Personal Shopper, 2016 – ★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s as if Assayas took the mood of the final 10 minutes of “Clouds of Sils Maria” and kept Stewart’s character on. A film about wandering around rootless in grief, Stewart’s Maureen is like a ghost herself: buying clothes for a celebrity she never sees, engaging in sexual/stalkery games with a mysterious texter, inhabiting rooms that are not her own, but finding no solace at home either. She talks earlier about being a medium and how it’s often like looking through the crack of a door…in a film that has numerous mysterious doors, including one that feels positively Lynchian in its menace. Even the ending, which promises human connection as last, eludes Maureen that which she desires. Great stuff. Stewart is perfect for these haunted roles.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Personal Shopper, 2016 – ★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s as if Assayas took the mood of the final 10 minutes of “Clouds of Sils Maria” and kept Stewart’s character on. A film about wandering around rootless in grief, Stewart’s Maureen is like a ghost herself: buying clothes for a celebrity she never sees, engaging in sexual/stalkery games with a mysterious texter, inhabiting rooms that are not her own, but finding no solace at home either. She talks earlier about being a medium and how it’s often like looking through the crack of a door…in a film that has numerous mysterious doors, including one that feels positively Lynchian in its menace. Even the ending, which promises human connection as last, eludes Maureen that which she desires. Great stuff. Stewart is perfect for these haunted roles.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Personal Shopper, 2016 – ★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s as if Assayas took the mood of the final 10 minutes of “Clouds of Sils Maria” and kept Stewart’s character on. A film about wandering around rootless in grief, Stewart’s Maureen is like a ghost herself: buying clothes for a celebrity she never sees, engaging in sexual/stalkery games with a mysterious texter, inhabiting rooms that are not her own, but finding no solace at home either. She talks earlier about being a medium and how it’s often like looking through the crack of a door…in a film that has numerous mysterious doors, including one that feels positively Lynchian in its menace. Even the ending, which promises human connection as last, eludes Maureen that which she desires. Great stuff. Stewart is perfect for these haunted roles.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Some interesting links 05.07.2018

Ta-Nahisi Coates figures Kanye is trying to escape blackness a la Michael Jackson. (I was also thinking of the fate of O.J. Simpson):

West calls his struggle the right to be a “free thinker,” and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom—a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror’s freedom, freedom of the strong built on antipathy or indifference to the weak, the freedom of rape buttons, pussy grabbers, and fuck you anyway, bitch; freedom of oil and invisible wars, the freedom of suburbs drawn with red lines, the white freedom of Calabasas.

And then, on the other hand, you have Donald Glover/Childish Gambino, and the brilliant This Is America video:

 

Sarah Jeong at The Verge comments on how Facebook has supplanted most of our emotional labor, and how hard it is now to take it back (if we wanted to):

Facebook had replaced much of the emotional labor of social networking that consumed previous generations. We have forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) how many hours our parents spent keeping their address books up to date, knocking on doors to make sure everyone in the neighborhood was invited to the weekend BBQ, doing the rounds of phone calls with relatives, clipping out interesting newspaper articles and mailing them to a friend, putting together the cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and more. We don’t think about what it’s like to carefully file business cards alphabetically in a Rolodex. People spent a lot of time on these sorts of things, once, because the less of that work you did, the less of a social network you had.

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 This art gallery space in Tulum, Mexico looks amazing. it was designed by Jorge Eduardo Neira Serkel.

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As does these shots of Tokyo by Xavier Portela, which have been manipulation to mirror how he remembers the city.

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Also, anything Art Deco always looks great. Here’s a collection of posters.

 

Mr Madila from Rory WT on is a wonderful little animated film about sitting down with a self-described healer.

And this title is self-explanatory.

Some interesting links 05.04.2018

What is the context of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in the time of #metoo? Model Myla Dalbesio weighs in:

If I present myself in a certain way in photos or my art (i.e. in a bikini, or even *gasp* nude), should I be surprised when someone at work makes certain assumptions about me? Did I bring this on myself?

Fuck. No. Because a job is a job, and, teeny tiny bikini or not, I deserve to be respected. Period. There is a definite fear post-harassment that if you address what happened, you will suffer severe repercussions for it. Will the perpetrator retaliate? Will you be fired? In fashion, you fear that you will be blacklisted, that clients will never book you again. You fear that by telling the truth, people will perceive that you could sell them out at any moment, that working with you means they might someday get thrown under the bus.

And there’s the increasing non-usefulness of Facebook and especially social media marketing. Surprise, surprise, it has very little ROI.

To illustrate how social media companies exaggerate their advertising power Mendelson offers a personal example. He has 700,000 Twitter followers. When he sent out a tweet about his new book he sold, not hundreds or thousands of copies, but exactly 28. A tweet to his 700,000 Twitter followers asking for a donation to a breast cancer charity netted just $1. While acknowledging that social media can, occasionally, be an effective advertising medium, for most of us it’s probably a big waste of time.

Another way we’ve ruined the ecosystem of the arts.

You Were Never Really Here, 2017 – ★★★½

A grimy, ultimately *too* claustrophobic Taxi Driver-esque portrayal of a suicidal hitman who gets more than he bargained for when hired to rescue a young girl from a child-sex ring. Everybody in this film is traumatized, and we soon figure out that the weapon-of-choice of “Joe” (Joaquin Phoenix, scarred and paunchy in body) is tied in to his own childhood. (This gets reworked near the end, suggesting that trauma has been passed down but in a different way.)

It’s shocking, it will make you jump, but Ramsey clevely does a lot of the brutal violence off-screen, not that you notice this while watching. I would have liked to have spent a little longer with some of these characters–a lot happens wordlessly–but this is how Ramsey chose to do it.

Great score by Jonny Greenwood, too.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

You Were Never Really Here, 2017 – ★★★½

A grimy, ultimately *too* claustrophobic Taxi Driver-esque portrayal of a suicidal hitman who gets more than he bargained for when hired to rescue a young girl from a child-sex ring. Everybody in this film is traumatized, and we soon figure out that the weapon-of-choice of “Joe” (Joaquin Phoenix, scarred and paunchy in body) is tied in to his own childhood. (This gets reworked near the end, suggesting that trauma has been passed down but in a different way.)

It’s shocking, it will make you jump, but Ramsey clevely does a lot of the brutal violence off-screen, not that you notice this while watching. I would have liked to have spent a little longer with some of these characters–a lot happens wordlessly–but this is how Ramsey chose to do it.

Great score by Jonny Greenwood, too.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

I Feel Pretty, 2018 – ★½

I want to recommend this to my film students as an example of how *not* to direct or edit comedy. Every time a laugh could have been wrestled out of a tepid situation, the scene cuts early. Every time a reaction shot could have been funny, they cut to something too soon. Add to that a premise that hasn’t been thought out–her delusion in image is one thing, but why does she turn from a type B personality to type A? Why is she nice to her boyfriend but a mean-girl to her friends? And shouldn’t a comedy end with a big comedy set piece? This ends with an inspirational speech about regular women having confidence…and that’s why they need to buy budget cosmetics.

Was the Amy Schumer show written and performed by completely different people (including Amy?)

Saving graces: Michelle Williams spaced out CEO (when’s the last time she did comedy? Do more!) and Aidy Bryant wringing laughs out of nowhere.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

I Feel Pretty, 2018 – ★½

I want to recommend this to my film students as an example of how *not* to direct or edit comedy. Every time a laugh could have been wrestled out of a tepid situation, the scene cuts early. Every time a reaction shot could have been funny, they cut to something too soon. Add to that a premise that hasn’t been thought out–her delusion in image is one thing, but why does she turn from a type B personality to type A? Why is she nice to her boyfriend but a mean-girl to her friends? And shouldn’t a comedy end with a big comedy set piece? This ends with an inspirational speech about regular women having confidence…and that’s why they need to buy budget cosmetics.

Was the Amy Schumer show written and performed by completely different people (including Amy?)

Saving graces: Michelle Williams spaced out CEO (when’s the last time she did comedy? Do more!) and Aidy Bryant wringing laughs out of nowhere.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Some interesting links 04.29.2018

The Negro Motorist Green Book was once a pre-Civil Rights Era handbook for avoiding racist establishments and entire racist towns. You would think that’s a thing of the past, but you’d be wrong! 

In late 2017, Jan Miles released the The Post Racial Negro Green Book, an unexpected bestseller that catalogs police killings, violence and harassment; businesses that racially profile black customers; and places where white people publicly abuse black people with impunity…

The new book is “a state-by-state archive of 21st century racial bias against African Americans in the United States—from well-known police brutality incidents to everyday harassment. It covers the years 2013 to 2016 and is intended to document and preserve contemporary history on the topic for the sake of review, consideration, discussion, and action.”

Non-Newtonian Fluid is a puzzler for my small brain, but I do like seeing them going thru this press.

Wyatt Cenac has a new humor and news show. My former student (and stand-up comedian) Tim Barnes is the Web Producer!!

Jaron Lanier was one of the original minds behind Virtual Reality. His interview with NYMag is chock full of mea culpas for the mess the Internet has caused. Read the whole thing.

It’s not so much that they’re doing badly, but they have only labor and no capital. Or the way I used to put it is, they have to sing for their supper, for every single meal. It’s making everyone else take on all the risk. It’s like we’re the people running the casino and everybody else takes the risks and we don’t. That’s how it feels to me. It’s not so much that everyone else is doing badly as that they’ve lost economic capital and standing, and momentum and plannability. It’s a subtle difference.

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Martin Ramirez lived and died in a mental hospital, the “outside art” he left behind is beautiful.

 

There a sure lots of these Vaporwave compilations on the You Tubes. I wouldn’t mind having drinks in a bar where this is playing on a screen.

Scarface’s cover of Public Enemy’s “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” is fury and rage updated for the Trump era. Rap is a genre where you never directly just repeat the lyrics verbatim, which is fascinating to me. Despite the classic status of PE’s original track, Scarface adds just enough of Chuck D’s line to give tribute, but then updates it. So why isn’t this done more in other genres? It should be encouraged. The only example (I’m not counting gender switching lyrics, that’s basic) I can think of is David Byrne’s cover of Fiery Furnaces’ “Ex-Guru” where he added a bridge and an extra verse:

I love record label logo design, check this page out

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Peter Serafinowicz interviews Brian Eno:

PS: One last thing I wanted to ask you, which was a thing I promised my daughter that I’d ask you. There’s a piece of music by a Japanese composer and it’s the theme from a game called Animal Crossing. It’s this little simulation of a little village with little anthropomorphic animals. You build up your house, there’s no real kind of goal to it. It’s such a warm game, and I love that she loves this game, but the music makes us want to cry and I just wanted to play it to you to see if you could understandwhy.

BE: Lovely. It’s a very charming piece. I think there’s quite a few interesting things going on there. One is that the instruments are very innocent. They sound young in a sort of wide-eyed way. But there are some changes of mood in the chord changes that introduce doubt of some kind. So it’s as though you’re in this world that presents itself in the first blush as, ‘Ahh lovely, dafodils, daisies and sweetness’. And then it’s like a cloud comes over when some of these changes happen. It reminds me a lot of Fellini.