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.

Martín Ramírez Untitled circa 1950s crayon graphite tempera and collage on paper 32 x 60 12 inches 1200x673

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

Rso

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.

 

Some interesting links 04.25.18

Here’s great interview with Philip Glass in the Atlantic.

About that time—I’m talking about the early ’70s—the part of New York called SoHo now, it was mostly buildings that housed factories that made clothing. But about this time, artists were buying spaces in that area, and my cousin and I began to help build. We were putting in heating systems and putting in kitchens and bathrooms. We learned how to do that. We would put an ad in the paper, and we’d get to your house, and we’d do it. When it was time to go back on tour, I just closed up for about three weeks and [would] come back and go to work again for two or three months sometimes.

Also, at that time, I was a composer in residence at the La MaMa theater on East Fourth Street, so I was also writing music for plays, and I had my ensemble. I was starting to become a professional composer. I had been out of Juilliard by that time. And eventually, by the time I was 41, 42, I was actually making a living playing music.

I was surprised it happened so quickly, actually. I expected to have a day job for the rest of my life.

One of the points of the interview is how you could afford to work and bit and then work on your art…in NYC. We are losing a generation of artists because people are slaving away just to pay rent.

Here’s 90 frikkin’ minutes of pop culture garbage related to Star Wars, curated by the loons at Cinefamily.

I am a big supporter of sex worker rights, so watching this whole FOSTA/SESTA legislation fiasco is infuriating. Best intentions (outlawing child sex trafficking) has instead turned into a wide-ranging punishment of adults offering sex (and not even that sometimes) for money. And it’s happened in a bipartisan way. This Reply All podcast episode is great work, as even the people who started the FOSTA/SESTA campaign didn’t know this would happen. Worth the listen.

Here’s “Grease” director Randal Kleiser breaking down the final number in the film and basically pointing out how much they completely made up on the spot. I love this kind of stuff.

1080p footage of Tokyo in 1992, the year I first visited. I remember the hazy sunshine. Two years later I would move there!

I’ve never eaten jellied (or stewed) eels, although my family’s British and I have been to the seaside many a time. This interesting Taste article shows how tradition (and grumpy owners) are killing off the business they love.

The first opened in 1844, and as photographer and historian Stuart Freedman tells me, pie and mash shops were the first de facto working-class restaurants in London. “It was aping the bourgeois idea of a restaurant,” he says. Freedman has long documented the sociology of pie and mash shops, culminating with his book The Englishman & the Eel.

These places served hot, cheap, and sustaining food: eels stewed or jellied, mincemeat pies, plain boiled mashed potatoes and “liquor.” The latter is not what you’d think, with no alcohol in sight, but an oozy boil of eel juice and parsley, thickened with flour—a pallid green sauce with briny depth. As Freedman emphasizes, these early restaurants were sparkling establishments: White tiles winked, and sawdust was sprinkled on the floor to stop patrons slipping on spat-out eel bones.

 Read the whole thing. You…might be hungry after?

Bunny Christie says Michael Clark’s performance in “I Am Curious, Orange” (The mighty, mighty Fall did the music) is one of the best things she’s ever seen:

There was a rock’n’roll excitement to the night – it felt more like a gig or a party than a show. Clark’s classical movement amid the striking set and raucous music made for an electric spectacle.

Clark’s composure was luminous. Despite the wild and frenetic scene – the band onstage, the Houses of Parliament as a backdrop, Brix Smith [a member of the band the Fall, who did the music] and guitar atop a giant hamburger – he had this sense of calm about him. He emerged with a shaved head and a low-cut top exposing his chest. He glowed in the darkness.

The Fall were either going to break through into a different part of the arts world after this or break up. As usual Mark E. Smith blew up the band (and his marriage) and started again. 

One of the most unrelenting, menacing songs The Fall did. “Anti Papal Power Pop Music” as one YouTuber calls it.

Thelma, 2017 – ★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

“A Nordic ‘Carrie'” sounds dismissive, but “Thelma” *is* that with many more layers of complexity. Eili Harboe plays the title character, raised by fundamentalist Christians in a very secular Norway whose telekinetic powers are unleashed once she leaves home for college and falls in love with Alma (Kaya Wilkins). The sexual awakening is nicely done, even erotic, and the filmmakers get in some ambiguity by suggesting that perhaps Kaya’s attraction to Thelma isn’t exactly of her own free will.

However, the film does seem to be building up to a major set piece along the lines of the Stephen King film, and when it doesn’t (spoiler!) it feels off-kilter to me. “Thelma” does contain some striking images, cinematography, locations (what a beautiful opera house!), and Harboe puts in a great performance. The portrayal of Christianity is nuanced and not shrill. It has layers. Worth your time.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Thelma, 2017 – ★★★ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

“A Nordic ‘Carrie'” sounds dismissive, but “Thelma” *is* that with many more layers of complexity. Eili Harboe plays the title character, raised by fundamentalist Christians in a very secular Norway whose telekinetic powers are unleashed once she leaves home for college and falls in love with Alma (Kaya Wilkins). The sexual awakening is nicely done, even erotic, and the filmmakers get in some ambiguity by suggesting that perhaps Kaya’s attraction to Thelma isn’t exactly of her own free will.

However, the film does seem to be building up to a major set piece along the lines of the Stephen King film, and when it doesn’t (spoiler!) it feels off-kilter to me. “Thelma” does contain some striking images, cinematography, locations (what a beautiful opera house!), and Harboe puts in a great performance. The portrayal of Christianity is nuanced and not shrill. It has layers. Worth your time.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills