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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Celeb Shrinkage Problem Spreads

Tom Hanks is suffering from the same shrinkage problem that Tom Cruise is battling. Like Tom Cruise whose image in "M:I:III" ads keeps getting smaller and smaller, Tom Hanks in "The Da Vinci Code" print ads is now reduced to a teeny tiny figure standing before a huge phallic glass pyramid in front of the Louvre. What a blow to a male (and celeb) ego! Reviews for "Da Vinci" have been horrible, with a number of critics having a problem with Hanks' long hair and permanently pursed lips. Whatever the reason for Tom's shrinkage, some studio head is panicking if he feels that a new sci-fi looking ad could mean better box office than Hanks' mug.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Katz's Meow

When I first walked into Alex Katz's exhibit at Pace Wildenstein, the work reminded me of that infamous portrait of Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown. However, Katz's 31 paintings here are much more subdued, although their sheer size is somewhat imposing. The show, called "The Sixties," also reminded me of some of David Hockney's work: sleek, spare, with some Californian cool thrown in. When I looked at a catalogue of Katz's current work, I noticed that his style has changed very little. This show doesn't tell us much about the 1960s decade; it's simply the era in which the artist painted the images. The show feels like a museum exhibit and is worth a visit. (Images via Pace Wildenstein)


Monday, May 29, 2006

Bong Hit

Bong Joon-ho. Remember the name. This South Korean director has received a lot of laudatory press. Although he doesn't consider himself part of the "Asian Extreme" group, his films sound like they would fit in perfectly with that horror genre. Bong's most recent flick, "The Host," which is about a sea monster that likes to eat people, has received positive notices at the Cannes Film Festival. The New York Times recently published an interesting profile of Bong. If you need to sign in to access, click the icons below to read the article. (Image via New York Times)

Bong article 01

Bong article 02


Saturday, May 27, 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.

"Something's Gotta Give" (2003), directed by Nancy Meyers: Diane tries and Jack sleepwalks through this by-the-numbers flick.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Life's Too Short to Be Nice

After major heart surgery, Charlie Rose is planning to return to his show in early summer. Since last March, Charlie has been recuperating from repair to his mitral valve and has had guest hosts fill in for him. How will he perform when he's back at the desk? I hope that we'll see the old Charlie of ten years ago. I used to be a huge fan, but then through the years, I noticed that his incisive questioning softened. In addition, his guests seemed to stack on the side of celebrities who were promoting some dud or some CEO who acted like this was a stockholders meeting. After David Letterman had major heart surgery in 2000, he came back fiesty as ever. This is when his feuds with Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Bill O'Reilly surfaced. He realized that life's too short to be nice to phony posers. I hope Charlie realizes the same thing.


Grief on Broadway

When I first heard that Joan Didion's book, "The Year of Magical Thinking" was going to be a Broadway play, I kind of chuckled. The book, which is a memoir about the year after Didion's husband died, is a personal book about grief. Making it into a stage act seemed along the lines of making a musical of "The American Way of Death." I also imagined Joan Didion up there on stage, taking bows and blowing kisses to the crowd as the curtain fell. But now I read that Vanessa Redgrave will play the role of Didion and that the play will be a one-woman monologue. I'm intrigued. This could work very well. The play will open next spring, and I'm sure it will be one of the hottest tickets in town. (Image via NYTimes)

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Isabella's Papa

Isabella Rossellini's tribute film to her father, Roberto, is my ideal movie. "My Dad Is 100 Years Old" uses the medium of film to the Nth degree, taking full advantage of all of celluloid's assets. Directed by Guy Maddin and written and starring (in all roles) Isabella, this 16-minute gem shifts between the surreal and the real, and jumps between the past and the present. It feels like a dream in which its narrator is very much awake. The black and white flick is sweet, moving, funny, metaphysical, and deeply personal. Sundance Channel is broadcasting the film June 13 at 7 p.m. Check it out.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dixie Chicks Brian-Wilsoned

Remember when entertainers who took a political stand and were penalized for it were called "Dixie Chicked"? Well, the Dixie Chicks have now been Brian-Wilsoned. That is, the country music group is writing songs about what they want to. And that's a bad thing, according to a Daily News article. Critic David Hinckley compares the group to Brian Wilson but not at all favorably and predicts the new Dixie Chicks' album is going to bomb because they are no longer writing "cruising anthems" but more personal songs. He writes, "Remember when Brian Wilson stopped writing about girls, cars and surfing and turned to vegetables?" Um, the album he's referring to is "Smile," which is considered a masterpiece, won a Grammy, and topped a gazillion best record of the year lists. I would never consider myself a Dixie Chicks fan, but now I'm rooting for this new album.


Kaleidoscope Eyes

Dana Hoey's latest works, which are on view at Friedrich Petzel Gallery, juxtaposes photos of women of a certain age with their younger counterparts in the buff. I liked the collages' kadeioscope patterns but wondered about the meaning of it all. The younger women's photographs appear to be from porn magazines, while the older women resemble models in a Fosamax or some other life-renewing drug ad. The show is a good quick hit and then move on to the next gallery. (Images via Friedrich Petzel Gallery)


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

South Korea in France

I'm glad to see that South Korean films are getting some attention at the Cannes Film Festival. A lot of interesting and exciting directors are suddenly come out of South Korea. Is something in the water over there? Or are they now just getting distribution deals so the rest of us can discover them? New York Times' Manohla Dargis highlights a number of S.K. flicks and specifically singles out Bong Joon-ho's "The Host" as "the best film I've seen to date at this year's festival." Here's Dargis's and other reporters' Cannes journal. (Image via


Apple Store=Ground Zero Memorial?

Are reflecting pools all the rage when it comes to current architectural design? A lot of people are doing backflips over the design of the new Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. As well, the winning design for the Ground Zero memorial features reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood. However, if we ever see the memorial blueprints become a reality remains to be seen.

(Images via New York Sun, New York Magazine)


Mr. Hengist=Gen. Hayden?

John Fiedler as evil Mr. Hengist, Michael Hayden as CIA director

Ooo, the resemblance is creepy. Doesn't our new CIA super-chief look just like super-character actor John Fiedler? Fiedler, who not only was the voice of Piglet, starred in a Star Trek episode as a modern-day Jack the Ripper, known as Mr. Hengist. Mr. Hengist is in charge of investigating murders thought to be committed by an innocent Scotty. It turns out that the true murderer is Mr. Hengist who is actually a malicious incorporeal entity that feeds on fear. This evil spirit travels from century to century feeding on people's fears. Sound familiar?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Get in the Moog

Today--or tomorrow (have found different information on the web)--is Robert Moog's birthday. Moog died last August at age 71. Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea are the best known musicians to use the Moog synthesizer. So sit back, smoke a little doobage, and listen to some moog.


Beloved Housekeeping

"Beloved" is the best American novel to be published in the past 25 years, according to a NYT book review survey of writers, critics, and others. The four runners-up included novels by Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, and Philip Roth. (Check out James Tata's post on this article and his critique of the winners.)
My current reading habits are shameful, and this article, I hope, is a kick in the pants to get me to pull this Toni Morrison book off my shelf. In addition to the runners-up, 17 other novels received the stamp approval. Among these is Marilynne Robinson's "Housekeeping." Let's see if I can read these two novels--considered to be tops--over this summer.


Saturday, May 20, 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.

"Cinemania" (2002), directed by Angela Christlieb and Stephen Kijak: Fascinating portraits of hardcore film buffs.

"Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" (2002), directed by Park Chan-wook: Ultraviolent and visually masterful.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Vibrant Nightmares

Judy Glantzman describes her paintings, which are on view at Betty Cuningham gallery, "as the inside of my head made visible." I wonder what type of nightmares she's been having. A lot of the works' imagery consists of crammed together heads, reminding me of the stacked skulls of victims who died under Pol Pot's reign of terror. The oil paint is layered on thick, and the images almost seem scratched out, similar to Giacometti's paintings. Glantzman's paintings, however, are full of vibrant, strong colors, livening up these nightmarish expressions.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Do the Cannes-Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival starts today. This year I'm particularly interested in the winners because Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai is the head of the feature film jury. Although I was disappointed with his last film, "2046," he is still one of my favorite directors. Based on Sight and Sound magazine's fest preview, it seems that everyone is all hot and bothered about Pedro Almodovar's "Volver," Sofia Coppola's "Marie-Antoinette," and Nanni Moretti's "Il caimano." With Wong Kar-Wai at the helm, it will be interesting to see who wins top honors.


The Incredible Shrinking Mega Star

As the Tom Cruise Cuckoo Factor gets more and more blame for the poor box office performance of "Mission Impossible III," Tom C.'s image gets smaller and smaller in the print ads. In the pre-release initial ad, this is clearly a Tom Cruise movie. The next issued ad promotes the fact that, yeah, T.C. is in the movie, but this is really an action flick. In the most recent ad, after disappointing box office receipts left studio honchos weeping, not only is T.C. shrinking, but the film's other actors are now featured. Suddenly, this mega celeb's star vehicle is an ensemble piece. In addition, the ad is laden with "for the love of God, please see this movie" testimonials.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cruising for a Bruising

After 26 years, I finally got to see William Friedkin's "Cruising." Starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop who investigates gay murders, this 1980 flick was wildly controversial when it was released. Last night, IFC broadcasted the time capsule movie. Best part: Al Pacino's acting is very subtle, nothing like his current style of over-the-top histrionics. The film definitely didn't hold back in depicting the leather bars; there's lots of male bare bottoms dancing around. I can see why gay groups were upset. The theme is basically that if you're a closeted gay, you go insane and kill people.

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Chelsea Trailer Trash

Dirk Skreber's show at Friedrich Petzel Gallery left me a little cold. His technique seems impeccable; his subject, however, is a bit old hat. Skreber's exhibit, called "Crystal Mess," depicts abandoned trailers and houses. There's something uncomfortable about strolling around a Chelsea art gallery looking at the loser homes of trailer trash. Nevertheless, the attention to detail of these oil paintings deserves a look. In the above image, the paint is laid on so thick that the ridges look like the siding on a trailer. As well, a few paintings could be photographs.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Bleak Canvas

"Art School Confidential" is a dead-on satire about the politics and maneuvering when it comes to success in art school. Director Terry Zwigoff's movie packs in cynicism, bleakness, and desperation, all wrapped up in dry, subtle humor. I laughed a lot, but I may be the only one who's a fan. Besides me, there was only one other person in the theater (and he chuckled only twice), not a good sign for opening weekend. If you liked the art class scenes in "Ghost World," you'll dig this movie.


Saturday, May 13, 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.

"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" (2004), starring Will Ferrell: BOMB.

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Friday, May 12, 2006


I was tagged by CultureSpace, so here it goes:

I am a pessimist who expects everything to go right.
I want to be an optimist who expects everything to go wrong.
I wish I had software to download music for free.
I hate any policy or person associated with the Bush Administration or multinationals.
I love the two men in my life.
I miss the days before videos and DVDs when going to the movies was an event.
I fear that I won't be wise when I get old.
I hear rice steaming.
I wonder if I'm too old to wear black Chuck Taylors.
I regret almost nothing.
I am not a follower or a leader.
I dance never.
I sing for two days whatever awful pop song gets lodged in my head while in the convenience store.
I cry at the end of Midnight Cowboy.
I am not always cynical.
I make with my hands a very good spaghetti sauce.
I write in my head while strolling around.
I confuse numbers when writing down phone numbers.
I need a pedicure.
I should start posting more than once a day.
I start reading magazine articles from the end to the beginning.
I finish a bottle of wine every other night.
I tag no one in particular.

Spacey for Breakfast

Imagine looking at Kevin Spacey's mug every time you poured a bowl of cereal. Spacey, who's been driving me nuts ever since he won an Oscar, and two other actors grace the back of Life cereal boxes to promote "Superman Returns." I have to be hypervigilant every morning and make sure that the back of the box is facing out. But sometimes I slip up, and then I have to face those dead eyes. That's what drives me crazy about Spacey's acting: he acts from only the mouth down. His eyes are just black holes of deadness.


Sans Culottes

No, no, NO! Ladies, unite and please stop this fashion trend before it's too late: women wearing shorts to the office. Granted, these "shorts" are more like schoolboy short pants--pressed, dress pants fabric that cuts off at the knee. Nevertheless, they look ridiculous, especially with high heels. No matter what your figure is, this is not a flattering look (i.e., your ass looks big). Quite frankly, no one over the age of 14 should be allowed to wear any type of shorts. If it gets hot in the summer, women can wear skirts, and men can just sweat. (Image via New York Times)


Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Unwatchable" Is Quite Viewable

"Could Michael Jackson and Charles Manson have saved each other if they had met on a childhood playdate before their lives went wrong?" This is the type of question that keeps John Waters awake at night, and his creation of such a fantasy encounter is on display at the Marianne Boesky gallery. Besides sculpture, Waters' exhibit, "Unwatchable," also features film stills from really bad movies that are rearranged to seem intriguing. One photo montage intercuts images from a sci-fi flick and 9/11 footage. Is life imitating art and was 9/11 just a bad B-movie? Waters keeps it light, however. His playfully twisted view of the world here is more like late-night talk show zingers than grandiose pronouncements.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All Orhan, All the Time

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk's speech at PEN World Voices was the hottest ticket in town last week. If you missed the event, don't fret. The New York Review of Books published his address in its latest edition. If you don't have time to read it, again, no problem. While checking your email or shopping for shoes online, you can listen to Pamuk himself give the speech at the PEN website. This site, by the way, will keep you busy for hours. It has audio recordings and photos of almost every major event at the four-day festival.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Dad Is Bigfoot

Time for TiVO? I was all set to watch "My Dad Is 100 Years Old," Isabella Rossellini's artsy tribute to her father Roberto. Made in collaboration with avant-garde filmmaker Guy Maddin, the 15-minute film was on the Sundance Channel last night. I wasn't able to see it at its featured time, so I taped it. I hit play. But what to my wondering eyes should appear but..."Bigfootville" from the Travel Channel. The show is about an Oklahoma town that has had 50 Bigfoot sightings in the past year. Not quite the impressionistic and idiosyncratic show I had hoped to see. Since I messed up setting the stupid VCR, I'll have to wait until May 21 when Isabella's film airs again. How cruel.


Dear Prudence

I guess I'm a prude. I cannot deal with cartoon porn, even if it has "political statement" written all over it. Ivan Witenstein's show, "Infidelicious...," at Derek Eller Gallery uses abolitionist John Brown's life as a jumping-off point. Besides the drawings, new sculpture, which Witenstein is known for, is on display. However, the spread-legs series was such a turnoff that I had a hard time determining the merits of the whole show. I think the exhibit's intent is to be subversive, thought-provoking, and humorous; I found the work to be none of the above.

(Images via Derek Eller gallery)


Monday, May 08, 2006

Rip Torn, Coming Together

Rip Torn is finally getting the attention he deserves, or at least a profile in the New York Times Magazine. I've always been a fan of this character actor--perhaps it's his longevity (he's 75). The laudatory NYT article speculates on why he didn't become the next Brando or Dean. The article also refers to a little-seen, cult flick of his called, "Coming Apart" (What a great marquee image: "Rip Torn in Coming Apart"). The 1969 film was supposedly wildly daring at the time. Viewing it today, it seems slightly pretentious and self-indulgent, a time capsule of the worst of the druggy hip '60s. Still, it's worth renting.


Crisp and Dull

The Dave Douglas Quintet's show at the Village Vanguard sounded clean, crisp, and tight. And boring. Perhaps trumpeter Douglas and his band and the venue weren't a good mix. The quintet's sound is like that of a jazz festival ensemble: everybody and every note in unison, blasting out to the crowd way up on the lawn. The Vanguard is an intimate setting, which works best with subtle musicians playing intensely, whether it be standards or fusion. So perhaps I would've enjoyed it more if I were lolling about on a blanket, drinking wine, talking, and barely paying attention to what's going on up on stage. (Image via


Saturday, May 06, 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.

"Walk the Line" (2005), directed by James Mangold: Typical biopic that's lifted by Joaquin Phoenix's performance.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Barney Barnacles

Matthew Barney's show, "The Occidental Guest," at Gladstone Gallery is his take on when East meets West: the ship sinks. These nautical sculptures are frozen moments of when the boat cracks and things ooze forth. Although I don't claim myself to be a Barney fan, I find myself drawn to his sculptures and films. The effect: a nightmare that is both comforting and creepy.

(Images via Gladstone Gallery)