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 250

February 10, 2011

Frankenstein at the Olivier

Danny Boyle director and Nick Dear, writer – or rather, adaptor of Mary Shelley’s original.  But the important thing for the audience, which contained a number of excited teenage girls, was Benedict Cumberbatch playing the monster, and to a lesser extent, Jonny Le Miller, playing Victor.  They are going to alternate the roles.

The first 20 minutes or so were fantastic.  Cumberbatch was naked on stage, being “born” from a pulsing, pod-like womb (Body Snatchers, definitely not Spinal Tap); then flip-flopping prostrate like a fish; then swiftly learning to get to his hands and feet, then stand, shakily upright and walk, after a fashion.  There were clear references (I’m avoiding the use of “channeling” here, I hope other pedants will note) to Muybridge and Bacon – the crippled boy walking on all fours – and, above all, Blake.  I think it was the stance; upright, straight-legged, head thrown back – and perhaps the washes of light from the wide ribbon of light bulbs in the “ceiling”.

Then, the Industrial Revolution arrived, in the form of a train, loaded with working men and women who began laying about the stage with sledgehammers and tools – Metropolis – and soon the monster acquired a cloak and a jeering mob – the Elephant Man.  Later in the play, Dickens, in the shape of the children’s costumes, especially the cap of the little boy. The programme mentions Fuseli, but I must have missed that.

I had the feeling throughout that I was watching a musical; I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if someone had burst into song (there was some dancing, flamenco-ish guitar music and something that sounded rather like “Wimoweh” – ask the grandparents).  There was a great revolving stage, luminous huts descending, a mansion facade that also served as a ship at one point, and made reference to Kay Neilson.

I have to say that, as soon as we were back to straight, “naturalistic” exposition, everything went very flat; I was continually waiting for the next spectacle.  There were about four or five of these, I suppose.  In fact, I would have been happy if the whole thing had been done like the first sequence – as a sort of combination of mime, ballet, performance art, spectacle, and music.

There is a rather operatic rape, by the way; a man somewhere behind me was obviously shocked; “Oh no, oh dear “, he gasped in dismay.  The teenagers were undisturbed, needless to say.

National Gallery

Took a turn round the “modern” bit; especially the Degas(es) – what is the proper plural? – that never fail to astound me.  Those two “red” ones, just look at the hands, and the portrait of the pudgy little girl with the challenging stare.  Then, there is the little one of Princess Pauline de Metternich; I bet she wasn’t happy about the bags under her eyes.  What was Degas – an Impressionist? If so, it shows the limitations of these terms, two artists like, say, Degas and Monet yoked together…

That Ingres woman in the dress is Mme Moitessier, a banker’s wife, not a landlady as I said in previous blog.  A chap was copying the picture – I avoided mentioning that it took Ingres 12 years to finish.

A couple of horrible Vuillards; Madame Wormser and her kids.  I hate that acid greeny-blue, bluey green.

Turner’s Ulysses escaping from Polyphemus; how many ships in the picture?  I think four.

Finally, Hogarth’s “Marriage a la Mode”; the last, grim painting in the series, in which the mistress has poisoned herself and the servant who supplied the poison looks on in horror; I was reminded strongly of Madame Bovary, not surprisingly, since I have just reread it.  What is remarkable is that I am also reading “Vanity Fair” – and on Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451” the other night, the firemen hurled a bookcase to the floor prior to burning it and two of the books that fell from it, on which the director chose to focus in close up, were Bovary and Vanity Fair. Coincidence, you say?  I think perhaps not, my sceptical reader…

Sorry again, re-used image; new stuff from now on.

Blackpaint

10.02.11