Archive for December, 2005

Brokeback

Ang Lee is back. After Hulk, soulless mess that it was, one had to wonder whether the guy had lost his singular gift: the ability to tell deep, emotional stories with astonishing subtlety and restraint. He had always stretched himself and, until Hulk, he always stuck to his strengths, sfx-laden franchise-enabled flicks featuring musclebound green giants not among them. (Does the world really need another Michael Bay?)

Fortunately, Lee’s Hulk follow-up finds him stretching himself in a direction that makes complete sense. And Brokeback Mountain represents a triumphant return to form. The acting so powerfully understated, the scenery so believably gorgeous, the story so heartfelt, so undeniable. The film captures middle America with a kind of lyrical toughness I’ve not seen before. And against that backdrop it tells the most unstereotypical of love stories in all its purity and complexity. Yet that complexity is conveyed so quietly, so assuredly, so naturally. This film really is a sight to behold. Ah, yes, Ang Lee is back.

For more, give a listen to NPR’s review/interview. Those who enjoy the movie really owe it to themselves to read the source story by Annie Proulx. Her writing matches (and sometimes surpasses) Lee’s visuals with a gravelly beauty all its own.

Update: Shack has been kind enough to provide the above sentiment summarized for the testosterone poisoned (slightly rude but worth it).

image grabbed from joblo

Pinwheel Porn

Gorgeous hypnotic geometries infest the Deitch Wooster Street space: Hypnogoogia cometh. The main floor features massive spheres, a colorful teleconferenced ottoman, and a wave pillar — but the best stuff here is hidden. On the floor below (and criminally invisible in the Deitch site installation photos) is one of the most stunning pieces of dynamic art I’ve seen in some time. You step down into the space and see a multitude of fans causing circular boards to spin. You tiptoe through these for fear of bumping them and slowly realize there are a lot more of these things than it originally seemed. Finally, you reach the rear wall. Turning around, it’s impossible to take it all in at once: psychedelic pinwheels of all sizes, shapes and colors, each spinning with their own rhythm. The phonecam shot above doesn’t do the spectacle justice, but it hints. If you unfocus your eyes, the kaleidoscopic effect is just stunning.

Also hidden (in an area that looks like it might lead to a bathroom or storage closet) is a set of mirrors creating an illusion that reads quite similarly to the spheres out on the main floor. However, this sphere floats in space pulsing and changing textures beautifully, providing a prefect counterpoint to the physicality of the other pieces and a nice homage to the clear inspiration for the exhibit overall: kaleidoscopes.

At Deitch on Grand we caught Kehinde Wiley’s clever mash-ups of “everyday folks” from Harlem and classic paintings of conquerors and kings on its last day. At once colorfully jovial and thoughtful, these paintings seem to be asking questions about mythmaking and the meaning of heroism — aptly titled Rumors of War.

With these two and the astonishing Swoon exhibit earlier this year, Deitch continues to generate much love from these quarters. So good.

photo via jellisvga

Snubbed

Syriana is a fantastically entertaining and important film. There’s really no other way to put it. It’s great to see so many big names stick their necks out to bring attention to such a controversial and complex set of issues.

It’s a bit sad, then, to see the way the only African American character in the movie is portrayed. To be fair, one of the most fascinating things about Syriana is that none of the characters are good or bad — they are all shades of gray. Still, the black guy is a deeper gray than most and the darkness of his character is only deepened by the fact that there are no other black characters to soften him (save a quick interlude with a Condoleeza clone).

Damon’s character is ambitious to a fault and ends up not the great family man, but ultimately figures out what is important. Clooney’s character has trouble managing his relationship with his kid because of constant deep cover and he does questionable things, but does them for the right reasons. Cooper’s character a fairly one-dimensional oil big-wig, but that’s okay because he’s balanced by all the other white guys (not to mention our lifelong cultural training). Jeffrey Wright’s character (token black guy Bennett Holiday) is also one-dimensional, but with no similar balances.

Continue reading ‘Snubbed’





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