There's a lot to do this weekend, mostly on Sunday, so let's not pussy-foot.
Saturday, December 1
So, this week we've talked about Ophuls, Pasolini, Sembene... well, I hate to pile on, but there doesn't seem to be any way around it: starting today and continuing into mid-December, Anthology Film Archives is spotlighting the career of Jerzy Skolimowski, who emerged in the Polish New Wave of the 60s, and whose peripatetic career also featured stints in the pan-European arthouse and secret English-language mainstream. (And he's a sometime actor: he's Naomi Watts's drunk uncle in Eastern Promises, for instance.) The series kicks off tonight with his first two features, the minimalist Identification Marks: None and Walkover, both of which star the director himself as the aimless, society-traversing protagonist. Upcoming highlights include Le Départ, a comedy with Jean-Paul Leaud; Moonlighting, a 1982 restaging of the previous year's Solidarity protests in Poland (and their subsequent quashing by the Soviets), starring noted Polish hero Jeremy Irons; and, beginning a weeklong revival next week, Skolimowski's second English-language film, Deep End, a dark and darkly comic story of adolescent sexual obsession (the moony protag works at a public bathhouse, hence the title). The score is by Cat Stevens and Can, of course.
There's also Diplo tonight at Studio B with Surkin, South Rakkas Crew, Drums of Death, and Trouble & Bass DJs. Studio B is always a good time with lots of space for great dancing. The show starts at 10pm and costs $12 if you buy in advance from this website.
Diplodocuses had small, peg-like teeth and very small brains. Many of them lived in Wyoming. Here's a picture of me and Mark with one.
It's finally happening, you guys. Radegast Hall & Biergarten, that lying, wicked witch slut of a bar is opening today at 3pm after months of false promises. Let's look at its assets.
The Senegalese director Ousmane SembÃ¨ne, who died this June at age 84, is "African cinema's founding father," per the Hobereview of Film Forum's near-comprehensive retrospective, which begins today and continues through December 13. His work was staunchly political (leaning to radical), and humorously fabular: the series begins with screenings, today and tomorrow, with maybe his most renowned film, Xala. In it, a New African robber baron, bloated with the gains of Western capitalism, takes a third wife in celebration of himself, only to come down with a serious case of impotence on his wedding night — the work, perhaps, of a folk curse.
In a filmmaking career spanning just over forty years, SembÃ¨ne made nine features and four shorts: his art, the first significant filmmaking to come out of postcolonial Africa, created the need for an production infrastructure, and drew the attention of foreign investors and distributors — but, as is the way of these things, it's easier for younger African directors to get movies made now than it could ever have been for SembÃ¨ne (though it's still not easy). It's unfortunate that he didn't get to make more, of course, but the upside is that his oeuvre is among the most swiftly digested of all the essential filmmakers: you can go from zero to literate in the course of Film Forum's two-week series (with time to spare: the majority of the films are playing for two days). Which you should maybe thing about doing.
There's a big tribute concert to Jam Master Jay tonight at the Hammerstein Ballroom billed as the first annual 2007 J.A.M. Awards. There'll be live performances from Snoop, DMC, De La Soul, Q-Tip, Mobb Deep, Raekwon, Talib Kweli, and others, all honoring Jam Master Jay's "life and legacy and his efforts to promote social Justice, Arts, and Music ("J.A.M.") in his local community and around the world." I'm trying to learn more about the event, like who's getting awards, who's benefiting from these awards and this concert, but the website is one of those really beautiful and advanced ones that takes over my whole screen and it's pissing me off.
In case you forgot, Jay (Jason Mizell) was the Brooklyn-born DJ for Run-DMC, and he was shot and killed in 2002 in Queens. Another depressing fact is that when you Google "Jam Master Jay" the second hit after his Wikipedia entry is his "Rest In Peace" site that's now for sale. When I die, I wonder who will run my death tribute website and at what point they will get bored of it and try to sell it on Google. And then no one will buy it. TIT, guys, TIT. Thankfully It's Thursday.
Anyway, amazingly, tickets are still available here, they cost about $40. Should be a great show.
So, yeah, parallel-tracking narrative about Candy, a stoic young V.A. hospital nurse's aide, and her angrily, electively mute new patient (a nearlt limbless young soldier), and her haunted family life. (Haunted by the memory of her junkie mother, and also maybe by a ghost that visits the apartment she shares with her grandmother. The ghost may or may not have a rational explanation; it definitely has a metaphorical one.) Things are going along pretty well, if predictably, with the whole interweaving of the present with telling memories, and varieties-of-coping narrative threads, until the patient wets his bed out of spite, and Candy has to clean him up.
"She dressed him in a fresh gown, holding him against her chest as she tied the strings. She knew that she could not hold him by the shoulders to lay him back against his pillows because of his pain there, so she kept her arms around his ribs and leaned him all the way down as if she were embracing him. When she pulled away, his eyes were open, and she saw, for a brief second, the arrow of his hatred for her and for everything that had happened to him bending back on itself and aiming straight into his own heart."
Oh. Oh my. Oh my oh my.
When I see poop on the street, I do not think of crouching down and putting funny toys and costumes on it, but to each his gross own. There's an art exhibition of "hilarious" street poop decorated by the Sprinkle Brigade opening tonight at Riviera on Metropolitan Ave in Williamsburg. There's a gallery of delightful feces on the Sprinkle Brigade's website, but I can't go through it because it's disgusting. Well I did go through it after I wrote that. It's alternately amusing and horrible. I prefer pictures of fruits and vegetables turned into funny people or animals. Or kittens doing things. Or just inspirational phrases printed out in silly colors.
New Zealand's The Clean is the kind of band bands cite as an "Influence" on their myspace page so that they'll sound cool. And they do, because The Clean is cool. Active predominantly in the early 80s and sporadically since, the band's output consists mostly of lo-fi, high-energy slices of Casio-augmented garage-pop, two-minute tidbits equal parts giddy singalong hooks and tape fuzz — listening to them is kind of like watching a scrambled porn starring Wire and the Banana Splits.*
And they're touring. So if you want to see a bunch of scruffy, well-coiffed people who own lots of new wave of vinyl jump up and down and sing "He's a rebel, and he's a guru, and he's a beatnik! (Beatnik!)", then you should go to Cake Shop tonight, or tomorrow night, or Saturday night... and beg beg beg one of the people who has tickets to sneak you in their backpack, because the show is sold the fuck out and the front page of the Cake Shop website right now is a big banner explaining that unless they've already emailed you to tell you personally that you're good to see the Clean, you're not seeing the Clean.
So, people who already knew about this band but didn't know they were playing here, sorry. People who got real excited by my description but then disappointed to find out it was all a tease, well, you should really go buy some Clean records and see what all the fuss is about.
* Wow, those two band names sound pornier than I realized. Ew. Sorry.
"Smaller shows in NY are typically booked as showcases with the club's ideal scenario being each band bring their own crowd who empties out for the next band after their friends play so they sell more drinks. On top of this, there is polling at the door to distinguish who's there to see what band, which pits bands against each other for a piece of the show profit, and isolates fans... We are attempting to get you to come out for a show for the whole nightly experience, and banish the idea of opening and headlining bands."
Also, they serve free cookies. And every band that plays one of their showcases has to cover "Zombie," by the Cranberries.* The latest Zombieville is tonight, at Southpaw (it's $8 cheap!), and features The Isles, Action Painters, Two Man Gentleman Band, and One Ring Zero, the house band of the Brooklyn Literary Poker Game. It starts at 8, the first band is at 9, and if you've just listened to the bands on theirspaces, and you like one in particular and want to know what time they go on so that you can just see them... well, that's not really the point, as you'd know if you read this post.
* Not true.
I'm going to tell you about something great: there's an extremely new high-end lingerie store in Williamsburg called Brooklyn Fox Lingerie that's filled with wonderful delights for you and your parents. It's got crazy stuff that you're all going to love. It's near the Bedford stop on the L (at 132 N 5th St), there's antique wallpaper on the walls, and underwear all over. Acid pink lace, crazy stuff from Europe (Europeans, you guys), and one million brands you can't get very many other places. I am told, by the store, in their enthusiastic self-promotional email to me, that it
"is sure to become a destination spot for all New Yorkers who want spectacular lingerie."
"In a stunning interior, covered with antique textured wallpaper, the boutique is stocked with hard to find European labels such as Andres Sarda, Marlies Dekkers, Sexy Panties and Naughty Knickers, Jane Woolrich, Simone Perele and Janet Reger. We have funky acid pink and purple lace bra and panty sets by Deborah Marquit, Badgley Mischka's striking new intimates collection as well as Ed Hardy's hip debut intimates collection. Luxurious silk lounge-wear by UK designers Alice and Astrid, and Aloe. Affordable cotton intimates by Eberjey and Fleur't. And of course the really sexy stuff by British label Naughty Janet. And that's just the start. Brooklyn Fox Lingerie is centrally located 2 blocks from the Bedford Ave stop on the 'L' train (in the 'Mini Mall') and is sure to become a destination spot for all New Yorkers who want spectacular lingerie."
(This is last week's story, of course, but I wasn't here last week. So, here goes.)
Well, this is the Roberto BolaÃ±o we read about earlier this year, when everybody all at once decided to elevate him to the Spanish-language metafictionist pantheon. And, yep: much like certain of his most prominent works, it's a kind of literary detective story, where the subject is fiction (more specifically, the national literature of a particular South American country), and certain broad, philosophical questions about its role — the place of the South American author in the global literary community — as addressed via the structures of genre. Here, the title character, an Argentine writer of moderate renown, goes on a sort of odyssey in France in an effort to track down a filmmaker who's made a couple of unacknowledged adaptations of his works. It's through these investigations that Rousselot comes to a better understanding of his standing in the literary world.
As in, say, the Woody Allen humor piece "The Whore of Mensa," the tropes of the investigative genre give structure to a series of musings on literature; both also have fun with the unlikeliness of a narrative-driven form as applied to their rather theoretical subject. Allen's piece, though, is more fully in the realm of the hard-boiled pastiche; "Ãlvaro Rousselot's Journey" is not only a kind of detective story (or, rather, a globe-trotting investigation), but a physical/personal journey narrative, and, increasingly, a bit of a surrealist character sketch (vaguely Kafkan, I think), as its conclusion comes to seem both inexorable and anticlimactic.
It's also great fun: BolaÃ±o gets to do something a lot of writers love doing, namely, making up books, writers, and their careers. (Think the literary equivalent of the "Liner Note" section of Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, or, more recently, most of You Don't Love Me Yet, in which he invents art installations and the scenes in which they exist, the trajectories of forgotten bands, and so on.) There's a term called "hyperdiegesis," which is used predominantly in TV studies, to refer to the way single episodes of cult shows (like Buffy) exist within a fully formed alternate universe, offering viewers the chance to fill in the gaps themselves. You can see BolaÃ±o enjoyed describing the titles and plots of imaginary books written by his author protagonist. Yep, the BolaÃ±o who romps through the hyperdiegesis here sounds a lot like the BolaÃ±o we read about earlier this year: an author who takes fiction as his subject, and compulsively readable storytelling structures as his vehicle.
It's the most magical day of the week, the day when the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree gets lit up with hundreds of energy-conserving lights. I will actually be there, but not outside holding hands with my family, speaking in a foreign language because I am visiting for the week from Asia, but because my friend works in Roc Center and I'm going to eat and drink free food in her office, and I'm told we'll get a performance from Celine Dion. I'm reading things that say other performers will be Josh Groban, Barry Manilow, Taylor Swift, Ashley Tisdale and Carrie Underwood. Don't worry, I will take a hundred cell phone pictures if my heart doesn't explode with crushes.
If you want to see the lighting happen, it's from 7 to 9pm this evening, it will probably be crazytown.
We also have fluttering songbird Lou Reed and filmmaker artiste Julian Schnabel at the beloved Soho Apple Store this evening, talking about Schnabel's recent film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Mark thought it was only okay, but Schnabel won Best Director for it at Cannes) about the paralyzed editor of French Elle who wrote a book by blinking his eye. The film opens on Friday. You won't see the whole movie, but you will see its clips. And then Lou Reed will be there because Schnabel filmed him for an upcoming doc called Lou Reed's Berlin. You guys, it's about Lou Reed in Berlin. Anyway, these Apple events tend to be popular and sometimes filled with weirdos trying to press flowers into the celebrities' hands, so get there early and be on guard. It's free and it starts at 7pm.
Check out this picture, they look like a lot of fun.
The filmmaker Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini was an anguished lapsed Catholic, a Communist, a homosexual, a poet, a philosopher, a theorist, and a cultural and political commentator/agitator who was murdered at the age of 53, either by the 17-year-old hustler who confessed to the crime, or by reactionary enemies in high places (as many pretty legit conspiracy theorists seem to think). Just like you! If I was hosting a dinner party to which you and he were both coming, I would probably seat the two of you next to each other so you could talk.
But, since I'm not, and can't, you will have to make do with this whole month o' Pasolini, which starts today. Most prominently, there's a film series at the Walter Reade, beginning today with his Mamma Roma (starring a fierce Anna Magnani as a prostitute), Accattone (his debut, about a Christlike lowlife), and The Hawks and the Sparrows (a farce of proselytization), and continuing through next week with screenings of all his films. There'll also be lectures, documentary screenings, and exhibitions of Pasolini's art scattered through the city between now and mid-December; extra extra read all about it here.
Tonight is the PopRally event where MoMA turns into a big party with open bar and live music. I went to one of these last year, it was lots of fun and there were so many terrific people to look at. The party tonight celebrates the installation that German/Transylvanian twin brothers Gert and Uwe Tobias just put up last night, Projects 86. The theme of the party is German Beer Hall, and it's open bar all night, with special German beer and infinite soft pretzels. The music comes from the guitar and cello of Lewis & Clarke, as well as DJ Doug Mosurok. I'm told it will be a "chill" and fairly intimate event, not rowdy or screamy, and that at the end you get to take home a special gift that Gert and Uwe made for all the guests. I wonder what it will be! Fingers crossed for this.
The installation looks a little creepy, or kind of grimly lighthearted, like a laughing goblin clown trapped in a computer. You know, from the two small pictures I clicked on on the internet. Don't worry, I am an art professional.
Tickets were $8 if you bought them already (a very few still available online), and it's $10 if you don't have a computer. It starts at 8:30 and goes to 11:30pm. If you go, please let me know what the special present surprise was.
About Max Ophuls, the subject of a major BAM retrospective beginning today and continuing until the week before Christmas, L film critic Cullen Gallagher notes:
"[Ophuls's] career [was] dedicated to illicit affairs and turbulent passions; tortured women caught between their desires and society's strict mores; and a swirling, mobile camera that expresses life's fatalistic merry-go-round unlike anyone else's before or since."
Which, yeah. Ophuls was born in Germany and did significant work (cinematic, mostly, but he started in the theater) in most major European capitals as well as America. (His nomadic existence was partly the standard financing difficulties, and partly the fact of his being a German Jew who was perceptive enough to flee his country in 1933, but unlucky enough to flee to, um, France.) He has a reputation for sophistication that's based largely on the external trappings of his work — those famously elaborate dolly shots, elaborate decors, and exacting manners — and which is justified by his skill at calibrating his surfaces to reveal deep layers of swooning feeling and bitter irony.
The series begins with a weeklong run of 1948's Letter from an Unknown Woman, from the director's too-compromised American period; as you might expect, few directors were as suited to the glamour, articifice, and emotion of the classical Hollywood melodrama.
And your BAM-vicinity restaurant guide: well, Ophuls started out working in the Viennese theater, and wouldncha know it, the restaurant right across the street from BAM is the beloved beer garden/hearty Vietnamese restaurant Thomas Beisel. Say it with me one time: Wiener schnitzel.
Hey fellows, did you see this article in the Times today? It's about how beta carotene helps men not catch dementia or go retarded as you guys get old. That means carrots and other delicious orange foods such as sweet potatoes and cantaloupe. Eat up your food.
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