Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hoppity Goes to Town

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 1:00 PM

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Starting tomorrow, and continuing through New Year's Day, Film Forum presentes matinee showings of the Fleischer Brothers' animated feature Hoppity Goes to Town. The L's Cullen Gallagher discusses the film...

WALL-E isn't the only dystopic animated feature to tackle humankind's destruction of the planet. Forty-seven years before Pixar's social critique, there was brothers Max and Dave Fleischer's Hoppity Goes to Town (1941), a Capra-esque tale of a young, idealistic grasshopper, Hoppity, who must not only confront the scheming, lecherous C. Bagley Beetle, but also save his bug community from the ever-expanding populace of Manhattan. Rising taxes have caused a once-lush garden to fall into disarray, leaving Hoppity and his insect-pals defenseless against cigar butts, pollution and other signs of human excess which pose daily threats to their way of life — not to mention the unruly children who stampede through their village like some uncontrollable herd of rhinos. And then comes word that a skyscraper is going up on the site of their home (sound familiar, anyone?), leaving them no choice but to find a new home. But where, oh where, in the midst of the asphalt jungle of Manhattan, will they ever find one! Filled with colorful, clever visuals (all the more appealing on Film Forum's new 35mm print), enchanting characters (including an apocalypse-preaching snail!) and songs by Frank Loesser, Hoppity Goes to Town is one of the Fleischer Brothers' best-crafted and most lovable films.


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The Pictorial Version of that Adam Sandler Song

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:30 AM

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ZOMGoy!! Scar-Jo, the wifey of Ryan Reynolds and the Tom Wait's cover songstress is a half-Heeb. Blogger and Nation national correspondent Sean Penn is a full Jew! So is Kerri Russell! And Zac Efron! And our once-favorite celebrity couple, Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson (RIP The O.C.), pictured at right in happier days. We're getting faclemped just looking at those two heartbreakers.

A total of 37 bright and shiny Stars of David can be found over at the Daily News, where staffers are clearly finishing up a wonderful, slow news week with lots of fun slideshows and drunk photo caption contests.

[NYDN via Daily Intel]

The New Yorker Reader: Winter Fiction Issue, Part 4

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:30 AM

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"Some Women," by Alice Munro.

The first paragraph, as the narrator leads us into this story — in which she's an adolescent observer in a quadrangle of sexual and familial power-plays — by remarking that "I am amazed sometimes to think how old I am", frames what we're seeing as her education, or part of it, in the ways of adults. So we're telescoped into this story in the first graf, and telescoped back out in the last graf — which is only one sentence. It's one of Alice's flash-fast-forwards I once referred to as her "Narayama endings", in which a wealth of detail is revealed as an "enclosed piece of the undifferentiated whole", the years collapsing with dazzling, brutal swiftness. (Not unlike in, actually, Synecdoche, New York.)


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The New Yorker Reader: Winter Fiction Issue, Part 3

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 10:00 AM

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"Meeting with Enrique Lihn," by Roberto Bolaño.

One always needs to ask these things in a Bolaño story, so: Enrique Lihn was very much a real Chilean poet, as was Rodrigo Lira; the other names (last names only) I'm not sure about and Google's not helping. Now then.

I get the feeling that we're getting to the posthumous scrapings of Bolaño now — what we have hear is a dreamlike, perhaps automatic writing-derived narrative of dread, about literature as a lonely, inconsequential, ignored (even by people involved in it) pursuit, in a shifting landscape of impending death.

I read this story, and am now writing this, in the midst of a lot of year-in-film stuff; I'm mostly just sorta thinking of this story as a less sentimental, depersonalized version of Synecdoche, New York. Which I kinda want to see again, if I can bear it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Everyone's An Author: The Real Housewives' Alex McCord

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 5:00 PM

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We haven't heard a lit-gossipy peep about The Real Housewives of New York alums and their respective book deals in quite some time. Has Countess LuAnn De Lesseps' modern Emily Post etiquette tome been acquired? Is Bethany Frankel's cookbook thing in galleys yet?

Either way, the aforementioned ladies might be facing some competition, though they'd likely turn their plastic noses up at that just as quickly as they would over the notion that a family can live well in a borough other than Manhattan. According to the Post, Alex McCord, Cobble Hill dweller and Internet nudie (NSFW!), is at work on a literary venture of her own. She and her husband Simon van Kempen are writing an urban parenting book. Together, of course, because they do friggin' everything together, including girl's night out.

A publishing insider told Gawker that the couple have tried to score an agent and have had no luck. They were asked to wait for the buzz around season two of their show to get things going, but couldn't be bothered to wait. This is the same woman who excitedly scoured the gossip pages for pictures of herself the evening after a socialite event; no doubt she'd thrilled with the Post's nasty little plug. Press is press, even if your boobs are showing, right, Alex?

Regardless, McCord insists her parenting book has nothing to do with discipline. "It's about things like how to get a passport for an infant when you don't have a birth certificate yet," she told Page Six.

Oh, good. So basically it's for yupster Brooklynites who haven't, for some crazy reason, discovered The Daily Slope.

The New Yorker Reader: Winter Fiction Issue, Part 2

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 4:00 PM

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"The Gangsters," by Colson Whitehead.

Colson Whitehead writes like I wish I talked.


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MTV to Continue Doing What It Has Been Doing Since The Real World

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 3:00 PM

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You thought the ratings drop would mean something else? Not so much. Instead, MTV is launching sixteen new reality TV shows this winter that will combine the lush, cinematic visuals of their cash-cow semi-scripted series The Hills with themes of "affirmation and accomplishment" that are "consistent with the Obama generation," according to Brian Graden, president of entertainment at MTV Networks music channels and president of Logo.

Graden says the network is working toward building a "new visual language," while simultaneously seeking to take its focus away from the expected reality TV content of bitchery and producer-inflicted dramarama -- those No Drama Obama youngs, apparently, now prefer it when their fantasy programming mirrors their political sensibilities. But those YouTube clip-ready kitty-kat-fights are what MTV has essentially trademarked, and it's a foolish move for them to attempt to go aspirational without weaning its viewers off the drug its been pushing since The Real World: New York first aired in 1992. And even if Graden is correct, why would the cable behmoth mark their lineup overhaul with a return to New York City -- this time via another Adam Diavello spin-off about a pretty former-nobody who was in the right place at the right time, and which speaks to more excess and endless escapism scored to the latest Bloc Party song?

MTV wants to see young people bettering themselves? They're going to them do it by canceling TRL and promoting... oh, a Trump-produced show called Girls of Hedsor Hall, which "will follow a dozen hard-partying young women as they're whisked off to an English finishing school," and debuts in January. My Fair Lady meets The Princess Diaries does not equal the Obama campaign's sanctioned message of hope and change, but it does, however subtly, echo the endless family-charmed nepotism, re-branding, lowered expectations, spin, and metamorphosis that has always been a hallmark of politics. They ought to recognize that connection, and maybe say as much. The kids might not be all right, but they know what they like, and they aren't dumb.

"MTV plans 16 new reality shows" [Variety]

Stuff I'm Reading: Hunger, by Knut Hamsun

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 2:00 PM

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Ah, yes, Knut Hamsun, the Norwegian Nobel Laureate who eventually went crazy and gave his medal to Goebbels as a token of affection, but not before inventing the unreliable narrator, among other things.

This book is, I'm told, one of the first real attempts at an interior, psychological first-person narrator. As such there's something of a conflict (appropriate given Hamsun's combativeness) between language that's accessible, almost plain at times, and a more classical sense of diction and objectivity. But rather than take an amateur's guess at where specifically the crazed, unnamed writer protagonist fits into the evolution of narration, I'm interested a definitely prescient assumption Hamsun seems to make. Note the title: not "madness" but "hunger." This early psychologically attuned monologue treats consciousness as a physical phenomenon — mental states are portrayed as almost biochemical ones. The narrator's behavior is altered by how much food he has in his stomach; by the weather; by the sights and sounds and people he encounters. Rather than a fixed consciousness interacting with an outside world, he's a semipermeable vessel.

For what it's worth, recent editions of this book have a Paul Auster forward that initially seems overwritten, but ends up making good points about the narrator as a harbinger of Modernism — in the literary and indeed social sense — who divests himself of connections to social conventions, religion, and ultimately objective reality.

The Bush Shoe

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 12:00 PM

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The Turkish cobbler who designed the shoe hurled round the world is delighted with his lot in life right now. Ramazan Baydan said he knew the moment Muntader al-Zaidi flung his shoes at Dubya last week, that the make and model were his and his alone. Other imposters have claimed design ownership, but as both a shoemaker and a designer, he recognized them like a flying fingerprint, and he told the New York Times that, given their light weight and clunky silhouette, he was "amazed by their aerodynamics."

Thousands of posters are advertising the shoes in the Middle East and Turkey, and a run of 15,000 pairs went into production last Thursday. A British distributor asked for 95,000 pairs. Notably, an American company placed a order for 18,000 pairs, but the Times doesn't specify which. Perhaps some radical designer will incorporate them into their next Fashion Week show -- or sly presentation, given the major designers slowly dropping out of the tents due the economy's sad face -- as a goodbye to all that rally of sorts? If Marc Jacobs says no to Bryant Park and has a model shoe-throwin' parade in Central Park, we wouldn't be all that shocked.

"'Bush Shoe' Gives Firm a Footing in the Market" [NYT]

R.I.P. Dock Ellis

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 10:00 AM

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Dock Ellis, the combative Pittsburgh Pirates ace who on June 12, 1970 dropped LSD and then no-hit the San Diego Padres a few hours later (he gave up no earned runs despite walking eight, because he was, you know, on acid), died this weekend of a liver ailment. He spent much of the last years of his life counseling young ballplayers on substance abuse, among other charity work, and was an inspiration to many, not least the editorial staff of The L Magazine.

If acid-tripping Dock Ellis took the mound against an all-hangover lineup of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, et cetera, what would the box score look like? Thoughts?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Haneke, Everyone!

Posted By on Sun, Dec 21, 2008 at 10:00 AM

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Video: Speed Metal Bluegrass

Posted By on Sat, Dec 20, 2008 at 1:00 PM

Wowzers. These kids kill it.

[Via BoingBoing]

Friday, December 19, 2008

Battle of the Hallelujahs

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 6:00 PM

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Alexandra Burke, recent winner of Britain's X-Factor pop competition, has recorded a gospel version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. It has quickly become the fastest-selling digital single in European history. Culture Czar did a compare-contrast of previous attempts to rework Cohen's composition, and determined, naturally, that Jeff Buckley's goose-bumpy scale-soaring belt owns the "definite 'Hallelujah'."

We're certainly partial to Buckley's cover over the original -- it is about as perfect as you can get. But weird:

Buckley fans, alarmed at Burke's ascension, have amassed their own forces, propelling their hero's "Hallelujah" to No. 3, according to an "unofficial provisional ‘mid-week' chart." Should Buckley push his way past Leona Lewis and her cover of Snow Patrol's "Run" (doesn't anyone write their own songs anymore?), a single song would claim the top two chart positions for the first time in history.

It seems strange that Buckley's fans would consider Burke's sudden popularity, via the song, as some kind of threat to the their idol's well-documented cred. Lucy Powell founded the Faceboook campaign to mobilize Buckley's cult followers, and she insists that it isn't an attack on Burke. "I just wanted to make it clear to people that there was already an amazing version of ‘Hallelujah'. I didn't like the idea of a song whose lyrics and melody I have found incredibly moving being used to sell records by whichever competitor won a talent contest."

Either way, this speaks to his fan's enduring devotion and their willingness to act upon it, something that is nothing short of astonishing -- Buckley's 'Hallelujah'" is charting fourteen years after it was released.

"Hallelujah For Cohen's 'Hallelujah'; Could It Be #1 and #2?" [Culture Czar]
Alexandra Burke [MySpace]

Think of This 'Video of the Day' Post As Also Being a 'Your Weeked' Post

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 5:00 PM



Here's the YouTube page, incidentally, which is worth it for the comments ("Dear GOD, he is fine here. His hair is magnificent. My hand would have never left that popcorn box, LOL.").

Your Weekend may or may not involve a trip to see The Wrestler, but ought to involve a Mickey Rourke Film Festival of some sort (for program notes, use Cintra Wilson's semi-legendary — to me, anyway — ode). I'd say Barfly (loveably stumblebum Chuck Bukowski wank, with a slumming Faye Dunaway), Johnny Handsome (Walter Hill joint concerning an Elephant Man who has surgery and comes out Mickey Rourke) and, why the hell not, Year of the Dragon.

Ken Jacobs

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 4:45 PM

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As Hobes points out in the current Voice, it's been a good semisesquicentennial year for Ken Jacobs: features Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World and Return to the Scene of the Crime dredged up fertile new ground in his ongoing project of recovering, renovating and exploring cinematic detritus; his son Azazel made a very good movie, in Ken and his wife Flo's apartment, in which Ken and Flo costarred; and now Anthology Film Archives presents newly preserved old work and new shorts, with the granddaddy of us all on hand tonight and tomorrow to talk about his new videos Pushcarts of Eternity Street and The Scenic Route, the newly preserved The Whirled, and the new 16mm-to-35mm blow-up Blonde Cobra (pictured), a crazed Jack Smith performance piece. Go say hi, he looks like an approachable dude.

Theater Review: Confronting Chekhov, with the Brooklyn Playwrights Collective

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 4:27 PM

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By Alexis Clements

When I learned to paint, the little bit that I managed to learn, I was taught to start by copying the great painters. It wasn't imitation nor was it homage, it was copying — literal attempts to mirror the specific effects of the light trapped inside a brushstroke, the choice of colors and texture. With writing, however, copying in this way would be considered simple plagiarism. So, writers are left instead with the option to imitate, which is not such a bad way to practice, really — assuming you don't try to make a career of it.

The Brooklyn Playwrights Collective has taken this painterly approach to their annual one-act festival, examining the techniques and themes of their demigods, and then letting that study inform new works in the style of these masters. They've approached Artaud and Brecht in years previous, but this year, rather appropriately given the times, they've chosen Chekhov.

Read the rest here.

The Chanel Meat Purse

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 3:30 PM

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Why, it's just the thing to carry your sleek bottle of Burger King Fire Meets Desire whopper fragrance -- Nancy Wu, a product design student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, has fashioned a Chanel purse made out of beef jerky. Also, an Louis Vuitton wallet to match.

Screw the diet and take a bite, Karl. Just one. You know you want to.

[Designboom via Refinery29]

'Tis the Season of Suck!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 2:00 PM

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In the interest of further fostering all the "hahah print is dead again" holiday cheer, Folio has solicited 117 magazine and media related predictions for 2009. Who will fold? Who will survive? Who will forgo print for web? And who will say screw it and go to law school? After the jump, our five favorite predictions, i.e., the ones that sent us huddled into a fetus position under our desk. (We predict that work-sanctioned panic attacks will become far more common after the new year.)

1. The "Half of You Won't Have Jobs This Time Next Year" prediction
Andy Cohn
VP and group publisher, Fader Media
Five out of every 10 magazines and newspapers will go out of business, scale down their frequency or move entirely to the Web.

2. The "Stop Applying to J-School and Go Intern or Deal Drugs Instead" prediction
Hamilton Nolan
Blogger, Gawker
I predict 09 will be the year when J-school applications finally start going down. I also predict a lot of former or aspiring magazine employees will go into drug dealing. Temporarily.

3. The "This Industry is Like the Titanic, And You Are Leo Clinging to Kate, But You Will Let Go, Indeed You Will" prediction
Keith Kelly
"Media Ink" columnist, New York Post
Bankruptcy becomes the new black for media companies that were financed by heavy debt. More closings of magazines and newspapers and more survivors clinging to the online world as a life boat.

Fundamental problem of the digital age vs. print. While the gross numbers grows, advertisers still don't invest in all the niche products with anywhere near the level of support that they once had for old mainstream media. By the second quarter of 2009, new media will have joined old media in the recession, which will be longer and deeper than any we have known.

4. The "I'm Not-So-Subtly Pitching Laurel Touby
Here" prediction
Emily Gordon
Editor-in-chief, Print; founder, emdashes.com
The good, the bad, and the Ghost of Media Future: Newspaper veterans will unite to create the greatest online resource of all time and overthrow all the sites that put them out of business. Newsday (snappy URL, right?) will rise again as a megasite that dwarfs other news aggregators. PR and journalism will merge to become flackalism. Someone will design an online course called "Multimedia for Magazine Editors in Five Minutes a Day" that will make that someone a whole bunch of money; why not you? Professional bloggers nationwide will unionize, with the encouragement of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg, and demand full benefits and reasonable work conditions. Readers of long, focused stories online will get tired of scrolling and pay for well-designed paper versions—even more for signed copies from the right authors. (This I can prove.) And someone's got to start paying for the Internet, maybe with a package subscription to favorite sites, which would come, Salon Premium-style, with magazines, music, party invitations, and meaningful community privileges.

5. The "There's A Glimmer of Masochistic Hope In All This Destruction" prediction
Laurie Henzel
Publisher/creative director, Bust
I predict that Kindles will be found to cause cancer and thus magazines will make a comeback, prompting graffiti artists to create Skull/Kindle art on the city streets.

"117 Magazine and Media Predictions for 2009" [Folio]

Design Woes: What Will Katy Perry's Fashion Line Look Like?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 12:30 PM

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Seeing as the Hot N Cold pop songstress told a Fabulous, a British magazine, that she's interested in creating a new line that epitomizes her, uh, quirky style, someone is sure to give it to her.

"Agyness Deyn and Dita Von Teese are my fashion icons. I love to create a character, and I like looking like I've just stepped out of a history book."

Okay, so, probably, something Alice in Wonderland-ish that shows a good amount of skin. Let Katy her ghost-designer have at it. (We really like the heart-belt at right, though.) At least Betsey Johnson is teaming up with Target (or H&M) for fall!

"I'm no blond pop tart" [Fabulous Mag via The Cut]

Holiday Movie Pre-Reviews, Reviewed: The Tale of Desperaux

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 10:00 AM

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[In the L's Holiday Gift Guide Issue, we presented a Holiday Film Preview of sorts: Reviews of Movies We Haven't Seen, banking on the predictability of the holiday-movie industrial complex, and also our own tendency to review movies before seeing them. So let's see how we did. Here, Jesse Hassenger, who wrote the one on The Tale of Desperaux, compares his preview to his actual response.]

I said...
This computerized adaptation of the children's book is cute enough, even if Matthew Broderick is no longer pipsqueaky enough to get away with playing a wee mouse, and the human characters are Pixar-in-'95 unappealing. Despite the low-key, near-old-fashioned charms, someone should tell the Village Voice to cool it: Despereaux's status as big-eared unifier who brings courage and hope to his countrymen still doesn't make this "the most trenchant animated metaphor of the year."
In fact...


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