Latest entries

Obama-era Mythologies

12 Years a Slave at the Oscars No wonder Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave seems primed to take the big prize at this year’s Oscars. That anti-art institution serves the purpose of industry self-congratulation rather than expressive achievement. And McQueen’s movie cunningly conforms to Obama-era mythologies. McQueen’s prolonged sequences stretch out events or non-events...
Test-Marketed Sensitivity

Test-Marketed Sensitivity

Jason Reitman should go back to school on Labor Day Labor Day would be laughable if director-screenwriter Jason Reitman wasn’t so clearly in need of a guiding hand. This melodrama from the director of the appallingly snarkastic Juno seems to have been made with a degree of creative freedom. How else could Reitman get away...
Politically Compassionate

Politically Compassionate

Date and Switch prefers friendship to snarkasm Nicholas Braun is my favorite chinless actor. His zygote-like appearance gives visual form to an emotionally-sexually stunted generation of straight men. Fragile as a fetus, Braun’s snarkasm—and comic timing—always doubles as defense for insecurity.   True: Braun is less famous than the iconically chinless Michael Cera. Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim...
A Beacon of Civilization

A Beacon of Civilization

Anne Sofie von Otter in recital with Emanuel Ax   Anne Sofie von Otter, the Swedish mezzo-soprano, gave a recital in Carnegie Hall, which is not unusual. What is unusual is that she was accompanied by a famous concert pianist, Emanuel Ax. They did a program that was all-Brahms, almost. Von Otter included one song by...
Hitting History Hard

Hitting History Hard

Frohawk Two Feathers brings revolution to art and politics  Frohawk Two Feathers is re-writing American history.  In his current exhibition at Morgan Lehman Gallery, “Heartbreaking and Shit, But That’s the Globe. The Battle of Manhattan,” he has re-imagined the conquest of North America from a very different point of view than what you were taught...
Executive Order Hype

Executive Order Hype

Netflix’s House of Cards insults democracy with sentimentality and cynicism Spoiler #1: Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) covers up the murderous tracks that took him from house majority whip to Vice President by throwing reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) in front of a subway train. The scene’s shock tactic typifies how Season 2 of David Fincher/Netflix’s streaming...
A Thousand and One Points of Light

A Thousand and One Points of Light

Winter’s Tale and Invisible contrast the visual art of cinema Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel’s lighting in Winter’s Tale is only not banal when Deschanel illustrates the film’s sub-theme (that everything in life is connected by light) and shows refracted sunlight bouncing through a room off a cache of jewels fondled by arch villain Soames (Russell Crowe)...
DeTocqueville and Del Toro Go West

DeTocqueville and Del Toro Go West

Del Toro and Desplechin play post-colonial brotherhood in Jimmy P Benecio Del Toro’s Jimmy Picard, a Blackfoot tribesman undergoing medical tests at the Menninger Clinic in 1940 Topeka, Kansas, speaks in measured phrases sending his thoughts and feeling through themedium of the white man’s dominant English. But this extraordinary characterization also illustrates the physical and...
Back to the Beatles’ Future

Back to the Beatles’ Future

Julian Lennon’s exhibit of early Beatles photos gets real There has been a lot of hoopla regarding the Beatles’ 50th anniversary of coming to America and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Grammy madness could be a bit much. Don’t get me wrong; this was an important event. Paul & Ringo were great and it...
It’s Resnais Time

It’s Resnais Time

One of cinema’s masters finds the right genre In Je t’aime, Je t’aime Movie history is short (106 years and counting) yet Alain Resnais’ special place in it is apparent in his 1968 film Je t’aime, Je t’aime showing at Film Forum (Feb. 14 to 20). More than 50 years since his feature-length debut Hiroshima,...
P.C. Ping Pong

P.C. Ping Pong

Philomena sentimentalizes motherhood and chips away at religion  Philomena reveals its cynicism when BBC political journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) initially refuses to take on an assignment: “Human interest stories are for weak-minded, vulgar, ignorant people” says the supercilious Brit professional (a Coogan specialty but worn out after 24 Hour Party People). He invites a...
Blood Is the Warmest Color

Blood Is the Warmest Color

 The grisly truth in bisexual bipartisan farce Nurse 3D  Introducing the latest graduates into the Nursing Corp, Kathleen Turner passes the baton from John Waters’ Serial Mom (1994) to Paz de la Huerta, star of Douglas Aarniokoski’s serial killer comedy Nurse 3D. Jejune in the Clinton era, Serial Mom meant to expose the hypocrisy of...
Jubilation from the Jungle

Jubilation from the Jungle

Javier Dzul’s Mayan rituals rewrite life out of chaos Mexico Maya, the latest work from choreographer Javier Dzul, would be unfathomable without knowing that Dzul grew up in the jungle.  The title of the work refers to the Mayan tribal community in Mexico where Dzul was raised and learned Mayan ritual dance. Conceived in three...
Nitwits.net

Nitwits.net

Too much attitude, not enough wit in new Canadian rom-com The Right Kind of Wrong attempts the kind of class comedy that comes off much better in its less mean-spirited mode, unabashedly broad, youth-pandering product featuring parodies of frat brats, sorority snobs, cads named Chad, and the idle rich being bested by the plucky hoi...
A Piece of Resistance

A Piece of Resistance

The Lego Movie’s capitalist tour de force restores satire to animation   A $60 million animated film that looks as cheap as The Lego Movie must be some kind of avant-garde prank. Styled to resemble the punch pressed, interlocking plastic chips kids play with to build crude, child-proof versions of…everything, the trademark bright primary colors are...
What's Up, Umbrellas?

What’s Up, Umbrellas?

Feckless screwball comedy in At Middleton  “How does it end?” asks George Hartman (Andy Garcia) about Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. “You know, French films are always complicated, aren’t they?” Edith (Vera Farmiga) answers while the two find themselves watching the 1964 film as they steal away into a projection booth on the Middleton...
Perfecting the Storm

Perfecting the Storm

Local photos memorialize the historic Hurricane Sandy A dramatic shot by Harvey Stein shows the twisted and mangled Jet Star Roller Coaster in Seaside Hts., N. J., standing several feet in water. In another by Catherine Nance, desperate notices of lost cats are scribbled across a door in Staten Island, while Paul Moakley’s image of...
Old School Into New School

Old School Into New School

Out of Hand presents the Future in rebooted craft museum Columbus Circle is as crowded as it ever was, but the past decade’s renovations with fountains, benches, and plantings make it a prettier place to be. The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) moved to the south side of the Circle in 2008, with a mission...
Eye on Auctions

Eye on Auctions

Quiet and quality on the rise for aficionados    The next few weeks are relatively quiet in the NY auction world. Much of the activity takes place at Swann Galleries as indicated below, and the previews merit a visit. Refer to the websites for schedules, illustrated catalogues–and sometimes videos, blogs, and press releases about highlights.  ...
Awkward and Uncertain

Awkward and Uncertain

That Awkward Moment’s frat comedy lacks the Lubitsch Touch The three best friends of That Awkward Moment, graphic artists Jason and Daniel (Zac Efron, Miles Teller) and medical intern Mike (Michael B. Jordan), are cynical about increasing their sexual activity, enjoying their young middle-class professional prerogative on the loose in New York City. Encouraging each...
Cue the Wah-Wah Trumpet

Cue the Wah-Wah Trumpet

Misfits soap opera Somewhere Slow hits a speed bump Writer/director Jeremy O’Keefe references the phrase “nowhere fast” within his execrable Somewhere Slow, cunningly disarming critics of their most obvious barb. Suffice it to say that audiences with the time and tolerance to watch neurotic, unhappily married Anna (Jessalyn Gilsig) skipping stones on Mount Hope Bay with...