Frederick Wiseman’s love letter to ballet 5

Dance · Film · Reviews
“I love ballet,” admits 79-year-old documentarian Frederick Wiseman, whose rigorous films on hospital management, meat processing, and public housing have given way to late-life examinations of art and the artistic process. “Dance is the creation of something absolutely beautiful,” he says. “Yet it’s not a fixed form. It’s ephemeral. It’s evanescent.” “I’m no expert,” he ...

A slice of Lewis Klahr’s life

Film · Reviews · Visual arts
“Cake equaled love in my family,” said filmmaker Lewis Klahr following a cinematic magical mystery tour of his childhood memory bank. I understand this statement. I also get the intense spewing of fetishized objects — artfully collected, cut and pasted, and then animated — in Klahr’s amazing films. Critic J. Hoberman in the Village Voice ...

Before Hollywood came Edendale 2

Architecture & Design · Film
This rustic boulevard, photographed at the turn of the twentieth century, occupied a Los Angeles neighborhood with the aspirational name of Edendale. One hundred years later, it’s called Echo Park. The street was then Allesandro. Now it’s Glendale Boulevard, or more accurately, a two-mile suction tube for automobiles hurtling toward downtown Los Angeles. On this ...

Red hair, red shoes 2

Dance · Film
I recently attended a screening of The Red Shoes, the 1948 Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger classic lovingly restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive, Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, British Film Institute, and others. This film’s huge blast of technicolor transforms red-headed Moira Shearer into an unspeakably firey, unearthly creature … her neat figure, fair complexion, and carrot top ...

Ballerina’s beautiful beach birthday bash 1

Dance · Film
Last year I wrote an article about former New York City Ballet ballerina Yvonne Mounsey coaching a young dancer, Melissa Barak, in the lead role of George Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son.” Mounsey danced the role in the early 1950s. By all accounts, she was an amazing, full-blooded dancer. She went on to become a great ballet ...

Yvonne Rainer, filmmaker 1

Dance · Film
As a dance writer, I approached Yvonne Rainer, filmmaker, with trepidation. But she is as highly regarded in the experimental film world as she is in dance. My apprehension was for naught having attended the first of an eight-part retrospective of Rainer’s film work at the L.A. Filmforum at the Egyptian Theater. The films are marvelous, even ...

Saving the village: our struggle to save LACMA’s film program

Film
On 28 July, 2009 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announced that CEO Michael Govan’s vision for more comprehensive treatment of cinema at the museum required the axing of a superb 40-year-running film program. That kind of logic reminded me of the Vietnam War general explaining that the U.S. army had to “destroy the village in order to save the village.” But our little hamlet of Los Angeles ...

Getting out of Dodge …

Film
     Michael Govan spotted this morning heading to Hamptons vacation. artist: Benoit Le Pennec  

Marilyn dances . . . 1

Dance · Film
The first man to impersonate Marilyn Monroe may well have been her dance coach, Jack Cole. Anticipating the iconic Marilyn, he brought out her exceptional femininity through dance. Monroe copied him in return. A star was born. Monroe’s six-movie collaboration with Cole began with 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the breakthrough film that made her a ...

Why film community matters

Film
In this coming Sunday’s Los Angeles Times Calendar section you will find my article about choreographer Jack Cole who coached Marilyn Monroe in movement over the course of six of her films. Most famously, he choreographed “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jack Cole also choreographed “Put the Blame on Mame” for Rita Hayworth in Gilda, at ...