Archive for December, 2008

The Moment of Truth

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

James Dean and Paul Newman screen test

Eartha and James
Yes, they dated and Eartha was Jimmy’s dance teacher. (See more photos here)

Eartha Kitt: the anti-war patriot (Nation)

Eartha Kitt – C’est Si Bon (Live Kaskad 1962)

The Moment of Truth – Nabokov

Up the Yangtze

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Leonard Cohen loved this film. Yung Chang described his encounter with Leonard Cohen at the end of this clip below.

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So I got this idea of making a movie about tourists on this Yangtze cruise boat – a kind of Gosford Park idea that shows the social hierarchy, the lives above and below the decks. And I realized that the people working on the boat were all from the Yangtze area, and that many of their families were affected by the dam.
The other aspect was this sense of apocalyptic journey – something out of Heart of Darkness. It’s a strange landscape of chaos and decay – like the photos of Edward Burtynsky. It’s very ghostlike along the river – hazy and grey and difficult to see long distances. Then we visited the Ghost City itself – Fengdu – famous in Chinese mythology as the site of the Gates of Hell. In my mind, the Three Gorges Dam became the Gates of Hell. There were so many metaphorical layers to explore, so I just went with this idea of a surreal journey up the Yangtze.(Q&A with the filmmaker Yung Chang)

Intervew from Indiewire

I really wanted to approach my film with an Altmanesque/Herzogian cinematic technique. I like using fiction films as reference points. There’s also a natural irony and humor that often permeates through the observation of West and East cultures so it was important not to make an overly heavy doomsday film but to capture those humorous flashes that make a human story all the more real and three-dimensional. Of course, the beauty of documentary is that you’re literally improvising and being spontaneous. You let the environment, your subjects, and the given moment carry you along. There’s no storyboarding. When you’re making a documentary, you shoot a lot of footage in hopes of capturing a few emotional moments.

Collection of critical responses for this terrific film.

Hal was up the Yangtze decades ago.

I would like to see this film. In 1980 I went up the Yantze with my mother and brother. Takes 3 days, Sort of a slow beautiful unfolding. I got to know my tour guide, a very nice Chinese woman that always kept the door open when we talked to each other. She suggested to me, the corruption of the Communist party, she was a party member. Hal Lum (via email)

R.I.P Harold Pinter

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Goodbye Harold Pinter. He was 78 years old

Obits from Greencinedaily and NYtimes.

Apart From That

I talked to Harold himself at great length, to his friends and colleagues. And what I discovered was that his plays, so often dubbed enigmatic and mysterious, were nearly all spun out of memories of his own experience. If they connected with audiences the world over, it was because he understood the insecurity of human life and the sense that it was often based on psychological and territorial battles. (Michael Billington)

Previous posts;
Harold Pinter – A Master and a Caretaker

More links on Harold and a clip from his play “The Lovers” on youtube


True story: a young theatre student became obsessed with “The Birthday Party.” He wrote a forty page essay about its “meaning” and thought he’d come up with a brilliant interpretation. He decided to mail his tome to Harold Pinter, and after doing so, he was puzzled as to why he didn’t get an immediate, enthusiastic reply. Eventually, he resigned himself to the fact that he’d never hear back. But then, almost a year later, he got a manila envelope in the mail. He opened it and found his essay inside. Scrawled on the front page, written in think magic marker, were the words “Fuck off. — H.P.” (Harold Pinter, Curtain Call at metafilter)

Ferocious Emotion and Ideas

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

She celebrates her ninety-seventh birthday today (December 25th, 2008)

Her hand louiseb1 photographed by Holger Kiefel

what she can do with her hands. That includes drawing, etching, molding, carving in stone, casting in metal, constructing with wood, sewing, embroidering, and turning antique shop and Dumpster salvage into walk-in assemblages. (NYtimes)

spiral <> <> <> Ode de la Bievre

the blind leading the blind <> <> <> the night

She still holds Sunday gatherings with emerging artists and remains as demanding and challenging to younger artists, as she has been toward her own work.” (via)

Spider woman
(More complete and comprehensive coverage by Joanne Mattera)

Winter Solstice 2008

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Listen to Sad Alpha Written after seeing the Arthur Russell documentary. (Tom Moody)

Wild Combination – Arthur Russell
(I finally saw this film. It took us a week to get this film, netflix must have a short supply.
Be sure to see all the special features when you rent this film.)

ZZZZPensive Digital image by Fung Lin HallZZZZ
(repost of winter solstice two years ago)

Nico Muhly, has been hired to score the new film of The Hours by director Stephen Daldry, The Reader. Based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink, the film stars Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

Gorgeous sushi photo taken from Nico Muhly’s fresh and wonderful blog.

Merry Month of Joyce – Joyce Pensato

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Donald as a Crossdresser
1999, charcoal and pastel on paper
10 feet x 14 feet

From the Head and Other Places (Elgawimmer)

Joyce Pensato homepage

Joyce Pensato at Friedrich Petzel, New York (Jan 2008)
(another youtube gallery visit)

James Wagner on Joyce <> <> <> <> Anaba on Joyce

Related link
Pat Steir

The Repetition and Retribution

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

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Dereliction of duty – Bush and Cheney abandon their chairs

  • Throw throw dodge and duck
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    (Holiday double gif from Iraqi journalist to the world)

    Practice Shoes Square Dance (see funny cartoons)

    Juan Cole – Shoe-Thrower had been Traumatized by US Aerial Bombings

    Iraqi journalist Muntazir al-Zaidi, who threw the shoes at Bush in Baghdad, shouted “Killer of Iraqis, killer of children.” while security guards piled on him.

    Muntadar al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC.

    The Shoes We Longed For

    He let the victims talk first.

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    (Repost third time)

    They throw beans in Japan

    Throw your virtual shoe at Bush

    Shoe Protest around the world – slideshow

    From the Cafferty File: Watching a lame duck duck really quacked me up!

    See bothBoth in color here (One with a beanie cow and another with a beanie gorilla).

    Manoel de Oliveira at 100

    Friday, December 12th, 2008

    Scorpios get more asthma and more Sagittarius males live to be 100.
    One days after Elliott Carter and 14 days after Claude Levi-Strauss, Manoel de Oliveira is turning 100 today.

    Manoel de Oliveira dances with Sweet and Tender (He turned 99 last year)

    A Talking Picture – his film in many languages with big stars – Catherine Deneuve,John Malkovich, Stefania Sandrelli and Irene Papas

    Irene Papas gets to speak her lines in Greek, Part II

    Despite touristy locales, the film’s style is so austere as to be almost primitive. Oliveira barely moves the camera and rarely emphasizes the imposing backdrops.
    Ship of Fools: The Life Aquatic With Captain John Malkovich (Villagevoice review of A Talking Picture)

    Manoel de Oliveira: the oldest working film director (Euronews)
    He looks and speaks at least 30 years younger, amazing!

    Elliott Carter at 100

    Thursday, December 11th, 2008

    Only twelve days ago we celebrated Claude Levi-Strauss turning 100. Today we celebrate the
    100th birthday of great American composer Elliott Carter.

    Elliot Carter at 100
    Listening to The Rite of Spring changed his life.
    Elliott Carter studied English at Harvard. Here he talked about reading poems of the English Jacobean poet Richard Crashaw.

    In general, my music seeks the awareness of motion we have in flying or driving of a car and not the plodding of horses or the marching of soldiers that pervades the motion patterns of older music. At the time I was reading poems of the English Jacobean poet Richard Crashaw, and was fascinated by his 157-line Latin poem Bulla (Bubble), which at one point personifies a floating bubble that has this to say: (Read more here)

    Frank J. Oteri interviews American composer Elliott Carter on youtube (Elliott is spunky and relaxed)

    The Score
    2009: No Centennials for You by Christopher DeLaurenti

    Still thriving at 100, Carter is in the unprecedented position of living to see his own centennial, a grand celebration with revivals and premieres around the world. On Friday, as part of the Washington Composers Forum “Transport” concert series, cellist Alexander Ezerman and pianist Cristina Valdés tackle Carter’s 1948 Sonata for Cello and Piano, an impassioned—and relatively accessible—work that hints at the fierce rhythmic complexity heard in his landmark string quartets of the 1950s.

    Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux II, Elliott Carter

    Symphonia-Allegro Scorrevole-1993/11995

    Sonata for Cello and Piano (youtube)

    Ursula Oppens celebrates Elliot Carter (youtube)

    French Colonial Legacy

    Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

    French Muslim soldiers tombs desecrated a headline showed up this moring.

    The desecration near the town of Arras appeared timed with the start of Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday in the Muslim calendar.

    Not too long ago I saw this film – see the trailer below.

    Under its original title of “Indigènes” or “Natives,” the film, Algeria’s entry in this year’s foreign language Oscar race, was perhaps the major surprise at Cannes. It won the best actor award for its four key cast members and ignited a debate about whether France had done right by these soldiers. The result, just two months ago, was a change in government policy bringing foreign combatant pensions into line with what French veterans are paid.(Via)

    Susan Azar Porterfield (See a photo of her you can purchase online)

    Rockford College professor puts feelings about Beirut into poems

    Basma’s Baby
    Basma offers coffee in a demitasse,
    “Why you don’t come more?” she scolds
    her hands clayish as the dough she rounds
    into small, flat breads.
    Cradled in her kitchen, her son
    is a swaddled loaf, real
    as grain, real as wine on lips parted
    in remembrance of body and blood,
    the pulpy flesh, the nail, the bone,
    the mother crouched and trembling
    to soothe the innocent child.
    Basma’s baby
    in the oven-warm room wears pinned
    to his robes a blue doll’s eye that stares past
    my arm out the door to Baghdad streets,
    through streets of Tehran and Beijing,
    unblinking across Japan and the ocean,
    over chldren in a schoolyard in L.A., mothers
    at their stoves in Des Moines, unblinking
    the gaze of the small, blue eye,
    steady all the way to D.C.

    Susan Azar Porterfield

    Related links
    Hate in France, Camus – Solitaire and Solidaire

    Love and War (Lebanon Civil War – Circle of Deceit starring Bruno Ganz, Hanna Schygulla Director: Volker Schlöndorff )

    Rawi Hage (Beirut/Canadian author/photographer)

    Celebrations from Wordabout

    Sunday, December 7th, 2008

    Holiday Sale assemblagegang2 at Wordabout

    The wordabout blog is a documentation of work-process- experiences, while working as an independent artist at Creativity Explored, an art-center for artists with developmental disabilities in San Francisco.

    Norman’s 3rd guitar and his 4th guitar <> Richard and his finished piece <> Sue and her object

    Thomas and his pan American Pyramid <> Larry with his house and yard

    Blind Johanna

    Golf, Hedge Fund and Meltdown

    Thursday, December 4th, 2008

    Golf industry in trouble. For planet earth’s and humanity’s sake the rich should give up golf. How about switching to miniature golf?

    Actor Josh Brolin bragged about his personal hedge fund on Charlie Rose; totally clueless of the carnage hedge funds have wrecked on the commodities market and on Wall Street.
    (More detail here, Actor Josh Brolin discusses his stock market investment strategy, “Pull Backs” on the Charlie Rose Show)

    Swing, coke saguaro and saguaro golf club
    The left saguaro cactus reminds me of a golf club in the body of a golf ball and the right Saguaro image seems to be swinging.

    Related links see Maurizio Cattelan and American Psycho.