About the Blog..

My blog title, Ossessione, American Style, is taken from a movie by Count Luchino Visconti, who borrowed the plot of his astonishing debut film, Ossessione, from James M. Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Unfortunately, Visconti never paid for the rights and his film was not shown in the U.S. until many years after its release. The star of the movie, Massimo Girotti, would be People's "Sexiest Man Alive" many years running had the zine been around at the time. We first see him as a truck driver in a filthy sleeveless athletic undershirt, another of my obsessions: remember Paul Newman in an a-shirt (e.g. Hud or Cool Hand Luke)? Nowadays, they cheapen this garment who confuse it with something tank troops wore in World War I. The a-shirt is an undershirt, usually with thin bands over the shoulders; a tank top is a shirt without sleeves, akin to a "muscle shirt," only with wider bands over the shoulders. But, I digress....)

The purpose of this photo/comment column is to present a record of my obsessions. These are wide-ranging and diverse. This blog is not intended to be pornographic. The only pornography today is in politics.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Carleton Captured Boy Dreamers

TV used to be all UHF and you mostly got snow, but from time to time shows, and that meant, eventually, old MGM musicals, which I hated (and still mostly do), even the ones with that 1950s gay icon of icons, Judy Garland, so I had to have known I would be a failed homo, and then I saw Carleton Carpenter and I thought, men can be beautiful like women.  And it wasn't even a Judy Garland musical but one with Debbie Reynolds, and I was more interested in him than her: Kenneth Anger has said that Satan won the war with Christian morality when he invented Hollywood and the movies.  I paraphrase, but you get the point.  It is an amoral world out west: when "Aba Daba Honeymoon" was written in 1914, could Arthur Fields and Walter Donovan have had any idea how positively Darwinian it sounded in a song that is essentially a duet between a monkey and a chimpanzee?  For their 1950 movie, Two Weeks With Love, director Ray Rowland used the stars to the max.

My dislike of musicals does not extent to the duet. Carleton and Debbie went into a studio and made a record of the song.  It sold over one million copies.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gael Garcia Bernal

The first time I saw Gael Garcia was when I rented a DVD of the movie, Amores Peros, whose title was ineptly translated into English as "Love's a Bitch." In the manner of Pulp Fiction, Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu interweaves three stories dealing with canines into a film that took international cinema by storm.  With fellow filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, they pioneered a New Mexican Cinema with roots in Eisenstein, Bunuel, and Fernandez, among others, but with a fresh candid, stylish quality that announced to the world that Mexico was not about to be forgotten in foreign cinema. Octavio's seduction of his sister-in-law would lead directly to the wayward priest in Padre Amaro and the callow amoralist in Y Tu Mama Tambien, which ironically broke the bisexual taboo in Mexico but would be available on DVD in a bowdlerized rated edition, as well as the "Unrated."  The difference is important: the point of the movie hinges on our understanding of an epilogue in which Julio and Tenoch meet again in a VIP'S in Mexico City, and they cannot allow their eyes to meet. Once, drunk on tequila, and both trying to kiss the lovely Ana neath the fronds of a palapa on Bahia Cacaluca near Huatulco, these two macho males fumblingly kissed each other.  In Mexican cinema?!  Astonishly daring even for 2003.  And about time.  The rated version has no kiss, so the edginess of the old childhood friends in the American-style coffee shop has a dimension that cannot be understood without having seen the beso de putos.

Garcia started out in daytime TV, doing telenovelas, those curious all-Mexican (entirely foreign to foreigners) melodramas that really don't mimic the American version because almost all soap opera depend on family interactions, and if you marry into a Mexican family you find you have a slew of new brothers, sisters, &c., and then the stock characters are much, much different, usually including a shrewd criada buen criada who has more practical sense than the patron but shares it selectively to protect her place in the house, as well as that of her family, who are family now too.  This is definitely foreign to people in the States, who only think they are hiring a Guatemalan illegal to save money.  The photos of young Mr. Garcia are jewels, he was such a beautiful boy.  The older he gets, the less cute if you know what I mean.  But his stature as an actor is as good as Delon's if not better.  He has an expressive face that makes him equally at home in comedy (the bizarre, overly arty Science of Sleep) as with drama (the genuinely humanist Motorcycle Diaries, as with surreal psychodramas (the brilliant, tour de force Almodovar take on Catholic child molestation, Bad Education).  I think Garcia Bernal is a sturdy, dependable actor of considerable talent.  And part of it is his charm.

Missused & Abused Trent Ford

How sad that Hollywood saw talent in former model Trent Ford when he was cast in the unexpectedly entertaining Deeply, as sirenic island beauty Kirsten Dunst's visiting boyfriend, then put him in such duds as the Mandy Moore vehicle, How to Deal.  He's had plenty of opportunities since, however, and he's sure to break out soon. Meanwhile, I'll always have the photos. Some actors, out of work, say they can "always model," but the model-actor seesaw doesn't always work out. I'd like the fashionistos to rediscovery Trent Ford. Meanwhile, there is that odd little western he did costarring Jon Voight, September Dawn. Update: He's been busy in TV, making movies and doing series, the latest being The Mentalist.

Ben Whishaw

I don't think I paid much attention to Ben Whishaw when he appeared in Layer Cake or Stoned, the latter a failed attempt to portray the early Rolling Stones at the time of Brian Jones's demise.  (I interviewed Mick and Keith in the early 70s and the latter explained that Jones was so drug-addled by the time he died he was of no use to anyone, much less a band.)  But Wishaw was put into parts where his quiet, almost sullen demeanor seemed wasted, and it was not until he played Jean-Paptiste Grenouille in Poison: The Story of a Murderer, that I realized what a fine actor he is, and it was not until I read his remark that he is clueless as to why actors are made celebrities that I realized how nice a person he has to be.  Finally, he broke out as Sebatian Flyte in the remake of Brideshead Revisited.  The twin butt shot of Whishaw and Matthew Goode is worth the price of admission, but to see the scenes of Emma Thompson whipping Whishaw with Catholic dogma is -- you should pardon the expression -- divine.

Only A Few Athetes and Premier Danseurs Have Perfect Bodies

Perhaps the average premier danseur could not beat a gold medalist in swimming, but his body is just as perfect.  It is training for specific tasks demanded by a particular sport that shapes the body of the athlete.  A dancer must only dance, but it's ridiculous to maintain they are, somehow, less "athletic."  Dancers are called upon to things a sportsman -- let's say basketball player, although Cocteau used them as models for his angels in paintings -- would not, and certainly could not, do.  Now that the dansuer-as-homosexual argument has been demolished as a stereotype, we know that some dancers are straighter than Mitt Romney (though, arguably, Romney is still a sissy).  Movies like Billy Elliot helped end the bullying, perhaps, but its denouement is nevertheless an affirmation of gay orientation.

I once interviewed Nureyev and both he and I knew that he was a sleeparound slut.  Because his gaydar picked up on my recognition (I'd seen him with neophyte John Lennon in a stand up and fuck bar on Santa Monica or Melrose, I forget which) and the conversation went south very quickly.  He'd come to dance...for one of the last times, as it developed.

Above, Chase Finlay shown dancing the New York City Ballet's revival of "Apollo" by Stravinsky in a post-Petipa choreography by the great Balanchine.