Tuesday, December 25, 2007

British street artist Slinkachu makes little hand-painted people and then leaves them around London to fend for themselves:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Celebrated Pakistani artist Ismail Gulgee:



Allah 2

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tim Burton has made about a dozen movies so far, some I consider gems: Edward Scissorhands; Ed Wood; and some I consider stinkers: Sleepy Hollow; Planet of the Apes. I'd argue Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street falls into the latter. To describe my reaction after viewing it, I need only two syllables: aw-ful.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Last night my brother and I went to see the Coen Brother's newest, No Country For Old Men. It's an interesting film, especially for the strange narrative structure: the two main characters (Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem) get very little screen time, while the majority of the picture is spent following a cypher (Josh Brolin's character).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Instead of doing a Best Albums of 2007, I've decided to predict the Best Album of 2008:

You heard it here first.

Virtuoso beatboxing flute player Greg Pattillo does a crazy mashup of Axl F and the theme song from Inspector Gadget:

And here he performs an amazing homage to Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" in Washington Square Park, May 2006:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Confession: Up to this point, I've never cared much for the work of Terrence Malick. Before tonight I had always considered him too slow, moody, practiced: too much like Tarkovsky for my taste. I always knew I was suppose to adore Days of Heaven for being shot entirely during the magic hour, but I remember being supremely bored by it. I can't properly recall his first two pictures, but I know I saw Badlands at some point years ago and for some reason don't have any particularly negative memories of it. I do, however, remember very clearly the night in 1998 when I went to the movie theater in Las Vegas by myself to see The Thin Red Line, and after the first twenty five minutes got up and walked out, which now seems like a kind of complement given the infrequency of my having such a strong emotional reaction.

But tonight I watched his 2005 film The New World and I must say for the most part I enjoyed it. Sure, at times it felt a little like a Victorian era romance, and the music was questionable, and I still can't get with Malick's style of floating narrative omniscience, but then again there were moments that stunned me and resonated like poetry -- a rare quality, especially in American cinema.

Adam Peterson's first book, My Untimely Death, is now available from Subito Press. The publisher's website is a little hard to navigate, but worth the struggle to get your mitts on this one. He is a writer you will want to read, trust me.

Because, as Josh points out in comments, the publisher's website is so hard to navigate, here is the address to send your $10 to get Adam's book:

Subito Press
Department of English
University of Colorado at Boulder
Hellems 101
226 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0226

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tonight we watched Jacques Demy's astonishing cinematic experiment The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a sorrowful tale of love lost, wherein every single line of dialog is sung instead of spoken -- not like a musical where there are song and dance numbers, but literally the entire film! I've never seen anything like it. Composer Michel Legrand (who did music for other New Wave directors including Demy's wife Agnès Varda, as well as Godard) hit a homerun with this puppy. It really is captivating.

Plus, the colors in this film are explosive, perhaps more so than in any other picture I've ever seen.

I also noticed that Demy invented the camera trick I'd always attributed to Spike Lee, you know the one where he has the characters standing still but moving through the landscape, a trick Lee uses in practically everything. In film school I'm pretty sure we even reffered to it as "the Spike Lee shot" -- how wrong we were, it's actually the Jacques Demy shot.

As part of our Christmas present to each other, Caitlin and I bought these two prints, which were painted by a fantastic local artist who goes by the nom de plum The Black Apple. They are now hanging in our living room:

If I Was Paul Bunyan

The Pirate Girl

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thank you, Luis Buñuel, for reaffirming the concept of the cinematic sublime.

Tonight we watched The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, which was a fantastic romp: a surrealistic critique of capitalism, a stick in the eye of haute culture, and a slap to the throat of petty elitism.

There's a bishop who wants to be a gardener, who is summoned to absolve the man who murdered his parents -- a crooked ambassador to the mythical land of Miranda, a place where it is reported that thirty people are murdered a day -- instructions on how to properly carve a lamb -- soldiers who smoke a lot of pot -- ghosts, plenty of ghosts -- terrorists -- torture -- and culinary event after culinary event. Not to mention the reoccurring image of the main characters walking aimlessly down the road, which I found particularly interesting to ponder (similar in abstractness to the final scene of Antonioni's Blow Up, where the main character watches the mimes play mime tennis and then fetches the imaginary tennis ball for them and throws it back onto the court).

Also, there is no music, no soundtrack. The best reason I can come up with for this exclusion is that I kinda get the impression, on a strange meta level, that the characters would've been appalled at the lowbrow inclusion of such a device.

At any rate, this film is top notch. Fun from start to finish.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors asked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for book recommendations. Go Lakers.

Have you heard of the Avant Garde Music Project?

Japanese artist Hiroya Kurata earned his BFA at Parsons School of Design:

Mid Century Crime

Shake Hands

Ace de Goban

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tonight our recent streak of excellent film screenings came to a crashing halt, after viewing the exciting titles I've recently commented on here as well as Marc Forster's Finding Neverland, Barbet Schroeder's Koko, le gorille qui parle, and Antonioni's Blow Up -- we are certainly taking advantage of our winter break! -- we went and watched an atrocious, ghastly, disgusting film by Alfred "the most overrated filmmaker of all time" Hitchcock called Vertigo.

This movie -- yes movie: does it really deserve to be called a film? -- was utterly ridiculous misogynist rubbish. How anyone could call it a "classic" or a "masterpiece" is seriously beyond my comprehension.

Throughout most of the movie Caitlin and I were trying to figure out what was happening and at the same time locate even a hint of character motivation. Why are any of these characters doing anything? Where did Midge go? Why are the women portrayed as weak creatures who beg for men's love and affection? What's up with the cartoon dream sequence? And those are only the tip of the myriad of problems with this picture.

Most unsettling to me was Jimmy Stewart's character. I've seen some seriously creepy, insidious things in my day (i.e. Visitor Q or Irreversible or etc.) but I can't remember ever being more creeped out than I was watching this slop. In fact, I wanted so badly for Jimmy Stewart's character to fall out of the bell tower in the last scene, as a form of personal catharsis; but alas...

ps - Hyperbole is the new black.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some things...

My OSU comrade Don Pollock had a great Op/Ed piece in yesterday's New York Times called "Off the Political Wagon."

The new issue of H_NGM_N is alive and full of great things including new work from Ben Mirov like this piece called "You Machine" which begins:

I go to bars and don’t know. You should be Oakland looking for jokes. I can tell when a relationship bends. It’s the last thing that happened. People begin to walk. There’s no jacket for weather.

I just read Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory: An Introduction, because I'd never read it before and it felt like the right thing to do with my first free week of winter break. It was neither disappointing nor mind blowing, just a nice little primer. This blogger took pretty good notes, if you're interested in seeing some excerpts. After finishing it, I went surfing for info about Eagleton and found this hilarious book review he wrote, which basically disembowels Richard Dawkins.

In closing, I must tell you about this spectacular film Caitlin and I watched last night called Russian Ark, directed by Alexander Sokurov. It was released in 2002, so perhaps it is old news, but I had not seen it until now. What a piece of brilliance! It is touted as the first feature film to ever be shot in one long take: a 96 minute Steadicam shot which moves through St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum and unfolds approximately 300 years of Russian history. The genius of this feat cannot be overstated; speaking as someone who used to make films, who understands the immense difficulty of the process, I can tell you that it is literally unbelievable that Sokurov pulled this off, but somehow he did!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Last night we got to see a newly restored 35mm print of Godard's Pierrot le fou on the big screen, thanks to the good folks at the Wexner Center for the Arts. This was especially exciting because the criterion edition won't be released until February 19th, 2008 -- in other words, it is not available for renting, unless you want to watch a pan-and-scan video copy, which would, of course, be sacrilege.

It's hard to describe the magnitude of how tickled I was throughout the screening. It was so, so exciting. Caitlin described it afterwards as a cinematic pop-up book, which to my mind is a perfect way to describe it: explosive, frenetic, and passionate beyond measure.

You could watch this film a hundred dozen times, each time specifically watching for a different element -- color, composition, structure, character, costume, politics, psychology, literature, consumerism, capitalism, anarchism, the return to the state of nature, animal rights, ethnocentrism, love, loyalty, death, art, torture, Americanism, Vietnam, Algeria, fireworks, etc. etc. etc. -- and you would still have cause to watch it another hundred dozen times. Here is a filmmaker truly at his prime, whose imagination is at least five times that of all other filmmakers combined.

Put the dvd release date on your calendar and treat yourself come February.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Artist Kathie Olivas has a humongous catalog of work:

Mutated Incarceration: Will-power

The Guardian


Thursday, December 06, 2007

My brother sent me the link to the following Wolf Parade video directed by Matt Moroz, which I'd never seen before. I'm wondering if it was influenced by Kubrick's Barry Lyndon? Anyway, I like it. Plus I love the song, "I'll Believe In Anything" and the album from which it came, Apologies to the Queen Mary:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Canadian artist Tessar Lo:

Brad Burkhart earned his BS in Media Arts and Animation at The Art Institute of California-Orange County:

The Simple Life

Field of Dreams

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Californian artist Chris Yormick:

One Less


Fist Two Fist


Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Artist Julie Heffernan did the above artwork for the cover of the newest issue of Tin House. Here are a few of her other works, all of which are self portraits:

Study for Self Portrait as Agnostic

Self Portrait as Fireworks

Self Portrait as Ornament II