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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Once Smitten, Now Spittin'

At one point, watching "Charlie Rose" was a highlight of my day. Now, I watch only when I really want to see one of his guests and do so with clenched teeth and fists. Charlie recently "interviewed" writer Zadie Smith about her book, "On Beauty." When he wasn't half-flirting with her, he asked about the men in her life: her no-name husband, her aging father, etc. God forbid he might talk in depth about her book. He ended the interview by pronouncing, "I am smitten with you!" I wonder if he would have said the same thing to Jonathan Franzen or Michael Chabon.
Ever since C.R. started moonlighting at "60 Minutes II," the quality of the interviews and guests has sunk. Too many times he features actors who want to promote some dud (remember George Clooney in "Intolerable Cruelty" or Ethan Hawke in "Precinct 13"? Didn't think so). When he does have stellar guests, he either does most of the talking (poor Norman Mailer had to fight just to say, "Yes, Charlie.") or tosses off lame-o questions to befuddled guests ("What are your obsessions?!" he asked Catherine Denueve. "Gardening," she answered plainly. I don't think that was the answer he was looking for.) I wish I could feel the same way toward Charlie as he does toward Zadie Smith.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's a Sin Not to Share...

... or Cher, whichever you prefer. In my research, I've come across a few sites and blogs that make it all worthwhile. And I'd like share.
Uncanny is a treasure-trove of a blog on Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. If you want to check out rare pictures, transcripts, upcoming bootleg or official release reviews, this blog will take care of you. Recent posts include a detailed review of B.W.'s yet-to-be released Christmas album, as well as links to other sites that will keep any fanatic satisfied.

Ever want to find a message board where readers are as film-obsessed as you are? People who groove on Klaus Kinski and Beat Takeshi and know their idiosyncrasies as well as their own? Well, look no further: CHUD message board is the place. (CHUD stands for Cinematic Happenings Under Development.) Watch out, though, these guys know their stuff.
While looking for art images, I keep happening upon this website, Besides Amp Power, this site has on-the-money reviews of major art shows as well as hole-in-the-wall galleries. And the site posts a ton of hard-to-find images. (By the way, that's Andy Warhol sitting on the bed.)

All who joy would win
Must share it,—happiness was born a twin.
--Lord Byron

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Monday, September 26, 2005

A Return to Form; Long Live the Figure

Raphael Soyer, Girl in Brown Jacket

If you've had it with conceptual art and crave to see good ol' oil on canvas or smudged charcoal on paper, I highly recommend "The League Then and Now" exhibition at The Art Students League and 17 New York galleries. Celebrating the League's 130th anniversary, the exhibits feature the work of students and teachers dating back to the late 1800s, right up to now. Past students include Georgia O'Keefe, Red Grooms, Jackson Pollack, and Mark Rothko. The Pollack and Rothko pieces at Joan T. Washburn gallery were very interesting. After seeing the work of such masters of technique and craftsmanship, I felt reinvigorated, and I think you will too.

Eugene Speicher, painting of Georgia O'Keefe

Frank Vincent Dumond, 1886

Jackson Pollock, Figure Kneeling before Arch with Skulls

Reminds me of El Greco. To view more of Pollack's paintings from this period, click here.

Mark Rothko, Mother and Child

So very different from what he's known for. To view more of Rothko's paintings from this period, click here.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

When Your Heroes Take a Fall

In the most recent New Yorker, there's a devastating yank - the - icons - from - the - pedestal article on Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. In reviewing books on Beauvoir's and Sartre's union, Louis Menand points out that these two basically played the existentialist version of Glenn Close and John Malkovich in the movie Dangerous Liasions. That is, they had affairs outside their "marriage" and delighted in lying to, using, and disposing of their gullable playthings, and then relished in describing the gory details to each other. I smelled a whiff of this ugly truth while reading Beauvoir's letters to one of her paramours, writer Nelson Algren. The letters are full of lovey-dovey phrases, but you know that eventually she's going to toss Algren into the trash like a day-old croissant.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hot Button "Campfire"

This Israeli film, directed by Joseph Cedar, mixes elements of Alison Anders's Gas Food Lodging with the hot button issue of West Bank settlements. Like "Gas Food Lodging," "Campfire," which is set in 1981, tracks a single mother and her two daughters as they struggle in life and love. Both films contain the same gentle humor and pacing. The films differ, of course, on the political issue. In "Campfire," also known as "Medurat Hashevet," the mother tries to get accepted by an ever cliquish settlement board. I was pleasantly surprised by the flick; I went because I had seen everything else showing at the theater. So, yes, my expectations were quite low, but, despite that, I recommend this film.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Loosely Tied "Bonds of Love"

marilyn minter, shy shoes

"Bonds of Love," an all-female exhibit at John Connelly Presents gallery, reminded me a lot of the early 1990s' art & pop culture scene. Currated by Lisa Kirk, a Riot Grrl aura was pervasive through the three separate (quite hot--we're having a humidity wave here in NYC) galleries. I recommend seeing the show, but I would add don't expect to see anything eye-opening. I feel like I've seen this Bikini Kill-aesthetic before, from a video of women dressed in gorilla costumes talking in German about men to Kathy Acker-inspired drawings to a decapitated Virgin Mary statue. You know the scene. The above image by Marilyn Minter was my favorite. Here are some other images:

sherry wong

kati heck, installation of drawings

kati heck, detail from installation


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Happy Anniversary, "Lolita"

"Lolita, light of my light, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta."

So begins Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," which was published 50 years ago today in the U.S. This is one of my all-time favorite books, and that above opening paragraph gives you just a taste of this masterpiece. If you read the book, I guarantee you'll become an instant Nabokov fan, and you'll say: "Nabokov, taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Nah. Bo. Cough."


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"Blue Movie" Is a Turnoff

If you dig that electric blue color that your TV emits when the cable's turned off, you might want to check out "Blue Movie..." at Elizabeth Dee Gallery. Artist Gareth James's origami-based blue sculptures sitting atop stacks of bubble wrap left me scratching my head. After reading starred reviews of the show in two publications, I was anxious to see it, but I ended up unimpressed. This is the type of show where the gallery's statement reads like a sophomore's term paper written at 4 am after a night of drinking:
James' work continues to prioritize topological over purely visual shifts in representation, insisting that the necessity for developing our abstract formal capacities for understanding those global operations that circumscribe our lives (while exceeding our capacity to “figure” them) is increasingly urgent.

I went to the show, and I have no idea what they are talking about. My advice: skip it, even if that electric blue color turns you on.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"Junebug" Makes My September

I was a tad bit hesitant to check out "Junebug" because it was released on the heels of You and Me and Everyone We Know. Although I highly recommended the latter flick, I was semi-OD'ing on ensemble pieces about people's near misses when it comes to human connections. (I would classify Happy Endings in this category as well.) "Junebug," directed by Phil Morrison, is about a Southern guy who returns to his hometown and family with his new art dealer, European-bred wife. What makes this film special is the attention to detail with that literary device "a sense of place." I was practically genuflecting in the aisles when I saw the camera stay steady as it studied an empty dining room, a woman standing on her front lawn, or an air mattress inflating. If you dug those type of scenes in Stanley Kubrick's "2001" or Todd Haynes's "Safe," please check out "Junebug." As well, Celia Weston, Frank Hoyt Taylor, and Benjamin McKenzie give standout performances.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Brainiacs Embrace Brian

Get out your tweed sports coat (yes, the one with the elbow patches), pack your pipe, and put on your black-framed reading glasses: The intellectual biweekly New York Review of Books has just published an article about Brian Wilson and the evolution of his masterwork "Smile." No new ground covered here (that is, no new ground for B.W. fanatics). The most interesting part for me was an analysis of Van Park Dykes's sometimes convoluted lyrics. For instance:
A synopsis of the album's Americana theme, "Roll Plymouth Rock" begins with ... the lines "Waving from the ocean liners/beaded cheering Indians behind them/Rock, rock, roll, Plymouth Rock roll over." The latter line links together references to early rock-and-roll stars Bill Haley ("Rock Around the Clock") and Chuck Berry ("Roll Over Beethoven") with the site of the Pilgrims' landing as part of the album's pop exploration of American mythology.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Two Beats in "Takeshis"

Beat Takeshi has released a new movie, called "Takeshis," which is premiering at the Venice Film Festival. "Takeshi" is about a divided self--literally--and Beat plays both roles. Beat, who is also known as Kitano Takeshi, is one of the few directors about whom I get very revved up when they release a new picture. He is one of the most interesting, confident directors out there now. I can't wait for this film to arrive in New York. Unfortunately, distribution of his films is quite spotty. Sometimes, they're released here, sometimes not. I'm still searching for one of his films, called "Dolls," which I have yet to find. Below is an article about Beat's new film. Click on the icon below to open. Then click again to enlarge.



Monday, September 05, 2005

Trane & Monk

Oh, I'm really excited about this. I read in the New York Sun that a new recording by John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk is being issued at the end of September. Recorded in 1957, "Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" has supposedly left jazz aficionados salivating. How in the world can you go wrong when it comes to Trane and Monk? I'm already standing in line. If you're interested, please check out the NY Sun article about this soon-to-be, best-of-the-year release. And, if you're really interested, check out this John Coltrane site and Monk site.


Friday, September 02, 2005

If You Happen to See Martin, Wish Him Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Martin!!!!
(And Happy Anniversary, Martin and Pat!)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Good, The Bad, and the Mediocre

Written by actor Eli Wallach (pictured here with Carroll Baker from "Baby Doll"), "The Good, the Bad, and the Me" feels brief and superficial. In this memoir, Wallach, the supreme character actor, skims over his Method acting practices (this was the reason I read the book) and gives zero dirt on his better known co-stars (Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood). Just a little gossip would be nice. This book is full of the type of stories that you would hear on a 1970s talk show, like "Mike Douglas" or "Dinah Shore." Really harmless stuff that occasionally makes you grin politely.

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