Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coming Distractions April 28th, 2009

I am so excited for tuesday that I may just sit here and wait til then:

Bride Wars
The Uninvited
Hotel for Dogs
Little Dorrit
Eden Lake
What Doesn't Kill You
Nothing But the Truth

Art on Film

Psst... I'm gonna let you in on a little secret... I got a little behind on my homework this semester (this winter gets so long and dreary!), maybe could have studied a bit harder for my Renaissance to Modern Art History Survey class. Now it's the end of the semester, and time for a little hurried extra credit. Luckily for me, that particular extra credit involves watching a few biopics of artists.

Though never able to crawl out of total art obscurity in his own lifetime, Vincent van Gogh gets the last laugh, that is, if dead people can laugh. (eerie...) Probably the most biopicized artist ever, here is a short list of some van Gogh imaginings.
Vincent & Theo This film, about van Gogh and his brother was shown during my class. As the initial dvd menu screen popped up on the screen I listened in on the couple sitting behind me. Girl: "Are they a couple?" Boy: "Well, probably, it is an art thing." I think Altman gets a little heavy-handed with his symbolism at moments, but otherwise this is a solidly interesting film. Plus, Tim Roth as van Gogh makes a lot more sense visually than Martin Scorsese in the same role in Dreams. Kirk Douglas takes over as the painter in Lust for Life and David Abbott is the artist post-magic-potion-resurrection in Starry Night.

Are we, as a people, trying to make up for ignoring him during his own lifetime? The first speech in Julian Schnabel's (himself a painter) film Basquiat references the cult of the over-looked artist embodied by van Gogh. David Bowie is fun to watch as Basquiat's friend Andy Warhol. Did Basquiat exploit the role of "ghetto" artist, or did the public exploit him? You can continue considering these issues, and others in the documentary on Basquiat, Downtown 81.

Of course there is Artemisia, about Artemisia Gentileschi. This film, fittingly, got a lot of flack for turning the rape of Artemisia by her teacher Agostino Tassi, into a love story. Why? Why?? Continuing the Italian Renaissance-ish theme, there is The Agony and the Ecstacy, with Charlton Heston as Michelangelo during the artist's difficulties with painting the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo didn't consider himself much of a painter (for reals!) and wasn't so happy about that particular commission. However, when the pope tells you to fresco a church, you shut up and fresco the damn church. Don't forget Derek Jarman's Caravaggio! If you'd rather try some 15th c. Russian art, go for Andrei Rublev instead.

Klimt was recently released, starring John Malkovich. Or there is Camille Claudel, about a young woman's relationship with Auguste Rodin.

There are at least two movies about the Spanish master Goya, Goya's Ghost (with Stellan SkarsgÄrd as the painter) or Goya in Bordeaux.

Turning to more contemporary art, we have Love is the Devil, about Francis Bacon. Unable to license Bacon's work, the film instead turns to using Baconesque effects. My Left Foot is the story of Christy Brown, an artist and writer with cerebral palsy who learned to create with his (left? you ask) foot. There is Ed Harris' Pollock. Favorite quote, when Pollock is asked how he knows when he's finished with a painting he responds, "How do you know when you're finished making love?" Or Frida, starring Salma Hayek: a good film, as far as biopics go, though I think it's regretable that it's in english rather than spanish. Best quote I've seen yet in one of these pictures is Frida concerning her death, "I hope the end is joyful, and I hope never to return."

A few of really interesting art documentaries: How to Draw a Bunny, about the life of Ray Johnson, after his both quiet and dramatic (simultaneously?!) suicide. In the Realms of the Unreal is a particularly beautiful documentary about the secret art of Henry Darger. And there is Crumb, the Terry Zwigoff film about Robert Crumb and his unusual (to say the least) family and their personal obsessions. (Anyone in the room like to slowly eat an 8-plus foot long string as a bowel cleansing exercise? If so, raise your hand now.)

I'm sure I'm missing some very worthy films. Any other artists on celluloid that deserve a little "Waterfont" Blog time?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coming Distractions April 21st, 2009

Don't let the spring sun intimidate you. Life's only so long, and there are a lot of movies still left to watch.

The Wrestler
How About You
My Own Worst Enemy
the last word

Most of us just get older. However, for some, time seems to have more transformative properties. Of course, sometimes other (ahem: self-afflicted) factors can also effect the natural aging properties of the human body. We've all noticed Mickey Rourke's facial metamorphosis. If you've forgotten what a pretty boy he used to be, you can relive his prior incarnation in Diner (1982). He's even pretty as Bukowski's drunken alter-ego Chinaski in Barfly.

Hollywood changes people. The Nicole Kidman of Stepford Wives or Australia can't really be the same person as the star of BMX Bandits (1983) or Dead Calm (1989), can she?

Change isn't all about hair dye and plastic surgery. Anthony Michael Hall just grew up, and his face filled out.
Sixteen Candles (1984) vs. Dead Zone (2002)

Speaking of filling out, we can always mention Orson Welles or Marlon Brando (who reportedly wore no pants during the filming of The Score just so he could not be shot from the waist down.)

Pants? Or Cleverly framed underwear?

-Burlington, let's grow old together, gracefully.
Waterfront Video

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Coming Distractions, April 14th 2009

These movies are getting hitched to our shelves next Tuesday. Take them home for a night or two (no vows of monogamy required!)

Donkey Punch
The Reader
The Spirit
American Swing
Dark Matter
Lost in Austen
Skins - 2nd Season

Ah, it's (almost) spring, and love is certainly in the air. Or at least it's in the air in Hollywood. Cause there sure are a lot of wedding movies!

Rachel Getting Married
Muriel's Wedding
Altman's The Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Parent Trap
The Marrying Kind
Monsoon Wedding
My Best Friend's Wedding
4 Weddings and a Funeral
Wedding Crashers
Father of the Bride
The Philadelphia Story
Corpse Bride
The Wedding Date
Mamma Mia
Sex & The City - The Movie

And the list goes on... But now we have the chance to re-imagine (and we know Hollywood loves a remake!) all the wedding movies without all those tired heterosexual cliches. Thank god Vermont didn't lag too far behind Iowa...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Coming Distractions, April 7th, 2009

DVDs, an affordable luxury:

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Yes Man
The Tale of Despereaux
Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword

What is this now, April? And we still have to wait another whole 8 months (and several days!) until Christmas?! Not only is the waiting unbearable for us homo sapiens of the Christmas persuasion, but it gives the Christmas trees (who are, apparently, so not excited to celebrate a little more Noel) time to genetically mutate into sentient beings with the ability to throw spruce spears with amazing accuracy!

Now that's some crazy evolution right there. Survival of the fittest, no?

Actually, you know what I'm far more excited about than Christmas is the remake Sorority Row (not out 'til October 2nd. Why do you tease me world?!) Check out this stellar cast: Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce & Demi Moore), Carrie Fisher, Audrina from The Hills, and that main girl from Step Up 2 the Streets, Briana Evigan. The only way the cast of a pajama-clad college girly horror film could be any better (some may disagree with me...but you're wrong) is if Lindsay Lohan could have taken a moment away from the empire she's been building out of leggings and spray-on tanner (and Italian commercials) to be involved.

But don't despair! I do have one more present in store for you, Lindsay's direct-to-cable release Labor Pains will be coming to a tv near you May 23rd. You are all certainly invited to my house to watch it. It's gotta be more fun than that video of a real-live-birth-giving (of the same name perhaps?) they made me watch in middle school. Right? See: trailer. Plus it's literary, they mention books (I'm totally gonna love it... The book connection won me over in The Ninth Gate, though I seem to be in the minority with liking that one as well.)

Speaking of books, didja you know Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, and Vladimir Nabokov were all born in the same year (1899)? Yeah, I don't know why that fact matters either, but I still like it.

Well, in the words of Britney Spears, (no, not the words about her lady bits, the other words) Merry Christmas! I'm not real familiar with latter day Britney music, but doesn't that song sound a lot like Gina x Performance's ode to the pleasures of being alone, Do It Yourself?

Until we meet again...