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…]
Writer/director Sean Baker does not make flashy films, but slowly unfolding, naturalistic narratives that’s revelations bloom for hours and days after you’ve first seen them. In 2015, he had critics raving over Tangerine, his heartwarming and at times hilarious breakout about a pair of trans sex workers. For his follow-up, Baker awes with his frank yet beautiful portrait of poverty-stricken Americans living in the shadow of The Happiest Place On Earth.
Set down the highway from Orlando’s Disney World, The Florida Project (2017) focuses on the people scraping by at a rundown motel called The Magic Castle. [Read more…]
–from the October 2017 issue of Harper’s Magazine
Camilla Grudova’s story collection The Doll’s Alphabet, was published earlier this year in England, and it has already garnered comparisons to Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, Leonora Carrington, Ben Marcus, and Franz Kafka. To this list let me add another name: George Orwell. Not the dystopian Orwell of 1984 or the allegorical Orwell of Animal Farm but the down-and-out, grubby-oilcloth Orwell of The Road to Wigan Pier and Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Grudova does mermaids and magic, but she also does moldy, dingy, scratch-and-sniff interiors that reek of cabbage and old shoes. [Read more…]
To mark the 50th anniversary of his October 8, 1967 death by assassination, Alci Rengifo looks at the figure of Che as enduring myth, media icon and indomitable commodity here in the capitalist, revolutionless West. Below is a 1964 interview with the actual man:
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 poisonous, that it’ll surely pucker one’s face. It’s as if in preparation for The Ooz [Krule’s new album] he was eating a box of nails and puffing at a pack of cigarettes every single day to get his vocals just right. The violent, bodily imagery of his lyrics, perfectly match this acerbic mood: he sings about his brains resembling “potato mash” and puking on a sidewalk. His backing band adds a dash of color to this bleak picture, with slinky guitar riffs and wiggly saxophone. In spite of all the doom and gloom, Marshall and his band have an innate groove. The accompanying music video breathes life in the sickly world Marshall imagines.” — Pitchfork Magazine
Becoming a woman can be a traumatizing experience. Your body transforms. It bleeds. Your hormones swing wildly, subjecting you to fits of rage, sadness, lust, and self-doubt. You may look in the mirror and see someone you don’t recognize. You might rebel against this lack of control by acting out with booze, sex, and drugs. In these regards, the 15-year-old heroine of Blue My Mind (2017) is pretty common. But where this Fantastic Fest entry takes a dramatic and sensationally strange turn is that she is not becoming a woman. She’s becoming a mermaid. Far from a fantastical and glamorous experience, it’s one swimming in trauma and body horror. [Read more…]
An extract from “What Is the Critic’s Job?” in the September 28th issue of The New York Review of Books. In his review, Mendelson also addresses two other critical works: This Thing We Call Literature, by Arthur Krystal, and Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, by Erich Auerbach, translated from the German by Willard R. Trask, with an introduction by Edward W. Said.
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…]
Conceived in the waning days of Barack Obama’s presidency and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, four days after Donald Trump assumed power, the comedian Jordan Peele’s semi-parodic horror film Get Out (2017) has a complexity worthy of its historical moment.
Get Out opens with a familiar horror-movie trope. Someone walking alone down a dark street stalked by a mysterious force. That the setting is an idyllic suburb, the someone is a young, increasingly panicked black man, and the predator is driving a white car gives the scenario an unmistakable reality. “The scene grows discordantly disturbing because you may, as I did, flash on Trayvon Martin,” wrote Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. That the black youth is not shot but rather abducted is a dreamlike condensation of the movie to come. [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…]
David Lynch chats with Harry Dean Stanton:
American Women (dismantling the border) II (48″x60″) depicts the U.S. Mexico wall being dismantled by American Indigenous women (Comanche, Navajo, on the U.S. side; Aztec, Miztec, Mayan, on the Mexican side). Most borders which define Nation States — topics of such heated debate — were only recently built, created by Colonial conquest, and are false constructs: hastily drawn lines etching across and carving up lands inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples. Thus, it is the right of the Indigenous to dismantle the oppressive walls and artificial distinctions of the world: walls that slice through the heart of communities and ecosystems, the only function of which is fear based exclusion. [Read more…]