Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mr. Turner - The Movie

Mr. Turner, released in December of 2014, was playing at the Plaza Frontenac Landmark Cinema so I managed to get to a 3:30 viewing on Tuesday January 27, 2015. I have long been an admirer of Joseph Mallord William Turner. He was an English Romanticist landscape painter, water-colorist, and printmaker who was considered a controversial figure in his day. He is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting. Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolor landscape painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light" and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism. Some of his works are cited as examples of abstract art prior to its recognition in the early twentieth century.  

Written and directed by Mike Leigh, this film explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty. The movie runs 2 hours and 29 minutes.

The photo above was taken at a recent visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The movie – not a huge box office draw is, however, a fun movie for an art junky like me.
Leigh's latest offers a portrait of the artist as a fascinating and visionary man of contradictions.


Sunday, January 11, 2015


Alan Rado of Adrado (Chicago), Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O'Haire (Atlanta), Stephen Fechtor of Fechtor Advertising (Columbus, Ohio) and Matt Walker of WHITE (Washington D.C. area).

ST. LOUIS (MO) Every year, we invite a panel of distinguished creative leaders to consider the best work done in the course of business in our town. St. Louis has a robust advertising community and supports the annual celebration of the craft. By entering, agencies, design firms, production companies and clients are hopeful of recognition of their efforts. If their work is judged to be among the best they will earn an ADDY.

The success of such a program depends heavily on the integrity of the process. To that end, the people chosen to objectively review hundreds of submissions in an effort to identify the best work must be a credible crew. This year we were fortunate to have pressed four outstanding judges into service: Alan Rado of Adrado (Chicago), Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O'Haire (Atlanta), Stephen Fechtor of Fechtor Advertising (Columbus, Ohio) and Matt Walker of WHITE (Washington D.C. area).  

A by-product of such a confluence are the sidebar conversations about the state of an industry. digital disruption, social media, and the technologies that are forever changing the way we communicate. Still these judges seem to agree on the paramount importance of building upon on strong strategic platform.  Alan is a seasoned art director who teaches at two colleges in Chicago, Patrick is an agency principle in Atlanta. He was once a flack advance man for a circus. Stephen once called St. Louis home.  Although not a sports fan he finds himself at Ballpark Village with a cacophony sound brought on by a St. Louis Blues hockey game in overtime and NFL playoff fever in the air on Saturday night. Matt shows his good sportsmanship after travel delays flying the friendly skies from Washington D.C. – The youngest judge, Matt is perhaps the most vigilant in looking for advertising that shows it is based on a strong concept.

The outcome of this year’s judging is a secret (of course) until the winners are made public next month. But this group of judges made sure that ADDY recognition means something. Hats off to Joe Mastroianni for managing an orderly orchestration and Kristy Tucciarone and her inspired students from Lindenwood (Go Lions!).  Thank you judges.

P.S. Thanks also to Pat Scullin for the suggestion of checking out YouTube video of BOB HOFFMAN - The Golden Age of Bullshit. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Movies

The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

I love the movies particularly those that look at people and history in retrospect. During the break between Christmas and 2015 New Year holiday, I was in the audience for three stunning examples of the truth being stranger than fiction. Unbroken, Big Eyes, and Foxcatcher each tell a story beginning with historic context: Unbroken (in the 40s), Big Eyes (in the 50s-60s) and Foxcatcher (in the late 80s).  
Unbroken - After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Directed by Angelina Jolie with screenplay written by Joel and Ethan Coen.    Big Eyes  - In the late 1950s and early '60s, artist Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) achieves unbelievable fame and success with portraits of saucer-eyed waifs. However, no one realizes that his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), is the real painter behind the brush. It isn't until the Keanes' marriage comes to an end and a lawsuit follows that the truth finally comes to light. Foxcatcher - Led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont (played by Steve Carell), the greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team – Mark and Dave Schultz  (played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) join Foxcatcher to train for the 1988 games in Seoul.
You can’t help loving Zamperini. He died in 2014 and is among the last of that Greatest Generation engaged in the world at war. Surely Angelina has made a good career move toward directing. You can’t help wondering about the evolution of sexism and complex relationships of marketing and pop culture challenges to traditions of fine art. Finally, you can’t help wondering about the motivations and demons of a mentally ill paranoid schizophrenic who believes people close to him are part of some kind of international conspiracy. Even with time, the truth may or may not come into clear focus through the lenses of moviemakers. At best, the truth well-told sheds light on issues and circumstances and allows for further thought. These three films are thought provoking indeed.