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Monthly Archives: March 2008

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Imagineers and Crocodile Tears

I’m fascinated with former long-time Disney artist Kevin Kidney’s flickr photos — in particular this “before and after” gallery art of a boy at Disneyland. Notice that the corporate p.c. police deleted the boy’s pop gun and replaced his spear with a souvenir flag.

On a similar note, read this Re-Imagineering post on Disneyland’s troubling refurbishments for the “it’s a small world” ride. Not only are they messing up Mary Blair’s brilliant designs, they’re planning to completely change the original uplifting message of the entire ride! That makes my blood boil.

A Dopey Illustrator

Most high school kids struggle with trying to decide what kind of career they’ll have, but for me the decision was a no-brainer. The idea that someone could make a living at illustration took a strong hold of me as a teenager in the mid-’80s — I would page through various magazines and take note of names like Dave Calver, Anthony Russo, Brian Cronin and Brad Holland. Something about the irresistible allure of being creative while in the service of communicating ideas (all the while getting your work published in millions of magazines) made me think “I wanna do that.”

Twenty years on, I’d have to say that unfortunately I don’t consider myself a true illustrator like the men mentioned above. Nearly all of my work as a freelancer is in graphic design — and as an illustrator I honestly believe my work is merely a notch above adequate. But I’m hoping to change that! I just opened a Portfolios.com page which focuses exclusively on illustration. In assembling it, I’ve found a few nice works from the past that I almost forgot about. Like the one below — a Winter vacation piece made when I worked for The Arizona Republic:

Winter Escape Illustration by Matt Hinrichs

Here’s hoping the page gets a few nibbles from potential clients.

Weekly Mishmash: February 24-March 1

Art School Confidential (2006). I had high hopes for this one, since I enjoyed Terry Zwygoff and Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World and the setting might echo my own college art school experience. It was a shade below okay, having some good observations amid a bunch of frustrating elements. I’ve encountered many teachers like the one portrayed by John Malkovich, a guy who’s deluded himself into thinking his triangle paintings are a thing of greatness. It seems the filmmakers didn’t know if this should be a romantic comedy, a farce, or a fright flick, so they mashed it all together into a muddle that wastes the talents of several fine actors (Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, Angelica Huston, Jim Broadbent). The one art school scene in Ghost World — in which a student submits a tampon in a teacup to sculpture class — was far more worthwhile and a lot shorter. Heck, even Claire’s storyline from Six Feet Under fared better.
Steven Bach — Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl. Leni Riefenstahl was a complicated woman. This bio gets a bit unnecessarily savage at times, but then again maybe she deserved this treatment. The main impression that I get is that she was an cunning opportunist who slept her way into the business, made two brilliant films, then (unconvincingly) played dumb when confronted on her involvement with the Nazis. Despite the author’s agenda, it was a lively read which makes me want to check out Olympia.
Company (Great Performances, PBS). Having never seen this on stage (despite the cast album being tattooed on my brain), I was looking forward to this presentation of the 2006 Broadway revival, a.k.a. “the one where the actors play their own instruments.” This is a strange and dark mounting, at times deeply affecting, and I’m glad I saw it. The stiff choreography and tiny set are really weird. Not to mention the fact that actors play their own instruments. Raúl Esparza’s portrays Bobby as a much bigger cynic than I ever imagined (I pictured him as a carefree playboy type), and he’s excellent despite having a nasally singing voice. Still, I wish I could see this show as it was staged in 1970 with Jonathan Tunick’s groovy musical arrangements and Boris Aronson’s innovative set design. Someday …
Lust, Caution (2007). Ang Lee is an amazing, thought provoking filmmaker. Lust, Caution is a long but rewarding film with two excellent lead performances from Tony Leung and Wei Tang. The explicit sex scenes were what had everyone talking, but in this context they make a lot of sense since the characters are so repressed in their lives outside their trysting room. The film also had a good storyline and some lovely costumes worn by Tang and the affluent Chinese women she played mah jongg with. In many ways this movie recalled In the Mood for Love.
On the Beach (1959). TiVo’d off TCM. Talky and boring, and having the Pavlovian effect of making me want to kill someone each time I hear the melody of “Waltzing Matilda.”
Paul Simon — Still Crazy After All These Years. One of those albums that I associate with childhood, since my mom used to listen to this (along with Simon’s Greatest Hits Etc.) all the time while doing housework. I was prompted to download it off iTunes after seeing the Simon-dominated second episode of Saturday Night Live where he performed many of these tunes. It’s held up much better than other past Album of the Year Grammy award winners. I love the majestic sweep of the title track, and “My Little Town” with Art Garfunkel was another one I remember well. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” counts as another highlight, although Simon’s “Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch” lyrics place it strictly in the year 1975. Mom’s gonna love it when I give her a CD-R of this.