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JULY 3 TCM FILM NOIR DISCUSSIONS FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 14 FILMS


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#41 Joifuljoi

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 11:15 AM

Funny but to me your post is like the Welles characters in Lady from Shanghai you're ranting about:  overstated and over the top.

 

While I don't view Welles as the greatest director of all time he directed some high quality films that I find enjoyable,  entertaining and from time to time enlightening.     The Lady from Shanghai does have flaws (e.g. the Grisby character is too bizarre),  but I still find the film worth watching but it did wasn't until I watched the film the second time.         

Ranting?

 

Well, glad you liked the film the second time.



#42 Joifuljoi

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 10:26 AM

Okay, I'm completely off-topic here.  I finally watched "The Misfits" for the first time in my life.  I've always avoided it for several reasons which I won't bother you with now.

 

I know, last movie for all three, top box office stars, I like them, really I do but...THEY ACTUALLY PAID THE FOLKS IN THIS MOVIE???????????????

 

Yes, "The Misfits" but wow, really?  They stole their paychecks for this movie.

 

Sorry.

 

 



#43 Joifuljoi

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 10:23 AM

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

 

Three observations.

 

The opening sequence.

Most people refer to this as the aerial shot following the escaped convicts' car through the fields - and it is spectacular. But the film actually opens with the close-up introduction of the two protagonists. Two young kids - 'This boy.... and this girl..." - are presented in close up, light coming from the fireplace. They seem to be in a world of their own. The scene ends with them looking up like they are interrupted or caught. The scene then abruptly shifts to the car chase. So, this sequence was edited in such a way that the car chase (the beginning of their story) is what ended their romantic, dreamlike state. Nice touch!

 

The song in the bar/nightclub. Beautiful naturalistic performance by Marie Bryant. 

 

The ending. The understated emotion on Keechie's face, embellished by the floating camera and beautiful lighting. Heartbreaking. 

 

el-temblor-they-live-by-night-urgencia-p

There's something that drives me crazy about this actress...she must be very good, because she drives me crazy.  She always plays the same wishy-washy, pasty, personalityless (?) person in her movies.  In "The Best Years of Our Lives" she plays the same character, minus the killer husband of course.  She keeps her arms at her sides, moving as little as possible...I know because it's supposed to accentuate Harold Russell's lack of hands.  She's so blah.



#44 Joifuljoi

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 10:15 AM

That’s a perfectly valid opinion and there are many people who, although giving credit to Welles for flashes of genius, feel he was not quite the director-God he’s been made out to be. I share that opinion for a number of reasons:

 

Welles had a massive ego as was known to throw blame onto others for his failures and try to take complete credit for successes. Case in point, he tried to ‘buy’ Herman Mankiewicz’s writing credit from him – so that Welles would have sole credit for the Citizen Kane screenplay. At the genius of Citizen Kane is the script. And there is a lot of evidence that Mankiewicz wrote the guts of it. Welles never again wrote an original screenplay to match Citizen Kane. Mainly, he tried adapting other works.

 

I think Welles rode on the coattails of a lot of talented people who made Kane into the amazing picture it is. If you look at all his other attempts, they just don’t come together. Magnificant Ambersons was based on a creaky old novel that would never have been successful, regardless of being left unedited. It was a dreary, boring story.

 

Welles’ excuse was always that Citizen Kane was the last picture he had complete control over. Well, he had a lot of control in Lady from Shanghai and that movie is a mess. A true genius works within the constraints put on his work. Alfred Hitchcock had nothing but roadblocks to deal with, working for David Selznick, and he consistently delivered masterpieces. That’s a genius.

 

I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of flack…

NOT FROM ME!



#45 Sir David

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 06:22 AM

The High Wall

 

Not a great movie, but not too bad either. The Noir visuals were good, but the whole thing was otherwise a bit of chatty melodrama. Audrey Totter was just fine, but Robert Taylor's protagonist was such an unsympathetic character, I'm not sure there would have been too many people in real life prepared to give him any benefit of the doubt! The best thing I thought was the little bit of comic relief in the form of the drunk, Pinkie.

 

One thing I did notice was that Audrey Totter's character - a rare example of a professional, non-secretarial (or vamp, or both!), role for a woman - was so obviously single until she met Robert Taylor, at which time she was implausibly completely willing to risk her career, and possibly jail time, to help him despite pretty damning evidence throughout that he was guilty! Was this a reflection of the belief that a woman wasn't complete without a man? Or was it just movie love...is there anything quite as speedy as falling in love in old movies?

 


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#46 rrrick

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 05:51 AM

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

 

Three observations.

 

The opening sequence.

Most people refer to this as the aerial shot following the escaped convicts' car through the fields - and it is spectacular. But the film actually opens with the close-up introduction of the two protagonists. Two young kids - 'This boy.... and this girl..." - are presented in close up, light coming from the fireplace. They seem to be in a world of their own. The scene ends with them looking up like they are interrupted or caught. The scene then abruptly shifts to the car chase. So, this sequence was edited in such a way that the car chase (the beginning of their story) is what ended their romantic, dreamlike state. Nice touch!

 

The song in the bar/nightclub. Beautiful naturalistic performance by Marie Bryant. 

 

The ending. The understated emotion on Keechie's face, embellished by the floating camera and beautiful lighting. Heartbreaking. 

 

el-temblor-they-live-by-night-urgencia-p


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#47 rrrick

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 03:07 AM

That’s a perfectly valid opinion and there are many people who, although giving credit to Welles for flashes of genius, feel he was not quite the director-God he’s been made out to be. I share that opinion for a number of reasons:

 

Welles had a massive ego ....

 

I think Welles rode on the coattails of a lot of talented people ...

 

Well, he had a lot of control in Lady from Shanghai and that movie is a mess. A true genius works within the constraints put on his work. 

 

I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of flack…

No flack, but it's interesting to think about if and how external factors have an effect on the appreciation of a film, like in this case the supposed character traits of the director who made it.

 

I'm also curious why you think constraints are necessary for true genius. And what kind of constraints would that be?


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#48 HEYMOE

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 01:05 AM

That’s a perfectly valid opinion and there are many people who, although giving credit to Welles for flashes of genius, feel he was not quite the director-God he’s been made out to be. I share that opinion for a number of reasons:

 

Welles had a massive ego as was known to throw blame onto others for his failures and try to take complete credit for successes. Case in point, he tried to ‘buy’ Herman Mankiewicz’s writing credit from him – so that Welles would have sole credit for the Citizen Kane screenplay. At the genius of Citizen Kane is the script. And there is a lot of evidence that Mankiewicz wrote the guts of it. Welles never again wrote an original screenplay to match Citizen Kane. Mainly, he tried adapting other works.

 

I think Welles rode on the coattails of a lot of talented people who made Kane into the amazing picture it is. If you look at all his other attempts, they just don’t come together. Magnificant Ambersons was based on a creaky old novel that would never have been successful, regardless of being left unedited. It was a dreary, boring story.

 

Welles’ excuse was always that Citizen Kane was the last picture he had complete control over. Well, he had a lot of control in Lady from Shanghai and that movie is a mess. A true genius works within the constraints put on his work. Alfred Hitchcock had nothing but roadblocks to deal with, working for David Selznick, and he consistently delivered masterpieces. That’s a genius.

 

I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of flack…

I respect every point you make here and without changing a word or being cynical, I see greatness in Welles' effort in filming The Lady from Shanghai in the manner in which he did- with confidence, boldness and courageousness. As a result of that effort he left us an abstract-like film noir.


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#49 sapphiere

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 10:21 PM

Yes, I know there has always been debate concerning CITIZEN KANE. Orson could write a highly regarded screenplay. TOUCH OF EVIL 1958 is memorable for many reasons, and the three reasons are Orson directed, starred in, and wrote the screenplay. He wore padding to make his heavy frame look more grotesque playing California detective Hank Quinlan. The film was shot in Venice, Ca. and opens with a three minute tracking shot on the Mexican border. A time bomb goes off in a millionaire`s car, and the two occupants are killed. The premise is set, and we watch Hank try to frame a young Mexican for the murder. The film works for me in the storyline, the camera angles by Russell Metty, and for the most part casting. Ricardo Montalbon  would have been the correct choice to play Mike Vargas instead of Charlton Heston. TOUCH OF EVIL along with CITIZEN KANE are inducted in THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY for preservation. Orson was also the recipient of THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE award for achievement in film making.



#50 MareyMac

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 07:38 PM

Again, I know I'm opening myself up to ridicule, however, ORSON WELLES WAS SO OVERRATED!

 

He came off, at least to me, that he was laughing at the audience, an inside joke.  He was playing with everyone, and perhaps that makes him the great actor, director, legend as he has ALWAYS been portrayed for as long as I can remember (and that's a long time). 

 

"The Lady From Shanghai", again Mercury Players...to confuse who, the audience, the cast, the director, the theater owners? 

 

I must be missing something all these years, I just don't get him.

 

He was better at selling Paul Masson wine, at least you felt he was laughing at himself being so serious. 

That’s a perfectly valid opinion and there are many people who, although giving credit to Welles for flashes of genius, feel he was not quite the director-God he’s been made out to be. I share that opinion for a number of reasons:

 

Welles had a massive ego as was known to throw blame onto others for his failures and try to take complete credit for successes. Case in point, he tried to ‘buy’ Herman Mankiewicz’s writing credit from him – so that Welles would have sole credit for the Citizen Kane screenplay. At the genius of Citizen Kane is the script. And there is a lot of evidence that Mankiewicz wrote the guts of it. Welles never again wrote an original screenplay to match Citizen Kane. Mainly, he tried adapting other works.

 

I think Welles rode on the coattails of a lot of talented people who made Kane into the amazing picture it is. If you look at all his other attempts, they just don’t come together. Magnificant Ambersons was based on a creaky old novel that would never have been successful, regardless of being left unedited. It was a dreary, boring story.

 

Welles’ excuse was always that Citizen Kane was the last picture he had complete control over. Well, he had a lot of control in Lady from Shanghai and that movie is a mess. A true genius works within the constraints put on his work. Alfred Hitchcock had nothing but roadblocks to deal with, working for David Selznick, and he consistently delivered masterpieces. That’s a genius.

 

I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of flack…


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#51 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 06:18 PM

Again, I know I'm opening myself up to ridicule, however, ORSON WELLES WAS SO OVERRATED!

 

He came off, at least to me, that he was laughing at the audience, an inside joke.  He was playing with everyone, and perhaps that makes him the great actor, director, legend as he has ALWAYS been portrayed for as long as I can remember (and that's a long time). 

 

"The Lady From Shanghai", again Mercury Players...to confuse who, the audience, the cast, the director, the theater owners? 

 

I must be missing something all these years, I just don't get him.

 

He was better at selling Paul Masson wine, at least you felt he was laughing at himself being so serious. 

 

Funny but to me your post is like the Welles characters in Lady from Shanghai you're ranting about:  overstated and over the top.

 

While I don't view Welles as the greatest director of all time he directed some high quality films that I find enjoyable,  entertaining and from time to time enlightening.     The Lady from Shanghai does have flaws (e.g. the Grisby character is too bizarre),  but I still find the film worth watching but it did wasn't until I watched the film the second time.         



#52 Joifuljoi

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 05:43 PM

You are right about Elsa Lanchester being great. She always brings a certain charming spunk to her roles. I was happy to learn that she was married to Charles Laughton for over thirty years. 

 

I always thought they made such an interesting couple.  I would have loved to been in their living room, den, wherever they sat and chewed the fat. 


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#53 Joifuljoi

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 05:40 PM

Again, I know I'm opening myself up to ridicule, however, ORSON WELLES WAS SO OVERRATED!

 

He came off, at least to me, that he was laughing at the audience, an inside joke.  He was playing with everyone, and perhaps that makes him the great actor, director, legend as he has ALWAYS been portrayed for as long as I can remember (and that's a long time). 

 

"The Lady From Shanghai", again Mercury Players...to confuse who, the audience, the cast, the director, the theater owners? 

 

I must be missing something all these years, I just don't get him.

 

He was better at selling Paul Masson wine, at least you felt he was laughing at himself being so serious. 

 

 



#54 Joifuljoi

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 04:37 PM

"The Window", has to be the first and only Film Noir I ever remember seeing where the killer goes free or is not caught.  Paul Stewart was so creepy and intimidating that I forgot for quite awhile that Ruth Roman was actually the killer.  The movie ended without her being brought to justice either by the law or death.  It's intimated that she's going to either fall or be captured, however, I don't remember this ever happening.

 

I remember parts of this world, the timing I mean.  I remember the early 1960s where folks didn't always have much and were very trusting.  I was amazed at the way apartment doors were left unlocked and there were no qualms about leaving Tommy alone all night.  Locking him in his room?  What if he had to use the bathroom?  It was amazing to me that on so many levels, this movie wouldn't be taken seriously today because so much of what took place wouldn't be allowed. 

 

I remember life without air conditioning, it was first being used "selectively" and one of the great selling point actually for movie theaters was that they were "air-conditioned"...wow.  Forget the glycerine, no matter what you did, in two minutes you were drenched again anyway!

 

One of the most sinister moments to me was when you could see Ruth Roman's facial expression turn completely when she realized Tommy could hang them.  She was evil!

 

First time I saw this movie, had never heard of it.  It was an experience but I probably won't watch it again.



#55 dwallace

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 03:25 PM

We can see in these films the changing role of women, though both Hollywood and critics, like Nicholas Christopher in Somewhere in the Night:  Film Noir and the American City, took this much further than the reality.  High Wall best shows this.  We see a character conflicted from the war a Col. in the Army Air Corps who can't settle down afterwards, willing to take a low paying professorship at the local college.

 

His wife is a working woman, secretary who is also having an affair with her boss.  He is the real killer.  Ann is the professional the doctor who helps Steven prove that he isn't guilty and give the true killer, Willard, the sodium pentathol that forces him to confess his guilt.  

 

While some women post war did become professionals and did go into the work force, the vast majority willingly gave up that responsibility to become mothers and housewives.  The "baby boom" only happened really on two continents affected by World War II, North America (mostly U.S. and Canada) and Australia.  That was possible because women did give up working.

 

It has only been since the 1970's that women reluctantly joined the work force in the numbers they have, when the declining salary of the American worker went into decline and the only way to keep it up was the two income family.  I believe it is only with the last generation that women truly see themselves as workers.  Vast numbers of women from the "baby boom" would have preferred to do as their mothers had, but to survive they couldn't, they had to work.  Both white and Afro-American birth rates have been in negative numbers for decades, barely giving the U.S. a positive birthrate.  Europe, which did not have the "baby boom" has been in negative numbers for generations.  

 

And both Europe and the U.S. are now concerned about immigration.  Perhaps that will allow for the reincarnation of noir.  A new enemy we can all see and fear. One that centers around our cities, that we rarely see, yet we as trying to take something from us. That is what is so interesting about this.  The fear of our cities, if you agree with Christopher, yet what was the other big development postwar that truly affected films and our society--Levittown.  Suburbia in the potato fields of Long Island, more and more we fled the cities these films were about and went into the cities to observe vicariously the life there then left.  

 

Think of how those films reinforced so well the decision to make that move that William Levitt, the GI Bill and other things had made possible.

 

I have never thought of my hour + commute for the las 34 years, growing up almost all the men in my neighborhood drove that long or longer (especially before the interstate highway system) to work, though I must admit there seemed more time when my first job in my profession was just a 5 minute commute.

 

The anxiety was there though.  What they had fought for was not coming to be.  Still reeling from the depression, how many of you recall the things your parents did that went back to their growing up in the depression, like adding vinegar to Ketchup to make it go longer.  The effects of World War II and Concentration Camps still coming in, not truly real until the Autobiography of Anne Frank, and yet their ally, was already becoming their enemy.  That started and grew from Truman's return from Potsdam.  

 

The ideas of psychology, simplified by the checkout counter magazine stories.  The films of Hollywood, using that same psycho-babel kept the anxiety of their youth alive.  And how much is explained about some of our parents behavior from our looking back now, with the knowledge we have of PTSD.  

 

There were groups who felt the American Soldier trained to kill, now needed to be sent somewhere to be trained to be a civilian again.  But servicemen and the public wanted them home and Operation Magic Carpet did that.  It brought and demobilized millions of soldiers in short order, thankfully, but what of the nightmares of fighting at Pearl Harbor, or the Banzai attack?  Most of those soldiers found jobs, where the women had been.  

 

An interesting examination, of changing sex roles (if true), anxiety (the need for a second job, just in case in the 1958 recession), survival guilt?, and don't we all love movies and T.V. shows that work around the "law" to catch the bad man.  Dirty Harry nor Steve in High Wall or anyone else should be kept from the truth by Constitutional "Technicalities".  Who cares about privacy as long as CSI, NCIS, Criminal Intent get the "perp"; or if Marlowe just goes to Mexico and kills his friend, because there is no one else left to punish.  Justice is served.  

 

It is all "...the stuff that dreams are made of".  At least in Hollywood and we love them and the movies they have made for us, that have given us so much fun.  And as many of the of July 3, movies were carried by the stars Key Largo, White Heat, most were made enjoyable by character actors in them.


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#56 MareyMac

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 02:42 PM

Watching Detour again I was reminded of how the ending had to be changed to comply with the Production Code. Poor old Al was going to wander the highways, living with his bad choices. But a crime could not go unpunished.

 

But isn't that essentially the same ending as Scarlet Street? Made the same year, in 1945? Chris Cross even tried to hang himself, but was doomed to live with his guilt, wandering the streets aimlessly. How did the production code pass that ending?

 

UPDATE: Well... I just found the answer to my own question. Apparently Fritz Lang pleaded the case to the Breen Office. Interesting.

 

https://nitratediva....et-street-1945/

 

Determined to avoid such a botched ending, Lang decided to bring his case to censorship honcho Joseph Breen and harp on a feeling close to every Catholic’s heart: guilt. As the director recalled:

“I said, ‘Look, we’re both Catholics. Being permitted to live, the Robinson character in Scarlet Street goes through hell. That’s a much greater punishment being imprisoned for homicide. After all, it was not a premeditated murder, it was a crime of passion. What if he does spend the rest of his life in jail—so what? The greater punishment is surely to have him go legally free, his soul burdened by the knowledge of his deed, his mind constantly echoing with the words of the woman he loved proclaiming her love for the man he’d wrongly sent to death in his place…’ And I won my point.”


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#57 rrrick

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 01:21 PM

I agree. ... the acting was atrocious throughout and the script had little to go for it really.

 

Oh, and far worse, ...were the vocal somersaults of Glenn Anders, who played George Grisby. The way he spoke his lines, and the lines themselves...well it was frankly bizarre....

But what if Anders was instructed to play it like that  - which I think he was. Then he perfectly perfomed the way Welles intended. Every performance in this film was basically a stylized exaggeration. 

 

And about the script. Usually the script is the core of a movie. In a way the film as an end product is a means to materialize the script and the story line. But what if you reverse those roles? What if you have cinematic ideas and the script is no longer the foundation, but becomes one of the various means to express those ideas. 

 

I'm not saying one approach is better than the other, but it is at the very least a test of then conventional ideas of what film is, and trying to find out what happens if you mess around with things a bit.


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#58 Sir David

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 12:30 PM

I understand the concept of formalist experimentation with regard to “The Lady from Shanghai.”

 

I do understand and admire artists who are willing to stretch the boundaries of their art, but ultimately I think great art in any medium must bring people in and make them believe, or at least want to believe….

 

Once Michael O’Hara opened his mouth, all we were left with were great talking points.

 

I am loving this course.

I agree. There's nothing wrong with experimenting with the medium, after all there can be no progress without someone willing to push the boundaries.  And as to that I have no problem with the cinematography and his visual flair, it's just - to me - the acting was atrocious throughout and the script had little to go for it really.

 

Oh, and far worse, for me, than Orson Welles' accent were the vocal somersaults of Glenn Anders, who played George Grisby. The way he spoke his lines, and the lines themselves...well it was frankly bizarre. Actually it put me in mind of Derek Jacobi who sent himself up hilariously in a terrific Frasier episode



#59 rrrick

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 12:00 PM

Here's a few great frames from THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI

 

This first one is a shot of Elsa reflected in the glass of Grisby's binoculars. 

 

lady1.jpg

 

This second frame is from the scene at the aquarium. Like most of the fish in the tanks in the background this eel is obviously enlarged. The backlight effect of the aquarium blacks out Elsa's face completely. Thinking of O'Hara's mononlogue about the sharks, what to make of this image? We hear Elsa, but we see the ferocious eel. I'm guessing Welles is trying to say something about Elsa's true nature...

 

lady3.jpg

 

And this third one is just one of the many references to smoking in the film. Remember that when O'Hara offers Elsa a cigarette in the beginning of the film, she replies: "I don't smoke". Well, she picked up the habit pretty quickly, not letting a sign in court stop her. 

 

lady4.jpg


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#60 NOIR Neophyte

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 10:22 AM

:)

I understand the concept of formalist experimentation with regard to “The Lady from Shanghai.”

 

I do understand and admire artists who are willing to stretch the boundaries of their art, but ultimately I think great art in any medium must bring people in and make them believe, or at least want to believe….

 

Once Michael O’Hara opened his mouth, all we were left with were great talking points.

 

I am loving this course.





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