January 2004 Archives

Film critics David Edelstein and A. O. Scott take time--and wordcount--off from reviewing films to discuss books. Books about films. By critics. J. Hoberman's The Dream Life, a political/cultural history of film in the 60's and 70's and Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures, a bitchstory of independent film in the 90's.

Sofia Coppola being praised for her wok by people who can't bother to spell her name correctly, image: yahoo.com

From Yahoo News coverage of the Golden Globes[note: annoyingly slippery link]:

Director Sophia Coppola holds her award after winning Best Screenplay for a motion picture for her wok on the film 'Lost In Translation' during the 61st annual Golden Globe Awards (news - web sites) in Beverly Hills January 25, 2004. (Chris Haston/NBC via Reuters)
Dude, she spells it "Sofia." This is the Baysinger/Bassinger of her generation.

[And while she's usually very quiet, the one thing Sofia won't shut up about is her wok.]

Drew Nieporent's SF Rubicon is just down the street from The Wok Shop. Sofia's father is an investor. Coincidence?

January 29, 2004

Boosters' Millions

How many times have you replayed the Richard Pryor movie, Brewster's Millions, in your head and said, "I could spend $30 million in 30 days and have nothing to show for it, what's the big deal?" Not counting P Diddy's entire, hapless, yacht-renting existence, Howard Dean is the only person I can think of who's actually done it. He's a veritable Doctor of Spendology.

January 27, 2004

Yohji Madness

Madness in the Yohji Yamamoto FW04 show, image: nytimes.com
The 2-Tone ska band Madness skanked down Yohji Yamamoto's runway during the Fall '04 shows. British GQ has pictures of the entire collection, but no acknowledgement of the band at all; he just shoots the clothes. Clearly, a magazine for New Ro poseurs.

On the other hand, the Times has the full band, including frontman Suggs, but Cathy Horyn doesn't even mention Yohji or Madness in her report. Poseur.

Buy Madness's One Step Beyond or Ultravox's The Collection (Poseur). [Obviously, I have them both.]

January 27, 2004

Knee-Jerk Oscar Comments

In addition to what I wrote on Gothamist,

1. Do these nominees follow the Zapf Zipf distribution? It seems like they're either mega-blockbusters or tiny independent films. Granted, many so-called "indie" films are made by the studio-owned mini-majors, aka Dependents, but still.

2. I'm burning through like $10/day on Google ads for people who misspell Sofia Coppola. She's now famous enough to have her name spelled correctly. I'm sure the kids from Spellbound would agree, if they weren't all in some rehab program for washed up child stars.

3. Is Cold Mountain the first movie edited with Final Cut Pro to be nominated for Best Editing?

I would add a big 4. There is no Elephant is this room. That's more than a Punch-Drunk Love-level snub. I think Gus Van Sant has completely replenished his indie cred. [1/31 update: The Observer's Philip French clearly doesn't vote in the Academy; he calls Elephant "a chilling tour de force."]

Between Jonathan Marlow's voluminous Park City dispatches and David's Berlinale preview, you can basically sound like you've been to both all three festivals and figured out what was worth seeing and tracking.

Can't wait for Rotterdam to get the GreenCine treatment.

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue of 2004-02-02
Posted 2004-01-26

The Talk of The Town
COMMENT/ UNSTEADY STATE/ Hendrik Hertzberg parses the President?s State of the Union address.
RELOCATION DEPT./ NET LOSS/ Ben McGrath on the Brooklyn Nets? new arena, possibly.
LONDON POSTCARD/ DARK MATERIAL/ Louis Menand on Britain?s latest pop-mythology production.
THE PICTURES/ AGAINST TYPE/ Hilton Als catches up with Charlize Theron.
CAMPAIGN JOURNAL/ OUT OF IOWA/ Philip Gourevitch on Teresa Heinz Kerry, the Iowa caucuses, and democracy.

/ Patricia Marx/ Boswell?s Life of Jackson
ONWARD & UPWARD WITH THE ARTS/ Peter Schjeldahl/ Dealership/ What Marian Goodman sees in the new. [This is not online. Go read it at B&N, or just shell out the dough for a subscription already.]
A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Michael Specter/ Miracle in a Bottle/ Our national appetite for untested remedies.
FICTION/ John Updike/ "Delicate Wives"

ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ L.A. LOVE/ "The L Word" brings lesbian life to the small screen.
A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Joshua Micah Marshall/ Power Rangers/ Did the Bush Administration create a new American empire?or weaken the old one? [The magazine's first blogger turns in a veritable The New Yorker Review of Books piece. Nice.]
THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ Innocence Abroad/ Adam Guettel's Italian romance.
MUSICAL EVENTS/ Alex Ross/ Murder Will Out/ Colin Davis revisits the mystery of "Peter Grimes."
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Three?s a Crowd/ "On the Run," "An Amazing Couple," and "After Life"

Sarah Hepola's lawyer boyfriend won a radio contest and a trip to Sundance, and she tags along to shoot fish in a barrel see celebrities on Main Street in Park City. How'd she do? well, she sees Kyle McLachlan. And DMX, aka The Black Guy in Utah Who Doesn't Play For The Jazz.

Read her minute-by-minute account at The Morning News.

As you can see by my interview with her last year.

On the subject of pretend-journalists, Lost in Translation beat out indie underdog Finding Nemo for best comedy/musical at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globes last night. The 80-page or so outline/story/is it really a script? that funders initially thought was too slight to make a whole film from won best screenplay, and Bill Murray won best actor (for finishing it, I guess).

Gothamist has minute-by-minute coverage of the boozefest which is more entertaining than the show itself. Sort of a Joan Rivers-meets-Andrew Sarris kind of thing.

Scarlett Johanssen goes 1 for 3 on getting thanked. Hmm. On the subject of misbehaving ingenues, it sounds like Britney Murphy didn't have a presenting meltdown like she did last year at the IFP Awards. Whew.

January 25, 2004

Best Week Ever

Jeff Jarvis apparently doesn't spend all his time watching Outkast over at The MTV.

He surfs over to the more demographically appropriate VH1 just long enough to post about the show weblog for Best Week Ever, The Mariah Network's answer to The Daily Show.

From what I hear, the weblog's the best part of the show. I have to go by secondhand information since I stopped watching any music channels since the quaintly homemade MuchMusic sold their Canadian souls.

Awards were handed out last night at Sundance. Check out the list of winners at IndieWIRE.

Or, check out IndieWIRE's profiles of the first-timers in the competition, including New Yorkers Morgan Spurlock, who won the directing award for his masochistic documentary, Super Size Me! and Josh Marston, whose Maria Full of Grace won the audience award for dramatic feature.

Gowanus, Brooklyn, co-winner of the short film competition, is also by a New Yorker and Sundance vet, Ryan Fleck, who lives in Williamsburg. It's the start of something big (ie., it was produced to raise money for the feature version, a direct contradiction of Filmmaker's rules of great short-making. The moral: If there is a rule, think about breaking it.

Bonus: a Film Threat interview with Spurlock, who conceived and made Super Size Me in less time than it takes at the drive-through window. My version of a doc about McDonald's would be a road trip, a global search for unconventional pies.

If screenwriter/director Avary doesn't reveal enough for you in his Q&A session with the Guardian, go to his weblog--which he must deplore. And when you view his webcam, he may flip you off personally.

He was working on the script for David Fincher's remake of Dogtown and Z Boys but the Guardian has him adapting Bret Ellis's Glamorama now. But since I missed his garage sale (an army of professional rummage sale zombies rummaged it clean as soon as the garage door opened), I'm not the most up-to-date source of Avary goings on.

The Passion guide/souvenir program, image: OutreachMarketing.com
From Scott Evans, CEO of Outreach, Inc, retailer of evangelical swag via the (Godless and/or Anglican) Guardian:
Dear Pastor,

The release of The Passion of the Christ is the most exciting outreach opportunity I've seen in my lifetime... In fact, I see this opportunity as unprecedented since the day of Pentecost... Ask God: How will we as a church encourage people to experience this film? How can we build a bridge from the movie theatre to our church? I encourage you to carefully explore our website...

Evans says of the film itself, "It's almost as if someone travelled through time with a video camera, captured the original crucifixion and returned to share it with our world today." He may be thinking of Live From Golgotha, the The Passion-meets-The Butterfly Effect-meets-the bathtub scene from Spartacus novel by Gore Vidal, which has exactly that plot. Somehow I doubt it.

Brother Bob Berney, president of the film's distributor, Newmarket Films, and a disinterested observer, notes that "People call and say, 'I want 10,000 tickets.'" In sheer scale, selling tickets to 10,000 people at a pop dwarfs the largest recorded miracle in the New Testament, feeding loaves and fishes to 5,000 sermon-goers in Galilee.

The Passion Outreach.com ["Perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years!"]
Purchase Live from Golgotha from Amazon
Purchase 100 The Passion Evangelistic Booklets (tm) from Outreach ("full color images from the movie!")
Purchase a banner-ready "Ground Zero" logo from Outreach for use in your youth ministry.
Purchase a The Passion-themed PowerPoint template for use in your church, $6.95 from SermonCentral.com

January 24, 2004

My Yogurt with Gus

On the occasion of Elephant's release in the UK, Simon Hattenstone goes on a publicity pilgrimage to Oregon to interview Gus Van Sant for the Guardian. Gus sends him for coffee before buzzing him up, and later serves him blueberry yogurt [which Simon apparently doesn't understand is the archetypal food of the Guy Living Alone.] It's a long account with some nice backstory and several references to Van Sant's art background (he went to RISD with David Byrne).

Related: My interview last month with Dany Wolf, Van Sant's producer

World Trade Center Transportation Hub, concourse, by Santiago Calatrava, image: PANYNJ powerpoint

That could be a reference to John Cage, but it's actually Santiago Calatrava discussing his design for a transportation hub at the WTC site. The dual-winged design will be unveiled today.

For images and details, see the Port Authority press release and Calatrava's PowerPoint presentation, David Dunlap's reporting or Muschamp's free verse reaction in The Times, and a pile of images from Yahoo News.

The NY Times profiles Peter Walker, the dean of modernist US landscape design (and ex-dean of Harvard and Berkeley arch. schools). Not a lot of news, but he does cite Donald Judd and Carl Andre as artistic inspirations. 2 pts for taste, but the problem with Arad's original plaza was its unremitting Andre-ness. His own firm's memorial proposal was "a glassy wall with the victims' and heroes' names etched within."

With daily reports from the frontlines filling the Festival site, IndieWIRE, Movie City News, the Times, the trades, , Sundance needs weblogging about as much as Bush's march to war did.

Naturally, that's not stopping anyone. If you still think you should've gone, check out reports from the standby lines, bathroom lines, and coke lines as well: Weblogs, Inc. [portally]; Eric Snider [Utah-funny]; Dan Webster [Pf'ingH?]; Alastik [lots of waiting]; Peter Vonder Haar [lots of pics so far]; I'll keep adding them as they cross my path [thanks? GreenCine, Gawker, and email]

Filmmaker Magazine's weblog, to their great credit, actually includes posts from the filmworld beyond the steamed-up windows of Park City.

For an artist who's only shown a couple of times and whose most well-known work --a 22-minute, reconceived-for-network-TV version of Cremaster 4--has only been seen by a handful of people, Jon Routson sure gets a lot of press. Baltimore City Paper's Bret McCabe gives Routson the full feature treatment this week, a 5,000-word cover story, complete with inflammatory comments by [at least one] wannabe playah with a weblog.

greg.org's Greg and John Waters' John viewed askew by David O. RussellWith pleasant symmetry, another Baltimore artist, the indie filmgod John Waters, opens an exhibition of his work--thematic collages of images cribbed from 60's and 70's movies--at the New Museum Feb. 7. Read Artnet's recent interview with Waters.

Related: my previous post about Routson, and my NYT article on bootlegging video art

Filmmaker reports that in the face of religious boycotts, the missionary-meets-boy tale, Latter Day, was dumped by its Salt Lake venue, Madstone Theaters. Actually, this is good news; it means they might be open to dumping Mel Gibson's controversy-baiting The Passion of Christ, which is scheduled to open Feb. 25.

In the Village Voice, Ed Halter hears the good news about Mormon Cinema. [O me of little faith...] I think I may have been friends with one of the silly Mormon comedy producers. If not, I'm sure gonna be friends with them soon.

Other things I just posted about that turned up in the Voice [Choire's making money for this, too. Note to self...]: Independent film's dead! Long live independent film!, and John Cage festivities, this time at Anthology Film Archive (tomorrow night, tickets available until after the films start, from the sound of things).

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue of 2004-01-26
Posted 2004-01-19

The Talk of The Town
COMMENT/ TAXING/ John Cassidy on Paul O?Neill?s deficit message.
HAUNTS/ ECTOPLASM!/ Ben McGrath on a ghost, perhaps, at the Maritime Hotel.
HEY, PAL DEPT./ OLD HACK/ David Owen hails a taxi historian.
GOOD WORKS/ BARELY SHAVERS/ Field Maloney on a group that?s growing mustaches for charity.
THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ BIG SPACE/ James Surowiecki on the billions behind Bush?s space program.

ANNALS OF MEDICINE/ Jerome Groopman/ The Grief Industry/ Does crisis counselling really work?

SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Frank Gannon/ Aristotle on Relationships

FICTION/ Antonya Nelson/ "Eminent Domain"

THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Monster
THE THEATRE/ Hilton Als/ King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe!
BOOKS/ John Updike/ MIND/BODY PROBLEMS/ New novels by Andrew Sean Greer and Hanif Kureishi.
THE BACK PAGE/ "And the Winner Is . . ."

London's The Bureau has its own approach to making great short films: sponsor and produce shorts by established-to-famous directors. Directors, who, I guess, couldn't be bothered to cough up the five figures or so for their own damn short film? Whatever, the results can be seen intermittently at Cinema Extreme: Extreme Cinema, The Bureau's screening program for big-name shorts.

This Sunday, in fact, shorts by Francois Ozon, Hal Hartley, Benoit Mariage, and Nic Roeg will be followed by a Q&A with Roeg. [via Kultureflash] details: Jan 24, 11:30 AM (!!) at the Curzon Soho, London, En-guh-land] No fair, short films in the UK get all the best time slots...

Related: The best-edited sex scene in the movies, from Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, which Soderbergh improved on in Out of Sight
buy Don't Look Now or X2000, the early short films of Francois Ozon at Amazon

The NYT's Glenn Collins and David Dunlap have a transfixing and revelatory article about details of the WTC Memorial Jury's deliberations and process for the first time. Twelve of the thirteen jurors spoke with the reporters.

It turns out even the jurors were underwhelmed by the revised designs their finalists came up with. And Martin Puryear's dismissal of Michael Kimmelman's call for elitism to save us is right on.

Of course, Felix Salmon's analysis is also right on, that it was essentially the jury that designed--and continues to design--the Memorial, and that Arad's design was picked because it was the most amenable to their impending directives.

Gotta run, but before I do, the fine fine folks at Filmmaker Magazine timed the launch of their weblog to the opening of the under-the-radar Sundance Film Festival. Sundance is not, as its name suggests, held in a warm, sunny place, but in Park City, in the state of Utah. It may not be of any interest to you, but if it is, the festival has a little website.

Also at Filmmaker this month, the makings of a great short film, tips from a festival programmer. [via GreenCine]

January 16, 2004

On Adapting for Film

[via IFP] New York Women in Film and Television is sponsoring a panel titled The Art of Adaptation on Jan. 28 in New York, thank you. In fact, it's at the Alliance Francaise/French Institute, East 60th St, so even I can stumble out of bed and wander on over by, um, the 6:30 start time.

IFP members and others get $5 off the $20 registration fee. NYWIFTies get in for a mere $10.

Related: Jason Kottke made a sweet weblog for Susan Orlean's view of Adaptation.

This panel may be payback for the last adaptation panel I attended, a misogyny-tinged but hilarious and enlighteneing discussion sponsored by Harper's Magazine. At the New School, a lone woman, Susan Minot, squared off against David O. Russell, David Foster Wallace, Todd Solondz and Dale Peck. Editor/moderator Lewis Lapham complained about Leonard [sic] DiCaprio, while everyone else discussed James Cameron at length.

Alas, with no known tape or transcript, this panel only lives on in our hearts. And in this funny weird/funny haha DFW-centric account from some delusional DFW groupie chick ("He's trying so hard to be everyman, when we all know he's uberman... poor Dave."). Quelle surprise, it's written in the overly footnoted style of the uberman himself.

Just a quick Sforzian note of these two Reuters photos, which were side by side on a Yahoo News page this morning:

1/10/04 image of Dean emerging from the depths of his hellish kingdom to rain secular terror upon the earth, apparently: reuters rick wilking via yahoo 1/9/04 image of Bush anointed by God, single-handedly hastening His second coming by launching Armageddon, apparently, image: reuters larry downing via yahoo

Related: Producer Scott Sforza, who's built a Potemkin village centered around the White House.

January 15, 2004

Don't go there, girlfriend

Whatever Herbert Muschamp's trying to say about the World Trade Center Memorial is now lost to me. My mind went blank and numb when I read the word, "metrotextual."

I see through fellow Best NY Blog nominee Lockhart Steele's feeble ruse to get me to post more non-NYC stuff. Even as I'm powerless to thwart it.

Tommy Ryk's documentary, Work Sucks, I'm Going Skiing follows the antics of a New York hotel developer in South Beach. No story there, folks. Throw a rock in SoSoHo (as I called it in 1990, when then-friend Tony Goldman put me up in the Park Central) and you'll hit a New York hotel developer.

No, Ryk's film is about The Creek, a hostel-turned-hotel, full of wacky young artists, guests, and contractors. It opens at the Made in Miami Film Festival. According to this Herald article, Ryk was hired to shoot web video of artists redoing the guestrooms, but instead turned his cameras on guests who stayed on to help renovate; ersatz security guards auditioning for porn flicks, a cast of characters you could never write without sounding like Weekend at Bernie's III.

But what can I do? It's Kieslowski. The Decalogue is playing at the AFI Silver Theater in DC, starting tomorrow (through 1/22). The marathon back-to-back screening of all ten episodes on Saturday includes, inexplicably, the only screenings of episodes I-IV.

This was probably my last chance to see Decalogue uninterrupted in theaters for the next 15 years, give or take a month. And to think, I just found out about it. Well, maybe you should just watch them on DVD like me.

Salt in the wound: Sunday is a back-to-back showing of the Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, and Red, too.

Howard Berkes is doing a story on NPR right now about Mormon Cinema. It ranges from the all in-joke Singles Ward to soundbites from the self-proclaimed "Mormon Spielberg," Richard Dutcher, to the promise of the festival-friendly " Saints and Soldiers.

I've never seen any of these Mo-Mo Movies, but a friend bought the feature rights to an LDS-related documentary, and a novel I'm optioning has a Mormon angle. For my money, you can't beat the doctrinal and educational films the Church itself produced in the 60's and 70's. I said as much in an onair discussion with Dutcher on KUER, the local Utah NPR affiliate. In that hour-long program last fall, the host managed to avoid any mention of the most critically acclaimed Mormon filmmaker, Neil LaBute, whose films show (to my religious eye) an awareness of the Mormon moral topography, but whose R-ratings keep more doctrinaire believers from ever seeing them.

Anyway, my gut tells me a movie has to be good before it's Mormon; if Dutcher wants to be a Mormon Spielberg, more power to him, but that's just aiming for the middle(brow).

The piece wraps up with a rock cover of Come, Come Ye Saints, a classic pioneer hymn, which, doesn't have the power of the punk rock version of that Sunday school staple, Give Said The Little Stream. It was from the high school band that inspired the movie, SLC Punk (another film that goes unmentioned, btw).

January 15, 2004

Rethinking the Food Pyramid

a DC installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' untitled (do it), made with 180 lbs of locally produced candy, image: greg.org

close-up of FG-T untitled (do it) in DC, 180 lbs of Goetze's Caramel Cremes, which are produced in Baltimore, image: greg.org

We just switched DC apartments (Cleveland Park, because you can walk, but if you think that's a subway...don't get me started), but I figured anyone who's moved before doesn't need to read the tedia (2 or more tediums?) that entails. In addition to the headaches, like not having furniture, needing to repaint, being waitlisted for indoor parking, there's the inevitable stomach ache that comes from having a 180-lb pile of locally produced candy in the corner, well within armslength. [For DC, I took that to mean Goetze's Caramel Creams, which is technically from Baltimore.]

I've eaten so much today, it looks like a 130-lb pile. And to top it off, now I have to paint around it. Priorities, people. Priorities.

Score for John Cage's 4-33, image: guardian.co.uk[via Kultureflash] John Cage Uncaged is a weekend of performances, films and discussions ("and mushrooms!") at Barbican Hall.

Cage symphony performances are rare enough to make them not-to-be-missed events. Highlights: Friday's BBC Orchestra concert, "Cage in his American Context," (which will include the first UK radio performance of Cage's most famous work, 4'33") and Saturday's Musiccircus, a happening-within-a-happening which gets an annoyingly giddy description "Bassoons in the bars, flutes in the foyers and, who knows, you might even find a tuba in the toilet!"

You can buy tickets or a weekend pass, but for my money, I'm sticking to the radio. Here's BBC3's program schedule for Friday (that's GMT, don'cha know):

19:25 John Cage Uncaged: Cage In His American context, Part One
20:20 Cage on Cage, interviews from the BBC Archives
20:40 John Cage Uncaged: Cage In His American context, Part Two
21:30 A discussion of Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story
22:00 John Cage Piano (including works by Feldman, Wolff, Schoenberg)

12/16 update: The Guardian collects Cage-related recollections and discussions by composers and artists, including Martin Creed's very Cage-y "I want what I want to say to go without saying."

[via TMN] Considering the number Google searches I still get for Mike Mills, two years after I posted about his Jack Spade-sponsored documentary, Paperboys, and considering how tight Spike, Sofia, Roman and I have become since then, I should be sitting down with Mills myself.

In the mean time, check out Readymade's interview with Mills, whose feature debut, Thumbsucker, is based on the novel by the less-Mormon-than-I-am-but-more-Mormon-than-you-are Walter Kirn.

Paperboys is now on DVD, but I like my VHS copy in its Spade-y little box.

Slightly unauthorized rendering of the WTC Memorial, image: lmdc, nytimes.comAfter a German press agency forgot to attach an embargo notice to them, the NY Times published images of the heavily revised Arad/Walker design for the World Trade Center Memorial a day early. There are quite a few changes.

Perhaps the most significant is the addition of a large (60-100,00SF, 1.5-2.5x the tower footprints themselves) underground space to house artifacts from the attacks.

But that's not all: Access to the 30' high space is via a ramp along the exposed slurry wall. From within the space, visitors can look down 40' to the foundations of the towers. That puts the newly treed park at street-level. Most of Libeskind's original cultural buildings have either been eliminated or relocated. And it's not finished yet; jurors describe this design as but "one more stage of memory."

It's worth waiting to examine the design in detail, but it feels like it's trying to accommodate almost every criticism that arose during the guideline and selection process. Which may be why the jury picked Arad's design in the first place: only the most pared down concept could support all the additions they foresaw. Nice idea, but can it work?

Well, not yet. But after years of drought, Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty is so visible (and walkable), it's getting so many visitors, the Dia Center is thinking: upgrades. Making the bone-jarring road more accessible; maybe adding some rocks here and there; getting it up out of the water so those pesky salt crystals don't form on it anymore. As Michael Govan, the Dia's director, notes, "The spiral is not as dramatic as when it was first built. The Jetty is being submerged in a sea of salt."

"What we're conceiving is an exciting, interactive, immersive Spiral Jetty experience. It'll be educational, and entertaining. With the lake's salt level where it is right now, you just float. You can't actually immerse. We're talking to some of the governor's economic development folks about fixing that, though. They're in Salt Lake. And IMAX. Can you imagine Smithson's movie in IMAX? Oh, and we gotta fix that fence over there."

Okay, I made that last paragraph up. Basically, all that's happening is, they've surveyed the site, and they realize the Jetty won't survive if 2,000 people walk across it every year. One potential benefit of rebuilding Spiral Jetty: Journalists might stop pretending it's missing.

Related: Dia, the Baedeker for the Contemporary Art Grand Tour [bonus non sequitur: post includes the sole remaining excerpts from Plum Sykes' outline for Bergdorf Blondes]

Update: check out John Perrault's commentary at ArtsJournal In 25-words or less: "I knew Smithson. Smithson was kinda a friend of mine. A reconstituted Jetty, sir, is no Robert Smithson."

Ahh, remember back in 2003, when turning up on someone's blogroll elicited nothing but warm fuzzies? Leave it to the new I-bankin' regime at New York Magazine to turn blogrolling into a competitive sport. Spiers is cackling with evil delight from the head of her table.

I'm afraid if there's a weblog equivalent of Sweeps Week programming, I ain't got it. At best, I'm IFC to Gawker's Fox; Sundance to Gothamist's NBC; Jon Favreau to Jarvis's Aaron Brown; James Lipton to Aaron's that guy from Full Frontal Fashion. I'd better start drafting my congratulations speech now.

Update: At Lowculture, Matt shows that even if I'm concept here, he's execution. Check out their "if weblogs were cable channels." There, now the loop is complete.

I'm listening to the composer Vijay Iyer and poet/rapper Mike Ladd discuss their collaborative song cycle, "In What Language," on WNYC's Soundcheck. It explores the inner lives and thoughts of people in international airports, and it rocks.

Iyer and Ladd composed the multi-layered, improvisational music/vocal suite in response to the experience of an Iranian filmmaker who was detained, harassed and deported at JFK a couple of years ago.

The first scene of my first short, Souvenir (November 2001), is in Charles deGaulle, where the new security rules spur the story into action (such as there is). Clearly, I'm pre-wired to like "In What Language," which was first performed in May at the Asia Society, and is out on CD, the launch of which is being celebrated at Joe's Pub Jan. 20.

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue of 2004-01-19
Posted 2004-01-12

The Talk of The Town
THE SPORTING LIFE/ HOMECOMING/ Ben McGrath watches Stephon Marburyís Madison Square Garden dÈbut in Coney Island.
LOST AND FOUND/ ONE GLOVE/ Nick Paumgarten meets a lady who hunts for lost mittens.
HOUSING DEPT./ BUILD YOUR OWN/ Lauren MacIntyre on a coupleís quest to start from scratch.
CHECKING IN/ CLEAN GENE/ Calvin Tomkins on Eugene McCarthyís Presidential preferences.
COMMENT/ LATE REVIEW/ Roger Angell on Robert McNamara and "The Fog of War."

SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Gabriel Kuris/ Instructions to Everything

ONWARD AND UPWARD WITH THE ARTS/ James Kaplan/ Angry Middle-Aged Man/ The annoyingly funny Larry David.

Q & A/ Bush's Press Problem/ Ken Auletta talks about his article with Daniel Cappello

BOOKS/ Joan Acocella/ European Dreams/ Rediscovering Joseph Roth.
BOOKS/ Ben Greenman/ What Lies Beneath/ Subterranean homestead blues in Walter Mosleyís new novel, "The Man in My Basement"
ONSTAGE/ Hilton Als/ The Magic of Miss M./ Bette Midler on the road again.
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Hanging On/ "Touching the Void" and "Crimson Gold."

Christopher Guest talks at length with the Guardian's Richard Grant about the incredible levels of authenticity required for making fake documentaries.

Hilarious anecdotes from This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind ensue. If Grant's right when he calls it "the funniest film ever made," the DVD of Spinal Tap is twice that funny; the outtakes and deleted scenes are easily as long and as good as the original version. A Mighty Wind opens next week in the UK.

Oh, and Jamie Lee Curtis says she gets better dinner reservations when she calls herself Baroness Haden-Guest. I'm sorry, but is that something you actually call yourself? Isn't that why you employ a herald? I need to check with some titled friends on that and get back to you.

So this is what you get if you don't buy New York magazine. On Monday, Elizabeth "The Kicker" Spiers plants a swift one right in Harvey Weinstein's buttcheek. Fearing that Peter Biskind's new book, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, was not getting the attention it deserves*, Spiers posted excerpts where Wenstein went all Kurtz on a pair of NY Observer reporters in Nov. 2000. Apparently, Headlockee Andrew Goldman was so traumatized by the encounter he, um, went to work for Talk Magazine. The Horror, The Horror, indeed.

Well, Spiers needn't have feared. D&D's getting decent attention; The Observer reviews it, but without mentioning their employee's cameo appearance in a Weinsteinian headlock. And over at GreenCine, David puts the book--and Biskind's career--in compelling context. He also points to IndieWIRE's review, by Eugene Hernandez, who uncovers the essence of D&D by contrasting it with Biskind's earlier history of the 70's, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls:

...Those familiar with Easy Riders, Raging Bulls will notice a different approach to this decade. It is not about the films, it is about the business of the movies, that's the story that, according to Biskind, defined the 90s. "This is a distribution and marketing story.
Net net: buy it for the in-depth insight gleaned from hundreds of interviews, read it for the tawdry gossip.

* Update: Some crank named Frank Rich writes about Down and Dirty Pictures in the NYT A&L. And via GreenCine, Sean Means safely predicts that the book'll be "prime topic of cocktail-party conversation at the [Sundance Film] Festival." I think he means the coverage of the book.

On another site, the headline would read, "Walter Murch edits Cold Mountain, but on MacCentral, the headline is "Final Cut Pro used to edit Cold Mountain."

Posthouse DigitalFilmTree set Murch up on four full FCP stations and several PowerBook-based "satellite stations, " which they used when there was massive amounts of footage. DVD Studio Pro was used to burn and distribute the dailies to everyone, and special effects went back and forth for review via Quicktime.

Apple, thankfully, lets Murch--who is an editing legend, if for no other reason than surviving the year-long torture that was editing Apocalypse Now--do most of the talking. If you like that interview, you should definitely read his book, In the Blink of An Eye, which recounts some Apocalypse Now tales while exploring the theory of why editing works in the first place.

Related: Murch also praised FCP for enabling him to give his assistants experience editing professionally shot material. In a sidebar on Apple.com and an article at Post Magazine, he explains how he'd create tutorials with dailie and his notes, and let the kids have a go at it. Nice work if you can get it.

And if that's not enough for you, check out Millimeter's detailed article on Cold Mountain's workflow, including putting 600,000 feet of film into the shared storage/access system; creating change lists and synching FCP with post-production sound tools (both challenges which the new FCP4.0 addresses handily. time to upgrade, I guess); and color-correcting. After all that, you, too will be able to finish a $130 million Romanian epic. But by the time you raise the money, the whole process'll be available on a laptop.

[via BuzzMachine] Jason Calacanis (I can't believe I just typed that) has launched three new film-related weblogs, or Weblogs, Inc's: a Sundance-related blog, a documentary blog, and an independent film blog. So far, the operating premise seems to be, "We read IndieWIRE so you don't have to," but let's give them a chance.

January 6, 2004


According to Herbert Muschamp, he has discovered the way to "liberate the site from the clutches of politicians, architects, their publicists and other unqualified figures who have presumed to speak in history's name. And it could slow the breakneck redevelopment timetable imposed by Gov. George E. Pataki." That, or he's completely lost it.

On the day when the LMDC Jury is set to announce the "winning" Memorial design, Muschamp waxes poetic--without any actual facts or reporting to back up his excitement--over what's called a Section 106 Review, a federally mandated evaluation of the WTC site's historical significance. Part of the National Historic Preservation Act, the review must be completed before federal money can be spent on the site. Muschamp sees this as a saving act: "Architectural preservationists are coming to the rescue one more time," he says. [Q: Are you counting the Main St USA-style streetlamps on the West Side Highway as the first time, Herb?"]

Here are some Section 106 facts, from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which administers the law:
1. There was already at least one WTC-related Section 106 review, which dealt with a damaged landmark 1905 office building by Cass Gilbert. The ACHP case study praises the way in which the Sec. 106 process was adapted and "streamlined" so as to not get in the way of other activities on the site.
2. When Section 106 was invoked to preserve the 18th c. Negro burial ground discovered during the construction of the Foley federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, GSA listened politely, then ignored ACHP as it built. It then declared itself in compliance with Sec. 106.
3. I'm sure it means nothing, but the two presidential appointees of the ACHP are from Houston--and Albany.

If the Times were the 1/9 train, Muschamp would be the guy who gets on at 103rd, whose jabberings scare the passengers boarding downstream into other cars.

I rated 6 of the 15 finalists (and they still made it. cue rimshot) in the earlier phase, but the best are all ads I hadn't seen before: Polygraph , In My Country. Army of One needs polishing, but it has the greatest potential to reach people currently beyond the sway of MoveOn.org, a more useful goal than simply stoking existing rage against the Bush machine. Actually, the ingenious Desktop should be the best, but it suffers from a fatal flaw: it's an Apple desktop. When it comes to computers on TV, the bad guys always use a PC.

Buy a floor ticket for the final judging on Monday, you cheap monkeys. George Soros can't carry this all himself, you know

January 6, 2004

Ugh. Maya Lin Strikes Again

Reflecting Absence, Michael Arad, wtcsitememorial.org

The worst design of the worst set of finalists was just chosen for the World Trade Center Memorial.

Michael Arad's barren, sunken pools, "Reflecting Absence," was a favorite of Maya Lin, according to an unnamed LMDC source who was heavily spinning the NY Post's William Neuman against the design Sunday.

The only positive aspect of the proposal: it was the only finalist to call for alterations to fellow Israeli Daniel Libeskind's proposed cultural buildings, including eliminating that one museum from above the North Tower footprint. The LMDC says there'll be extensive changes to the design, which I hope renders it essentially unrecognizable.

Ultimately, I'm troubled that I, a fervent fan of minimalist art--including Michael Heizer's works at Dia: Beacon which this is most reminiscent of--am so put out by a half-baked minimalist memorial.

[update: at my WTC discussion page, I added a follow-up on Peter Walker, the just-announced-today new partner in the WTC memorial design. He's a veteran minimalist landscape architect who'll probably fill the barren plaza with grids of "teeming groves of trees," as one juror put it.]

January 6, 2004

Film Club

David Edelstein's hosting Slate's Film Club, and it's as entertaining as reading long emails could possibly be. While you could keep reading all week to see what new fabric these five critics can weave from the threads of last year's films, I'm sticking around to see if the Voice's J. Hoberman gets picked to be on Martha Stewart's jury. [I non-watched Runaway Jury on the plane back from LA. Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, Gene Hackman, but I'd never heard a peep about it; when did it come out? A rhetorical question, because I so don't care.]

Anyway, Vogue's Sarah Kerr coined a term for the huge crop of formulaic movies, including indies I've long since lost my sense of obligation to see, merely because they're indies: Situation Tragedies. I like it. I mean, I hate it.

1. "A Past of Fear and Pain for First-Time Filmmaker": Dear Vadim Perelman, if you really don't want people to know about your pseudo-criminal past, don't put it in your press kit and chat up The New York Times about it.

2. Ruth La Ferla's favor-repaying article asks how hot the trend of men's jewelry is. The answer? v.v.v. hot, if you ask the right people. Like, for example, men's jewelry store owners, men's jewelry designers, an industry newsletter, and the editors of two soon-to-launch men's shopporn mags.

Still wonder if it's just a phase? Well, how about the jewelry designer's husband, "a dapper hedge fund manager who rarely leaves the house without his platinum wedding ring, wide as a cigar band." ["Honey, I'm just going for a long walk, um, through the East Village without my wedding ring. Don't wait up."]

Subtext? "'The word metrosexual is not going to appear in this article, is it?' [the mercifully Google-proof] David Matthews asked, his voice rising warily. For good reason [since the Style Section outed you mets in the first place.]" See Gawker for Details recent metrosexual re-closeting.]

First, Peggy Siegal, take a lesson from Pontecorvo's publicist, who got such excellent blurbs from the Pentagon screening of The Battle of Algiers, who cares if the people giving them wouldn't know credibility if it blew up underneath their Humvee:
"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas!"
"Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range!
"Women plant bombs in cafes!"
"Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar!?"

But no, when it comes to the newly struck prints of The Battle of Algiers opening in cities this weekend, the The Nation's Stuart Klawans wants you to read it for the articles.

And what are the filmmaking lessons we can learn from BofA? Newsreel/documentary-style camerawork lends a sense of immediacy (which Klawans compares to Citizen Kane). Shooting on location makes for killer production design (look, the bulletholes are still fresh!) and saves money to boot. When a producer with money asks you to shoot his script, the proper response is, "I LOVE it!" even if you find it ""awful, and with a sickeningly propagandistic intention." Then, after rewriting it beyond all recognition, cast your producer as your star. And finally, whenever possible, get Ennio Morricone to do your soundtrack.

Hmm. Replace Morricone with Theremin, and these could be The Lessons of Watching Ed Wood. Still, whether you're with Rumsfeld, or with The Nation, go see The Battle of Algiers this weekend.

Update 1/12/04: I did see it, and it did rock, even if it has a rather fantasist ending. This Slate article has one more bit of life-imitates-art from the set. Apparently, when two factions of the FLN attacked each other in 1965, Algiers residents thought it was additional shooting for the film.

In the magazine header, image: newyorker.com
Issue: 2004-01-12
Posted: 2004-01-05

The Talk of The Town
COMMENT/BEST OF THE "BEST"/ Louis Menand on the art of the Top Ten.
COLLECTORS/ SQUISHED/ Ben McGrath on the dangers of hoarding. [no, you didn't read this story yet. You read the Times' story on the dangers of hoarding. Collect'em all!]
FOSSIL DEPT./ HERE TODAY/ Nick Paumgarten on a department departing the Museum of Natural History.
INK/ STILL HAPPENING/ Adam Green meets the last of the great press agents.
THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ ARMY INC./ James Surowiecki on privatizing the military.

SHOUTS & MURMURS/ David Owen/ 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Ex-Wife

PROFILES/ Mark Singer/ Running on Instinct/ How far can Howard Dean go?

FICTION/ Chang-rae Lee/ "Daisy"

DANCING/ Joan Acocella/ Taking Steps/ Savion Glover at the Joyce Theatre.
A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Daniel Mendelsohn/ Why the battles over ancient Athens still rage.
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Living in America/ "House of Sand and Fog" and "The Cooler."
by David Denby

January 5, 2004

Springtime for Cuban

Indiewire has a slightly puffy, but factoid-filled article on 2929 Entertainment, Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's growing independent film empire, which the Broadcast.com billionaires are positioning for the impending all-digital future. In the semi-digital present, it's still fairly compelling: Landmark Theaters; Rysher, Magnolia Pictures, and a stake in mega-indie Lion's Gate; and HDNet, a digital production company and cable channel (look for it around ch.500). "We want to be known as THE place that directors and producers want to come to have their movies produced and distributed in the specialty/independent marketplace," Wagner told indieWIRE.

From the message board comments, some independents are, inexplicably, touting open, competitive independence over Cuban's vertically integrated independence-for-him. No fear, though: Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney's Hard Eight produced a film with 2929. And everyone connected to Hogan's Heroes is on board; the company holds syndication rights to the Nazi sitcom and is wrapping Godsend, the latest film from Greg "Bob Crane" Kinnear.

On the last day of the year, the Times' reporter on the World Trade Center beat, David Dunlap, shared a byline with Herbert Muschamp to report that the Jury has narrowed their choices to two or three final designs for the Memorial.

The reported choices:
"Passages of Light," by Gisela Baurmann, Sawad Brooks and Jonas Coersmeier, aka the "Memorial Cloud," and
"Garden of Lights," by Pierre David, Sean Corriel and Jessica Kmetovic, aka the apple orchard/prairie.

Michael Arad's barren "Remembering Absence" is also favored by some jurors, it seems. If Muschamp's suddenly getting involved in what has been essentially Dunlap's story, it must be because he's been talking to one or more of the jurors. For the first time, we hear about "politicking and debates among jurors, who are conscious that prominent figures like former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have called for a timeout but are also resolved not to be influenced by political pressures."

While they're right on principle--technically, what everyone is doing is second-guessing the jury--they shouldn't feel obliged to stand on principle when they've so obviously made a weak decision.

In 2004, no article on Asian cinema is complete without extensive and authoritative quotes from the dean of Japanese cinema, Gothamist.com. Oh, and Donald Richie gets a soundbite or two as well. Omedeto!

Related links:
Gothamist's post of realization
Gothamist thread on stereotypes in Lost in Translation
"See all 59 results for Donald Richie on Amazon.com," including The Films of Akira Kurosawa and The Image Factory: Fads and Fashion in Japan

What timing. I dust off my taximusic idea, and the NYT runs a primer on ripping analog-to-digital music, and provide a handy list of audio tools. Of course, they focus primarily on LPs and on cleaning up the noise that bothers some people.

Related: LP3, my attempt to add analog sound quality to a CD music file.

has me talking/writing like a knight. I.e., half Quixote, half medieval times. oh, and all posts will be 900 pages long.

ahhh wrapped in the sweet sweet embrace of cell phone signals once again. The ONE surprise effect of a cruise: ur actually glad to come to LA.

January 4, 2004

cruise update, day 8:

there's a moment when ur no longer on a cruise; ur sitting on a boat in san pedro harbor.
LAX: total amateur hr.
also, the must-stop trend of '04: board shorts and wool caps. If it's warm enough to take ur shirt off, it's warm enough to take ur hat off.

January 1, 2004

Puerto Wal-Marta*

Felix Ano Nuevo. If you find yourself docked in Puerto Vallarta on New Year's Day, forget going into el Centro. All the internet cafes are closed, and the only attraction--besides the empty hulk that was Planet Hollywood, which still features the handprints of celebrity/shareholders like Gov. Schwarzenegger on its decaying facade--is the Queso Pie at McDonald's. Who'da thought?

No, stay near the ship like you're supposed to. Sharkey's got wi-fi for free, although it only reaches halfway to Deck 4. And to maximize your in-port entertainment, cross the street to Wal-Mart (and, if you've got a VIP card, the exclusive, member's only Sam's Club). The parking lot's full of traficante M-classes and Cayennes, and all the cabrons are sporting freshly shined alligator cowboy boots in an orgy of colors that'd do an NBA expansion team proud.

* Update: my sister informed me that Bingoboy--who I knew only by his embarassingly enthusiastic announcements which regularly interrupted the poolside reggae band--calls it Puerto Wal-Marta. I cannot in good conscience take credit for this coinage.

My new movie idea for 2004: Call it Lost at Sea, a poignant exploration of the strangely intense bond that forms with people trapped on a cruise ship for 7 days and 6 nights.

An Orange County surfer dragged along for his grandparent's 50th anniversary meets a 50-ish divorcee from the Valley with a fondness for slushy drinks. There'd be way too much karaoke, insulated excursions at each port of call to inject some local color, and plenty of poolside scenes (cue the Baywatch bikini montage). The supporting cast could include a sympathetic bartender, a hapless purser, a coked up cruise director, and a comically lecherous ship's doctor.

When the boat returns to LA, the sunburned lovers exchange AIM usernames. but the audience knows it's over. Not because the divorcee's custody agreement limits her AIM time to alternate weekends, but because it's just too damn far to maintain a relationship between Orange County and the Valley.

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
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from January 2004, in reverse chronological order

Older: December 2003

Newer February 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
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