Monday, December 27, 2010

Robert Rauschenberg: In the gap between art & life

Robert Rauschenberg, 1963

Recently, Gagosian seems to be acting more like a museum than a gallery. Last week, I saw their Robert Rauschenberg show, just half a year after catching their dazzling exhibit of Picassos, The Mediterranean Years. I'm guessing these shows are intended as artistic potlatches to demonstrate Gagosian's greater glory -- we're only expected to admire. But, really, who's complaining? All I want to do is look.

I nosed around the web for info about Rauschenberg. A critical consensus calls him a rebel for, as one writer put it "...his rejection of the angst and seriousness of the abstract expressionists." That may be true (I don't know the history of the art wars during that period). Then again, it could be just the critic's version. After looking at his stuff, it strikes me that Rauschenberg doesn't seem like a guy to categorically "reject" anything. Instead, he may have gone in his own direction as naturally as a bird goes south for the winter.

It is true that, if abstract expressionists aimed to infuse paintings with spiritual truth ("the unconscious," to be found within each artist), Rauschenberg's pieces run ineluctably in the opposite direction. He called what he did working in "the gap between art & life." In practice that meant radical inclusion -- intake -- the continuous, open-ended transformation of "the mess of life" into art.

Aen Floga (Combine Painting), 1962, Oil on canvas with wood, metal and wire, Robert Rauschenberg

In his "Combines"(I love that word), Rauschenberg uses discarded trash & daily objects made from every kind of material: signs, clothing, pillows, sticks, cardboard boxes, dirt, furniture, bricks, printed fabric, rusted shapes of iron. Other works on canvas reproduce photo & art historical images ripped from the cultural mix as photographs, silkscreens, drawings, chemical imprints -- painted, overlaid, daubed, meshed. Rauschenberg's choices & juxtapositions are intuitive, never didactic -- if you look at them long enough, the meaning(s) become clear, but these are not always accessible to words.

"Untitled (Spread)," Robert Rauschenberg

Walking around the show I opened my notebook & started writing down what I saw. Here is an unsystematic sampling.

football fish cat flowers dancer aerial city waterslide posed chimps pinnipeds twinned roads blossoms bridges planets fruit horses thermostat oil tanks mountain peaks tractor Geronimo pedestians mustache arrow umbrella headlights rulers nudes blueprints Abe Lincoln monkeys traffic cactus Buddha skyscrapers scaffolding reflections bicycles Lady Liberty mosquitoes poppies roses cows lace cupolas drainpipes tenements Greek columns flywheel pediment assemblyline tires bodhisattva dormer Michaelangelo's Sistine ceiling mushrooms meat chairs steins juicers filmstrip flags maps boats broadsheets numbers statues Mona Lisa(s) children's drawings musical notation ideograms

Quoted for this show, Rauschenberg said, "...If I can possibly show to anyone that the world belongs to them, to each person, then the work is successful."


Friday, December 24, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where is your mind?


In this article the author asks, "Is it possible that... some of the activity that enables us to be the thinking, knowing, agents that we are occurs outside the brain?" Could, for example, "...iPhones, BlackBerrys, laptops and organizers ... sometimes be best seen as bio-external elements in an extended cognitive process: one that now criss-crosses the conventional boundaries of skin and skull?"

It's a fascinating argument. Read it at "Out of Our Brains" by Andy Clark. There's even a Pixie's video.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Elia Kazan on bohemianism

"Elia Kazan at Cannes," courtesy The New Yorker
My suggestion: read this aloud.
"A dying race call them what you will: romantics, eccentrics, rebels, Bohemians, freaks, harum-scarum, bobtail, Punchinello, odd-ducks, the out-of-steps, the queers, double-gated, lechers, secret livers, dreamers, left-handed pitchers, defrocked bishops... the artists, the near artists, the would-be-artists, the wanderers, the would-be wanderers, the secret wanderers, the foggy-minded, the asleep on the job, the loafers, the out-and-out hobos, the down and out, the grifters and drifters, the winos and boozers, the old maids who don't venture to the other side of their windows, the good for nothings, the unfenceables, the rebels inside, the rebels manifest..."
-- Elia Kazan, from a letter to Tennessee Williams

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rent this movie? Lone Star

"Lone Star poster," All rights reserved

Lone Star 1996
Written and directed by John Sayles
With Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Pena, Kris Kristofferson

With his 1996 movie, Lone Star, writer/director John Sayles may have tried to juggle one -- or two -- too many subplots, but the audacity of his ambition makes us buy it. Our most literary film artist, Sayles intends his interweaving stories to tell a larger overarching story -- about a community, not just its individuals. Lone Star is set in a sleepy Texas border town, where everyone falls into one of three groups -- anglo, Mexican or black. The film's murder mystery & love story bring out ethnic tensions in these characters but also their deep connections.

For me, the best thing in Lone Star is the strongest of those connections -- the love story between anglo sherriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) & Mexican school teacher Pilar Cruz (Elizabeth Pena). After many years away, Sam has returned to town to take over his father's old job. Pilar is now a widow with two teen-aged children. Gradually, we learn that Sam & Pilar were once passionate teenage lovers, that they were violently separated & kept apart by their respective families, eventually resulting in Sam's self-exile. Now they're free to do what they want.

We watch their tense middle-aged re-courtship. As Sam, Cooper is tall & lean & slow-moving (by the time he has taken off his Stetson, blocked it in his big hands, & put it back on, another actor would be done with the scene). But he's anything but relaxed. His long lugubrious, unhandsome face ticks back & forth between hard-won control & a kind of desperation as he tries, politely, to communicate his feelings to Pilar. Pena's Pilar, on the other hand, makes no attempt to hide her caroming feelings. She's a proud & beautiful woman in her prime, making her way in a small town with no eligible men, & she's lonely. But she's also still angry at Sam.

When Sam & Pilar finally make love near the end of the film, all their longing & regret, going back years, seems to explode. A short scene, it shows us heads & shoulders only, filmed from above. We're unable to see Sam's face, only Pilar's as she moves on top of him. We think we're watching a sedate version of the sex act-- cable but not HBO -- & then Pilar cries out; her orgasm surges through her face, again & again, more powerfully each time, leaving her gasping, her features smoothed-out, happy in Sam's arms. It's quite a moment. And not just because it's sexy (which it is).

Not long afterward, we learn the real reason Sam's & Pilar's parents kept them apart as teenagers (hint: it's not racism). In fact, it's a shocker worthy of Bunuel. But what do these two star-crossed lovers do with this dire revelation? They flip it aside. They laugh & reach for each other

I loved this movie.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

God bless Bernie Sanders!

Daddy warbucks' grandson
"Billionaire," satirical protester at Republican National Convention, NYC, 2004, Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Bernie Sanders of Vermont told the truth on the floor of the U.S. Senate today.

It made me ashamed of the President & Democrats who have done nothing but backpedal & grin, trying to placate the Republican bullies. Why can't the Dems stand up & tell the truth too? I believe the middle class would rally around them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Coming soon...


Via Netflix have watched so far:

The Searchers
Thieves Like Us
Howard's End
Noises Off
A Passage to India
Out of the Past
Whale Rider

Now on order:

Lone Star
Bringing Up Baby
Down to the Bone
Kiss me Kate
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

Nibbling at Netflix
Netflix ninny

Friday, November 26, 2010

When the hunter does the cooking

"Behind the Gare St. Lazar," Henri Cartier-Bresson, All rights reserved

The great Henri Cartier-Bresson, apparently as good at concocting bon mots as making pictures, once famously remarked : "I'm a hunter, not a cook." In other words, 'I shoot 'em, somebody else takes care of the rest.'

I've always wondered about this remark. OK, let's say Cartier-Bresson gives the film to an experienced lab person to process & make contact sheets. C-B marks a few frames, then turns the contacts over to editors who know good work as well as what they need for their stories. A skilled printer takes care of enlargements, which are then sized, cropped & laid out by designers. C-B gives his blessing & takes another sip of his excellent wine. Voila!


For me, shooting is always about chasing Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment." My pictures never do more than approximate what I envision. (That's why I keep shooting.)

It's only the decisions that come after shooting (the cooking) for which I am able to feel truly responsible. Those decisions -- hundreds of them -- are completely in my control.

Right now I'm at work selecting & presenting a set of my pictures for a contest. It's a form of self-torture. Issues of self-esteem arise (maybe I should say self-hatred). Deep-seated fears of inadequacy threaten to paralyze. Despite my best efforts, my fears morph into fantasies of bias & corruption on the part of the judges & a kind of childish anger that there is no perfectly realized picture, no perfect justice.

I wish I could be just a hunter.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

i-Less in Gotham

"Mark Zuckerberg, born 1984," photo courtesy The New Yorker

After a recent series of interviews with Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, Jose Antonio Vargas wrote: "Eventually, the company [Facebook] hopes that users will read articles, visit restaurants, and watch movies based on what their Facebook friends have recommended, not, say, based on a page that Google’s algorithm sends them to. Zuckerberg imagines Facebook as, eventually, a layer underneath almost every electronic device. You’ll turn on your TV, and you’ll see that fourteen of your Facebook friends are watching 'Entourage,' and that your parents taped '60 Minutes' for you. You’ll buy a brand-new phone, and you’ll just enter your credentials. All your friends—and perhaps directions to all the places you and they have visited recently—will be right there." ("Letter from Palo Alto," The New Yorker).

In Manhattan during my work day I watch other humans. Here's what I see. In public most of them seem mesmerized by small screens that they hold in their hands. They stare at these screens with unblinking attentiveness -- in the street, on the subway, in buses, on elevators, in restaurants, waiting on checkout lines, idling in cars, on benches, walking, hunched over in entryways, climbing stairs, peeing in urinals, windowshopping, pushing strollers, talking with friends, eating sandwiches... At every possible moment.

Occasionally my fellow humans move their thumbs. Sometimes they raise their screens to their ears & talk or listen (Aha! It's a phone!). You can tell by the wires going from their screens into their ears that they're listening to music or a podcast. If it's music, they sometimes close their eyes & bop to the beat. I like that. Occasionally, someone stops in mid stride & punches frantically with index & 2nd finger at his or her screen, then -- without looking up -- walks on.

A stranger to our culture would certainly conclude that something very important is happening here. I don't necessarily disagree. But why, if I'm witnessing something significant, does no one else even seem to notice? And why -- poor, sad isolato that I am -- do I not feel inclined to join in? Why do I not desire my own magic screen to keep me company all the way home?

Sunday, October 31, 2010


"St. Anthony & Christ child with Relax sign," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego with basketball," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Monday, October 25, 2010

2 from Times Square subway station, last night

"Fiddling girl," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Ranter with Bible," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Christine makes it to the Met!!

"Christine's photo in Met poster outside the museum" by Paige

The little girl in red sprinting up the Met's grand staircase is pure Christine Acebo (ahem, she's my streetsnap & schmooze buddy). Kudos to the quickest shooter I know (she makes wondrous magic).

See more photos by Christine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3 days in October

During the time these pictures were made, four of my women friends independently confided to me their huge crush on Robert Downey Jr.






Process of painting an ad for the upcoming movie, "Due Date," on the south wall of 351 Park Ave. South, NYC. Photos by Tim Connor, All rights reserved.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brooklyn Space Program shows how it's done


A giant step for all kind! Using an orange foam takeout container and a weather balloon, a Brooklyn group of grownups & kids sent an HD video camera 19 miles into the upper stratosphere. When the weather balloon burst, the camera (recording footage the whole time) plummeted back to earth at over 150 mph, landing only 30 miles from where it was launched.

See the video (6 min.) here.

More about the Brooklyn Space Program.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Shooting for the man...

For these pictures, shot in the last hour of light on the one day I had in the California Bay Delta, I didn't worry about what I liked; I tried to shoot what I thought other people (my bosses) might like.

Subtle, but important, distinction. Good for me to do this. Maybe I'll actually learn how to use my equipment!

"Two fishermen," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Open fruit," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Boats at marina," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Cattle in landscape," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ask a broke-ass grouch today


WASP lady with tasteful pearls goes baby-mama bonkers on the mean streets of Brooklyn.

Go ahead, Ask her!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Twin Peaks, San Francisco

"Smilers," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"A boy & his uncle (Dennis & Ted)," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Homo plasticus

"Paris," Phillip Toledano, All rights reserved

Though we might sometimes wish otherwise, most people go to photography shows for the subject matter. Thus, it's probably a safe bet that "A New Kind of Beauty" -- Phillip Toledano's nude and semi-nude portraits of men and women who have opted for extensive plastic surgery -- will draw big crowds at Brooklyn's Klompching Gallery. What's questionable is whether the gawkers will get what they came for.

Toledano works against his material's unmistakable tabloid tow, staging his subjects coolly in classical large-format studio-style & then toning them a homogenous golden brown against deep black. Still, the subjects' personal surgery choices -- for larger breasts, impervious to gravity; smooth, wide-cheek-boned faces; bigger, softer lips, & enlarged, sometimes slanted eyes -- seem designed mainly to enhance sexual animality. I'm guessing the subjects are sex workers (an earlier book by Toledano pictured phonesex workers). Would a wider cross-section of people who have volunteered for plastic-surgery reveal a different aesthetic?

"Steve," Phillip Toledano, All rights reserved

It's probably an answerable question. According to Wikipedia,"Nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures were performed [in the U.S.] in 2007, with the five most common surgeries being breast augmentation, liposuction, nasal surgery, eyelid surgery and abdominoplasty. The increased use of cosmetic procedures crosses racial and ethnic lines in the U.S., with increases seen among African-Americans and Hispanic Americans as well as Caucasian Americans. In Europe, the second largest market for cosmetic procedures, cosmetic surgery is a $2.2 billion business. Cosmetic surgery is now very common in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. In Asia, cosmetic surgery has become an accepted practice; currently most widely prevalent and normal in South Korean society... "

Quoted in one of the press clips on Klompching's site, Toledano imagines the trend going much further : "We're looking at a new stage of human evolution," he says. "Twenty years ago, getting your tongue pierced or having a full arm tattoo was considered outrageous, but now they're commonplace, and perhaps the same thing will happen with plastic surgery ... Perhaps we could even say a new species of human is evolving, the Homo Plasticus. "

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blue mountain

Blue mountain
"Blue Mountain," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Another one from Annie's Garden series.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Goddesses with tennis rackets

"Elena Dementieva," Dewey Hicks, NY Times Magazine, All rights reserved

For the article, "How Power Has Transformed Women's Tennis, " in Sunday's NY Times Magazine, a special camera that makes over a thousand exposures a second was used to shoot top female tennis stars in action. The resulting animated videos are shockingly beautiful. I feel I am watching focused inexorable acts of will, performed by young women whose beauty is inseparable from the power they summon. This is hard to explain. Before I say any more, see the video for yourself:

These women seem to me goddesses the way the ancient Greeks conceived them. They are physically & emotionally conjoined to human women; formed from the same template -- but from finer, more perfect materials. Stronger, more beautiful, they are naturally above the mortal plane -- but not separate from it. As immortal goddesses they are somehow more intensely, vividly mortal than their human sisters.

Like their sisters, too, the goddesses have a touching vanity. Their long, beautiful hair is not tied back; it swirls around their faces. Their costumes are each a little different; the styles & colors are carefully chosen. They are jealous, competitive. It is perhaps an important source of their power. And they understand passion -- & vengeance. Look at their faces. Like Hera, the Queen of the Goddesses, they are not above turning a rival's long hair into snakes, or turning their husband's mistress into a cow, then driving her mad with biting flies.

"Serena Williams," Dewey Nicks, NY Times Magazine, All rights reserved

Monday, August 30, 2010

Leonard Cohen: young man in a cold city

In 1965 or so, before the world went crazy, Leonard Cohen was a poet, not a songwriter. He was actually famous as a poet, at least in the small sophisticated city (Montreal) where he grew up. Seeing this movie made my heart ache because Cohen is exactly who I wanted to be at that time -- I was finishing high school. He's witty, lyric & tender without being soft (I could never have pulled that off). And he has impregnable self-confidence without ever losing his sense of his own absurdity. No wonder the guy later ran away to a monastery for his middle years. Who could have retained any kind of humanhood as the genius rock star hero poet guru prophet lover the media (all of us) wanted to make him into, starting about 1967?

I loved this film. Listen to Cohen talk about hotel rooms and about the generous beauty of women.

Thanks to brother Tony for the tip. Go here for hundreds of other free Canadian documentaries & animations.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Closeup: Arts & flowers

The five pictures that follow are my submission to a group show of closeup works. If accepted, they will appear in September. My artist's statement about this series is at the end of this post.

"Heart beacon: Annie's garden," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Stars moving inland: Annie's garden," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Trying to get to heaven: Annie's garden," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Pink star: Annie's garden," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

"Tendrils: Annie's garden," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Artist's statement

I love it when different kinds of subject matter and forms of representation mix & ricochet off each other. The subject matter of this series of close-ups – from a garden wall painted with landscapes & flowers by an unknown artist, then grown over by actual plants – juxtaposes living nature & its created representations in paint. Framed close-ups of the juxtapositions are then represented by digital photography, which, in its illusion of timelessness, mixes ironically with the series’ themes of (relative) permanence & change.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Netflix Ninny project continues


We watched the 1st movie from the new Netflix list (see "Nibbling at Netflix"). It was "Noises Off," from a Broadway play, dir. by Peter Bogdanovitch, with Michael Caine, Carol Burnett & Christopher Reeves. Supposed to be a satire on the theater, a farce of a farce. It got stupider & more repetitive as it went. Yes, we know theater & theater people are professionally unembarrassable. "The play must go on." Bravo. So what? It sucked.

Wins The Grand Raspberry Award. Gets minus 8 stars. Don't watch it, even if you're stuck on a 12-hour flight.

New additions to NN list:

Weekend -- Jean Luc Godard
Nights of Cabiria -- Fellini
Dr. Strangelove -- Stanley Kubrick
Akira -- anime
Ghost in the Shell -- anime
Princess Mononoko -- " " Hayao Miyazaki
Castle in the Sky -- " " " "
Fanny @ Alexander -- Bergman
Dead Man Walking -- Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, great soundtrack
Slacker -- Richard Linklater
Where Angels Fear to Tread -- Helen Mirren
Hudsucker Proxy
Cinema Paradiso
Breakfast at Tiffany's -- Capote novel, Audrey Hepburn
Jean de Florette
Death in Venice -- Visconti, Dirk Bogarde
Gotterdamerung -- " "
Rocco and His Brothers -- Visconti
The Leopard -- " "
The Haunting of Hill House
The Innocents -- adapted from Turn of the Screw, Deborah Kerr
Silence of the Lambs -- Jonathan Demme, Jody Foster
Might Must Fall
Night of the Hunter -- -- written by James Agee, dir by Charles Laughton, with Robt Mitchum, Lillian Gish (I think), Shelley Winter
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Legend of the Drunken Master -- Jackie Chan, kung fu
Kill Bill I & II -- Quentin Tarantino
Fight Club
The Shining -- Kubrick from Stephen King novel, Jack Nicholson
The Big Fish
The Commitments -- from Roddy Doyle novel
Crooklyn -- Spike Lee
Meyerling(?) -- 1936, Charles Boyer
The Warriors -- NYC gangs, 70s
The Year of Living Dangerously
Our Town -- Paul Newman
The Bad Seed
Heavenly Creatures -- Kate Winslett
Compulsion -- Leopold & Lowe (sp) story

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bodhisattva in metro

This lovely short film seduces you instead of hitting you over the head. Masterful pacing & a true eye (& love) for faces. Check it out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

We love our machines, so we tell stories about them

NY Times op-ed illustration by Ji Lee

We're all familiar with the well-worn science fiction trope: Humans build a vast network of powerful machines; the machines become sentient & take over the world. Software designer Jaron Lanier doesn't necessarily believe this story, but he thinks it's important. In a recent NY Times op-ed, "The First Church of Robotics," Lanier argues that this machine-mind creation myth is fast gaining currency in our culture as a real -- not sci fi -- near-future event. At the well-heeled & well-connected Singularity University, for example, many of Silicon Valley's technological elite expect that "one day... the Internet will suddenly coalesce into a super-intelligent A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), infinitely smarter than any of us individually and all of us combined." In fact "...these are guiding principles, not just amusements, for many of the most influential technologists," Lanier reports.

Crazy? Who knows. Meanwhile, let's talk about the present. For good or ill, A.I. is seen right now as a new kind of god. I think the idea thrills us. Even if our new god turns out to be cruel (witness the recent explosion of literary & cinematic dystopias), we are ready. Perhaps we welcome AI because we can't help loving our own intelligence. Encoded within the AI, our small isolated stores of knowledge -- our data -- may become part of something much greater. The AI needs us. Thus, the master machines share our humanity & give us immortality.

"What we are seeing is a new religion , expressed through an engineering culture," says Lanier.

What's interesting is that Lanier makes this provocative point as an unreconstructed engineer & Silicon Valley insider. When he says that IBM -- which recently unveiled a question-answering computer designed to play the TV game show 'Jeopardy' -- could have "...dispensed with the theatrics [and] declared it had done Google one better and come up with a new phrase-based search engine," he clearly knows what he's talking about.

Not that we don't all understand why IBM listened to its ad people. Just a search engine? How boring. Why not a talking machine, a smart robot, something like a ... person? Think R2D2. Think WALL-E. Let's face it, there's something irresistible about those little mannikins. Even their old neurotic granddad, HAL, felt like part of the family. What's not to like?

Lanier warns that our identification with our technology is "allowing artificial intelligence to reshape our concept of personhood... we think of people more & more as computers, just as we think of computers as people...The very idea of A.I. gives us the cover to avoid accountability by pretending that machines can take on more and more human responsibility," Lanier says.

What a bummer this guy is! He's no fun at all. But, hold on, his suggestions of what to do about the fatal attraction of man & machine aren't really radical. For example, listen to his comment about the recommendation software on Netflix or Pandora: "Seeing movies or listening to music suggested to us by algorithims is relatively harmless, I suppose. But I hope that once in a while the users of those services resist the recommendations; our exposure to art shouldn't be hemmed in by an algorithim that we merely want to believe predicts our tastes accurately. These algorithims do not represent emotion or meaning, only statistics & correlations."

Spoken like an engineer. Factual. Unembellished. This is the way Lanier thinks we should look at our technology. What he's warning against is the way artists (& clergy) -- who typically know next to nothing technically -- look at it. They make up stories, invent metaphors, assign meanings. It's not very likely, after all, that a true scientist will fall in love with his iPhone. He may find it useful; he may admire it. But he is not likely to adore a mere tool. It's the artist who is smitten, who praises his iPhone every day, who thanks it for its loyalty & brilliance, who regards it as his secretary, amanuensis, his dear little friend.

"Technology is essentially a form of service," Lanier counters. "We work to make the world better. Our inventions can ease burdens, reduce poverty & suffering, and sometimes even bring new forms of beauty into the world. We can give people more options to act morally because people with medicine, housing and agriculture can more easily afford to be kind than those who are cold, sick and starving... But civility, human improvement, these are still choices. That's why scientists & engineers should present technology in ways that don't confound those choices."

And finally: "When we think of computers as inert, passive tools instead of people, we are rewarded with a clearer, less ideological view of what is going on -- with the machines and with ourselves."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My review transmutes to ink on paper

"Little Neck Parkway," Zheng Yaohua, All rights reserved

The picture above is from "On Their Sites: landscapes with private monuments," a fascinating project by New York-based photographer Zheng Yaohua (known as zeyez on Flickr) that explores private memories as they attach themselves to specific places. I am honored that a short essay I wrote about Zheng's work was included in his recent brochure about the piece.

You can read my review here.

The photo/childhood memory about George Tenet that I analyze is here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Nibbling at netflix


For too long I have been a netflix ninny, paying for the service but failing to actually order my movies Why? Because I never get around to it. Too daunting. Instead, at the last minute, I scramble for whatever decent disc is still on the shelf at the video store & usually end up paying a late-return charge. No more!

I have begun carrying a small notebook around, listing movies I want to see or have seen in the dim past & want to see afresh. (See below.) I'm also asking my friends & readers for suggestions. Have I missed one of your all-time faves? Tell me.

Expanding must-see list
(Titles & notes are not google-checked)

Blade Runner -- replicants in steamy future L.A.
Desperate -- Anthony Mann, called "the perfect noir"
Shadowlands -- Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis, Debra Winger
Noises Off -- funny
Howard's End & A Passage to India -- Merchant/Ivory style, great novels
Mutiny on the Bounty -- Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh
Six Feet Under -- the TV series, redhead is adorable
Lars & the Real Girl
Spring Summer Fall Winter -- and Spring - Korean Buddhists
Whale Rider -- enviro theme
Waltzing with Basheer
La Strada -- Fellini, Anthony Quinn as circus strongman
McCabe & Mrs. Miller -- Altman, Julie Christie , Warren Beatty
The Long Goodbye -- Altman, Eliot Gould
MASH -- Altman, Alan Alda, E Gould, "Hotlips Houlihan"
Thieves Like Us -- Altman
Taxi Driver -- Scorcese, DeNiro
Danny Darko
The Searchers -- Ford or Hawks? I think the latter. John Wayne at his angry best
Chinatown - Nicholson, Polanski, Dunaway, John Huston
Mrs. Brown -- Judi Densch?
Bonnie & Clyde -- Faye Dunaway & W Beatty
Stay Hungry -- the young Arnold Schwartzenegger as politically astute bodybuilder
A Slave of Love
The Conformist -- Bertolucci
Last Tango in Paris - Brando
Jules et Jim -- Truffaut, Jeanne Moreau
Loves of a Blonde -- Milos Forman
The Fireman's Ball -- " "
An American Friend -- Werner Herzog
Ali, Fear Eats the Soul -- Fassbinder??
Out of the Past -- Robert Mitchum, noirish thriller
The Lady Eve -- Preston Sturges
Laura -- not Hitchcock
Philadelphia Story
Bringing up Baby -- Hepburn
King of Comedy -- Scorcese, Jerry Lewis
The Deerhunter
The Conversation -- Francis Coppola, Gene Hackman
Cisco Pike -- Hackman, Kris Kristofferson, Karen Black
Five Easy Pieces -- Jack Nicholson, Karen Black
The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner -- Herzog documentary
The White Diamond -- about dirigibles, also " " "
Born Yesterday -- Judy Holiday
South Pacific
Kiss me Kate
Last Picture Show
Sugarland Express
Blue Velvet
Contempt - Jean Luc Godard, Jack Palance
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her -- Godard
Slings & Arrows -- TV series
Anvil -- Mark said best movie he saw last year
Crimes & Misdemeanors -- Woody Allen, panned because not a Woody Allen picture
Lone Star -- John Sayles
Brother from Another Planet - J Sayles
Scenes from a Marriage - Ingmar Bergman
Cries & Whispers -- " " "
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control -- Errol Morris
Murder Ball -- sci fi?
The Big Lubowski -- Coen Bros, Jeff Bridges
Knife in the Water -- Roman Polanski
Macbeth -- " "
The Tenant -- " "
The Pianist -- " "
The Piano Teacher -- Michael Haneke
The Piano -- Jane Campion
Sweety -- " "
Angel at my Table -- " "
Holy Smoke -- also by Campion, Harver Keitel as deprogrammer, Kate Winslet as his subj -- is the name right?
Welcome to the Dollhouse -- Todd Solondz
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie -- Luis Bunuel
Belle de Jour -- " " "
Diary of a Chambermaid -- " " "
Atlantic City -- Louis Malle
My Dinner with Andre -- " "
The Natural -- Robt Redford, from Bernard Malamud novel
The Apartment -- Billy Wilder
Sunset Blvd --- " "
Winess for the Prosecution -- " "
Double Indemnity -- " "
Elmer Gantry -- Burt Lancaster
Sweet Smell of Success -- " ", Tony Curtis
Black Widow
Petrified Forest -- Bogey, Ida Lupino
What Makes Sammy Run?
A Face in the Crowd -- Elia Kazan, Andy Griffith
I'm Not There -- 7 Bob Dylans
No Direction Home -- Scorsese documentary on Dylan
Don't Look Back -- Dylan
The Company -- Stephen Sondheim
Black Robe -- from great novel by Brian Moore
Names of all the Saints
Further Tales of the City -- Laura Linney