Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TOP 10 MOVIE PICKS of 2017

Cinema pushes the bounds of our imagination. Being a visual artist, I find movies flex my mind and take me to new worlds. Whether at home on the couch or in a theater, we can be inspired.  Each year, I share my own Top 10 Movies of the Year to indulge my cinephile obsessions and express my opinions, hopefully turning you on to something cool to watch in the process.  This year, it was REALLY difficult to choose my favorite movies.  There were some really fun (and some lackluster) blockbusters over the summer, plenty of clever low-budget indies, and now a stellar line-up of films highlighting awards season.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm feeling some comic movie fatigue now.  Warner / DC released a solid Wonder Woman movie which was a world-wide success but offered no real surprises.  The much-anticipated Justice League really missed the mark with an uneven tone and a post-production hatchet-job which turned a dark, ambitious Zack Snyder project into the softball abomination Joss Whedon limped to the finish line with.  Marvel Studios produced a couple of entertaining, albeit by-the-numbers movies with Guardians 2 and Thor 3 (which went goofy by trying to replicate the space opera tone of Guardians).  Fox won out this year though with James Mangold's Logan.  It was a much needed breath of fresh air, playing out like a post-apocalyptic Western.

Where I certainly don't feel let down is with the continuing Science Fiction renaissance of the past several years.  You'll see a few of these in my list but others are worth mentioning to get us started.  New takes on old characters such as Kong: Skull Island were great. Samuel L Jackson is dynamite as Kong's antagonist (sans Captain Ahab).  However, Universal's attempt at The Mummy jump-starting their own monster movie universe was dead on arrival. Though flawed, the Blade Runner 2049 and Alien: Covenent sequels were both true to their source material and some satisfying guilty pleasures.  Mayhem, Colossal, and It Comes at Night are smaller-budget gems with sci-fi roots which show what great things can be done with acting, a solid story and minimal effects.

With political times, come timely political movies. With the American Press under fire more than ever before, Spielberg gave us The Post, which through the lens of one of the biggest stories of the 20th century highlights the importance of free and independent journalism. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (that's a mouthful- pun intended) tells the story of Deep Throat, the infamous informant whose information brought down the Nixon administration. It's worth noting that Liam Neeson gives one of his finest performances in the is film, which fell under the radar of the awards season.  On the funnier side, Downsizing served a clever satire on sustainability and had me in stitches.  Christopher Nolan never disappoints and managed to give a fresh take on the war genre with Dunkirk while Gary Oldman gives another legendary performance as Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour.  Lastly, I found Last Flag Flying to be a real gem of a movie with Lawrence Fishburne, Steve Carell, and Bryan Cranston playing Vietnam vets reunited for the funeral of Carrell's son, who was killed in the Middle East. The performances are poignant and deals with some heavy themes any military family could connect with.

Other films well worth the time invested were Jawbone, Brigsby Bear, I, Tonya, The Mountain Between Us, Free Fire, Catfight, Trainspotting 2, Wind River, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Beatriz at Dinner, Gerald's Game, Baby Driver, and Buster's Mal Heart!  Now on to the required viewing...

Monday, August 21, 2017


Being a big nerd, I watched NASA both before and after the Solar Eclipse passed over my hometown of Clarksville, TN.  We are lucky enough to be twenty miles outside of ground zero for the longest period of totality during the coast-to-coast wave of awesomeness today! One of the interesting things I learned from the official broadcast was how NASA's earliest research of solar eclipse science comes from drawings.  In the grand scheme of things, the camera is very much a modern invention.  Inspired by the 18th and 19th century drawings shown on the air today, I took to the drawing table this afternoon to create a visionary depiction of my own solar experience!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Topsy-Turvy III at The Roxy

The past few months, I've been really letting my art animal out at the easel here in my home studio.  It felt good to get away from the confines of illustration and just experience the joy of art again.  Over a decade ago, my first solo gallery exhibit was called Topsy-Turvy.  All of the works of art I displayed were created from at least two different perspectives and could be hung in different directions to get a fresh take on the imagery.  The work was fun and I created two bodies of work for exhibits in both 2006 and 2009. These new paintings are created with that style in mind, but with a much lower-brow tone.  The paintings are all free-styled, and just paint spun to canvass from a liberated mind- pure automatism!

Enjoy these previews of the work and check them out in person if you're local!  Topsy-Turvy III will be on display at The Roxy Regional Theatre here in Clarksville through the end of July!  I'll be tabling in-person at the show during the Downtown Art Walk, this Thursday evening, July 6th!  Drop by and see me there!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Predators Posters! (Download and Share the Savageness!)

Everyone has gone bananas for hockey here in Tennessee so I lent some time at the drawing table this week to make some shareable artwork for the Stanley Cup Finals! Go Preds!!! Click on the images to get the full-sized, high-res posters which you can download and share!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

In Memoriam: Chris Cornell

As a teenager, grunge music was a driving force in my life so it is sad to see the likes of Chris Cornell move on from our world.  His music spoke to a generation and I have a feeling it will be around long after I'm gone as well.  For today and until then, thanks Chris for your guiding voice.  Today, I created a visionary portrait in memoriam and jammed out to some Soundgarden...
In Memoriam: Chris Cornell (pen and marker on bristol board / 2017 / Brandt Hardin)