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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lulu Forever

Louise Brooks Fans, you've seen the photos a ton of times, but the images of Lulu on display at the George Eastman House are so pristine that it seems like the first time you eyed them. In celebration of our Miss Brooks' centennial (Nov. 14), the Eastman House is showcasing photographs, personal items, and films of L.B. Best personal item: a book that analyzes the downfall of John Gilbert's career. In addition to annotating and correcting the text, L.B. has scrawled "SHIT!" across the entire page.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

On Vacation

I'll be back Nov. 30. Stay tuned for more riveting reviews and catty comments. Happy Thanksgiving!


Saturday, November 18, 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.

"Day of the Locust" (1975), directed by John Schlesinger: Tries too hard.

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Friday, November 17, 2006


Designer Vera Wang wants to spread her precious aura everywhere, even to the groundlings who shop at budget department stores. Here's why Wang opted to make a deal with Kohl's instead of a higher end label, like St. John or Jones Apparel Group: "I can become a more iconic American brand and be exposed to America in a larger sense." Once a person markets him/herself as a commodity, I say watch out. I have zero sympathy for celebs who suddenly want their privacy after ramming themselves down our throats. If you're going to sell yourself like a roll of toilet paper, then the public is going to treat you like toilet paper.


The Photo Spread that Keeps on Giving

Blatant rip-offs of Steve Klein's photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, which appeared in W magazine more than a year ago, keep popping up in other publications. Last August, New York Magazine gave us its lame version of the Brangelina spread. And now I see advertisers have gotten in on the act. An ad for a Baker leather divan features models who are dressed similarly to Brad and Angelina. The mise-en-scene, as well, is almost identical. Of course, the Baker ad, like the New York Mag photos, are completely devoid of any of the kitsch, humor, or sexual tension that were in the W mag images.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Powerful Echo

I was glad to hear that Richard Powers won the National Book Award for "Echo Maker," not because I had read the book but because Powers' name was the only one of the nominees whom I recognized. After reading Colson Whitehead's New York Times review, which was published before the nominations were announced, I had planned to buy the book. Whitehead contends that "Echo Maker" is one of the best post-9/11 novels. He writes, "Powers accomplishes something magnificent, no facile conflation of personal catastrophe with national calamity, but a lovely essay on perseverance in all its forms."


Trench Art

The newspapers are full of images of the Iraq War, so do you really want to see the war captured in acrylic? The answer is yes. Steve Mumford spent 11 months in Iraq, and his impressions are on view at Postmasters gallery. Embedded with U.S. military units, Mumford notated these scenes first through drawing and watercolor and then later painted them. Some images look like photographs. Although the artist comments in the press release that a lot of the patrols are uneventful, most of the paintings depict combat situations. Amazingly, the tone is unbiased. I liked this show much more than I expected would. (Images via Postmasters)


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Eyes Have It

Big Jackie O sunglasses have made a comeback, so will massive aviator eyeglasses be the next big thing? While watching "Kramer vs. Kramer" last week, I spied (how could I miss?) these gigantic specks on JoBeth Williams, who plays a brainy and sexy co-worker of Dustin Hoffman's. Despite the glasses, Dustin does make a few passes, and they sleep together. Yes, Dustin H. isn't the catch of the century. In any event, you can't deny that Gloria Steinem looks somewhat fetching with those glass saucers adorning her face.

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Kitten with a Whip

The New York Sun has an interesting preview of the Japan Society's film series, "Lolita in Full Bloom: 1980s' Irresistible Heroines." The mini-film fest, which runs through this weekend, showcases Japanese movies that feature seemingly innocent Japanese schoolgirls who have a big ax to grind. Here's how the Sun describes this genre's stars:
They're evil, they're good, they're sugar, they're spice, but as long as they're acting fabulously, the camera stays glued to these electric pop goddesses all the way to the often-bitter ends.
Here's the Japan Society's schedule for the flicks.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


At first, I thought that Tierney Gearon was a poor man's Diane Arbus. A photograph of a mother wearing a Halloween mask and scaring the daylights out of a baby seems particularly Arbus-esque. However, after looking at her show, "The Mother Project," at Yossi Milo gallery, I see that Gearon definitely stands on her own. The large colored photos focus mostly on the artist's mother and children. According to the gallery, some scenes occurred naturally, while others were staged. In both cases, the images feel alive and happening. There is a low-level feeling of the unpredictable, dangerous, and humorous throughout the exhibit. (Images via Yossi Milo gallery)


Monday, November 13, 2006


Can you picture Tom Hanks as an alcoholic womanizer? Me neither. Hanks is slated to play the lead (what else?) in "Charlie Wilson's War," which is the true story of a congressman who helped to fund resistance fighters in Afghanistan. I can imagine Hanks playing an alkie, but a lover of many women? No way. I felt the same way about Bill Murray in "Broken Flowers." I'd love to hang out with Bill Murray, but kiss him? Not on your life.

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Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette" isn't just eye-candy; it's an eye-feast. Some of the film's sequences border on the fetish: sumptuous spreads of shoes, decadent stacks of cakes and sweets, and tumbling falls of Champagne. And, please, don't get me started on the clothes or the leaning Tower of Pisa hair-do's. My eyes had a blast, but my mind was a little bored. Don't expect a history lesson or even much of a storyline. This is a tale about an idle, rich teenager that will keep your optical nerves quite satisfied.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Funny Ha Ha

I've read just about every article in the New York Times Magazine this week. Focusing on the Hollywood comedy machine, the mag includes profiles on Will Ferrell and Christopher Guest, along with articles on the business of comedy and online comedians. My favorite pieces were written by funny people themselves. In "How to Be Funny," Teri Garr (remember her?) pokes fun at her "legend status"; and in "Essence of Wacked," Tim Blake Nelson uses the writings of Plato and Aristotle as guides for a humorous performance. (Image via New York Times Magazine)


Saturday, November 11, 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.

"Keane" (2004), directed by Lodge Kerrigan: Damian Lewis's performance as a schizophrenic who's looking for a lost daughter is so good that it's scary.

"Clash: Westway to the World" (2000), directed by Don Letts: Perfunctory.

"Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979), directed by Robert Benton: At times, a tearjerker; other times, preposterous.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Art Issue Vs. Art Issue

Can you believe this? Two major national magazines published an "Art Issue" this month. Which one is better? To give you a hint, just look at the covers. Vanity Fair opted for the celeb cover of Brad Pitt (although the image is by Robert Wilson), whereas the W cover is a collaboration by artist Richard Tuttle and photographer Mario Sorrenti. W magazine includes many more photographs and spreads of the actual artwork by the up-and-comers, while Vanity Fair printed just the artist's photo and a blurb of a bio. Both magazines, however, do agree on one thing: Kristen Baker is a hot new artist. Vanity Fair gives us a pinup pose, while W reveals a more demure image of the artist.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Aging Advice

I'm all for aging naturally, but not when it comes to sexy French actresses. Beatrice Dalle, who wowed us in "Betty Blue" 20 years ago, looked haggard when I watched her in "Clean" (2003). Her looks are severe now, and the word "hussy" comes to mind. Perhaps, she's too thin now, and her features have gotten sharper. Or maybe aging isn't the culprit, but her dalliance with heroin in the past. So, I guess if you want to hide your age better, gain weight, don't shoot heroin, and don't appear in movies.



It helps to read the fine print, or rather the press release. My first impression of Jennifer Steinkamp's installation show at Lehmann Maupin gallery was not too great. In one room, video projections on the wall look like the backscreen, lava lamp imagery at a '60s psychedelic happening. In the another room, images of floating fabrics cascade down the walls. The first installation, called "The Wreck of the Dumaru," becomes more interesting, however, when you learn that "the work references to her great uncle who became delirious and died at sea during World War I." The fabrics work is computer-generated and looks it, which somewhat takes away from the artist's intent to study the "illusion of the virtual."


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well-Known Secret

Sometimes I'm a little late when it comes to reading the latest, greatest books. I've just recently gotten around to reading Donna Tartt's "The Secret History," published in 1992. About a trillion copies of the book have been sold, and the novel has a cult following. In the past, I've lumped Tartt with Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInterney, and, in a way, I've disregarded her. But I admit "The Secret History" is an engrossing, page turner about a bunch of intellectual college students who commit a murder. Tartt has a little Fitzgerald, a little Dickens, and even some Poe in her. I'm only about halfway through the novel, but I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get Me to the Guillotine on Time

I better move fast if I want to see Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette." Since its release three weeks ago, the flick has brought in only $13 million. I thought this movie was going to perform much better at the box office. The Risky Biz blog has an interesting take on why the film is bombing: boys don't care about Marie Antoinette and girls would rather watch Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Departed" than see Kirsten Dunst in a period piece.


Anime Meets Thomas Kinkade

Lisa Yuskavage is white hot. Her paintings sell for six figures, so she must be good, right?? I want to be hip and get it, but no lightbulb clicked on when I checked out her recent work at Zwirner and Wirth gallery. Her work looks like Japanese Anime painted by Thomas Kinkade. Blank Orphan Annie eyes, basketball-pregnant bellies, and supersized nipples. If there's some meaning within these works, it's either insultingly superficial or wildly esoteric. I don't think I'll ever consider cartoons to be fine art. If I want to see cartoons, I'll take Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy--fully clothed.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Lost in Adaptation

My mistake. I finished reading "Running with Scissors" a week before I saw the movie version. Somehow, the filmmakers were able to Hollywoodize this John Waters-esque tale about a manic-depressive mother, alcoholic father, and gay son. The book's tone is relentlessly devoid of self-pity, finger-pointing, and sappy emotions. The same, however, cannot be said of the flick. All the actors deserve an A+ (except for Gwyneth Paltrow who ekes by with a D+ performance), but the heart-tugging scenes truly ring false. My advice: to enjoy the movie, don't read the book.


Saturday, November 04, 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.

"Clean" (2003), directed by Olivier Assayas: Nick Nolte adds another layer to this familiar story about kicking drugs.

"Down to the Bone" (2004), directed by Debra Granik: Vera Farmiga adds another layer to yet again another story about kicking drugs.

"The Tenant" (1976), directed by Roman Polanski: Creepy and depressing. (Yes, that's Roman P. in drag.)

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Couture Art

Who knew that you now have to read fashion magazines to keep up with the art world? This month, W magazine is dedicated to contemporary artists. "The Art Issue" features articles, photos, and spreads on Jeff Koons, Brice Marden, Adam McEwen, Richard Tuttle, and Lisa Yuskavage. I haven't yet read all the articles; I've got a million post-its bookmarking all the pages I want to study. After buying this issue ($4.50), I decided to subscribe to the glossy, a much edgier version of Vogue, so now I'll really be on top of things.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

How To Make Watercolor

Joe Sola's video, "Let's Go Do Some Watercolor Painting," is a dead-on parody of art instruction cable shows. Bespoke Gallery screens the short, which was written by Sola and playwright Will Eno (author of last year's off-Broadway hit "Thom Pain: based on nothing"). Adorning the walls of the gallery are some watercolors by the fictional host, created in the same vein as the video. The video made me laugh, but I did wonder if this were anything better than something I'd see on "Conan." A fun little diversion. (Images via Bespoke Gallery)


Cat Power

The former Cat Stevens is going to be performing at this year's Nobel Peace Prize concert. How I wish he were performing at a concert for the Nobel Prize for Literature winner. I'd love to see Yusef Islam, who is of Greek descent, honor Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk. This Nobel Peace Prize concert isn't as prestigious as it sounds: Lionel Richie, not someone like Bono, will also be performing. I recently got hooked on "Teaser and the Firecat," and C.S./Y.I. will be releasing an album on Nov. 14. But do you really think there will be a song as good as "Father and Son" on it?


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tsk Tsk

This is how I read this Ad Council warning on drunk driving: Don't drive drunk or you might break someone's Gucci sunglasses. Buried in the back pages of New York Magazine, this ad is about as powerful as a tsk-tsk wagging finger. But perhaps NY Mag readers--typically uptown Manhattanites--are more affected by this image of a destroyed status symbol than by a photo of a mangled car or the victim alive.


Headless Body Found in Meaningless Ad

Does Anna Wintour have a foot fetish? In this month's Vogue, an ad for designer Marc Jacobs shows only actress Jennifer Jason Lee's feet, while in W magazine, the MJ ad features JJL in toto. Photographer Juergen Teller, who took the snaps, always has something mischievous up his sleeve, so perhaps he's behind the decapitation.

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