Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hello Again

Ok, I'm back - in a manner of speaking.

I have now surfaced from my thesis writing fury. I have written the entire thing (Yay!!!!), but I am still working on revisions and formatting (which is a big pain since I have 100+ figures that need to be included and any time I alter a line enough to move a word, it messes up my images. Woe is me). However, I am going to try and get back into the groove of posting my critques again! There are going to be a few changes...

First of all, I think I am not going to allow myself to be tied down to any real list. If any of you know me at all, you know I hate being put in a box (which is why I just got rid of my facebook page), even though I know this puts me into a certain box, I like that I'm the one sharing on this more than creating a certain perception of myself. Anyway, right now I am working on putting all of my books, movies, and comics into an excel sheet, and it has inspired me. I own so many AMAZING works that I think I want to share some of them. Now, keep in mind, not all of my stuff is always good - some were gifts and I have been known to impulse buy some pretty bad items. However, I am going to work through my own collection of movies and comics and why others should own them too!

I am also going to try and post twice a week like I was doing, but we shall see how long that lasts for me (hopefully for a good long time). I will probably also be posting some of my artwork as well - stuff I've been working on or randomly made or painted to give away.

I am going to leave you with two things though before I go: The first being this amazing website: - you can stroll through museums and get close up views of the artwok! I love love LOVE it! Plus, the best of the best, you can set up your own collection of your favorite works of art! It makes me want to go visit the museums of course, but I love being able to see the Uffizi, which I've never gotten a chance to see in person. Plus, they have one of my favorite museums of all time on there: the Frick! So good! Defintely, go check it out.

The last thing I will leave you with is a little picture I created for a friend who is in love with Poe's "Annabelle Lee." This image was supposed to represent the end of the poem (the whole poem is beautiful and you should read it - http://http//
Sorry it is a little blurry and fuzzy. I'm including two close-ups as well -

That's all I have for you today. Hopefully, I'll be back Tuesday night!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I know, I know. I am such a punk! I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted. However, this is still not a real post (yes, it doesn't exist). It is more a post to explain where I have been. Sadly, I have been really overwhelmed by school and grading (especially the latter). I was able to take a break this past weekend and do some painting (finally!). And this is what I created:

I wanted to do a study in suffering. Here is my first one titled Lost in Sin.

A little bit of a close up on it...if a little blurry.

My other one is what started the series. I love Velazquez's painting (see earlier post on Daredevil), and I just love the emotion he got in the face. This is my version of that, which I have just titled "After After Velazquez."

A little bit of a closer look...

A much closer look again to see how I used the color in this one.

Something to inspire you though: I have just watched one of the most beautiful films ever! It is silent and superb! It is called The Man Who Laughs and came out in 1928. I loved it so much!!! You should go watch it right now - it is free on youtube because it is public domain.
Look at that emotion in his face! So good! Plus, based on a Hugo book!?! You should know that Les Miserables is my favorite book ever - such a picture of redemption! I loved the movie.

Plus, check out that legit smile! This was the inspiration of the Joker from Batman. Isn't that awesome! It made my day when I learned that (thanks to my awesome bro!), and I have been telling all my kids to go watch it, though I doubt they will. You should though!
Alright, I am not sure when I will be able to return to regular postings since I am getting more papers to grade soon and my schedule is out of control. I will try to make time though (that's right, I'm magic). Until next time; go enjoy some art!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven)

Grade: F
Title: A Matter of Life and Death (in US: Stairway to Heaven) 1946
Director: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Notable Actors: David Niven, Roger Livesey, and Kim Hunter

How can you say no to David Niven? He is just so wonderful - Let's just reflect: The Pink Panther, The Guns of Navarone and he played Bertie in Thank You, Jeeves! So, right away A Matter of Lfie and Death should intrigue you. Plus, and I'm not sure if you caught this, but it is directed and written by the same people (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) who did The Red Shoes, which you know I love. This movie had much the same effect The Red Shoes had on me. It literally blew me away - I adored it soooooo much: sublime!

It begins a little oddly, and really that is what defines the movie the entire way through because it is just super curious but in a really good way! However, the first scene beyond the little prologue is simply lovely. Niven's character is in a plane that is on fire and he ends up calling to the nearest station, which is manned by an American girl. He recites some poetry to her while she is trying to figure out who he is and what is happening to his plane. It is such a poignant scene that it pulls you into the story right away.

Powell and Pressburger really enjoy themselves in this movie and have some fun with common stereotypes given to nations. For example, as you can tell from the picture above, the Frenchman here is depicted as foppish, effeminate, and completely sympathetic to love. Of course, Niven is an Englishman and the young woman he falls in love with is American,, which leads to a whole bunch of tension later when Niven is tried by the first American to have been shot and killed in the Revolutionary War.

I added this picture because I LOVE books and hope to have a room quite similar to this when I grow up (right now I do have stacks of books everywhere, but I can hardly stack them everywhere because my poor roomies - I live with four other girls - would kill me, especially since I have stashed my books as "accents" and "decorations" all over the place already). So this might have been a little bit of a digression, but let's face it, if this set is present in this movie how can it not be superb?

As mentioned before, Niven's plane was heading to a crash, with no hope of escape for him; however, he is able to wash up on the shore seemingly fine. But, as time progresses, Niven is visited by a Frenchman (see above) who is trying to get him to come to the afterlife since he was supposed to die in the plane crash. When this man comes to visit Niven, everything stops in time, which is what you see in the picture of the girl playing ping-pong (never much good at that game - or any game that deals heavily with eye/hand coordination). Kim Hunter, who plays the girl, is surprisingly good at holding her pose, which she has to do throughout the movie. These scenes create interesting moments in the film, revealing much of the beauty that Powell and Pressburger are able to achieve.

This is the iconic "Stairway to Heaven." As you can see, it is lined by statues of the most famous men, which the Frenchman attempts to get Niven to chose for his defense. I love this scene, which has this great driving tune being pounded out on the piano. It fits so well with the subversiveness of the Frenchman and the confusion of Niven's character. This scene is why the American released version was called Stairway to Heaven (apparently, there is not much different between the two - the American version did take out this super odd scene with a clothe-less boy on the beach, seemingly representational of Pan), and has been used as album art for Phil Collins.

This movie made use of a HUGE number of extras to make up the crowd at the trial. Interestingly, these extras included real R.A.F. crews, Red Cross nurses and W.A.A.C.s. The scene of the trial is preceded by the classic and ominous picture of Niven's eye closing over the lens, effectively placing the viewer as the person about to be placed on trial. The whole sequence of the trial is fascinatingly written, as all the different people groups interact and respond. It takes place in heaven and plays off of classic stereotypes. While I'm thinking of it, I want to mention how beautiful and evocative the scene is where they first introduce heaven. At first, there is little dialogue - just people walking in and the viewer figuring out who they are and we watch them get placed. It is such an interesting picture of heaven, though deeply flawed of course (as every version of heaven is that is created on earth).

This movie did change my life. I loved it so much, and I only watched it for the first time last week! I wanted to buy it right away, and so looked for it on amazon. However, I couldn't find it for region 1 (irritations galore!). I am not sure how to get my hands on it, and I fear I will have to be patient. I would recommend that you watch this movie right away!!! You can definitely get it from your local library. If they don't have it in stock, make use of the wonderful tool called InterLibraryLoan (it can be your best friend and save you tons of money). Until next time; go enjoy some art!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Lost Weekend

Grade: F
Title: The Lost Weekend (1945)
Director: Billy Wilder
Notable Actors: Ray Milland and Jane Wyman

I can't tell you how much I love this movie! I'm really not sure why. Like so many classic black and white films, I first watched it on TCM and then went out and bought it right away! I just fell in love with the endearing, irritating character that the brilliant Ray Milland portrays. Just look at this picture of despair...

Can't you feel his utter inability to control himself? What could be more terrifying than that? You are not being victimized by anyone but yourself, which is why it is so gripping and frightful because if you can't control yourself you clearly cannot control anything else. Ray Milland can also be recognized as the equally terrifying (but for completely different reasons) husband from Hitchcock's masterpiece Dial M for Murder.
Quick side note: while we are on the note of leading actors, I hope you all recognize Jane Wyman's name. Anyone know who she was married to? I'll let that marinate for a bit ... one clue - when his statement that he cut wood was questioned by a journalist he preceded to have his secret service men video tape him chopping a HUGE load of wood ... hahahahahahahahaha. What a great story!

The main premise of this movie is that a young man has become obsessed with drinking (you can see the ridiculous lengths he goes to in order not to be he has hidden his alcohol outside his window, so his brother does not find it as he searches - literally, awkwardly, horrifyingly - his room). His brother wants him to come with him for the weekend to help him not drink his nights away. However, we get to watch his complete fall into oblivion and departure from reason. It is haunting and surprisingly insightful because we all have obsessions that are better left unexplored.

Some of the best elements of this film (there are so many!) are the two women characters. One is sassy and ridic (yes, she shortens the word...who knew? I always thought that was something more recent), while the other is refined and sophisticated - showing the two spectrums he kind of pivots around. He only is associated with the sleazy girl because he hangs around in the bars when he should be with his brother; however, even she proves that she is not as sleazy as he is because she knows when to say no, which is his constant struggle.

Thus, we are presented with a beautiful, sparkling woman and the man who won her heart (the way they met is almost too should watch it at least for that). He is a promising writer with a strong career in front of him. However, as his character is unfolded, it is clear that his need for drink is so overwhelming that it constantly defeats and gets the better of him.

The last part of the film is my favorite. It shows his awful descent into drinking madness (even Hell) as he hallucinates and ends up in the hospital. He finally realizes that he has to give up drinking in order to move on with his life. True, he lost the past weekend with his brother, who he will have to rebuild his relationship with, but he realizes that he has not lost his life. I love this ending because it does not ignore the consequences of sin, but it shows redemption and hope. To me, it ends on one of the most hopeful notes it could - him starting to write again.

I do enjoy this movie a great deal. The emotion and passion one character is able to portray. I would definitely recommend that you buy it right away!!! (easily found here: http:// or at least netflix it or borrow it (I'm sure your library has it). Until next time; go enjoy some art!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Grade: G+
Title: Stitches
Author AND Artist: David Smalls

Yes, I am finally back and better than ever (so what if I have 70 conferences with my darling students next week, so what if I have my proposal defense next Friday, so what if I have to take the GRE Subject test next Saturday - life is good)! I am glad to be back, and I am so glad I went and bought this comic. Stitches is a beautiful comic about the life of a young boy (the author) who grows up in a family that doesn't communicate. When he is fourteen he has to have surgery, he thinks to get a minor lump removed but really it is because he has cancer. After he wakes up from the surgery, he finds that he no longer can speak.

On the cover of Stitches, it bears the phrase "a memoir..." Indeed, Stitches is a memoir in the same vein as Running with Scissors. The latter details the very odd life of a young boy who is tossed around because everyone is too selfish to care, which he portrays quite aggressively. In the same way, Stitches mainly focuses on the relationship, or lack there of, of David to his parents. Both of these memoirs, while enjoyable and fascinating, paint an almost painfully pleasant portrayal of the main character. Essentially, they are both too ... not self-righteous, but self-pitying.

Here, David is portraying himself as his father subjects him to his many X-rays. He grew up in the fifties, when they didn't realize the radiation effects X-rays had, and, since he had some trouble breathing and his dad was a radiologist, he received a great number of them when he was quite young. This, quite sadly, causes his cancer, but David finds himself unable to forgive his father for the loss of his voice. Thus, for me the lack of hope and forgiveness (I love art to represent redemption something we all desire to experience at some time) present really limited the power of Stitches. It was too worthy of itself, rendering much of the story unpleasant.

However, both the only element to represent hope of any kind and the redeeming factor in this book is the art. The art is beautiful and even sublime throughout the whole work. Small's choice of using only black and white fits perfectly with his dire, somber story. However, as the story unfolds David realizes that he needs art in order to express himself, which gives him a glimmer of hope. This art also gives him a voice, as his has been taken from him.

With this picture, you can see the beautiful (if a little grotesque, which you should know I kind of love, which is why I am writing my thesis on it) detail Small is able to include, even as he simplifies his lines and is very intentional in what details he does include. The way he doesn't bother to capture a perfectly realistic representation of shadows on his body works because he wants his viewers to be focused on the stitches. This style works amazingly well throughout the entire book, elevating an otherwise dreary memoir into something beautiful and worth reading.

Ultimately, Stitches presents itself as a strong comic worthy of being read. I am glad I own it because the art is luminous and simply divine. I enjoy studying it and mimicking his effective style. However, the story does not sell me, so it might be better to rent it ... really up to you. Until next time; go enjoy art!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Golly, I am so ashamed! Here I am, neglecting my blog. The truth is that I got my first batch of papers from my lovely students a week ago, which means I have been busily grading fifty painfully freshman compare/contrast papers. I have to give them back tomorrow, which means I was doing some major grading today. All of this to say, I did not write my blog on Friday, nor am I going to today.

I know, it is so sad! Never fear; I will leave you with a few things to brighten your day until my return on Friday.

First, I have video to offer you (found here: http://http// that typifies how I feel as I grade (especially note the ending). It is a clever parody of Inglorious Basturds, a good film, if not pleasant.

Second, I don't feel that I should ignore the Twilight craze, so I offer the only way anyone should watch the movie (http://http// Now, you can be up on the cultural phenomenal without having to actually take part in it. Doesn't that feel good?

Finally, I have two paintings to leave you with.
The first makes me think of my mother. This pretty well represents her entire personality and being (well, as much as can be represented in one image).
The second always makes me think of my Dad. Not that his personality is really represented here. But,when I was a little girl, and I first saw this painting I thought of Jeeves and Wooster, an amazing British comedy that is based off of P.G. Wodehouse's amazingly hilarious novels. Anyway, my Dad introduced me to Jeeves and Wooster when I was young and so, for me, this painting represents him.

Allright, until next time; go enjoy some art!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Heiress

Grade: F
Title: The Heiress (1949)
Director: William Wyler
Notable Actors: Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift

The Heiress. I can't tell y'all how much I adore this film! I found it fascinating, haunting, and provocative for many different reasons. Also, I thought this movie, with its intense focus on just a few key characters, presents an enthralling portrait and study of humanity. A little side note, not that I only care about awards, but I hope you noted the fact that The Heiress won FOUR Academy Awards (including Best Actress) - pretty impressive, huh!

It is no wonder that Olivia de Havilland won an Oscar, which she had done once before for her role in To Each His Own, because she is a wonderful actress. First of all, she made a number of exciting actiony movies with Errol Flynn, and then she took a complete change of direction by insisting on doing the role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind. She showed her versatility and her ability to play someone who was not chiefly a beauty. Montgomery Clift also established himself as a brilliant actor (although he never won an Academy Award...he was nominated for four - and I think the fact that he didn't win for A Place in the Sun is a AMAZING movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters - watch it now).

The Heiress is mainly concerned with a woman from a rich family as she "enjoys" society. She is naturally shy and so finds it difficult to be completely comfortable at parties or other social gatherings. People are kind to her, but her painful awkwardness is highlighted over and over again (remember, this is before awkwardness became a tool for comedy - see The Office). Within the first ten minutes, I felt attached to her because she just kept doing the wrong thing, and I really wanted to help her. Anyway, she attends yet another party and meets a dashing young man, Clift.

She is flattered by him and wants to develop their relationship because he is the only one who has ever shown any interest in her. However, her overbearing father quickly undermines her hope. In fact, the most compelling element, for me. in the movie is the relationship between the father and the daughter. It is something I find so heartbreakingly sad - what a waste of what could be a beautiful relationship. He is a widower, lonely and cold and his daughter could provide comfort and warmth for his life. Instead, he continually pushes her away, refusing to see her virtues and condemning her to a loveless life.

Ultimately, The Heiress is a love story, of sorts. You have a boy who seems to be falling in love with a girl who seems to be falling in love with him. What could go wrong? Of course, love is never that simple because whenever we fall in love we second guess ourselves - and the person we are falling in love with. This leads to a quagmire of questions and worries within the heiress' life as she hopes that Clift really loves her.

After being gone for years, Clift comes back from the West to seek out de Haviland. He is sporting a mustache (good choice? doubtful) and promises to love her now that he has returned. Is she happy? Will she trust him? I am not going to mention any of those questions; rather, I will let you discover the truth. The emotions at the end of this film run high and should hold you tightly to your seat.

The Heiress is a must see movie! I would recommend you buy it right away (I know I did), which you can do here:
http://http//, or if you don't quite have the funds or the inclination you can watch it free on youtube: http://http// Really, it is a good time for pretty much anyone of any age. Until next time; go enjoy some art!