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Vincenzo Natali’s Splice

The audience laughed during Splice, as well, and that is part of what makes it a fun movie. Splice is self-conscious; it knows that at times it is asking us to really stretch our credulity, and it knows that it gets to be over the top. It seems to acknowledge that, at this point in the evolution of scary movies, a film that does nothing but frighten is no longer possible. Audiences are too aware of the conventions of horror for that to happen.

Initial Thoughts: Lady Gaga – “Alejandro”

The depressed mood, robotic dance moves and black clothes channel Janet Jackson and “Rhythm Nation” as well as Metropolis, the 1927 German sci-fi by Fritz Lang. That’s the thing about Gaga and her references: so many pop cultural references get scrambled into a single shot that she’s not “ripping off Madonna,” as so many other bloggers will say. She’s doing Ace of Base doing Madonna doing Janet Jackson doing Metropolis doing a gay porn film.

Model Actress Whatever

If nature doesn’t distribute talents evenly across the population, it would appear that culture tries to correct this by regulating the number of models (zero!) allowed to moonlight successfully as musicians. Yes, it’s difficult to concede that a person with a steep allotment of physical beauty might also, on top of it, wield separate talents. And also: models have a poor track record of transitioning from one field to the other, both in terms of merit and commercial success. Athlete-musicians are an analogous phenomenon…

Five Reasons to Love Lady Gaga

If Lady Gaga walked into the room you’re sitting in right now, what would you do? Maybe you’d sit there, idle, rolling your eyes so hard they got stuck. Or! Perhaps you’d strip off all your clothes and streak the room buck naked, back and forth, back and forth. I’d just sit there, wearing a head-to-toe black sequin body suit, purple Nina Ricci heels and a black chandelier on my head. When I saw her, I’d peel back the black diamond curtains and wink.

My Fetish Jealousy

I have the same jealousy of fetishists. They know exactly what they want, exactly what will sate them. Me, I am overwhelmed by the choices, the vast selection. I see women on the street and I can imagine myself, more or less, with all of them. And this stymies me, leaves me immobilized and wanting. Meanwhile, the guy who digs smoking chicks with tiny boobs knows just what his night will entail.

A Short History of the Long Take

Musically, OK Go and Erykah Baduh have little in common; the artists’ core audiences, even less. But their recent, much-discussed videos are cut from the same cloth. As anyone with an open browser knows, OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” records an elaborate, Rube Goldberg-style chain reaction, which unfolds in an unbroken sequence over the song’s four-minute length. What keeps you watching isn’t so much the mechanism’s can-do engineering as the knowledge that a single untripped wire or errant bowling ball would require starting from scratch.

Marina Abramović, “The Staring Woman at MoMA”

After doing things in the bar, someone’s apartment, another bar, a grocery store, White Castle (briefly, not eating anything), and my apartment it was ~6:00 AM and Thomas and I were each alone in our rooms, ~4 blocks from each other. I was stomachdown on my bed listening to music via earphones/iTunes. We were emailing each other. After ~8 emails I said something about MoMA. Thomas seemed immediately committed and excited.

Aaron Young: Bad Ass Art

Most people who’ve had an art history course, or who have ever been to a modern art museum, may remember Fountain (or one of its many iterations) and found themselves walking away from it thinking “if it was really art” in the first place. But what Fountain proposes, though, is not so much “is it art” and more “how bad ass can your art be.” But can anybody be a bad ass after Duchamp? I mean, how many more art pranks are left?

Sacha Heron – “Iceland”

There’s a lot more to Iceland than Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano which basically put a complete halt to air travel across western and northern Europe as of April. Sacha Heron, an emerging photographer living and working in Paris, captured another, less violent side of the country in his trip there in 2008. Heron cites the beauty of the landscapes as a crucial influence in his decision to quit his job…

American Friends of France: Specialites de la Maison

The list of contributors, some names long forgotten, others alive in legend, is as eccentric and eclectic as the recipes themselves: Elizabeth Arden, Christian Dior, Charlie Chaplin, Clare Boothe Luce, Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn, Salvador Dali, Tallulah Bankhead. It’s a real early twentieth century celebrity parade.Specialites is more than just a fun book to read. It is an historical document of some content and value giving a real sense of the state of American cuisine before World War II…

Marc Lafia: Proliferating from What is Paradise

Marc Lafia is a prolific artist, filmmaker and information architect. His work has been exhibited internationally, including commissions for the Tate and Whitney museums and screenings at Rotterdam, the ICA Japan and Georges Pompidou. He also founded the award-winning ArtandCulture.com. Lafia’s most recent three films are love and art, Paradise and Revolution of Everyday Life. Philosophical questions arise from the everyday within the films – what is narrative, art and image?, and from the ordinary blossoms surprise and spontaneity…

Please Give: Nicole Holofcener’s Lorrie Moore-isms

After throwing a fit about the state of her skin and refusing to join the dinner, Abby emerges from her bedroom with a pair of panties over her face and sits down at the dinner table. When she lowers the underwear and exposes a monstrous blemish on her nose, she kindles an alliance with the otherwise loathesome Mary, who’s the only one willing to acknowledge that Abby’s skin looks awful.

On Mapping Kubrick

What is consistently inspiring about the films is their ability to move freely, uninhibited by convention. Often it seems they are structured and chaptered as novels, and they frequently suggest literary underpinnings. Behind the veil of his films are slow-moving cosmologies and ill-defined empires that only graze the aesthetic surface. For instance, when we watch Leonard Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket slowly alienated and punished for his faults, we are watching the roots of antagonism and subversiveness…

Abigail Solomon-Godeau et al. – Birgit Jürgenssen

The publication next month of a monograph on Birgit Jürgenssen marks the first in-depth consideration of the career of the Austrian artist published in English. The book arrives six years after her death and on the sixtieth anniversary of her birth—significant recognition for an artist many English-speaking audiences know little, if anything, about. Jürgenssen, like her better-known compatriot Valie Export, is part of the pioneering generation of feminist artists.

Why Modern Family Works So Well

But perhaps the fundamental reason is the underlying philosophy of the show, which is carefully inoffensive and thoroughly populist. The contradictory title of the show reminds us of this reality. It’s a progressive (modern) sitcom about conservative stuff (viz., family). It’s the show for fans of both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.

In Praise of Serendipity and Beautiful Mistakes

In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson, two radio astronomers at Bell Labs, were looking for bird poo. That wasn’t what they’d planned to look for that day, but it was what they believed was getting in the way of them collecting meaningful data from their experiment. No matter which direction they pointed their antenna, there was a constant noise humming in the background…

Mark Twain Autobiography To Be Released After 100 Years

For reasons known only to the author himself, Mark Twain ordained that his complete autobiography – all five thousand pages of it – should not be printed in its entirety until one hundred years after his demise. Since he died in 1910, that makes 2010 the year for which many have been waiting so impatiently and for so long.

Eleanor Catton: The Rehearsal

Eleanor Catton’s first novel centers on an affair between a 17-year-old pupil at an all-girls school and her thirty-something male music teacher, but the novel is really about everyone else: the students, parents and teachers who help to turn the albeit taboo relationship into a scandal. The gossip extends beyond the perimeters of the campus of the school, Abbey Grange (which the girls call “Scabby Grange” or “Abbey Grunge”), into newspapers, homes…

Michelle Madonna: Vampire-Socialite

Michelle Madonna (real name) was born in Long Island, NY and after a short stint in Los Angeles settled in Manhattan on the Upper East Side. She describes herself as “vampire, camera whore, and wannabe socialite with terrible insomnia.” She is currently finishing a degree in Visual merchandising at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising. She also makes pop and dance music.

Jake Silverstein: Nothing Happened

When I found Nothing Happened on the new books table I was, I think, justifiably skeptical: the subtitle, “A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction,” immediately suggested a publishing industry gimmick; and the cover with two pictures creating a sequential narrative, one of a barren desert landscape, the second that same landscape now dotted with red balloons, suggested something unbearably corny.

One Snort

cocaine

Then who were those teenage goons sent to frighten us wee children back in grade school with tales of life-ending catastrophe and humbling community service hours spent plucking trash, orange vested, from interstate onramps as a result of being tempted by that white dragon? Were they genuine drug casualties or had they merely gotten caught? Rumors circulated through junior high that with one snort you were addicted for life. One snort and your heart would explode.

Virginia Woolf: Bloomsbury Writer

The cult of glamour has done more damage to Virginia Woolf than her most virulent critics. She has not herself to blame, even if the photos supply “evidence,” since she had to be forced or tricked into posing for most of them. Not herself to blame for her image being stamped on everything from tea cozies to mouse pads to pencil cases.

LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening

Despite the LCD’s heft as a singles act and DFA’s traffic with remix culture, Murphy remains, generationally and even temperamentally, a believer in the album form – not as pop music’s “highest” form, but as one of several, each with their own potentials and constraints – and, in context, even the half-baked tracks here serve the honorable function of cleansing the palate for the more satisfying courses.

Christofer Drew: Hippie Wunderkind

Christofer Drew (birth name: Christopher Drew Ingle) was born on February 11, 1991 in Joplin, Missouri. At the age of fifteen, he dropped out of high school to pursue his music and art full-time. This decision led to problems at home and financial difficulties as well. But Drew made it work and by the time he was eighteen he had already been on several high-profile tours with the likes of Dashboard Confessional and Gym Class Heroes and won the MTV Woddie Award for best new artist…

The Unsung Matthew Good

One explanation is that Good has been trying to run away from the mainstream, radio-ready music of his former band for years, and at the Ballroom, his behavior could be seen as apprehension; everyone was calling out for him to play “Apparitions,” unarguably the Matthew Good Band’s biggest hit. In the CBC interview he expressed his dread of fans “crowd-surfing to ‘Apparitions.’”

On The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Yes, let’s apply philosophy to a set of already predetermined, tightly controlled, and artificially influenced subjects. Not philosophy for philosophies sake but philosophy as an artificial device. A stand-in philosophy. The importance of the tool is dismissed for the insignificance of the object. It reeks of nihilism.

‘Network’ Or How TV Kills Everything

All I know is first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being goddammit. My life has value.” So I want you to get up now. I want you to get out of your chairs and go to the window. Right now. I want you to go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell. I want you to yell, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Paramount Pictures: Iron Man 2

The action scenes are all a beat or three too long, the jokes are just above that lowest common denominator range, and its presence as a product is transparent, no matter attempts at the self-aware bet-hedging—in fact, all those nods at the audience wind up like tics. For a film full of “confidence,” it sure seems to desire approval, just like its hero.

Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass invites us into the world of Dave Lizewsk (Aaron Johnson); an average New York high school kid who, while chatting to his friends in their local comic-book-come-coffee-shop stumbles across an obvious question which will change his mundane life for good. “How come nobody’s ever tried to be superhero?” he asks.

Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama: An Appreciation

And now, Glamorama is one of my favorite books of all time. I love it for the writing, for the glamour, and for the sex. One of the things that always stood out to me about Glamorama, as well as in other Ellis novels, is that the boys have sex with boys, who still have sex with girls and it’s all fine. They’re not, like, g-a-y. It’s just sex, which is how I think it should be.

Barcelona Under Ash

But some, possibly missing funerals and birthdays and anniversaries, are instead crying to the agents at the tourism kiosk. Perhaps they have a plan, and this is it: tears are more likely to yield discounts, vouchers, free nights. “Don’t cry,” the agent tells the woman next to us, repeating the words until they sound like a command. The subtext of it might be, Why don’t you give my city a chance.

Ian McEwan: Solar

Too proud to request help, he performs some amateur corrective measures and gets back on his motorbike, groin stinging. Disaster strikes: Beard’s penis falls off and lodges itself above the kneecap of his snowsuit. (“The hideous object, less than two inches long, was stiff like a bone. It did not feel, or it no longer felt, like a part of himself.”) In a panic, still aboard the motorbike, he contemplates the possibility of microsurgery for reattachment.

Eighteen Great Muriel Spark Quotes

Muriel Spark (1918-2004), Edinburgh born and bred, became one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished writers. Spark was a feisty, outspoken, independent woman who made it on her own – no family money, no university education, no man to “depend” on – nothing but abundant talent, extraordinary perseverance, and singular dedication to craft.

Theater Review: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

A narrator in a motorized wheelchair – played hilariously by Colleen Werthmann as a cross between The Church Lady and Kids in the Hall’s Cancer Boy – gamely offers historical context, until Jackson tires of having his story told by someone else and picks her off with his rifle. “Sometimes you’ve got to shoot the storyteller,” the ensemble sings. “Sometimes you’ve got to kill everyone.”

Hometown

My friends were probably right, if my ruling ambition were to make a name for myself. But my chief ambition, I discovered during our early years in Bloomington, was not to make a good career but to make a good life. And such a life, as I came to understand it, meant being a husband and a father first, and an employee second; it meant belonging to a place rather than to a profession…

Michel Houellebecq vs. William Burroughs (Quotes)

Michel Houellebecq — the misanthropic, caninophilic French novelist — and William Burroughs both deploy thorough visions of the world. They proffer more or less elaborate cosmologies, ethics, and particularly critical assessments of humanity. And both view the act of writing in general…

Martin Stannard: Muriel Spark – The Biography

Stannard gives us a Spark who personifies demonic energy and the Calvinist flintiness of the Scots. He tells us that she saw herself as “Lucrezia Borgia in trousers.” She let no one – editor, publicist, accountant – sell her out or tell her what to do…Publishers feared her, shrank from confrontation, and rarely asked her to go on publicity tours or give readings.

Who-Town

The shoot – a dinner party of a hip crowd of twenty-somethings– had been scheduled in mid January, but the actual story was to be published two months later, at the end of March.

Steve Stern: The Frozen Rabbi

Stern doesn’t sweat the impossibility of this premise, and he needn’t —— he’s admirably skilled at inventing a world in which a rabbi could inhabit a freezer for decades and emerge intact. “Some people got taxidermied pets in the attic, we got a frozen rabbi in the basement. It’s a family tradition,” Bernie is told by his father after the discovery is made.

In Praise of Doing Nothing

Monderman had replaced fake clarity with real confusion, forcing drivers to slow down, think and solve the problem of traffic accidents by themselves. He’d undone years of traffic engineering work that had separated drivers and pedestrians, work that had created an illusion of safety that proved dangerous.

Tequila, My Love, My Lifeline, My Teacher

For the spirit I sing of is a life giver, a life affirmer. Unlike all other booze, tequila is a natural upper: it makes you high, not sloppy down. With tequila, you don’t feel drunk; you feel, yes, high. Really. So be careful. A long time bourbon drinker, I began to find the weight of whisky too much for my increasingly fatigued frame. And so I reached for a lighter elixir and found it in the strange, heady brew of the agave…

An Appreciation of Tilda Swinton

Unsurprisingly, it’s usually men who, to paraphrase Herzog, feel compelled “do battle” on cinema’s front lines. But there are exceptions, a notable one being the English actress Tilda Swinton. In 1995, for instance, she spent a week in a glass case at London’s Serpentine Gallery, as a live art tribute to the director Derek Jarman. Last year, she decided to pull a 37-ton cinema-lorry around the Scottish Highlands, in order to screen films – including a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo —— in towns bereft of movie theatres.

A Less Bloody Ethics: On ‘True Blood’

True Blood

The ads for True Blood play on this: “Thou shalt not crave they neighbor.” But of course we do crave each other –– for love, sex, money, nurturing, healing, playing. The dictum of the ad is ambivalent, a supersession of the known moral code. Yes, it tells us, there is an ethics. But they are not certain or fixed because human relations are contractual and complicated.

Michael Haneke and The White Ribbon

“Regarding” is a revoltingly unsentimental description of what a filmmaker does, but then Haneke is not a sentimental filmmaker. An affectless style traces out his signature mood: danger, glazed with calm, that gathers in quiet waves. Haneke’s camera rarely moves, and when it does, it lurks.

On the Phone with Jack Barnett of These New Puritans

For Jack, I am learning, English is almost like a second language. His primary language is a more fluid yet deliberate sonic-speak: Music, instrumentation –– drumming, playing guitar, sampling, clapping, scoring. That is where Jack is most himself, most comfortable, most articulate. “The music is weightless and when I sing so am I” he larks…

On Nostalgia And Hope In How I Met Your Mother

Somewhere between the sips of beer and scotch at MacLaren’s, the high fives, “awesomes”, and “legendarys”, breathes a quiet whisper, an essence almost, of a man and his life — or at least the story that he tells about it.…

Why Crowdsourcing is No Magic Bullet

But what do we actually have to show for the crowd’s toil, years later? As recovering digital evangelist Jaron Lanier points out in his book You Are Not A Gadget, if 15 years ago he’d told people that all we’d have to show for this revolutionary approach to problem solving would be a new type of encyclopedia (Wikipedia) and an adapted operating system (Linux), people wouldn’t have been too impressed

Television on ‘The Wire’: Extension, Expansion, Proliferation

Television on 'The Wire': Extension, Expansion, Proliferation

The Wire performs what television can formally be, what it formally wants to be, how it wants to go. Television is not suited for the climax and dénouement that Hollywood loves so much. We watch television after work, in our pajamas, in our most intimate settings; it is intertwined with our lives. Television is not up there; it’s right here, in our living rooms.

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