Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday's Video of the Day

Posted By on Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 10:00 AM

That was fun, yesterday, with that French Lit Fest post, when we got to randomly quote from Kicking and Screaming. So let's do that some more. What is your favorite line not included in this compendium?

Friday, February 27, 2009

(Wicked) Artsy Weekend Happenings

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 5:16 PM

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Gallery receptions and other events, compiled by Benjamin Sutton for your edification and pleasure.

Friday:
Chelsea
Raquel Maulwurf at Frederieke Taylor Gallery, 535 W 22nd St, 6th Fl (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 6-8pm
Yeondoo Jung: Handmade Memories at Tina Kim Gallery, 545 W 25th St, 3rd Fl (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 6-8pm
Alyson Shotz (work pictured, right) at Derek Eller, 615 W 27th St (between Eleventh and Twelfth Aves), 6-8pm
Christopher Lowry Johnson: What We Call Progress Is This Storm at Winkleman Gallery, 637 W 27th St, Suite A (between Eleventh and Twelfth Aves), 6-8pm

Williamsburg
Tokyo Regionalism at Secret Project Robot, 210 Kent Ave (at Metropolitan Ave), 7-10pm
Emily Roz: Kill the Beast at Front Room Gallery, 147 Roebling St (at Metropolitan Ave), 7-9pm
Film night with Mira Schor and Faith Wilding: A House is not a Home at Momenta Art, 359 Bedford Ave (between South 4th and South 5th Sts), 7-9pm

Greenpoint
Morning Breath Inc. and CYCLE: Oddities at Ad Hoc Art, 49 Bogart Street, Buzzer 22, Unit 1G (at Grattan St), 7-10pm

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Saturday:

Chelsea
Hoon Kim and Sarah Williams: Walk on Red at ArtGate, 547 W 27th St, Suite 301 (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 1-3pm
Alfredo Jaar: The Sound of Silence at Galerie Lelong, 528 W 26th St (between Tenth and Eleventh Aves), 6-8pm
the future is not what it used to be group show at Postmasters Gallery, 459 W 19th St (between Ninth and Tenth Aves), 6-8pm
Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry group show at Sikkema, Jenkins & Co, 530 W 22nd St, 6-8pm

Midtown
Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) group show at Exit Art, 475 Tenth Ave (at 36th St), 7-10pm

Bed-Stuy
Zbiok and Remed: It Hurts (work pictured, left) at Brooklynite, 334 Malcolm X Blvd (at Bainbridge St), 7-10pm


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Weekend Read: RIP VHS

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Mondo Kim's is in Sicily now, and at Moving Image Source, Anthony Kaufman and Michael Atkinson offer contrasting takes about what the death of the VHS means for cinephilia. Kaufman's is a practical, materialist take on what's lost, Atkinson's a more spiritual musing, on the essence of tape-hunting and its transference to other mediums.

This is all doubly poignant given that ex-Voice staffer Atkinson and mostly-ex-Voice contributor Kaufman are doing these pieces at a site edited by their ex-Voice Film Editor, Dennis Lim. There was a time, not so long ago (I know it was not that long ago, because I was around for it), when Kim's Video and the Village Voice film section were the only two things a young movielover in New York really needed for his cinematic education. I am anxious to see what replaces them. Other than, you know, "the internet."

That Pretty, Pretty; Or, The Rape Play

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Oh-so-clever meta-plays have hit their nadir with Sheila Callaghan's hyperactive, tonally inept That Pretty, Pretty; Or, The Rape Play. "Nadir" may be an extreme word, but That Pretty, Pretty is a play of overstatements. There's something admirable in the way Callaghan's writing shoots in all directions — even at its own foot — but the production is more ponderous than something to ponder. Despite the overwhelming number of strands dangling off this frilly concoction, it never coheres into anything developed or inspired. Callaghan's writing is too scattershot and impatient; it fancies the idea of alluding to a comment about misogyny without actually commenting on it. Callaghan constantly indicts the sleazy solipsism of her characters (or, should I say, archetypes), but it's the writing itself that is unbearably self-referential.

That Pretty, Pretty has no clear plot — just paralleling scenarios. The play opens in an empty hotel room with Bon Jovi blasting offstage, exuding hyper-masculine energy. Men appear in the background, cheering and hollering like detestable douchebags. Two women enter the room and prattle as they strut their stuff — we soon find out they're former strippers who seduce, then kill, pro-life neo-conservatives.


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Dillinger Is Dead...

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 10:00 AM

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... "Long live Dillinger," says Michael Joshua Rowin in the current issue of the L, on the occasion of BAM's revival of Dillinger is Dead. Whazzat? Well:

Enigmatic Italian parodist Marco Ferreri has traveled a route familiar to so many non-canonical European art directors: condemnation from the squares, encomium from the die-hards, avoidance from even arthouse distributors, and then the long winter of obscurity. Considered by enthusiasts to be his first masterpiece, nightmarish 1969 happening Dillinger is Dead could ignite Ferreri's reputation here in a first U.S. release, but only on its own lastingly abrasive terms. Opaque and hirsute Michel Piccoli plays Glauco, an industrial designer of fashionable gas masks who undergoes an of-its-time anti-bourgeois transformation when he comes home to a bored wife, laboriously plays cook, discovers a Dillinger gun wrapped in ancient newspaper clippings announcing the infamous bandit's demise, and initiates a romp of absurd acts culminating in sex, murder and liberation.
And more... Starting today, through Thursday.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wicked Artsy: Whatever Remains

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 4:30 PM

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Wicked Artsy is Benjamin Sutton's column about art, and wickedness.

Three exhibitions on the Lower East Side through late March take something that's no longer there as their subjects. Though the artists work at drastically different scopes — the end of a relationship, the shock of a death, the detritus of a culture — the satisfaction in their work isn't only in fleshing out the thing or event whose aftershock we're witnessing. All three use this way of presenting their subjects to expand their scope until it includes the entire surrounding social structure. With their cultural leftovers, these artists also ask: "What kind of society leaves these kinds of scars?"


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Also c), The Coffee, Now I Know How Bad American Coffee Is*

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 3:00 PM

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Other countries are great because a) they are not nations of hideous slobs, like ours, and b) they just love to try to boost their cultural profile in America by sponsoring cool events here, for their culture-makers. Support for artists, entertainment and edification for audiences, everybody wins.

Like this Festival of New French Writing thing, which the French Embassy and France's Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture are holding with NYU this evening, all day tomorrow, and Saturday afternoon. The basic idea, it seems, is to put an established or emerging French writer and an American writer onstage together, and shake the stage until they fight, or else have interesting and unreplicateable conversations about literature and culture and whatnot.

I never know on posts like this how much it helps to mention the names of the writers involved — it'd take up too much space and be too boring to explain who these people are if you don't know them already, and I never know if you know or not because who can say how big a star a writer is in someone else's cultural firmament? Can we really ever know each other? (No. No we cannot. Just check the schedule and bios.) Well, in any case, Bernard Henri-Levy gon be there; in his honor this post is accompanied by the unbuttoned-shirtiest BHL photo I could find. There were many.

*If we were an old couple, dated for years, this'd be where you say, "They have good beer there," and I say, "... now I know how bad American beer is."

No Cars Go

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 12:12 PM

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Fittingly for a multibillionaire who had term limits repealed, Bloomberg's mayoralty is defined by the grand gesture, the leader-as-visionary. He banned smoking and trans fats for our own good; tried to bring us the Olympics and the West Side Stadium (and Atlantic Yards); did bring the 2004 RNC; and occasionally tried to unilaterally enact really progressive environmental policy like congestion pricing (I will think about actually voting for a third term if that's going to be a priority).

Recently, Bloomberg woke up one morning and was like, you know what, we need to rethink basic assumptions about cars. (He was correct.) So we had some experimental car-free streets during a couple weekends last year. And now, maybe, Broadway will be closed to cars from 42nd to 47th.

This will, say traffic engineers, reduce congestion, and more importantly start the process of getting people to think about city streets as things for people, bikes, and generally useful for a lot of purposes other than driving a car through.

The Gothamist comments thread on this bit of news is less neighborhood-cranky and missing-the-urban-planning-forest-for-the-trees than you might hope. So far, at least.

The New Yorker Reader: "Brother on Sunday," by A.M. Homes

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 10:00 AM

If I gave you diamonds and pearls...

This reminds me a bit of Donald Antrim's "Another Manhattan", from the Winter Fiction Issue, inasmuch as it satirizes upper-class morals and manners without actually having much of anything to say about class.

I suppose it's at least ironic, centering your story around a plastic surgeon who's actually the least superficial person in the entire story — and Homes has a silver tongue for dialogue and a narrowed eye for detail — but, you know, still. It is arguably pretty superficial to skewer the superficiality of the upper class in such an insular, knowing way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What if a Major American Filmmaker Made an Epic and Nobody Came?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation is a 160-minute epic drama from Charles Burnett; it's the project he was working on a couple of years ago, as the American moviegoing community was rediscovering his masterpiece Killer of Sheep. So you'd think this movie would be a pretty big deal, right? The fact that, even after a year around the festival circuit, it doesn't seem to have found its audience — and certainly hasn't found distribution, or much critical attention — seems to reveal rather unpleasant things about the critical community, production apparatus, moviegoing public, et cetera. Anyway, the movie plays tonight at BAM, and if you're interested, it may be your last shot for a while.

Free PBR for Children!

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 12:30 PM

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Well, ok, what this technically means is that there is free Pabst Blue Ribbon (from 7pm-8pm) at an event benefitting children. Specifically, benefitting arts education from Wingspan Arts, a local nonprofit that runs immersive arts programs for local schoolkids. (Between this and the Desk Set's Mardi Gras party, this is kind of a banner week here at The L Magazine's Your Blog About Getting Drunk for Progressive Educational Causes.) The Local Arts for Local Kids Concert is at The Delancey, and features a full line-up of bands including drolly voiced, tweely played tunesmithery of Murder Mystery. And, for an hour, free PBR. You know, for kids.

The City Sweet Tooth: February Is the Chocolatiest Month

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 10:00 AM

In this installment of The City Sweet Tooth, Abby Denson's comic-column about all things dessert-y, we celebrate February's status as Black History Month National Chocolate Month.



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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dear Sweet Christ Stop Posting Videos of Your Child on YouTube, You Monster

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 2:47 PM

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I sit next to L Magazine Music Editor Mike Conklin, and often I notice that he is giggling uncontrollably. "Mike," I ask (or, rather, ichat), "Mike, why do you giggle so?" And then he sends me a link to an amusing video on YouTube. Usually this video is of a cute dog. (Mike is a huge dork. He loves Christmas, and sweaters.) (Curiously not Christmas sweaters, though.) Lately, though, these videos have often been videos of small children doing the darndest things, like singing along to Nirvana songs. How adorbs. But wait. Surely these children are far too young to be posting these videos themselves. So who is posting them? Their parents. This is fucking terrible.


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Nation of Hideous Slobs

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 12:00 PM

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The average American now watches 151 hours of TV a month, or five hours of TV a day (between TVs, computers and cellphones), according to Nielsen and the intern the Los Angeles Times seems to have assigned to write up their findings.

I watch much less than five hours of television a day. You do, too, I bet. Just remember: five hours a day is the average. That means that for every one of us catching up with our one show a few Netflix streams at a time, there is a morbidly obese South Carolina woman sitting in front of her TV from when she wakes up in the morning to when she falls asleep on her couch at night, while her adult children come over to change her kitty liver and soak her feet. (This math may be a bit fuzzy.)

In Which the Librarians, Instead of Shushing You, Hold a Mardi Gras Party

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM

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For beads, they'll show you their card catalogs. Or something. Anyway, it's Fat Tuesday, today, apparently, and the Desk Set, everybody's favorite cat eye glasses-wearing party planners, are putting on their dancin' Hush Puppies at Daddy's in Williamsburg, from 7:30 until whenever. There'll be New Orleans music, food, drinks, and desserts (the librarian types also enjoy baking), and also there is a book drive for Nawlins' A.P. Tureaud Elementary. There's a special promotion: buy a sixth grader a book, get a free beer. Conveniently the two best things in the world to do. (The worst is throwing up in a gutter in the French Quarter and getting it all over your polo shirt.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The L Magazine, Harnessing the Power of the Internet to Bring You Free Movies

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 4:30 PM

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Are you "stalking" us at hot new internet application "Tweeter"? Ok, cool. Now: The L Magazine has set up a new Twitter account, @freefilmnyc. Through it, we'll be announcing free screenings of upcoming movies, and you and other followers will be able to get that info first, and RSVP by sending your email address via a direct message (RSVPing will be the only thing we or anyone else will use your email address for). So, yeah, using the internet to see movies for free, like youku.com or something.

Literary Upstart 2009: When, Where, Who (other than You)

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 3:00 PM

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The boozy, writerly semifinals of The L Magazine's fifth annual Literary Upstart: The Search for Pocket Fiction competition will be held at 7pm on Thursday, April 16; Monday, May 18; and Monday, June 22. The finals will be held on Thursday, July 9. You should come! (And submit your stories!)

The readings will be held at the Slipper Room, on Orchard Street. Come for the cheap beer and free literature; stay for the burlesque.

To our panel of judges — the ones who'll be passing just-funny-enough-not-to-be-cruel judgment on the featured readers — we welcome back our Distinguished Spokesjudge, Ben Greenman; the L's own Adam Bonislawski; and high-powered Curtis Brown Literary Agent Katherine Fausset. They'll be joined by Aaron Petrovich, the brains behind local alternative publisher Hotel St. George Press.

All that, plus the return of our arguably beloved New York City Literary Trivia competition; stately "improvised" banter from dapper host Jonny Diamond; various L Mag staffers drinking silently in the corner, and then eventually getting drunk and heckling said host; and genuinely terrific short fiction. You should come. (And submit your stories.)

So, the Oscars Happened.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

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Mostly very expected — Hugh Jackman wants to be a pretty, pretty princess; Sean Penn has the good sense to be embarrassed at now owning Bill Murray and Mickey Rourke's Oscar; adorable impoverished Indian children make us feel better about ourselves — but, in the midst of a national belt-tightening and following an indifferent year for Hollywood, even more blatant than usual about reminding us how much we love the movies. Montages reminding us of all the great movies that we loved so much that came out last year; past Oscar winners saluting (with hilariously varying degrees of familiarity and unfeigned affection) this year's nominees, to remind us of how magnificent all these movie stars are; the clips of coming attractions over the ending credits...

But, ok, here is my question: did you notice that in the unaccountably distractingly edited dead-people montage, they made room for Manny Farber? ("Critic." Fuck yes he was.) Holy shit. Did Pauline Kael make it, or is this a first, I honestly cannot remember. Made my night. What made yours?

Sex Advice from a Goose: Ring Around the Rosie

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 7:00 AM

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Welcome to our biweekly feature in which I, Gary, The L's wooden goose, shall answer the questions asked of Audrey Ference, The Natural Redhead, in the current issue of the L.

Dear Audrey Gary,
Two of my buddies have confessed to being into licking their girls' asses. This can't be real. They say yeah, after the girl takes a bath they're into it. I'm dumbfounded! I get anal penetration — but this is a whole other ballgame. What's next, shit-flavored mints?! Really, what's wrong with people? Would you want your ass to be licked?

Yes. Of course! Next question.


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The L Magazine Guide to the Oscars

Posted By on Sun, Feb 22, 2009 at 10:00 AM

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And the nominees are:

Nicolas Rapold on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:
[David] Fincher's thoughtful and meticulous filmmaking makes something new and beautiful out of a dubious proposition. The story of Benjamin Button — born old, growing young — is like a melodrama experimentally slowed down, and sometimes sped up, opening up moving perspectives on love and wisdom... You make allowances for the odd Gumpy screenplayism because of Fincher's intensity, the exquisite production design, and the film's tidal tugs: besides the imperfections of love, there's the reversal of roles with loved ones over the years, the counterpoints with youthful America (across two postwars), even [Brad] Pitt's own flickering star.

Benjamin Strong on Frost/Nixon:
Ultimately, Frost "wins" by extracting an on-air apology from Nixon. [Ron] Howard implies, in explanatory text preceding the closing credits, that this apology killed Tricky Dick's chances for vindication, definitively. Howard's characters even suggest that Nixon's public humiliation was adequate justice for his war crimes. And yet contrary to what [Peter] Morgan and Howard would have us believe, Nixon has already been granted the revisionist treatment he craved. Indeed there is no better evidence that the leader of the silent majority has triumphed than Frost/Nixon itself — a movie that begs us, in its own words, to understand "Nixon the Man."

Mark Asch on Milk:
Milk professes to share with its subject, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), an understanding of political theater, structuring his life-and-times around a for-posterity recording left by the gay San Francisco Supervisor (America's first out elected official), and showing how he stage-managed protests, manipulated the press and encouraged comings-out to make the gay cause more visible. Yet the spectacles Gus Van Sant directs feel unspectacular — the cast of reenactors often look like they've been edited into the liberally used stock footage through the miracle of reverse shots and close-up inserts, like Raymond Burr in Godzilla, King of the Monsters! or something.

Nick McCarthy on The Reader:
Although much skin is revealed — [Kate] Winslet and [David] Kross spend most of the opening 30 minutes flopping around in their birthday suits — The Reader is the antithesis of audacious. What could have been provocative and poetic is too carefully crafted, refined to the degree that actively avoids any lively, artistic flourishes. Hanna Schmitz hides her war crimes behind the veil of following procedure and, despite an appealing depiction of adolescent angst, [Stephen] Daldry's biggest mistake was playing by the rules — making The Reader a literal, proficient adaptation.

Jesse Hassenger on Slumdog Millionaire:
[Danny Boyle]'s one of the few directors who absorbs the influence of music videos into a fluid narrative (it doesn't hurt that he's got great taste in soundtracks, too). Slumdog Millionaire is dazzling entertainment.

If it's only that, and not quite up to the director's absolute best, it's because Jamal and Latika have the simplistic relationship of a silent movie couple — sweet, earnest, torn apart by fate — and not the messy chemistry of true love.

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