Friday, February 26, 2010

IFC Center's Genius "Bigelow vs. Cameron" Midnight Movie Series Starts Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 4:50 PM

When James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow were married to one another, from 1989-1991, they would slay a boar and eat it for dinner every Thursday night, and then have very loud sex on a carpet shaped like a shooting-range target (Bigelow was always on top). Then they got divorced, but were reunited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who saw fit to nominate both for Best Director this year (Cameron for a virtual-reality movie not dissimilar, as both have acknowledged, to his ex-wife's astounding millennial Rodney King -Tupac-Blade Runner-virtual reality mash-up Strange Days).

So naturally, this weekend, right before the Oscars, IFC Center kicks off an eight-week series of midnight movies, alternating Bigelow and Cameron movies, beginning tonight with Bigelow's adrenal calling-card, Point Break.

While badass women proliferate in Cameron's work—Sig Weaver in Aliens, fellow Cameron ex-wife Linda Hamilton in the Terminator movies—the only two women to have ever held Bigelow's attention for a considerable amount of time are Jamie Lee Curtis (as a rogue cop in Blue Steel), and, in Strange Days, Angela Basset (pictured), who in her sleeveless tops looks like she could probably win an arm wrestling match against an orangutan. Cameron shoots rapturous sex scenes with heavy music and lots of dissolves (and this series won't even screen Titanic, let alone "the ultimate intimacy"); Bigelow shoots brutal rape scenes (including one that demands we stare death in the face, a la Peeping Tom). Both take risks with a seriously passionate, operatic tone which permits a chortling sense of superiority; while both stage epic violence, it feels like fantasy with Cameron, while with Bigelow it feels more like a kinky exploration of the dynamics of power.

The two seem to get on quite well these days, though of course we all enjoy believing otherwise.

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Maybe Locke and Ben Will Get Off The Island And Star in a "TNT-Type Show"

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Well, we could write our OWN show...
  • "Well, we could write our OWN show..."
I wouldn't watch a new show just because an actor from Lost was on it: I only made it one episode into Flashforward, and about ten minutes into the V pilot. But, what if there were two?
Fans who can't/couldn't get enough of Lost's Locke-Linus dynamic may not need to kill themselves after all when the show ends this spring. Terry O'Quinn told TV Guide he has an idea for a new show and is shopping it around.

[It would be ] a TNT-type show [ha ha — ed.] that would pair him back up with his real-life chum and on-screen foe, Michael Emerson (Ben) - as suburban hit men juggling family issues. Though Terry asked [us] not to spill show specifics, he has spoken with Lost creator J.J. Abrams about the project and says, “I really hope this works out because Michael would be in his prime in this. We’d play kind of awkward partners.”

“It’s very sweet of him,” says Michael. “I’m all in favor of it. Any reason to work with Terry again.”

TNT-esque or not, I'm, also, all in favor of it. Emerson and O'Quinn have the best TV rapport since Seinfeld and Alexander. [A.V. Club]

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Why I Don't Feel Bad Rooting for the United States Mens Hockey Team

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Jonny’s been uncharacteristically forthcoming about his fears and expectations regarding the Canadian hockey team’s quest for gold in the Olympics, and I have the utmost respect or his plight, the plight of his entire country. But as I sit on my couch (thank you, snow) watching the U.S. team jump out to a 3-0 (holy shit, now 4-0…wtf, now 5-0…6-0, this is ridiculous and I actually feel bad) first period lead in their semi-final game against Finland, something occurred to me: When it comes to hockey, the United States basically is Canada, or at least the Canada that exists in every aspect of life that does not involve hockey. It’s at best the fourth most popular sport here, behind football, baseball and basketball—and possibly even, in pockets of the country, lacrosse—which makes the people who care about it, and god knows the people who play it, feel like outsiders and underdogs on an international level and in their own country. So, while I have no reason to root against the Canadian team (except, perhaps, for the whiny, overrated Martin Brodeur who faced somewhere around 15 shots a game for most of his career, thanks to the 10-plus years the Devils spent trapping/destroying hockey’s image), it’s also worth pointing out that rooting for the U.S. hockey team, you don’t have that guilty feeling you always get when you know you’re rooting for a superpower, like the U.S. snowboarding team or the Yankees. For two weeks every four years, we leave that to our friendly neighbors to the north.

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Your 2010 Whitney Biennial: All in the Details

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Aurel Schmidt
The Whitney Biennial, the most important recurring art exhibition in New York City celebrating its 75th iteration this year, opened its 2010 edition on Wednesday, and though it's no doubt better than 2008's show, its greatest pleasures are often very subtle. Often, not always, as with early winner by some accounts, self-taught 27-year-old Aurel Schmidt, whose contribution, "The Fall" (detail pictured), is a seven-foot-tall minotaur with cotton candy fur, a cigarette butt exoskeleton, a six-pack of Bud for abs and PBR bottle caps for eyes.

One of my favorite works ("favorite" is maybe not the best word here) was an incredibly visceral, gripping and devastating series of photographs by Nina Berman of an Iraq war vet completely disfigured by a roadside bomb, back at home with his fiancee. He's a man without a face (not to mention one of his arms), at once feature-less and unmistakable, re-inserted more or less conspicuously into the suburban American landscape.

Continue reading »

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My Only Paranoid Fear is on the Rise: New Yorkers Getting Hit by Subways

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 2:57 PM

evil train
Obviously, no one would want to get hit by a subway, but I've long had an active fear of being pushed in front of one by a mentally ill person. There is something exceedingly banal about the idea of just standing on the platform one minute and then having your existence snuffed out the next by the completely random act of a crazy person; it presents a level of meaningless to life that I don't enjoy contemplating.

So this recent Daily News story, about a rash of subway deaths, is not going to help me relax. Eight people in the last 13 days have been hit by subway cars, four of whom have died. Some were suicides, some accidents and one was the old "I dropped my iPod."

So yeah, I'll be taking the bus home tonight, through the snow.

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FREE BOOZE! Art Events Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Michelle Forsyth at Hogar Collection
The Great Pop-Up Art Sale! exhibition and benefit art sale with works available for as low as $50 at the Dumbo Arts Center, 30 Washington St (between Water and Plymouth Sts), 6-9pm

Robert A. A. Lowe and Rose Lazar's drawn out and elongated limbs at By and By, 522 Grand St (between Union and Lorimer Sts), 6-9pm
Michelle Forsyth's beady, techno-pointilist nature compositions (pictured) at Hogar Collection, 362 Grand St (at Myrtle), 6-9pm
Susan Newmark's post-feminist collages at Figureworks, 168 N 6th St (between Bedford and Driggs Aves), 6-9pm
Thomas Broadbent, Emily Roz and Patricia Smith work on and about paper in Space of Mind at Front Room, 147 Roebling St (between Metropolitan Ave and Hope St), 7-9pm

Continue reading »

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Governor Paterson to Conclude Two-Year Statewide Pity Party This Afternoon

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Well, that happened.
  • Well, that happened.
So, having exhausted the pity of voters sympathetic to the plight of a career party hack elevated to the office of Governor—where he talked about his coke use and affairs, fumbled an annoying Senate appointment, watched a guy in a toga orchestrate a coup in the already dysfunctional Senate, boldly brought a quixotic gay marriage vote to the floor, dug in for a horrific budget crisis not of his own making, endured a shadow campaign from a more powerful intraparty rival, waited out rumors and false alarms, I mean jesus christ—David Paterson, who seems like a nice guy, really he does, announces he won't run for governor when his current term is up at the end of the year.

So, meet the next governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo. He used to be a real dick, but he's not anymore, and he's pretty good at his current job. Plus his father was the last governor of New York to not use the power of his office to silence a domestic abuse charge leveled against one of his close aides (or at least fail to stop such a thing from happening), or to fuck whores, or to be George Pataki. So there's that.

If this investigation into his office gets hairy enough that Paterson resigns between now and the Andrew Cuomo administration, your in-the-meantime governor will be former MTA head Richard Ravitch, last seen playing the villain in Style Wars.

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Pavement Re-Learns 40+ Songs for Reunion Tour

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 2:03 PM

The Matablog was updated this afternoon, with a note from Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg, a.k.a. Spiral Stairs, about the band's upcoming reunion tour. He says the recently completed two weeks of rehearsals in Portland, where they re-learned "40 plus" songs, one of which had better be "Give It a Day" or I'm totally selling my tickets for the Central Park shows. For a much larger version of the photo of there to the right, click here, and then marvel at the fact that, even when he's just rehearsing, Stephen Malkmus is still so much cooler than all of us.

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More Reasons to Drink Beer: Science Says So

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 1:33 PM

german beer girls
  • "Beer makes our bones strong!"
I really, truly love it when science tells me my behavior (which would otherwise seem irresponsible) is in fact good for me. To wit: Drinking beer gives you strong bones. Like milk!

Seriously, researchers at UC Davis report that beer is a good source of silicon, which helps to increase mineral density in bones. Hooray! It turns out the secret silicon ingredient is hops, so now I just have to drink more of those delicious healthy, hoppy American beers.

Researchers also suggest that drinking beer makes you fall down sometimes, but that that's ok because beer-drinkers' bones are like titanium. Everybody wins.

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Oscarbation: Avatar is a Movie About How Corporations Orchestrated 9/11, in 3D

Posted By and on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Hey, it’s Mutual Oscarbation, our awards season feature in which Benjamin Sutton and Henry Stewart crawl out of their Netflix envelope-insulated dens and find out during what sorts of movies Academy members are touching tentacles. This week they use James Cameron’s Avatar to infiltrate and sabotage blockbuster and prestige pic politics.

Hiya, Ben! You’ll notice from my chipper greeting that I’m in a good mood, and that’s because I liked Avatar! Even if that means I’m “basically a tween”. I think it’s wickedly subversive that the number one movie ever (not adjusted for inflation, thus meaningless) is about a marine who rejects the American Army and joins up with The Terrorists. Because, obviously, that’s what the film’s tall, blue tribesmen are; Cameron makes the allegories blatant, with the American contractors harvesting an energy source from lands occupied by indigenous peoples unimpressed by the occupiers’ school-building efforts. (Well, there are parallels to the American Indian genocide, too, natch.) When the Earthlings destroy the Na’vis’ “Hometree” (groan), it evoked the felling of the Twin Towers, driving home the suggestion that the Americans are “terrorists,” too.

Continue reading »

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XXL Freshmen Class of 2010 Revealed, Very Safe, Disappointing

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 12:05 PM

XXL freshman class 2010
One of the last standing rap magazines, XXL, has this annual tradition of picking 10 up-and-coming MCs who will be the next big things, a list which is always a little bloated as if in recognition that they'll probably only get thirty to fifty percent of the picks right. So last year, we got prescient choices like Wale, B.o.B. and Kid Cudi, but also lame-os like Asher Roth, Blu and Ace Hood. The last of the XXL 2010 Freshmen was announced yesterday, and the list goes like so: OJ Da Juiceman, Jay Rock, Donnis, Pill, Big Sean, Freddie Gibbs, Nipsey Hussle, Fashawn, J. Cole and Wiz Khalifa.

This is slightly different from the supposedly leaked list that floated around the internet in December of last year, the most notable change being the omission of Nicki Minaj, who arguably has more buzz than anyone else on this list right now, and whose absence underlines the predictable yet no less disappointing dearth of female MCs on the Freshmen list. That being said, these are all pretty good bets, my personal favorites being Big Sean (a signee to Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music label), J. Cole (who made a big splash with a guest verse on Jay-Z's Blueprint 3), and Donnis who has at least one amazing song that I will use any excuse to listen to again, after the jump.

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New Tom Petty Song "Good Enough" Is Not, Actually

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 11:33 AM

I'm sorry about the joke up there in the headline, but it's really not a very good song. Hopefully the rest of the forthcoming (and very stupidly titled) Mojo is better, but I do not have high hopes. Listen here, if you absolutely must, or just go here and watch a live performance of "American Girl" from 1978. [Vulture]

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William E. Jones's Archaeological Americana

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Through March 4, Anthology spotlights the films of William E. Jones, beginning tonight at 8pm with Massillon, which screens again on Monday night.

Like other Jones films, Massillon, his debut doc-journal, plays as archaeological excavation and quintessential Americana. The images are mostly a series of Benning-like portraits of frontier suburbia, the skeletons of local life—swing sets, factories, and rows of houses—against mountains, forests, skies, matched by sounds of chirping birds and highway cars. The main soundtrack, as if exorcising the demons behind the repressive walls of the sunny visuals, is Jones recalling personal encounters growing up gay, not wanting to go to church, and middle-school wrestling matches, then discussing the etymology of gay legal terms: these are rendered in the guileless American vernacular of high school hallways and dairies and Paterson that is as clear in intent as it is beguiled by reason. Jones can sound like Encyclopedia Brown documenting his own sex life; his cold, protective pose, in image and voice, is always of a mock-scientist, trying to treat his material as dead because it’s not: the accumulation of snapshots has its own mystery in montage and its own weight in personal history as social history—and social history as personal history. A ground-level portrait of American infrastructure leading to and from John Gianvito and Matthew Porterfield—memories, images and words, play the essential architecture—the place it captures with precision is as much Massillon the city as the mindset; Massillon ends by restaging the beginning, many years later, but with a wealth of new connotations: nothing’s been exorcised, but Jones, like the film, ends with some comprehension of how he got to where he started.

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Nudity in Art Still Sort of Shocking, Kinda

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Brian Reed
Brian Reed's exhibition "Through the Heart of It All" at Chair and the Maiden Gallery in the Village opened last week and, according to a piece in the Times yesterday, it didn't take long for someone to complain about the nude in the gallery's front window. This may have something to do with the artwork in question being not some studio painting of a nameless nude model, but rather a real, live nude standing in the window—to be exact, 26-year-old Megan Hanford (pictured).

The Times piece is quick to point out that the complaint didn't come from local residents, Midwestern tourists or art critics who consider the piece an empty and exploitative attempt to generate buzz (though, ahem, there are some of those), but from cops. Hanford is back in the window now—hopefully not developing hypothermia in this weather—the NYPD having lost interest, much like everyone else. Reed's exhibition wraps up on March 21.

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Persecution: Love As Theater of Cruelty

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 9:55 AM

Patrice Chereau's Persecution plays this afternoon and tonight, and again tomorrow afternoon, at Walter Reade Theater as part of the Film Comment Selects series.

Moody building refurbisher Daniel (Romain Duris) is persecuted by a stalker (Jean-Hughes Anglade) who watches him sleep, gets drunk and passes out naked in his place, tacks up photos with Daniel's face scratched out, and proclaims his love for him. But then, everyone persecutes and is persecuted in the latest from the director of Queen Margot and the bracing Gabrielle. A stranger slaps an innocent, pleasant-faced Métropolitain passenger in the first scene, and the abuse continues from there. Daniel loves Sonia (Charlotte Gainsbourg), but she persists in a cruel aloofness. His old friend Michel (Gilles Cohen) is crippled with depression, which manifests itself in his boorish insufferableness. Even the stalker has it pitiably rough—Daniel is remarkably tolerant of him, but isn't above literally kicking him to the curb, too.

Continue reading »

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10 Billionth iTunes Track Downloaded by 71-Year-Old

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Well, if this isn't a sign of the times, I don't know what is. Apple sold its 10 billionth song yesterday, to a 71-year-old man in Woodstock, GA, with a pronounced weakness for Johnny Cash. Retired real estate agent Louie Sulcer downloaded the 1958 Cash single "Guess Things Happen That Way” at just the right moment and was rewarded with a a $10,000 iTunes gift card, as well as phone calls from Apple CEO Steve Jobs and, even more impressively, Roseanne Cash, who had her guitarist husband play the song for Sulcer over the phone. Next time your parents ask you how to attach a Word document to an email, or to tell you that the back button is just suddenly gone, remind them that, in addition to just bothering you, their failure to understand technology potentially cost them $10,000.

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Your Weekend at the Movie with Two Unconvential Police Officers, Who Are Friendly with Each Other

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Cop Out: Kevin Smith playing director-for-hire doesn't make much sense at first glance; even moreso than other writer-directors, his voice is in his writing. In fact, I'd be interested to see Smith write his own cop comedy, like maybe a Clerks on the beat, rather than direct a script by some crummy TV writers. But Smith's point-and-shoot anti-style could, maybe, theoretically bring a certain unpretentious looseness to the buddy-cop genre (and, to be fair, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Jersey Girl, and even Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back did pretty much use "regular" undistinguished but non-distracting camera set-ups; Dogma was the last time he made a movie that felt a little hamstrung by his visual limitations). Supposedly he directed Cop Out as a love-letter to 80s cop movies, which is consistent with the why-not team-up of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. For actual cliche-subversion, though, I suspect we'll have to wait for the Ferrell/McKay cop-buddy movie The Other Guys, coming this summer (and anyway, didn't David Gordon Green already cover this ground sans cops with Pineapple Express?).

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Roots Co-Founder and Fela! Producer ?uestlove Explains Fela Kuti's Legacy

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Legendary hip-hop drummer and producer ?uestlove, best known as one of The Roots' two long-standing members, is an associate producer on the Bill T. Jones-choreographed Broadway musical Fela!, about the life and music of Afrobeat pioneer and activist Fela Kuti. In this recent video essay he talks about the ways that Kuti's life, politics and music have influenced hip-hop culture, from Leaders of the New School up to Mos Def, noting that like the musical pioneer, "hip-hop is extremely familiar with a... polygamy of sorts." (NahRight)

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Liveblogging the Health Care Summit, Part Two (I Can't Stay Away)

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Basically, the only way I can deal with listening to Republicans bend and squirm and not say much about anything is to make jokes.

Because only humor can save us from the fire of our anger.

Head behind the jump for an amazing quote from Chuck Grassley. (For this morning's liveblog of a bunch of dudes sitting in a square talking, head here.)

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Charles Grassley Is Aware of All 70s Soul Music Traditions

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 3:45 PM

If peeing your pants was cool, Id be Glenn Miller.
  • "If peeing your pants was cool, I'd be Glenn Miller."
Jonny just brought to my attention this direct quote from Chris Marker's Grinning Cat icon Chuck Grassley, at the interminable healthcare roundtable:

...downtown urban America in the poverty parts of the city...

Which is some real Marvin Gaye-level poetry there, mother mother, ain't no love in the poverty parts of the city. Or you could put a funky backbeat on it, for that Superfly-era Curtis Mayfield feel.

We went on for a while in this vein, Jonny and I did, laughing and chortling and making fun, but then I stopped to consider: it's actually pretty remarkable that when Chuck Grassley slips into an anachronistic vernacular, he betrays a frame of reference that extends all the way up into the mid-70s.

Think about how old all these guys are. Occasionally, something like Ted Stevens's "series of tubes" speech will remind us just how long it's been since these guys were at the age to be up-to-date on popular culture. Why should we expect Ted Stevens to be totally comfortable around the internet, or Chuck Grassley to use up-to-date urban terminology? I still don't know whether my cellphone can take pictures, and I am young enough to be evolved from Ted Stevens.

Chuck Grassley is 76 years old. When Chuck Grassley was my age, he literally had to masturbate to black and white photographs of women in one-piece bathing suits and tiny hats, and maybe the occasional pillowfight kinetoscope.

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