March 2004 Archives

Ever the arts enthusiast in search of a common man constituency, Tyler Green wrote an op-ed for the WSJ that gamely proposes to take the Whitney Biennial on the road, to the people--in the "hinterlands."

And what could be wrong with that? Besides going to bat for the perennially controversial-at-best biennial? Besides coming off as populist and condescending toward your biennial's flyover audience?

Well, there's playing right into the middle of the WSJ's own FoxNews-like editorial slant, for one. Tyler shouldn't be surprised when the comments he received were at odds with the crusty, Moral Majority-form letters the Journal itself published. Tyler lobbed one over the net, and the Journal's know-nothing niche shot it down like the pigeon his editors knew it would be.

March 31, 2004


From the Stanley Kubrick project at the Deutsches Filmmuseum, From the painstakingly organized files of Mr Stanley E. Kubrick:
Stanley Kubrick filled his St Albans estate with over 400 fileboxes (specially manufactured to his own design) of notes, photographs, correspondence, drafts, props, and much, much more. The first authorized exhibition drawn from the estate opens today at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt. In fact, Christiane Kubrick and Jan Harlan are speaking in the cafe at 2030h, less than 5 hrs from now.

[Seeing as how you missed that, though, you can pre-order the exhibition catalog in English from the museum. It's a more in-depth collection of essays by filmmakers and historians, different from The Stanley Kubrick Archives due any day now from Taschen.]

Journalist Jon Ronson writes in the Guardian about what he found in his repeated vists to the archive, including an exhaustive day-by-day timeline of the goings-on in Napoleon's court; Kubrick's favorite font; a sniper's severed head, and a reference to "A Bill Murray Line!" [Also, a link to Kubrick's script for Napoleon, deemed authentic by Ronson.]

From a 1975 telex correspondence with a Warner Bros. publicity man re Barry Lyndon:

[Publicity man:] "Received additional material. Is there any material with humour or zaniness that you could send?"

Kubrick replies, clearly through gritted teeth: "The style of the picture is reflected by the stills you have already received. The film is based on William Makepeace Thackeray's novel which, though it has irony and wit, could not be well described as zany."

[via TMN. And my post title came from a 1977 French animated short I found on IMDb.]

She slept through the almost the whole thing*. Until we walked into the Cecily Brown gallery, when she started screaming at the top of her lungs. On this advice, we cut our visit short, leaving via the elevator so as not to disrupt the Julianne Swartz sound installation in the stairway.)

* Truthfully, she also shattered the misty calm of the Gran Canaria forest in Craigie Horsfeld's video room with a post-bottle burp worthy of a trucker.

Yeah, Jimmy Fallon said so, too, but dude. Bill Murray.

[Morning-After Correction: upon review the tape, Mr. Murray's full quote should be, "Well, I thought you were funny. I laughed at all that stuff that no one else got."


Did I tell you I met Jimmy Fallon?]

Related: Gawker's clearer-eyed play-by-play.

In the last couple of weeks, I've decided to shoot a fourth short film, which may be part of the Souvenir Series, or may not. We'll see. It was not in the original outline of the series, and it's out of the order I'd planned to shoot them, but the opportunity and idea presented themselves so clearly, I've decided to at least get it shot, then see where to take it.

Long story short, it's a reconceiving of the baptism/massacre sequence from Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. The scene is a classic, not only of storytelling and dramatic contrast, but of editing as well.

While it has the immediate feel of intercutting--jumping back and forth between simultaneous events--as this Yale film analysis site where you can watch (most of) the sequence points out, it's unlikely that all the other mafia dons in NYC were actually assassinated at the same instant. They call it montage.

Frankly, I always thought they were concurrent events. The baptism scene provides a sense of linear time that is utterly absent from, say, Jennifer Beals' rehearsal/welding scenes in Flashdance. (Gimme a break, she was on The Daily Show last night.)

Anyway, Seeing as how the baby in that scene was a weeks-old Sofia Coppola, and seeing as how I have a weeks-old baby myself now, and seeing as how I'm gonna be hanging out with the Coppolas tonight at a MoMA Film Department benefit, I thought I'd better start shooting.

I'm co-chairman of this gig tonight at MoMA, An Evening With Sofia Coppola. I was going to write my speech, but in the spirit of the director, I'm going totally improv. Then I'm going to kiss every ass I can.

In the mean time, Sofia will show clips of and discuss her work with Elvis Mitchell. Look for pics and a making-of doc later.

Related: More from An Evening With Sofia Coppola

In the magazine header, image:
Issue of 2004-04-05
Posted 2004-03-29

COMMENT/ THE WAR OVER THE WAR/ Mark Danner on Richard Clarke and the lessons of Iraq.
THE WATERFRONT/ OIL SPILL/ Ben McGrath chases the spill in Queens.
DEPT. OF DEFILEMENT/ NECK FACE/ Dana Goodyear on a mischievous New York artist.
THRILL OF VICTORY DEPT./ PIZZA GUY/ Field Maloney in Staten Island with a freestyle-pizza-toss champ.
THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ PUNCTUALITY PAYS/ James Surowiecki on Ecuadoreansí crusade against lateness.

SHOUTS & MURMURS/ John Kenney/ The Truth
A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Burkhard Bilger/ The Height Gap/ Europeans are getting taller; why arenít we?
FICTION/ Jonathan Lethem/ "Super Goat Man"

MUSICAL EVENTS/ Alex Ross/ Mysteries of Love/ Karita Mattilaís transfixing Salome.
THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ Screwballs & Oddballs/ Comedy and collapse in "Twentieth Century" and "Well."
BOOKS/ Louis Menand/ Mean to Gene/ The strange career of Eugene McCarthy.
ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ It Takes Two/ "Significant Others" showcases the comedy in coupling. [a great review for a show with our friend in it. -greg]
THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Heists/ "The Ladykillers," "Intermission."

THE TALK OF THE TOWN/ James Stevenson/ McCarthy in New York/ Issue of 1968-03-02
THE THEATRE/ Wolcott Gibbs/ Two Old Friends/ Issue of 1951-01-06

Gaston Biraben's Captive, image: filmlinc.comI saw Captive, the debut feature from Gaston Biraben, at New Directors/New Films last night; it's a subtly powerful movie that gripped the sellout audience at MoMA Gramercy.

Captive is a fictionalized telling of real events, a surreal, politically charged story of, "You're adopted...And then some." A 15-year old Buenos Aires girl's life is turned upsidedown when she learns her real parents were among The Disappeared, the tens of thousands of Argentines kidnapped, tortured and killed by the country's military dictatorship in the 70's. On top of dealing with a new family of strangers, the girl has to confront the chilling circumstances of her birth and her adoptive parents' possible complicity in the systematic crimes of the junta.

By keeping a restrained, naturalistic focus on a the experience of one girl, the film tackles the third rail of the Argentine psyche--accountability for The Disappeared--with tremendous skill, and without devolving into political agitprop. Biraben coaxed a highly effective, intuitive performance from his star, Barbara Lombardo, which holds the film together.

Almost the entire audience stayed for the Q&A. Sensing, perhaps, Captive's potential for making great political waves, many questions were about where the film has shown and what was the reaction. It turns out ND/NF is one of the first screenings for Captive, so the impact is still to come. [The film was also at Palm Springs and San Sebastian, where it won the Horizontes award for Latin American films.]

This all serves as setup for the improbably story of Biraben's getting the film made in the first place, and how he scored a cameo that elicited surprised howls of recognition from the New York audience. I spoke with Gaston and his co-producer/editor Tammis Chandler after the Q&A.

GreenCine finds a hi-larious pair of entertainment news stories on IMDb Friday: A new biography of Robert DeNiro tells about his unsuccessful pursuit of the young Whitney Houston, but that's not the half of it.

If you're in San Francisco, beat yourself for not going to the Cinematheque's two-day festival of the films of Gordon Matta-Clark. [via archinect]

March 27, 2004

Colder Mountain

still from Lars von Trier's Dogville,
Actually, I was going to title this post "Nicole Kidman: Dogville's bitch," but that's not how I was brought up. Besides, it sounded unnecessarily cruel. [Not in comparison to the movie itself, however, or to some of its reviews. David Edelstein's Slate piece is bitterly well-done; he can make people who liked the movie hate it.]

Lars von Trier's been called anti-American, which I don't buy. [Come on, he stuck a "von" in his name; what's more American than that?] When Grace (Kidman's character) begs them for sanctuary, the Dogville-age people show her mercy and take her in. In no time, though, they turn on her, brutalizing her mercilessly, flagellate her and jeer after her as they nail her hands to a cross--ahem. Sorry, wrong grace/justice/sadism/mob violence movie. Actually, they town-rape her and chain her neck to a wagon wheel. At least von Trier didn't make it a Jewish town.

What evil lurks in the hearts of (American) men (and women), von Trier asks. How could they turn so suddenly and heap black-hearted violence on this beautiful, selfless creature who appeared in their midst? Maybe they'd just seen Cold Mountain.

Horseshoes and hand grenades? Feh. These days, some people think close counts in WMD's and the war on terror. Alls I know is, after a week of editing in 15-minute stints (interspersed with crying and diaperchanging and bottlefeeding), close counts on stylesheets, too.

Beyond the cleaner integration of long-form Features and filmmaker interviews, MT brings addition of categories, which will make recurring themes and topics a little easier to follow.

Chief among these: production diaries, development notes, and news for each film project

Whether it pays for yachts for my coke-head grandchildren, gets my ass sued by Conde Nast, or prompts simple UI improvements on the magazine's website, one feature I'm interested in watching is This Week in The Magazine, aka New Yorker Magazine Database. If you've ever wanted to write for the NYMDb, your chance is coming soon.

Anyway, let me know what's wrong, what's missing, etc. And if you have particular expertise with 1) archive pagination and 2) category-specific template tweaking, don't be shy. I'll be here.

">Riot, by Joy Garnett, image:
The artist Joy Garnett just had a show called "Riot" at Debs & Co, lushly painted figures in caught in moments of distress or violence. Then she got threatened with a lawsuit by a Magnum photographer for referencing a 1978 image of a guy throwing a Molotov cocktail. Of course, the irony [?] is that, as Garnett says, "my work is ABOUT the fact that images are uncontrollable entities. It's about what happens when you remove context and framing devices." Which means, of course, it's about getting sued.

Congratulations, Joy. I hope you get sued again real soon.

Related: The Bomb Project, an archive of "nuclear-related links organized for artists."

March 25, 2004

I Love Paris in the Sewer

Lightningfield snaps some fine pictures from his visit to the MusÈe des Egouts de Paris, the Paris Sewer Museum, which highlights some of the lesser known achievements of a few centuries of l'etat.

Very Foucault's Pendulum.

In addition to Susan Orlean (whose website includes a weblog by Jason Kottke for the film Adaptation) Rebecca Mead, Malcolm Gladwell, and Michael Specter all provide archives of their writing for the New Yorker on their personal websites:

Rebecca Mead breaks out articles, Talk of the Town pieces, and reviews into three pages.

Malcolm Gladwell lists his articles and Talk of the Town pieces on one giant archive page.

Michael Specter does the same thing: one long archive page.

The nearly identical approach to alt tags, the ubiquity of PDF links, and the very similar feel of these three sites, I'd bet they share a single designer. [Or maybe it's just some Adobe GoLive site wizard. Not my department.]

Both in today's NY Times:

  • Slate's Bryan Curtis interviews Kevin Smith in advance of the Jersey Girls release. Jersey Girls makes Kevin Smith sound like the perfect spokesmodel for, but Smith's best comments are about Mel Gibson, "fellow Catholic." [Damn, that's one big tent.]

  • Tony Scott's got a very astute read/review of Dogville, Lars "Von" Trier's new movie. Scott makes some keen references to both Mayberry and South Park, while skewering the reactionary anti-anti-Americanism of reviews like Variety's.

  • Jessica Winter interviews LVT's cinematographer, Anthony Dod Mantle, in the Voice. [Stay tuned for my own Dogville post later this week.]

  • In the magazine header, image:
    Issue of 2004-03-29
    Posted 2004-03-22

    COMMENT/ AFTER MADRID/ David Remnick on what the train bombings in Spain and the election that followed mean for the world.
    ON THE CLOCK/ JAM OFF/ Nick Paumgarten on the backstage scene at the jam-band awards.
    POSTCARD FROM BAGHDAD/ STREET CRIME/ Jon Lee Anderson on how the city is now a much more dangerous place.
    THE WIRED WORLD/ THE REAL ORKUT/ Jesse Lichtenstein on the eponymous member of a new networking Web site.
    ON THE ROOF/ PEPSI GENERATION/ Blake Eskin on making art out of an East River soda sign.

    SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Bruce McCall/ Liberal Radio Network Employment Application
    LIFE & LETTERS/ David Remnick/ Reporting It All/ A hundred years of A. J. Liebling.
    A LETTER FROM SOUTH TEXAS/ Katherine Boo/ The Churn/ When the jobs go abroad, what happens to the people who are left behind?
    FICTION/ Jim Harrison/ "Father Daughter"

    BOOKS/ Folk Hero/ David Hajdu/ A new biography of Woody Guthrie.
    POP MUSIC/ Slow Burn/ Sasha Frere-Jones/ Norah Jones's eternal afternoon.
    THE THEATRE/ Stuck/ Hilton Als/ "Frozen" and "Embedded."
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ The Quick and the Dead/ David Denby/ "Bon Voyage" and "Dogville."

    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Ahab and Nemesis/A. J. Liebling/ A classic Liebling boxing piece, Issue of 1951-10-08

    March 21, 2004

    Fade to Gray

    It's a story straight out of a Spalding Gray monologue. In today's NYTimes Magazine, the filmmaker Hugo Perez writes about his brief encounter with Gray on the Staten Island Ferry on the evening the performer went missing. They shared small talk about the view; since then Perez is haunted by his New Yorker decision to not act the fan and let on that he recognized Gray.

    In an unsettling coincidence, I've posted about Perez before, in Sept. 2001; we were both taken by the same Albert Maysles speech at a 1997 screening of Salesman. The Maysles quote Perez came away with is especially poignant now:

    "Most people never get the chance to have themselves truly represented and thereís nothing that they'd rather do than have people. . . somebody, and in the odd circumstance a filmmaker so much the better, pay attention to who they really are, to give them that recognition. It becomes a sacred duty."

    What with this excellent batch of folks joining Persistence of Vision (whose August 2003 posts earn her the Irving Thalberg Award for Lifetime Achievement in Blogging), Typepad is fast becoming the go-to URL for film-related weblogs:

  • Out of Focus
  • Cinetrix's Pullquote
  • Filmbrain

  • Last year I was blown away by the beautiful artistry that went into the eerily slick corporate propagandotainment comic book, The Atomic Revolution.

    I'm using the cool, Golden Age comic style as a major visual reference point for my As Yet Unannounced Animated Musical, which has more than a little good, old-fashioned apocalyptic flavor to it.

    The cool animation artist Ethan Persoff rediscovered it, scanned it in, and hosted the entire book on his site (and now accepts donations to pay for the significant bandwidth the increasingly popular book consumes. Why not drop some change in the jar?)

    Now, finally, after getting smoked on a couple of previous auctions, I can announce that I've finally received my own copy of the book this week from an Austin ebay-er. It wasn't expensive, just rare. Henceforth, you all have my permission to search for your own issue. Good luck.

    March 18, 2004

    Sun Set

    Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project closes this weekend, image:

    This is the last weekend to see Olafur Eliasson's installation, The Weather Project in the Tate's turbine hall. The museum's keeping the hall open until 1AM on Friday and Saturday, apparently because they're unsatisfied with only 2 million visitors.

    For added enjoyment, the Guardian published a diary from the Tate's manager, the one who had to deal with troupes of Santas, didgeridoo players, a man in a canoe, and people hooking up under the mirrored ceiling.

    [3/20 update: Michael Kimmelman interviews Olafur in his Berlin studio about TWP. Re the headline, the Arts & Leisure section closes on Tuesday night. Great minds, etc., etc. "The Sun Sets at the Tate Modern]

    The deceptive losers of last weekend's national elections in Spain are now threatening to sue Pedro freakin' Almodovar for "slander and calumny." Apparently, Almodovar told a movie audience that, yes, he'd heard the rumors flying around the country's mobile phones that Pres. Aznar might stage a coup if he lost.

    Related: Deceptive loser Richard Perle finally backs down from his threat to sue Sy Hersh for slander, climbs back into his spiderhole even though it might generate publicity for his book. [look it up yourself. I'm not going to link to it. Psycho.]

    Finally, a conflation of religion and commerce I can believe in: St. Eric of Blacktable's The Cult of Diet Coke.

    A glorious bit of Good News, indeed, but it's an incomplete testament. Sure, they mention those voices crying in the Diet Coke-ist wilderness, the "fine folks at" But Blacktable insidiously omits any mention of the Great Satan of Aspartame, the CEO of pharma-giant Searle who lobbied for FDA approval of the WMD we now worship as Nutrasweet, Donald Rumsfeld. All hail our new Aspartame overlords.

    On a more personal note, Diet Coke (in the less patriotic, French form known as Coca Lite) played the role of comic relief in my first film, Souvenir (November 2001). [pause that refreshes] The protagonist's search for a WWI memorial runs parallel to his search for Coca Light in the countryside of northern France.

    Paige West, a diehard collector and longtime champion of emerging artists has a weblog named, accurately enough, Art Addict.

    Of course, Paige's other site, Mixed Greens, has "we sell art" as its subtitle.

    I guess she wants to reassure readers that she's not just a pusher but a user, too. So find a vein and jack right in. [via MAN]

    Souvenirs from the earth for Mix, image:
    Don't tell the Whitney Biennial folks. That trademarked slogan comes from a series of video loops designed for your giant flatscreen TV that are "100% narrative free with strong visual aesthetics" called Souvenirs from the earth [Ahem. A series called Souvenir? I hope you kept the number of that trademark lawyer...]

    You can buy their DVD for $50 from Dynomighty, on east 10th st, or, like Alain Ducasse did for Mix, you can commission a custom version. They're also planning "complete never seen night programmes to TV stations, financed by sponsors from the luxury industry."

    Goodlooking execution? Yes. Growth market? Definitely. But new idea? Not at all. The duo's dsytopian main mission sounds familiar: "Our main mission is to collect pictures of life on earth today, in case humans would need them later..." It's the glass-half-full, luxury industry-chasing version of "Life out of balance," the subtitle/translation of Godfrey Reggio's 100% narrative free classic Koyaanisqatsi.

    [Coincidentally, the last time I saw Koyaanisqatsi, it was wall candy on a flatscreen for a party in a bigtime art collector's Central Park West apartment. It had a bigger audience than anything else, and at $25, it was easily the cheapest work there, by a factor of several thousand.]

    Morgan Stanley architecture signage video,
    And on the custom corporate front, I'm reminded of the wraparound montage for the LED facade of 745 Seventh Avenue, produced in 2001 by branding consultancy The Mint Group for Morgan Stanley. This Times Square video "took the next level," and communicated Morgan Stanley's unique ability in the financial services industry to "connect investors, ideas and capital." Of course, in one weekend after Sept. 11, before ever occupying it, MS sold the building to Lehman Brothers, who stepped right into this unique, branded video skin without batting an eye.

    Another wall candy video option: "Want to throw a great party? Put this on!"FunviewTV's 20-scene DVD includes a fish tank, a fireplace, falling snow, falling leaves, disco lights, and a microwaving pizza.

    And just to loop the Whitney back in: there's new-to-you Biennial star Eve Sussman's debut video show in 1997. The artist labored for nearly a month to construct a 3-story scaffold/ramp in an airshaft, and then trained video cameras on the pigeon nests hidden within. Wall sized projections of oblivious pigeons filled the gallery. Congratulations, Eve, on your overnight success.

    March 15, 2004

    Five British citizens were transferred from Guantanamo--where they were held for around two years without charge or judicial review for being "the hardest of the hard core," in Donald Rumsfeld's words--to the custody of the British government--who promptly released them without charge. They tell their stories at length in the UK Observer:

    After about a week the prisoners were allowed to speak to detainees in adjacent cells, and a few weeks later still were given copies of the Koran, a prayer mat, blankets and towels. Yet all witnessed or experienced brutality, especially from Guantanamo's own riot squad, the Extreme Reaction Force. Its acronym has led to a new verb peculiar to Guantanamo detainees: 'ERF-ing.' To be ERFed, says Rasul, means to be slammed on the floor by a soldier wielding a riot shield, pinned to the ground and assaulted.
    [via TMN, cross-posted to]

    In the magazine header, image:
    Issue of 2004-03-22
    Posted 2004-03-15

    COMMENT/ VICE SQUADS/ Hendrik Hertzberg on the search for Kerryís right-hand man.
    THE BEAT/ MAN BLAMES DOG/ Ben McGrath on a wink-catching drug-sniffing canine.
    DEPT. OF DINING/ AFTERTASTE/ Adam Gopnik bids adieu to La CÙte Basque.
    HIGHER LEARNING/ MAHARISHI PREP/ Rebecca Mead on the teen-age Transcendental Meditation craze.
    DEPT. OF HOOPLA/ REAL BOHEMIANS/ Dana Goodyear meets the poet Jane Mayhall.

    LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN/ Kathy Gannon/ Road Rage/ Risks on the way from Kabul to Kandahar.
    SHOUTS & MURMURS/ Andy Borowitz/ Coalition Provisional Authority Phrase Book
    ANNALS OF LAW/ Jeffrey Toobin/ A Bad Thing/ The collapse of Martha Stewartís defense.
    FICTION/ Alice Munro/ "Passion"

    A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Times Regained/ Adam Gopnik/ How the old Times Square was made new.
    MUSICAL EVENTS/ Revelations/ Alex Ross/ The story behind Messiaenís "Quartet for the End of Time."
    DANCING/ Drastic Classic/ Joan Acocella/ Karole Armitage at the Joyce.
    THE ART WORLD/ Whatís New/ Peter Schjeldahl/ The Whitney Biennial.
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Donít Look Back/ Anthony Lane/ "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

    A CRITIC AT LARGE/ Joan Didion/The Powerful Appeal of Martha Stewart, Issue of 2000-02-21
    ANNALS OF LAW/ LUNCH AT MARTHA'S/ Jeffrey Toobin/ Problems with the perfect life, Issue of 2003-02-03

    March 13, 2004

    Chad's Dads

    Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's Abouna, image:sundancechannel.comChadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun talks to David Kehr about Abouna, his second feature and only the third film to be made in his native country. There is no commercial cinema in Chad, yet films--and particularly US films--have a powerful influence on the imaginations of young people living in impoverished isolation.

    An ardent admirer and student of foreign directors like Abbas Kiarostami, Hou-Hsiao Hsien, Kitano Takeshi, and Clint Eastwood, Haroun is an uncommon internationalist in the nascent African filmmaking industry. He's undaunted by such bright lights, however: "Our films are a little like candles, no? They illuminate only a small space, small groups of particular people. But those people can be everywhere, all over the planet.''

    In an interview with Neil Young at the Edinburgh Festival, Haroun spoke at more length about his process and working with non-professional actors. When asked about autobiographical influences on his film, Haroun readily agreed, "Creation sometimes is just a question of memory."

    Abouna screened last year in New Directors/New Films, and will be on Sundance Channel starting Sunday night as part of the Voices from Africa program. One African film, Apolline Traore's Koundani, from Burkina Faso is in this year's New Directors/New Films.

    March 13, 2004

    Daddy Types

    A post about an African movie on the mystery of fatherhood seems like as good an excuse as any to soft-launch a new publishing work-in-progress.

    Daddy Types, a weblog for new dads, (will) gather advice, gear and resources for thinking fathers. Or at least for the ones who cringe at the sight of tole painting.

    inspirations: Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools, Matt Haughey's PVRblog, and Gizmodo (and, by extension, Engadget).

    When I first saw the trailer for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, I was fascinated, then confused. It looked like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but it had... Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow? It's some weird studio stunt, I figured. But I was wrong.

    Turns out Sky Captain is the culmination of one man's nearly impossible-to-believe vision. Kerry Conran worked for four years, alone, to produce the six minutes of seamlessly melded CG and live action footage that ultimately led to his making a $70 million independent film:

    Conran walked into [producer Jon] Avnet's office in a plain black T-shirt, looking a little apprehensive. He had agreed to watch the original six-minute short with me and Avnet, and it was clear he wasn't looking forward to it.

    It opens with a black-and-white version of the film's signature shot, a zeppelin docking at the Empire State. I had seen this sequence in one form or another perhaps a dozen times in the last three days. I can't begin to guess how many times Conran has seen it: airship and skyscraper, two antique promises of progress meeting to announce our final liberation from earthly concerns. The short was rudimentary compared with what I'd seen, to be sure. And Conran grimaced throughout. But I was stunned when I considered the painstaking labor with no promise of reward, or even end, in sight. And I thought of all the computers in just this building, each one thousands of times as powerful as a Mac IIci, in the hands of eager, young, lettuce-munching dreamers, and I wondered what worlds they were constructing in their spare time between snowflakes. On the screen, Sky Captain flies to the rescue. I happen to know from Kevin that it's Kerry himself behind the goggles. Naturally, he's masked.

    The short ended. Conran blinked a little and smiled. ''Wow,'' he said. ''That was embarrassing.''

    Tyler has compiled a convenient checkist for making a complete and utter ass of yourself at The Armory Show this weekend. For [my] entertainment's sake, please follow every piece of advice.

    According to GreenCine, who reads the trades for you, Terrence Malick's Che has been shelved "for a year." The timing makes me wonder if the recent announcement about Malick and Che wasn't an attempt by the project people to head off his departure. Of course, Malick years are like dog years, so if it's Che you want, you may have to be satisfied with the three other Che films about to take to the streets.
    If it's Malick you want, however, he's now working on a Pocahontas bio starring Colin Farrell (as John Smith, not Pocahontas). No IMDb entry yet for this film, scheduled to start shooting in July, titled The New World. That's actually from Aladdin, not Pocahontas, yo. [C'mon, I was working for The Mouse at the time. I have to know these things.]

    Related: Dress your little revolutionary in Che Guevara logo merchandise.

    [via GreenCine] Are You Awake? Crissy has created the most dauntingly comprehensive fan site for Lost in Translation I've ever seen. [And it's on MT, Anil.]

    Spalding Gray spoke about Monster in a Box on WNYC, and about preferring to gather his material fly-on-the-wall-style. When Gray went to Los Angeles, his assistant/driver Kao didn't speak to him the whole trip. A friend told him later she just didn't want to end up in a monologue. "And here, I just thought she was stupid. No matter what, you're going to be in it."

    Interviews with Spalding Gray:
    WNYC's Leonard Lopate, from 1990
    SG on Fresh Air talking about his monologue, "It's a Slippery Slope" in 1996
    SG on Fresh Air talking about his book, "Morning, Noon & Night" in 1999
    Rebroadcast today of a 2001 interview with WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi

    Spalding Gray DVD's:
    Amazon for Gray's Anatomy, directed by Steven Soderbergh
    Ebay for Swimming to Cambodia, directed by Jonathan Demme.

    [via Anil] Martin Grove looks at all the Caesars being rendered unto Mel Gibson as a result of his owning The Passion of The Christ. The money's enough to make believers out of more than a few Hollywood types, that's for sure. Hallelujah, indeed.

    So what exactly is Gibson's reward for flogging his movie so relentlessly and for suffering so much at the hands of imaginary critics? Well, if Grove is right, it's about $600 million net, including profits from domestic and international distribution and DVD sales. That translates into at least a tenfold return on his $60mm (half production, half p&a) investment. Compared to the Bible's second-most famous sufferer, Job, Gibson's making [self-]righteous bank; for all his troubles, the Lord only gave Job twice what he'd started with.

    Of course, the Good Book promises even more reward, the positively heavenly return of "a hundredfold," just for "forsak[ing] houses, or brethren, or sisters... or father." Hmm.

    Use an only-in-LA pickup line on the Observer's Alexandra Jacobs and be prepared to read about yourself after she gets back to NYC. That is, of course, if you even read a paper anymore, which you don't.

    In L.A. Mating Cry: IMDb Me!, Jacobs does her best George Gurley, and gets people to unload their most unwittingly unflattering selves to the media.

    [via Gawker] Todd Levin gets all excited, then he gets all real about the program notes for this year's New York Underground Film Festival. He has provided funny-because-it's-true guide to interpreting the program and selecting your screenings wisely.

    "' ode to lights and color'
    'Even my closest friends and family will have second thoughts about attending this film.'"


    "'Vice Magazine presents:...'
    Be prepared to laugh the meanest, most self-righteous laughs possible for about six minutes, and then hate yourself for the remaining 54 minutes."

    March 10, 2004

    Lost in Transcription

    A reader is looking for a transcript of Sofia Coppola's Oscar acceptance speech. Any ideas? Does anyone still have that snoozer of a show on Tivo? Is it even possible to capture the ephemeral essence that is Sofia with mere words?

    I remember her thanking Antonioni, and her father, "for telling me never to use video taps," but I confess, I stopped transcribing her last fall.

    Email me at greg at greg dot org with your suggestions. Thanks.

    Sofia Coppola's acceptance speech at
    [Update: sheesh, that was fast. The transcript, minus the advice about video taps, is at the Oscars website. Since it's about as long as her script for LIT, I post it here in its entirety:
    Thank you. I can't believe I'm standing here. Thank you. Thank you to the Academy for giving me this honor. Thank you to my dad for everything he taught me. Thank you to my brother Roman and all my friends who were there for me when I was stuck at 12 pages and encouraged me to keep writing. And the filmmakers whose movies -- I have to breathe. The filmmakers whose movies inspired me when I was writing this script, Antonioni and Wong Kar-Wai and Bob Fosse and Godard and all the others. And every writer needs a muse. Mine was Bill Murray. Thanks to my mom for always encouraging us to try to make art, and thank you to Bart and Ross for helping make my script into a movie. And thank you to everyone at Focus. Thank you.
    And thanks to my dad for telling me never to use video taps. Ahem.

    March 9, 2004

    Champ de Foudre

    David F. Gallagher's Parisian Metro, image:

    David F. Gallagher has moved his base of operations for his excellent photo-centric weblog,, to Paris for a while. He thinks this'll mean "fewer pictures of trash," which is cute.

    In the magazine header, image:
    Issue of 2004-03-15
    Posted 2004-03-08

    The Talk of The Town
    COMMENT/ WEDDING BLITZ/ Hendrik Hertzberg on why young conservatives are supporting gay marriage.
    FIRST PERIOD/ SLUMP/ Alec Wilkinson on Mark Messier and the forlorn sport of hockey.
    SECOND PERIOD/ RINK RAT IN CHIEF?/ Ben McGrath on John Kerryís hockey days.
    THIRD PERIOD/ PUCK FLICK/ Nick Paumgarten watches "Miracle" with Igor Larionov.
    THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ BRING ON THE NANOBUBBLE/ James Surowiecki on how buzzwords sell on Wall Street.

    LETTER FROM MIAMI/ William Finnegan/ The Cuban Strategy/ Jeb Bushís battle to deliver the Florida vote.
    FICTION/ Martin Amis/ "In the Palace of the End"
    ANNALS OF COMMERCE/ Malcolm Gladwell/ The Terrazzo Jungle/ Fifty years of the shopping mall.


    BOOKS/ THE WAYWARD PRESS/ Nicholas Lemann/ Blair House/ The former Times reporter strikes back.
    IN FASHION/ Judith Thurman/ Roots/ African-American hair stylists get creative in L.A. [about damn time someone paid attention to this goldmine of culture.]
    ON TELEVISION/ Nancy Franklin/ Decent Exposure/ Spontaneity boycotts the Oscars.
    THE THEATRE/ Hilton Als/ King for a Day/ Two leaders dethroned at Lincoln Center.
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ Anthony Lane/ Menís Secrets/ "Distant" and "The Return."

    THE BACK PAGE/ Paul Rudnick/ "The Gospel of Debbie"

    ANNALS OF RETAIL/ Mimi Swarz/Victoria'a Secret/ A profile of top Prada saleswoman, Victoria Gallegos/ Issue of 1998-03-30
    THE TALK OF THE TOWN/ Andy Logan and Brendan Gill/ New City/ A period interview with Victor Gruen/ Issue of 1956-03-17

    The Guardian has excerpts from the expat Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo's Cinema Eden: Essays from the Muslim Mediterranean. In a memory straight out of the seedy phase of Cinema Paradiso, Goytisolo writes about packing into "fleapit" theaters in Barcelona, Tangier, and Marrakech, to watch kung fu movies with raucous crowds of semi-literate cinema junkies.

    One film he remembers stands out: The Dialectic Can Break Stones, a Taiwanese chop'em up given the What's Up, Tiger Lily? treatment by '68-ist activists. Supposedly, some Maoist cinephiles acquired the (Moroccan?) rights to the film, replaced the subtitles with their own revolutionary storyline, and showed in to unsuspecting immigrant audiences. While pummeling his way through a roomful of evil bureaucrats, the hero would cry out, "Now you'll find out about the muscle-power of a pupil of Nietzsche and Lou Andrea Salome!"

    Hey, sounds more plausible than The Dreamers.

    March 7, 2004

    Guestblogging for God

    What a post to follow Vincent Gallo. I just started a two-week guestblogging stint at Times and Seasons, a multifaceted group weblog about Mormon doctrine, living, culture and politics. Check it out, brothers and sisters.

    Vincent Gallo's Package, via[via Gawker] It'll cost you, but this may be the closest you'll get to a hummer from Chloe Sevigny. Director/actor/antagonist Vincent Gallo is selling his meticulously assembled and tuned film production package on ebay.

    According to the sale, Gallo designed and assembled and fine-tuned the package after Buffalo 66 and has shot 60,000 feet of film with it for Brown Bunny. According to Gallo,

    The package would have to include everything needed to make the film: 2 cameras, a high quality and comprehensive lens collection, mobile yet sufficient lighting, sound equipment that could integrate with the cameras so as to avoid slating, a mic assortment that would never need backup, and a ton of extras that would meet the needs of his flexible and spontaneous production style, and last but not least, an extremely secure transportation case system.
    The package also includes, remarkably, an "Angenieux zoom [lens] which was purchased from the Stanley Kubrick estate. It is the famous super long throw lens that Kubrick had made for Barry Lyndon. No other like it exists."[12/04 update: actually, according to Ed diGiulio, who made the lens, they developed a prototype for Kubrick, but also built and sold several others as the Cine-Pro T9 24-480mm zoom lens.]

    If the film's credits are accurate, you can use this package to make a movie all by yourself. There are a couple of sound people listed, but otherwise it's all Gallo, Gallo Gallo Gallo. No sign that he's going to free his indentured tech servants as part of the deal.

    Unlike critical response to Brown Bunny, Gallo's ebay feedback is universally positive. He trades a lot of high-end audio equipment and pays very quickly. In 2001, Gallo dealt with an ebayer named Ian McKellen. We don't know if that transaction involved a hummer, but Vincent did thank Ian for going "the extra mile.

    March 4, 2004

    Cantilever House

    Santiago Calatrava, Turning Torso, Malmo SE, image:!

    Herbert Muschamp calls it a "stairway to heaven penthouse paradise," which is odd, since it looks more like a zipper than a staircase. The zipper on the fly of lower Manhattan. ["Chicka-boom!" indeed, Herbert.]

    What is it? It's Santiago Calatrava's latest project for New York, a 1000' residential tower of cantilvered cubehouses on South Street. (yes, as in Seaport. NYC zoning laws now require super-luxury buildings to be built adjacent to cornball-laden malls.) Each cube will be a single 10,000 SF residence, with a 2,000 SF terrace on the roof of the cube below.

    The form is based on sculptures Calatrava has been noodling with in his garage, and on technology used in the Turning Torso tower [left] he's completing in Malmo, Sweden (aka the Jersey City of Copenhagen).

    If all goes according to plan, this architectural marvel will sit across the East River from Jean Nouvel's 1999 cantilevered glass-floored hotel, and will overlook Frank Gehry's cloud-like floating Guggenheim. Oh, downtown will become an architectural paradise at last. Somehow, I think we'll see WTC Memorial Ice Rinks in the footprints before then.

    Related [?]: "A New Twist" for getting around lower Manhattan--entirely underground

    still, Winchester, 2003, Jeremy Blake,

    Editor Tim Griffin introduces In Conversation, a new feature in this month's Artforum, artists talking to artists. To start: Jeremy Blake and John Baldessari, two artists with deep interest in the intersections between painting and ______(cinema, photography, technology, text, conceptual art). Both artists also have deep, abiding interest in film as well, which explains why this turned up on

    One great thread: Baldessari's contested label as a Conceptual Artist.

    JOHN BALDESSARI: Well, in the late '60s, I was introduced to some painter at Max's Kansas City and he said, "Oh you're one of those �write-abouts'?" I said, "What do you mean �write-abouts'?" 'You know, critics write about your work.' To him, that's what made a Conceptual artist.
    Related posts from Feb. 2003: Jeremy previewing his Winchester piece last Feb and his haiku-like shorts for the Punch-Drunk Love DVD.

    March 4, 2004

    My Architecture

    [via Archinect] In Metropolis Magazine, David D'Arcy looks at an onanistic genre of film (as if there were any other kind): "the making of the building" documentary. These now-de rigueur films share a common dramatic arc: "The process is depicted as tough but triumphant, the architect is 'visionary,' the trustees who funded his work 'courageous,' and the public overwhelmingly grateful for the new building."

    "I've come to think of them not as films but home movies, institutional metaphors for the family trip to the Grand Canyon. The family just happens to be your hometownís civic elite," D'Arcy concludes. But like most home movies, "it's hard to watch them for too long if youíre not a close relative." Good stuff.

    [via Archinect] WTC Memorial designer Michael Arad discusses his original idea, design process, and experience in a too-brief interview for Architectrual Record Magazine.

    Michael Heizer at Dia Beaon, image:

    Arad's reworked proposal (with Peter Walker) attempts a return to his original vision, in which very clear, stark voids pierce the horizontal plane of the plaza. More and more, the experience sounds similar to Michael Heizer's Nort, East, South, West installation at Dia Beacon.

    Two films by Etienne Sauret, including the eerie WTC: The First 24 Hours, [which screened on the program with my first film at MoMA's Documentary Fortnight] are showing at Film Forum today through March 16. Etienne will introduce the films tonight at 6:15 and 8:00.

    Mark Holcomb reviews them in the Voice and gets cranky about the FDNY. Stephen Holden reviews them more straightforwardly in the Times.

    The NY Observer's Blair Golson reports on conflict brewing around Michael Arad's design for the WTC Memorial. Apparently, he doesn't want to be the malleable vassal the Jury and the LMDC had in mind when they chose his proposal. Some accuse him of pursuing "unlimited control [over the Memorial design], without any checks on his responsibilities." They also say Arad threatened to take his displeasures public to gain negotiating leverage. This, coming from an anonymous LMDC source involved in the rebuilding process.

    Meanwhile, somehow, the Observer also learned of complaints by Arad's original proposal team members, who say he hogged all the credit on their group design. Someone's trying to make a point that Arad doesn't play well with others.

    Still from Amar Kanwar's A Season Outside, image: peter blum via
  • After screening at Documenta XI, Chicago's Renaissance Society, Miami Art Basel, and MoMA Gramercy, Amar Kanwar's excellent 1997 video, A Season Outside, gets its New York gallery debut--and a review by Jerry Saltz.
  • Guy Maddin takes his own sweet time publishing Part II of his production diary for The Saddest Music in the World, which opens at MoMA Gramercy on March 4. Tomorrow! Like with Jersey Girls, Full Frontal, and I Love Your Work, when production diaries go up against Hollywood publicists trying to control info in a film, the publicists still win. [Where's Jeff Jarvis when you need him?]
  • In the magazine header, image:

    Issue of 2004-03-08
    Posted 2004-03-01

    The Talk of The Town
    COMMENT/ RECKLESS DRIVER/ Hendrik Hertzberg on the Ralph Nader candidacy.
    GROVES OF ACADEME/ PAST AND PRESENT PASSIONS/ David Remnick gets the religion scholar Elaine Pagelsís take on Mel Gibsonís movie.
    FROM RUSSIA/ THE PUTIN TOOTHPICK/ Masha Lipman notices that the Russian Presidentís face is turning up everywhere.
    THE BOARDS/ MORE/ Liesl Schillinger on how Yeardley Smith is getting past Lisa Simpson.
    THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ THE GOOD FIGHT/ James Surowiecki on the need for disagreement in the boardroom.

    ANNALS OF NATIONAL SECURITY/ Seymour M. Hersh/ The Deal/ Nuclear traders and the hunt for bin Laden.
    HUMOR/Studio Script Notes on "The Passion," Dictated To Steve Martin/ [MCN, via DGC. not posted on]
    CASUAL/ George Saunders/ My Amendment
    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ Dan Baum/ The Casualty/ Coming home from Iraq, with wounds.
    FICTION/ Hanif Kureishi/ "Long Ago Yesterday"

    POP MUSIC/ Sasha Frere-Jones/ Let's Go Swimming/ Arthur Russell's gentle revolutions.
    BOOKS/ Elizabeth Kolbert/ Mother Courage/ Kids, careers, and culture.
    THE ART WORLD/ Peter Schjeldahl/ Out of Time/ Parmigianino and the trouble with being too good.
    THE THEATRE/ John Lahr/ Bittersweet/ "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Bridge and Tunnel."
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ David Denby/ Women and the System/ "Goodbye, Lenin!" and "Osama."

    A REPORTER AT LARGE/ The Boys in Maroon/ Philip Hamburger spends time in a Staten Island hospital with soldiers who were wounded in the Second World War./ Issue of 1943-09-25
    A REPORTER IN BED/ Sgt. William MacConnell/ Station Hospital/ A report by a hospitalized soldier during the first year of Americaís involvement in the Second World War./ Issue of 1942-09-05

    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

    Posts from March 2004, in reverse chronological order

    Older: February 2004

    Newer April 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