One paragraph reviews on art, movies, books, and pop culture by a know-nothing who knows it all

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"2046" Not Quite In the Mood

If you're not a Wong Kar-wai fan, don't bother seeing his new flick "2046." A quasi-sequel to his superb "In the Mood for Love" (I strongly recommend this luscious eye-candy of a film), "2046" is too long and a bit flat. The film takes place in the 1960s and is about a man after the end of a love affair. I feel that the director just shot a ton of disparate scenes (filming took over a year), then stitched it together, and added a voiceover to give some meaning and continuity. If you have any type of fetish for stilleto heels, stiff-collared dresses, or Clark Gable coiffures or 'staches, "2046" may please you, although, again, I think "In the Mood for Love" is much more satisfying on this account as well.


Monday, August 29, 2005

"Greater New York" at PS 1

Amp Power stopped in at P.S. 1 in Queens to check out the soon-to-end "Greater New York." The exhibit showcases artists who have emerged on the NY scene since 2000. We had a blast. We arrived just as the "WarmUp" was starting: the courtyard was packed with hipsters and beautiful people drinking and dancing, prepping to get looped. The artwork seemed fun and not too taxing, which I guess could be considered a negative. But I really enjoyed myself. Here's some of my favorite stuff:

rob fischer
(This was my favorite artist.)

Dana Schutz

jamie isenstein

tobias putrih
(This is made of corrugated cardboard and looks like a beehive.)

Jen DeNike
(This is a still from a video in which two guys wrestle on the ground. An adjacent video played two guys wrestling in a pool.)

yuken teruya
This diorama of a tree is made out of a McDonald's bag.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bird's Birthday

Monday--August 29--is Charlie Parker's birthday. Do yourself a favor and check out WKCR and click on "live broadcast," which is playing all Bird, all the time tonight and Monday. The official Bird website is very good and covers a lot of ground, but here's a fan site that's pretty good, which also pays tribute to (my personal all-time favorite jazz musician) John Coltrane.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Sweet Gwen Verdon

I came across this image in a magazine that I was about to toss out, and it struck me. It reminded of the real Sweet Charity--Gwen Verdon. I think this collage accompanied a review of the revival of "Sweet Charity" with Christina Applegate. (This new version has received tepid reviews, by the way.)
If you're interested in the on-again, off-again, on-off-on roller coaster ride of this production, check out this article.
I'm a huge fan of the original Sweet Charity Gwen Verdon, who died in 2000 at age 75. (To learn anything & everything about Gwen, check out this amazing fan website.)
For the past two years, I've listened obessively to the Sweet Charity soundtrack with Gwen, which includes "If My Friends Could See Me Now," "There's Gotta Be Something Better than This," and "I'm the Bravest Individual." It always puts me in a good mood.
I love this image of Ms. Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse. (Don't even get me started on my minor addiction to All That Jazz.) I particularly like how they're both clenching down on cigarettes while dancing.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Klaus on the Brain

I've got Klaus Kinski on the brain after writing my post on Grizzly Man. I started to reread my copy of Kinski's autobiography, "Kinski Uncut," and I was blown away once again. I believe that an unabridged version is now available in the U.S. I bought mine in the U.K. in 1998. For a taste of this hang-on-for-dear-life memoir, click the page icon below, and once it is open, click again to enlarge. If you're a Kinski fan, you will not be disappointed.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Grizzly Kinski

Timothy Treadwell (left) and Klaus Kinski

Werner Herzog's documentary "Grizzly Man" is about Timothy Treadwell, a self-styled bear expert who lived among bears in Alaska. Herzog's unique approach to documentary filmmaking makes this film definitely worth seeing. No matter what the subject matter, Herzog portrays his subjects as the epitome of the human condition. Herzog is fascinated with man's attempts at controlling and integrating himself into nature. (Guess what? Nature always wins.) I feel that Timothy Treadwell was really a stand-in for Herzog's muse, Klaus Kinski. Treadwell lived on the edge, raged at society, and was full of life, like Kinski. Despite whomever this film is about (Treadwell, Herzog, or Kinski), it's a riveting two hours.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Murray Miscast in "Broken Flowers"

It pains me to write this: Bill Murray weakens a potentially good "Broken Flowers," directed by Jim Jarmusch. If you can make this leap--Bill Murray is a casanova who's broken the hearts of gorgeous women over the past 20+ years--then you will probably enjoy this flick. I simply could not make that leap. In addition, his "deadpan"--emphasis on the first syllable--almost brings the film to a halt a few times. If you thought Bill was lowkey in The Life Aquatic, watch out. This is no Michelangelo Antonioni-Samuel Becket-style performance; this is simply just bloody boring acting.

Here's my selection of actors whom I think would've been better than Bill Murray, based on their screen personas and acting abilities:

(Clockwise, starting from upper left: Warren Beatty, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Jim Jarmusch (even the director would've been better), Beat Takeshi, Morgan Freeman.)

And just so Bill Murray doesn't feel too badly, here's my list of actors who would've been WORSE than B.M.

(Clockwise, starting from upper left: Garry Shandling, James Gandolfini, Al Pacino, Alan Alda.)

My advice: see this film if your Ambien supply is running low.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Ramon Santiago

A lot of Rochesterians do backflips over local artist Ramon Santiago who died in 2001. His artwork is quite pricey and can be found adorning the walls of hip little bistros and in many homes. I stopped in Santiago Studio while in Rochester and was escorted by Ramon's mother through the galleries. Here are a few works that are emblematic of Santiago's style:

His stuff is not exactly my cup of tea, but I was intrigued with one section of the gallery. A number of Ramon's personal effects were set up in a corner: petrified paint brushes, color-splattered palettes, a battered stool, cigarettes, booze, and a photograph of Ramon with actor Robert Forster (a Rochesterian who is one of the main reasons to see Jackie Brown). Just by looking at those items rather than the artwork, I really felt the presence of the artist in that gallery.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Drooling Film Buffs and Louise Brooks

If you're ever in Rochester, New York, check out the Dryden Theater. Because this movie house is associated with the George Eastman House, it has a film library that would blow your mind. Similar to the Walter Reade Theatre in New York City, the Dryden has ongoing film series that would leave any film buff drooling. For instance, this month, Peter Seller flicks are showcased. (Just TRY to find "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" at any video rental store.)
The Dryden film catalogue is so tantalizing that it lured even the reclusive silent film star Louise Brooks to move to and live (and eventually die) in old Roch-cha-cha. She viewed films and wrote incisive essays on Hollywood, collected in the excellent "Lulu in Hollywood."If the Dryden is good enough for Miss Brooks, well, then.... By the way, if you love all things Louise Brooks, check out this fan's dream of a website.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

For Brian Wilson Fans Only

Just saw this article in New York Magazine about Brian Wilson's influences.

Best Part:
NYM: Can you tell me what sort of literature affected you when you were growing up in Hawthorne, California?
BW: The Act of Creation, by Arthur Koestler, and it turned me on to some very special things. It explains that people attach their egos to their sense of humor before anything else. After I read it, I saw that trait in many people.

(Alicatte: Yes, I'm running out to buy this book.)

Most Disappointing Part:

NYM: When you came out of that dark phase in the eighties, what were you listening to?
BW: David Lee Roth. I thought that his version of “California Girls” was really, really good.

(Alicatte: I can take solace only in the fact that Brian W. was coked out of his brains and his judgment must have been impaired.)

For those of you interested in a time-capsule profile of Brian, check this article out.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Edward & Margaret Otis

While in Ithaca, New York, this past week, I came upon these dual portraits of a young woman. Edward and Margaret Otis painted these portraits simultaneously of Vivian Herring in the late 1930s. Edward's interpretation is on the right, Margaret on the left. For me, the image on the right is much stronger; it feels like a timeless portrait, whereas the one on the left, definitely feels of a certain time and era. I don't feel badly about championing one painting over the other because both artists were my grandparents. Therefore, I may be a little biased when I say that I'm certainly taken with both these images together.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Amp Power Is on Hiatus...

...while the Alicatte & Penguin and their Little Rhino are on holiday in upstate New York, sailing on Lake Ontario.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

House of Mirth

I love books, movies, anything about old New York, so, of course, I loved "House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton. The book focuses on the striking Lily Bart's ascent to and descent from high society. So much of the book's depiction of the superficial moneyed class could easily be applied to today's jetsetters. For instance, "...the ideals of a world where conspicuousness passed for distinction and the society column had become the roll of fame." And this was published in 1905! As Lily falls out of favor, I started to lose interest too, I must admit. The book did get a little maudlin at the end, but I'll let it slide. This is Edith Wharton, after all.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another Actor Sells His Soul

Oh, well, another actor sells his soul. Remember when Mark Ruffalo came out in You Can Count on Me (yes, a horrible title, but a great film--because of Mark Ruffalo). His performance was exciting; it felt unpredictable and raw and real. Well, I saw this ad for Just Like Heaven plastered on a subway entrance, and my heart sank. My distaste for this ad is right up there with Must Love Dogs. There's little Mark Ruffalo staring longingly up at box office jackpot Reese Witherspoon. Mark Ruffalo wants to be a big, big star. And it seems that he's chosen films based on whose name is on the marquee. Unfortunately, most of them have tanked. Here are some of his recent bombs: The Last Castle, Windtalkers, View from the Top, all starring big stars with whom he hoped to align himself. I do admit that he was the saving grace in In the Cut, but he had to share the screen with Meg Ryan. No thanks. And, yes, he made The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with Jim Carrey, but do you really remember his even being in it? His last movie 13 going on 30, I think, did pretty good box office, so maybe he is counting on that. Besides both flicks being supposedly "romantic comedies," I see one very distinct similarity: his picture in both ads is teeny tiny. That's the price of fame, I guess.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Amazing "Life and Limb"

"Life and Limb" at Feigen Contemporary gallery is the type of exhibit that reminds why you trudge about those streets of Chelsea. As soon as you enter the gallery, you can tell that this group show features artists who are masters of technique, craftmanship, and interpretation. The show ends Aug. 12, so hurry to this amazing show.

Here are my favorite images:

"Daedalus and icarus," Tim Davis

That flashbulb effect is a part of the artwork. I almost bought this one. In person, it's quite arresting.

harvey darger

This image is free floating. There's an image on the back of it as well.

"Double Portrait," Paul Hodgson

Loved this one. It reminded me of the recreations of paintings in Derek Jarman's film "Caravaggio."

"Untitled," Nicky Hoberman

This pastel on paper was quite affecting. It's big, and the little girls' stares dare you to look away.