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

Friday, October 12, 2007

Homage or Rip-off

Remember that pictorial spread in W magazine a few years back featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie portraying a bored 1960s couple? The 60-paged catalogue, which was photographed by Steve Klein, oozed with smart mise-en-scene and tons of back story. Well, at least one image wasn't as original as I thought. Julius Shulman took a very similar photograph almost 50 years ago. (The image is currently on view at the Orange County Museum of Art's "Birth of the Cool" show, as I read on Modern Art Notes.) Entitled "Case Study #21," Shulman's photo highlights a very cool couple relaxing in their Pierre Koenig-designed living room. So, was Klein's image an homage or just a blatant rip-off?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Beyond the Cover

Everyone has been talking about Gwyneth Paltrow's unrecognizable cover shot on W magazine. But the real reason to pick up this month's issue is the 17-page spread of Laura Dern photographed by Juergen Teller. Any actress in her late 30s who stands before Teller's unmerciful lens should be applauded. She has real guts. This is the same woman who let David Lynch shoot her in "Inland Empire" with a DV cam about two inches away from her face. Dern seems to be the type who is all about the artistic endeavor, and if she looks her age or older, so what. Fortunately, Teller did show a little kindness to his subject and snapped a few flattering images. (Images via W magazine)

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Good and The Bad

Yes, we all agree that John Cassavetes, the director, was innovative and pumped real life into film and that his work still inspires legions of fans. But John Cassavetes, the actor? Heaven help us. In his own films as an actor (I'm thinking of "Husbands" and "Opening Night"), Cassavetes was tolerable. But in movies in which he was not at the helm, he drives me to distraction. His forced intensity, wild gestures, and shouting stage voice.... Arrrgggghh. Perhaps the reason his performances are so scattered is because other directors were afraid to say, "Down, boy," or perhaps J.C. was trying to let them know who was in charge and was simply untameable. I recently rented Elaine May's interminable "Mikey and Nicky." Torture. (Peter Falk, who's so comfortable on screen, gave me a reason to keep watching.) I wonder: are there any John Cassavetes, the actor, fans out there? (Image via

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Serge's Child

My summer album is Charlotte Gainsbourg's "5:55." I've listened to it repeatedly for the past few months, sometimes three times in a row in one day. With music by Air, Gainsbourg sings in a breathy, talky voice. Perhaps the disc's beguiling quality comes from Air's hypnotic groove, or perhaps it is Gainsbourg's French aura and pedigree that ensnare me. I wonder if Charlotte, who must be one of the best known French actresses in America, felt compelled to make a record as a nod to her father. Serge Gainsbourg also "sang" in the same talky manner. In any case, this is an album that gets under your skin. (Image via

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Clive Owen Lacome ad and Children of Men stillLacome went just a touch overboard when it touched up Clive Owen for its men's fragrance ad. Yes, both these photos are of actor Clive Owen. Known for his rugged, weathered looks, Clive looks unrecognizable in the Lacome print ad. He looks like he's had too many chemical peels and sun-tanning sessions. Keep in mind that the movie still on the right is also retouched. Lacome's photoshopaholics must have worked around the clock to create the plastic C.O. What's the point of Clive being the "new face of Lacome" if you can't even identify his face? (Image via lacome and

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Stranger on a (Subway) Train

My jaw dropped when I heard Leonard Lopate on his radio show interviewing Farley Granger. Who knew that he was still alive?? If you live in New York City, you can see the star of a few Hitchcock classics in the flesh tonight, the 23rd. Film Forum is hosting an evening with F.G., which coincides with the publication of his memoir. I always thought Granger's acting was stilted, but I would still go to the Film Forum if I could. Granger lives on the Upper West side, so perhaps I'll see him on the subway some day instead. (Image via AP)


Wednesday, March 21, 2007



I thought I was fan, but now I'm not quite so sure. I recently came around to embracing Marc Jacobs' ads featuring Juergen Teller's photos. However, for the past three months, M.J. ads appearing in fashion mags have continued to spotlight Dakota Fanning. One of these ads even appeared in Artforum (the one on the far right) amid promos for exhibits by Jeff Wall and Kristen Baker. All I can say is: No.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Rarely Seen Dog

As part of its film series honoring composer Ennio Morricone, Film Forum is screening Sam Fuller's "White Dog," a flick that I've been dying to see for ages. Not only does it fit the bill for my own controversial film roster, but it stars '70s child actress Kristy McNichol. The 1982 movie is about a dog that has been trained to attack only African-Americans. Needless to say, "White Dog" was shelved for a decade and was never released theatrically. In addition, it's hard to find on DVD. My fascination with Kristy McNichol dates back to "Family" and especially after she had a breakdown in the '80s and dropped out of sight. I'm currently renting a bunch of K.M. DVDs and will definitely post on her. (Image via Film Forum)

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Slumming It

This may be old news, but it's news to me: Drew Barrymore will play Little Edie in the fictional adaptation of the Maysles Brothers' documentary "Grey Gardens." I see a slight resemblance, but isn't Drew a tad bit too young? Plus, I think I'm OD'ing on the cult obsession of "GG." First, Broadway hopped on board, and now Hollywood is going to give it a go.(Image via


Monday, January 29, 2007

There He Is Again

Have you ever suddenly started to see a person in your neighborhood again and again? You don't know his name or where he lives, but you get to know his routine simply because you continue to cross paths. Something similar has happened to me, but the man appears to me only on movie and television screens. Within the past month, I kept seeing the same actor pop up in supporting roles in films, such as "Marie Antoinette," "Birth," and "Children of Men." It finally came to a head when I rented "The Constant Gardener" and saw him yet again. Who are you?!! I did a little research and found out that he's Danny Huston, son of director John Huston and half-brother of Anjelica. Although his resume is pretty short, he's played supporting roles in pretty good films. Keep your eyes peeled because I bet you'll start seeing this stranger too.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Notes on Nighy

After seeing "Notes on a Scandal," I officially became a Bill Nighy fan. Nighy, who gives a pitch-perfect performance as Cate Blanchett's duped husband, is an actor whose name I've seen, but I've never seen him. After doing a Netflix search, I see that he's much more a supporting role actor at this point. (He's in "The Constant Gardener," which I'll rent soon, despite the fact that its star Ralph Fiennes drives me completely batty-bird.) I heard this radio interview the other day, and Nighy comes across as a charming self-deprecating Brit. Unfortunately, the interview was conducted by Leonard Lopate, one of the 10 most pompous people on the planet. (Image via


Little Edie and Blanche in Dakota

(Perhaps I'll become the go-to site when it comes to Juergen Teller's photos for Marc Jacobs ads because here I go again....) While the Catholic League is going apoplectic about the Dakota Fanning film "Hounddog" (she's 12 and she gets raped), the sometimes creepy actress channels Little Edie from "Grey Gardens" and Blanche Dubois from "A Streetcar Named Desire" in this month's ads. I can dig it. (Images via W and Vogue)

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cheers and Jeers

Oscar nominations that I'm excited about: Ryan Gosling for "Half Nelson," Penelope Cruz for "Volver," and Alan Arkin for "Little Miss Sunshine." Oscar nods that make me groan: Martin Scorsese (just give him the damn thing, so he doesn't get nominated for any film he now helms), Rinko Kikuchi (does the fact that she spread her legs without underwear in "Babel" have anything to do with why so many male reviewers are screaming "Bravo!" for her performance?), and "The Queen" (I liked the film, but does it really deserve an Oscar for Best Picture?).

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Eyes Wide Shut But Split in Two

For those of you who found "Eyes Wide Shut" to be erotic (all three of us), here are some images that evoke that flick. In this month's W magazine, a photo spread of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, particularly the above images, harkens back to those sequences in "EWS" of Nicole and the "Naval Officer." Unfortunately, W magazine's oversized proportions and my tiny scanner don't get along too well, so I present this sexy image chopped up in two. Use your imagination. Here are some more photos, if interested.

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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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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.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dead Ringer

Here's what surprises me most about T-Mobile's dropping Catherine Zeta-Jones from its ubiquitous ad campaign: that the woman in those ads was actually Catherine Zeta-Jones. I had always thought that the company had hired a look-alike after using C.Z.J. in the ads' initial blitz in 2003. I considered that strategy to be brilliant: customers subconsciously think this no-name model is this top actress. I thought the "model," however, never looked as attractive as C.Z.J. And I couldn't imagine an actress identifying herself so closely with a corporation for so long. Now that C.Z.J. is out, I guess she'll have to start actually acting.

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Poses Playbook

Gwyneth Paltrow has torn a page from Paris Hilton's Poses Playbook: offer only three-quarters of your face when photographed for magazine ads. For Gwyneth, her left side is her good side, just like Barbra Streisand. Streisand believes that her left side looks more feminine than her right and that her nose looks shorter from the left. She is such a stickler on this perception that she even had Rosie O'Donnell rearrange the set when she appeared on Rosie's talk show in 1997. (Somehow this post became about Barbra S., but B.S. is a lot more interesting than G.P. anyways.)

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Poor Man's Sexual Tension

New York Magazine image (left), W Magazine (right)

I'm all for co-opting, but when it comes to pictorial spreads involving glam stars, that's when I put my foot down. The most recent New York Magazine attempts a pictorial spread with actors playing a husband and wife whose marriage is crumbling. The problem is that this type of artsy photo spread was done last year to a much better effect. In W magazine, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie portrayed a husband and wife whose marriage is on the rocks. The 60-page, Cindy Sherman-esque photos were filled with sexual tension, humor, darkness, and kitsch. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the NY Magazine version, starring Rachel Weisz and Justin Theroux. In fact, some of the images border on copyright infringement. (I do admit that there was one great photo in NY Mag of Rachel yelling at a servant.) (Images via New York Magazine, W Magazine.)

New York Magazine image (left), W Magazine (right)

One good photo in NYM spread

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Oh, Lucy!

Lucille Ball's 95th birthday was yesterday. Who doesn't love Lucy? (Image via