Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Help Me! I'm Blogging and I Can't Shut Up!

Thanks to Jennifer at Peak of Chic, I've discovered the fantastic and magical watercolours of Harrison Howard. I have just become completely enchanted with his work - so fanciful and detailed and simply beautiful. To see more of his work - be sure to check out the "Shell and Flower People" in his gallery! - click here and prepare to be delighted!

Well, as all good things supposedly come in threes, here is my third film noir recommendation for the week: Stranger on the Third Floor. This is a rather weird little movie ... but, still a good tale and well-shot. I don't know why it's almost unknown. There are some breaks from classic film noir - instead of a dazzling bombshell of ill-repute, the leading lady is squeaky clean and honest. And the leading man isn't a fallen good guy seduced by money and a dame; he's a straight as an arrow hero, falsely accused of murder. The background of the movie is almost as good as the film itself! Peter Lorre was a very well-known character actor, but was never a "leading man" and never received top billing - until Stranger on the Third Floor. He was on load to RKO, and had two days left on his contract. They put him in this noir, in a relatively small role with lesser-knowns in the leads. He shot all his scenes in two days - and received top billing! Also, the leading lady, Margaret Tallichet, was Mrs. William Wyler and was one of the top five actresses in line for Scarlett O'Hara. She made only two films the year after Stranger on the Third Floor - and retired from films forever. Another piece of casting that adds to the strangeness of this film is the casting of Elisha Cook, Jr. As opposed to his usual second-banana henchman and hard-boiled criminal, here he plays an innocent boy sent to the gas chamber for a crime he didn't commit. His scenes protesting his innocence are quite good and he's remarkably believable! Director Boris Ingster has created a taut, concise (it's only a shade over one hour long), and exciting little thriller. He only made a couple more movies before moving on to produce television programs. One other little tidbit: this movie has one of the most bizarre dream sequences I've seen. I know I haven't told you much about the story - but it's so short that I feel giving a synopsis would let too much out of the bag. Just try to rent a copy of Stranger on the Third Floor and enjoy!
And, using my big ol' sleeves to fly my way to the 21st century ....
Two newer movies that had me engrossed from beginning to end.

First, Gran Torino, with director-star Clint Eastwood. Almost a perfect movie about the death of the ubiquitous America Dream. Eastwood's Polish blue-collar worker raises irrascible curmudgeon to an art form. He is possibly one of the most disagreeable characters you're going to run into - ever. Again, the story is very simple so I don't want to spoil the film by exposing too much here. Eastwood entertains and teaches us through a simple - and sometimes violent - story of melting distrust, surprising affection, spirituality, honour and bravery, and respect. This is a film that I believe a family should watch together (warning: some very strong language). There is much to be learned from this film. And, of course, it's also a plain old fashioned good movie!
My second contemporary film is I Loved You So Long, starring Kristen Scott Thomas, in perhaps her best performance ever. This movie is tough going - it's very emotional and touches - no, dwells - on some very unpleasant aspects of life. It has much to say about family, children, society, and the way they find importance in our lives. Ms. Scott Thomas plays Juliette, a woman just released from prison after 15 years. Again, I don't want to reveal what she was there for, as it's an important disclosure moment in the movie - but it's tough to hear. Her journey to find her place in a family that had disowned her, and a place of acceptance in society, is at times humorous - at others heartbreaking. The entire cast is first-rate - though it's clear this film is a showcase for Ms. Scott Thomas, and her Oscar nomination could hardly have come as a surprise. I'm glad I watched this with someone, as I wanted to talk about it when it was over. It brings up as many questions as it answers. It gets a big five stars out of five from me!
I love Victorian fashion. I had no idea that flotation devices were sometimes used as hair ornaments.
Isn't this a wonderful image?! While searching for images to use on a Mad Hatter's hat for an art swap, I came across this very realistic rabbit hole shot. It's a still from a very early (1903) turn of the century silent version of Alice in Wonderland. I think it's the first time I've ever seen the rabbit hole look so natural (if enormous), and vaguely creepy - as it should, in my opinion!
I also found this delightful clip from yet another early 20th century (1915) version of Alice. The sets were quite ominous -and the early special effect I found believable. Enjoy!

Okay, I'm off to work on some art pieces - I have three things that really must be finished up soon! I've been spending too much time this summer lazing around and watching movies! ... and enjoying way too many naps!
Have a lovely day - and try to find time to make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥


Marsha @ Tattered Chick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marsha @ Tattered Chick said...

Oops, I misspelled your name, Tristan, and I dislike it when mine is misspelled, LOL, so I deleted my original post. I always tell people I spell my name like the actress Marsha Hunt and they go, HUH?!?!

It's always a pleasure to visit your blog, Tristan. Grand Torino is next on our Netflix. My husband really wanted to see it and me not so much until now!

I'm ROTFL re your comment about the floating device!!

Have a great day!


peggy gatto said...

That was my response the other day to your film noir post, the Stranger! I found it oddly creepy but I couldn't stop watching it! Worth a rent!
Your new painting discovery is awesome and I can't wait to go see more, thank you!
Agree/ Grand Torino!
Recommend " Dogfight" , River Phoenix!

Anonymous said...

About that rabbit hole..... Big Rabbit?? Is Harvey in there???
Have a great day!!

studioJudith said...

Wow ... I feel as if you're my own personal Siskel/Ebert!
Gotta update my Netflix ... .

Merci dear Tristan -

Frieda Oxenham said...

It's great to have you back with us, blogging, Tristan. And thanks so much for all the wonderful eye candy on your posts. Also the recommendations re films which I try and keep up. I specially adore the old black/white creepies (that's what I call the film noirs).

mo.stoneskin said...

That art is pretty crazy. Not *quite* my taste but I could put some up in the baby's room, she would love it!

William Bezek said...

Thanks for the Alice clip..interesting.

Sugar and Spice Art Confections said...

I love those beautiful and whimsical watercolors! I have often thought of doing a series of shell people myself, as I love shells. Strange that here I see some already done! I hope you are having a beautiful summer! I know I am! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your comments always brighten my day! Tootles! Rebecca

Ingrid Mida said...

So nice to read a post from you!!! I've missed your posts the past few weeks. Love that rabbit hole....

Sue said...

Wow, I had never seen those watercolours before...I love them!

I confess to not seeing any of the movies you mentioned, although I would like to see the Kristen Scott Thomas one, she is such a wonderful actress.

I want to see more of the 1915 Alice movie...FABULOUS!!! Even has a bit of a Tim Burtonish feel to it.

p.s. love the pics Tristan!

Leslie said...

Where do you find your images? Amazing as always.

Baroness Bijoutery said...

Tristan I just love your posts..and as for film Noir I am a total fan...Of course I grew up watching these movies..Stranger on the Third Floor has alway been a favorite..Another on is The Stranger with Orson Wells and Edward G Robinson...Of the clock tower chase at the end is fantastic...I really hate seeing them colorizing these great old Black and White films..Don't they know that the photography of these and the fantastic way they use shadows only adds to the picture..It takes a great talent to play those shadows just right...you really don't get that in color films..Okay enough..sorry. I will put my soapbox away for the evening....

Pam @ Frippery said...

What gorgeous watercolors! I am a film noir lover as well as an Alice in Wonderland fanatic. I have several versions of Alice on DVD. I haven't seen Gran Torino but my mom did and basically told me the whole dang thing. (she can't help being a movie ruiner if she sees it first) Lots of great info in this post. I will be renting Stranger on the Third Floor as I can't remember seeing it. If I have, I love watching these over several times. Thanks Tristan.

Pam @ Frippery said...

OK Tristan, now I'm commenting and can't shut up. Just checked out Shell and Flower People. I almost squealed! I don't know which is my favorite. Fantastic. I love them all. I will have to save up my junking profits for a print, but which one?

Georgina said...

Just saw "Grand Torino" and yes, what a great movie and great lesson for all of us. Thanks for posting the Alice movie...love silent movies! Used to watch them with my grandfather is a child. He had his own little movie theatre in his home and had all kinds of movies from around the world...wish I knew what happened to all those old canisters filled with magic.

Sea Witch said...

How delightful, these have a joyful 1950s feel about them with their color palette. Had to mention that Grand Torino is one of my favorite Eastwood films to date. He just gets better as he ages in all that he creates. Something we can all aspire to as we increase our years on this earth. Sea Witch

Chris said...

Those watercolors are wonderful. I like how they seem to be telling some interesting story at the same time.

Stephanie Suzanne Designs said...

Hello Tristan,

The watercolors are fabulous..kind of a fantasy sci-fi story in the making!

I love the photo from the early Alice in Wonderland. I've got a large piece of vintage AIW fabric probably from the 50's or 60's..I'm going to incorporate into my new studio...

Have a great day,

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Excellent recommendations Tristan! Great watercolors as well. How are you sir? Anita

Gossamer Creations said...

Great post.....I love the rabbit whole... it looks so real. There is nothing better than watching movies and napping......I really love napping. Have a great day.

Cheryl said...

I simply adore your post!
Peace and Blessings
Cheryl...Snatch JOY!

Carolee said...

Thanks for the gorgeous link (LOVE his work!) and the movie reviews. Saw Gran Torino and loved it, and I've Loved You So Long is on my netflix queue!

(First up is Harry Potter though, hehe!)

Happy creating!
~ carolee

Karen Valentine said...

Hello my bloggy friend! WooHoo!!! Party day is just a week away! I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone's creative spaces. I have a request... I thought it would be easier for everyone to leave comments if we all turned off comment moderation and word verification during the day (or maybe week) of the party. To do that, go to customize, settings, comments...then scroll down to turn off comment moderation and word verification.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a fabulous week. See you next Friday!!

My Desert Cottage

Judy said...

I love old film noir movies! Seldom is there a bad one! Double Indemnity is one of my favorites!

Gran Torino was really good. Nothing like a crotchety old man like Clint to play that part -- and he did a fabulous job of it! You gotta love him in the end!

Going to start on a shrine in the next installment of KC's camps. Can't wait to get going on that. You??

Create beautiful things and share!

Unknown said...

Your posts are always enchanting, and I come away learning so many things. OMG, I love Harrison Howard's work, I just followed the link. I love how he uses such vibrant colors, and the charm of his characters. Gran Torino, I want to see this movie. My first car was an aqua Torino with bucket seats, a tape player and a huge engine. I never loved a car as much again. There I go, your posts make me do that. I love the Alice video too.

Your posts should be made into a book. hint, hint, have you looked at how Blurb makes you blog into a book?

Happy creative weekend.


Anonymous said...

Hey Tristan,
Love your film reviews. I am adding a couple to my next post, by coincidence. I love old movies. I was raised on them which sometimes makes me a bit of a film snob. I have not seen STRANGER so it is a definate rent. FYI - I love Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood is my father in this movie if he were Columbian and 5' 6". It brought back memories. Hope all is going well with the kitchen and the plants.


The Joy of Nesting said...

Hi Kiddo,

I just have to have a bow as big as hers!!! ALthough I don't think my hair is long enought to keep the bow on my head!! :)

WOW I'm more then impressed with the special effects in the old silent film!!

Have a great weekend. I just realized I have 20 tote bags to make for Mette's wedding which is just a little over 100 days away!!

Pattie ;)
Mazatlan Mx.

Cat (darklingwoods) said...

I love that silent film Alice! And that big rabbit hole yipes!

Wonderful watercolor discovery too, always a treat in store when I come here!