Saturday, August 30, 2014

Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte by Pier Paolo Pasolini

These frames come from the section of the film (in which Pasolini deals most straightforwardly with his own pain) that tellingly depicts the story of Aziz, Aziza, and Budur.  Aziz is betroathed to his cousin, Aziza, but on their wedding day he becomes madly enamored of the very dangerous Budur; and though he misses his own wedding, his fiancé explains to him how to possess her rival (before she herself dies of a broken heart.)  Clearly Aziza is playing Pasolini’s part here, explaining everything for the benefit of his unfaithful lover Ninetto, who recently had decided to marry a young woman.  All but one of the images below come from a single scene and they are all set within Budur’s tent.  The final picture shows the consequence of Aziz’s confused and masochistic passion for Budur: his castration at her hands (and those of her entourage) for his subsequent unfaithfulness to her.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Various Drawings by Dale Wittig, circa 1984

Studies for Lost, Abandoned, or Discarded Paintings


Some of the paintings, for which the drawings above were studies, actually reached completion, while others were left unfinished.  The naked running woman was made for an elaborate pastel drawing, which may still exist in an old portfolio that may be protecting it from a squirrel’s ravenous claws and teeth.  The Self Portrait as viewed from behind and the Shuttle Debris on the Moon were among those paintings in oil on gessoed burlap that were stored and lost somewhere on the old Dopp Farm.  The Fire Eater with Pigs and Trainer was part of a series of smaller paintings in oil on unstretched canvas that I tacked up on the plywood enclosing building sites around Avenues A and B near Houston on the Lower East Side back in 1986.  The two drawings here that I’m most happy with now are the one at top and the one at bottom.  The first shows Isidore Ducasse and Arthur Rimbaud  with an empty tea cup and the latter shows Godzilla versus the Smog Monster (ゴジラ対ヘドラ, Gojira tai Hedora) on a Philco TV, which was drawn for a painting depicting the death of Aikichi Kuboyama, the radio operator of the fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon, who died of Radiation Poisoning, thirty years earlier in 1954, caused by an American Hydrogen Bomb test in the Pacific.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Designing Woman

Lauren Bacall  
September 16, 1924 – August 12, 2014

Though Hawks may have discovered her and molded her, Minnelli managed to draw her best performances from her (just as he drew career best performances from her old boyfriend, Kirk Douglas, which the latter more or less acknowledged by acting as pall bearer at Vincente's funeral) and gave her, her favorite role, Marilla, the Designing Woman of the film's title. The film itself isn't perfect (there's real callousness in the way that the brain damaged boxer is presented as an object of humor,) but the film is clearly the work of a master director, and is perfectly cast, especially with Gregory Peck every bit as beautiful and sexy as Bacall. (I shudder to think what the film would have been had the insufferable James Stewart accepted the role, but that was probably tied to the producer's desire to cast Grace Kelly in Lauren's part.  Perhaps they were hoping for another Rear Window, minus Hitch's severed-head-in-a-hatbox.) It's remarkable that she was able to make this light hearted film about the difficulties of marital adjustment while her real husband was at home dying of cancer. It certainly doesn't show in the film; but work can be a respite from suffering, and she was never far from him when filming (and it's just possible that it took her back to the beginnings of her own marriage.) James Naremore said that he had considered dealing with this movie in his excellent book on Minnelli, but it just missed the cut. I'd be very interested to read what he had to say about it. It definitely shows Bacall off at her very best; and  it says something pretty shameful about Hollywood that she had so few starring roles after it.