Homage to great cinema was a theme at two events at the Museum of Modern Arts this week. On Monday, in an evening hosted by the Hamptons International Film Festival, photographer Bruce Weber showcased excerpts from Nice Girls Don't Stay for Breakfast, his documentary-in-progress about Robert Mitchum. Through Weber's lens, the Hollywood tough guy of Westerns and noirs, the creep in the original Cape Fear with deep cleft chin and eyes at half mast emerges as a shy, modest, non-celebrity jamming sweetly off-key with Dr. John, Marianne Faithfull, and Richie Lee Jones.
A Q&A with Alec Baldwin following the screening showed yet another side of Baldwin who should have his own late night Letterman style talk show. Trading anecdotes, Baldwin spoke about Weber's provocative work in Calvin Klein ads, photographing hunky models bulging in jockeys, recounting how Marcy Klein, in an intimate moment would see her father's name on her date's underwear.
The big question of the night, how did Weber get such candid footage from interview phobic Mitchum who eluded the invitations of Barbara Walters, Dick Cavett, and Larry King. Weber, in signature head scarf, is disarming and sly, telling how he sent beautiful women with gifts to Mitchum's door.
On Tuesday, Paladin president Mark Urman emphasized the importance of premiering another documentary, Great Directors, at MoMA, one of the first institutions to recognize film as art as well as industry. Director Angela Ismailos wanted to talk to legendary directors to discover what makes them great. The result is an engaging moveable feast with Bernardo Bertolucci, Agnes Varda, David Lynch, Stephen Frears, Ken Loach, Liliana Cavani, Todd Haynes, John Sayles, Catherine Breillat, Richard Linklater interwoven with evocative clips from such classics as The Night Porter, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, ThenConformist, The Gleaners, Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, to name just a few. Admittedly this is a subjective list inviting the film lover to make up one's own-- and more, to revisit these beloved gems.
MoMA was packed with directors Bob Balaban, Oren Moverman, Mira Nair, Daryl Wein, documentarians Barbara Kopple, Ellen Kuras, actors Oliver Platt, Susan Sarandon, Marisa Berenson, Ben Shenkman, Stella Schnabel, performers Laurie Anderson, Moby, and artists Chuck Close, David Salle who stayed on for dinner in the museum's lobby and sculpture garden. The image of Marlon Brando reaching for the butter in Last Tango in Paris lingered.
This post also appears on Gossip Central..