Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year from Shirley MacLaine and the Rest of Us at The L Magazine

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Shut up and deal. See you in 2012.

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How Your Champagne Gets Made

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Wow your friends with your new-found champagne expertise ("champertise") as you knock back the flutes this weekend, thanks to this short educational video about bubbly.


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The Best Fireworks Display You'll See All Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 11:41 AM

(Courtesy Cai Studio; Photo by Lin Yi)
  • (Courtesy Cai Studio; Photo by Lin Yi)

Earlier this month the Chinese art star Cai Guo-Qiang—who you may know from his 2008 retrospective at the Guggenheim, or that time he blew up the facade of the Philadelphia Museum of Art—continued his long series of fireworks art projects at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha. The gunpowder fanatic's new exhibition there, Saraab, opened with his most ambitious "explosion event" to date...

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Preadolescents in Space! Joe Dante's Explorerers Screens This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 10:35 AM

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has an ongoing series of family films (with $6 admissions for all!). On New Year's Day, and again on the 7th, they're showing Joe Dante's boys-in-space flick Explorers, with Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.

In this 1985 kiddy adventure flick, director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Matinee) celebrates a child's vivid imagination by making a boy's dream of a computer motherboard that eventually guides a home-made rocket ship into outer space—the whole thing is highly eccentric and uniquely disjointed, lumpy but frequently arresting. We are, after all, talking about a movie where a menacing-looking stop motion robot molests a young Ethan Hawke for a few uncomfortable seconds, just to steal a picture of the teenage girl next door he keeps in his back pocket.

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The Iron Lady: Team Margaret

Posted By and on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Are we at the Kodak Theatre yet?
  • "Are we at the Kodak Theatre yet?"
Hey, it’s Mutual Oscarbation, our awards season feature in which Benjamin Sutton and Henry Stewart find out during what sorts of movies Academy members are voting for conservatives. This week they almost forget why Margaret Thatcher was so awful in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady.

Hey, Henry, imagine if Meryl Streep's Margaret Thatcher hooked up with Leonardo DiCaprio's J. Edgar Hoover: they'd have some insanely paranoid, insatiably power-hungry, infuriatingly clean and proper, quasi-incestuously adoring kids, don't you think? Just as Clint Eastwood posited Edgar's closeness to his mother as one of the catalysts for his closeted, Commie-outing career, Phyllida Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan suggest that Maggie's union-busting, Argentina-fighting, immigrant-distrusting dynasty was sparked in large part by her reverence for her grocery store owner father. Whereas Eastwood's Hoover sought to conceal his more feminine or effete traits, Lloyd's Thatcher constantly has to balance the masculine bravado demanded by her political career with her increasingly marginal domestic duties. Streep manages this tightrope walk just as well as you'd expect her to, punctuating Maggie's cool severity with tactical motherly deployments—as when she asserts her familiarity with the plight of her increasingly displeased people by naming the prices of various dairy products, or tells her cabinet-members to suck in their guts for a group photo. Henry, what did you make of The Iron Lady's portrayal of Thatcher as Founding Mother of modern England?

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

New York Wins the Year in Music, Geographically Speaking

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 2:32 PM

For a different way of looking at year-end lists, a guy by the name of Patrick Adler, a doctoral student at UCLA studying urban planning, attributed a locational "base of operations" to each artist on Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks list (with the exception of Tiger & Woods — too mysterious). Every city where an artist or band is based received two points; for those tracks involving a collaboration of artists from different cities, the points were divided appropriately. Well, well, well, guess which city racked up the most points in the end? Eau Claire, Wisconsin, home of Bon Iver!

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On Laura, the Greatest of All Necro-Noirs, at Film Forum Starting Tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 10:39 AM

Tomorrow, and continuing through the 6th, Film Forum revives Otto Preminger's Laura.

Interviewed in 1965, Otto Preminger said his forthcoming Bunny Lake Is Missing would be “the first suspense story I’ve made in a long, long time, about 20 years.” That would make his last thriller 1945’s well-received Fallen Angel, thereby discreetly omitting two less popular films: the fascinating if half-cocked 1949 Whirlpool (Vertigo in embryo, with Jose Ferrer in full sinister-eccentric mode) and 1950’s Where The Sidewalk Ends, Preminger’s third teaming (of five) with Dana Andrews, the stoic star of Laura. Where his laconic intensity once marked him as the hero in a world of gibbering fools, in Sidewalk Andrews's hostile silences are a sign of dangerous compression. Both films are more ragged than Laura and consequentially undervalued; they deserve reappraisal, since they (along with 1952’s Angel Face and Bunny Lake) represent the entirety of Preminger’s reworkings of the film genre that, in 1944, made his career.

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Wall Street Bull Kept Behind Barricades Despite Community Pleas

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 9:46 AM

The Wall Street Bull behind barricades.
  • The Wall Street Bull behind barricades.

In the wake of November's Occupy Wall Street eviction from nearby Zuccotti Park, the famed "Charging Bull" sculpture by Arturo Di Modica at Bowling Green Park has been surrounded by NYPD barricades, and local community members are calling for its freedom. The formerly illegal sculpture's ongoing incarceration, many fear, is driving tourists away from the area and consequently depriving local businesses of many holiday sales.

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Found: Brooklyn's First Hipster at Naval Hospital Ca. 1920

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 8:57 AM

(Courtesy Building 92)
  • (Courtesy Building 92)

Yesterday the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center, Building 92, posted four new photos to its Facebook page that will somehow be incorporated into a new series of works by the Navy Yard-based artist Thomas Witte. Among the archival photos is what may be the earliest documented sighting of the Breuckelen hipstosapian, or Brooklyn hipster.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jens Lekman Has Skype Conversation With His 17-Year-Old Self

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Love your hair. Really? Yes.
  • "Love your hair." "Really?" "Yes."
Celebrated Swedish crooner Jens Lekman posted a tender little inner monologue to his website on Christmas Day, an imagined Skype conversation with his teenage self (pictured). The past and present's exchange was full of hair compliments and relationship wisdom, but also mentioned that the present Lekman will be putting the finishing touches on his new 2012 full-length in the next month. The record, present Lekman says, is written about post-relationship healing, both for the heartbroken and heartbreaker, as well as for people who "wake up choking under the sheets of relationships." "Sounds boring and middle-aged," said teenage Lekman. "It probably is [sic] but hey, I'm not seventeen anymore," replied current Lekman. You can read the whole adorable exchange in the entry for Dec. 25 here.

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Take Me Home, Country Roads: IFC Center Brings Back Studio Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM

IFC Center is in the midst of a comprehensive retrospective of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, including several of their rarer titles. Tonight, and again this weekend and next week, is 1995's Whisper of the Heart.

By now, we tend to know what follows after our heroine, a wide-eyed ingénue with quick wit and fiery temper, chances to meet a mysterious stranger on the train… Of course, since Yoshifumi Kondō’s Whisper of the Heart is a Studio Ghibli production, written by Hayao Miyazaki, the stranger is an fat, imperious cat—and the heroine, Shizuku Tsukishima, hasn’t hit high school. What comes of their first encounter both is and isn’t expected: there’s the bookish young girl’s coming of age story with its requisite magical interludes, but also a complex and solidly real world drawn around it—a family works and bickers in a cluttered apartment, crushes are announced and world-endingly denied, childhood ambitions begin to coalesce into something recognizably adult and palpably difficult. John Denver’s “Country Roads” is performed several times by Japanese schoolgirls. And all of this, “Country Roads” included, is painted and gorgeous—Tokyo exurbs twinkling at night, cypresses, stacks and stacks of books, and a boy stooped over a worktable, carving violins.

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Your Weekend Catching Up with Several of Last Week's Many Christmas Releases

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Gonna make all that 9/11 pain go away baby.
  • Gonna make all that 9/11 pain go away baby.
I'm still catching up with (writing about) movies piling into theaters in the final seven days of the year. Studios, did you not hear that they moved the Oscars up by a month like, five years ago now?

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Maybe this will be the turning point that will have me re-evaluating the 100% Oscar-nominated cinema of Stephen Daldry, but at the moment, Daldry is the number one reservation I have about this movie (Jonathan Safran Foer's possible douchebaggery running second, with Sandra Bullock a distant third). It's about a kid trying to solve the mystery of a key left behind by his father (Tom Hanks) who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and there must be something to this material that got Hanks, Bullock, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, John Goodman, and Max von Sydow involved; they can't all have been expecting Oscars, right? I do like that they kept the original title, because come on, there's a pretty good chance someone lobbied to rename this Loud and Close or possibly just LC.

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City Council Resolutions for 2012: More Bike Law Enforcement

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Not the type of bike targeted by the latest NYPD crackdown.
  • Not the type of bike targeted by the latest NYPD crackdown.

Almost exactly a year ago, discussing a just-launched NYPD crackdown on cyclists, we wrote:

The goal was to penalize violators of the most basic laws, like running red lights or going down one-way streets in the wrong direction. Neither a temporary push nor a ticket quota-backed effort, the NYPD planned to simply start enforcing laws that had gone unobserved for the decades during which the city left cyclists to fend for themselves.

12 months later we're in for more of the same, with City Council Transportation Committee chairman James Vacca telling the Post: "I get a lot of phone calls and a lot of concerns about rogue bicyclists."

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Ab Ex Painter Helen Frankenthaler, 1928-2011

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Helen Frankenthaler in her Upper East Side studio in 1964. (Courtesy SFMoMA)
  • Helen Frankenthaler in her Upper East Side studio in 1964. (Courtesy SFMoMA)

Renowned painter Helen Frankenthaler, who rose to prominence in the New York art world in the early 50s and remained an influential artist in the Abstract Expressionist and color field movements, died on Tuesday at her home in Darien, Connecticut at age 83. Her studio assistant said that the native New Yorker succumbed after a long battle with an unspecified illness.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Six Nissan Leaf Vehicles to Pilot NYC Electric Taxi Program

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 1:42 PM

In the spring of 2012, one type of "taxi of tomorrow" will be making its debut on city streets. The city is to receive six Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicles (EVs) to pilot an electric taxi program, only three of which will be available at any given time.

In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced that all New York City taxis would be hybrids by 2012, and since, Ford has closed production of the Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car, the traditional taxis we know well. Four kinds of hybrid taxis have already been introduced to the streets, now making up 35 percent of the fleet, but the Nissan Leaf will be the first all-electric taxi of its kind.

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Buy One Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Get One Girls Ticket Free

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:51 PM

  • Pooneh Ghana
Matador, you are the Willy Wonka of record labels. The Matablog announced this morning that they've teamed up with five independent record stores in the city (three of which are in Brooklyn) to offer free tickets to Girls' Jan. 14 show at Terminal 5 with every purchase of the album. The one qualifier is that they're only doing this while supplies last, and that won't be very long at all. Girls' Father, Son, Holy Ghost has now showed up on a number of 2011 album favorites lists, as well as number on on our own top 25 albums this year. Record shops participating are Other Music, Generation Records, Sound Fix, Permanent Records and Academy Annex. The Matablog says they've only got a handful of tickets left, so, go on, git 'em!

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Talking Family Therapy, Color Palettes, and Out Teenagers with Pariah Director Dee Rees

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:03 PM

After a brief post-college career in marketing, Nashville native Dee Rees returned to college to major in film at NYU. She wrote the script for Pariah, which recently won her a Breakthrough Director prize from the Gotham Independent Film Awards, while interning on her professor and mentor Spike Lee’s Inside Man. I talked to her earlier this month in the Waldorf Hotel; Pariah, the coming-out story of an African-American lesbian in Fort Greene, opens tomorrow.

I was interested to read that Toni Morrison and Toni Cade Bambara were two of your favorite authors, since they’re favorites of mine too. What do you like about them in particular?
They write about coming of age in a different way, and identity and self and what is home. Their characters always had internal conflict. For me growing up, those were the stories that made me feel like I was not by myself.

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Cat Power Packs a Punch in Music Video for "King Rides By"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 8:59 AM

  • David Black
What do Chan Marshall and Filipino boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao have in common? The two teamed up for Marshall's latest release as Cat Power on Christmas Eve, as Marshall promised to her Twitter followers earlier in the week. The seven-minute track features minimal instrumentation—percussive strikes on a heavily delayed electric guitar, a steady kickdrum and subdued bass. The drama of Marshall's vocals stands out especially in this kind of isolation, just as the music video's isolated fix on Pacquiao's slow motion punching bag practice reveals the intensity and meditation of the melodies. "King Rides By" is the first new track we've heard from Cat Power since her last album from 2006, The Greatest, after which she told Rolling Stone she wanted to play all the instruments on the next record herself. If you go to the Cat Power site to download an mp3, all donations go to the Festival of Children Foundation, a partnership of children's charities, and The Ali Forney Center, which provides housing for homeless LGBT youth. Watch the video after the jump.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy St. Stephen's Day from Tom Jones and the Rest of Us at The L Magazine

Posted By on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Good King Wenceslas, it is said, was a Bohemian (not bohemian) nobleman who went out on the Feast of Stephen—St. Stephen's Day, December 26—to distribute gifts to the poor. (Often, on St. Stephen's Day and after, "Christmas boxes" are distributed to the poor or to tradesmen; this is likely the etymology behind Boxing Day, the bank holiday observed on the first weekday following Christmas in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.) But you don't have to take my word for it, not when strapping young muttonchopped Tom Jones and a Welsh men's choir are here to fill you in:

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If You Only Listen to One Post-Christmas Holiday Song...

Posted By on Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Let it be this one. A raucous, riling cover of Beat Happening's "Christmas" by local garage rockers Shark? Hope you guys had a good one.

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