1 Shot Wednesday: Frida Kahlo

When a traveling exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s paintings, drawings, and costumes came to Phoenix, it was a no brainer to visit. Do you find wherever you live, you are caught up in the day-day-to-day routine of life? But then someone comes to visit, and you seek out like a tourist entertaining things to do? My Mom came to visit. We both love art and museums. The Phoenix Art Museum has world-class visual arts and impressive traveling exhibits. We had a great morning wandering around the galleries and absorbing the colors and passionate life of Frida Kahlo. I never would have gone to the museum if she hadn’t come to see me.

Frida Kahlo self-portrait, 1943

This particular self-portrait was painted in 1943. I read that she was teaching at that point in Mexico City but her health worsened and she was forced to teach in her home. Her class trickled down to four. The loyal students sat by her bed. It has been suggested that the “Los Fridos” monkeys represent her four students. I like her eyes.

 

L13FC: 1960s British & U.S. Significant Films

Welcome back to Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club. I heartily give thanks to Pete from Norfolk, England who agreed to co-host this month. After a discussion about significant films, not necessarily Oscar winners or box-draw favorites, we hashed out the details and chose three favorites from each side of the pond. What do our choices show about society at the time? Please comment and feel free to turn this into a discussion board. What films would you add? 

PETE FROM BEETLEY asserts: 

The 1960s were an important time in the development of British Cinema. From the home-made epics to the emergence of the kitchen-sink’ dramas reflecting real life.  The ‘comfortable’ class-ridden films that had gone before began to fade away, as film-makers sought to portray life as it could be understood by the people who paid for tickets. With most of the poverty behind them, and the absence of the rigours of war and rationing, cinema-goers began to expect more, and they got it.

In the era of ‘Swinging London’ and the culture of pop music and fashion that defined it, I became a teenager and a film fan, at one of the best times in history to have been both.

I recall three films that, showcased what was going on. Changing attitudes to class, approaching the horror film in a very different way, and a fresh approach to the espionage genre.

Peeping Tom (1960)

In the same year that ‘Psycho’ was released, the esteemed British film-maker Michael Powell released this film about a disturbed serial killer. Set in London’s seedy glamour and soft-porn industry, it followed a troubled young man unable to control his impulse to not only kill, but to film those kills as they happened. The audience followed the camera into the terrors of the victims and then watched as he not only reviewed his crimes but also played old reels about his own abuse as a youngster. It proved too much for the time. Critics and censors were appalled, and the audiences were shocked beyond belief. Powell’s career was ruined by the uproar, and the film took many years to gain a cult following of those who appreciated just how radical and powerful it was.

 

The Servant (1963)

Joseph Losey made many films with the leading man, Dirk Bogarde. In this film, he is cast against type, as a nasty, manipulative manservant, keen to take advantage of his aristocratic and superior young employer, played to perfection by a young James Fox. To achieve his goal, he introduces an attractive young woman into the house, to act as a maid. He claims she is his sister, allowing his young master to believe he can take advantage of her. Once hooked on sex with the girl, (a suitably alluring Sarah Miles) the upper-class man has his life slowly dismantled by the scheming pair, as they destroy his relationships, and make him increasingly dependent on them both. With wonderful location filming in London, tight direction by Losey, and a powerful script, this film reflected changes in class attitudes driven by 1960s society. Foretelling the end of so much privilege by circumstance.

The Ipcress File (1965)

The first of the ‘Harry Palmer’ spy films saw Michael Caine emerge as a new kind of secret agent. Not an upper-class university educated gentlemen, or aristocratic fop, and not resident in the glamorous fake world of James Bond. This was the everyday slog of spies in the Cold War. They still have to overcome class prejudice from their superiors, but they are playing a new kind of game, one where winning is the only acceptable outcome. Ex-military, unimpressed, and wearily flirtatious, Harry was the perfect role for Caine, who ran with it to the sequels too. Although the film builds to a climax, it excels in the small details of Harry’s everyday life, and his interaction with his colleagues. When we went to watch this film, it was undeniable that things were changing in Britain, and we now had a new kind of hero.

CINDY’S CHOICES

Only three? Should I choose one from the start of the decade like Spartacus (1960) directed by Stanley Kubrick for an undeniable well-crafted epic? What about the film that gave the voice to the counterculture in 1969, Easy Rider? Which film reflected the terror and paranoia of the Cold War best? Dr. Strangeglove? Should I choose a film that typifies vibrant NYC and its spokesperson, the endearing Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? I adore West Side Story. It is probably my favorite film of all time. I chose not to mention it here today. God that was hard!

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

The 1960s was about finding one’s inner strength. It was about non-conformity. Paul Newman as Luke Jackson does this best and becomes a martyr in the eyes of his Florida inmates. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg, what a cast and outstanding performances by Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon, and Jo Van Fleet. Just look at that trailer to remind you. The film is art.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

In answer to my question about the Cold War, The Manchurian Candidate hit a nerve. It raised fears that top-secret missions existed and fanned the flames of fear and paranoia. Angela Lansbury as Eleanor Shaw was frightening while Frank Sinatra gave one of the best performances of his career.

Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock pushed the envelope with his most famous film. He filmed Janet Leigh in her bra and slip. The central character was female; she had a steamy affair and embezzled from the bank. The toilet flushed for the first time in film. A trifecta of taboos inferred: transvestitism, incest, and necrophilia. Who can forget Bernard Herrmann’s score with violins that pierce the air like a knife? Or Hitchcock’s filming of angles, the play with light and dark, and the awesome editing montage during the shower scene? The exterior and interior shots of the house? Those top shots of the stairs? Doesn’t everyone cringe at one of the best final shots in film history–the stare of Norman Bates played by Anthony Perkins? Well done, Janet Leigh, for starring in two out of three of significant films from the 1960s.

Your turn!

Thank you, Pete! Don’t forget to visit Pete’s blog soon. You can find him in Beetley HERE.

Five Shots: Rome

Colosseum at Night

The first time I went to Rome was a decade ago and it was 105 (40c) degrees Fahrenheit. It was hard to appreciate much of anything while squinting through the haze and rubbing shoulders with a thousand tourists. Still, the Sistine Chapel made me cry, and the Colleseum lived up to the hype. It’s a beautiful structure and worth any aggravation to see it. Why? It’s one of those rare antiquities where you can actually touch it, wrap your arms around it, feel the history seep in, and no one will shoot you for doing so.

view of rome
On one of the seven hills surrounding Rome.

This time, I was shocked with pleasure at how cool was Rome. There were a couple afternoon drizzles (very unique for we Arizonians) and a breeze followed us around in 67 – 75-degree temperatures. Our group split up and we walked at our leisure from one side of Rome to the other, rambling through side streets and neighborhoods with energy and fascination. We frequently stopped to have a drink and people watch. We consumed pizza and pasta, and for the fashion conscious pair in my life, I bought Italian shoes for my son and designer sunglasses for my daughter-in-law. I was surprised how much fun I had in Rome.

Here are a few shots of our four days there. Which one do you like best?

Experiencing the quiet at the Roman Botanical Gardens
Ponte Garibaldi view of the Tiber River
bridges
Ponte Sisto super Fiume Tevere

Looking Up
Inside the Colleseum
Halls in the Vatican to the Sistine Chapel
School of Athens fresco (A dream come true!)
A maiden in the School of Athens
Raphael wearing the black hat
Roman Fountain
Jim and Cindy
pizza
Pizza (again) for Lunch
Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain
At the Forum–that’s what I call a door.

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