Tom of Finland might not be the movie you’re expecting it to be, but it’s the movie it needs to be. This quiet masterpiece of a biopic assumes that the viewer already knows how the story ends, with its eponymous protagonist becoming a living legend of progressive gay culture in the late 20th century, an artist whose critical and popular claim both celebrated and transcended its context. Tom’s art was boldly proud and beautiful in a specific way that demanded respect for his community, making sure as his partner says in the film, “that everyone knows we exist,” while at the same time, the work was also just so undeniably original and fresh and exuberant that no one could resist its charms. Based only on the art, one might anticipate more of a romp from this film — and there is romping; but its true power lies in its strange subtleties and in Tom himself, an unexpectedly unassuming army vet and urbane ad guy whose inherent sense of dignity and justice combines with his talent to make him exceptional. [Read More…]
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. — Friedrich Nietzsche.
It is hard to doubt that many inhabitants of the American imperium are going insane. The irrational nature of sudden, public outbursts of violence escalates to new levels of horror every year. The recent bloodbath in Las Vegas has raised many, quite necessary, debates over the gun-crazed culture that frames the American mindset, but little attention is being paid to the actual mental state of the republic. Surrounded by hyper-capitalism, predatory competition, and an increasingly isolated way of living, new monsters are being bred and formed, to roam the countryside and inflict new body counts. It is almost fitting that the current White House occupant is himself deranged, because shouldn’t a leader be a mirror image of his people? [Read More…]
For years, Rudy North woke up at 9 a.m. and read the Las Vegas Review-Journal while eating a piece of toast. Then he read a novel—he liked James Patterson and Clive Cussler—or, if he was feeling more ambitious, Freud. On scraps of paper and legal notepads, he jotted down thoughts sparked by his reading. “Deep below the rational part of our brain is an underground ocean where strange things swim,” he wrote on one notepad. On another, “Life: the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.” [Read More…]
Two lucid and intelligent books, A.O. Scott’s Better Living Through Criticism and Arthur Krystal’s This Thing We Call Literature, explore the same complex theme: criticism as a public art and a public service, performed, however, by critics who speak for themselves, addressing individual readers, not a collective public. Both books draw maps of the disputed border between popular and elite culture and find ways to cross it without pretending it doesn’t exist. [Read More…]
With England is Mine, director Mark Gill explores the emergence of the creative mindset of an icon of alternative rock music: Morrissey.
Named after the Smiths’ lyrics, “England is mine and it owes me a living,” the biopic focuses on the former Smiths frontman’s adolescence, from his boredom while working menial jobs at the Inland Revenue and at a local hospital, to his creative spurts of inspiration mixed with his private torments. Depression and ambition go hand in hand to provide the fuel that will either sink him or propel him to greatness, and his career finally jumps into gear when he meets Johnny Marr and steps into the threshold of his destiny. [Read More…]
–excerpted from “China Is Laughing About This Situation,” The
Global Politico/Susan Glasser interview with Ai Weiwei.
Ai Weiwei is making a strong case for himself as America’s leading dissident of the Trump era.
Never mind that he’s Chinese, or that he lives in Berlin in de facto exile these days.
The legendary artist, who has long embraced political themes in his work, has gone full-out activist in a new feature-length documentary film about the global refugee crisis, called Human Flow and released in theaters across the U.S. Friday, and in a new, New York City-wide public art exhibit of 300 works in dozens of locations called “Good Walls Make Good Neighbors.”
Both are explicit rebuttals of the nationalistic, America-First-fueled policies espoused by Trump, from his proposed Mexican border wall to his curbs on immigration that include admitting the smallest number of refugees to the U.S. in decades. [Read More…]
While it has long been traditional to show artists together when they belong to the same art movement, such as fauvists or expressionists, exhibitions with fairly unrelated artists seem to be the latest rage with curators. Monet, Hodler, and Munch, who were featured in a joint exhibition at the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris earlier this year, overlapped chronologically over one century (1840-1944), but are classified respectively with impressionism, postimpressionism and symbolism. The Musée d’Art Moderne is currently showing together Derain, a fauvist, Balthus a neoclassicist, and Giacometti, usually classified as an existentialist sculptor. The work of Mapplethorpe was recently displayed on the walls surrounding Rodin’s sculptures at the Rodin Museum. [Read More…]
Known for his eccentric personality, flock of famous artists he calls friends, and wildly experimental geometric paintings, Billy Al Bengston is currently the subject of a much-anticipated retrospective featuring 30 years of his beloved moon paintings at Hollywood’s trendy Various Small Fires Gallery.
Captivated by the seas of stars and luminous moonscapes he witnessed while on a motorcycle trip down the breathtaking Baja Peninsula, Bengston began capturing this incandescent starlight on canvas. He debuted his first moon painting collection at Santa Monica’s James Corcoran Gallery in 1987. The artist has since added to that original series over the years, but never before have they all been displayed together, making this exhibition an incredibly rare opportunity for fans of the artist. [Read More…]
The first time I visited Japan I fell hard for the highly abstract, ritualized form of musical drama called Noh. My Japanese friends found this a little puzzling, since I couldn’t understand the dialogue, and there was no simultaneous translation such as one finds at the opera. Even they didn’t understand the arcane Japanese dialect from hundreds of years earlier. There were synopses of the plays, of course—usually just a few lines in a mimeographed program. My traveling companion and I were often the only Westerners at these performances, which were held in the late afternoon, adding to the oddness of the experience. The atmosphere was very different from the more popular Kabuki. No beer. No cheering, no talking in the house at all. Pretty soon, as the intricate rhythms and the rising and falling pitch of the atonal chanting start to work on your brain, you begin to get a feeling for the dramatic arcs. [Read More…]
There is a sense in our increasingly electronic era that everything is surface. We are defined by our social media pages and herd to the gym to look a specific way. What defines us is becoming an increasingly complex series of ponderings based on many material factors. It is only appropriate then, that Warner Brothers would decide to revive Blade Runner here and now. Denis Villeneuve’s new Blade Runner 2049 is a film that is indeed all surface, with the cold heart of an android, but this makes it a fitting fable for its audience.
The sound of the freeway, the roar and hum, the rumble of lowriders, the rattle of the classic models, the whirr and whine of a proper gear shift, the chortling idle — many creative minds have made hay of the musical, or at least harmoniously hybrid wind-and-percussive, properties of traffic noise. In LA, it’s part of the air. The voice of the freeway, the boulevard, and the sweeping blacktop is our rushing river, it runs through us. [Read More…]
Fellow NFL Players,
By now you’ve likely read the commissioner’s letter addressed to NFL executives and have seen reports about the league’s upcoming meetings. It occurs to me that any attempt to respond collectively as players is complicated by numerous challenges, and that our options for speaking with one voice are limited. This means we can either wait until we receive our respective marching orders, speak up individually, or find a way to collaborate and exercise our agency as the lifeblood of the league. [Read More…]
Harmony of forms and symmetry are of the utmost importance in renowned New York-based, Colombian-born abstract painter Fanny Sanín’s sublime, geometric compositions currently on display at Venice Beach’s prestigious L.A. Louver Gallery. As her Los Angeles debut, this comprehensive retrospective traces this acclaimed color field artist’s prolific 50-year career as part of the collaborative Getty-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA which aims to highlight Latin American culture across scores of exhibitions presented by 70 of Southern California’s most prestigious museums and galleries. [Read More…]
by Christine Smallwood Camilla Grudova’s story collection The Doll’s Alphabet, was published earlier this year in England, and it has already … [Read More...]
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King Krule's (aka Archy Marshall) new single, Dum Surfer, "is about as demonic as [things] can get. [Krule's] voice, especially, is so tart and … [Read More...]
Reviewed by Kristy Puchko Becoming a woman can be a traumatizing experience. Your body transforms. It bleeds. Your hormones swing wildly, subjecting … [Read More...]
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