Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brittany Murphy Died from Diabetes!?!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 12:40 PM

The secret to my beauty is insulin
  • The secret to my beauty is insulin
So, word on the street is that Brittany Murphy had diabetes, which Slate subtly suggests could have caused her death. Well, as if diabetes weren't a cruel enough gift from god to me at the end of the year (it's a long story to be told here at The L in a long story in the coming week(s)), now he has to give me an untimely celebrity death that could be the result of diabetes!?! To shove my mortality and vulnerability in my face?!? Ahhhhhh!!!

Well, apparently Murphy had Type 2 Diabetes (I, like Sonya Sotomayor and the youngest Jonas Brother, have Type 1), and many commentors think it was probably more the drugs or eating disorders than the diabetes that did her in.

Not Newsweek, however, which ran a long, speculative piece about how diabetes could be far worse for the heart than drug abuse and anorexia.

Sob sob sob sob. Christmas in canceled.

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In Which Henry and I Use the Internet to Discuss Christmas Songs Even Though We Sit Eight Feet From One Another

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 12:30 PM

The Beach Boys are great, Henry, but we needn't limit our enjoyment of Christmas songs called "Santa's Beard" to just theirs. In fact, I much prefer this Them Might Be Giants track of the same name. Apologies for the poor audio quality and MERRY CHRISTMAS.

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Or, Wanna Listen to the Beach Boys?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Kinks are Kool, Konklin, but we needn't limit our Xmas Rock to them. My favorite Christmas song with a beat? The Beach Boys' "Santa's Beard," because it's so sad: a little kid goes to meet Santa and instead has his "Santa Claus is an Elaborate Lie" moment, thus ending his childhood as his older brother scrambles to come up with excuses ("uh, he's just helping Santa Claus") that, against a backdrop of Brian Wilson standard-issue diminished chords, sounds wholly unconvincing. Anyway:

Unfortunately, the only exclusive clip of this song I could find is set (WTF?) to a Jonas Bros. collage. DID YOU KNOW that the youngest Jonas Brother has diabetes? Like me, Sonya Sotomayor and, apparently, Brittany Murphy, which will be the subject of my next blog post. (Stay posted! Which isn't mean as a blogging pun, because it would be awful.)

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Wanna Listen to Father Christmas?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM

Disclaimer: I do actually have plenty of time for toys as well as money.

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Your Uncle Karl Christmas Farting Scene!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 9:01 AM

When Uncle Karl runs up and down stairs, Uncle Karl farts. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar Is a Movie About James Cameron

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Spectacle is the preeminent factor in cinema history, going back to its beginnings as a music hall and penny arcade attraction—the novelty of the medium, as much as the sensation of its contents, was the draw, and this has continued to be the case, throughout both technological advances and the consistent appeal of the theatrical experience. So I can see why J. Hoberman thought initially of Metropolis while watching Avatar (before walking it way back), and I can even understand Manohla Dargis's rhapsodic rave ("Cameron... embrace[s] cinema as an art, as a social experience and a shamanistic ritual, one still capable of producing the big WOW.") Whether or not you agree with them depends on whether or not you think cgi inevitably just looks like a videogame.

The L's Benjamin Strong thinks it does (as do I), which explains, really, why for him, "Storytelling has never been Cameron's strong suit," whereas for the WOWed Dargis, "He’s a masterly storyteller."

The reason why Avatar permits these two seemingly incompatible readings has to do with cinema-as-spectacle.

Continue reading »

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"Barry from D.C." Seems Like a Pretty Nice Guy, Also, a Little Bored

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 3:39 PM

Barack Obama
Haha. Here is our president calling in to talk radio, making jokes and just cold shooting the shit. He's pretty likable, you know. [via]

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The Met Might Bring Back the Old Tosca

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 3:03 PM

The King of the Weenies
  • The King of the Weenies
The Metropolitan Opera's General Manager and general wunderkind Peter Gelb bet his reputation on Luc Bondy this year, choosing the director's production of Tosca to kick off the season—the first entirely planned by Gelb. On opening night, the audience met this bold risk with lusty booing, expressing its preference for the old Franco Zeffirelli production, in all its sweeping grandeur, which Gelb had retired. By accounts, Bondy's was weird. And didn't adhere to every Tosca tradition. In short, it was different. And the uptown opera-conservatives didn't like it.

Well, the bluehairs have been heard. The Met is seriously considering bringing the Zeffirelli production back.

Continue reading »

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The First, Best after-the-fact French Resistance Propaganda Film

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Since November 18, MoMA has been screening films in a series called "Best Years: Going to the Movies, 1945-46". Making a claim for any art form's peak year(s) is always a subjective (and slightly pointless) exercise, but it's the going to the movies part that may have reached a definitive peak of excitement and fascination in those years of transition from the all-consuming war effort to the confusing comedown of peace. There's a varying degree of propaganda in each film here, whether it's the paranoia in a straightforward noir (The Dark Corner), the parental scare tactics of Where Are Your Children?, or the blatant pro-Bolshevik absurdity of The North Star. Russian and Swiss films share space with the U.S. productions, and an American-British co-production, The True Glory (co-directed by Carol Reed), is as powerful, educating, and moving as propaganda gets. The series is presented in tandem with the release of a book by the same title, by Charles and Mirella Jona Affron, who have introduced several of the screenings.

Mr. Affron introduces today’s showing of one of the most interesting films in the series, Rene Clement's The Battle of the Rails. This first feature from the director of Forbidden Games, Purple Noon, and Is Paris Burning? was directly sponsored by French Resistance veterans, and it's a stirring and shamelessly biased portrayal of deliberate sabotage performed by French railworkers to cripple the occupying forces.

Continue reading »

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Your Annual Joni Mitchell Tearjerking Moment

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Yeah, I'm probably guilty of doing this just a little too much, but fuck you—I am the Admiral of this magazine (just make sure you don't watch this... shudder). Here, then, is Joni Mitchell's sad-ass Christmas lament, "River." And yes, I am going to make a lot of some a little money and quit this crazy scene.

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Indie Rock Stereotypes: Be Prepared to Laugh, But Then Don't

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 2:08 PM

You know who likes TV on the Radio? Politically correct hipsters. Because there are black people in the band! And you know who likes Grizzly Bear? People who think that world hunger could be assuaged with four part harmonies. Because, um, there are often harmonies in Grizzly Bear's songs! (Seriously, look at the photo: they're singing at the same time.) And you know who likes Spoon? Bros who drink shitty beer without ironic intentions. Because... I have no idea why, actually! Ha ha!

These are but a few of the hilarious entries in Flavorwire's "Stereotyping People by Their Favorite Band" feature, which is a must-read for indie-rock fans in much the same Rent was a must-see for for people who lived on the Lower East Side in the 80s, or the way Everybody Loves Raymond is an endless source of hilarity for anyone who's ever been married.

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Memo to Steven Soderbergh: Stop Making Stuff!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Im soooo tired
  • "I'm soooo tired"
Steven Soderbergh directed 13 features this decade, as well as a short film and 10 episodes of K Street. He served as his own cinematographer on most of those, edited about half and wrote one or two. He also served as executive producer for two television shows, 22 other features (that he did not direct!), and served as plain old producer on another two. And we used to be impressed when Woody Allen directed a movie a year!

But honestly, the strain is showing in his work; this year, both The Informant! and The Girlfriend Experience, whatever their other virtues, felt hastily conceived and executed. He already has another film in the can (a Spalding Gray documentary), according to IMDb, while in production on another (for which he's serving as cinematographer, of course) and pre-production on yet another. And he's a producer or executive producer on four other movies in production or pre-production.

What else? He's in Australia, directing a play that he wrote.

Continue reading »

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Adam Duritz and Vanessa Carlton Once Tried to Murder Joni Mitchell

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Holy fuck. [F2K at Sound of the City]

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Robin Wood, Film Critic, 1931-2009

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Robin Wood, who died on Friday aged 78, was primarily of the world of academic film studies, but he started writing for movie magazines before the discourse of film criticism became as tiered as it is now, and the effortless force of his prose, his idiosyncratic personal voice and frequently combative opinions carried over quite well, and popularly, to the most mainstream highbrow film discussions—he's up there with Stanley Cavell, David Bordwell, all guys you probably haven't heard of unless you maintain an interest in long-form, rigorous film criticism, but whose writing can, I submit, easily find a toehold in your consciousness.

He also, quite inadvertently I'm sure, dictated my approach to film criticism, and my outlook as the editor of the L's film section.

Continue reading »

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Julian Casablancas Joins Jimmy Fallon for "I Wish It Was Christmas Today"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Julian Casablancas' cover of Saturday Night Live holiday song "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" hit the internet a few months ago, and last night, he stopped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to play it live, alongside its original performers, Horatio Sanz and Fallon himself. The most magical thing about Christmas? It makes me not want to beat up Jimmy Fallon.

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Do You Hear What I Hear? (I'm Hearing the Jim O'Rourke Record The Visitor)

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 10:34 AM

I don't know if, after writing this, I've just got all of Camp Wilco on the brain or what, but on my way into work this morning, I listened to Jim O'Rourke's The Visitor, his first album since 2001's beautiful, underrated Insignificance. Released earlier this year—on CD and vinyl only, no MP3s—it consists of a single 38-minute instrumental track, which O'Rourke recorded by himself in his Tokyo apartment. A bedroom-pop record it's not, though. The sound is pristine, and the music is a glorious mix of everything we've come to expect from O'Rourke over the years: guitar-playing more elegant than anything the American indie scene has ever been able to offer, delicate jazz-influenced drums and piano, countless changes in tempo, and a ability like none other to make you feel like you're really inside something as you listen. It's probably not the type of record you'll throw on while doing the dishes or working at your desk, but next time you can carve out 38 minutes for dedicated listening, you should give it a shot. Also, New Year's Resolution: carve out more 38-minute chunks of time for dedicated listening.

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MTA's Christmas Gift Comes Barrelling Down Giant Rock Tunnel in Midtown

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 9:52 AM

Giant Drill Robot
While everyone and their rent-controlled grandmother complains about the Second Avenue subway's much delayed and over-budget construction destroying their neighborhood, killing their businesses and swallowing up kittens, there's another subway tunnel snaking gingerly under Midtown and into the no-mans-land between Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea (future site of corporate-condo ugliness).

Yesterday the Observer reported that the 7 Line extension from Times Square to the steps of our hideous convention center and the future site of the Hudson Yards development had taken a giant leap forward with the giant rock-chewing drill piercing through to the cavern at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue. Better yet, there's video (after the jump), and it looks like one of the digging sequences from Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Continue reading »

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Fuck Peter Schjeldahl

Posted By on Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 8:59 AM

But man can that guy talk about how much he, personally, loves the Dutch masters!
  • But man can that guy talk about how much he, personally, loves the Dutch masters!
In the current, year-end issue of the The New Yorker, the magazine's art critic, who is as a rule hostile to the point of contemptuous to all art evincing even the faintest familiarity with art history or criticism, closes his condescending rave (increasingly a speciality, he compliments modern installation artists or painters for the way their work, aesthetically offensive to him personally, wittily reflects the essentially bankrupt nature of modern art) of MoMA's Gabriel Orozco retro with this:

Pleasure is the only trusty teacher and guarantor of seriousness in art. Why is that so easy to forget?

Well, because it's not true.

And because, even if it were true—which, again, no—saying so aloud would mostly serve to give the incurious a further excuse to rigidify their already limited frame of reference.

As a cri de guerre stated unusually bluntly in the year-end double issue especially, this reads like a bitter parting salvo and statement of purpose from a guy who knows he's just filed his last column. Christ, I hope so.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Video Game Irrefutably to Blame for Child Ignoring His Mother

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 5:14 PM

video games kill
A Boston family's precious happiness was recently corrupted by A VIDEO GAME. Yes, a Boston mother had to call 911 to get police to come to her house and persuade her 14-year-old boy to stop playing Grand Theft Auto. Friendly officer Joe Zanoli was quoted as saying: " no means is it surprising, especially in today's day and age when these kids play video games and computer games." Up until the very point the teenager began playing the game, the whole family had enjoyed a calm, harmonious and exceedingly civil existence. And then video games ruined everything. You'll see, they'll ruin you, too.

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Internet Decides That Asher Roth Is Gay

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Asher Roth
The hip-hop rumor mill has been spinning extra fast lately with various conflicting reports that Asher Roth, the Morrisville, Pennsylvania-born and raised Diet Coke version of Eminem, has come out, or will do so during an upcoming appearance on a holiday special on E!News, particularly after he voiced his support of American Idol contestant Clay Aiken and appeared at a pride parade. Many point out that the idea of him being gay isn't terribly surprising, and that Roth's claims to straightness in his lyrics have always been of a fairly tokenistic, frat-ish sort. Plus, if you check his Wikipedia page, there's an excerpt of an interview with Vibe, wherein he explains that he first got into rap when he heard the "Annie" sample in Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life", and as far as tokenistic indicators of sexual inclination go, well, showtunes=gay.

But now DJ Vlad, the Executive Vice President of Roth's label, SRC/Universal, has released a statement explaining that Roth is neither gay, nor will he be appearing on E!News. The statement also makes clear that the MC won't be dropped from the label, which many claimed was the case in light of his coming out. All of which is to say that it's still not okay to be a gay mainstream rapper, and until Kanye comes out MCs will just have to remain obediently closeted .

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