October 2004 Archives

October 31, 2004

The end of the road



October 30, 2004

Finally, Apocalypse Tuesday

You have to give New Line credit. They hold up the video/DVD of Michael Tolkin's The Rapture--one of the most sophisticated treatments of religion ever put to film--for 13 years, and then they decide to release it on the actual day when, whatever happens, up to 49% of Americans will think the world's actually coming to an end: Tuesday, November 2nd.

Buy The Rapture on Amazon, or rent it at GreenCine. [via Choire's NYT Guide

October 30, 2004

Nick Nolte Diary's Diary

Hats off to writers Christian Newton and Casey McAdams for their hilarious NickNolteDiary.com, and for their help in putting together the timeline in the Times Sunday. I happily traded a greg.org mention in the piece for the byline, duh.

Alas, during rewrites, we cut the gratuitous digs at LA residents and my secret blogging shoutouts; for entertainment purposes only, here's the intro I originally tried to sneak by the editors:

Even the best website ideas can languish unrealized for months, pushed off even the back burner by day jobs, intractable schedules, and inescapable inertia. So it was for Christian Newton and Casey McAdams, two Los Angeles residents (aka aspiring screenwriters), who took more than six months nurturing their vision: a fictional diary in the persona of actor Nick Nolte. The story of how their little weblog went from private homage to inadvertent global news hoax to cease-and-desist letter to sitcom pitch- all in one week- reveals the workings of the blog-powered buzz machine. And it may encourage would-be Hollywood players to get back to their laptops and finish that site.
The Positively True Adventures of the Counterfeit Diary of Nick Nolte [NYT]
Nick Nolte Reviews Movable Type [the greg.org post that started it all, after Andy Baio's one-man meme-machine Waxy.org, of course]

October 30, 2004

Love My Advertisers

Just a quick and heartfelt thanks to the wide-ranging advertisers on greg.org. Be sure to show them that yes, in fact, money can buy them love, or a reasonable facsimile:

  • Fleshbot Films' debut DVD, Necromania, "directed" by "director" Ed Wood [I mean, can you imagine what the makegoods are like over at Fleshbot? Why not stand at attention for them?]
  • KevinKringle.com, of the North Pole Kringles [A funwhat cryptic site for now, but I'm sure there's more coming. After all, do you think that Necromania DVD can play itself? Don't answer that.]
  • MoMA's Junior Associates, who are the 'P' in VIP, and who may be your best chance for getting your junior butt into the opening festivities for the new building. Besides, their dues are barely more than the new admission fee.
  • Arcadia University Art Gallery, which is currently showing Olafur Eliasson's Your colour memory. Eliasson was just named the 29th most powerful person in the art world, which should cinch the deal right there.

  • Ah, the end of October. When Bush's multiple obfuscatory attempts to disown a Sforzian Background-related scandal change faster than the autumn leaves. Last year this time it was "Mission Accomplished." This year, well:

    The Bush-Cheney campaign's final TV ad, aptly named "Whatever It Takes," contains a doctored image of a Scott Sforza trademark the Military Backdrop.

    Check out the original image--with Bush and his podium--and the Photoshopped version the campaign started running yesterday--with its obviously cloned warriors.

    Still, Bush has learned a lesson in accountability since the 'Mission Accomplished' Banner snafu, which he originally tried to blame on the military. Not this time. No, with this commercial, it's the editor's fault.

    The fake troops in Bush's new ad [Daily Kos]
    I'm George Bush's flack, and he didn't approve this ad (never mind that he says he did) [Talking Points Memo, where I first saw the story]
    Sforzian Backstabbing, 10/31/2003 [greg.org]
    Bush ad uses doctored image [LAT]

    Gothamist has an excellent interview with Errol Morris about his Switch ads featuring former Bush voters who are now voting for Kerry. Morris talks at length about The Fog of War and its relevance today, his interviewing techniques, and how we're doomed to repeat the past--the only difference is whether we do it with irony or not.

    Errol Morris: The Gothamist Interview, as time closes in
    Errol Morris: see his ever-expanding Ex-Bush Voters For Kerry Ad Campaign
    Errol Morris: The greg.org Interview, just before the Oscar.

    [Mr. President,] Is it possibleóis it a reality that we could turn on our television sets one dayóFox News Channel I hopeóand find out that America isóthat a nuclear weapon has gone off hereóthat a biological agent has been released or a chemical agentóis that a reality?
    Sean Hannity fairly balancing his sycophancy for both Rupert Murdoch and George W. Bush in an interview with the latter.

    The inaugural entry in Cretinisms, Dana Stevens' collection of cable news show idiocies, on Slate.

    1. Barney's, men's side, main floor
    Coming down the escalator into the underwear/robe department, there's an unbearable funk that's been there since the store opened ten years ago. Drives me crazy.

    2. Prada Store, Aoyama, Tokyo
    [see left]
    Leave it to a sissy to make fun of how people talk. In his retrograde column in the NY Observer, Simon Doonan reports, "As rumored, this store is bedeviled by a mysterious and unfortunate all-pervading odor of cat urine."

    My Tour de Tokyo [NYO]
    Slide show of Herzog & de Meuron's Tokyo Prada store, which opened in 2003 [dezain.net]


    This summer, GNN director Ian Inaba had come up with a concept for a music video that could get young voters out to the polls, when he found out Eminem was working on a song to do the same thing. The result of their 5-week [!!] collaboration is "Mosh," an angry, compelling, and invigorating incitement to revolution-by-ballot.

    If you thought conservatives were disturbed by a wifebeatered army of Eminemonites [Sounds like Mennonites. Go ahead, pronounce it; I'll wait.] outside the MTV Awards, just imagine their discomfort at the sight of these hoodied masses descending on polling places around the country. [via Choire and daily.greencine.com]

    View Eminem's Mosh and read Inaba's Director's Statement [GNN]
    Eminem calls for regime change [GNN]

    Buy me a drink some time, and I'll tell you the long story about why I'm a registered Republican. But not right now.

    My first film was set in November 2001, the period when New Yorkers, when Americans were still coming to terms with what'd happened two months before. When our country had the deep, unwavering sympathy and support of practically the entire civilized world, and when it was possible to imagine that, just maybe, having experienced the terrible shock, loss, and violence of September 11th, our country could become wiser as well as stronger.

    We shot it on the WWI battlefields of northern France, where hundreds of thousands of people fought and died in a war almost no one alive today actually experienced. It turned out my original idea--learn somehow from the past how to deal with the present--was incomplete; on the ground, we found out the effects of that supposedly forgotten war still haunted the people who lived there--and visited there, generations later. The past wasn't just the past after all.

    In the intervening two years since I made Souvenir Nov 2001, the decisions and actions of George W. Bush and his administration have not only decimated the world's saddened-yet-resolute support for the US, they have made a mockery of the very idea of learning from one's own experiences--and from history. I shot my film, wary of hinting at any scalar similarities between September 11th and World War I, and now Bush's distastrous mistakes have dragged the world to our own 1916, to the eerily similar edge of an era of senseless, avoidable violence. By rendering internationalism guided by the best American example and principle as quaint as the wrongness of torture, Bush has made this world--and this country, my country, my daughter's country--less safe and more dangerous than at any point in my lifetime.

    I never believed that I would be required to take a stand for some of the most basic beliefs and principles this country was founded on: honesty; free and truthful and open debate; enlightened empiricism and rational thought; personal liberty; the rule of law; self-evident and inalienable human rights; the accountability of our government leaders to the governed; limits on executive power from checks and balances. But after four years, I have come to believe that George W. Bush poses a serious and imminent threat to all these inspired principles. Therefore, my conscience demands that I oppose his re-election.

    Don't mistake my opposition to a dire threat as a somehow equivocating half-support for John Kerry. I admire and respect him for his repeated and unsung--even derided--demonstrations of integrity and principle. He's at least as competent as any seasoned politician, and he's orders of magnitude better equipped than Bush for the demands and responsibilities of the presidency. But my support for him can't be separated from my strong commitment to the ideals I listed above, which would be imperiled by a second Bush term.

    I'll miss the Sforzian backdrops, though, I have to admit I'm awed by them.

    Let me say this: I know Starship Troopers. Starship Troopers is a friend of mine. And Team America, you are NO Starship Troopers.

    Michael Atkinson lets us peer into his private fantasy world, where newspaper movie critics wield godlike power to make or break an adolescent action movie at the box office; where directors can deliver incisive political satire without wanting to, or even being aware of it; and where Team America is actually "reproachful," "burlesque" "satire" of "balls-out martial power" and "gut-level xenophobia," not just a sell-out celebration of it, complete with detachable air quotes.

    Seriously, when someone goes so far as to cite Voltaire and the historicist "diagetic remove" of puppetry to justify their love of a widely criticized film, you can be sure the real battle is in Atkinson's head: he's just coming to terms with his suddenly awakened attraction to simulated puppet sex.

    You know what, never mind. I think what he needs is for us to be a little more supportive of him right now.

    Attack of The Puppet People [Village Voice]
    My own conflicted review: Smaller, Shorter, and Most Definitely Cut [greg.org]

    October 26, 2004

    Soldiers Pay: DOR on IFC

    Just got a heads up from a greg.org reader at IFC: the network has picked up the tv rights to Soldiers Pay, the documentary by my boy David O. Russell, Tricia Regan, and Juan Carlos ZaldÌvar, which was originally produced for the DVD re-release of Three Kings.

    IFC is planning to air the doc next Monday night, on the eve of the presidential election. It'll be shown at around 9:30 PM, following an 8PM screening of Chris Hegedus' and D.A. Pennebaker's 1993 campaign classic, The War Room.

    IFC to air Soldiers Pay doc on Nov. 1 [IFCTV IFCine News]
    Related: DOR's Grand Iraq Mission Goes Awry: The Timeline

    [Update, IndieWIRE via daily.greencine.com: Set your TiVO's, because Sundance Channel is programming the Karl Rove documentary Bush's Brain for Monday night.]

    In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
    Issue of 2004-11-01
    Posted 2004-10-25

    COMMENT/ THE CHOICE/ The Editors on the coming election. [They used the first 3,856 words lay out Bush's incompetence, failings, deceptions, and dangers, and 677 words to endorse Kerry as a strong, principled corrective and source of hope.]

    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Peter J. Boyer/ The Believer/ Paul Wolfowitz defends the war.
    SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Paul Simms/ Making a Difference
    FICTION/ Lara Vapnyar/ "Memoirs of a Muse"
    PORTFOLIO/ Democracy 2004/ Photographic portraits of Americans by Richard Avedon.
    BOOKS/ John Updike/ The Great I Am/ Robert Alter's new translation of the Pentateuch.
    POP MUSIC/ Sasha Frere-Jones/ 1979
    The year punk died, and was reborn.
    THE ART WORLD/ Peter Schjeldahl/ Memento Mori/ The Aztecs at the Guggenheim.
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Aftermaths/ "Enduring Love," "Hearts and Minds."

    THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL/ PROFILES/ Winthrop Sargeant/ A Woman Entering a Taxi in the Rain/ A profile of Richard Avedon's early work as a fashion photographer/ Issue of 1958-11-08
    PORTFOLIO/ A collection of Avedon's portrait photography from his years at the magazine.

    Madeleine Albright just told Jon Stewart that she's seen Team America World Police.

    Maybe it's not that surprising; if you actually know the person who's being portrayed as a diabolical puppet, you're obliged to see the movie.

    Bonus Kim Jong Il trivia: he wears high heels. Albright said she stood next to him for a picture, and they were still the same height, and she had heels on...

    Errol Morris's series of John Kerry ads are powerful precisely because they don't use any of the tactics--treacly hagiography, deceitful misrepresentations, fear-baiting, or mudslinging--that are the mainstay of politician-produced political ads.

    He interviewed hundreds of people who voted for Bush in 2000 who are now voting for John Kerry and captured their individual stories and reasons for switching. Taken together, they form a persuasive argument for relieving Bush of duty.

    See Errol Morris's Switch ads and--if you're a billionaire or a 527--run them where they'll do some good. [errolmorris.com]
    Related: the making of the ads

    I'm Greg Allen and I approve this message.

    October 23, 2004

    Manolo, Manolo, Manolo!

    And I thought two was a trend. Manolos are breakin' out all over:

  • "I have been feeling good lately. Monolo's got me on some new Zinc program and I am in week two of my Bowflex program." Manolo, [not] Nick Nolte's trainer/nutritionist/manservant
  • "He can't sleep, so at 5 a.m. he takes his valet, Manolo Sanchez, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. They meet protesters, whom Nixon engages in repartee about ... surfing." Manolo, Richard Nixon's manservant
  • "Manolo is speechless." Manolo is writing the Manolo's Shoe Blog [via Rexblog and Buzzmachine]

  • tom_ford_book.jpgWhy didn't I think of that? After reading the page in Matthew Barney's film-financing handbook where he describes selling sculptures and limited editions to raise money for the Cremaster movies, Tom Ford has released his own veritable work of art.

    Actually, it's probably more of a catalogue raisonnee, but there is a white leather-bound limited edition for $350. Don't worry, Amazon knows you never pay retail; they've got it for $238. [There's also a pleather-priced edition, $85, down from $125.]

    Yes, this IS the book on Ford's coffee table when The Times dropped by last weekend. Tacky? Not in LA, my friend. Not when a man's got a book to sell. And a movie to finance. [via Towleroad]

    October 22, 2004

    I [Heart] Huckstering

    My boy David O. Russell may be shooting negative karma beams at the back of Sharon Waxman's head, but that's not stopping him from spelling "P&A" with a capital "N-Y-T."

    It feels like those multimedia interstitials for I [Heart] Huckabee's have been running for weeks now (Seriously, what's the buy on those things? If it's entirely clickthrough-based, they'll have to start pushing the DVD before too much longer.) And if People Who Don't Skip This Ad wasn't niche enough, Fox Searchlight is pitching the film at the even smaller People Who Actually Opt In For Ad Mail market.

    Here's the kicker: This morning's I[H]H spam was a plaintive 1,000-word Story of My Life And My Movie by the director himself. And I mean himself. No copy editors were harmed or even inconvenienced in the making of this email, which Gawker helpfully published this afternoon.

    And which I've happily pasted in its spamalicious entirety after the jump. Now if you copy it and forward it to all your friends, not only will you help save the life of a little girl with cancer--who's been kidnapped--but Bill Gates will take you on a trip to Disneyland. Which has to be good for your karma.

    October 20, 2004

    A Short Film Is Like...

    ...a black hole: the laws of matter are reversed. - Katariina Lillqvist
    ...a poem: it takes big themes and distils them. Less is more. -ScreenEast
    ...poems. - Pertti Paltila
    ...a poem: brief, still highly literate, and capable of making ripples in the thought processes that far outlast the piece. -Robert Frazier
    ...a joke: it's pithy and it has a climax. -Michael Hannigan
    ...a good joke...a bit of a story, all related around the same thing, no tangent, and it ends on an up. -Rolin
    ...the beginning of the feature, it's gonna continue from there. -Royston Tan

    "...a knifeóstrongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts. -Michael Swanwick

    "...looking through a keyhole. A novel is a 360-degree panoramic window. -Matthew Klam
    "...something you could do in a fit of passion...Writing a novel is more like a marriage. -Mary Morris
    "...a weekend guest, [and] a novel is like a divorced relative staying with you. -Lev Raphael"

    What is a short story like? Right after she quotes a vivid assortment of writers' metaphors, Cup of Chicha rolls out some persuasive arguments that call into question writers'--or anyone's--ability to explain short stories conclusively.

    What, I wonder, too hungry at the moment to Google, are the analogous metaphors for understanding short films?

    A short story is like... [cup of chicha]
    "short film is like" [Google]

    An ecstatic review by Jason Scott of possibly the geekiest musical possible (without disrupting the space-time continuum, I'm sure), The Last Starfighter.

    As every teenage videogame addict living in a trailer park in the eighties knows, the movie, The Last Starfighter tells the story of a... teenage videogame addict living in a trailer park who is tapped by aliens to save a distant planet the universe from destruction or something.

    In any case, it's now a musical, exuberantly and complexly well-done (apparently), and playing off^3-Broadway at the Storm Theatre. Don't procrastinate and blow it like you did Rent; go see it before it moves to the big stage.

    "Geekdom, extreme geekdom, does not just have depths, my friends; it has heights...Sometimes, we think we have achieved the pinnacle, and then, slowly, we glance upward and see we have even farther to climb." [ASCII by Jason Scott, via waxy]
    The Last Starfighter: The Musical, now playing at the Storm Theatre

    October 19, 2004


    Archinect has an interview with Nathalie de Vries (the DV in MVRDV), where she talks about the firm's origins and work approach, and about their upcoming building/mountain for London's Serpentine Gallery.

    Very cool.
    previous MVRDV posts

    October 18, 2004

    Nick Denton Sports Wood

    from the NYMDb work-in-process folder:
    Fleshbot Films [?!] gives Ed Wood's last film the, um, full release it deserves. It's the long-lost hardcore version of Necromania: A Tale of Weird Love!; the simulated sex version turned up at a tag sale in 1992, much to the glee of the late filmmaker's hardcore [sic] fan(s). For the rest of you, no, Johnny Depp is not attached.

    IN THE VAULT/ Weird Love
    [New Yorker]

    In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
    Issue of 2004-10-25
    Posted 2004-10-18

    COMMENT/ QUESTIONS OF GREATNESS/ George Packer on the final Presidential debate and the choice ahead.
    INK/ PRIZE FIGHT/ Ben McGrath on the National Book Awards nominees.
    IN THE VAULT/ WEIRD LOVE/ Nick Paumgarten on the uncovering of Ed Woodís last film.
    DEPT. OF QUANTIFICATION/ MURPHY AT THE BAT/ Ben McGrath contemplates the Red Sox and the science of misfortune.
    THE BENCH/ FAMILY PORTRAIT/ Dana Goodyear on a contested Klimt.

    SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Mark Singer/ An Announcement
    ANNALS OF POLITICS/ David Grann/ Inside Dope/ Has The Note changed American politics?
    FICTION/ Thomas McGuane/ "Old Friends"

    THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ Running Wild/ "Richard III" and "Reckless."
    A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Malcolm Gladwell/ High Prices/ How to think about prescription drugs.
    MUSICAL EVENTS/ Alex Ross/ Taymor's Mythology/ A glorious "Magic Flute" at the Met.
    ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ Pushing Paper/ Ricky Gervais does overtime at "The Office."
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Drinking and Driving/ Alexander Payneís "Sideways."

    ANNALS OF VIETNAM/ James Carroll/ A Friendship That Ended the War/ How two heroes who came home on different sides of the war made their peaceóand the nation's/ Issue of 1996-10-21

    October 18, 2004

    greg.org, heck yeah!

    Wingnuts on both ends of the political spectrum, it's not about you. So take a chill pill, throw another fat Costco steak on the grill, and read Matt Stone & Trey Parker's interview with Heather Havrilesky in Salon. I so called it.

    Embittered filmmakers, meanwhile, should read it to find out how the script went from South Park 2 comedy to Dr. Strangelove play-it-straight satire, before becoming the scintillating assfest you see before you.

    "it's not just us, and the fact that we live in this L.A. bubble" [salon]

    October 18, 2004

    Parallel Lines, No Kidding

    The Cinetrix has an engrossing review of an equally engrossing documentary, Nina Davenport's Parallel Lines. The New York director was away on a freelance gig in San Diego on September 11th and decided to film her way home.

    Through the fall and early winter of 2001, Davenport asked the dozens of people she met along the way about the terrorist attacks, a question which, more often than not, opened the floodgates to each person's most nakedly painful experience.

    Parallel Lines [pullquote]
    Parallel Lines site
    Souvenir (November 2001), my first short, set in this same moment in time, about kind of the same thing.

    October 18, 2004

    Start With A Large Fortune

    NYT fashion reporter Cathy Horyn goes to Hollywood to see what Tom Ford's up to. True to reports when he left Gucci, he's looking to make a small fortune in the movie business.

    "If I'm going to get one shot to make an impression," he said, "I want to have around me at least the padding of professional organization. I would not be able to make a little film that will go unnoticed the way it might for other beginning directors. Everyone will be looking. `Is he any good?'"
    Tom Ford's Intermission [NYT]

    team_america_team.jpgFirst, re simulated puppet oral sex: With the MPAA's bell still ringing in my ears, I'm content knowing that Alfredo has saved the ridiculously hacked out shot for little Toto to watch later, perhaps on the DVD. How our high priests of censorship can fixate on a single shot while passing on its extra-explicit scene--and the puppet-sutra montage earlier in the film--remains a mystery to me.

    Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America World Police, like Baseketball and Orgazmo before it, is the movie equivalent of an aging high school football star; a promising talent gone unwittingly to pot without a tough, discipline-minded coach to whip him into shape. In their first film, Cannibal!, no-budget constraints and hunger [sic] for success forced the duo to work smart. And compared to animation, where you lock the script first, or live action, where you can only rewrite pages on the set, shooting puppets allows unparalleled slack; you can lay down dialogue until opening night [and in some scenes, it feels like they did].

    team_america_kji.jpgWhich is not to say the film can't throw. Team America really hits the musical numbers, at least. Just as I lost patience with the whiny Kim Jong Il, he broke into hilarious, touching song, revealing the hurt child within. [Of course, making your evil mastermind (sym)pathetic throws a blow-em-up action movie off key. Unless theyíre doctors, we want our world-destroying villains just evil, thanks. Drax and Stromberg never tried to win us over, and if anyone had believed Saddamís take-me-back breakdancing song, heíd still be in power.]

    Where the prophetic South Park: The Movie mapped and mocked the US political landscape with eerily incisive accuracy, Team Americaís politics are an ill-prepared, willfully uninformed quagmire. The World Police's infectious theme song and blithe disregard for the rest of the world ring all too true, but the movie's key talking points might as well be choked out by a drunken divebar hobo. And, in fact, they are.

    Put too much focus on the terrorists and WMDís, though, and youíd be taking your eye off the ball. The real evildoers in Team America are right in Parker & Stone's backyard, Hollywood. Cause-of-the-month actor activism and above-Sunset sanctimony--as personified by the likes of Sean Penn and Alex Baldwin [Your good reviews for The Cooler aren't fooling anybody, Baldwin.]--are the real threat to Our American Way Of Life. Besides Michael Bay's ex-agent, Matt & Trey are the only people who're still bitter about Pearl Harbor enough to write a whole angry puppet song about it.

    On Fresh Air yesterday, Matt Stone (the Sabrina Duncan one) told Terry that the idea for the movie came from reading the insipid one-line pitch that sold the spec script for The Day After Tomorrow in the trades: "Sudden global warming causes worldwide catastrophe." One-liner? Spec? The trades? Hollywood? You're soaking in it!

    Here's my one-line pitch: Two South Park guys are at the party for seven-plus years, hit show, hit movie, but [if the condescending tone of Sean Penn's letter is any indication] the oh-so-cool kids don't wanna hang with them, so they take their nerdy revenge.

    Unfortunately, some things haven't changed since high school; cinematic booger flicking often ends up missing the mark, too. As a sendup of action film, Team America lets far too many references go unmocked. A terrorist striking the Karate Kid pose in the opening sequence says hope is on the way, but a couple of funny Star Wars gags aren't nearly enough to reach the parodic heights of an Airplane! or even a Hot Shots Part Deux. Just one example from my pea-sized brain: the first thing the Asian Lottery Winner decor of Kim Jong Il's lair mademe think of was "Lo Pan, Big Trouble In Little China." Too bad restaurant and set designer David Rockwell had no idea what that means. Disappointments like that popped up over and over.

    On the plus side, "Lease" should be on Broadway; the "We Need A Montage" montage was genius; Hummel figurines? Bwahahahaha; running puppets through a Matrix Bullet Time fight sequence was inspired; and his performance as John, the actor-phobic Team member is the best of Aaron Eckhart's career.

    I'm ending it here, because if there's one thing Team America teaches us, it's that if you go looking for a big finish, you'll probably end up blowing it.

    Related: My previous side-splitting posts about Team America and its deep, meaningful resonance with my own work.
    Matt Stone interviewed on Fresh Air, 10/14/04 [whyy.org]
    Xeni interviews the boys for Day-to-Day, warning: seeing KJI's video clip may obviate the need to actually see the film. [npr.org]
    Real critics complain, but like the movie. What's wrong with me?: David Edelstein, Tony Scott, J. Hoberman
    Sean Penn's pissy letter. Very Heathers. [um, drudge? I feel so dirty.]
    TeamAmericaMovie.com crashed my browser and disappeared my previous attempt to post, so type it yourself.

    Father forgive me for ever doubting the authenticity of NickNolteDiary.com. After all, Ireland Online has reported about Nolte's traffic accident with Rosanna Arquette.

    Nolte crashes into Arquette [Worldwide Entertainment Network News, via IOL]

    Ousmane Sembene on WNYC, of course, which I already posted
    John Waters on WPS1 [although for my money, no Waters interview is better than this Oct 1998 dicussion of Pecker on Fresh Air, which makes me cry laughing to this day.]
    Melvin Van Peebles from 1971, speaking at MoMA about his just-released Sweet, Sweetback's Badassss Song.

    WPS1's been getting its groove on lately, in case you haven't noticed. The talk shows are tightening up a bit, and the music is rocking. Now if they can only figure out podcasting...

    From the awesome Nick Nolte Diary:

    [on templates]
    August 14, 2004, First Entry
    Well, Diary, here I am on the internet. And at the top of my bookmarks menu is my new site. I have enough trouble with my computer at home, so I tapped the skills of a computer wizard I met on the set of ìHulkî to help me with this website business. Leon is taking care of the technical details, so I can concentrate on choosing some good nineteeth century engravings of the South Pacific islands. Many of them remind me of Malibu. When they donít remind me of Malibu, they remind me of Terry Malick...

    [on titles]
    August 15, 2004, Second Entry
    Leon knows what he is doing. I'm not impuning the man. But this system for entering my thoughts seems a mite obtuse. I have to enter a title for each day you see. Sometimes it's hard to think of only one word that sums up a day. Sometimes it's hard to think of any. Which day today is, diary, I leave to you.

    [on entry body text boxes]
    August 16, 2004, What "diary" means
    I was hunched over the Gateway this morning and upon entering the dining room, Manolo asked me what I was doing. Yes, Manolo will ask such direct questions, and more often, perhaps, than I or any guests I may have might be comfortable with. But very often his questions elicit satori in their answering, so attention is paid. At least by me. I explained that I had picked up the diarist bug. He misunderstood me at first in a predictable way. Then he asked me if only women had diaries. The fact is: "journals" are for sissies. I calmly explained that Steinbeck and Hemingway both had diaries and that that was good enough for me. He nodded and cleared the table. I was going to write about something else, but it looks like I'm almost out of room here. As salaam alaikum. [subtitles and emphasis added]

    And it only gets better from there. What would it be like if everyone had the discipline to post only enough to fill this text box?

    Nick Nolte Diary [via Waxy.org, with huge salaams to Nick, Leon, and Manolo]
    Watch Terry direct Nick in the South Pacific in The Thin Red Line

    [Update: Hmmm, we may have been punk'd here. I'm digging around, stay tuned.]

    These are the first color photographs released of Les Arenes de Chaillot. They'll be running this weekend in Le Monde.

    Supposedly, the staff of La Mexicaine de Perforation are dressed like this for the screening of Mister Freedom and Sgt Kabukiman.

    That, or this whole underground cinema thing is really a publicity stunt for Fox's upcoming The Tick: The Musical.

    Muchas gracias por todo, Mexicaines!

    Previously on greg.org:
    Les Arenes de Chaillot: complete programme guide
    Exclusive: La Mexicaine Le Interview
    Search results for "Mexicaine"

    Which was registered two years ago last week, it turns out.

    Pending Renewal or Deletion
    P.O. Box 430
    Herndon, VA 20172-0447
    Phone: 570-708-8786

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    Record expires on 05-Oct-2004
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    Update: Trying to think of a gift for Gawker? They already got a sharp stick in the eye from Network Solutions... (Nick says the whole thing's an NSI screwup, although I'd suspect BMW.)

    If greg.org were a magazine, this would be the big sidebar. But you can call it what it is: whoring for traffic. Here, for the first time in the indexable media, are the programmes--complete with my poor translations of their film descriptions--of La Sesion Comoda and Urbex Movie, the 2003 and 2004 series, respectively, organized by La Mexicaine de Perforation.

    Screenings began at midnight in Les Arenes de Chaillot, the group's underground cinema adjacent to la Cinematheque Francaise.


    On the long-anticipated convergence of films and video games: on City of Sound, Dan Hill points out GTA3: Vice City's remarkable multitude of similarities to Scarface, from the landscape, to the music, to the interior decorating details of Tony Montana's mansion.

    Scarface is Vice City is Scarface [City of Sound]

    My mother's house was recently scouted as a location for this season of The WB's Everwood. She didn't want all those people stomping across her limestone, so she turned them down.

    But according to the LA Times, some homeowners say yes, again and again. Says one location manager who has booked Pierre Koenig's Case Study House No. 22 for many films, "You can shoot a McMansion anytime you want, and no one will remember it. It just satisfies my creative juices to get great architecture into movies."

    Using the same houses for every movie? Sounds about as creative as casting Negroes as servants. But that's L.A., always trying to shoot around the palm trees.

    Best House in A Leading Role [LAT, via Towleroad]
    Related: Wes Anderson's Dream House [NYO]
    The owner of the New Jersey McMansion used as a set for The Sopranos claims 250 replicas have already been built using his $699 Soprano Home Design blueprints [NYT 08/2002, via City of Sound]

    Viva La Revolution! The Guardian's loyal apparatchik, Amelie Gentleman demands that contemporary art collector, museum-builder, Frenchman, and "rapacious capitalist" Francois Pinault confess his artistic crimes.

    Crimes number one, two, and three: pouring hundreds of millions of his own euros into to build a world-class collection--the likes of which doesn't exist anywhere else in France--and to turn a ruined factory--or, as she calls it, the "temple of France's workers"--into a Tadao Ando-designed museum.

    She tries to scare France senseless by comparing Pinault to the mad king of London's art world, Charles Saatchi. But she's got almost all hyperbole, almost no data, and next to no quotes, except for a bitchy whispering "official," who's righter than he knows when he says most French contemporary artists aren't good enough to make the collection (Don't worry about them, though; their '68 buddies entrenched at the Pompidou will always buy their work.)

    After living all these years in dread of Saatchi, Gentleman's article sounds like a case of the abused becoming the abuser.

    Saatchi of the Seine

    In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
    Issue of 2004-10-18
    Posted 2004-10-11

    COMMENT/ STRETCHERS/ Hendrik Hertzberg on the Vice-Presidential debate.
    HOMEWORK/ TO THE EDITOR/ Daniel Radosh on a class of gifted young letter writers.
    CONTENDERS/ POST-PUNK/ Nick Paumgarten on the rocker-activist Krist Novoselic.
    DEPT. OF DETRITUS/ YARD SALE/ Field Maloney on a Central Park junk convention.
    THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ FREE AIR/ James Surowiecki on giving up the digital spectrum.

    THE POLITICAL SCENE/ Larissa MacFarquhar/ The Pollster/ Does John Zogby know who will win the election?
    THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL/ Philip Gourevitch/ Reality Check/ John Kerryís Iraq comeback.
    FICTION/Rebecca Curtis/ "The Alpine Slide"
    ANNALS OF THE PRESIDENCY/ Nicholas Lemann/ Remember the Alamo/ Why George W. Bush turned radical.
    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Jane Mayer/ The Money Man/ Can George Soros's millions insure the defeat of President Bush?
    ON THE BALLOT/ Connie Bruck/ Hollywood Science/ Should a ballot initiative determine the fate of stem-cell research?
    BOOKS BRIEFLY NOTED/ When Presidents Lie, by Eric Alterman; Perilous Times, by Geoffrey R. Stone; Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America, by George C. Edwards III; Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire, by Anne Norton.

    A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Anthony Lane/ The Method President/ Ronald Reagan and the movies.
    ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ Bringing Up Bobby/ The boy who would be President.
    THE ART WORLD/ Peter Schjeldahl/ True Views/ Rackstraw Downesís realism.
    THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ The Laughing Cure/ Black comedy and blackface in two Off Broadway shows.
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Young Men/ "P.S." and "Tarnation."

    THE BACK PAGE/ Paul Slansky/ "Campaign 2004: The Quiz"
    Paul Slansky's series of quizzes on the Bush Presidency, "The __th Hundred Days," are linked on the sidebar of "Campaign 2004: The Quiz."

    Senegalese master filmmaker Ousmane Sembene is in town to promote his latest film, MoolaadÈ, which screens at the NYFF and opens Friday. The Village Voice's J. Hoberman calls MoolaadÈ "the most richly entertaining movie anyone has ever made on the subject of female genital mutilation."

    Tomorrow at noon, Sembene'll be interviewed by WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show.

    Ousmane Sembene on The Leonard Lopate Show. Warning: listen around Russell Banks [WNYC]
    MoolaadÈ reviewed by J. Hoberman [VV]
    Choire Sicha shouts MoolaadÈ! in the NYT
    Links and a post about Borom Sarret, Sembene's important first film, which was included in PS1's 2002 exhibit of contemporary African art and film, "The Short Century".


    While the discovery of an underground cinema in the center of Paris has been widely covered, little or no attention has been paid to what the films actually played there. Les Arenes de Chaillot (The Chaillot Arenas) was created by La Mexicaine de Perforation, a group of self-labeled urban explorers who, for the last five or so years, have used the invisible and forgotten infrastructure of Paris as their own curatorial venue, putting on exhibitions, concerts, and, beginning last year, film screenings.

    Early Sunday morning I spoke with Lazar Kunstmann, a filmmaker, editor, and the public spokesman of LMDP about the group's objectives, ideas, and inspirations. Turns out there were at least two weekly film series, including Urbex Movie, the one that someone narc'ed out this past summer. Here's what they showed and why:

    October 7, 2004

    On & On & On

    on_kawara_jun301967.jpgYou have 9 days and counting to see David Zwirner's show of 40 years of On Kawara's date paintings. Kawara began painting these works on January 6, 1966, and he has developed a particular set of rules for their creation: he must complete the painting by the end of that day; the date format is determined by the country where he happens to be (Esperanto where they don't use Roman characters, and always hand-painted, not stencilled); there are eight color (mixed fresh every day) and five size variations; he eventually stopped including a page from that day's local newspaper in the box.

    While working with a strict, uniform, and imposed subject matter, Kawara's method offers subtle reminders of the act of making, little shoutouts of "I am still alive."

    Just as Dan Flavin's work uses the barest means to make us aware of space, Kawara's makes us aware of time. Why do I suddenly have the urge to see I ♥ Huckabees?

    On Kawara at David Zwirner, through Oct. 16
    On Kawara at Dia:Beacon, the second-largest grouping around. Also check out Lynne Cooke's essay.
    Other Kawara-related posts, including Kawara's amazing piece at Documenta XI

    October 7, 2004

    Set your TiVo's on 'Stun'

    John Edwards is hosting Dr. Strangelove tonight on Turner Classic Movies. [via fimoculous]

    The only bummer is that Kubrick fingered the generals, not the chickenhawks. Still, I'd be less nervous sharing the screen with Dick Cheney than with George C. Scott. Sellers isn't bad, either.

    Three other senators picked movies so predictable you'd think they were up for election this year: McCain (Paths of Glory), Biden (Dead Poets Society), and Hatch (To Kill A Mockingbird).

    Party Politics and The Movies Series on TCM

    October 7, 2004

    RNC Highlight Reel

    Don't know the editor, but the actors are familiar, and the script, we all know it by heart now ("September 11th, Saddam Hussein, very dangerous, global terrorism").

    BoingBoing points to a video that distills the 4-day message of last month's Republican National Convention into three or so rhythmic minutes. The award for Most Hysterical goes to New York's own Rudy Giuliani.

    How Do You Run A Convention On A Record Of Failure? [via BoingBoing]

    Today's Boldface Names column in the Times is a ready-to-shoot script for a Hemingwayesque short. The story: James Gandolfini, who's putting the Ernest H. in HBO, gets into character by putting the moves on...on the reporter for the New York Times. The whole thing takes place during a benefit at Elaine's.

    I'd shoot this myself, but I'm still too traumatized over losing my shaving kit last week on the exact spot where this love scene takes place. Think about it.

    The Old Man and the She [NYT, via Gawker]

    I love this place: BYU newspaper yanks T-shirt ad [Deseret News]

    And I love these t-shirts: I Cant...I'm Mormon

    And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free...to take children to see simulated puppet sex.

    Kudos to the MPAA censors--now sitting in their collective bed smoking a Marlboro Light--who made the producers of Team America World Police come ten times

    October 6, 2004

    I Have Seen The Light

    flavin_nga.jpgAnd it is good. Just got back from the newly opened Dan Flavin retrospective at the National Gallery this morning, and it's pretty wonderful. Some of the galleries are oddly cramped--anyone realize how unfriendly I.M. Pei's actual galleries are to art?--especially if you're used to seeing Flavins in dedicated spaces like Dia:Beacon, Dia:Bridgehampton, or Judd's Spring St. loft.

    But every time I start to write how there are too many Tatlin pieces in this gallery, or how that gallery would be better with just three pieces, not four, I remember the single-room Tatlin installation at the Menil. Or how I didn't mind the ground floor of Dia:Chelsea being crammed with his work right after he died. Now that I think about it, it's really only because the utter perfection of the all-white Flavin show at Paula Cooper's cathedral-like gallery a couple of years ago still burns like phosphenes on my retinas.

    Flavin's great success, like his kindred artistic spirit Donald Judd, arises from the complex spatial awareness he creates with such industrial, apparently unartistic means. His flourescent sculptures activate the spaces they inhabit; their light seems to hang in the air, outclassing and setting itself off against the "normal" light we otherwise ignore.

    Although ads and posters feature the most visually complicated Flavin grid, to me the most wonderful work is the single horizontal flourescent tube spanning a corner. There was a two-toned white one at Paula Cooper, but the example in this show is blue, magically backlit with red, green, and yellow. It positively floats on air. [ModernArtNotes has a reproduction and excerpts of Tylers review for Bloomberg.]

    At 10AM the galleries were empty, except for still-unconvinced guards and a pair of bitter old southern queens who repeatedly unloaded their pent-up hostilities on Flavin's work ("What're we supposed to see? They're all untitled!" "Nothing, this was YOUR idea." "The kids at the day care could do that." "I'd hope so.")

    Of course, the untitles couldn't be more loaded with meaning and reference, as even the quickest glance at the works list would show. untitled (to Barnett Newman to commemorate his simple problem, red, yellow and blue) is only one rich example. There's a Work List in the drawings gallery at the end of the show from the early 60's, on which serious, momentous-sounding titles are divided into "In Process" and "To Be Completed." Only two are checked off, but we know now how it turned out. It's useful to look back through the other end of the telescope and remember that these ephemeral, experiential works of off-the-shelf materials grew from their untitles.

    It reminded me of a statement curator Laura Hoptman made about her inspirations for the about-to-open Carnegie International:

    I have been thinking about all the artists making work immediately after the Second World War both in Europe and in the United States. Those artists had hubris. Barnett Newman felt that he could sum up the world in a single vertical zip! It might seem ridiculous, but there's something very potent about the notion that with this kind of abstract gesture you could take on a subject like monotheism.
    Flavin: complete lights, image:amazon.comAnd no one had more hubris than Flavin and Judd (although Flavin may have grown out of it; the last piece he completed before he died was for the Christmas windows of the newly opened Calvin Klein boutique on Madison Ave.) Perhaps the greatest thing about the exhibition catalogue is the appendix, which features a chipper first-person timeline/biography, written by an obviously younger Flavin, and a 1965 interview, republished from Artforum, where his powerful artistic hubris shines through.

    Dan Flavin: A Retrospective, at the National Gallery of Art through Jan. 9, 2005
    Buy the exhibition catalogue, or better yet, pre-order Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961-1996, which includes the catalogue plus all the rest of the artist's sculptural work.

    Related: In Search of The Ultimate [Laura Hoptman with Roberta Fallon on Artnet]

    Call it Team ANTI-America, just the kind of devious attack you'd expect in an election year: The ever-patriotic MPAA is bravely taking a stand, seeking to protect the high-quality of simulated puppet sex [SPS] America's children know and love from cheap Hollywood imitations.

    For the last year or so, the Broadway musical, Avenue Q, has been offering Tony Award-winning SPS to Americas children for $95 a ticket. But now, a devious team of low-rent Hollywood types is seeking to flood the SPS market with a poorly articulated product available everywhere--not just on Broadway--for only $9.50, a shocking 90% discount.

    The culprit: Trey Parker and Matt Stone's ironically named Team America World Police, which is due in theaters next week. MPAA censors have been selflessly "studying" Team America's simulated puppet oral sex scene--nine times so far--to certify it's good enough for kids. So far, the movie's SPS has only received an NC-17.

    Note: the MPAA only certifies the quality of SPS; all other puppet simulations are currently unregulated and available on basic cable.

    Puppet oral sex goes against grain for US censors [Guardian, LAT, via boingboing]

    Even the weekly, leftwing, activist, downtown media (owned by a religious conservative, suburban billionaire) said the George Bush media masterminds flubbed the debate last week.

    Late to close, but still wanting to kick the man when he's down, the Village Voice's James Ridgeway discusses gloats how the split screen--which captured Bush's antsy reaction shots for all the world to see--tipped the outcome of the debate.

    See Bush Twitch! [Village Voice]

    That's one suggested translation of "La Mexicaine de Perforation," the amorphous group of urban explorers who built and operated a subterranean cinema in the center of Paris until it was discovered last month.

    The group's spokesman, Lazar Kunsman, originally explained the name in a French radio interview, but early English language reports of the movie theater botched both the original and the translation, and I unwittingly perpetuated their mistakes. La Mexicaine de la Perforation [sic] became The Perforating Mexicans [sic sic], which is what happens when British people think they speak French.

    Le Mexico is the bar where the explorers would meet, and perforation is drilling, as in mining and quarrying. According to Language Log, the name shares its construction with industrial, utility, and institutional names in France.

    This is all fascinating, I'm sure, but it's not nearly as interesting as what films LMDP screened during its summer-long film series, Urbex Movie. I'm still working on that. [Thanks, Tristan, for the correction]

    Related: Language Log deciphers "LMDP"

    In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
    Issue of 2004-10-11
    Posted 2004-10-04

    COMMENT/ WINNING/ Elizabeth Kolbert on how the candidates fared in the first Presidential debate.
    VISITING DIGNITARIES/ DRY RUN/ Andrew Rice on an African election observerís trip to America.
    THE SPORTING SCENE/ HARD GUY/ Ben McGrath on Tom Coughlinís new rules for the New York Giants.
    POSTSCRIPT/ GARDNER BOTSFORD/ Roger Angell remembers a former New Yorker editor.

    THE POLITICAL SCENE/ John Cassidy/ Pump Dreams/ Can America get by without foreign oil?
    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Michael Specter/ The Devastation/ Russia may be dying as a nation, and it faces a threat that no one will talk about: AIDS.
    POSTSCRIPT/ Adam Gopnik/ Richard Avedon/ A portrait of the photographer.
    FICTION/ Charles D'Ambrosio/ "The Scheme of Things"

    A CRITIC AT LARGE/ David Denby/ Northern Lights/ How modern life emerged from eighteenth-century Edinburgh.
    ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ Tanner Revisited/ Robert Altman and Garry Trudeau revive their candidate.
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Playing Parts/ "Vera Drake and "Stage Beauty."

    ANNALS OF MEDICINE/ Michael Specter/ India's Plague/ From a series of reports on the global AIDS crisis/ Issue of 2001-12-17
    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Michael Specter/ The Vaccine/ AIDS in Africa, from a series/ Issue of 2003-02-03

    Talking about his daughters last night, George W. Bush said he's "trying to put a leash on'em."

    U Miami Transcript of Bush/Kerry debate [PRNewswire]

    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
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    find me on twitter: @gregorg

    about this archive

    Posts from October 2004, in reverse chronological order

    Older: September 2004

    Newer November 2004

    recent projects, &c.

    Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
    about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

    Social Medium:
    artists writing, 2000-2015
    Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
    ed. by Jennifer Liese
    buy, $28

    Madoff Provenance Project in
    'Tell Me What I Mean' at
    To__Bridges__, The Bronx
    11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
    show | beginnings

    Chop Shop
    at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
    curated by Magda Sawon
    1-7 March 2016

    eBay Test Listings
    Armory – ABMB 2015
    about | proposte monocrome, rose

    It Narratives, incl.
    Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
    Franklin Street Works, Stamford
    Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
    about | link

    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

    Standard Operating Procedure
    about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

    CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
    Canal Zone Richard Prince
    YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
    Decision, plus the Court's
    Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
    about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

    "Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
    Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
    about, brochure | installation shots

    HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
    Printed Matter, NYC
    Summer 2012
    panel &c.

    Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
    background | making of
    "Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

    Canal Zone Richard
    Prince YES RASTA:
    Selected Court Documents
    from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
    about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99