guy_ben-ner_elia.jpgGuy Ben-Ner's in the zone these days; his ingenious video, "Elia - a story of an ostrich chick," made like one of those anthropomorphizing Disney nature documentaries from the 50's, is included in PS1's Greater NY show. Now, he's representing Israel in the Venice Biennale.

At Venice, Ben-Ner talks with PS1 curator Bob Nickas about his work and how he uses adaptive techniques for shooting under directorial duress. He references silent film, in which the camera couldn't move, and nature documentaries, where you can't direct animals. Ben-Ner uses his kids in his videos, which requires a certain creativity to get anything down on tape.

Ben-Ner's segment lasts about 15 minutes, and then Nickas and his too-smart sidekicks spiral out of control, gushing over Vezzoli's Caligula trailer--in exactly the critically unaware way that bugs so bad. While Ben-Ner sits silently by for the next 30-40 minutes, the curator/writer conversation encapsulates exactly the kind of hermetic, bitchy Venetian oneupsmanship that shouldn't be recorded, much less broadcast. Don't miss it.

WPS1 Venice Conversation - The Bob Nickas Roundtable

Memphis's own Brett Ratner mouths off, which, after scoring $9mm for your film that'd been passed over by every studio dawg in town, is just fine.

"What is interesting is the 'indie blockbuster' idea; that Hollywood's going to buy cheaper movies and put the kind of money behind them that they would a blockbuster. What's wrong with that?" He cracks, "Look, we didn't make The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. [Hustle] has a commercial, mythological, hero's-journey structure to it. I have always wanted it to be reflective of The Commitments, Footloose, Flashdance, and Rocky."
Yes, interesting. Slate's Christopher Kelly thinks it's train wreck interesting, at least: "Funny, though, that this 'vision of what's hip and what Hollywood isn't doing,' as Singleton has described it, should look exactly like what Hollywood's been doing for years."

Rhyme Scheme [vv]
The Pimp Who Saved Hollywood [slate]

I heard different parts of Thelma Schoonmaker's interview twice, and it was pretty great. It makes an impact when someone can be so articulate and lucid about her process; I imagine working with Scorsese will do that to you.

The Woman in Scorsese's Edit Room [fresh air,]

sugimoto_math2.jpgSherman Sam interviews the artist Hiroshi Sugimoto about his London show at Gagosian. Sugimoto's latest works, originally shown at the Fondation Cartier, are photographs of early 20th-century mathematical and mechanical study models from the collection of Tokyo University.

Sugimoto provides some more background on the models, which were also photographed by Man Ray and studied--in their day, in the 1910's and 20's--by Duchamp, Brancusi, and others.

By happy coincidence, the same series are on view at Sonnabend until June 11.

Artworker of the Week: Hiroshi Sugimoto [kultureflash]
previously: On Math & Art in France

On the occasion of his cashing out on some serious equity (3,500 sf, Dakota, all orig. woodwork, bought around the time Gimme Shelter came out), Albert Maysles tells the NYT Magazine the first things that pop into his mind:

Favorite household chore: Washing dishes, because that is what my father did. In his day, he did a lot of work a woman would do then. We were all very proud of him for that because it saved my mother a lot of work. He's gone, but every time I wash dishes, I identify with my father, which is quite a pleasure.


Broken item he can't part with: I have this movie camera that I built to work in a way no other camera at the time could. It allowed me to shoot while moving around with synchronized sound but untethered to a tape recorder. I first used it to shoot the Beatles in 1964. That film was a revolution in documentary film because I could run around after them.

sony_dsr-pd170.jpg[Is he talking about the Drew Associates synch sound 16 mm? Because he first used that to shoot Robert Drew's 1960 doc, Primary, considered the birth of cinÈma vÈritÈ. Maysles was camera on that, along with Leacock, and Pennebaker.

Whatever, last year he made the switch to DV; now he uses a Sony PD170.]

For a 72nd St. Duplex, It's a Wrap [nytmag]
"Hand-held and from the Heart: The Stories of Albert Maysles" [Doubletake, via Maysles Prod.]
Origins of Documentary Film: Cinema VeritÈ []
Buy a Sony DSR-PD170 (MSRP $3940) for around $3,127 at Amazon [amazon]

Typing the first thing that comes into my mind:
Isabella Rossellini: [gulp] hi
Ryan Gosling: unexpectedly wry
David Benioff: composed (but watch out, the dude killed off Agamemnon)
Will Ferrell's brother: his biggest fan, (but with the unenviable job of being nice to his richer, little brother for life)
Maggie Gyllenhaal: good sport, Harvard Law material
Maggie Lyko: one of the greatest women in America, who happens to have left for Mexico.
Marc Forster: Sick. [flu-sick, not gross-sick. Both he and Ferrell are getting Theraflu-high on stage]
Meeting Marc Forster: genial. [nice, easy-going, surprisingly not wearing clogs. Says, "I know," when I introduce myself. Politely doesn't mention the restraining order.]
My oblique Monster's Ball oral sex scene reference in my speech: too oblique. Only Forster and the writer get it. Embarassingly, only Forster says it was funny.
Jamie Niven's inadvertent and unacknowledged oral sex sight gag when the tech guy got down on his knees behind the podium to fix the mic during his speech: hi-larious, that man is grace under pressure personified.
Sean Combs: left the P. Diddy at home.
Best description of Everything Comes Together: The Dead Baby Movie.
Will Ferrell: makes even repressed movies about dead babies, racist executioners, and manipulative closet cases funny.
MoMA atrium: nice place, whaddya pay?
Mini cheeseburger hors d'oeuvres: Get back here!
Bresaola hors d'oeuvres: pre-touched meat
Champagne with straws: generously provided
Diet Coke at the pre-event champagne-only reception: cruelly absent

sundance_channel_id.jpgA few weeks ago, the new identity system for The Sundance Channel caught my eye.

Built on a string of images and boxes that pulses, tugs, and scrolls leftward off the screen, the system cleanly embodies the idea of a TV channel as a programmer, a curator of a continuous stream of content in time. It also reminded me of a non-linear editing timeline like in Final Cut Pro, and of the timeline-like installation of artist Jeremy Blake's 2003 painting show at Feigen in NYC.

Anyway, I recently spoke with Keira Alexandra, VP, Creative Director at The Sundance Channel, who came up with the design, which launched in late January (to coincide with the Sundance Film Festival).

On April 29, Alexandra will talk in depth about the project at MOVE: Stories In Motion, a conference organized by the NY chapter of AIGA.

They're Nos 1 & 2 on my list of "People I never imagined would live in New Jersey, ever." And yet, they do.

[via Liz Hoggard's interview with Bjork: "We miss you in London! Do you miss us? Hmm? Cuz we sure miss you." in the Observer (UK)]

Related: Bjork released a 2-disc DVD version of Medulla, with more acapella than ever and a making of documentary by Spike Jonze. It's only available in the rest of the world outside the US, the UK and Iceland. Wait, is that a trick question? Where else is there?

I have to confess [or maybe I don't; just take a look back over the last couple weeks' posts], I've barely had a film-related thought or activity in far too long.

It's to the point where I'm actually afraid to visit, where I'll be forced to acknowledge how much cinema is going on around me that I'm disconnected from.

Then I read an intervew like Brad Bird's at ReadyMade, and it really charges my batteries.

Brad Bird, How did you get that f*&%ing awesome job? [, via scrubbles]
previously: Mike Mills, How did you get your f*&%ing awesome job?

Jason interviewed David Bernal, aka Elsewhere, the popping dancer who recreated Gene Kelly's Singin' in The Rain dance scene for a recent British VW GTi commercial: "...they had us watch the original Singing in the Rain scene so many times that I started unconsciously moving a bit like Gene Kelly. The director at one point even told me that I was moving too much like Gene and I needed to move more like me."

Golf GTi Commercial and Elsewhere []
previously: Definition of "to be Jar-Jarred"
VW commercial shot on the same soundstage as Oliver!
Musical, Re-animated, with Xanadu references

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Since 2001 here at, 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 that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: interviews

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
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
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99