It is quite possible that the most fitting work of art to premiere onstage this year as an appropriate expression of the times is Thomas Ades’s searing opera, The Exterminating Angel. Apocalyptic, cataclysmic, it tells the story of a group of wealthy dinner guests who cannot leave a mansion, pushed back by an invisible force. Civilization soon crumbles and they become savages. The opera is noteworthy as both a work by Ades, certainly one of the great modern composers, and because it is an adaptation of a film by Luis Buñuel. More than most filmmakers, Buñuel’s cinema endures as both landmark filmmaking and as a powerful set of visions which interpret the human condition. His body of work spans from 1929 to 1977, yet feels even more at home now, in this age of surreal gestures and civilization as madhouse. Buñuel was keenly aware that humans are driven by desire, tribalism, and the power of fantasy. It is when these three mix within his cinema that even his lesser films maintain a dangerous undercurrent. [Read more…]
Search Results for: David Lynch
There is a strange sense in modern cinema that to be avant-garde means to be vague, whereas pop entertainment wears its idealisms or opinions on its sleeve. A look at this year’s offerings offers a startling set of comparisons to make this point. Early in the year the surprise box office hit Get Out offered a vicious B-movie critique of race relations in contemporary America, while the arthouse darling It Comes at Night was a somewhat sluggish bore about people in the woods, trapped in some vague post-apocalyptic future without much of a point (or coherent plot). Even Ridley Scott’s latest rehash of the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant, had more to say about the rise of Fascism in the modern world than anything else released in the season. [Read more…]
David Lynch chats with Harry Dean Stanton:
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 (2017), 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…]
Was it all a dream—
I mean those old bygone days—
Were they all what they seemed?
All night long I lie awake
listening to autumn rain.
This poem from the Zen monk, Ryokan, could serve as an emblematic preface to Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women. Claustrophobic poignancy and stringent wistfulness, shot through with quirky humor, characterize the autumn-flavored tone of the seven stories comprising the collection. [Read more…]
by Christopher 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. [Read more…]
As folkloric Polish musical sex-comedy horror movies go, The Lure (2015) is pretty interesting. The first feature directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska, the film follows two mermaid sisters onto land, where they look for love, feast on human flesh and find work singing and stripping at a nightclub that might have come from an early David Lynch movie or a vintage-’80s music video [Read more…]
The nameless, shape-shifting horror that stalks the blond, 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) in David Robert Mitchell’s cool, controlled horror film, It Follows (2014), might be described as the very incarnation of paranoia. The menace, which only she can see, takes any number of forms, from a naked man standing on the roof of a house to an unsmiling old lady heading purposefully in her direction. When it appears, it is usually first glimpsed from a distance, walking slowly toward her like an expressionless zombie. Although Jay repeatedly flees, she can never shake the sense that it is out there somewhere and knows her precise location. [Read more…]
Christian Bale’s 63-pound weight loss for his role in The Machinist (2004) may take the cake (or is it a diet wafer?) as an example of an actor’s starving for his art. To play Trevor Reznik, the skeletal insomniac who stalks through this bleak psychological thriller, this buff star of American Psycho reduced himself to a walking 120-pound cadaver. [Read more…]
There are those who will insist that the best way of approaching Waking Life (2001), Richard Linklater’s witty cosmic wow of a movie, is in a chemically altered state, and it’s easy to see why.
The screenplay for Waking Life, which the New York Film Festival is showing tonight and tomorrow at Alice Tully Hall, blithely tosses out a bouquet of theories about human consciousness — some intellectually rigorous, others ludicrous crackpot riffs — whose cumulative impact suggests a stoned-out Big Bang of human thought. [Read more…]
By surrendering any semblance of rationality to create a post-Freudian, pulp-fiction fever dream of a movie, Mr. Lynch ends up shooting the moon with Mulholland Drive. Its frenzied final 45 minutes, in which the story circles back on itself in a succession of kaleidoscopic Chinese boxes, conveys the maniacal thrill of an imagistic brainstorm. [Read more…]
If there is ever a core idea behind our modern-day celebration of Halloween it is the need to escape. We run from ourselves into masks and costumes, for one night becoming that which we wish we had been. Sometimes we choose the face of a monster, only because we as mere humans are the most monstrous creations of all. Fear of oneself is essentially fear of your seed, of your origins. No filmmaker has captured the very psychology of America like David Lynch, and even in his early student and short film work, one finds an artist digging into the depths of his psychic plane, and our own. [Read more…]
by Kevin Baker
From “Death of a Once Great City”
Courtesy of Harper’s Magazine
New York has been my home for more than forty years, from the year after the city’s supposed nadir in 1975, when it nearly went bankrupt. I have seen all the periods of boom and bust since, almost all of them related to the “paper economy” of finance and real estate speculation that took over the city long before it did the rest of the nation. But I have never seen what is going on now: the systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here—a place increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity, and the roiling excitement that make a city great. [Read more…]
1,2,3 Data group show, Batia Suter’s Radial Grammar, and VHILS’ Fragments Urbains are three exhibitions of contemporary art taking place in Paris this season. While they vary greatly in form and content, they all use found materials as the source for their art and address the relationship of humans to their environment, both natural and manmade.
VHILS, Fragments Urbains (19 May – 29 June 2018)
at Centre Centquatre, Paris
The Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, who goes by the street tag VHILS (his favorite letters to spray as a teenager), came to fame for his street art first in his native Seixal, and then in a number of metropolises around the world. He created images by stripping, tearing, scratching through layers of posters on billboards, in what he calls an archeological process. [Read more…]
Multimedia artist Sam Durant is both an activist and artist who uses his work to highlight lesser known and forgotten histories. Through his art, he helps the public to uncover and acknowledge our histories, both in order to understand how we got to the present moment historically and to offer correctives now. [Read more…]
It’s Friday night, a couple days before the end of 1979. A young woman is driving past a movie theater on Santa Monica Boulevard, going nowhere but away. She argued with a boyfriend while trying to watch an X show at Madame Wong’s: Sick of his macho-crybaby shit, she shoved him into some angry skinheads, jumped in her rusty Datsun, and bolted. On KROQ, Frazier Smith’s following “Search and Destroy” with “Baby’s on Fire”… [Read more…]