Don’t Look Now (1973)

Movie Blurb

Dont look now poster

Don’t Look Now, directed by Nicholas Roeg falls squarely into the supernatural thriller category. It has made a lot of best horror film of all times lists. I saw it when it first came out and was suitably impressed. On my second viewing, most recently, I was not disappointed. I was surprised at how much I forgot, but what I remembered most was the emotional impact and eerie feeling it elicited from me. And, of course, the infamous sex scene between the stars, Donald Sutherland Julie Christie. The movie takes place in Venice, a beautiful city, but this Venice is dark and sinister. The photography and editing is superb, cross cutting from image to image and making transitions and connections that advance the dramatic arc of the story. It won the BAFTA 1974 award for Best Cinematography. Highly Recommended!

Dont Look Now

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Dont look now sex sceneDont look now 3

The Skin I live In (2011)

Movie Blurb

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Pedro Almodovar is a quirky filmmaker, although I love all his films. Each one is quirky in its own way and never fails to entertain or amaze. I have been putting off seeing The Skin I Live In for years because I didn’t think I’d like the subject matter and I am not particularly a fan of horror films. Boy was I wrong. So glad I finally got around to seeing this fascinating film. Even though it is a horror film of sorts it has its campy moments. Antonio Banderas plays a brilliant plastic surgeon (mad scientist) who is obsessed with the idea of developing a skin that is burn proof and is willing to make any sacrifice in order to fulfill this Frankenstein like desire. The backstory unfolds to reveal that his beautiful wife was burned and horribly disfigured in a car crash and thus is the progenitor of his obsession. There are a lot of twists and turns but why spoil the fun. See for yourself.

 

Skin 2

The Biltmore Estate

Road Trip to Asheville, North Carolina

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My trip to Asheville, North Carolina would not be complete without a visit to the Biltmore estate. I was a little hesitant at first to fork over $75.00 for the price of admission but once on the grounds and into the house I soon discovered the tour was worth every penny. Buy the ticket, take the ride as Hunter would say.

The first ride was on a bus from the remote parking area to the mansion proper.

George Vanderbilt opened the Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895, after six years of construction. He created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life for his family and friends. The 8,000 estate was home to George, his wife Edith, and their daughter Cornelia. In 1924 Cornelia married John Francis Amherst Cecil. They lived and entertained at Biltmore. The Cecils opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 to promote tourism in the area during the depression and to generate income to maintain the property.

Vanderbilt decided to construct Biltmore in 1888. He acquired 125,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina. He hired architect Morris Hunt to design a limestone house to be modeled on the Chateau de Blois of the Loire Valley in France. It is said to be the largest domestic home ever built in the United States encompassing four acres of floor space.

Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, George’s father, made the family fortune in the shipping and railroad business. At one time he had a monopoly on all rail service in and out of New York City. As legend has it, he started his ferry business as a young man with a $100 loan from his mother, worked hard, and became one of the wealthiest men in America during the so-called Gilded Age.

Today, Biltmore remains a family business employing over 2000 employees who continue Biltmore’s mission to preserve what has been described a national treasure.

The house is beautiful and handsomely furnished, as the pictures will attest, but one is slightly turned off by the ostentaciousness of the luxurious surroundings.

One wonders about all the concentration of wealth in the hands of so few while America continues to be run by oligarchs and income disparity strangles the middle class and starves the poor.

George Orwell said it best I think: A fat man eating quails while children are begging for bread is a disgusting sight, but you are less likely to see it when you are within the sound of the guns.”

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Comments are welcome.

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Front Lawn of the Biltmore Estate

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Exterior Shot

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Winter Garden Room

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Breakfast Room

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Portico

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View From a Broad

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Back Porch

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View From the Terrace

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Library

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Library

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George Vanderbilt’s Bed

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George Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

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Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bed

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Underground Tunnel Below the Manse

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Bowling Alley

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Swimming Pool

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Main Kitchen

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Banquet Hall

 

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Pool Room

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Gun Room

Jimmy Can’t Dance

Jimmy Can’t Dance is a Jazz and Blues club located in beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky on 7th street.

My young friend Victoria and I Ubered our way down there to drink with the grown-ups  and listened to the jazz. Nate Lopez and his Eight String were playing for our listening enjoyment and I must say they exceeded our expectations.

Jimmy Cant dance

So when I ordered our drinks I asked the girl back of the bar would it be OK to teach Jimmy to Dance? She said no, I didn’t say Jimmy didn’t know how to dance, I said Jimmy can’t dance. There’s a difference. That got me to thinking, why can’t Jimmy dance? Maybe Jimmy got no legs. Maybe Jimmy dead. Maybe Jimmy just don’t exist. That’s what I said. But one thing’s for sure. Jimmy can’t dance. But he sure plays a mean eight sting guitar!

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Nate Lopez and Nioshi Jackson

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Nate Lopez

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Honey Grace

 

 

Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

Movie Blurb

Elevator Poster

Elevator to the Gallows (1958) is Louis Malle’s first feature film. A French Noir and an early entry into the New wave. Excellent entertainment that touches on several societal issues and displaying a gorgeous black and white portrait of Paris from the 1950s. Sizzling performance by Jeanne Moreau and a killer sound track by Miles Davis. There is absolutely nothing not to like here. Highly recommend!

 

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Jeanne Moreau

Maurice Elevator

Maurice Ronet

Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau

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Jeanne Moreau

The Maids (1975)

Review

The maids Poster

The Maids (1975)

Glenda Jackson and Susanna York

The maids Susanna York

Susanna York

The Maids is a film based on the Gene Genet play of the same name. It is a film about a sad-masochistic relationship between the maids and their employer. It is about role playing, the nature of reality, and class distinctions. It is one of those things that to fully appreciate you had to be there. In other words, to see the live performance of the actors Glenda Jackson and Susanna York, which were electrifying. The whole thing seemed a bit dated and stultifying to me as time has eroded some of its shock value. Still a valuable contribution to the cinema.

Austin City Saloon

Review

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The Austin City Saloon, located in the heart of beautiful downtown Corbin, Kentucky, is a pretty cool place to eat. Just opened. Hostess one of those beautiful Kentucky girls you hear so much about with long blonde tresses that fell to the small of her back. A million dollar smile and tight blue jeans. Step this way she purred as she strutted her way among the tables in her high heeled cowboy boots. Food was good but the service was slow and the country music was so loud you couldn’t think. But I did call my hostess over a time or two for a little tete-e-tete which took away all the pain. Bottom line. Yep, I’d go back.

Yojimbo (1961)

Movie Review

Yojimbo Poster

Before there was Kevin Costner there was Toshiro Mifune, who stars in Akira Kurasawa’s Yojimbo (Bodyguard). Kurasawa intentionally made his film using all the western tropes of the Western. Then Sergio Leone copied Kurasawa and made A Fist Full of Dollars starring the man with no name, Clint Eastwood. Walter Hill had a go at it too with his Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis. But this is the original and is Kurasawa’s masterpiece.

Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune as Sanjuro, the Ronin Samuari

Dog Yojimbo

The first thing the ronin samurai Sanjuro sees when he arrives in town is a dog trotting down the main street with a human hand in its mouth. This sets the tone of the movie. I have seen this image before. Once in the David Lynch film, Wild at Heart, and once at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in a medieval painting from Europe. The images are too strikingly similar to be coincidental.

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Sanjuro learns from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he hires on as a body guard first to one then the other of the gangs and plays one side off against the other in order to ultimately free the town from their malignant influence.

Yojimbo gang 1

Yojimbo gang 2

Beautifully photographed in his inimitable style in glorious black and white. Two thumbs way up!

The Act of Killing (2012)

The act of Killing

Movie Review

The Act of Killing is a documentary type of film that depicts former Indonesian death squad members reenacting their real life mass killings from the 1960’s. These older gangsters were encouraged to choose their own film genre in which to reenact these murders. The film was directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and Anonymous.  I found it very interesting that much of the rest of the crew was listed as Anonymous. The executive producers of the film were Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.

Act of Killing Fish

The resulting effect of the multiple genres chosen by the older gangsters was quite surreal and jarring. These gang members were common thugs who were influenced by American movies like Scarface and The Godfather. They imitated their movie heroes such as Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. The word “gangster” was said to be the Indonesian word for “free man.”

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Many of the gangsters admitted the killings were wrong and some suffered from gruesome nightmares from the past killings. But some did not think what they did was wrong since they were never held accountable and were even praised for what they did and still receive praise to this day. They killed with impunity Chinese, communists, and whoever opposed the authoritarian regime of General Suharto. In one particularly chilling scene, a gang member describes destroying a village and raping its inhabitants, saying 14 year old girls were the best.

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A riveting and telling documentary some are calling a masterpiece is a must see film about events most people have either forgotten or have never heard about: the genocide of upwards of 1,000,000 people in Indonesia on the 1960’s.  This film is a grim reminder of the evil that lurks in men’s hearts and of the banality of evil that allows such horrific events to occur.