Friday, January 28, 2011

Oscarbartion: The King's Speech Americanizes the M-m-m-m-Monarchy!

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 9:39 AM

The Kings Speech
Hey, it’s Mutual Oscarbation, our awards season feature in which Benjamin Sutton and Henry Stewart find out what sorts of movies Academy members are watching over the wireless. This week they discuss Tom Hooper's The King's Speech while everyone else discusses a different king's speech.

Hey, Stewart, did you notice that The King's Speech is basically a sports movie? Except unlike, say, Invictus—which displaced the tensions of its political plot onto the rugby pitch for superior catharsis—Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler fuse the two, turning politics into sport. Bertie (Colin Firth), future King George VI, is on the Royals, who've just lost George V (Michael Gambon) to career-ending dementia and are about to lose Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) to free agency. Bertie has until the fourth quarter/third period/twelfth round/final inning to overcome his handicap—an embarrassing speech impediment. To this end he has a coach (Geoffrey Rush, executive producing as well) with whom he shares training montages and ring-side/sideline strategy meetings. Their objective, beyond the "mechanical" stuff of fixing his voice-box, is to prepare microphone-shy Bertie for the first big speech of his reign. But isn't the larger goal to make the ascendant king more convincing in his performance of proper Britishness, especially after his younger brother signs with the more modern, less morally scrupulous U.S. franchise?

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Your Mechanical, Kabooming Weekend at the Movies

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 8:54 AM

The Mechanic: My review covers what's going on with this movie, so I'll use this space for something simpler, more elemental: when I got home after this screening, my wife asked me how The Mechanic was and, knowing my devotion in this area, how it compared to other Jason Statham movies. My instinct was to put it right in the middle, but then I thought about it. [Holy hell did he think about it! After the jump to see how much Jesse thought about it, and to what he thought about other things. -Ed.]

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Post Gets Lazy With Latest Anti-Bike Attack

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 4:16 PM

snow bike
As Gothamist points out, today's mandatory bit of anti-bike sentiment from the Post is even lazier than the last. (Could this be a sign that the recent glut of bike wars news is coming to an end, please?) Rather than soliciting another rant from Steve Cuozzo they let three readers weigh in, one of whom tells of the dangers of cycling in the Bronx, while an Upper East Sider reports that the bike law crackdown isn't doing much deterring, but not before G. Davis of Staten Island makes his opinions on bike ridership known.

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City to Double Recreation Fees for Public Parks

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Ah, the luxury!
  • Ah, the luxury!
Because parks ensure that everyone, regardless of wealth or social position, has access to leisure activities, ensuring a happier and more socially engaged populace, the NYC Parks Department has proposed steep hikes in recreation fees for city tennis courts, indoor pools, baseball fields, and basketball courts, the Brooklyn Paper reports.

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Live: British Buzz Band Yuck Makes It to America

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Live at Glasslands
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snowstorms are a bitch. So is being a buzzed-about British band and having to cancel your CMJ appearance last fall and then your Mercury Lounge show earlier this week because of visa issues. The upside, I suppose, is that getting yourself to the venue is in itself a triumph — whether you're in the band or one of the hundreds that packed Glasslands last night to see them. It definitely doesn’t hurt either party, though, when the band in question sounds like the consolidation of every college-radio act you loved from the 90s and sings a song called “Coconut Bible.”

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Literary Upstart 2011: Meet Your Judges

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Literary Upstart, our annual short-story competition and reading series, is now accepting submissions—it's a snow day, what are you waiting for, here are the guidelines—and, as we gear up for the first reading, in March, we're proud to announce the judges for this year's competition.

Our Distinguished and Frequently Sober Panel of Literary Insiders will, as they do every year, assess the literary quality (and performance) of each of the stories, and pronounce their judgments at the readings, in sessions equal parts Maoist self-criticism and American Idol (but friendlier than either). We value them for their wit and wisdom, and so should you. There are five returning judges, and one new addition to the panel, which is:

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Have You Seen This Crazy New Space Tank Building in Bushwick?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 1:10 PM

The Wyckoff Exchange

There's a new something at 22 Wyckoff Avenue—the Bushwick block bounded by Northeast Kingdom and the Wyckoff Starr—or, rather, two old warehouses converted and transformed so dramatically that they're unrecognizable. Manhattan-based firm Andre Kikosi Architect turned the space formerly occupied by Rong Cheng U.S.A. Trading Inc. into the dramatic steel-fronted fortress above, The Wyckoff Exchange.

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Snow Day Pics: The Sculpted Snow Creatures of Brooklyn

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM

The buses aren't running and the schools are closed for only the seventh time in almost 35 years. And it's officially the snowiest January on record! What can a Brooklynite do but make fun snow sculptures? (And what else could a snowed-in blogger do but show you pictures of them?)

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O'Death Announce New Album, Release Lead Single, "Bugs"

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Hidden on the news page as one of the stories that never quite got the honor of a homepage headline, we find a Pitchfork exclusive revealing the details of a new album by "raucous folk-rock outfit" and longtime L Mag favorites O'Death. It's called simply Outside, and it's set for an April 19th release on Ernest Jenning, the same label that released the band's debut full-length, Head Home, before they set sail for a surprisingly brief, one-album stint on Kemado Records. Pitchfork also has an MP3 of opening track "Bugs," which you can download here. Fear not: it bears zero resemblance to the Pearl Jam song of the same name and in fact has us quite excited to hear the rest of the record. Do give it a listen, please.

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Manhattan Murder Mystery, Allen's Chabrol Homage, Precedes an All-Star Woody Panel Tonight

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM

L contributor Miriam Bale has curated a "Before and After Woody" mini-series at 92YTribeca, which begins tonight and continues tomorrow. Tonight, there'll be a panel featuring The L's Nicolas Rapold, the New Yorker's Richard Brody, Brody's sometime internet nemesis Christian Lorentzen of n+1 and the Observer, Columbia film-theory professor Nico Baumbach, and Moveline critic Stephanie Zacharek. But before this surely epic panel, you can enjoy Woody's first Late Film, Manhattan Murder Mystery.

At a Manhattan flea market: "Are we going to Elaine's Thursday?" "No, Thursday's our Wagner opera."

We're in Woody Allen country. 1993's Manhattan Murder Mystery stars him, again not testing his nonexistent range, and Diane Keaton, and Alan Alda, and the quips are as punchy and frequent as in his best. As if it's an homage to his own Manhattan (1979), it even opens with romantic shots of the New York skyline, though now in color, scored to Cole Porter instead of Gershwin, and looser in the style of immediate predecessor Husbands and Wives. The difference, and the movie's main joke, is the title's two other words. Subtract the primary plot about the married Allen and Keaton’s neighbor possibly being a wife-murderer, and Carol's investigations into the matter, and you'd still have a casual, slickly shot movie about interesting people chatting over wine and salads. The "murder mystery" only wryly gives it a reason for being, gag scaffolding that is, incidentally, tense and involving. It's the closest thing to a Chabrol movie that Allen's made.

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Snowman Watches Over Kenny Scharf's Bowery Mural

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Kenny Scharf Bowery mural has a snowman

Last night one of the many revelers enjoying the fresh snow took a moment to set Kenny Scharf's smiley Bowery mural up with a watchful snowman. Maybe that'll keep it from getting bombed—the security cameras sure aren't doing the trick. Crosstown, meanwhile, Scharf has a solo show opening at Paul Kasmin in Chelsea tonight. (ANIMAL)

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Kanye And Other Celebs Attended George Condo's New Museum Opening Tuesday Night

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 8:56 AM

George Condo, Kanye West and Marc Jacobs at the New Museum

We tweeted our disappointment with Kanye West's absence from the massive wall of portraits that forms the centerpiece of George Condo's solo show at the New Museum (although we're really not into the salon-style hanging, more on which sometime soon), but Kanye made up for his absence in paint by showing up in person for the exhibition's opening on Tuesday evening.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gritty, Stylish, Totally 90s Rube Goldberg Genre Movies at Japan Society's Sabu Series

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Tonight, Japan Society kicks off a retrospective of the independent action-comedy films of Hiroyuki "Sabu" Tanaka—he'll be on hand for the first week of screenings, beginning with Opening Night's Monday, a yakuza-menaced post-hangover recovered-memory piece, and continuing through Friday night's screening of his debut, Non-Stop.

With Non-Stop, from 1996, Sabu tears open the bag of clever, self-aware tricks a certain video store clerk had just brought to the party: like Tarantino, and his imitators from the glamorous Doug Liman of Go to the macho Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sabu orchestrates a convergence of backstories—the movie's an interlocking contraption, cutting back and forth across place and time to show how all these motley, stylish, self-parodic crew of movie types' parallel tracks all take blind turns into the same black-comic showdown.

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Cats Abused from Williamsburg to Coney Island

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 4:33 PM

You can adopt this cute, mistreated cat!
  • You can adopt this cute, mistreated cat!
My cat is surely riding out this blizzard asleep on a kitchen chair (or smacking the dog on the nose). But many of his fellow Brooklyn felines haven't had it as easy this week. Of course, the borough's biggest recent cat news was the horrific discovery of roughly 100 dead, dying and deformed cats in a Williamsburg art studio. But the 50-something couple living in that garbage- and feces-covered loft (the Daily News has photos!), stuffed with blind and dehydrated animals, aren't bad people, a neighbor told the Brooklyn Paper. "They just wanted to take care of the neighborhood cats," he said, "but things got way out of hand because the cats kept having kittens." Cats will do that. (They're like Fantasia!)

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Alt-Country Pioneer Charlie Louvin Died, So Let's Listen to a Couple of Songs

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Charlie Louvin, who with his brother Ira and then as a solo artist wrote and recorded gospel-influenced country songs with sweet, simple harmonies and often dire lyrics, died today; he was 83 and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

The Louvin Brothers, who split up as a recording act shortly before the troubled Ira's 1965 death in a car crash, were a notable cult act for a couple generations of very influential Americana crate-diggers. In 1968, Gram Parsons prevailed upon the hippies in the Byrds to cover the Louvins' "Christian Life" on their seminal country album Sweetheart of the Rodeo:

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And Now Here is a Video of Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino Playing Drums to "We Will Rock You"

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 3:07 PM

For the record, Bethany, it's "Buddy you're a boy/Make a big noise/Playing in the street/Gonna be a big man some day/Got mud on your face/You big disgrace/Kicking your can all over the place." [Twitter]

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Bay Ridge Threatens Children's Safety to Ward Off Mexicans

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Uh, without snow
  • Uh, without snow
If you've only ever ridden a sled in Prospect Park, you've never been sledding. One of Brooklyn's best spots for skidding down snow is the steep hill in Owl's Head Park, which I repeatedly climbed and rode down on my Flexible Flyer during childhood winters. Lest any other children be able to form precious memories, the city planted trees at the bottom of the slope, creating a "Sonny Bono waiting to happen". Per the Post:

“I was surprised to see the new trees,” [a local resident] said, recalling a bit of local legend about one teen who was paralyzed decades ago after crashing into a tree on the famed suicide hill. “I never thought they would put new ones in over there. They are in a bad spot.”

How bad? The plastic protective fencing around the juvenile trees have already been crushed by sledders. And because the trees are still young, the branches are at the perfect height to injure tots.

The real reason the trees are probably there? I'm betting on racism.

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The Beets Premiere "Watch TV" Video

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 1:39 PM

L Mag favorites The Beets premiered a new video over at Stereogum this morning, for the song "Watch TV" off their very good new album, Stay Home. It features the band performing in a mostly empty room, and that's pretty much it. Still, it manages to be endlessly charming—especially when singer Juan Wauters spends the first 30 seconds or so reading a comic book. If the interview our own Lauren Beck recently conducted with the band is any indication, the explanation for that particular move would likely be something along the lines of, "What? I was just reading a comic book, and some dude told me to stand in front of the camera. I didn't even know we were making a video. I don't even know what videos are, really."

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Tonight's Yuck Show is Still Happening

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM


Well, this is a relief. After having to cancel yesterday's show because of some issues with their visas, UK band Yuck is officially en route to the States, and should be here in time for tonight's show at Glasslands. We'll let you know if anything changes, but if all goes according to plan, we'll be back with a review of the show tomorrow morning.

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Follow @LMagArt on Twitter, Where We Tweet About Art in NYC

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Twitter-themed public art in Soho, a former gallery district in Manhattan.
  • Twitter-themed public art in Soho, a former gallery district in Manhattan.
"When the impulses which stir us to profound emotion are integrated with the medium of expression," Hans Hofmann once said, "every interview of the soul may become art. This is contingent upon mastery of the medium." The L Magazine's art section, having finally mastered the medium of Twitter, has launched @LMagArt, the venue through which we will transmit to you every artful interview of our soul. Or just which openings we'll be attending on a given evening, which museum has landed in hot water for exhibiting a trustee's collection or censoring a controversial artwork, what our writers are reading, which obnoxious art star is behaving badly, and local art news of all sorts. As of this writing we've tweeted six times, only once making a tangential reference to Kanye West, a habit we hope to keep in check. Follow us into the art world.

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