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.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"It's the Pits"

I'm a lifelong fan of college basketball. I've had to own up to the fact that much of the fascination has less to do with the sport than with the uniforms. Unfortunately, these have changed in style over the years. Gone are the the short shorts worn by classic stars of the 50s and 60s -- folks like "Pistol Pete" Maravich and, earlier, Jerry West; later, Steve Alford, Adam Morrison, and Christian Laettner. The uniforms "evolved," and today players no longer wear the sleeveless athletic shirts ("tank tops," some call them, incorrectly). Together with tops that look more like T-shirts, too many of today's college teams wear shorts that are as long as those worn by cholos and other gang bangers.

One of the reasons the sleeveless athletic undershirt is a personal fetish is that it frames what for me has always been the sexiest part of a male body: the armpit. I always felt a little odd for finding male armpits exciting. For one thing, the media used to go to great lengths to avoid showing them. Sports TV cameramen would cut away from the free-throw shooter just as he lifted the basketball to shoulder-level, supposedly the better to show the ball flying through the air to make or miss the extra points. Lately, some cameramen are relaxing the ban (if in fact that is what it was), just as we are now seeing on TV something Europeans have glimpsed for years: bra commercials.

Simultaneously, the male armpit has become a fashionable element not only of porno but mainstream advertising. It amazed me that people who claim that "the body is the temple of God" took umbrage to photographing any part of the house of worship. Tantrics in India taught (and still do) that there is no part of the human body that is not sacred, and their position makes more sense. So I welcome the changes in awareness and allowance. It makes me a feel a whole lot less "weird."

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Troubled Career of Nick Stahl

The first time I saw Nick Stahl was in the Mel Gibson movie, The Man Without a Face. I had read the novel and wondered if a film could be made of it because it skirts the issue of pedophilia by keeping the reader wondering if the protagonist is or isn't a boy lover. I thought it odd that Gibson wanted to do it; after all, the actor is member of a radical Catholic sect and a homophobe, and might not be capable of doing the work justice. But he did. The film is fine, and Stahl's debut promised a career marked by solid, sensitive performances...if only young Nick could escape the child star curse that felled many, not the least River Phoenix, the finest film actor of his generation.

At first, I wondered if Stahl might have gotten a head start in the business by virtue of being related to the auteur director, John M. Stahl, who died in 1950. That Stahl made The Keys to the Kingdom and Leave Her to Heaven. Auteur theory expert Andrew Sarris noted that John M. Stahl made Douglas Sirk movies before Sirk practically invented the genre of intelligent, cinematically remarkable soaps, including at least one Rock Hudson vehicle (Magnificent Obsession) and the classic weeper, Imitation of Life, with Lana Turner, both of them remakes of even more sentimental Stahl films. However, nothing in Nick's bio indicated any relation to John M. Stahl.

Nick has had some serendipitous career breaks. For example, he did one of the Terminators with Arnold Schwartzenegger. He also had a short-lived cable series about the strange world of carnies, Carnevale. He had a role in The Thin Red Line and worked with Larry Clark in Bully. Unfortunately, he's lately been more discussed more often because of his strange disappearances, reputed use of drugs, and post-marital problems. This is unfortunate and sad. His fans hope it's a passing phase and that he will make many more movies. I know I do.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Models Are The Most Beautiful Men, Part I: Ben Allen, My #1

I once had a boyfriend whose androgynous beauty prompted from many the pickup line, "Are you a model?" to which he would answer, cavalierly, "No, I'm full sized." I should think it a compliment to be asked if I were a model, for models are by definition beautiful, and I doff my hat at all models and to Tumblr for bringing me photos of so many incredibly good looking ones. My current favorite is Ben Allen, rated #8 in someone's list of "Top 50 Male Models." I cannot understand why Ben is not #1 (and I don't even get along well with Scorpios). To me, Allen simply exudes mysterious sexuality. He's modeled for Dior, Burberry, many others. He's been written up in the New York Times and many other publications. If he has no acting talent, I'd recommend he get some. I could sit through a three-hour adaptation of the telephone director just to look at him for what is, for some of us, a daydream.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Justin Bartha

Reading Justin Bartha's bio at wiki and thinking it right on -- e.g. his break-through performance in a Nicholas Cage thriller, National Treasure, I began to wonder, how does he photograph in stills, so I borrowed a few online.  Bartha is the essence of "cute."  When the critics use a four-star rating system for performances, I always add a star for a player whose movies I intend to see even if they are, well, Nicholas Cage vehicles.  Frankly, the eyes have Bartha stealing the occult conspiracy movie right out from under Mr. Cage, who has to be one of the most overrated actors working, but who turns in occasionally brilliant performances, as in The Weatherman.

But back to Bartha.  He is a jack of all trades when it comes to film and, in fact, got his start on the other side of the camera.  I shouldn't think it too long before he directs a feature: if Ben Affleck can do it, why not Justin?  Meanwhile, I will keep an eye out for him.  If you know what I mean.