Incredible but true
In light of MIA’s recent redhead persecution video, which was a bit of an overpriced joke, I thought I’d share a music video that is chock full of “controversial” imagery, most of it real and current. The first 40 seconds or so are quite strong. Nicked this from the most excellent Pampelmoose…
It’s been fifty years this this landmark film was released. Still awesome. Still inspiring filmmakers worldwide.
There are few movies I have anticipated as much as Tamra Davis’ Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Yet another screening was held at the MOMA NY last week which has created another wave of buzz and the release of a mini trailer by Nowness.com.
I remember the first time I saw a portion of Tamra Davis’ interviews at the MOCA Los Angeles back in 2005 where there was a touring exhibition of a retrospective of JMB’s work. On the opening night of the exhibition I was there to celebrate the launch of a Basquiat collab project I did for a certain lifestyle brand and to see the show for the first time. As a part of the show there was a short 20 minute film of an interview by Davis. The footage shows a young Basquiat speaking about his works and his life, and is one of the few instances the artist was on film. It was an amazing tease and left you wanting more. And, now we finally do get much more.
The film releases at the Film Forum in New York on July 21st, and will be shown through August 3rd. After which I am sure it will be more available.
As a part of the buzz of the film, Nowness also asked “Style Guy”, Glenn O’Brien, to explain why his good friend was not only a groundbreaking artist but should also be looked at as a style icon. There are a lot of great images of JMB, but the one that always gets me is the NYT Magazine cover photo pictured above (also the main collateral image used by the unmentioned lifestyle brand). If you told someone that photo was taken yesterday, not knowing who Basquiat was, they would wholeheartedly believe you. How many people can you say that about?
In a month Mr. Eastwood will be turning 80. The dude is officially OLD. Quite the milestone, and he doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down. To celebrate his birthday we’ll be going back and watching a few of his notable films, and posting some reviews during the month of May.
An impressive video created by a German design student named Alexander Lehmann. This same film could be created for any number of countries - including the UK and USA. The most depressing part is that this kind of thing is no longer shocking (enough).
I’ve had a bit of a crush on Joan Jett since Ninski sent me a link to photographer Brad Elterman’s website a few months ago leading me to post up these amazing photos of her. So besides the fact that The Runaways were a pretty ground-breaking band as far as female bands go, I was excited to see Elterman reporting of a movie being in production detailing their story. As of right now it’s hard to tell if the movie isn’t anything more than a glorified Runaways movie video, but I’m ok with that.
I’ve made no secret of my love of JMB. What I had not heard is that there is finally going to be a definitive and revealing doc on the art legend. Linda Yablonsky of T Magazine writes about the new documentary, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child,” she previewed at, of all places, Art Basel in Miami - which couldn’t be further from the roots at which Basquiat’s art had sprung. She writes a very poignant summary of her experience and how it was juxtaposed by the gaudiness of the week. Here is an excerpt:
“The last thing anyone expects from an art fair in a resort town like Miami Beach is a shattering emotional experience. The fair is about the commerce of bling, not the transformation of the spirit. Yet that is what arrived on Friday night, when the filmmaker Tamra Davis previewed her new documentary, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child,” at the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road.
The film, which will premiere next month at the Sundance Film Festival, was a labor of love for Davis, who met the artist in 1983 and, with the screenwriter Becky Johnston, interviewed him on camera two years before his death, at age 27, from a heroin overdose. That was in 1988. Davis then put the footage away until a traveling museum retrospective made it clear that there was little of the actual Basquiat on film. (He played a character role in “Downtown ‘81,” and Julian Schnabel’s “Basquiat,” with Jeffrey Wright in the title role, was partly fiction.)
“Jean-Michel was so angry about friends he felt had betrayed him by selling paintings he had given them,” Davis told the audience during a brief panel discussion at the screening, “that I felt making a film would be taking more advantage of him, even after his death.” Eventually she made a short and submitted it to Sundance, where the Arthouse Films producer David Koh saw it and encouraged her to turn it into a feature-length story.
At the screening, the hip-hop producer Fab Five Freddy, who was a Basquiat cohort, recalled the intense rivalry between Schnabel and the younger art star. “Julian making a film about Jean-Michel is like George Foreman making a film about Muhammad Ali,” he said, to knowing laughter. Tamra Davis’s Basquiat, he added, is the real thing.
I can vouch for that. Basquiat was someone I knew personally, and the film, which details his meteoric career and includes poignant interviews with key friends and colleagues (Glenn O’Brien, Diego Cortez, the dealers Annina Nosei and Bruno Bischofberger, Fab and Basquiat’s longest-term girlfriend, Suzanne Mallouk, among others), made my heart ache. Davis has created a profoundly moving testament to an artist who really could not do anything but make paintings, to the gritty New York of the early ’80s and to the creative community that helped foster Basquiat’s genius. It is also, as Davis put it, “a classic tale of what fame does to someone who is so beautiful and has such force.” At the end, everyone sat for several minutes in stunned silence, hardly a dry eye in the house.
I thought about the places I could have gone that night — the cocktail party at the Webster for Victor and Rolf, the Moncler dinner for Pharrell Williams at Casa Tua, the Gang Gang Dance concert at O.H.W.O.W, the Visionaire party at Le Baron in the Delano, Francesco Clemente’s dinner for Sante d’Orazio at the W — and how ironic it was that the tragedy at the heart of this film provided the only real perspective on the madness of the whole week, which the fair itself had engineered. Against the dozens of relentlessly product-promoting social events surrounding it, the real world isn’t just distant. It doesn’t exist.”
I love this trailer. So different from the ones they do now, where the entire movie is shown in “best-of” snippets. Welles was a bloody genius. From the series of doc segments (after the jump) you can see how he started to unravel. So it seems most everyone has to deal with a failure in leadership, or management armed with grand myopia… I’m not sure if I take comfort in this realization, or if its a sad comment on the world.
Mickey Rooney. Still going after all these years (89 of them). He’s a constant even though you’d figure he passed away years ago. I’m happy to report he is still alive and kicking, though he looks a bit different now from the photo above. He was a massive film star in the thirties, served in WWII… the guy has seen so much, lived through so many era’s- he’s a walking time capsule.
If you haven’t, go see it. This is the best non-Pixar animated film since Pixar started animating films. And thankfully not in 3-D.
It was funny, sometimes hilarious, other times shocking and saddening. All in all it gave me some hope that something can be done to better the world. A few of us are trying to do just that. Some are having some impact, though mostly on public opinion I’m afraid. Many corporate polluters, etc. just seem to keep on going, despite the facts, criticism or ridicule from films like this one.
Anyhow, the main stars of The Yes Men were present for a Q&A and also for a photoshoot to help support an upcoming planned protest. I wanted to walk over and thank them but they were pretty busy answering questions and posing for photos. Instead I grabbed a couple of their “recent” NYT issues they had created and scampered off. I was supposed to leave a donation but instead I’ll contribute to one of their future escapades.
Today, after re-reading the fantastic article “Faustian economics: Hell hath no limits” I also read an excellent interview in the Sun magazine with Wendell Berry. He is a hero of mine, and his words rand true, but I ended up feeling quite beleaguered and discouraged. As Alvin Toffler once said, and I paraphrase, modern man seems to be living two lives. He can co-exist with both, even though they are seemingly contradictory. For example a person could work at a factory manufacturing chemical warfare weapons, yet return home and be a loving parent with strong Christian values and have no qualms about it.
I feel movies such as “Yes men fix the world” can fill people with outrage but the actual actions needed to change things are lacking. We know what the right thing to do is, but seem largely incapable of doing anything. Are we beaten down by years of television-fed pap? Or is there a general sense of powerlessness from a culture of too much choice? I’m sure its not a simple answer. But still I wonder why…
The NFL football season is in full swing and while my mind is on football there is a film that has been out for a bit that just isn’t getting the notice it deserves…
Big Fan, from the writer of the Wrestler, stars Patton Oswalt as Paul, middle-aged Staten Islander who works in a parking garage and lives at home with his mother. He eats, talks, and breathes the New York Giants - for anyone who grew up in or around NYC - you know this guy. Following a hostile encounter with his favorite player in a strip club that puts him in the hospital, he’s forced to reevaluate his priorities to himself to “his” team.
This is old news by now, but I must take this opportunity to say I appreciate this group is out there taking on these issues. My hat goes off to the Yes Men for yet another ballsy and funny attempt at bringing some truth (and gasp! honesty!) to this matter. I’m interested to see if they can be charged with anything. Was it a parody? A bit of media-fueled fun? Eric Wohlschlegel apparently didn’t think so, and I’m sure many others won’t either. Since then, the plot has thickened, with the Chamber now seemingly circling the wagons in what it views as an attack on American business.
“They’re attacking us for having the audacity to oppose legislation that would be harmful to American employers and cost vital American jobs.”
Way to drum up support. Make a populist appeal, and make it sound like a bunch of tree huggers are out to destroy American jobs. Yeesh.
Oh, and if you are interested, check out more commentary from the folks at HuffyTP from October 20th.
Cynics: the HD trailer for the film they are currently promoting can be viewed/downloaded here.
My favored film critic, David Denby of The New Yorker, writes very fondly of Judd Apatow’s latest film “Funny People”, dick jokes and all. Here’s an excerpt…
“The professional comics in Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” come across as a talented but slightly damaged race—a race apart. They hang out together, try out their material on one another, turn their relationships and friendships into jokes and routines. They never stop being comics, and most of their talk is hostile and filthy—that’s the style in which their invention flourishes. (In front of an audience, it’s also the style that gets the laughs.) “Funny People,” a serious comedy about a funny man’s brush with death, is Apatow’s richest, most complicated movie yet—a summing up of his feelings about comedy and its relation to the rest of existence. The movie has passages of uneasy brilliance and many incidental pleasures. It was clear from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” that Apatow was generous with actors, and in “Funny People” he’s a master showman, displaying the talents of his favorite players—Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann, Seth Rogen, and Jonah Hill—as well as of many other comics. The movie is filled with cameos, none of them gratuitous: Sarah Silverman has a strange, libidinous bit; aging local heroes of the L.A. club scene, their faces like Greek masks (these men couldn’t be anything but entertainers), express something of their essence in a line or two. Apatow gives all these people their moment without losing his grip on the story or his own skepticism. Comics are heroes to him, but their heroism may have cut them off from the kind of life he believes in.
Apatow, who both wrote and directed, sets “Funny People” at two social and professional levels. At the lower level, in an L.A. apartment filled with posters of past comedy stars, Mark (Jason Schwartzman) dangles his first serious paychecks from a sitcom in front of his impoverished roommates, Ira (Seth Rogen) and Leo (Jonah Hill), two zaftig young men who do an occasional ten minutes of standup at a local club. The three men’s friendship is, to put it mildly, barbed. At the upper level, George Simmons (Adam Sandler), a former standup comic who has made a fortune in the movies, lives alone in a mansion by the Pacific in Malibu. The lugubrious house, with its Mission-Victorian heaviness, bears no relation to who George is: he pads around in a T-shirt, as if he were a teen-ager hanging out in a bizarrely oversized basement. George’s career arc overlaps with Sandler’s, so part of the fascination of the movie is speculating how much of the character is based on Sandler, how much not. (To begin with, Sandler is married and has two kids.) Friendless and prickly, George has an occasional generous impulse, but most of the time he’s abrupt and egotistical—hard-shelled and self-serving in the way of longtime celebrities who know how to control their world. He needs to be adored, and he’ll banter with fans, but his face goes dead when a tribe of paparazzi or even an agent comes near.
As in previous movies written and directed or produced by Apatow, there’s a quarrelsome male bond at the center of “Funny People.” But this time the combat is never just patter and taunt. George is suffering from a rare form of leukemia. He looks and feels awful, but he responds to bad news as a comic, by mocking the German accent of an earnestly helpful doctor. Then he begins a slow withdrawal from his life. He sets Ira up in the Malibu house (he has seen some of his act at a local club) and makes him his joke writer, flunky, punching bag, and nurse. Ira is eager to please and to emulate the great man, who, at times, treats him with no more than flickering interest. Whatever George gives to Ira, he can easily take back with a single devastating sentence. (“You’re my only friend, and I don’t even like you.”) At times, we seem to be watching a kind of media-age “Sunset Boulevard”: there’s the lonely, wealthy wreck in a big Hollywood crypt, and a younger prisoner who’s slightly nauseated. Billy Wilder’s classic was Gothic in its details, however, and this movie features the relentless California sunshine. You wonder how L.A. comics, who sit in cars and paradisal gardens rather than in the pickled depths of the Carnegie Deli, can stay so dark in their jokes. But somehow they do. In the comedy-club and watering-hole scenes, Apatow shows us the professional rituals, the lingo, the rivalries, the acrid idiom that is home for these men.
I caught Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech on HBO earlier this week and I highly recommend everyone sit down and watch it. I can’t say it was the absolute best documentary ever made, but it was full of very valuable information and stories every American, and world citizen for that matter, should know about.
It offered a fascinating perspective on the evolution of the concept of free speech throughout the nation’s history, and examined how civil liberties have been trampled on in the name of national security in a post-9/11 world. The filmmaker is the daughter of noted First Amendment attorney, Martin Garbus. The documentary looks into his own experiences as a First Amendment lawyer, including the Pentagon Papers case and insights as a Jewish lawyer who once defended a neo-Nazi group’s right to protest.
The film also sheds light on all of those who were arrested and detained along with other protesters during a nonviolent demonstration at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. In the process of their defense, lawyers unearthed evidence that their organization and other peaceful groups had been subject to extensive surveillance by the NYC Police Dept.
David Denby of The New Yorker writes a few thoughts on the latest Johnny Depp film, “Public Enemies”. Overall he gave it a good review but it may not have reached his very high expectations for the film. Here’s an excerpt…
“Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies” is a ravishing dream of violent gangster life in the thirties—not a tough, funny, and, finally, tragic dream like “Bonnie and Clyde” but a flowing, velvety fantasia of the crime wave that mesmerized the nation early in the decade. The scowling men in long dark coats and hats, led by the fashion-plate bandit John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), march into a grand Midwestern bank with marble floors and brass railings, take over the place, throw the cash in bags, and make their getaway, jumping onto the sideboards of flat-topped black Fords—beautiful cars with curved grilles and rounded headlights that stand straight up from the cars’ bodies. It’s the American poetry of crime. Throughout the movie, blazing tommy guns emit little spearheads of flame, just as in a comic book. Men get their skulls bashed with gun butts, and get thrown out of cars, but, despite all the violence, the movie is aesthetically shaped and slightly distanced by the pictorial verve of gangland effrontery—the public aggression that Mann makes inseparable from high style. He keeps the camera moving, and the editing (by Paul Rubell and Jeffrey Ford) reinforces the speed without jamming ragged fragments together in the manner of hack filmmaking. As a piece of direction, “Public Enemies” is often breathtakingly fast, but it’s always lucid.” Read the full article here.
And even more interestingly, in the video below, Vanity Fair contributing editor and author of Public Enemies (the book) Bryan Burrough’s discusses how the gangsters changed the country, and how closely the movie adheres to history.
Karl Malden, the great Oscar winning actor, died today. I barely caught the news, what with all the hubbub over Jackson and his pills, wills, and enablers. Malden has been a mainstay of American cinema for so long, appearing in so many important films. In my opinion he was a strong, mainstay supporting actor. I wonder how many of our generation know and appreciate his work…
(image courtesy of Life)
I love this camera.
Not because its trendy or Art Directors are bandying this about as their latest purchase (please) but because it kicks its competition in the arse, it is (relatively) futureproof, and its gorgeous.
Its amazing that Jim Jannard decided to build a digital camera with these specs, and offer it up for a fraction of what other systems are going for, and he did it all while creating a distinct look and feel for the camera and its various siblings.
In an era of cheap throwaways and planned obsolescence, I really admire the durable, modular design of these cameras, and in particular the companies desire to allow firmware upgrades to help keep each camera current. What a contradiction with our current consumer culture- something that sets an example going forward (I am dead tired of lobbing out my ipod every two years.)