A JAW-DROPPING ELVIS DOUBLE FEATURE: LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE (1968) & EASY COME, EASY GO (1967)

As a pop music star, Elvis Presley had an unparalleled career (although it is questionable whether his music is much listened to today outside of Memphis). His film career, although financially successful, was a different story altogether—remarkable only in the thirty-plus (mostly wretched) films produced in a scant dozen years. Among the worst, which is saying a lot, are two near the end of his film run. Itching to get back into live performance, Presley was merely fulfilling his MGM contract at this point and, barely mastering any enthusiasm, took whatever script was handed him.

Live a Little, Love a Little (1968, directed by frequent Presley collaborator Norman Taurog and scripted by Dan Greenburg from his novel “Kiss My Firm but Pliant Lips”) is a like the Rankin and Bass cartoon “Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974) in that it contains a single scene of naive surrealism at its most jaw-dropping, “WTF were they thinking?” level, which almost makes the whole enterprise worthwhile.

The Pelvis is a photojournalist here named Greg, working at a “Playboy”-like outfit. Of course, that means he’s going to be taking lots of pinup pics. The blatant sexism would seem woefully dated, except we’ve elected a lot of Neanderthal politicos lately (from both sides), and that unfortunately renders the film more contemporary than it was a few years ago. Greg’s practically stalked by a wacky, bikini-clad gal who might be named Bernice… or Alice… or Suzy…don’t ask. I’m still not sure, but whoever she is, she’s played by Michele Carey, one of those anonymous eye-candy actresses you may recall seeing a lot. (Carey is primarily known for this and the 1967 John Wayne/Howard Hawks oater El Dorado). Bernice also has a Great Dane named Albert who will become for this film what Mr. Heat Miser was for “Year Without A Santa Claus.” Rounding off a weird cast is prolific character actor Sterling Holloway (whom we recently saw as Professor Twiddle/Professor Quinn in “ The Adventures of Superman”) as a milkman (don’t ask—I still don’t know why), Rudy Valle as a Hugh Heffner type (?), and Dick Sargent (best known as Darren #2 from “Bewitched”), who might be Bernice’s husband (just don’t ask).

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ED WOOD (1994): HOLLYWOOD’S ICONIC OUTSIDER ARTIST AND TIM BURTON’S GREATEST FILM

ED WOOD (1994) poster

In 1980 , two years after Ed Wood`s alcohol related death at 54, film critic Michael Medved and his brother published “The Golden Turkey Awards” and gave Wood the award of being “The Worst Director of All Time” and naming his film Plan 9 From Outer Space “The Worst Film of All Time.” The forever constipated Mr. Medved must have had the biggest bowel movement of his life when he discovered that he and his brother unintentionally put the wheels in motion for the cult celebrity status of Wood who, to Medved, was little more than an object of derision.

Ed Wood (Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi)

Quite simply, Ed Wood was an outsider artist, whose medium was film. He managed to create two highly personalized “masterpieces” of naive surrealism; Glen or Glenda (1953) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) with “star” Bela Lugosi, who was clearly at the end of his tether.

ED WOOD (1994) DEPP & LANDAU

In between these two films Wood made Bride of the Monster (1955) , also starring Lugosi (the only one of the three Wood films in which Lugosi actually `starred’), but that film was more of a concession to the genre and lacked the pronounced Woodian weirdness found in either Glen or Glenda or Plan 9 From Outer Space. Continue reading

IAN PYPER’S ART OF RELENTLESS COMMUNICATION

A majority of the interviews/articles/reviews re: Ian Pyper make a point to state that Mr. Pyper is a tad on the laconic side. I have been in communiqué with the artist on numerous occasions and have never found him wanting for dialogue. No, he doesn’t ramble as much as I do, but then why does he need to? Ian Pyper’s  quite prolific art speaks for him and that art is one of relentless communication.

In this , Ian is a kindred spirit in the realm of outsider art, brut , visionary ,  fringe , primitive, or whatever term one wishes to apply in the those (often) tiresome blanks.  Regardless of what term one applies, Ian Pyper simply has a voice all his own.

Ian and other unconventional artists have been taking the art world by storm over the last few years and there is a reason for that.   The academic art school route has gone stale, becoming decorative and/or hopelessly commercial, appeasing to either dishonest aesthetics or consumerism.  Ian, and like-minded artists have defiantly grinded the  “steamroller blues”, utilizing their unique voices:  gallery themes, and marketing strategies be damned.

Ian Pyper’s work is certainly open to various interpretations. For me, his work bespeaks a visual world that blows in from the winds of the most ancient of ancients, and flows outward to a delightfully strange, ambiguous , music-filled future. Pyper world is one that is kin to the Italian Futurists , the surreal beatniks, post-serial music, and two-fisted, post-modern spirituality. Clearly, this is an intensely personal vision which, wisely, Ian does not spell out for the viewer , but his  world-view optimism seeps through all his idiosyncratic images of aliens, cave creatures, Grand Inquisitors, absurd two-headed saints, crucifixions, icons, God angels,  God’s eye, God’s hand, primitive masks, death heads, pyramids, fish, birds, scorpions, the wild west, tanks, apocalyptic aeroplanes, helicopters, spaceships, scenes of intergalactic wars, totem poles, and the Holy Trinity as you never saw it depicted in church.

I can’t quite put my finger on Ian Pyper , and I prefer it that way. However, I did notice that before I had sat down to write this,  I had just revisited Palazzeschi’s “Man of Smoke”, and Morton Subotnick’s electronic (and fun) bleepy composition,  “Silvery Apples of the Moon.” Initially, it was a subliminal connection, but after revisiting Ian’s work I realized I had just left these similar worlds before crossing into his. It was a good, familiar feeling.