The Feud Is Over

There is a lot of reality in the recent TV mini-series Feud – Bette Davis vs Joan Crawford. Books have been written about this catfight rivalry. Nothing new is added to the story but the series puts it firmly into its historic context: the subjugation of women for the pleasure & profit of men. It would be nice to think this has changed – sure there has been a power shift to give women greater control but male entitlement is disgruntled as opposed to encouraging & accepting. I also know the film studios did to male stars what it did to women.

Produced by the minds behind American Horror Story (AmHor), the series is a masterpiece that stands with the best the BBC has ever produced. Lavish in attention to period detail – costumes, hair, music – it’s clear no money was spared in making this show. Camera work is stunning, sets are astonishing & no opportunity is lost in making the leads look spectacular. The narrow focus also keeps the ‘plot’ from running away with the narrative as AmHor always does.

Lange & Sarandon give compelling rich performances, each capturing the inner & outer struggles of these two actors. Jessica at ease in the glamour that stifled Crawford’s career, Susan at home in the talent that drove Davis’s. Alfred Molina is their equal as Robert Aldrich – a director needing the hand that feeds him while it beats him at the same time.

At times I sense that these two actresses where happy to have targets for their cutting unkindness – many of the insults are a matter of public record & often feel more like an opportunity to be spiteful for their public than as deeply held emotions. Like a reviewer with a great nasty line that finally finds a movie review to show it off in – the ‘clever’ remark is more important than the target.

What is missing is Christine – a mention of her in the final episode. Plus, considering how open the AmHor men are about exploring gay & lesbian sexuality in historic context, I was expecting something about Crawford’s bisexuality. But those are quibbles about one of the best pieces of American TV I’ve seen & one that I’m willing to see again when the DVD comes out.

When that DVD comes out I’ll probably pick it up for any extras it includes. On-line people are picking sides: Team Joan, Team Bette. My mother was a Bette fan but I was more inclined to Joan – Crawford seemed more real & thanks to the Dearest biography is a major queer camp icon. Davis never got a role as iconic Mildred Pierce – Margo in All About Eve comes close though. ‘Fasten your seats belts, its going to be a bumpy night’ vs ‘Get out & take your things before I throw them in the street & you with them.’

Like This?

I didn’t enjoy it

I never have

but so many do

I had to try it

I thought it might be different

with him

when I said yes

let’s do it

it was no different

I didn’t enjoy it any more

or less

than I ever have

I expected

that if I did it often enough

with the right guy

I’d start to like it

start to see why others did it

but it never got more pleasant

in fact

I began to dread it so much

I stopped doing anything

with anyone

I didn’t explain

apologize

I kept it to myself

it seemed pointless to be contradictory

to have to explain it to anyone

I thought it might be better

with him

it wasn’t

I kept that disappointment to myself

tried to act as if

it was great

oh baby oh baby

he was fooled

fulfilled

I was happy to make him happy

looking forward to being together

yet dreading it at the same time

going through the motions

for the emotional pay off

of having my cake

but not wanting to eat it

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#Movies I’d Watch Again (& Again) Part 2

Last Year in Marienbad: (Alain Resnais) I was amused & entranced by Last Year the first time I saw it many years ago. It stuck with me, like those long halls & endless tracking shots, endless voice over about those long halls and the somber organ score by Francis Seyrig (available on iTunes). The VHS of the film was murky so when the crisp Criteron edition came out a few years ago I was thrilled. The artiness of it is laugh-out-loud at times but the I love every arch, contrived moment of it. I watched it again a few weeks ago in fact & was as delighted by it as the first time I saw it.

art03 street art

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman) I was working for Famous Players when this was released. It was divine on the big screen, the snow was hypnotic, the Cohen songs, all be it not period, were perfect and haunting. I’ve seen it many times & even watched it with commentary – fascinating. The ending still stuns me.

Metropolis (Fritz Lang) I’d seen murky prints of this at the Bloor Cinema & on TV, but when I got the most recent, restored version I was amazed. The night club scenes are opulent, the workers walking in mass to work is brilliant and the score by Gottfried Huppertz is a wonder (available on iTunes). I even have the novel by Thea von Harbou.

art02 trashed art

Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz) – a mother of a movie that I’ve seen countless times & each time its compelling, gorgeous to look at and a great study in martyrdom. Joan Crawford is a power of nature here, & rarely disappoints in anything. I have the novel by James M. Cain, as well as the screenplay. Don’t get me going or I’ll start quoting. The recent TV remake is fine work as well but lacks the glamour this version achieved in film noir black & white.

art01 mixed mediums

MacBeth (Rupert Goold) Patrick Stewart as the good laird is brilliant, as is Kate Fleetwood as the Lady. I’ve seen this countless times on stage & other film versions but this one is such a breathtaking rendering I don’t think I want to see another version. Watched twice so far. Strong, ominous & chilling this is highly recommended.

samples

canto 14

‘Come in! Come in!’

we were in another chamber

the floor covered with prickling grass

that wounded all who trod on it

‘Come in! Come in!

We have been waiting for you.’

The chamber was rows of cubicles

each with a blurred visage

looking eagerly to us

‘We will audit your lives

To give our final and absolute decision

We are right, you know

Regardless of what you think

We walk in the ways of the most sacred

We have the only correct approach

To gaining full and total absolution

To experience the final and infinite  justice

Each of us knows a better way than the next

And though we don’t agree

We all agree on one thing

You guys are fucked

You’ve had it

Everything you value is crap

Your art is shit

Total absolute shit

Who the fuck do you think you are

To call that painting

Where to do get off claiming

Your words are poetry

That they have any relevance

All writing is crap

All art is crap

Except the art we produce here

With your excrement.’

drops of hot shit came

from his finger tips and scorched

the open books on the desk

skidded over the paintings

darted at the statues

leaving a trail of soft disfigurement

‘Destruction is much more satisfying than creation

Don’t bother agreeing or disagreeing

We have made up our minds

Our decisions have been made

All is crap

Everything you believe in will die

So why love anything

Why bother with compassion

Compassion will not keep the rose living any longer

There is no grace

Not even we desire grace

There is no need for anything

We have reviewed the paltry days the life of the world

And it is wanting

It has been ceaselessly striving

After the impermanent

Your death is the only perfect art

The only perfect worship

you should devote yourselves to

Death and destruction.’

Verlaine lead me though

the twisting and burning grass

through the ever closing and grasping

smoke filled desks of the auditors

they howled

as we escaped their judgments

our ledgers were never open

for any of them to stain the pages

with coffee rings and donut crumbs

they were inconsolable

and hence experienced a greater

depth of despair than ever before

and were happy

lion

lion of the art world

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