Sometimes a tweet just hits the mark. I sent this image out with "A random list of street art led me to this gem." It was passed around quite a bit, and with no explanation to the reference. Smart crowd.
Sidney Lumet was born on this day in 1924 and the late director of “Network” and “Dog Day Afternoon” may have been the first to use graffiti as a narrative device in a movie. And not just by documenting street life character, which Lumet is also known for in his body of work for film and television. New York street's was his stage for epic emotion.
But, when Lumet willfully directed, allowed, or approved New York graffiti into “The Wiz,” his maligned adaptation of the Broadway musical from 1978, it's not a capture of backdrop. It's creating it. First, the opening credits plays off New York’s style. Then it's prominent in Munchkin Land, filmed in New York State Pavilion on the old World’s Fair ground, converted into a graffiti playground. Moving into the scene, against the long mural, painted figures are really dancers and slink off the backdrop.
For "The Wiz," Tony Walton received Oscar nominations in 1979 in two categories; costume design and set direction/art direction.
Sure, Blondie’s video for “Rapture” used graffiti and had cameos by Lee Quinones and Jean-Michel Basquiat. But that was from 1981. And Charlie Ahearn’s hip-hop film “Wild Style” was released in 1983.
If graffiti was art directed in popular film or video prior to 1978’s “The Wiz” I’d like to know.
"A Sacred Journey" is a film about a mural that comes alive as Lou Gherig’s disease takes down the man who commissioned it. Since 2008, Director Ernesto Quintero has chronicled the ambition of his brother, Juan, to leave something behind to be remembered; a 34-foot mural at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Lincoln Heights.
The film documents the family, artists and community who making the mural a reality in time for Juan to see it. A note from the director via the website:
Two and a half years into his diagnosis, with six months left to live, Juan decides to embark on a mural project. He hires a muralist, asks me to write the story and picks a 34-foot wall at his old Alma Mater Sacred Heart Elementary School (SHES), where his kids presently attend. The mural on the wall consists of a timeline of LHTS, a historical account of one of the first neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where my parents decided to raise all six of their children. The mural is broken up into 5 segments; pre-historic time to present time LHTS. What is at the core of the mural is the image of the “familia”.
You can preview the work in progress at a special community/fundraising screening Sunday, June 29 at Sacred Heart Church. Tickets are $12, though larger donations can help complete the film.
Wearing red, Clint Eastwood, tapped into his past on Thursday night as he introduced “Jersey Boys” as the last screening of the 20th Los Angeles Film Festival. “I guess ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’ closed the Cannes Film Festival this year and now this film is gonna close this one,” gruffed the director.. “I hope we’re not setting a bad trend of closing theaters. But there’s a 50- year difference which I guess means if you hang around long enough good things can happen.”
The Los Angeles Film Festival move in 2010 raised downtown's cultural ethos, without becoming too glossy . . . for a film festival, that is. Jury and audience winners press release after the jump.
Emma’s (Sharon Omi) anf Elliot (Teddy Chen) in "Eat With Me" screened at The Los Angeles Film Festival's LA Muse series.
By Helen Ly
Like all cultures, food is a way we connect with one another. We catch up with friends over lunch, meet potential dates for coffee, and have lavish dinners for family reunions, and this shapes an instinctive understanding of the role food plays in our lives.
Chinese culture has another nuance. Elders will ask "Have you eaten?" as an informal greeting interchangeable with "How are you?" It comes from a cultural memory of great famine. Food was once so scarce that the two phrases, so often said together, became an affectionate way of greeting friends, not an invitation for a meal.
So when you hear “Eat With Me” is the story of a chef with a struggling restaurant whose life is further complicated when his mom moves in after years of tension over his homosexuality, but yet bond over food, it’s easy to expect a formulaic storyline to be a light meal. Those who see the film will be pleasantly surprised.
Fame or family; if you could choose only one, which would that choice be? That’s a pivotal question in “Billy Mize & The Bakersfield Sound,” the William J. Saunders documentary that tells Mize’s story as he prepares for his 80th birthday celebration. It’s a compelling reflection on the dreams we have, the choices we make, and the elusiveness of fame – even when it looks like you’re holding it in your hands.
Billy Mize was a Country music singer/songwriter with all the makings of a star: the voice, the looks, and charisma that won the admiration of his peers. He was one of the most influential forces in shaping the Bakersfield Sound, up and coming artists, and bucking Nashville’s dominance of Country music in the 1950s and 60s, yet national fame eluded him. His local TV shows aired throughout Southern California, providing an outlet for artists such as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens whose styles were honed playing the honky-tonks of Bakersfield. He loved music, but every business decision was always weighted by his love of family. It is that choice that would define his success.
Mize was a committed family man. His wife Martha and their four children were the world to him, so the idea of leaving them for months at a time to go on tour was unthinkable. A series of family tragedies tests the Mize’s marriage and when he looses his voice after a stroke, the career gains he had just started to make dwindle. We follow Mize’s struggles and determination to get back on the stage, awaiting a possible performance at his birthday celebration.
Producer/Director William J. Saunders’s access to exclusive interviews, extraordinary archival footage, and remarkable photos is fitting, as Mize is his grandfather. Saunders does a good job of balancing the ups and downs in Mize’s career giving us an insider’s view into the life of this underappreciated artist. Discovering the value of Billy Mize and his successes in life is truly a treat.