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Tag: movies

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Myrna

Happy birthday, Myrna! That's her given name, though she was born Myrna Adele Williams in Helena, Montana. Her father liked the name of a train station, so Myrna it was. I've sketched her previously, focusing on line in pencil - simplicity. This time I went straight to it with brush, trying to capture a likeness, but also going for mood and a painterly touch. Oh, I could draw her again...and will.

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Paulette

I'm still not doing her justice, but am getting closer to capturing the gorgeous Paulette Goddard. I made an earlier attempt with this digital drawing, and also used her as the model for one of the characters in a strip a drew a few years back called Autotoons. Can you tell which of the three young ladies is based on Paulette? She's had my attention since I first came across a late-nite movie in my teens, Crystal Ball with Ray Milland. It's a silly movie, almost a screwball comedy, but in it she's smart, sassy, exotic, funny and has a spark on screen that can not be denied. I'm still on a quest to own that movie, as I don't believe it's been released on DVD. Since, of course, I've watched an re-watched many of her movies, sitting through some bland or sub-par stuff just to see her in action. Among her best are Chaplin's Modern Times and The Great Dictator (if you can avoid that final melodramatic and cheesy Chaplin speech in an otherwise silent movie - if only he'd kept it that way!), and she's a fine dancing partner for Fred Astaire in Second Chorus. So Proudly We Hail is a better-than-average WWII flick focusing on nurses during the war. I still like her best in Crystal Ball, which you can view in its entirety online. Movie history would've been something different had she gotten the role of Scarlet in Gone With the Wind, a part I wish she'd snagged, though Vivian Leigh undoubtedly inhabits the character. These screen tests show how good and close Paulette was. Here's a fun tribute to Paulette - she's trouble! I'll sketch her more in the future - no doubt...

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Gene Tierney

Another of my favorite ladies of the Silver Screen, Gene Tierney. What a beauty!

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Ava

This week: drawing some of my favorite ladies of the Silver Screen.

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Buster Squared

A couple drawings of my favorite silent film star/filmmaker, period: Buster Keaton.

Both were drawn in Manga Studio, the first without any rough or underdrawing.

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Conversations With Wilder

Just finished a great book, Conversations With Wilder by Cameron Crowe. I had no idea this came out ten years ago. I wish I'd caught it sooner, but thanks for the tip from writer and pal, Alex Grecian. If you've no idea who Billy Wilder is, go watch Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Stalag 17, Double Indemnity and/or Sabrina, and you'll know plenty. One of the first writer/directors, he was a writer first who became the latter so directors wouldn't mess up his scripts. The book is a revelation, with tons of anecdotes and insights on storytelling, collaboration, the creative process and more. It's special because it's one director interviewing another, the closest thing approaching Truffaut's book/interview with Hitchcock; they speak the same language. In terms of style and genre, these two directors couldn't be more unalike. Hitchcock spent his career almost exclusively in the genre of suspense, exploring repeatedly his favorite themes and motifs, and had a flashy, theatrical style. Wilder jumped from genre to genre, choosing to mix it up, as long as he was telling a good story with an emphasis on smart and witty dialogue. His camera and point of view is understated, saving a dramatic shot for special moments. But they shared a common motivation and goal. They sought to entertain the masses first and foremost, adding depth and artistry as gravy. With these priorities in order as moviemakers, they achieved both.

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Polanski: Great Artist, Bad Man

I've longed for this day, hoping he sees time in jail, a feeling only deepened now that I've a daughter who is thirteen. It's maddened me he's been able to skirt this so long, and troubled and saddened me that the Hollywood community would applaud and cheer him at the Oscars, while booing others like Elia Kazan. A skewed compass, I guess.

Anyway, I'd recommend everyone see The Pianist once, and Chinatown more than once.

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So What's So Wonderful?

Another post following up on Christmas... Somehow, I squeezed in my annual viewing of the Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life, but it didn't get my full attention between turns during a game of Scrabble. I wasn't fully engaged, so wasn't weepy during the usual scenes, probably a first for me. I did find myself speaking the dialogue as the movie played, so much of it permanently ingrained in my brain. But I'll have to pay more attention again next year. I'm still surprised when I read that some people can't stand the movie as they find it overly sentimental and saccharine. While I'll admit that's certainly true in a handful moments of the movie, it's more filled with romance, then frustration and dread, and especially during the 20-minute noir nightmare sequence, it's downright frightening. All of which I wrote about extensively last year.

I came across a few who have similar take. In his New York Times video feature review, A.O. Scott finds the movie and Bedford Falls to be a welcome holiday respite from our real-life Pottersville. Another Times article has an even more grim view:
Lots of people love this movie of course. But I’m convinced it’s for the wrong reasons. Because to me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale. Sitting in that dark public high school classroom, I shuddered as the projector whirred and George Bailey’s life unspooled. Was this what adulthood promised?
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.
This writer sees Bedford Falls as stifling and Pottersville as a lot more fun. Whether you agree with all his points regarding what would be George's actual effect on his town, or whether George would end up in jail anyway, his is an interesting look at the movie from another angle, and he certainly sees the dark side. Taking issue with some of that author's points, One GenXer envisions a sequel beyond the happy ending, to a troubled marriage for George and Mary. And this overview sees Wonderful Life as the most depressing of Capra's movies, comparing it to his other works. So, if you've been turned off by the angels, a cartoonish villain or the sugar-sweet finale, give It's a Wonderful Life another shot. There's a nagging discontent to satisfy any cynic, plenty of darkness to delight any Scrooge.

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