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

Friday, March 31, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

Norah Vincent, and Nora as Ned

Norah Vincent took on the mission of passing as a man. Her book, "Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back Again," details her year and a half experience as "Ned," her male incarnation. She infiltrated a bowling league, strip clubs, a monastery, and even a men's movement retreat. In addition, she dated women and worked in Glengarry Glen Ross-type workplaces. This book is pretty fascinating. "Male privilege" isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's freighted with societal pressures with the only acceptable emotional outlet being rage. By the end of the book, you realize that being a woman ain't so bad.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

In Toto Thursday, Acta Est Fabula (Ad Interim)

The answer to this week's Topless Tuesday is.... Guess! An appropriate image to exit/retire Topless Tuesday/In Toto Thursday for a bit of time. In replace of decapitated movie stars, I will try to post more reviews and observations. If I happen upon a glam shot I dig and can't do without, I'll post it in that case. (Image via

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Tornado Might Help

The idea seems intriguing: expose works of art to the elements and see what happens. "Survivor," a group exhibit, is outside next door to Bortolami Dayan gallery with only an abandoned elevated train track for shelter from sun, rain, wind, and snow. The problem is that the quality of the work is such that damage would be an improvement. What's the risk if the majority of the art is substandard? Why wouldn't the gallery display some of its pricier art and let Mother Nature have her way with it? Because of the quality of the work here, this show comes across as nothing more than a sophomoric gimmick. (Images via Bortolami Dayan gallery. Top, Jonathan Horowitz; bottom, Rob Pruitt)


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Topless Tuesday--For DDHouse

Hey, DDHouse, still feel the same about Topless Tuesday? ;) Answer to who this topless mega-icon is later this week.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hooray for Hollywood

Spike Lee's "Inside Man" is the first mainstream movie I've seen in a long time. And I made the right choice. This is a superb Saturday night, popcorn movie. I ate it up--butter and all--and loved it. This is a cat-and-mouse bank robbery tale with the always-delivers Denzel Washington as the detective and the always-brewing Clive Owen as the robber. The battle of wits and wills takes place in New York City, and this portrait feels very real; this is the NYC I see and love. Oh, and let's throw in a sexy (yes) Jodie Foster, who--thankfully--doesn't play the victim again but an evil bitch who could reduce you to a puddle.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Drive-in Saturday

In this weekly feature, I review in one sentence or less videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"The Beach Boys: An American Band" (1985), directed by Malcolm Leo: A bearded, bloated, bathrobed, and bedridden Brian Wilson gives an amazingly focused interview in this for-fans-only documentary that's chockfull of archival footage.

"I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" (1995), directed by Don Was: For both the hardcore and day-to-day fans, analysis of and tribute to the music and life of Brian Wilson.

"Stalag 17" (1953), directed by Billy Wilder: William Holden* is wunderbar in this captivating story about a WWII German POW camp.

*Written material and photos of William Holden are sorely lacking on the web. This actor is bloody amazing, someone whose acting style works as well in the 1940s as the 1970s, and that's saying something! If you haven't discovered the wonders of Bill H., please check out: Sunset Boulevard, Picnic, The Bridge over the River Kwai, The Wild Bunch, and Network. You will not be disappointed.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

The Spooky Art

Hope Atherton's recent paintings at Bortolami Dayan gallery look like those old photographic images that "captured" the presence of a ghost as it flitted by. Dark and smeared, the eight paintings depict mystical and nighttime moments. This show didn't stand out for me. The artist is definitely proficient; however, something didn't ring true with these images. They look as though they were painted from slow-shutter-speed photographs. If I want to see some true spooky art that makes me think, I'll check out the Goya show at the Frick. I basically flitted past these paintings, just like those ghosts did way back when. (Images via Bortolami Dayan)


Thursday, March 23, 2006

In Toto Thursday

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty are the answer to this week's Topless Tuesday, seen here from "Bonnie and Clyde." The tagline for the flick was: "They're young. They're in love. And they kill people."

Below are images of the Hollywood version of B & C and the real killers. Even charisma-doused Faye and Warren can't match the chemistry of the real thing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Jupiter Zoom

If you're in the Washington, DC, area this week and want to see some fun theater, check out "Jupiter Zoom" at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. Directed and written by Callie Kimball (she acted in a short film I directed many moons ago), "Jupiter Zoom" will be playing from March 21 to 26. Click here for more details. By the way, Callie's blog, Lucky Spinster, which I've been reading for years, was the inspiration for Amp Power.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Topless Tuesday

Guess who these topless killer lovers are. Answer later this week.

Monday, March 20, 2006

United in the Bedroom

"Women in the Bedroom," a group exhibit at Larissa Goldston gallery, is one of those shows in which individual work can stand on its own but seems stronger when seen with other like-minded art. That can be considered a negative for the individual artists, but it's a plus for the viewer and the curator. The paintings, photography, and sculpture all work together very well, emphasizing each other's strengths. In addition, the gallery has reserved a room for prints by Robert Rauschenberg, whose "Bed" painting inspired this show. (Isn't that typical? The man gets his own room--with a window no less--while the women are scattered throughout the rest of the gallery.)

(Images via Larissa Goldston gallery. From top to bottom, Laurie Simmons, Erica Svec, and Sophia Petrides)


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Drive-in Saturday ("Kung Fu Hustle")

In this weekly feature, I review in one sentence or less videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"Kung Fu Hustle" (2005), directed by Stephen Chow: Full-throttle fun mania, but a few too many CG effects for my taste.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Makes Me Wanna Throw Up (Again)

Ah, yet again, another movie print ad that makes me sick. The latest remake of "The Shaggy Dog" pictures the hybrid of a dog and star Tim Allen's eyes. Yuck. ("Funnyman") Tim Allen is no Fred MacMurray, the original's star, and I'm sure that Allen's ego will not allow only his eyes to grace the flick's ads. I guarantee that this ad will be replaced by one that features his mug much more prominently. This image has the same visceral effect on me as the mutant dog from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." OK, maybe the mutant dog is slightly more disturbing. Nevertheless, "The Shaggy Dog" ad still makes me wanna throw up.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

In Toto Thursday

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis are the answer to this week's Topless Tuesday, seen here from "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Yet another reason to dress your age.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Don't Shoot the Art Curator

Jordan Wolfson

The curators have taken a few hits for their Whitney Biennial 2006 show, "Day for Night," named after the Francois Truffaut film. I think that the exhibition is an accurate survey of what I've seen in Chelsea galleries. If you think a lot of the stuff is lousy, well, then the current hot artists aren't tickling your fancy. If the work helps you generate deep thoughts, then hurray for synchronicity. In either case, the show is worth checking out. It's a lot less exhausting than tranversing the streets of Chelsea to find the right gallery, but there is a killer line to get in. The above still is from a film in which a headless man gives--in sign language--Charlie Chaplin's closing speech from "The Great Dictator." Here are an additional two other works I liked:

Marilyn Minter, Stepping Up

Urs Fischer, sculpture; Rudolf Stingel painting

The following two images are works that I thought were borderline pitiful:

Gedi Sibony, "The Qualities Depend on Other Qualities"

Daniel Johnston, "Goodnite"

(Images via Whitney, New York Times, Jordan Thanks to MJP!)


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Topless Tuesday

Guess who these topless stars are. Rivals on screen and off. Answer later this week.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Legit Water Works

"Tsotsi," the South African Oscar winner for foreign film, left me and 80% of the audience weeping in the aisles. Yes, it's a tear-jerker, but one that feels legit. There is no Hollywood manipulation here, no Spielberg bag o' tricks to start the water works. Like the Brazilian film, "City of God," "Tsotsi" is about a despicable teenaged thug in the shantytowns. Tsosti finds redemption when he finds a baby after he shoots the infant's mother. The redemption is precious, and you know it's fleeting, and that's what makes it so sweet and heartbreaking.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Drive-in Saturday ("Maria Full of Grace," "Only Angels Have Wings")

In this weekly feature, I review in one sentence or less videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"Maria Full of Grace" (2004), directed by Joshua Marston: Fascinating portrait of a pretty drug mule.

"Only Angels Have Wings" (1939), directed by Howard Hawks: Cary Grant is Grant-tastic in this so-so flick about daredevil pilots.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

The Almost Very Good Life

After reading Jay McInerney's post 9/11 novel "The Good Life," I'd like to give him a good spanking. The first three-quarters of your book was brilliant. And then you stumbled, and then you fell. You captured oh-so well the moneyed echelon of the Upper East Side and Tribeca. You recreated picture perfectly the shock and despair during the days following 9/11. I applaud your choice not to depict the actual traumatic event. You created characters who lost their sense of self, confused and desperate. And then you decided to move the story to Tennessee, and you started writing about horses and open fields and romances of minor characters named "Duck" and "Nora." Oh, Jay, it was so good up until that point. You spoiled such a good book.


Banner Year for Rochester

The Woody Allen Jazz Band is going to be opening the Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 9!!! This is the biggest thing to happen to Rochester since Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar, white hots and Eastman Kodak!!! To read more details, check out The Woody Allen Jazz Band Blog (yes, even his band has a blog). (Image via


Thursday, March 09, 2006

In Toto Thursday

Paul Newman is the answer to this week's Topless Tuesday. This still is from "Cool Hand Luke" (1967). Strother Martin (below), who played The Captain, delivered part of the hint:

"What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week. Which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. And I don't like it any more than you men."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Raising the Dead

I've always been a fan of those stories about the importance of burying the dead. In the tradition of "Antigone" and "As I Lay Dying," the goal of "Three Burials for Melquiades Estrada" is to properly and respectfully get that dead guy in the ground. No matter what it takes. Tommy Lee Jones is supremely confident directing and acting in this picture that shifts back and forth in time as he and Barry Pepper, who's (rightfully) abused nonstop through the flick, transverse the Mexican border to find the hometown of the very dead and fast decomposing Melquiades Estrada.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Topless Tuesday

Guess who this topless 1960s & 1970s hunk is. Hint: the character he plays in this movie still uses the bottle opener around his neck to open soda bottles while in prison. If you still can't figure it out, a famous line from the same movie is: "What we've got here is failure to communicate." Answer later this week. (Sorry about the quality of this photo. It looks like he has some skin disease.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rochester's Favorite Son

YEA!!!! Philip Seymour Hoffman--born and raised in Rochester, NY, my hometown--won the Oscar! This is the biggest thing to happen to Rochester since white hots and Eastman Kodak. (Image via New York Times)

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When Archie Met Cary

"Everybody wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant," remarked... Cary Grant. This basically sums up the quintessential leading man's life, according a biography by Marc Eliot. For C.G. fans, the book satisfies on all fronts: the sensational (bisexuality and lots o' acid trips) and the rudimentary facts (born Archie Leach, started career as stilt walker and acrobat). What I found most interesting was that Cary was one of the first actors to successfully break from the studio system and how he cultivated his image. For instance, Cary believed that the audience focused on the star who was being pursued, so he performed only in movies in which he was the object of affection. You rarely ever see Cary chasing after a woman in a film; it's always the other way around, and why wouldn't it be?


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Drive-in Saturday ("Flightplan," "Accatone")

New feature at Amp Power--"Drive-in Saturday." I'll review in ONE SENTENCE OR LESS videos/DVDs of movies that you either have seen already or wouldn't bother to see.

"Flightplan" (2005), starring Jodie Foster: Laughably absurd.

"Accatone" (1968), directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini: Must-see for fans of early Fellini and Italian neorealism.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

The Mapplethorpe/Gilliam Cocktail

Mix Robert Mapplethorpe imagery with Terry Gilliam's cutout interstitial work for Monty Python, and throw in some punk attitude, and you might have something that looks a lot like Scott Treleaven's collages at John Connelly Presents gallery. There is something intriguing here, but it's not my cup of tea. It's a tad bit too druggy, too tattoo culture for me. (Image via John Connelly Presents)


Thursday, March 02, 2006

In Toto Thursday

John Garfield and Lana Turner are the answer to this week's Topless Tuesday. They starred together in the hot-to-the-touch "The Postman Always Rings Twice."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Burnt Offerings for Carl Jung

Caitlin Atkinson's photographs at Foley Gallery recreate day-to-day anxious little moments in our lives. These images seem like snapshots from dreams that Carl Jung would love to sink his teeth into. The large color photographs depict minor catastrophes, such as burning a casserole, disrobing on a nude beach, and losing a pet in a field of fog. Like Cindy Sherman, Atkinson casts herself as the star of the photos and stages the scenes. Unlike Sherman, Atkinson is a solid technically astute photographer. This fun and playful show is worth checking out. (Images via Foley Gallery)