The music of The Doors seems to find its place in every era since the band’s stirring debut first appeared fifty years ago. Spawned in the era of Vietnam, revolution and technological innovation, The Doors dived into a dark, literary well that is timeless and always relevant. Jim Morrison alone introduced a manic onstage persona that has influenced every rock genre to emerge since the 60s. He was Dionysus meets Rimbaud, hedonistic jester meets feverish wordsmith. Because the band was fronted by a figure who viewed himself foremost as a poet — the rare rock star who even wrote fan letters to literary scholars — their music endures much the same way the edgiest of classical literature still finds devotees. [Read more…]
Vacation-starved New Yorkers could nonetheless repair to David Zwirner gallery this summer, on West 19th St. and view James Welling’s short film Seascape (2017). The film provides an ingratiating encounter with the storied, rock-festooned Maine coast, accompanied by an audio of accordion and taped ocean sound. There is no narration, just image, sound and elegiac music, as ocean waves endlessly and variously crash upon the rocks, the sun becomes clouded then bright again, and water and sky ever change hue. America “grew up” with landscape painting of the Romantic era, beginning effectively with Thomas Cole, and, continuing in the dramatic seascape narratives of the Maine coast by Winslow Homer. Welling’s film adds yet another iteration of aesthetic and method to this tradition [Read more…]
Excerpted from “The Poetic Work of Trailer Recutters,” in the September 4 issue of The New Yorker
. . . On YouTube, viewable on my laptop when I should be writing or answering e-mails, there’s another spike for my cinema-addict veins: the work of the Trailer Recutters. These are would-be film editors and directors who make new trailers for classic movies. Modern (or archaic) music choices, quicker (or slower) cutting, iconic scenes and images scrambled out of sequence.
I’m not talking about the Recontextualizers, those prankish scamps who will create a trailer for “The Shining” as if it were a light comedy or for “West Side Story” as if it were a pandemic thriller. Those are delightful, but they serve a setup and a punch line outside the meaning of the film.
Kitchen Talk. A Long Smoke. A Story (of course!).
“It was dark. I mean, a moonless night, barren landscape. And suddenly the train slows, and stops. And somehow the message went out that we could disembark, go off the train, because there was an opportunity to buy some drinks. But there was no station. You come off the metal stairs on the train, and go across, dust, dust was blowing, dust was filling the air, and it was somehow warmly lilt from the interior lights on the train that was spilling out from this barren, dust-filled landscape. And there, through the dust, we saw this little stand, canvas and wood, with some small lamps around it. And as we got closer we saw bottles: yellow bottles, green bottles. The bottles were clear, but the fluid inside was green or yellow or red or violet. And it was sugar water. It wasn’t, you know, chilled. It was just absolutely the temperature of the outdoors. And for the smallest amount of money you could get a bottle of this sugar water. So I gave the man there in this small tent — moths were flipping and flying like frogs, frog moths were pulling themselves out of the earth and flying up in front of the stand, dust was blowing, it was like a mysterious strange-wind sound, and out came the tiniest little copper coin that I got somewhere, and I gave it to this man. I gave the man the coin. He gave me a bottle of, I don’t know if I got violet sugar water or what. I got this bottle. And, in addition, I got a paper, a piece of paper money — four inches by three inches — the most beautiful, intricately designed gold and green and blue, red, a piece of paper money, and the bottle, for just giving him this small copper coin. Back I went into the train . . .”
at Deedee Shattuck, Westport MA
Reviewed by Robin Scher
Somewhere along the lines humanity divorced itself from nature. Fueled by industrialization, ours became a path beholden to the indomitable force of “progress.” That was at least the way things stood until—like an unrelenting alarm clock—we woke up to the consequences wrought by this modern god. Now with words like ‘Anthropocene’ entering our common lexicon, the line between humanity and her surroundings has once again begun to blur. [Read more…]
In Alan Moore’s superb and baroque graphic novel From Hell, Jack the Ripper is quoted as saying, “One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the 20th century.” If such bloody and fevered characters can be set to frame a century, then Heath Ledger’s incarnation of The Joker in The Dark Knight is the cinematic icon that frames the 21st century thus far. Christopher Nolan returned to theaters over the summer with yet another big, loud opus, the World War II epic Dunkirk. Yet his most successful film has not only aged well but has gained a potent and disturbing relevance. [Read more…]
by Alci Rengifo
Madness grips the airwaves like a deafening transmission, and the overlords of the earth seem to speak in terrifyingly grim visions. Thank the gods that every age produces its own soothsayers. It is fitting, then, that just as a surreal state of affairs takes hold, David Lynch returned to us with Twin Peaks: The Return, a continuation of his landmark cult 1990s series that combined melodrama with the director’s brand of surrealist imaginings. But not only did Lynch return, he also shows himself to be fully in tune with these new dark ages. Episode 8 of the revival in particular goes beyond television or even cinema — it is one mad flow about our civilization’s communion with dark forces to unleash absolute destruction. [Read more…]
Glen Rubsamen’s paintings of locales around the Los Angeles region, which are selected using a conceptual schema based on virtual mapping, combine idealized images of landscapes pared down to essentials, and a sense of detached irony. Visually reminiscent of Ed Ruscha’s paintings of Los Angeles and the West—but without the conceptual text-based play or the monumentality and horizontal scale, they rely on clichés of Los Angeles to reproduce a kind of iconography that is familiar and, like Ruscha’s, cinematic: palm trees (and the occasional eucalyptus) and vast expanses of sky, rendered in heightened, lozenge colored hues. Rubsamen’s paintings, exhibited at Christopher Grimes Gallery this summer under the title “The Disguise Was Almost Perfect,” are accompanied by a poster sized map, available as take-away, adapted from a hand-drawn 1915 Automobile Club map of the region, on which the artist has overlaid graphics of his paintings push-pinned to their correlated location. [Read more…]
by C von Hassett
The new Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) finds David Lynch working in fresh and sublimely haunting domains, ones that pleasurably flirt or unnervingly skirt the spectral drop-offs of some charged and sinister abyss. This seems no visional or evolutional change of tack, nor does it appear, at least in these early episodes, Lynch is newly surveying unmapped terrains. Rather, there is something more elevated in this late-career landscape, and something far more intimate as well. One senses, when viewing this new series, particularly his excursions into Lynchian Other-Realms, that his articulation of these doppelgänging worlds feel more experiential than conceptual, more occupied than conceptualized.
Less dream (or dreamy) than earlier movements into surrealist expression, the first quarter of Episode 3, for instance, shows Lynch, in an extraordinary way, to be as clear-eyed and sure-footed as he’s ever been in these ghostly yet thoroughly gripping realms. It’s as if, rather than imagining, some doppelgänger of himself now inhabits these realms, sending in return faint coordinates and word; or Lynch, figuratively, has set foot in them himself, excursioned through them in a near-corporeal way, and now with intimate familiarity he is able to speak cinematically to their airy constructions, and he does this with such nuance that they feel like alternate extents of consciousness and being: expansive, elusive, wholly mercurial states of mind-borne self.
Thanks to such dazzling and deeply dark films as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, Mother, and I Saw The Devil, South Korean thrillers make cinephiles worldwide drool in anticipation of stories as twisted and electrifying as they are gut-wrenching. It’s an intimidatingly high bar, but writer/director Jung Byung-gil deftly clears it with The Villainess, a revenge thriller that chases a fascinating female assassin through fragile love and shattering heartbreaks. [Read more…]
The new kid on the block is the The Marciano Art Foundation, which showcases the art collection (some 1,500 pieces strong) that the brothers Paul and Maurice have collected since 1980. Instead of building a new structure, the Marciano brothers (of Guess fame) chose to buy and remodel the striking Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire, which was designed by Millard Sheets. [Read more…]
Elle Reeve’s excellent reportage for HBO’s Vice News. Below is her interview with Christopher Cantwell, a self-described white nationalist, and her coverage of the events in Charlottesville as they tragically unfolded. Plus, a little sweet to help suck down the sour: Christopher Cantwell buckles, sheds tears (for himself) and, praise Jesus, prattles out his own private phone number (third clip), should anyone want to speak with him personally: [Read more…]
Excerpts from an ABC News Special Report that aired at 11:00-11:29 a.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 26, 1979 as the last total solar eclipse for North America until August 21, 2017 swept across the Pacific Northwest.
The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, left many shocked at the state of extremism in America. Peter Simi, a sociology professor and expert on far-right extremism, explains the factors that compel a person to become a white supremacist.
Ernest Hemingway: A Biography by Mary V. Dearborn Reviewed by John Biscello
Can I believe myself as others believe me to be? Here is where these lines become a confession in the presence of my unknown and unknowable to me, unknown and unknowable for myself. Here is where I create the legend wherein I must bury myself. — Miguel de Unamuno.
Perhaps no other 20th century writer has invited more scorn, worship, lampooning, lionization, and soapbox scrutiny than Ernest Hemingway. Or rather the “legend” of Ernest Hemingway. His name became not only synonymous with American literature, and a laconic style of writing, but also with a specific he-man persona that wore its balls on its torn sleeve. [Read more…]
by Aphrohead & Clarian
by Michael D. Kennedy
August 15, 2017
The drama of Trump Times threatens to consume us in fire and fury.
The President found the right words when threatening North Korea, but he put them in the wrong context. With his penchant for violence made worse by illiteracy in his own native tongue, Trump moves the country to hell in a handbasket while the apparently sane seek salvation in the wrong places.
We need recognize the times in which we live and articulate a vision that moves us beyond not just this present, but also that past which got us here. [Read more…]