The most-emailed story on nytimes.com as of yesterday afternoon is an article about this ridiculous bacon-wrapped-sausage-wrapped bacon thing. (This got the original source of the "bacon explosion" so much traffic that the site crashed for a bit, because we are a nation of hideous slobs.) So, obviously, have a good weekend watching the Super Bowl.
Oh, also, if your blood is still foolishly forcing itself through thick fat-encrusted arteries after this and that case of Coors, hey, Betty Crocker brownies shaped like footballs! Laces out etc.
Over at listicles.com, sister site to the L, Ben Sutton runs down 8 Guantanamo Bay Detainees' Stories, which is something you should read on account of it presents, in miniature, all the moral violation, legal complexity, and ideological wilderness there is to be found in any in-depth consideration of that particular American mistake and its past and present prisoners.
"A keen, unsentimental observation of a drug and a relationship, equally
self-destructive. Due to the combined artistry of Jerry Schatzberg, Al Pacino
and Cannes Best Actress winner Kitty Winn, Park aches with despair: close-ups
evoke the same amount of pain whether the camera is focused on a heroin
injection or simply a character's glance."
The L's Nick McCarthy thinks you should see Film Forum's revival of the 1971 junkie romance The Panic in Needle Park, which plays for a week beginning tonight. (Go tonight at 7:40 for Schatzberg, Winn and coscreenwriter Joan Didion[!] in person.) Come for Al Pacino's wired breakout role; stay for the Lindsay-era Manhattan grit. Fun fact: this is a movie about barely-together smack addicts who live on or around Broadway and 72nd Street. I can't even afford to get off the subway at Broadway and 72nd Street. Who's excited for the recession?
I'm happy but you don't like me.
Having made his reputation as a satirist with a chatty, wisecracky style and a knack for alternate-universe quirk, George Saunders seems to be using his platform to be something like a cheerleader for empathy. (I've said something like this before.)
Here's the beginning of his recent tribute to David Foster Wallace:
Indie Rock Survival Guide is new feature (or maybe a one-time thing that I thought up because it made sense for this; I haven't decided yet) dedicated to saving you from the unspeakable embarrassment of mixing up two similar recording artists. In this installment, we look at two artists taking their name from Richard Donner's 1985 film Ladyhawke, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a lady who is a hawk during the day, and Rutger Hauer as a knight who is a wolf during the night, and also they are in love. (Odd that we are not doing this feature about two indie-pop bands called "Nightwolf" or whatever.) Come on, let's play!
Whooo They Are, and Wherrrre They Come From: Four dudes from whitest Canada (British Columbia).
Persona: Bearded, romantic, inarticulate, really like shredding.
Sounds like: Dinosaur Jr., if Dinosaur Jr. had formed under similar socioeconomic circumstances to The Replacements.
Best Song: "The Dugout"
... Which would make the ideal soundtrack for the following scene in Richard Donner's 1985 film Ladyhawke: The one where Michelle Pfeiffer has her hair in dirty blonde dreads and she wakes up and puts on sweatpants and a metal-band t-shirt and starts doing bong hits.
Whooo She Is, and Wherrre She Comes From: Phillipa Brown, from New Zealand.
Persona: Debbie Harry borrowing Jennifer Beals's sweatshirt while being friends with Peaches.
Sounds like: A song you've somehow never heard before but are really pleased to hear come on after you've put "The Human League" into Last.fm.
Best Song: "Magic"
... Which would make the ideal soundtrack for the following scene in Richard Donner's 1985 film Ladyhawke: The one where Rutger Hauer puts on a mesh button-down to go to a dance club in a converted Soho warehouse, only the club is closed down because Tony Scott is using it as a set for a scene in The Hunger where Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie have sexy vampire disco-disco.
Three especially rewarding exhibitions closing in Chelsea on February 7 generate much of their meaning from the improbable numbers of signs and images they encompass. These clutters of artworks tell the stories of both their subjects and their authors. As with Louise Bourgeois, each new work tells us something about the individual who produced it and the society in which they live, and as the works accumulate the personal and social portraits become more detailed.
The exhibition of early black and white street photography by Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki at Anton Kern Gallery tells of a nation modernizing with fits and starts, and a young photographer's eye sharpening over hundreds of prints. Photographs taken in the streets and subways of Tokyo throughout the 1960s show pedestrians wearing kimonos, business suits and short skirts as they pass each other below modern skyscrapers and in front of traditional architecture. Though the aesthetic recalls contemporaneous New York urban photography by the likes of Robert Frank, Araki foregoes working class subjects to focus on Tokyo's women. This leads to the exhibition's final series of intimate erotic images that anticipate Araki's subsequent work.
In January of 2008, Lauren Groff's debut novel The Monsters of Templeton was published to wide critical acclaim. Now, a year later, Groff's has just published her first volume of stories, Delicate Edible Birds. The L recently emailed her to ask a few questions about the new book, her writing life and about what she's currently reading.
The L: It would be difficult to begin an interview with you without asking you first about your bestselling debut novel, The Monsters of Templeton. About this time last year it was published to broad critical acclaim, and it went on to become a bestseller. Can you talk a bit about what the past year has been like? How did it feel to achieve such recognition at such a young age?
Lauren Groff: Thank you for calling me young—by now, after a year full of two book launches, the resultant loop-de-loop of foreign sales and criticism (even the good ones kill you a little bit), spurts of travel, and the birth of my son, I actually feel pretty ancient. A stony old trilobite.
The trains from New York are starting to fill up with people in Obama shirts. Taking the train to DC you arrive in Union Station. It's domed and marble and neo-classical, like lots of things in Washington. When, in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart arrives at Union Station from his small, American town, he glimpses through the columns of the portico that other lofty, neo-classical, marble dome — the Capitol building — and leaves, without thinking, leaves the porters and bustling men and walks out after it into the air. Coming into DC on the train this weekend feels a little bit like that.
The L's history-in-the-making coverage, from our political-adventure correspondent, continues here...
In his fine, reasonable hey-wait-a-minute Slumdog Millionaire consideration currently racking up pageviews at Slate, Dennis Lim alludes to the film's "Old Hollywood" plot contrivances, and notes that the film "comes with a built-in, catchall defense—it's a fairy tale..."
But what happens when a filmmaker uses cinema, and its manufacture of fantasy, not as self-justification, but subject? Hi, meet Douglas Sirk, who never made a movie that couldn't have been called Imitation of Life. He knew what he was doing, though: he saved the title for his last Hollywood movie.
Sirk's Imitation of Life concerns an actress (played by a just post-Stompanato Lana Turner) who has everything but a bond with her daughter; and a light-skinned black girl who reinvents herself as a white entertainer, at the expense of herself and her mother. Contrived and stylized to an inch of its life — check the impossible swooning mood lighting and the sumptuous widescreen compositions — it's an at once ironically distanced and deeply felt story about how, as noted Sirk fan Jean-Luc Godard once said, "cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world."
Imitation of Life plays this weekend at Anthology Film Archives as part of a series called, natch, Imitations of Life, a side-by-side consideration of Sirk and John M. Stahl — Universal's in-house "women's picture" specialists a generation apart, who often adapted the same material in their own distinctly stylized, savvy, emotionally hefty ways. The series starts tonight with Stahl's and Sirk's melodramatic versions of James M. Cain's Serenade, and continues through Sunday. Cullen Gallagher takes a more comprehensive look at both directors in the current issue of the L.
(Bring the Kleenex, I am really not kidding. Even if you think you won't need them. Especially if you think you won't need them.)
I have powdered sugar all over my mouth like some cokewhore-looking goldendoodle because I just. can't. stop. following the advice of Abby Denson's comic-column The City Sweet Tooth, in this installation visiting the new Austrian transplant Demel.
So "that one," Barry H. Christ, has been our lizard king for a whole week now. What has "change"d, let's find out.
I thought he'd be around indefinitely, but no.
Last spring, I read and wrote about Updike's short story "The Full Glass," in which his precise, engrossed, obsessive eye for detail is put into the voice of an old man cataloging sensations and memories — all of it grouped around the metaphor of a cup about to run over. I'm looking at it again this afternoon, and finding it especially poignant. (When James Wood complains, in How Fiction Works, about Updike's prose "freez[ing] detail into a cult of itself," he couldn't have been more wrong — Updike's expansive, brilliantly written descriptions are a celebration of life as perceived, sensually, by the living. And as such something like an affirmation, even amid the passage of time, of the not-yet-ness of death.) (If you'll allow the coinage, or even if you won't.)
I also talk, in that response to Updike's celebration of life as perceived, sensually, by the living, about how gross the sex part of said sensual celebration is. Because this is, of course, John Updike, recent winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, that we're talking about. (This is a longtime L Mag hobbyhorse going back to one of the best essays we've ever run, Adam Bonislawski's A Bad Case of Writer's Cock.) It saddens me that we won't have this old horndog to kick around anymore. I will also miss his spacious book reviews in the New Yorker. His rules for reviewing are a touchingly generous proposition on the nature of the craft of reviewing, and quite sturdily applicable.
20th Century Fox is known as one of the whoriest, least filmmaker-friendly big studios. Recent Fox atrocities presumed and confirmed include Bride Wars, Marley & Me, The Day the Earth Stood Still, What Happens in Vegas, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Babylon A.D., Jumper, Epic Movie, Date Movie, Meet the Spartans, Eragon, and the Fantastic Four movies. When they occasionally get something very right, like those first two X-Men movies, they tend exact revenge on anyone who might've breathed a sigh of relief by doing stuff like X-Men: Ratner's Turn.
Granted, you can make just about any major studio look like the lowest-rent purveyors of crap around with this kind of selective listing, but the closer you look at the list of Fox's recent achievements, the more the likes of Moulin Rouge look like a fluke.
Fox's overachieving younger sibling is Fox Searchlight, which distributes and/or finances the kind of movies Fox Classic treats with outright hostility: Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Juno, The Darjeeling Limited, Sunshine, Once, The Savages, Millions, I Heart Huckabees, Garden State, Sideways, Napoleon Dynamite, 28 Days Later, In Americaâ¦ not everyone loves all of those movies, but you can be too cool for all of them and still admit that they seem like exactly the movies their writers and directors wanted to make. That is pretty awesome.
Which brings me to two trailers.
Good old Granta 37: The Family, there, from the autumn of 1991, posted here because it's a much more attention-getting cover than the lit mag's current issue, Granta 104: Fathers, which this post is actually about. (Also it is more attention-getting than Granta 88: Mothers, from the winter of 2004. [What took them so long et cetera.]) This post is about that, you see, because there is a reading tonight at Housing Works, at which Jonathan Lethem, Borough President of Brooklyn In My Head, and Joseph O'Neill, author of some book people are reading on the subway these days, read their contributions, and tak about writing them.
In this issue, Lethem and O'Neill are among several writers to write about photographs of their fathers, and presumably work out their daddy issues through well-toned personal-history prose. Here is Lethem's.
The actual title of Underworld 3 is Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, because Underworld has that B-team franchise insecurity wherein it seems to want to pretend that it's not just crassly adding numerals to a proven title (see Resident Evil: Insurrection or whatever the next one will be called). Once again, I invite all of Hollywood to look to the Transporter series to see how it's done: just slap that number on the sequel, and drop any definite articles while you're at it. Fancy subtitle or not, the Underworld movies are still beloved by that dude who blind-buys three DVDs a week at Best Buy.
The most awesome thing about Underworld: Lycan Ascension is that it has long scenes where werewolves lay siege upon people and/or castles, and the main weapon used for defense is what I believe historians refer to as a megacrossbow.
The second most awesome thing about Underworld: Legend of the Lycan Dubloons is that it continues the second movie's tradition of ditching the endless vampire council meetings that, no joke, made me fall nearly asleep during the first Underworld, which made my special lady friend even less happy about being dragged to see it.
The Brooklyn Museum recently featured a selection of films and videos by the Danish artist Jesper Just, who's at MoMA tonight presenting new work. He "addresses themes of desire", in art-crit speak, through videos that are familiar in that impressionistic installation way, and short films that are terrific studies of glossy, widescreen classical film grammar. (A book of stills, representing work not showing at the Brooklyn Museum, was a highlight, with seemingly each frame showing figures lit with dramatic three-point lighting, and positioned for maximum melodrama.) Most affecting was a five-minute film set in some kind of liminal smoking lounge, with a lonely men's-club oldster singing a soft, yearning song to the young man on the other end of a rotary telephone. (It's from the same series as this one.)
Tonight at MoMA, he screens a new trilogy (including the above-pictured A Question of Silence), and talks about his work. Oh and this is part of MoMA's new open-late-on-Mondays deal, where the Museum stays open and there's a cash bar set up, so you can get hammered on white wine and look at Ab-Ex, you effete corps of impudent snobs.
Sundance Film Festival his computer, where he reads about the Sundance Film Festival.
It's getting near impossible these days to hold a film festival in North America without a film critic resorting to physical violence. At Sundance on Wednesday, Variety's John Anderson punched publicist Jeff Dowd — no less than the inspiration for "The Dude" from The Big Lebowski — in the shoulder, chest, chin and lip. This comes only a few months after the New York Post's Lou Lumenick smacked cancer-stricken American Sweetheart Roger Ebert at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Dowd harassed Anderson while the critic was trying to eat his breakfast. Anderson had admitted that a screening of Dirt! The Movie, some sort of environmentalist-minded documentary that Dowd was pushing, had underwhelmed him, and Dowd wanted him to reconsider the negative review he was getting ready to write. When Dowd wouldn't leave him alone, Anderson struck the "producer's representative" twice. You can read the whole convoluted, he-said-he-said story, which involves a cameo from The Howard Stern Show's Jackie the Jokeman, here.
We've got the beginnings of a trend here.
the questions asked of Audrey Ference, The Natural Redhead, in the current issue of the L.
Back in college, I had a boyfriend who traveled one summer on a Fulbright. Before he left I had my girlfriend snap a few Polaroids of me wearing little to nothing. I slipped the images into his journal. It was exhilarating for me and I know it was exhilarating for him.
That was then and this is now. My current boyfriend (different one) wants to make a sex tape. I am reluctant. With all of the ex-girlfriend photos on the web and the release of so many sex tapes, I think of my career and the damage/humiliation something like this would create if in the wrong hands. (I'm not famous so it would not be on Page Six). Audrey, am I too paranoid? Or should I drop my inhibitions, along with my clothes, and do it?
Ooh, a Fulbright. I am so impressed that you used to date someone who traveled on a Fulbright! You must, by the transitive property of racy sexy secrets, also be quite impressive. With that in mind, your sex tape, which you have almost certainly gone ahead and made by now but never mind.
This just convinces me even further how repellent BDSM is. You must be mentally ill…
elvis costello perfomance link (the published one here is not working) http://videos.mediaite.com/video/Elvis-Costello-Radio-Radio-1977
I need a sweet baby